29 August 2012

Barramundi Bar and Grill: Groupon deal for Seafood Platter for Two, CBD Sydney (17 Aug 2012)

Cnr Jamison & Lang Streets, Sydney NSW 2000

Seafood sampling on a budget

‘$49 Succulent Seafood Platter for Two, Includes Lobster Mornay, Soft Shell Crab, Grilled Prawns and More, Plus a Bottle of Woodhouse Wine at Barramundi Bar & Grill, CBD ($138 Value)’

Thanks to Groupon for providing me a $100 credit to purchase two $49 Seafood Platter for Two vouchers at Barramundi Bar and Grill. Bookings needed to be made via email as per the restaurant conditions. I assumed a booking for four people with two vouchers at the same table wouldn't be a problem since the deal advertised 'purchase multiple vouchers' but the email response from the restaurant firmly pointed out the rule 'one voucher per booking per couple' applies. This resulted in a number of time consuming email exchanges trying to find an available date where both my friend and I could independently make our table bookings in the hope of dining on the same day and time. Even though we were booking a few weeks in advance just after the deal went active we only found a date where one voucher was booked for 12.30 pm and the other at 1.30 pm due to the restaurant's limited spots. My expectations were low after my booking dramas which could have been resolved quicker by a phone call combined with reviews on Urbanspoon not being promising. Arriving at 1.30 pm on the day the restaurant was busy so the difficulty in finding a matching time was I guess justified. By sheer luck there was a table available right next to my friends 12.30 pm booking so we thankfully got to sit near each other in the end.

Now to the food. Being realistic I wasn't expecting an amazing seafood platter for only $49, especially when you consider the bottle of wine was already worth $28 making the platter just $21 shared between two. This alone makes the deal a bargain and definitely filled me up with the bonus of a good tipsy factor. Armed with the advice from my friends dining earlier I started with the battered fish. This was the best way to appreciate the batter before it went cold although it could have been more crunchy and golden overall for my liking. Grilled prawns were OK but I'd prefer fresh prawns. There was lobster meat to be had under the thick mornay sauce but again my preference would be fresh or garlic butter. I scrapped most of mornay sauce off the decent sized scallops that hid underneath. To appreciate the scallops better I'd suggest a ginger shallot dressing which isn't so heavy. The heavy style of cooking certainly fills the stomach. My favourites were the soft shell crab with light crisp batter and the surprisingly tender calamari — both of these were he standouts on the platter for my friends and myself. Salad was fresh and dressed as you'd hopeLeaving little room for dessert I was still tempted to try the Tiramisu genoise ($10). Not your typical tiramisu but still nice. It's a generous serving with excellent crunchy vienna almonds and a generous amount of mascarpone making it quite rich and thus one best shared.

PROS: Service was friendly and welcoming (Maya), Pretty good value as a deal, Wine was quaffable (but not Woodhouse as advertised), Atmosphere and decor was pleasant
CONS: Only one voucher per table per booking so not suitable for groups, I wouldn't want to pay full price ($110) for this seafood platter unless modified with fresh prawns, oysters, and more lobster, Limited table space
MUST TRY: The soft shell crab or salt and pepper calamari on their a la carte menu
VERDICT: You get a lot to share for only $24.50 per person including wine making it decent value but keep in mind most of it is fried or in mornay sauce. My preference would be for some lighter cooking styles like grilled fish and fresh prawns.
Table setting

Table water — interesting glassware

2011 Harewood Estate White Rabbit (worth $28), interesting wine glasses

Side table ice bucket — I like

Seafood platter for two, upper tier ($49 Groupon Deal including bottle of wine, $138 value)

Seafood platter for two, lower tier

Quite limited table space once the seafood platter arrives

Grilled prawns
Soft shell crab
Asian-influenced salt and Szechuan pepper calamari
Beer-battered fish of the day
Mornay scallops

Lobster mornay
Lobster meat
Tartare sauce — only one spoon provided but perhaps should be two considering the platter is meant for two
Ask for tomato sauce if you prefer
Tiramisu genoise soaked in coffee and layered with generous amounts of mascarpone, then encased in crunchy vienna almonds ($10)
Caramelised nuts were nice
Menu — Seafood platter priced at $110 not including wine
Breakfast menu
Dessert menu
Wine menu
Upper level seating
Pepper in the salt shaker?
Salt in the pepper shaker?
I'm not a fan of the table supports
Simple clean toilet gets a tick

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Barramundi Cafe on Urbanspoon

28 August 2012

Book Launch: 'Have You Eaten?' cookbook by Billy Law at Mood For Love, Sydney (27 Aug 2012)

Mood for Billy's Cooking

Excitement filled the Westfield Sydney air as Masterchef contestant Billy Law launched his much awaited cookbook to adoring fans at Chinta Ria Mood for Love. Canapes were served to those who registered for the free pre-launch book signing event plus plenty of TsingTao beer and wines by Motif and Kesketh. A small supportive army of MasterChef and My Kitchen Rules contestants also graced the limelight providing extra buzz for the fans. Billy's cookbook was on sale for $45 by Kinokuniya. It was great to see so many mouth-watering recipes and Billy's photography and styling is top notch — well done! I'm hoping Billy will one day open a restaurant so I can try his Golden Sand Mud Crab or Deep-fried Soft Shell Crab with Som Tum and perhaps for dessert his very unusual Vegemite Cheesecake which I'm sure will challenge a few to try.

PROS: Great looking cookbook with excellent photography and delicious looking recipes
CONS: I'm not much of a cook so I'm hoping someone will invite me to sample the dishes if they cook ;-)
MUST TRY: Having a better look at the recipes to see if there's any simple ones I might be able to do
VERDICT: A well-attended event that provided opportunity for fans to meet Billy and get a signed copy of his cookbook
Taro canape

Sassy Roll canape — great hit of chilli sauce

Pandan Chicken canape — great taste although two hands required to eat as the pandan needed to be unwrapped first.

Drinks on offer

Book signing

Char kuey teow recipe — I noticed without the clams

Golden sand mud crab recipe — looks great

Deep-fried soft shell crab with som tum — I want it now!

Vegemite Cheesecake — I'm curious to taste this one

Speech time

Buddha and Billy Law

MasterChef contestants Julia Taylor, Danielle Dixon and Kumar Pereira

Bella and Sammy from My Kitchen Rules 
MasterChef contestants Kevin Perry and Peter Vickery

Corporate Chef Adam Moore now proud owner of Billy's new cookbook
Cookbook lovers, Chanel (right) from Cats Love Cooking
Penny (left) from Jeroxie, Sneh Roy (right) from Cook Republic
WOW, that's the biggest yee sang I've ever seen
Busy kitchen making the canapes 
Food Safety Result 5 stars = Excellent. Good to know. 

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Chinta Ria... Mood for Love on Urbanspoon

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