Categories
Cellar Door Italian

Hillbilly Cider Shed – Bilpin NSW Restaurant Review

We spent an hour on a Friday afternoon at Hillbilly Cider’s cellar door and restaurant in the Blue Mountains.

They are a local producer of apple ciders, though not a brand I have seen or taken note of in any liquor store. On display on site are these large metal vats, that may or may not be used for the processing or storage of cider.

Also on display are these wooden barrels, which are confirmed to contain the cider poured diretly into glasses for patrons to drink.

We opted for a flight of four 150mL ciders to sample between the two of us. I’ve always been incredibly cautious about driving after having alcohol so my partner kindly agreed to drink less and drive on the way back to Sydney. We had the Hillbilly Scrumpy Cloudy Apple (ABV 6%), Hillbilly Crushed Apple (ABV 4.5%), Hillbilly Sweet Julie Apple (ABV 3.5%) and the Hillbilly Pear (ABV 4.5%) with some parallax error trickery that meant that we received slightly more than 600mL for our $18 investment. While I normally like a drier cider, I found that our sweetest choice, the Hillbilly Pear, was the most easily consumed, while the drier ones – still not bad – were not quite as appealing.

Hillbilly’s wood fired pizza oven is its second claim to fame in the local area, and they really do churn out high quality pizzas in good time.

This Pepperoni Pizza ($23) was rock solid. The base and crust were thin but chewy, cooked perfectly with the avoidance of any charring. The Neapolitan sauce and mixture of fior di latte and mozzarella made for a nice and mild base, and the pepperoni was sprinkled on with expert percision and reasonable generosity. It was all quite good. I don’t know why the pizza is shaped as it is.

The Sweet Julie Apple Calzone ($23), dubbed by one reviewer on Google as “a revelation” was also pretty good. It seems to be Hillbilly’s take on the hot apple pie, a staple among rest stops and little stores within a 5km radius. The filling of sweet caramelised acinnamonised apples was maybe just a little too sweet for my liking, but the pastry just as good as the base of the pepperoni pizza. I was grateful for the whipped cream which helped to temper down the sweetness of the apple filling.

OVERALL FEELINGS
I enjoyed the pizza, and after years of my friend GGL sending our group chat pictures of flights of alcoholic beverages I was finally able to return the favour. Hillbilly Cider Shed is also a great example of COVID-safe dining, with the choice between a huge outdoor dining area with picnic tables, a large gazebo like structure, and a verandah to sit on for those rainy days.

Hillbilly Cider Shed
2230 Bells Line of Rd, Bilpin NSW 2758
(02) 4567 0965

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
Italian

Sopranos Gourmet Pizza Pasta & Kebab – Rosehill NSW Restaurant Review

Night time meals at work are essentially limited to two options – Jimmy’s Kebab, and Soprano’s Pizza. Seeing as Jimmy’s Kebab is quite bad, Soprano’s Pizza is one of the better choices for a Halal-friendly meal. Their pizzas are generally not bad, even good, but essentially the same as other kebab shop pizza fare. We’ve had pizza from them a few times now, and each time we have been graced by consistent quality, and the odd free bottle of soft drink or garlic bread.

A cactus in the desert.

Soprano’s Gourmet Pizza Pasta & Kebab
2/22-24 Oak St, Rosehill NSW 2142
(02) 9633 1717

Categories
Italian

Maybe Frank – Randwick NSW Restaurant Review

I don’t know why you follow this blog, but I’m guessing it’s not to look at blurry, low light pictures of pizza atop an increasingly large pile of uneaten pizza crusts. Unfortuantely for you, that’s exactly what you’re about to get in my brief and undetailed review of Maybe Frank’s all you can eat Pizza Wednesday.

Back when I was a small child one of my friends had a birthday party at Pizza Hut. Whilst I was not invited, I understand that it was quite a middling all you can eat affair, and not a cheap one at that – perhaps $30 a head. Maybe Frank provides what I imagine may be a much better experience. For just $20 with the purchase of any drink ($10 negronis and aperol spritzs are on offer all night), diners are able to enjoy a selection of eleven different pizzas to their hearts delight. We went with a crew of 9 (essentially the Randwick ICU contingent with a Kogarah ICU +1), and I definitely recommend going with a larger group to experience all that Maybe Frank has to offer.

Mixed salad. Not much to say, but look at that artichoke.

Tartufo (White base, mozzarella, porcini mushrooms, truffle oil, grana). A nice, truffly pizza that was widely enjoyed.

Diavola (Tomato sauce, mozzarella, hot salami, olive). Pretty good, one of the best pizzas of the night, in fact, but not the best I’ve had. I actually recommended to my Eastern Suburbs colleague sitting next to me to try out Da Mario‘s.

Margherita (Tomato sauce, mozzarella, basil). Pretty standard.

Don’t know what this is.

Norma (Tomato sauce, mozzarella, eggplant, ricotta, basil). Really quite good. Loved the ricotta.

Napoletana (Tomato sauce, mozzarella, capers, anchovies, olives, oregano). As you may be aware, I’m still trying to train my palate to like anchovies. This was ok, owing to the fact that it was quite light on anchovies (and therefore saltiness).

Patate (White base, potatoes, italian sausage, rosemary). They asked if we had any more pizzas we wanted to order, and everyone said no except for my girlfriend, who said yes. She’s rarely ever said no to potato. Not bad.

The Nutella Slider was more of a donut ball with Nutella atop it. One of my colleagues had two, then cleaned off the Nutella on the plate. I was too destroyed by the seven slices of pizza before this to really enjoy it.

VERDICT
$30 for a cocktail and unlimited pretty gourmet woodfied pizzas with nice thin crusts. Great value.

4.5/5

Maybe Frank Randwick
69 Perouse Rd, Randwick NSW 2031
(02) 9398 8061

Categories
Italian

Maranello’s – Maroubra NSW Pizza Review

Back in mid 2018 my partner went for dinner with her friends from work to Maranello’s in Concord. I wasn’t invited along, but boy was I invited to listen to her talk about how good it was. I’ve recently been craving a bit of pizza, so took the opportunity to order from Maranello’s Maroubra branch. It was disappointing to say the least.

For starters, the pizza dough at Maranello’s Maroubra is not the classic kind of dough that you get at wood-fired pizza restaurants. Rather than being light and stretchy or thin and crispy, Maranello’s pizza base and crust is hard, dry, and agricultural. Eating the crust was not unlike eating a piece of high fibre wholemeal toast. In addition to this the dough had a slight bitter taste, and was overall just not appropriate for use in pizza.

The Mamma’s ($24.90) with bocconini, tomato and basil would’ve been good were it not for the base. The flavours were fresh, especially with the inclusion of thick slices of fresh tomato. If I could transplant the toppings on this pizza to a base made by any other wood fired pizza restaurant then this would’ve been a winner.

The Meat Lover’s Pizza ($23.90) was a disappointment of ham, cabanoosi, pepperoni, and beef in a barbecue sauce atop a very bad base. The toppings could’ve been good on their own (though not at all gourmet), but the bitterness from the pizza base really ruined it for me.

VERDICT

After the hype-up from my partner, Maranello’s in Maroubra was quite disappointing. A review of their Concord branch’s website shows that their pizza has the right kind of dough. So why can’t their Maroubra mothership do the same? Expensive and not good.

One lone star. Get da mario’s instead.

Maranello’s Maroubra
Pacific Square Shopping Centre, 51/737 Anzac Parade, Maroubra NSW 2035
(02) 8347 0733