Categories
Café

La Lune Market – North Strathfield NSW Restaurant Review

La Lune Market in North Strathfield is a sunny Korean-run but not Korean-themed cafe, located under a gym a little bit away from the hustle and bustle of the old Arnott’s factory precinct. Their house specialty is their basque cheesecake, though on my first visit to La Lune it was some of their other offerings that caught my eye.

The ham and cheese croissant ($7) is a little more than just ham and cheese in a croissant. La Lune Market employs the use of a sticky honey mustard glaze atop the croissant for an extra depth of flavour. While this is an innovative touch, it unfortunately doesn’t distract from the actual croissant and its filling itself, which I found a little lacking. Review of the cross-sectional images will reveal a somewhat denser pastry, with inadequately melted cheese. While I don’t profess myself to be a croissant expert, I do think that it would’ve been a stronger showing with a warmer and meltier slice of cheese inside.

Contrastingly, the house sandwich ($14) may just be one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever eaten. This sandwich’s bulging contents include ripe avocado, tomato, lettuce, chicken in mustard mayonnaise, cabbage, and a slice of cheese. It is in fact so bulging, that wrapping paper is needed to keep it together in one part. The creaminess of the mustard mayonnaise and soft chicken synergised perfectly with the ripe avocado and tomato, while the crisp, fresh lettuce provided the perfect foil for those rich tastes. A sandwich generally has no right to be this good, but to be fair, a sandwich generally has no right to be $14 either. A big recommend if the budget is willing.

The iced matcha latte ($7) was a little sweet but still quite refreshing and nice. It is extremely unfortunate however that they saw fit to load the cup up with such a vast quantity of ice, leaving little room to put the actual drink. Really poor value, in my opinion.

OPINIONS
A couple of things rubbed me the wrong way, but one thing that I can’t look past is the sheer quality of their house chicken sandwich. It’s so good, and so wholesome, that I would be happy if there were a shop that sold just that.

Not my dog.

La Lune Market
Shop 1/13 George St, North Strathfield NSW 2137

Categories
Café

XS Espresso – North Parramatta NSW Restaurant Review

XS Espresso’s North Parramatta branch is an extremely accessible 2.2km away from the nearest quaternary hospital, and a convenient 20 metres away from the nearest Officeworks.

This Happy Bowl ($21) is a reasonably healthy but also quite delicious bowl. The roasted pumpkin wedge is the star attraction, though the ample serving of chicken breast, fresh salad vegetables, poached egg, and beetroot hummus swirl also hold their own. While I did spend an extra $4 on sujuk, I didn’t need to, as there really was enough chicken to go around. Happy and healthy. I can recommend.

If the happy bowl is happy and healthy, the Cheesy Croissant ($18) is the absolute opposite. This cheesed up macaroni dish makes no apologies for its thickness and gooeyness, delivered straight from the plate into your coronary artery foam cells. This is a tasty but very heavy dish, and not recommended for anyone looking to live a long and healthy life.

This Beef Sausage & Egg Roll ($7.50) disappointed me. I mistook it to be a breakfast muffin, a la the amazing McLovin at Happyfield. It ended up very standard. The top bread bun was a non-necessary addition.

Taking a step backwards into health land, this Secret Chicken Sandwich ($12), lightly toasted with a large slab of chicken breast and plenty of salad, was a mild flavoured and reasonably good-for-you snack. Not bad for the LDL and wallet conscious.

Flash forward now to Monday the 11th of October 2021. NSW has just reached its 70% double-dose COVID-19 vaccination target, and we have just finished the third and last night in our week, having somehow managed to keep everyone in our little corner of the intensive care unit alive. I had a sense of great anxiety approaching our first post-nights breakfast in many months, sitting in the car as I surveyed XS’ other patrons and wondering if the potential for exposure to the largely vaccinated but still possibly unvaccinated masses of Western Sydney was truly worth it for an egg.

After anxiously consulting a few of my colleagues around the country I ultimately decided it would be pretty safe to have a quick meal in one of their outdoor dining areas. Concerningly they only checked the vaccination status of one of our scrubbed up party of three.

The Delicious Dean ($18) was my visually attractive, reasonably healthy, but otherwise a little disappointing choice. While the smashed avocado, bread, pesto, and tiny cut cherry tomatoes were just fine, the egg leaved a lot to be desired. I was extremely disappointed, after witnessing the perfect runniess of my colleague KS’ poached egg, to find that mine was pretty much cooked through. The difficulty of navigating the prosciutto added insult to injury, though that was mostly my own fault as sujuk was offered as an alternative.

While ultimately the breakfast offerings at XS tend to be only OK, it was just nice to be able to eat at a cafe after so long away.

XS Espresso North Parramatta
9A/2 Windsor Rd, Northmead NSW 2152
(02) 9890 9229

Categories
Asian Fusion Café

Chimichuri – Chatswood NSW Brunch Review

A couple of weeks ago I noticed a new mole on my left palm. This worried me for a number of reasons. The first of these is that you’re not really meant to have moles in areas of skin that are not exposed to the sun. The second of which was that this was new and therefore something potentially problematic. As someone with the baseline anxiety grade of 7 out of 10 I decided that I needed to have this checked and hopefully biopsied as we know that tissue is king. And thus we made it to the Upper North Shore for a two minute skin check, and took the golden opportunity to get some brunch as well.

We rarely have an excuse to cross the bridge and I had a number of restaurants lined up just waiting to be eaten at. Near the top of this list was Chimichuri, yet another Asian fusion brunch cafe.

My partner ordered the Earl Grey Latte (L -$5), also known as a “large fun milk please”. Unfortunately the fun milk was not as fun as expected as we found it to be too far too sweet. My soy latte (S/R – $4) was just a soy latte, pretty good, but no different to every other soy latte I have every other day. Drinks aside, I thought that the cups were particularly nice, as they had a large clear base that elevated the liquid holding portion and made the glasses seem bigger than they were.

Chimichuri – Black Benedict

The Black Benedict ($24) was basically a deep fried soft-shell crab together with a charcoal hamburger bun poached eggs and black dyed hollandaise sauce. There is also a very small amount of salmon roe which I found to have an odd taste and lacking in freshness. The Black Benedict is one of their signature dishes, however ultimately disappointing. My humble opinion is that the flavours were not very good or cohesive. I was also not a fan of the charcoal bun, and I believe the jury is still out as to whether or not this is good for your health or will actively cause cancer. Either way, I don’t think black bread really adds anything to the taste of food and I try to actively avoid it where possible.

Chimichuri – Scallop Shell

I enjoyed the Scallop Shell ($24) much more. I thought that the croissant had a great warmth and airy texture to it. It was so buttery and tasty and probably one of the best croissant I’ve had in recent memory. The scrambled egg on the croissant was also very light and warm on the inside and reminded me of the scrambled egg from Dopa. I thought that the scallop was not actually as special as I thought there would be. While the main advertised attraction, there were only three scallops for the entire dish and I didn’t feel like they had much flavour to them at all. My partner, if given the opportunity to speak, will tell you that scallop is normally quite a light-flavoured ingredient and that there is often a lot of potential for scallops flavours to be muddled up by for example croissant or egg. She said it was much better eaten on its own, however even in its own mouthful I found the scallop to be a bit lacking. We will have to beg to differ.

3.5/5 , hit and miss

Chimichuri
1/6 Help St, Chatswood NSW 2067
(02) 8084 5272

Categories
Bakery Café French

Croquembouche Patisserie – Botany NSW Café Review

Wow! This review has really been a long time coming.

When we moved to Botany in January 2020 one of the first things we did, before we even started unpacking, was load up Zomato and look for places to eat. Croquembouche Patisserie caught our eye, and since then we’ve eaten there at least ten to fifteen times over the course of a year.

Croquembouche bills itself as one of top French bakeries in Sydney, and as the only French (non-Vietnamese) bakery I’ve ever been to I’d have to agree. We’ve eaten so many things at Croquembouche that I will only review our favourites.

The Reuben Sandwich is huge and flavourful. It’s actually the first thing I ever got from Croquembouche and has become a regular favourite. I would recommend to get it toasted.

The Ham and cheese croissant with béchamel sauce is excellent. The croissant is fluffy, and the béchamel makes the whole thing very creamy. They do an alternate ham and cheese croissant with gruyere which is a bit more expensive but I don’t like as much – no béchamel.

The Citron tart is my partner’s favourite thing from Croquembouche. In her words, “it’s probably the best lemon curt tart [she’s] ever had. Its balance of tanginess and sweetness is pretty perfect, and I wonder if it has some other complex citruses in there as well. Lemon parts are one of [her] favourite desserts, and [she] thinks that Croquembouche has one of [her] favourite tarts [she’s] ever tasted. You can’t quote me word for word, because I refuse to have non edited words and thoughts on a public platform. You’d better not be continuing to write what I’m saying.”

There is a healthy assortment of crepes on offer, which are all delicious and packed with ingredients like cheese, meat, and mushrooms.

This salted caramel tart was quite good, and not too sweet. This is coming from someone who generally doesn’t like salted caramel.

Croquembouche also offers an assortment of hot meat pies and sausage rolls. They’re pretty standard, and not really at the level of perfection as their other stuff.

Through the course of the year we had an assortment of fruity dessert pastries, which were mostly good and not too sweet.

This was an expensive but elevated hot cross bun.

The level of glaze on this apricot tart is enough to reflect stars in distant galaxies.

$10 for a bacon and egg roll and a coffee is actually quite a good deal. Unfortunately I think not everyone in the café can make coffee, and the wait for coffee during the morning rush can end up being a bit long.

My girlfriend loves chocolate mousse.

Some kind of savory bread of which I have no recollection. Looks cheesy.

This was a really nice sandwich, maybe Cuban, maybe something else, packed with ingredients including a generous amount of pickle. I’d get it again.

Look at this slice of unnamed tart.

Tart of berry. Small but concentrated.

This is one that surprised me. You would never expect such a dish sitting in the counter to have such perfectly poached eggs. Indeed this an entire brunch dressed as a sandwich. Really good, but flies under the radar.

I had a couple of these truffle and salami sandwiches throughout the year. Very tasty, but very oily.

The Salmon and Dill and Chicken and Dill sandwiches are also quite yum. A very pleasant dill taste mixed into a mayonnaise-like sauce with either salmon or chicken rillettes. I’ve never had one uneaten for long enough to take a photo.

THOUGHTS OTHER THAN EFFUSIVE PRAISE

If there’s one somewhat negative component of Croquembouche Patisserie it may just be the exquisite amount of care and time they put in to make the coffee and toast the sandwiches. I’m often in a rush in the morning before work, so I know to get my sandwiches untoasted and without coffee. Their food is also quite rich and buttery, which may be a problem in terms of long-term cardiovascular risk.

Having gone so many times in 2020 and not at all since moving to Western Sydney in February 2021, I wonder if these guys think I’ve died.

Croquembouche Patisserie
1635 Botany Rd, Botany NSW 2019
(02) 9666 3069