Lawn Library – Paddington Reservoir Gardens

Lawn Library has moved from the liveliness of Sydney Festival at Hyde Park to the tranquil Paddington Reservoir Gardens from 7am-7pm daily until April 6, 2014.

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“The pop-up library, which houses an ever-changing collection of over 1,000 books and is a hub for events and activities at the award-winning gardens.”

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Catching a bus from Hyde Park to Paddington was a bit out of the way for a North Shore/Hills girl like me, but Saturdays in Paddington are quite entertaining as there were the  fashion markets at Paddington Inn and Uniting Church.

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A sign to welcome those newcomers like me makes it pretty easy for me to find.

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Ok, I must admit I’m not from the area but my first thoughts going down the stairs was: The Grounds of Alexandria. Grey bricks and nice architecture, kind of like this cafe I went to in Melbourne..

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It generally is a very nice area and I wished there was something like this in mine. It’s spacious, with a kids table right next to a book shelf.

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I absolutely love sun chairs and I’m was quite content that there were still a few in the cage. Definitely attracting the sunny vibes!

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The green patch of grass is surrounded by arched ruins. The tall arches makes the space look larger than it is.

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The tea-fern trees and water fountain in the middle are beautiful amongst the 19th century ruins. Take in the oxygen!

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Remember guys: one book per person and please return it after your read.

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I wonder if you can borrow the books? Surely. Just ask the library assistant who will be there from 12-2pm on weekdays and 10am-3pm on weekends.

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Have a peep through the reservoir gates.

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Heading back upstairs you’ll have a chance to bask if the sun the out.

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The City is also hosting a number of Lawn Library events in the gardens, including a drawing class with artist Kathe Payne, a talk about the Sydney Artists’ Balls by historian Deborah Beck, and jazz afternoons with musicians from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

Review Rating: =D  =)  =|  =(

Product (Lawn Library at Paddington Reservoir Markets): =)

Ambience: =D

Service: =)

Value: =D

Would I go to the Lawn Library at Paddington Reservoir Gardens again? If I lived in the city, I definitely would because they’re just a nice way to chill. There’s also free wi-fi and it isn’t noisy so it was a great way to relax and possibly do some (work aka write blogs).

Would I donate the money I saved to my charity? Libraries are usually a free place to read books. Taking this outdoors is 10 times better but we have to bare in mind that it’s Autumn and Winter is approaching! Outdoor heaters would be amazing though.

Highlight: grabbing a sun chair and just sitting outside. There’s quite a lot to take in and a ton of photo opportunities if you’re keen for a 19th century setting. I saw a few photographers whip out their fancy cameras and take some shots. I also really liked how it’s family friendly and surprisingly very quiet compared to the busy shops close by.

Suggestion of Improvement: I really like how there are afternoon jazz sessions, kids activities and other workshops. It would be even better if there were section labels such as ‘fantasy’, ‘fiction’, ‘philosophy’ etc. I guess I was just browsing but if you don’t find anything, why not bring your own book and enjoy the scenery?

Ends: April 6, 2014

Link: lawnlibrary.com.au

Angela Bee

Volunteering at Cropfest – Youth Food Movement

Organic produce is not that perfect carrot, potato, or eggplant at your local Coles or Woolworths. Like humans, they come in all shapes and sizes and on Friday March 28, 2014, St Mary’s Cathedral square was a celebration of all sorts.

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“Youth Food Movement aims to be a nation-wide movement that brings young people together around food.  We strive to make our generation aware of their power as conscious consumers by building understanding and value for the food we eat.”

YFM Cropfest - photo 18In front of St Mary’s Cathedral on a Friday night was not your average bunch of tourists taking photos of the cathedral itself, but a bunch of passionate youngsters ready to cook and eat, listen and learn about food that could’ve been otherwise wasted.

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Wooden stools, potted plants and paper flowers made the unique setting a pleasant night.

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I was a volunteer for the event, meaning that it would be free and we each got a dinner token at either Bar Pho or Feather and Bone. The huge pig on a roast proved to be an even bigger tourist attraction in itself.

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The lights lit up the place and you could enjoy a drink or two at their bar selling organic juices ($3), wine, cider or beer ($6).

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There was even an interactive board on the steps so you could post your thoughts and grab a few brochures to learn about sustainability and green living thanks to City if Sydney.

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Throughout the night, there were some workshops you could attend. I ended up helping to Punk Pickles and Preserves first up. To be honest, there wasn’t much to do as a volunteer except to make sure everyone was wearing a Youth Food Movement apron, had their hands sanitised, and wasn’t doing anything dangerous. Easy! And everyone should do it!

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The pickle boys had split their class into four groups and each of them made a beetroot fennel, cucumber or cauliflower preserve. It was very hands on hence why you shouldn’t bring your alcoholic drinks inside.

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We were all given recipes to follow. Although I was supposed to be making sure everything was going smoothly, I ended up helping the fennel group, chopping them up and making a lemon, sugar, vinegar, oil, water preserve. They all tasted delicious and would’ve been perfect for some salad.

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We all bottled our goods and got to take them home…except someone took mine while I was cleaning up the benches. Sad.

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The station next door was run by OzHarvest and their wonderful volunteers. Again, it was very hands on and everyone was cutting up those veggies to make it into a curried tagine. The best thing about was that we got to eat it with some bread afterwards!

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Yum! And the rest goes to OzHarvest to distribute to those with empty stomached. #winning

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The tent on it’s other side was called ‘Talk to your Food’. How do we talk to our veggies? This workshop is designed so that you can make quick and healthy meals using leftover vegetables in your fridge. Firstly, we made this delicious soup with chilli, capsicum, squash, eggplant and a whole heap of stuff. We passed it around and added cucumber tossed with lemon dressing, diced tomatoes and smoked eggplant.

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Then the guy also made raw zucchini pasta. You wonder how vegans survive eating raw food, right? Shredding zucchini, or even other vegetables such as carrot into linguini strips substitutes for pasta. It’s the same as blending cauliflower into a a rice substitute. It’s delicious!

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“Twisted Drinks” by these two boys in sunnies uses the carts from planes to serve their customers. They taught us how to make an apple and lemon syrup and added soda and rum to pour us cocktails! We used a machine to put caps on the bottles- my friends are going to have the best cocktails next night out!

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We also tried this pretty strong alcohol with mixed spices and herbs. I passed around the straws and the jar so everyone could have a taste of it. I could be sipping this all day if I was chilling at my (future) holiday house.

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There was a chill tent right opposite Twisted Drinks where people like Jo and Alex, the founders of YFM gave talks about food. Ronnie Kahn from OzHarvest and the short film, ‘Sourced’, was also shown to name a few..

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Towards the end there was an excess amount of food so we got to take some chilli plants, broccoli, squash, sage, etc home. The rest went to OzHarvest #sustainableliving

The night ended at around 9:30 with crazy cleaning and packing. I ended up leaving at around 10 but there were heaps of people who stayed longer. Mind you, the organisers have been there since 6am.

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Review Rating: =D  =)  =|  =(

Product (Volunteering at CropFest for Youth Food Movement): =)

Ambience: =)

Service: =)

Value: =D

Would I volunteer at Cropfest again next year? There are several levels of volunteering when it comes to the Youth Food Movement. I was an event volunteer, meaning that I only helped out during the day. You can also be part of the ‘core team’, meaning that you can go on field trips to gather produce, make decorations, etc. Unfortunately I had a bit going on last month but I would happily help out more!

Would I donate the money I saved to a charity? Normally it’s $25 a ticket and this would be very useful to go towards meals. Did you know that $1 = 2 meals? That would mean that you helped feed one person for a full week! Yes. Let’s help the homeless.

Highlight: making the food! I love being hands on and doing things myself. I think the best was tasting the food we ate! Didn’t even need to use the food token we got given! I also loved how we got to rotate between workshops as volunteers so we could experience the night.

Suggestion of improvement: With the workshops, I don’t think people knew they had to sign up at first so it would’ve been better if it was noted on the event page. I also wished that all those who were conducting workshops and talks had a small microphone because a lot of the time I couldn’t hear them from one side of the tent to another. Other than that, it was a spacious area and nice music in the background.

Ends: March 28, 2014

Link: http://www.youthfoodmovement.org.au/

Angela Bee

Orient Hotel

Fancy yourself to a fancy Modern Australian 3 course meal at Orient Hotel, The Rocks for $30 per person.

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“The Orient Hotel has been a landmark in the historic Rocks district of Sydney since 1844,  and we’ve been a favourite watering hole for generations of Sydneysiders.”

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Well I took my friend out for her 21st/farewell dinner and on the way we passed through this lovely view of Circular Quay #sydneyporn

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1844 was when this pub was opened, before the Australian Federation in 1901! The Rocks was the site of Australia’s first European Settlement since why it’s buildings are slightly older than the rest of Sydney.

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Heading inside, you’ll need to pass the pub and walk one level upstairs to find the restaurant. White table cloths, chairs, and a few small chandeliers.

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There’s even a beautiful terrace with an outdoor greener setting which would be nice for those classic parties.

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By mistake, I didn’t print out the voucher because I was in a rush so it was a longer process to write down all my details before redeeming the deal which is weird because most places just scan your QR code? #keepupwithmoderntechnology

We received our two glasses of wine and sat down with the menu. Ok, I hadn’t seen my friend in ages so we had too much to talk about and I’m sure most people can relate to this because I used to be a waitress myself. ‘Are you ready to order yet?’ ‘Sorry we havent touched the menu, could you please come back in 2 minutes?’ Yup. that happened.

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This was our window view.

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For the entree, I ordered Crispy Smoked Duck Breast, apple and ginger puree and balsamic dressing. The duck tasted like bacon without the fat but I’m not sure if the skin was crispy? I didn’t end up eating it. I quite liked the puree but now reading the menu again, I didn’t realise there was much ginger. The picked slaw on the slide was a perfect compliment to the dish. Salty, sour and sweet. Each forkful had to be a combination of everything on the plate.

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My friend got the herbed gnocchi, broad beans, speck, sage, burnt butter. This was one of the fluffiest gnocchi I’ve ever had. I would’ve demolished this so much. The gnocchi was much greener than it is in the photo and the speck, broad beans, etc was nicely tossed. I’m not a huge fan of butter and it wasn’t overwhelming at all.

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For the main, I ordered the grilled lamb rump, minted pea, feta mash, sun dried tomatoes tapenade. Oh my goodness. This was heaven in my mouth! I requested medium rare and it was exactly what I ordered. I know a lot of people don’t like rare but it was almost rare in the middle which I loved. The peas and sun dried tomato tapenade was a nice and almost sweet sauce. That mash was so yum! Literally cubes of feta inside and it wasn’t just one or two cubes, but in every spoonful there was at least 3!

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My friend got the chargilled sirlion steak, confit tomato, rosemary and onion rings. My friend only likes her steak well done hence the sirlion steak rather than the flank steak. It was too cooked for my liking but that’s what she ordered. You cannot go wrong with cherry tomatoes and the stacked onion rings were golden and crunchy.

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For the dessert, I got the honeycomb parfait, caramelised orange. It tasted like ice cream but solid? I prefer it that way and it was a bit creamy with crunchy honeycomb splattered all over the plate. The sauce was really sweet and the caremelised orange slice was average.

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My friend had the mixed berry Eton mess meringue. Oh my goodness!! This looked fabulous and the mixed-in meringue with raspberries, blueberries was amazing. It was a very big portion and we almost managed to finish everything. Good choice.

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When we got the bill, we just had to take a photo of it. $0.00 is very rare and such a novelty.

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What a classic modern Australian meal. I’m glad I spent it for someone who came all the way from France (: #frenchconnection

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Review Rating: =D  =)  =|  =(

Product ($59 for two people for a three course meal at Orient Hotel): =)

Ambience: =)

Service: =)

Value: =)

Would I buy a $59 Groupon voucher for the Orient Hotel again? Normally I would never ever spend $30 on a meal but for what we ordered it was totally worth it. For my next special overseas friends, of course.

Would I donate the money I saved to my charity? Since I’m almost like Budget Barbie, I wouldn’t mind giving an extra $10 to a person who has never been fine dining. It could be slightly more special than going to a normal pub.

Highlight: Herbed gnocchi was probably my fav! Although I didn’t order it, the few pieces I had were so delicious! I don’t regret my lamb and feta mash combo either. Such a stunner and I’m going to add feta in the next mash I make at home #sofattybutsogood

Suggestion of Improvement: There weren’t really a lot of people at the restaurant when we got there and I wished they had the QR scanner to just make things easier. Anyways, the food was quite top and I haven’t been this full in so long. The desserts options were really sweet so many add a healthier/fruit option?

Ends: September 19, 2014

Link: http://www.groupon.com.au/deals/sydney/the-orient-hotel/718110389

Place: Orient Hotel

Angela Bee

Orient Hotel on Urbanspoon

The Welcome Dinner Project – Martin Place

On March 20, 2014, a group of 100 strangers came to a free event at Martin Place, The Welcome Dinner Project, sharing a pot-luck style dinner with each dish prepared by each guest at each table.

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“The Welcome Dinner Project is all about spreading culture of welcome in Australia. Each Welcome Dinner has provided with a unique gathering, with it’s mix of newly arrived and established Australians sharing food and stories- creating that perfect recipe for connection and rediscovering our common ground.”

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Walking down to Martin Place from Wynyard station, you’d probably notice that it is the business hub.

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This morning there was a Welcome Dinner Exhibition with St Andrews Cathedral choir and artworks and words from people around the world. #inspiring

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In case you hadn’t heard, Harmony Week is this week so it was the perfect date for bringing different cultures together.

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Tonight the dinner ran from 6:30 with inspiring text around the marquee to welcome people into our homes.

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At the entrance there was a board with words from multiple languages.

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It was also a pot luck dinner- which meant that everyone had to bring a dish from a country and share it with their designated table. Luckily there were some microwaves available for hot foods.

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I loved the setting. It was super cute and designed by UTS Shopfront. Kudos.

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The colourful bubbles on each of these cards have a word written on them by previous diners which represent how they felt about the nights.

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Look at the beautiful lanterns which lit up the marquee. Carpenters used leftover timber to make the photos frames hanging off. #sustainability

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We were grouped into tables with established and new Australians. It was quite a good concept except I was left sitting alone at my table for quite some time.. well, at least I had photos to take! There were some ice breaker questions on the table just incase you got stuck in a convo.

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I quite like the recyclable paper theme- paper table cloth, paper utensils, paper plates

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and paper bags filled with brochures.

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… and even a paper box with Miss Chu’s delicious rice paper rolls! What a star and kind supporter! We kinda didn’t resist temptation and gobbled them up before the official ‘start’ of the dinner.

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The MC and Penny introduced us to the first year anniversary of ‘The Welcome Project’. I’ve never been to one before and this one looked delightful! We had a range of curries, roast chicken, potato salad, spinach/beans/tomato/mixed salad. #nomnomnom

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We were supposed to explain a story related to our dish. Mine were my mum’s famous cupcake/muffins. My story was simple. My mum bakes these with our leftover bananas, apricots and whatever fruit and nut we have excess of. They’re a family favourite!

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We had a lovely indigenous lady educate us that the aboriginals were the first Australians and we, of course came into their land. She also highlighted that there are several aboriginal languages in Australia, using Europe as an example where there’s Italian, German, French in one continent.

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We also had someone from the Good Food Guide talk about how food shapes our culture and because we are such a multicultural country, we should share and embrace it.

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We had a little shift of tables for dessert and even had a Skype session with Adelaide.

Penny, the founder of The Welcome Project shared how she was always welcomed into strangers homes when she went travelling the world. I must admit that her story really related to how I travelled- going to a local’s home and seeing the way they live. She also thanked everyone involved, particularly on a voluntary basis.

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ABC crew were there, we took a massive groupie and we each got to write a word and pin it up on a wall.

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Although I met mostly established Australians, it was still a wonderful way to meet people from all ages and backgrounds and share a meal from their home. It was great to see the exchange and to talk about our origins.

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Review Rating: =D  =)  =|  =(

Product ( The Welcome Dinner Project): =D

Ambience: =D

Service: =)

Value: =D

Would I go to another Welcome Dinner Project again? I would absolutely love to! Even though they challenged us to get at least one email, it was a great way to make new friends- particularly if you’re new to Sydney! They also hold these in people’s homes during the year.

Would I donate the money I saved to my charity? It takes a lot of volunteers and effort to hold one of these. From decorations, to logistics, to even getting Martin Place- how on earth did they get the space? City of Sydney gave them s grant for it. For this occasion, I would donate maybe $10 but if it was held in a home, a little gold coin donation wouldn’t hurt. It was only restricted to 100 people too.

Highlight: sharing your meals. I think the most exciting thing was the food, which brought out the personalities of people too. It was pretty nice talking to everyone and if there are any awkward moments, then food is always a good topic!

Suggestion of improvement: this might be minor, but tissue paper? It was very nice hearing from all the speakers and acknowledging everyone involved. It was quite a long process but if it was spread out through the night then I would’ve been more attentive. Maybe if everyone put in if they brought an entrée, main, or dessert, then it could’ve been easier to sort tables although ours was a perfect mix of each!

Ends: this was just one, but there’s more to come!

Link: http://www.joiningthedots.org/

Angela Bee

$3 off dim sims, simple noodles and fried rice – Chef’s Gallery

Be prepared to open a slick 60 page menu, filed with innovative Chapas– Chinese style tapas with an extensive range of creative dishes with a modern twist that are specially prepared in delicious small portions. Download the pdf that opens on their website to receive $3 off their dim sims, simple noodles and fried rice during lunchtime on Monday-Fridays until June 30, 2014.

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“Chef’s Gallery menu presents masterpieces from all corners of China in a sumptuous kaleidoscopic explosion of fresh and exciting flavours, textures and aromas.”

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It’s like an area stepping into Chef’s Gallery- literally. On your right hand side, there are the chefs with their white top hats..

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and on the left are ancient pottery items, all making it an authentic Chinese setting.

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The tables are crowded with people. Make a booking if you are a group of 4 or more.

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I was fortunate enough to sit right opposite the bar. Those wine bottles looked quite tempting..

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“The signature Chefs Gallery fresh, handmade noodles take centre stage behind the glass-walled kitchen. Patrons can watch the culinary theatre as balls of special noodle dough are transformed to form the finished twists of delicate noodles, in a blur of dexterous hand movements by the master noodle chef.” We opened the black books to see what they had to offer…

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We ordered quite a few dishes because there was quite a few of us so don’t judge me by how much I eat in this post please! Firstly, this was the english spinach with garlic ($15.90).

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The ‘brilliant steamed gems collection: we picked the red beef and sun dried tomato dumplings served with sour cream ($10.90 – $3). To be honest, this was like $1.80? each. They were quite small and I expected bigger portions. There wasn’t anything extraordinary about it except it was served with sour cream, which gave a nice tinge to it.

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Peking style pancake with egg and chives ($9.90). This was soooo yummmyy! We noticed the other table (we split the table in 2) didn’t finish their last slice and we devoured it! Very flavoursome.

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Egg and spinach tofu ($14.90). This came in 6 and looked pretty different compared to what we’ve tasted. I didn’t really taste the egg and the sauce gave it its flavour.

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Then came the marble lamb dipped in Sichuan sauce with handmade spinach noodles ($16.90). They were funky green noodles and you could taste its authenticity. The portion was really big and there were veggies as well! There was some depth in the soup because of the spiciness.

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The highlight was the Zhi Jiang noodle – hand made noodles with pork mince sauce ($12.90 – $3). In the menu, it didn’t look like a lot of mince, but when the large bowl was given to you, it was literally covered in vegetables and mine all over the top.

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We mixed it to have some consistency and this was soooooooo yum. Some may think it might be on the salty side, but it was just nicely sweet with enough soy sauce.

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Prawn and prawn wonton hand made noodles in Shanghainese style spicy sauce ($13.90 – $3) was quite plain.

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Chef’s own snowflake chicken- lightly crumbled, served with handmade noodles ($16.90 – $3) looked light and crispy but again, the broth was just average.

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The wok fried medium grain with three kinds of egg ( chicken, salted duck egg, and century egg) ($15.90 – $3) was very small. It was literally a bowl of rice turned over and each person probably ate 2 spoons worth compared to the noodles where we each (6 of us) got a full bowl each +. I mean, it was nice and each rice kernel was separate.

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Looking through the menu was a culinary experience in itself. Dishes came out pretty quickly but it would’ve been a bit pricey in regards to the dim sims and rice.

Review Rating: =D  =)  =|  =(

Product ($3 off dim sims, simple noodles and fried rice at Chef’s Gallery): =)

Ambience: =)

Service: =D

Value: =)

Would I go to and get $3 off any dim sim, simple noodle or fried rice at Chef’s Gallery again? I usually have a general rule of spending $10 or less on lunch because there are tons of ‘lunch specials’ around the city. The dim sims were quite tiny and $10 for 4 is probably not the best if you’re living on a budget. Rather, go to the grape wine place near UTS Insearch. If I was ‘blown away’ by it, then yes. Fried rice was small to share. If they were bigger portions then they’ll be fine. The best was the simple noodles because they were ginormous and had lots of toppings. Definitely will go back for that.

Would I donate the money I saved to my charity? As explained above, I don’t think I would for the dim sim and fried rice dishes. However, the noodles were the peak of everything. They tasted genuinely hand made and you could tell that it was value for money.

Highlight: stirring the noodles! I don’t know why, but we actually received the fried rice first and was quite disappointed with the small portions and second guessed our order. Then the noodles came out and we were gobsmacked! Nice one, Linda for doing that. Service was great as well and the food came quickly.

Suggestion of Improvement: Larger portions for the fried rice? Maybe if they lowered the prices for the dim sims that would be good too. To be honest, a lot of things on their menus is quite expensive and their target market is probably office workers who are wanting to splurge a little for unique/different foods. They also have piggy buns! but obviously 2 for $8.90 or something like that.

Ends: June 30, 2014

Link: http://www.chefsgallery.com/

Angela Bee

-kudos to JustFoodNoWords for half of the food photos/ being part of the other side of the table
Chefs Gallery on Urbanspoon

Plant Giveaway – St Mary’s Cathedral Square

Fill your environmentally friendly tote bags with pots of colourful plants – a free giveaway from the Living Colour floral display held on Sunday March 16, 2014.

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Last September- October, designers use more than 30,000 individually grown potted flowers and plants to create the stunning floral designs in dozens of separate displays, which naturally develop so people can watch the art piece grow and change.

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So before going to the St. Patrick’s Day Parade this Sunday morning, I decided to pop by St Mary’s Cathedral Square to see if there were still any plants available. Mind you, it started at 8am and I was too exhausted from work. #fulltimefun

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Surprisingly, there were still a nice collection of plants even thought I arrived at 10:30am. Petunias here look slightly dead.

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Marigolds are literally a potluck of gold! Blooming in their healthiness.

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There was mint too. They didn’t smell very strong though.

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Sage looked luscious.

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You guys have to help me here.. I’m not a huge gardener although I know my fruits and vegetables really well.. If you know any, could you please put the number (in brackets) and its name? #whattheflower

These are absolutely gorgeous little buds (1).

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Pretty big variety and totally should’ve bought more bags for this. There was also an option of given a donation to the Bobby Goldsmith Foundation.

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Established by a dedicated group of Bobby Goldsmith’s friends in 1984, the Bobby Goldsmith Foundation has helped thousands of men, women and children living with HIV. Totally unrelated to plants, but- sure!

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I’m hoping to develop a website/app that allows anyone to post or review discounts/coupons/freebies like this, in exchange for a voucher on next purchase, or if you don’t wish to accept it, the money you’ve saved from the voucher you are given is donated to a charity. This is pretty much a real life example already! (Also a call for any programming nerds to help me out!). Kudos to my high school friends for doing this up.

Cover page

Great initiative, City of Sydney!! 5000 plants were given away. They usually finish up at noon. There’s even a ‘Tree Management Coordinator’ who works for CoS #topjob

Review Rating: =D  =)  =|  =(

Product (Free plant giveaway): =)

Ambience: =)

Service: =)

Value: =D

Would I come again to get some free plants from the City of Sydney? For those who didn’t know, this is not a one-off event. It has happened quite a few times already so I was curious as to which kind of plants they had and how long they usually last until. I would definitely come again and if I eventually move into the city, this would be the best thing ever! They aren’t the best plants but they could add a little colour to your balcony/back yard.

Would I donate the money I saved to a charity? Bunnings sell plants from as little as $2.25 for small pots of marigolds, to $$. I would’ve given at least $5 per pot. If you know nothing about plants, then its normally say, $10 for a good small plant. If you nurture them well, they’re well worth it. There is also heaps to consider: amounts of water, sunshine, shade, soil, size of container..

Highlight: seeing so many people come and grab some plants! I mean, people who actually bought bags and came in just for it! It’s hard to live in the city and grow things. There’s always the misconception that I have ‘too little place’, but if you know your gardening, then there is always room! Hang some herbs on your balcony, grow a cactus in the house, or even keep some tulips on your dinner table to brighten your meals.

Suggestion of improvement: it would’ve been tons better if there were little signs to say which plants were what. I admit, I’m not an expert so I had to eavesdrop on some conversations. Even little markers that Cumberland State Forest has on their plants. They tell you important information about how to grow it. The last thing you want is turning up at your doorstep after work and seeing a dangly brown dead plant. Sad.

Ends: March 16, 2014.. but look out on http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/

Link: http://whatson.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/events/17539-living-colour-plant-giveaway

Next plant (tree) giveaway: http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/live/trees/free-tree-giveaway

Angela Bee

Sydney St Patrick’s Day Parade and Family Fun Day

Green. Clovers. Guinness. Happy St Patricks Day! Sydney hosted a parade and family fun day at George and Park street, and Hyde Park on Sunday March 16, 2014 even with the rain!

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St Pats Day actually started in 1810 when Governor Macquarie recognised the celebration by providing entertainment for convicts that were employed by the government at the time. The first St. Patricks Day Parade in Sydney was in 1979. In fact in 2007, the Irish Independent named Sydney one of the best places in the world for the celebration.

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I got to Townhall station and on exit, I heard those trumpets already in celebration. Event volunteers were giving out booklets with information.

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On George street, the floats were getting ready. Check out these giant green bubble boys.

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There were heaps of cars done up with the traditional green orange and white balloons.

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What is a Soda Bakery? Bread is normally made of yeast but here they use soda! I make scones at home with lemonade some times.

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It takes more coarse than normal white bread.

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Look at that pose. Don’t mention what they said.

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I even passed this float with dancing nuns!! They were on fire! There were tons of musical instruments and even though it started raining, people lined up on the streets to give it a glance. Very supportive, Sydney. I like.

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Hyde Park opened up its fences at 11:30am. We had all our bags checked and was asked to give a gold coin donation upon arrival.

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The main attraction was obviously the PJ Gallagher’s bar. A Guinness schooner was $7.50 which opened at noon. Good choice considering how many people could get trashed by the end of the day…

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Why is water $4? We’ve done our RSAs and it’s illegal not to offer free water to these soon-to-be drunk kids….

Gift bags with typical Irish goods were also on the market. I can’t say I’ve tried any of these before.

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I wish my mum were here. It’s her favourite colour.

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There was a little tent for tea, coffee and cakes with seating. How lovely! It was covered from the sun/ rain, depending on which part of the day you came.

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This year Hyde Park reminded me of the Easter Show. There was fairy floss, snow cones, large toys and even clown games. When was the last time you played this?

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There were actually a significant amount of rides for the kids.

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Even a little farm animal exhibition which was a family favourite. I can’t believe how many mothers dressed their kids in green too!

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Oh the mice in the bread. This is so adorable.

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Of course there was the food. The Irish butchery was a given, but there was even the gozleme ladies, paella plates..

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There was quite a crowd even though I went early on during the day. The sad part was when it was raining but I guess it cleared up during the evening. Happy St Patrick’s Day!

Review Rating: =D  =)  =|  =(

Product (Sydney St. Patrick’s Day): =)

Ambience: =D

Service: =)

Value: =)

Would I go next year to Sydney St Patrick’s Day? It was quite a bit of fun and I wished I had some Irish friends to celebrate this with- it really would make a Guinness record difference. If I was free during the evening, definitely! I want to see what the night atmosphere is like.

Would I donate the money I saved to my charity? A gold coin donation was asked at the entrance of Hyde Park, which is really what this blog is about! YAY! I’m sure I saw a lot of people throw in a few coins so yup.

Highlight: The great thing about arriving early to a parade is that you get to see the floats up front and close, making perfect photo opportunities. The excitement of the bubble boys when they popped up, and even the bands that were practicing really make the crowd get into the spirit.

Suggestion of Improvement: there weren’t many tables and chairs at Hyde Park. There was probably one under covered space but  was on the other side of the park? Even when it was sunny there were lots of green patches and not really any seating places.

Ends: March 16, 2014

Link: http://www.stpatricksday.org.au/

Angela Bee

$2 ice cream crepe and soda – Mother’s Crepe

$2 can go a long way if you like ice cream, crepes and soda. That’s right my friends, Mothers Crepe at World Square released a $2 combo with all the above.

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Mothers Crepe is a franchise started in Japan, offering sweet and savory crepes. In fact, did you know that they contain 50% dietary fibre commonly found in cereals? in their crepe mix? Interesting fact on their website.

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I think I nearly screamed when I woke up at 5am in the morning when I checked my inbox. You got to be kidding, right? I immediately bought one voucher..but it’s max 5 per person.

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Being a keen bean, I decided to go and check out what the fuss was about. When I arrived I think I found out that they are launching their soda drinks. They include pink grapefruit, lemonade, orange and cream soda.

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The ice cream flavours are baileys, black sesame, chocolate obsession, Ferrero rocher, hokey pokey, black sesame, salted caramel, Hokkaido milk, Mars bar, green tea, Nutella, snickers, strawberry summer, tim tam and tiramisu.

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I had a hard time deciding so I left it up to the guy at the counter who offered me the salted caramel. It took maybe 5 minutes? Less? I was Ina. Bit of a hurry so time was slow but there was only one person before me. I probably arrived at 6:10pm?

Watch the crepe makers use their tools over a circular heated plate. If you know me personally, I lived in France for a while so seeing this excites me! This is how hey do it there!

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It can be tricky getting the thin layer because you can’t press onto the hot plate with the tool, but spread it evenly just above. It’s a technique and I still remember doing it for the first time… I was working at a crepe/churro/gelato place and no, I didn’t serve my crepe to the customer LOL. Ever since I’ve made tons of crepes for the French Speaking Society. I think I’ve improved.

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There was a giant scoop of ice cream in my massive crepe. You can’t see it bulge in the middle but oh my gosh. This is definitely my #yolo meal of the day! The ice cream had pieces of caramel and oh so delicious! Thanks for the spoon too!

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I don’t fancy melted ice cream but they cooled it down a bit before scooping it in. I noticed some jam twirled onto the crepe which made it pretty to eat.

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Thank goodness I drank more than half of the pink grapefruit soda. It was really yum, not too sweet and not too sour. I quite like a bit of acidic taste because it makes it more ‘genuine’. I wonder what the percentage of fruit juice is in this? Normally it’s like 5%.

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A nice dinner treat and the crepe was thick and chewy. Loved it. It was thinly layered but when you roll it up obviously it becomes fatter. Cute pink wrapping too!

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#gold #twodollarshop #best$2spent

Review Rating: =D  =)  =|  =(

Product ($2 ice cream crepe and soda: =D

Ambience: =)

Service: =)

Value: =D

Would I go and buy a $2 ice cream crepe and soda combo from Mothers Crepe again? Done! This is totally worth more. How can you not buy 5? Cheaper than chips!

Would I donate the money I saved to my charity? It’s originally worth $6.50 and I would still pay it for an ice cream crepe and soda. If you think about it, it’s usually around $5 for one scoop of ice cream. You’ll get that in a crepe! Oh the joy! The drink is an added bonus.

Highlight: once that ice cream gets melted in the bottom of the crepe cone, it’s all runny so be careful not to spill it all over your top. It’s quite fun eating it strategically.

Suggestion of Improvement: I don’t know if the sodas would sell for $3 by itself. Maybe if it was $2, but I like the idea of being an add-on for $1. Anyway, the sodas were average but I’m keen to try the rest out.

Ends: June 16, 2014

Link: http://www.groupon.com.au/deals/sydney/mother-s-crepe/718110547

Angela Bee

Mother's Crepe World Square on Urbanspoon

Movie Mondays – The Soda Factory

Every monday night from 8pm, The Soda Factory offers large comfy couches, a wide screen projection screen, and cups of salty popcorn, the three essential things for a cosy movie night.

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The Soda Factory opened at the end of February last year on Wentworth Avenue, offering a range of special offers everyday. Movie Mondays were on our cards this week and enjoy with free popcorn.

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There isn’t a clear sign when looking for the bar so look out for the bright red ‘Bobby’s Boss Dogs’. It’ll get you in the American mood with those stripey colours.

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Then, open the Coke machine with the coke bottle door handle to literally enter the Soda Factory. There’s actually another door but.. *surprise*!

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It actually does not look like a literal Soda Factory with machines piping out soda drinks. Instead, it’s just a cute little bar with a slight 1920s feel.

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Although there are displays of bottles around the bar and Coca Cola signs too.

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The wooden stools and tables behind the cocktail bar give it a vintage feel. It was pretty funny because this elderly group actually came in towards the end of the movie and then came out. I’m sure they would’ve loved the old school vibe. Too bad the movie was in its finishing stages.

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Audrey Hepburn and a white scooter were on display. Can I please ride it?

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A few weeks ago they also changed the menu. They’re usually know for their $1 hotdogs on Tuesdays but maybe next time I’ll try it out. What is a Cheese Burger Spring Roll? or Chicken Waffle with maple syrup? Interesting…

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To be honest, there weren’t a lot of people. Maybe around 20? I’m not the best head counter but it was nice because I could see the screen without taller people sitting in front of me!

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The popcorn got passed around 15 minutes after ‘Big Trouble in Little China’ started.

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It was extremely salty. I was trying to shake all the salt off but I guess they’d want to encourage us to buy drinks, right?

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Oh, the movie was such a trashy movie but endlessly hilarious. I’m not sure either I liked it or not. I know in previous months they’ve had fundraiser events, particularly for ‘Movember’.

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Twas nice to chill and watch a movie with friends!

Review Rating: =D  =)  =|  =(

Product (Movie Mondays at The Soda Factory): =)

Ambience: =D

Service: =)

Value: =)

Would I go to Movie Mondays at The Soda Factory again? Yes indeed! In fact, my friends and I want to go in 2 weeks! We’ll have to check the movie on Rotten Tomatoes though.

Would I donate the money I saved to a charity? Knowing that this was a fundraising opportunity in previous months, a gold coin donation wouldn’t be too bad.

Higlight: sinking into the couches and just sitting back. Working full time hours is quite tiring and even though Monday is the start of the week, it’s just nice and refreshing to have a drink or two whilst watching a random movie. I also liked how they started on time. So many places say that’ll do something but wouldn’t start until 30 minutes later.

Suggestion of Improvement: Less salt on the popcorn please! It was just too much. Also, a brief synopsis of the movie would be great on the website, including year it was made, actors, etc would be helpful!

Ends: never. It’s every Monday.
Link: http://sodafactory.com.au/

Angela Bee

The Soda Factory on Urbanspoon

$5 Breakfast and coffee – Miss M Café

A chalk wall of art, with inspiration from around the world awaits at Miss M Café, so come here for a breakfast roll, banana bread and coffee for only $5 altogether at Bondi Junction before heading off to the famous Bondi Beach.

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Miss M Café sits next to Westfield on Oxford St Street, offering sandwiches, healthy salads and coffee. In fact, they were named ‘Best Café in Sydney’ by The Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide 2013.

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Honestly, I cannot believe this deal was $41 and I was saving just over $30. The photos did look amazing online but how about the actual experience?

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Thankfully I chose a beautiful and sunny day so the tree outside was glistening in the sunlight, and coffee lovers could sit outside in the little fenced off area.

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I actually love the wooden bench that faces out. What a great idea! If I’m just having a coffee myself and wanting a bit of fresh air because I’ve been in the office for the morning, I kind of want a place to sit and soak in the sunshine.

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Walking inside, you’ll see a wonderful chalk board displayed menu… except without any prices labelled.

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The baguettes, open sandwiches, muffins, and assorted pastries are in the display cabinets. They look pretty amazing and can’t wait to see the breakfast roll for our voucher!

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The wall says it all – their coffee is organic fair trade and from Monte Carlo.

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It is very decorative and their staff are probably creative junks writing and drawing on the blackboards. Reminds me a little of school. No, not current schools but when we had the good ol dusty chalkboards.

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We order our skimmed cappuccinos before sinking down into a large couch. It wasn’t strong at all and tasted watered down/had more milk than coffee. The coffee here sounded so promising with those words of coffee wisdom before!

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Our breakfast ‘rolls’ came out not long after. In the description, it says ‘Bacon, Eggs, Spinach, Mushroom and Hollandaise Sauce’. There were 2 rashes of bacon, an egg on top, and a heaps of hollandaise sauce but I’m not too sure if there was much (or if any) spinach and mushroom? I had a bit of tomato in mine though. It was more like an open breakfast on a slice of sourdough.

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The slices of banana bread were thin quarter slices. Then again, I was filling up anyway so it was light dessert treat to my brekkie. It was a bit sweet but moist enough.

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There was a bit of a problem when trying to book for the weekend. The phone number would always ring out and there wasn’t an answering machine to leave your details. Walk-in on weekdays but for bookings on the weekend, call between 8:30-9am.

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Review Rating: =D  =)  =|  =(

Product ($5 breakfast at Miss M Cafe): =)

Ambience: =D

Service: =)

Value: =)

Would I buy another $10 breafast for 2 at Miss M café? $5 for breakfast and coffee is bloody good! The coffee and breakfast roll wasn’t the best but for what you’re paying, it’s a great deal!

Would I donate the money I saved to my charity? The value wasn’t too bad and the place isn’t terrible. It’s actually done up pretty nicely with a nice ambience. $4 would go to charity. I’m not sure I’d pay $10 if I could go elsewhere for a good meal without the coffee.

Highlight: Those tables are nice! It could be a little low or if you’re sitting on a couch you’ll need to lean forward, but it just makes it look arty. Love reading the stuff on the walls and had quick service.

Suggestion of improvement: coffee could be stronger. I’m not a huge fan of milk and can only tolerate it in coffees or teas so that was a bit of a downfall. More spinach and mushroom would’ve been nice but I liked the display of the foods coming out on the wooden boards. I’m not sure if it’s close to being the ‘Best Café in Sydney’ though..

Ends: May 14, 2014

Link: http://experiences.ouffer.com/brekkie-break-in-bondi-junction-only-10-for-two-breakfast-rolls-two-slices-of-banana-bread-and-two-large-coffees-to-dine-in-or-take-away-sink-your?utm_source=rss

Angela Bee

Miss M on Urbanspoon