During my stay in Sydney, I had dinner with a friend at Bootleg Bar and Italian Food in Potts Point. The establishment was tiny. Passing through the front door, we walked past the bar on the left and intimate booths on the right. Not too many steps further, we got to the “dining room area” which was basically a few table tops that were aligned in front of a long bench against the wall. The lighting was dark and the music playing was old school hip-hop (think Wu Tang and Tribe Called Quest). I immediately fell in love with the place. In addition to the table menus, I noticed hand-written specials on the chalkboard on the wall opposite of the bench. Lucky for us, the bottles of wine were half off that night! When the waiter approached our table, I noticed that not only was he good looking, he was knowledgeable of the food menu and incredibly kind. The atmosphere of the Bootleg is trendy and non-pretentious – a perfect mix. As we leisurely enjoyed our wine and dinner, the waiter kept perfect pace with the service and didn’t skip a beat with filling our water (once our wine was done). I would recommend Bootleg Bar for a casual dinner or an intimate date. The food was good (we both ordered the prawn linguine special), the wine went down nicely and the service was outstanding.
Category Archives: Eat
Hand made noodles. Yum. On a Saturday, I had the chance to try Chefs Gallery. This Chinese restaurant is not the typical run-down Chinese restaurant. Located by Townhall in Sydney’s CBD (Central Business District), is this impressively clean, modernly furnished Chinese restaurant. The interior is decorated with cubed tables and chairs, but it was the wide window of men working with raw noodles that caught my eye. Similar to many sushi restaurants where you can sit at the bar and watch the chefs prepare raw fish, they have the same concept – but rather than looking at raw fish, you see boilers, steamers, tables of flour and chefs using their whole upper bodies to stretch out the flour to create perfectly shaped noodles. For our meal, we looked through their hard-bound menu with beautiful pictures of dumplings, noodles and an assortment of food. We ordered a number of dishes and everything that came out was magnificent. Every dish had its own distinct taste and satisfied my palette. The service was odd. They had waiters and runners, but were all dressed alike and it was after mistakenly ordering through a runner, we soon found out the difference. Overall, the service was good. They were relatively attentive with our water glasses and they picked up our empty plates in a timely manner. I would definitely visit Chefs Gallery again. Not for their service, because it was average, but for their distinctive handmade noodles.
I had the opportunity to explore Darling Harbour. Darling Harbour is an area located close to Sydney’s CBD (central business district). At night, the Harbour is very charming with a lake surrounded by restaurants and shop lights giving a glow to the area. It could be a very romantic area. For me, it was just a casual night out. The ground was wet from the rain, but the air was dry. I was having dinner with a friend and we decided to try something Italian. We randomly walked up to Olivo, an Italian restaurant that had seating indoors and offered a cute patio. The host immediately greeted us with a friendly demeanor. We opted to sit outside to enjoy the cool breeze. Although I enjoyed my friend’s company catching up, I couldn’t help but notice that it took nearly 15 – 20 minutes before our waitress came to our table to greet us. She started with, “Has anyone told you about our special tonight?” We both shook our heads and she continued to explain, “You can choose from any of the two items on the menu and if you want, you can choose a third but those are the specials we have for tonight. Do you have any questions about the items on the menu?” Puzzled, I ask her to explain the special to me again and she points the menu to me and repeats herself in an irate tone of voice, “You can choose any of the two items here or here and if you want you can choose to have the third. But you can only have two. And those are our specials.” At this point, I think I’m getting stupid just listening to her. I pick my original order of spaghetti bolognese and she rushes off. As she’s leaving, I turn to my friend and ask him if he understood the special for the night. “I don’t know. She confused me and asking her again didn’t help me either.” We laughed and although I’m annoyed, I don’t think much of it. Another half hour or so passes and our dinner finally comes out. Mind you, the restaurant has a good crowd. It’s not terribly busy, but it’s not dead. They are appropriately staffed with waiters/ waitresses serving both indoor and outdoor patrons. When my dinner came out, I asked for chili flakes. The dumb waitress asks, “Peppers chopped in oil or dry chili flakes?” I told her the dry, chili flakes. The bitch brings out the peppers chopped in oil. During my meal, I asked three different people for a refill of water (of which, only the third guy – the host – brought out a pitcher). I was so fed up at the end of dinner that when they cleared our plates, I immediately told them to give us the bill. The service here sucks. They employ idiots and their food is mediocre. At least the view of the harbour was nice. I wouldn’t return nor recommend this place to anyone. Sydney has tons of really cute restaurants, it’s a shame this one tainted my Sydney dining experience.
It’s very rare that I get riled up to write a post during my dining experience. If I have that urge – it’s because it’s either outstandingly awesome or just crap that I wouldn’t want anyone else to experience. I first heard of the new carnival themed restaurant Straw in a review from Thrillist. I was initially excited that it was opening in my hood, but I was even more excited when read about the unique menu, mirroring the type of food you would find well… at a carnival. Less than a month old, I decided to give the place a try. After pulling it up on Yelp and saw that it already had more than 40 reviews with an average score of 4 stars, I have to be honest – I went in with high expectations. And boy, I was NOT disappointed.
I was running a bit late meeting my friend, and lucky for me she arrived in time to put her name on the list. She told me to meet her next door at Mercury Cafe because the guy at Straw suggested her to go next door for coffee or a beer. I met her at the cafe and while she was explaining to me that the host promised her he would come get her (next door), a guy comes in with a clipboard and walks towards our way to tell us that our table was ready. ”Take your time. You can stay here and finish your beer and I’ll hold your table for you.” Wow. I was astonished by his pleasant demeanor and hospitable gesture. Since we were both hungry, we decided to immediately leave the cafe and follow him next door. Once we walked into Straw, I immediately understood why he suggested my friend to go next door – Straw is small. But it is oh so incredibly quaint. The delicious wafting aroma was distracting me from taking in the eclectic decor of carnival signs and light bulbs in mason jars. Our waitress was incredibly cute. She was helpful, not pushy and always approached our table with a smile. After staring at the cute menus that replicated home made books, we were absolutely torn. We wanted to order everything on the menu! The menu consists of items you wouldn’t think to put together… not even on drunken nights. But oddly enough, they sounded appealing. We started our dinner with crab beignets. Oh-My-Fuckin-Gosh, these fried lumps of crab were dangerously delicious. After a couple of bites of the beignets, our waitress came to our table to tell us that our sandwiches were ready and inquired if we wanted her to bring out the sandwiches or wait (since we JUST started on our appetizer). I was blown away by her courtesy and politeness. We each ordered a sandwich, me the ‘Hot Tamale’ and my friend the ‘Bearded Lady’. Her pulled pork sandwich was better than my chicken sandwich but only because the pork had much more flavor than the chicken. We ended our dinner with funnel cake, but honestly wasn’t too impressed with it. The flavor was great, but the funnel cake came out in little strands and pieces.
Throughout our meal, my water glass was refilled at least 5 times and our waitress never skipped a beat. She was attentive, friendly and professional. When the bill came out in a wooden box, I noticed that it contained our bill and pieces of Jolly Rancher candies, I felt like a kid all over again. Straw definitely sparks a bit of nostalgia with the decor and radiating vibe. The decor is whimsical, the staff and customer service is outstanding and the food is marvelous. I highly recommend Straw.
It’s rare that I travel out to the East Bay and I clearly remember one of the first times I did. Me and 3 other friends drove over to Berkeley to have lunch at Cafe Rouge. It was the first time I visited that area and was very impressed. The small town feel was cute. I found it charming watching the local pedestrians walking their dogs up and down the boutique shops. Cafe Rouge is located on 4th Street and nestled inside the main street. When we arrived, the restaurant was fully packed. Luckily one of our other two friends (that were meeting us) had made reservations. Our round table for 6 was right next to the bathrooms…. yay. Luckily for us – the stench did not find its way outside of the bathroom doors. The restaurant is very cute. The red, orange and yellow rustic colors coupled with detailed accents added an elegant and welcoming touch. The place was filled with mirrors which opened up the restaurant. As we sat down, it took the waiter 10 minutes to get us menus. Once he gave us menus, he took our drink orders. It took him 15 minutes to get us 3 bloody mary’s, 1 cup of coffee and 2 waters. Even at this point he did not take our order. He came back after 10 minutes to tell us that he forgot what the soup of the day was – and brought us bread. Nearly 40 minutes later, he finally took our order. To sum it up, we had reservations at 2:30 and we didn’t leave until 5pm. I understand Sundays are meant for relaxation, and although we had great company – a 2-1/2 hour lunch for 6 people is not acceptable. The food was decent, I ordered a chicken sandwich that was dry and I finished my meal with ice cream bon bons which were plain. The best thing I had? Bloody Mary.
I wouldn’t recommend this spot.
Good vibes, good food and good times – what more can you ask for? Spectacular service – now that’s just asking for too much. At Le Colonial, I truly received ‘all of the above’. I’ve frequented this fine establishment a handful of times for many different occasions; A brief stop to enjoy appetizers, a fun place to gather for drinks and live music, and one time in particular – a romantic first date. Each and every one of these experiences I can honestly say I left with an awe of positive experiences.
I was recently asked on a first date and I met him at the upstairs bar at Le Colonial. We chatted with the sarcastic bartender for a bit while he recommended and served a scrumptious house special cocktail. It wasn’t long before a host approached us to inform that our dinner table was ready. We walked downstairs to the table nestled in a cove by the front windows. Our waiter was patient and I found it amusing that he attempted to repeat our orders in Vietnamese. For those who haven’t visited Le Colonial, they serve a glorified Vietnamese menu. (They claim that it’s French influenced, but as some of you may know – Vietnam became “French influenced” when the French colonized the country in the 19th century.) During this particular date, we had the Chilean sea bass, lemongrass chicken and a side order of the glass noodles. The flavors were excellent and the timing of each dish coming to our table was undeniably on point. We didn’t feel rushed nor did we find ourselves in long waiting periods between our appetizers and our main course. At the end of the meal, we noticed the once packed room of patrons was now an empty room of only two occupied tables (ours and another couple). Our waiter patiently waited and never rushed us to leave. Upon paying, the host approached us and asked if my date lost his wallet. He told us that another patron found the wallet on the floor upstairs by the bar and returned it to the host stand. We were shocked and pleasantly surprised. My date went upstairs to thank the patron and upon his return the host already had our coats in his hands. My date asked if the host could give him change for a large bill and the host asked, “For what, sir?” My date replied, “I’d like to tip you” and the host waves his hand and answers, “Oh, don’t worry about it sir. You can get me next time. I’m sure you’ll be back to visit us.” Sure enough, I’ve been back a couple of times and the customer service was always spectacular. I love this place for many reasons and superior customer service is definitely one of them.
I’ve heard nothing but great reviews about Starbelly and I finally had the opportunity to try their dinner menu. I met 4 of my friends at the restaurant – and they were already sitting outside when I arrived. Little did I know, they were waiting for a table inside to clear. For whatever reason, although the tables outside have more than ample space for guests to enjoy dinner, we were informed by the rude hostess/ waitress that they have a policy of not serving food on their patio. After a confusing shuffle of moving inside, we were lucky to have a really cool waitress who knew her stuff. It was impressive how she knew exactly what was on the menu and was extremely helpful to recommend specific entree choices. In these establishments, I guess it’s common to have multiple servers. I understand restaurants having food runners, but while we were waiting for our drink and food order, we had multiple servers come by our table. It was all actually very random. Not only was it confusing, since none of them were dressed in a “uniform” or had anything to distinguish themselves from the general public, but they all were incredibly rude. A lady came by to drop off our salumi selection and we asked her to advise us on which meat was which – and she gave us attitude. I had to ask one of the food runners to refill my water – and we had to wait FOREVER for our 3rd round of cocktails. We asked for an extra sharing plate during our 5th appetizer and the food runner/ server gave us a look as if we asked for a miracle. The food was good – we shared many appetizers and a main entree. Of the appetizers, we had the salumi, gazpacho, mussels, grits, broccolini, chicken liver pate and warm bread. We each nibbled on an order of the spaghetti. The food was debatably good and nothing in particular blew us away. Later in the evening a lady came by to pick up a plate and we asked if all of the servers were new. She smiled and said there’s always a lot of turnover. Go figure. Overall – the service was weak and the food was ok.
If you’ve ever visited a resort, you would know that customer service isn’t an option, it’s a requirement. During the Labor Day weekend, my boyfriend made accommodations at Bacara Resort. Nestled away in Goleta, California, about 20 miles north of Santa Barbara, the exit for the resort was a bit difficult to find – but that was only due to the freeway construction. When we drove over cobble stoned pavement up to the entrance of the resort, we felt somewhat out of place with our Ford rental car. Lined against the inside walls were Range Rovers of every year and color and a combination of foreign luxury cars – BMW’s, Mercedes and Porsches. We approached the valet attendant and he politely asked for our last name as he directed us to the lobby registration. The sense of feeling out of place was quickly erased when the front desk receptionist sincerely helped us check in. Not only was she personable, but kind and incredibly helpful with information about the resort. Since our room wasn’t quite ready, we decided to explore the resort and look for the pool. Walking around the maze of the resort, we finally found the two saline water swimming pools. To our dismay, it was loud with screaming kids, so we decided to grab lunch at the nearby Bistro. We walked through an empty foyer where a hostess finally met us and in a cold tone of voice asked if we were joining them for lunch. After asking to sit outside, she courtly guided us to our table. Luckily our waiter Ricardo entertained us during our lunch with his silly humor. The service at the Bistro was oddly slow, we had to ask for water refills and for the check – but everyone was incredibly pleasant. After lunch, we returned to the front lobby where they had our luggage packed onto a luggage cart and we had a “driver” escort us (and our luggage) to our room. The whole stay was truly amazing – not only was the resort beautiful with close access to the beach, but the landscaping of the greens were also well maintained. From the bartender to the waitress to the valet service – every time we thanked a resort worker, they always replied, “my pleasure”. It’s places like this that will always do well – they understand the importance of treating the guest with the best service. I would highly recommend this resort time and time again.
I recently visited Gott’s Roadside – it’s what used to be Taylor’s Burger on the Embarcadero. The setup looks exactly the same…. outdoor patio seating with long wooden tables and benches. Inside still looks like a long, wide diner. I met a couple of friends on a Sunday afternoon for a late lunch (2pm). The weather was nice (surprisingly for a summer day in San Francisco) and so we decided to sit outside. A friend of mine was kind enough to take my order of a “chicken sandwich” and went inside to place the order. I sat outside to save our table as the rest of the group stood in the long line to order. About 10 minutes later, everyone returned with their beverage and a square pager. We all chatted for a good 10 minutes or so before the buzzers went off. When they all returned with their food, I noticed that my friend ordered the wrong item for me. Rather than a chicken sandwich, he ordered chicken strips. I really wasn’t in the mood for strips, so I decided to see if I could swap out the order or just place another order. When I walked inside, I noticed the long line and went to the other end (where people pick up the orders) and asked the cashier if I could simply place another order without waiting in line. I explained to him that my friend ordered the wrong item. He whispered something to the cook and turned to me and asked for my order. I pulled out my wallet and he waved and said, “Don’t worry about it.” I was shocked and instinctively asked, “Are you sure?” He nodded and asked me where I was sitting. I motioned outside and he said he would bring it to me. I graciously thanked him and walked outside to where I was sitting. Within 5 minutes, he brought out my sandwich with a smile. This is the type of service that makes it hard not to come back. Despite the fact that the food was really greasy – just knowing that I would be taken care of is well worth the trip. Quite honestly, I would have been happy with not having to wait in line to get my sandwich. They truly went far and beyond to take care of me by not charging and bringing it to me!
I’ve frequent this place 100 times too many… and I’m rather surprised that it’s taken me this long to write about it. Of the 100 times that I visited, there was not a time that I wasn’t blown away with the magnificent customer service. From the minute I enter the restaurant, there’s always a courteous host/ hostess who doesn’t keep me waiting long, if at all. There’s been a time where I had to wait in the couch waiting area, and a server came and gave me an appetizer for waiting. I was blown away!
I’ve frequent this establishment for lunches, happy hours and dinners. Although at times the noise level is similar to a circus, I blame it on the concrete walls and lack of sound insulation. And many times, I couldn’t help but admire the charming black chandeliers that accentuate the orange couches.
I’d offer suggestions of items to try on the menu, but it’s constantly changing – which always brings me back to try new items. I have yet to be disappointed with the food. The quality is fresh, the amount is ample and the flavors consistently tickles my palette. If available, I’d suggest trying the goat cheese appetizer, the crab salad and the sol dinner. The drinks are AMAZING – the blood orange margarita is definitely a “must try”.
As great the food is, I honestly return time after time because I know the service will always be top notch.