22 May 2011

VIVO Café: A Taste of VIVO Blogger's Evening, CBD Sydney (13 May 2011)

388 George Street, Sydney NSW 2000

Feasting through the menu

Thanks to the very passionate and business-minded Angela Vithoulkas from VIVO Café for inviting me as a guest to their tasting event. Earlier in the day I visited unannounced for a Dark hot chocolate ($4.40) and Mocha ($4.40) which were quite nice and the service seemed fairly attentive. I love having the opportunity to try lots of dishes on a menu but when 19 dishes plus drinks are generously provided there comes a point where it’s very difficult to appreciate the dishes when you get too full. The golden rule of ‘Less is More’ certainly would have helped and I think being served half of the dishes in one sitting would have allowed better appreciation for me. In any case VIVO seems to have a decent range of bar options for an after work drink or actually any time of the day if that suits you better. My Gin & Tonic ($6.80) is served in a small glass hence the noticeable alcohol, which I don’t mind, but the lime is only used as a garnish rather than being squeezed which I’d prefer.

First lot of tastings came in the form of six types of burgers presented as mini bites which worked quite well as tasters although they all had similar ingredients except for the main protein component. I avoided the outer carbs knowing how much more was in store for us. I quite liked the flavour of the Greek Lamb Burger. I didn’t get to try them all so a revisit might be in order to try some at its full size with fries for $19.90, although that’s probably on the upper scale of pricing for a burger in the city so you’d hope it’s a pretty good one. Next was a series of drinks served mini style as well. I actually found these a bit more interesting than the dishes because they were quite unique. I enjoyed the refreshing Homemade Lemonade ($6.80) although I’d probably struggle to finish a full size decadent VIVOlicious Crunchy Peanut Butter Shake ($6.50) but if you’re a peanut lover it could be achievable. The Mango & Lime Smoothie ($6.90) flavour combination seemed to work quite well but I preferred the Iced Lemongrass & Ginger Tea ($5.80) — great for a hot day.

By this time I was feeling comfortable but then tasting took a turn with four breakfast dishes to share. Probably not the best time of the day for my stomach to be trying these but I persevered. Spanish Coddled Egg ($15.80) was a hearty dish although I was expecting a more robust flavour from the sauce and the taste of chorizo. Parmesan Scrambled Eggs ($12.80) was an egg filling dish but I prefer when the toast is kept to the side so it doesn’t end up soggy underneath. The Breakfast Bruschetta ($13.80) had some nice flavours although being able to pick it up to eat like bruschetta would have been nice. The Green Breakfast ($13.80) certainly lived up to its green appearance only to be contrasted with perfectly poached egg. Probably not for me although the addition of pesto was quite nice. Feeling quite comfortably full from egg protein overload it was time for five salads, oh dear.

The Thai Beef Salad ($24.90) came with crispy rice noodles which were well liked but I’d be a bigger fan if it came with green papaya salad. I think my favourite salad might have been the Vietnamese Chicken Salad ($19.90) although I was so full I couldn’t eat much of it. After just finishing the salads we had reached struggletown of four mains. I was expecting the Crispy Skin Chicken ($22.90) to be more crispy and wasn’t expecting the thai curry sauce based on it’s description. The Chicken, Leek & Pea Risotto ($21.90) was what you’d maybe expect from a fast-turnaround kitchen which has designed its dishes for efficient timing rather than purity of authenticity. The sauce of the Mediterranean Roasted Vegetable Penne ($21.90) was quite light on taste for me and the Prawn Linguini ($24.90) had quite a number of decent sized prawns but quite a buttery sauce and a lack of garlic. I prefer the more flavoursome prawn pasta dish at The Golden Sheaf Hotel. And so ends our feasting in a food como with a Platter of fruit to cleanse the palate followed by a very reasonably priced Affogato ($4.90) which was thankfully pretty decent. As an added treat we tried the VIVO Espresso Martini ($6.80) which is non-alcoholic, boo-hoo, but an interesting concoction in answer to a coffee version of an iced-tea perhaps.

Other food blog reviews:
Tony Hollingsworth

PROS: Free WIFI, Centrally located in the city, Free live entertainment Friday nights, Interesting and reasonably priced drinks, Ethically responsible coffee trading, Breakfast options seem reasonably priced, Carb and gluten-free friendly menu options available, Plenty of seating, Great spot to people watch, Aim to provide fast turnaround for kitchen meals, Supporters of OzHarvest
CONS: Table supports in the way of positioning feet flat is one of my personal pet hates, Main meals weren't particularly inspiring but possibly this was because I was quite full at the time
WORTH TRYING: Homemade lemonade, Iced Lemongrass & Ginger Tea, Affogato
MAYBE NEXT TIME: Chicken Caesar, Moroccan Spiced Lamb Salad, Traditional Fish & Chips, Ricotta Pancakes

Dark hot chocolate ($4.40)

Mocha ($4.40)

Cakes menu

Coffee menu

Gin & Tonic ($6.80)

The tasting menu — 19 dishes plus drinks

Mini burger of Wagyu Beef with double cheese, caramelized onion, lettuce, tomato

Mini burger of Greek Lamb Burger with fetta & olives, tomato, lettuce, tzatziki

Mini burger of Portugese Chicken Burger with lettuce, tomato, cheese, chilli lime aioli

Mini burger of Aussie Steak Burger with bacon, egg, onions, tomato, lettuce, beetroot relish & BBQ sauce

Mini burger of Grilled Barramundi Fish Burger with baby cos, tomato & spicy citrus mayo

Mini burger of Thai Chicken Burger with cucumber salad, roasted capsicum, coriander & sweet chilli sauce

Homemade Lemonade ($6.80)

VIVOlicious Crunchy Peanut Butter Shake ($6.50)

Mango & Lime Smoothie ($6.90)

Iced Lemongrass & Ginger Tea ($5.80)

Spanish Coddled Egg served with toasted Turkish Bread – Tomato ragout, chorizo, cheese, mushrooms & roasted peppers infused with smoked paprika ($15.80)

Parmesan Scrambled Eggs with lemon thyme, wild mushrooms & rocket on whole wheat toast ($12.80)

Breakfast Bruschetta - Fetta, roasted tomato & marinated capsicum infused w/ basil & lemon topped with poached egg on sourdough toast ($13.80)

Green Breakfast - Avocado, pesto & spinach on sourdough toast topped with poached egg ($13.80)

Grilled Atlantic Salmon Salad with pear, black grapes, orange & rocket in a seeded mustard vinaigrette ($24.90)

Thai Beef Salad with crispy noodles, coriander, tomato & Nam Jim dressing (Note: tomato flower decoration on top is not usually included) ($24.90)

Warm Chicken & Pumpkin Salad with asparagus and a honey mustard dressing ($21.90)

Vietnamese Chicken Salad with shredded chicken, carrot, bean sprouts, Chinese cabbage, fresh chilli and a tangy spicy asian dressing ($19.90)

Grilled Haloumi & Roasted Vegetable Salad with pumpkin, eggplant, cherry tomatoes & balsamic reduction ($19.90)

Crispy Skin Chicken with fresh chilli, rocket, garlic, basil, parmesan cheese & extra virgin olive oil ($22.90)

Chicken, Leek & Pea Risotto with white wine & cream, topped with pesto oil and rocket ($21.90)

Mediterranean Roasted Vegetable Penne with fetta and olive tapenade in a fresh tomato & herb sauce ($21.90)

Prawn Linguini with fresh chilli, rocket, garlic, basil, parmesan cheese & extra virgin olive oil — note there seems to be a fair amount of butter in the sauce ($24.90)

Nautilus Marlborough Pinot Gris 2009, Pencarrow Pinot Noir 2008 NZ

Vasse Felix Sauvigonon Blanc Semillon 2009 Margaret River, Running with bulls Tempranillo Barossa 2009

Platter of fruit

Affogato ($4.90)

Baci biscuits

VIVO Espresso Martini - Espresso shot infused with sparkling mineral water ($6.80)

Chef George

Gordon Hammond using a napkin for his bounce off lighting

Kerrie Candrick with camera

Rebecca and Tony focusing on their shot

Live jazz every Friday at 5 pm by Cameron Jones


Beers and wines

Wine selection

Apparently Bulldog supporters

Coffee machine

Table support not quite right for my liking — I liked to be able to sit my feet on the floor

Kitchen reminder 'Read the dockets! Match with food' — sounds like a good plan

Toilet sign — very poetic

Goodie bag of coffee, wine and treats

Outside covered seating

Inside seating

Building foyer seating

Street view

Outside view during the day

Outside view during the night

View Larger Map
VIVO Cafe on Urbanspoon


Rebecca @InsideCuisine said...

Sooooo glad I'm hiding behind the camera in that photo!! my hair was a mess ... *sigh* you took so many photos Simon and there was so much food!!

Tina@foodboozeshoes said...

That's a ridiculous amount of food... hope it didn't go to waste... :S

sugarpuffi said...

sooo....much...food....omg... lol! did u try all of them?!

Vivian - vxdollface said...

How good was that Affogato! Slightly different to what I'm used to since they served it with vanilla syrup on the side.

Anonymous said...

Quantity over quality? No thanks. Plus, the prices are too high for regular cafe fare.

Adrian (Food Rehab) said...

Looked to be a great event. Gosh...so many pics! I'm full from just looking at them! :)

sara (Belly Rumbles) said...

Great sum up of the night Simon, wow I still can't fathom the number of dishes.

Simon Leong said...

hi rebecca, god there was a lot of food. i can't believe we made it through to the end.

hi tina, doggy bags were passed around to take home to keep the wastage to a minimum

hi sugarpuffi, i certainly did try everything and reached my food limit.

hi vivian, i can't remember having vanilla syrup in my affogato?

hi lateraleating, there's a lot of competition for casual cafe food in the city so i think prices need to try and be under $20 these days if possible.

hi adrian, i wish we had you there to help eat it

hi sara, great to see you again

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