Categories
American

Chicko’s – Wollongong NSW Restaurant Review

Chicko’s is a Wollongong icon. It is an institution, forged through its prime position near the beach and the local stadium, and its reputation for consistent fast food and good economy. While knowledge of the restaurant appears to be ubiquitous within Illawarra, I approach Chicko’s from the perspective of an outsider, free from the shackles of local culture and custom.

The Portuguese Wing Pieces (10 for $7.90) were a little on the dry side, with a predominantly salty flavour and not much or really any perceptible spice to explain the Portuguese moniker.

The medium chips ($6.65) were pretty fresh and crunchy. I liked the option to add salt and vinegar for free, and while I only optioned for two lots of this addition I know now I should’ve added as much as the computer ordering system would let me.

The small gravy($3.65) was alright. Pretty good with chips. A bit darker and denser than what you get from the Colonel. There is currently some spilled in a corner at the back of my fridge.

The large scallopini burger ($11.45 with a can of drink) really was large. Pictured here alongside it is my hand. I wear size 8 gloves. It’s really a huge bread roll with two crumbed chicken schnitzels inside side by side, topped with a mushroom sauce. I must admit that I got bored of the bread after chomping through this monstrosity, and discarded the bottom (unsauced) half bun.

Wow, a single piece of fish for $2.85. Pretty good!

Chicko’s Fried Chicken ($13.60 for 5 pieces) kind of amounts of a whole fried bird. The pieces were incredibly varied in terms of size, but all shared the common characteristic of being incredibly juicy and moist, even the half-breast piece. My partner, a fried chicken fanatic, is a fan.

The roast pork meal ($14.99) with crumbed roast potato, peas and gravy, was a tasty and varied pub-style meal. I enjoyed the roast pork, which was moist but with its own layer of crispy skin, though my partner, a lover of potato, didn’t have such strong feelings about this particular potato.

CONS
I cannot leave a review for the Greek salad that I paid for as we didn’t receive it.

OVERALL
I think the real headline of this story should be that we spent very little money between the two of us for enough food to feed four people. Service was reasonably quick, and while there is no internal seating there is plenty of beach to go around. I can definitely see the appeal for Wollongong locals, but taking into account the vast amounts of deep frying going on and my general desire to live past forty I will probably have to never go back.

Chicko’s Wollongong
13 Crown St, Wollongong NSW 2500
(02) 4225 3888

Categories
Asian Fusion Café Japanese Korean

Mint & Aoshiso – Sydney Olympic Park NSW Restaurant Review

Mint & Aoshiso is a Korean/Japanese-fusion cafe and pizzeria, set in Sydney Olympic Park’s high-rise residential district, surrounded by 5, 30, and 60 minute street parking spots. We visited on a quiet morning in February 2021, patting ourselves on our backs for having found a coveted 1 hour parking spot. Our meal that day was served no less than 39 minutes after our receipt was printed reflecting payment made for our order, just as I had left in dismay to move my car. Despite this, I will review the food served in an objective fashion.

This yakiniku beef pizza ($24), part of Mint & Aoshisho’s specialty fusion pizza range, was quite the disappointment. Though being differentiated from Korean BBQ marinated pizza offerings on their menu, I would characterise the taste of the sauces and meats on this pizza as more Korean BBQ than Japanese BBQ in flavour. Though allegedly woodfired, the base on this pizza was too moist and bready, and considering that $24 is enough to get very good pizzas from very good pizza restaurants anywhere in Sydney, I can’t anti-recommend this particular pizza enough.

The first thing you should know about these Takoyaki Chips ($9) is that there is absolutely no Tako, nor is there any Yaki. Lacking any actual octopus, these chips are merely inspired by takoyaki – essentially normal potato chips that have been loaded with bonito flakes, mayonnaise, and a sweet okonomoyaki sauce. We ate these chips out of hunger and sadness at our wait. I would not order these again, even if I somehow found myself stranded in Olympic Park in a thunderstorm.

The Smoked Chicken Poke ($22) was the last to come, and the best of the lot. It was served under cling wrap which when removed released a small amount of smoke. The chicken was very tender and along with the rice, edamame and cabbage had a strong smoke flavour. Whilst I wasn’t the biggest fan of the smoke flavour and worry sometimes about the health implications, each component of this poke bowl was otherwise delicious.

A microdose of freshly-squeezed sugarcane juice did not make up for the experience.

A large latte, at $4.30, was sharply priced.

VERDICT
The smoked chicken bowl was the one good thing that we had at Mint & Aoshiso, and unfortunately in this case I don’t think one good thing makes up for the rest of the visit.

Mint & Aoshisho
Shop 2/1 Brushbox St, Sydney Olympic Park NSW 2127
0452 438 807

Categories
Café Modern Australian

The Potting Shed at Grounds of Alexandria – Alexandria NSW Restaurant Review

I’ve never really liked Grounds of Alexandria. While the sunny garden environment and the petting zoo is nice, I’ve always found that the actual food offered is overpriced and disappointing. This was again true during my latest visit, this time to The Potting Shed, one of the mini-restaurants within the complex.

Potting Shed – Steamed Buns with tempura oyster

I did not enjoy the steamed buns ($17-19 for 3). This was an open bao with a filling of tempura oyster, slaw, and sauce. What could have been great was truly disappointing. I thought that the tempura batter was too bready, and took the limelight that the oyster should have had. The oysters themselves were tiny and unflavourful – what you see in the images is mostly batter. I truly enjoyed some battered oysters on Miyajima Island in Japan, but also from local joint Kibuna in Mascot. These Potting Shed oysters were awful in comparison and not at all what I expected. The filling to bread ratio was ultimately inadequate, with much bun left over after the tasty bits were done. Truly a dish to be avoided – and looking at their online menu the evening of our meal – it’s not there any more.

Potting Shed – Duck Sausages

The Potting Shed Duck Sausages with colcannon mash, burnt onion, glazed carrot and thyme gravy ($29) started strong but it didn’t last. They were much more flavourful than the oyster bao that preceded them, but ended up far too flavourful. The salt really hit me in the sausages, to the point where towards the end of the meal I started wondering why I had the finish these expensive sausages and just stopped. If the sausages weren’t so salty they would’ve been good. The mash was buttery and smooth, and I enjoyed the fried greens (I believe they were kale). Ultimately the absolute saltiness of the dish ruined it. Avoid if you’re watching your blood pressure.

Potting Shed – Seared Mooloolaba Swordfish Loin

The Seared Mooloolaba Swordfish Loin with pickled mushroom, tarragon and cauliflower veloute with buttered and pickled white asparagus ($32) was actually quite good. A mild flavoured fish dish which was the highlight of the meal. My partner didn’t like that the fish was a bit tough, but I thought that it was probably just the right texture for swordfish, and gave it a steaklike texture. The buttery sauce was nice and mild, and I also enjoyed the large and thick white asparagus. Yum.

Potting Shed – Chips with tomato jam and aioli

I wasn’t about to complain about the Chips with tomato jam and aioli ($8) until I saw that it was called. What is the difference between tomato jam and tomato sauce, apart from a few dollars in price? The chips were actually quite good, and looking at the bits of skin left on the edges, cut straight from the potato. A sleeper hit.

Macaw

The other star of the show was this Macaw (uncooked). She was beautiful and well natured.

Overall brunch at the Potting Shed was a big disappointment. We spent just under $100 for the above meal and two coffees. Money (and sodium!) that could’ve better been spent elsewhere.

The Potting Shed, The Grounds of Alexandria
41/43 Bourke Rd, Alexandria NSW 2015
(02) 9699 2225

Categories
Café Middle Eastern

Kelby’s Cafe – Marrickville NSW Restaurant Review

Colby is the name of one of my two favourite cats in the whole world, and I’m sad that I wasn’t able to bring him with me to Kelby’s Cafe. I have, in fact, never taken Colby with me to a single cafe or restaurant in his entire little life, but I’m sure that he would love running around and stealing everyone’s food.

I’m not usually a fan of shakshuka, but I was surprised to find just how much I liked Kelby’s Kibbeh Shakshoukah. The crunchy Lebanese bread was deliciously light and crispy. The shakshouka was meaty and tasty. The Lebanese stringed halloumi was something I had never had before, and an interesting spin on what is usually just a salty squeaky block of cheese. The baked eggs, chickpeas, basil, and tomato base were all delicious. I liked this dish so much I was hesitant to share it with my partner.

Klassic beef burger with side of chips

Kelby’s Klassic beef burger is one K away from a cult name, but many more Ks away from cult worthiness. I won’t go too far into it, but basically the beef patty was thick but not juicy, and not tasty either. While seasoned readers of this blog will know that I often complain about too much seasoning, this particular burger had very little taste at all. Coupled with the quite frankly weird dark, floppy and oil drenched chips this was not the pick of the day.

Of note for the hydration fans out there, water was a fill-your-own bottle affair from the chilled filter tap.

Would I come back? Maybe – but probably only if I’m already 90% pho by volume and Kurumac is closed. Would I recommend it? Yes – especially while the shakshuka is still on the menu.

4/5

Categories
British Portuguese

FICH – Petersham NSW Restaurant Review

This was my first time ever eating in Petersham. I didn’t realise how close Vietnam was to Portugal.

The fish taco ($8) was not as good as I had expected. Online reviews that I had read before coming were overwhelmingly positive, however all mentioned that there was a sliver of fish skin within the taco to give the taco some cripsiness. Unfortunately this fish skin did not make an appearance in that taco that I had, which was basically just a piece of battered ling with some salsa and tartare sauce wrapped in a tortilla. While I must admit the taco was quite good, it was definitely not mindblowing, nor was it a standout in comparison to the rest of the meal. My meal was in fact quite battered ling heavy, and I would not recommend this taco if you’re also getting fish and chips, or a burger – it’s just not different enough.

Fich’s potato scallops (or potato cakes, depending on where you’re from) are $3 each and also much lauded. My colleague and I each enjoyed one, and they were indeed pretty good – formed to be much thicker than your classic potato scallop. I think my partner – a big fan of potato, oil, and salt – would like these, however as she does not like seafood I don’t think there’s much else on the menu that would suit her palate.

The fich popcorn ($16), little pieces of fish battered, fried, and coated in maple and sriracha sauce were not bad. The mouthfeel was quite similar to popcorn chicken, and it would’ve even been a bit hard to tell that they were fish at all ( at least while they were still hot). The sauce was only a bit too flavourful, but tolerable. I wonder if I could sneak this past my girlfriend as “chicken”.

The double fich burger with fries ($25) was a large and expensive endeavour. The taste and construction of the burger was basically as a big mac but with thick battered ling fish patties instead of beef. The fries, often described online as some of the best in Sydney, were good but unfortunately did not live up to the hype (I actually think those at Kepos St Kitchen are better, and that’s just out of the chips I have had recently.)

FICH. Not bad. Quite expensive. Apparently Portuguese for “file”. Don’t know why they’d call it that then. 3.5/5.

Fich at Petersham
3/98-106 Audley St, Petersham NSW 2049
(02) 9572 7887