Buffet breakfast at Swissotel JPB Restaurant, Sydney CBD

I have always maintained that one of the best parts of being on holiday is enjoying a buffet breakfast.  There is just something about having a spread of breakfast food before you, first thing in the morning that ensures you start your day off right.   So when you haven't been on a holiday in a long time, one way to feel like you're on holidays is to get yourself to a buffet breakfast.

The buffet breakfast at JPB Restaurant in the Swissotel Sydney costs $35 per person or $25 if you are staying as a guest.  As it so happened, we had booked a night at the hotel for fun so we were able to enjoy the discounted rate.

The buffet spread includes the usual juices, pastries, fruits, cereals and hot foods.  There is also congee and a chef who will make you eggs or pancakes.

What I had:

Chicken sausage, veal sausage, tomatoes, scrambled eggs, mushrooms, hash brown and bacon

Two pancakes with watermelon, rockmelon, poached pears, butter, cream and honey

Omelette with everything - ham, mushrooms, capsicum, cheese, onion etc

To my readers:  what is your favourite buffet breakfast in Sydney?  I am hoping to try the Glass Brasserie at the Hilton next : - )

Jpb Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Jamie's Italian, Sydney CBD

In the time since Jamie's Italian opened in Sydney in late 2011, I have lost count of how many times I have been there.  Hazarding a guess would put the count around seven or eight visits.

Before you start to think that I'm a crazy Jamie Oliver fan, let me explain.  Jamie's Italian is about a two minute walk from my work - it is literally down the street.  And when you are looking for somewhere to go for lunch everyday and there is good, reasonably priced food nearby - before you know it, you've tried half the menu and the waiters start to recognise you.

This is a post about one of my visits during a Friday lunchtime.  Yes, you heard right - arguably the busiest lunch day of the week and we dared to venture to Jamie's which only takes bookings for more than six people?

The solution was to have an early lunch.  Very early.  Jamie's opens at 11.30am and we were there at 11.45am.  Within 10 minutes after we arrived, the seats were filled and we could see a small line forming out the door.  Of course we smiled at our good fortune and permanently hungry stomachs which meant we could eat lunch at a time when most people are still digesting breakfast.

For those who don't know, there is complimentary bread available.  However, the waiters do not always offer it so be sure to ask if you feel like having some. It comes in a small tin with some olive oil and balsamic vingear.

We decided to start off with the salad of the day after our waitress declared that it was called the 'sexy' summer salad and waxed a spiel that would have made anyone salivate.

Special salad of the day ($14.00)

San Daniele prosciutto, buffalo mozzarella, peaches, rocket with olive oil and balsamic vinegar 

The prosciutto was divine - so soft that it almost melted in the mouth and I loved tearing apart the small balls of mozzarella with a fork. 

The fresh pasta at Jamie's is made in the front window and watching them make the pasta is a good way to pass time if you're stuck in line.

The pastas come in both entree and main size, with the main sizes about the $20 mark.

Mussel Linguine ($20.00)

Scappato (runaway) mussels with garlic, chili, anchovies, parsely, black olives and breadcrumbs

I like the mussel linguine here because they are generous with the mussels.  There is the slightest kick from the chili and sweet cherry tomatos are found in the dish as well.

Lingurian fish stew ($27.00)
Responsibly sourced fish served with crunchy crostini, ripped herbs & wild garlic aioli

At the moment, the Lingurian fish stew is my favorite item on the menu.  At $27, it is a bit pricy for your average lunch but it is chock filled with fresh seafood. The stew is not like a soup, rather it is a light broth that is filled with flavour and quite shallow on the curved plate. There are also two large pieces of bread, soggy after soaking up the stew and easily torn apart. 

My favorite dessert here used to be the pannacotta.  But after my last few experiences with dessert at Jamie's, I'm not sure if I have a favorite anymore.  The first time that I tried the pannacotta, it was delicious. We shared it between three and I couldn't get enough of the smooth, creamy vanilla flavour.  The next time I tried it, we shared it between two and both of us agreed that it was grainy, not smooth like the first time and also stuck to the bottom of the plate.  The last time I tried it, we each ordered one and both of them were horribly grainy and gritty in the mouth.  Yuck!

So this time, we chose to try the ice cream.

Three scoops of ice cream, served with your choice of any two of seasonal fruits, honeycomb, butterscotch sauce or nuts and seeds ($8.00)

There is no polite way to put this.  This was the ugliest bowl of ice-cream I have ever had the misfortune of eating.  The small tin sundae cup was no match for the ice cream which had been hazardly scooped in. There was sauce and fruit bits dripping off the side onto the table and I saw that the poor fingers of our waitress were also coated in the sauce.

Unsurprisingly, it did not look appetising and I knew my face was screwed up with distaste as I forced myself to pick up the spoon and try to get some out without causing more spillage.

It tasted ok but nothing special and I wouldn't order it again.

We finished off our meal with tea and coffee.

Flat white ($4.35)

English breakfast tea ($4.25)

Jamie's Italian is a fun place to go for a weekday lunch.  The waiters are friendly, there is a buzzing vibe and the food is great (except for the desserts, which I'm not convinced on anymore).  The only thing you need to do is carefully time your visit so that you don't have to wait in line.  I've found that the best time to go for lunch is either before 12pm or after 1.30pm - and it is much easier to get a table for two than any other number.

Jamie's Italian on Urbanspoon

deVine Food and Wine, Sydney CBD

I have walked past deVine Food and Wine many, many times and never even noticed it. Despite being on the busy intersection of Clarence and Market St, this cosy wine bar has a relatively unassuming brick façade which made me think that it was an ordinary pub.

Until one day, a friend took me there for a Friday night drink and I discovered that it was in fact, a very charming wine bar with a small restaurant in the back.

It was quite busy and we squeezed into two seats at the communal high counter table.  This was far from being the best seat in the house as there was hardly any space for others to walk behind you to get to their own seats if your back was to the wall (as mine was) - but what can you do.

After ordering some wine, I was feeling peckish and ordered a favorite snack of mine - duck liver pâté . 

It was an incredibly generous serving - that ball of pâté was easily the size of a large ice-cream scoop. Yum!

Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately, depending on how you look at it), my friend doesn't like pâté and I ate that ENTIRE ball - slathered over the crunchy thin slices of crouton that you can see in the background.  At the end of the meal, I felt a bit grossed out that I had basically consumed the poor duck's entire liver and it was sitting in my stomach.

But that didn't stop me from wanting to go back again!  What a great discovery and it's in such a convenient location too.  I would recommend making a booking as deVine is quite popular and worth the effort to secure a coveted seat (i.e. not having to squish like we did ;) 

DeVine on Urbanspoon

Pho An, Bankstown

So Pho. So Good. The first time I saw Pho An's slogan, it cracked me up so hard. It's funny!

Pho An is located in the bustling suburb of Bankstown. Visitors to Bankstown will immediately notice how many Vietnamese restaurants there are, resulting in many choices to get your pho fix.  It is testimony to Pho An's popularity that so many people choose to have their fix here.

Pho An only serves pho and beverages.  That's right - you can't get your pork chop rice, vermicelli noodle salad, rice paper rolls or any other Vietnamese dishes here.  Your choices are basically pho, pho or more pho.  So don't come here if you're not in the mood for pho!

You don't even get a menu when you sit down because their basic menu is up on the walls.  A speedy waiter will sit you down in the cafeteria style seating area and take your order with an electronic pad.  Within minutes, your pho will come out.

At a cost of approximately $12 or so for a medium sized bowl of pho, it is (relatively) a fair bit pricier than the other Vietnamese places serving pho in Bankstown.   Is it worth it?

Personally, Pho An doesn't do it for me.  My tastebuds like their pho, there is nothing wrong with it but I don't experience that special zing which recruits countless diners to declare Pho An as serving the best pho out there.

I do think they have the best slogan though.  

Pho An on Urbanspoon


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