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“Since opening in 2005, Gaia Retreat & Spa has won more than enough accolades to establish itself as Austalia’s leading & most renowned boutique lifestyle retreat.”

The View From the Bottom Of The Hill

The Gaia Retreat & Spa journey begins with an easy 30 minute drive north from Ballina airport or a half-hour drive south from the world renowned Byron Bay. The retreat (click here) is nestled just a stone’s throw off one of the endless winding roads of the breathtaking Bundjalung Country hinterland, on quite possibly the most gorgeous 25 country acres in Australia.

We flew in early to Ballina at around 8:30 in the morning after waiting for the bags and hiring a car (a must if you intend to get around). As we were checking in at 2 we decided to drive past the retreat and go on straight to some quick sight-seeing so we began the very lovely trip up the highway towards Byron Bay.

After attempting to capture some Instagram worthy photos we decided to try our luck for an early check-in. So back we went to Gaia but this time we decided to go the scenic route; a lovely drive through sprawling hills, luscious greenery and historic towns.

Check’n In

It is hard to describe the feeling that you get from the moment entering this absolutely beautiful property, it’s not something you can really pin point, there is this serene energy that sweeps over the entire 25 acres. As the car pulls up and you step out and see the magnificent view of rolling hills, the farms, the uninterrupted blue sky and the greener than green lawns from the retreats’ clearing, you really have a bit of a pinch me moment. (The photos do not do it justice to how beautiful this place really is)

The View From The Top Of The Hill
Gaia

Getting to the reception you need to walk down a brick path through overhanging tropical trees and ferns of all varieties to an oversized wooden door with different ornaments to either side.

Gaia's Front Door

The reception is lofty with lots of different orange and gold hues and many, many different seating options that continue out onto an outdoor verandah. The entire setting has a very balinese feel to it. (note the reception is now undergoing a major revamp thanks to hail damage it attained in late 2017 and will be closed from Monday 12th March for a month or so).

Inside Kukura House

After a brief check-in we went and grabbed our bags back from the car and wheeled them down to our room. For us this was quite easy, but for an elderly person or someone who’s packed a lot, this might be a little difficult. I’m sure though if you asked one of the staff they would gladly help.

The Room

Komala Villa 3

We stayed in the new Komala Villas. It was a spacious split-level one bedroom suite. The upper level consisted of a very generous bathroom with double shower and double vanity on the left, a central king size bed and a seperate gorgeous free standing bath on the right.

The bottom level was made up of a lounge area and kitchenette inside, while the outdoor living area had a large deck, day bed & saltwater plunge pool that faced the north-east of the property (perfect for early morning dips).

Food & Beverage

Well where do I start. If I had to describe the food that was presented to us in just three words, Divine would be the first thing that springs to mind, Delicious would be the second and Nutritious would come in equally second.

Gaia Organics

In every dish there is a huge emphasis on fresh, seasonal & local produce. The meals I had were literally garden to plate type of meals ( I’m happy to say I actually picked the radishes that were used on one of the nights from the veggie garden). Every meal we ate were balanced, light, colourful and beautifully presented and so so fresh.

A bit of a quirky point of difference that the Gaia Spa & Retreat offers is that there is no set menu or menu at all for that matter. Each meal is inspired by the seasonal produce and tailored around everyones specific dietary requirements that is gathered at check in. The team lead by Chef Dan accomodate and tailor each meal around every type of diet you could think of; Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Nut Free, Vegan, Vegetarian, Paleo, Pescatarian, FODMAP are all catered for.

Chef Dan & I

We ate breakfast and dinner here both days and could not fault anything that came before us. Check out the visual deliciousness to see what we ate.

Chocolate, Peanut Butter & Banana
Pear Frangipani Tart

Every week Chef Dan also holds a cooking class which I highly recommend. It’s a great way to learn, watch and discover new flavours to eat.

Pool & Gym

Our room (Komala Villa) had it’s own plunge pool so we didn’t venture down to the main one which is located at the Day Spa.

The retreat also has a million different activities to do (tennis, meditation, yoga, gym, boxing, tai chi to name a few) but once again we ran out of time to participate. Everything is optional, so how much or how little you do is up to you, it’s your retreat, your experience.

Yoga & Meditation

Day Spa

In addition to winning the worlds leading retreat in 2016 & 2017, Gaia has also won the worlds best day spa three years running, so coming here you would expect a world class treatment and to put it very simply that’s what I got.

Talking purely about the treatment both myself and my partner received (his was a deep tissue massage & mine was the Gaia Deluxe) they were one of the best, if not the best massages we ever had.

Gaia Spa & Wellness

Yet another reason to fall in love with Gaia Retreat is their organic skincare range Retreatment. Full of incredibly powerful ingredients and essential oils to help nourish and rehydrate your skin. It’s just another little something that adds that little extra class to Gaia Spa.

Pros:

  • Some of the friendliest staff I have come across in my travels
  • Food was amazing
  • The massage I had was amazing
  • Breathtaking view
  • Very relaxing

Cons:

  • If I was really picky… actually nope I don’t have one
Maybe One Of The Best Views In Australia

Overall:

The incredible energy that radiates from the grounds of Gaia Retreat & Spa transcends you to a place of pure bliss. From the friendly, hospitable staff to the nourishing food and the exquisite views, your stay will be unforgettable.

Gaia Retreat & Spa
933 Fernleigh Rd, Brooklet NSW 2479
02 6687 1216

Kx
Disclaimer: My stay at the Gaia Retreat & Spa was provided complimentary for a review on the Krumbled website. All opinions/views or thoughts are not influenced and are my own.
Have you stayed at Gaia Retreat & Spa before? Have you treated yourself to the Gaia Day Spa? If you have any experiences or questions please feel free to drop me a line below!!!

“Most Sydney-siders wouldn’t be familiar with the Primus Hotel. Soo without further ado I will introduce you to this (not so little) hidden gem.”

Primus Hotel Sydney

The unassuming entrance of the Primus Hotel (click here) is located at 339 Pitt Street. Originally home to Sydney’s Water Board HQ. Undergoing a complete restoration, this 1930’s heritage building has had a breath of fresh life put into it. Showcasing the 1930’s art deco era at its best.

In 2008, the Water Board relocated and the two year restoration commeneced. This massive task was undertaken by Chinese hoteliers Greenland International Hotel Group or (GIHG) and architect design firm Woods Bagot.

Check’n In

The Lobby At The Primus

As we pulled up, we were a little confused what to do with parking. The bell boy had gone inside with other guests just before, so we were left on the busy path trying to get our bags out. 

Hoping the car would be alright we walked in through the discreet frontage (and to my surprise a rather expansive check in area). A different bell boy was quick to attend to our bags and grab the car.

The lobby features eight original scagliola columns. The restoration of these eight-metre-high pillars has been a feat on its own. (There are only two men in the world that have the artisanal skills to complete such a job). The striking ruby red columns beamed above the marble floors, finished off with the glass brick atrium ceiling.

The Room

There are 172 rooms at the Primus. All rooms feature a dark masculine decor, from the carpet to the oak cabinetry. Breaking up the dark tones are subtle gold geometric trimming, plush pillows and lush robes.

We were in the deluxe suite, and as the name suggests it was spacious and accommodating for those needing a little extra space, ideal for business travellers.  

The bathroom was extra spacious with seperate bath, extra large shower and double marble vanity (that had insanely good lighting).

Dual Marble Basins

The art deco theme is carried throughout but reversed, with elegant white “brick like” tiles contrasted by black tapware and finished off with amenities by Appelles.

Appelles

Food & Beverage

For me, I had a bit of a hit and miss in terms of food (in room dining that is). The first day I checked in I was ravenous so immediately went straight for the in room dining menu. I opted for the fish of the day (which was barramundi), it was fresh and cooked well, accompanied by broccolini and fries.

The Barramundi

The second day, we wanted to suss out the ‘cheat meal’ options, and ordered the Wagyu burgers and fried chicken. For me, this meal was inedible. The burgers were not waygu, there were two fillets on top of each other and felt as if it had been pre cooked and the texture was off. The fried chicken was bland and cold and very grey.

Pool & Gym

Level 7

One of the hotels biggest draw cards would have to be Level 7. Once a test rifle range during the Second World War, it has been completely revolutionized to be an exclusive rooftop pool and bar. Fitted with blue and white striped lounges, being quite literally an oasis in the middle of the city, with drinks on hand and in the warmer months being absolutely sun drenched.

There is an outdoor pool located on Level 7, and is heated for those wanting to have a dip during Sydney’s cooler months.

The gym is quite small and underwhelming, but does the job.

On Level 7

Pros:

  • Glamorous art deco décor
  • Level 7, perfect for a cheeky afternoon drink and dip
  • Extremely spacious
  • Prime city location

Cons:

  • In room dining was a little off, I would opt for one of the many great nearby restaurants (or via ubereats etc)
  • Valet parking is an option, however quite pricey

We checked in early, and it must not have registered to other staff, as I had not 1, not 2 but 3 staff members come in after one knock to do quality checks and mini bar checks. Being all the way in the bathroom, they entered far too quickly!

At The Level 7 Bar

Overall:

The Primus Hotel is a surprisingly gracious hotel, with so much to offer. We will definitely be back for another staycation!

Primus Hotel
339 Pitt Street, Sydney, 2000
+612 8027 8000

Kx
Disclaimer: My stay at the Primus Hotel was free of charge. All opinions/thoughts are my own.
How good is the location! If you have stayed at the Primus before and think I have left something out or have a question, drop us a line below!!

“To me MoVida Bali oozes 1970’s Spanish casa in atmosphere and dining”

Seminyak’s newly opened MoVida Bali (click here) is the first international venture of the Melbourne based company which is part of an ingenious collaboration between the Potato Head Family, MoVida & the complex’s new Katamama Hotel. MoVida Bali reinforces the relaxing, fun beach vibe that the super complex is world renowned for. The restaurant is located on the ground floor of the hotel and next door to the famous Beach Club.

MoVida In Bali

By tapping into Potato Head’s architectural expression, the moment you walk in to the Katamama hotel and venture inside MoVida, the restaurant’s space oozes ‘1970’s Spanish casa’. Coincidentally or not the entire hotel is made from Balinese hand crafted artisan bricks (the process itself will leave you gobsmacked) which the final product being a bright and colourful red brick that resembles the terracotta tiles of Spanish houses. The venue’s design compliments Bali’s tropical humidity. Fans are whirling, it’s not air-conditioned so inside is always warm but its openness and airiness makes very good use of the ocean breeze.

The contemporary venue cleverly creates intimate spaces along side group settings with its sparing use of lighting and working around the buildings façade and all the furniture and interiors are handmade by Balinese artisans and craftsmen.

Much like it’s sister venues in Australia, the tapas bar serves modern Spanish cuisine but not exactly as we know it. Frank Camorra (MoVida’s co-founder/owner) and Jimmy Parker (head chef) have worked alongside Potato Head’s chefs to tweak some of the fan favourites from the MoVida menu with local Indonesian tropical ingredients to suit the climate.

Imported Spanish Meats & Anchovy

What we ate:

ANCHOA – Cantabrian Anchovy, Crouton, Smoked Tomato Sorbet
CROQUET – Jamon & Mahon Cheese Croquette
TABLAS – Paleta De Iberico, Jamon Serrano, Chorizo, Salchichon (selection of cured meats)
REMOLACHA – Bedugul Spriced Beetroot Salad, Smoked Yoghurt, Walnuts
CECINA – Air Dried Beef, Truffle Foam, Poached Organic Egg

BISTEC – 200g Wagyu Hanger Steak, White Anchovies, Mojo Picon
PATATAS BRAVAS – Triple Cooked Potatoes, Spicy Bravas Sauce

FLAN – Spanish Cream Caramel with Spiced Pestinos Pastries

Fresh Baked Bread + Olive Oil
Patatas Bravas
CROQUETA
Cecina

The delightful redesigned meals are still full of flavour but not as heavy as what you might find in their Melbourne restaurants. My standout dish was the Bistec, the steak was cooked to perfection, tender and with the right amount of bark.

Bistec
Tablas

The Tablas selection of cured meats was also of premium quality. Additionally my partner; for someone that is most definitely not a fan of beetroot and yoghurt (in fact hates them with such passion I cant even have them in the fridge at home) was pleasantly surprised with the Remolacha.

Remolacha
Flan

Overall:

MoVida Bali is not a complete replica of the Australian restaurants. The laid back Balinese atmosphere provides a completely new and tantalising dining experience with deliciousness at the centre of everything they do.

MoVida Bali
Ground Floor Katamama Hotel
Jl. Petitenget No.51, Seminyak, Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung
Bali 80361, Indonesia
+62 361 3029940

Have you been to MoVida’s first international venue? How do you compare it with the Australian restaurants? I’d love to hear your answers or comments below.
K x

“Legacy is a health conscious café set in the heart of Camberwell, a leafy suburb 15 mins out of Melbourne’s CBD”

Legacy Camberwell

We purposely arrived at Legacy (click here) at 10am to miss the morning and lunch rushes, which we’ve heard this place is accustomed to. When we arrived at the hole-in-the-wall cafe in Camberwell there was no queue but by the time we sat down and placed our order, the place was full and buzzing.

The cafe’s long industrial & minimalistic dećor was very welcoming. Legacy’s mood is relaxed and homely thanks to the very liberally used red exposed brick, (which is in featured in just about everything, the walls, the floors, the benches and even the communal table) and the glimpses of timber and polished concrete that peep through the bright red bricks.

With a decent selection of raw smoothies, chia puddings and superfood bowls for the health conscious customers or the house made donuts and butter-milk fried chicken for anyone wanting to indulge a little, you can see why this café is destined to be one of Melbourne’s hot spots.

What we ate:

AVOCADO FETTA MASH –  w/chilli, heirloom tomatoes, radish & black sesame seeds with rosti (this was an optional side)

MANGO & VANILLA CHIA PUDDING – edible flowers, strawberries and macadamias

ROYAL REECE – Peanut butter, raw cacao, banana, chia seeds, coconut shavings and almond milk

PICCOLO* – one of the best coffees i have had in Melbourne

Mango Chia Pudding At Legacy Camberwell

The chia pudding was light and the mango puree at the bottom was a great touch. Our Avocado & Feta Mash was good, but not great, lacked a little bit of a flavour. The Royal Reece smoothie was pretty epic, along with my salted peanut butter cookie!

*The coffee is worth making a special mention – my piccolo was one of the best coffees I have had in a while.

Overall:

A big thumbs up for this hot spot.

Legacy Camberwell
347 Camberwell Rd
Camberwell VIC 3124
(03) 9041 1796

Have you eaten at Legacy Camberwell before? Did you enjoy the coffee us much as I did? I would love to hear all your thoughts and comments below.
K x

“There was a genuine happy vibe at Hunter Gatherer”

Hunter Gatherer

The masterminds behind The Corner House and Panama House have teamed up alongside Michelin trained head chef Paul Micklewright to create the ultimate relaxed bar and eatery on Sydney’s Lower North Shore, Hunter Gatherer (click here).

Get ready for a menu that is on constant rotation to reflect quality, in season produce based around local and sustainable ingredients. Being the only table service licensed venue in North Sydney, Hunter Gatherer is perfect for after work drinks, nibbles or a full-blown feast.

Danish Pendant Lighting

Positioned on the roof top terrace of the Greenwood plaza, you are welcomed by the very lax outdoor seating that flows straight into the light filled dining space inside. The décor blends the charm and warmth of a rustic farmhouse with contemporary Danish design and an abundance of pendant lighting, wooden and copper features and greenery spilling out onto the rooftop terrace. The restaurants main focus is a feature wall that illuminates the venue with an Italian designed LED panelled wall with a hybrid of calming landscape imagery with a psychedelic twist.

Very Light & Airy

HG’s versatile seating plan caters for every group. Large booths located in the heart of the lodge turned over copious amounts of suits bustling in and out the door at lunch, while the lounges and high stools were also full with customers enjoying a relaxing afternoon nip. Sydney provided a beautiful warm Autumn day and patrons were making full use of the outdoor seating underneath the heritage listed Morton fig trees of the Greenwood Plaza creating a genuine happy vibe for all that were there.

Ever Changing Menu

The staff were extremely knowledgeable, attentive and friendly. Being served by the charming maître d’ Steven, we were given a full run down on the ever-changing menu. The hearty carte du jour’s small and large ‘grazing’ plates provide a diverse variety for plant eaters and carnivores are ideal for sharing and are accompanied with an extensive drinks menu.

The attention to detail using only fresh, locally sourced, sustainable and ethical produce is a large focus. “We like to champion cheaper cuts of meat to make affordability a priority. There’s not a lot of places in North Sydney where you can sit down and get a quality main and side for twenty-four dollars” Steven says.

Charcuterie

What we ate:

OLIVES – House marinated olives
CHARCUTERIE – Charcuterie plate of quattro stele, salumi, Kurobota ham, house pickles & bread
* the Kurobota ham has got to be one of the best hams I have had

PRAWNS – Marty’s Hawkesbury River school prawns, crisp smoked paprika fried with lime and aioli
PORK – Darling downs slow roasted pork belly, picked Windsor cabbage, roast apple
FRIES – House fries with rosemary salt
SALAD – Sackville mixed leaf salad with pecorino and aged balsamic

OUR AMERICANO – Bitter orange, sweet wine & grapefruit soda
HUNTERS LEMONADE – Dickel #8 whiskey, sour apple & PS smoked lemonade
ROB’S YOUR UNCLE – Cocoa nib monkey shoulder, sweet wine & bitters
BURNT BY THE STORM – Bundy small batch rum, caramel ginger beer & lime

Olives
Salada
Hand Cut Fries
Slow Roasted Pork Belly
School Prawns

Stand out dishes: The succulent slow cooked pork belly accompanied with pickled cabbage with roasted apple. The pork was moist and tender; while the cabbage lifted the dish to the next level and the crisp roasted apple added a slight sweetness to the dish. The salad was perfectly dressed with creaminess of the pecorino cutting through the sharpness of the dressing.

Hunter Gatherer Feast

The drinks menu offers a range of local spirits, craft beers, cocktails and places a large emphasis on natural wines. Our cocktails were as they were described on the menu and came recommended by our waiter.

Sticky Date Chocolate Torte
It Was Heaven

Overall:

Hunter Gatherer is a fantastic new addition to the North Sydney dining culture making it the latest destination for a relaxing and social sitting. The venue does breakfast and lunch every weekday, lunch and dinner Wednesday to Friday with a licence until midnight on these days. Hunter Gatherer is only open for private events and functions on the weekend which is perfect for special occasions.

*Also on a side note, since the menu is on constant rotation and a different menu is produced nearly every day, you might not find the exact dishes we ate. But with the quality of the cooking and the produce I am excited to see what else they have in store.

Hunter Gatherer
Greenwood Plaza, 36 Blue St,
North Sydney NSW 2060
(02) 8920 0780

Have you hunted or gathered at North Sydney yet? Did you enjoy it a much as I did? Let me know below!
K x

“Indu makes Indian food sexy”

Indu

The opening of Indu (click here) has transcended Sydney’s subcontinental taste buds to a new culinary level. Located at Angel Place just underneath the Ivy and just before China Lane, a dimly lit fire escape that doubles as Indu’s entrance a is placed. As you walk down each step of the narrow industrial staircase the air becomes heavier with the familiar scent of rich aromatic spices. From the moment you walk in there is a sensory explosion. The entrance is lined with large terracotta pots filled with India’s staple spices, Cinnamon, Star Anise, Clove & Chilli fills the air, while Led Zepplin, Pink Floyd and the Beatles softly plays in the background.

Deep Green Booths Contrast The Red Brick Walls

Heading to our table, we passed the ‘Dosa Kitchen’ a front of house separate grill where you can watch the chef whip up some traditional delights and a heavily stocked bar. Lavish semi circle embroidered banquettes and wooden tables are intertwined while the private dining, and romantic nooks are tucked away to the side while at the back end of restaurant the hustle and bustle of an open kitchen energises the room.

There is almost too much to take in at first but once we got seated and settled with our first drink underway, we began to really appreciate the superbly appointed décor. The P/D and romantic nooks are carved out of the heritage listed building while being softly lit with candles on the table and copper fixtures that make for a very luxe setting.  An eclectic mix of; mud brick walls, textile designs, ceramic patterns, rich hues of green and gold that look ‘spray painted’ and an exposed 120 year old deep composite terracotta ceiling have been handcrafted and preserved that make up the rest of this restaurant giving a type of ‘village’ feel that the team of Matt Woods, Project Z and Ash Keating have so wonderfully created.

At the beginning of the meal, and inline with Mejico’s process of guacamole (which is another one of Sam’s restaurants), the coconut sambol is made right in front of us. This spicy mix of coconut, lemon juice, red chilli, roasted cashew nuts and many other delectable ingredients is served with a soft warm Indian milk bun and can be eaten on its own or used as a topping for any of the other meals we ordered.

Coconut Sambol & Milk Bun

The menu crafted by head chef Bimal Kumar, is a reflection  Dr. Sam Prince heritage and of the time he spent doing aid work across Sri Lanka and India. Kumar shows a sense of creativity and flare that Sydney has been crying for. Using traditional techniques with a modern twist and an emphasis on light, wholesome and fresh ingredients that is common amongst the villages of south costal India.

I assure you, no butter chicken heavily thickened with coconut cream and greasy naan will be on the menu.

Fresh Paratha

What we ate:

COCONUT SAMBOL – red chilli, red onion, devilled cashew nuts. Served with an Indian milk bun (V, HM)
SMOKED GOAT’S LEG –  w/ zucchini ribbon raita, pomegranate, chilli & bacon jam 18
SEARED SCALLOPS – tempered curd, smoked coconut (G)

GOAN PORK BELLY CURRY – coconut milk, poppy seeds, cashews, cardamom, cinnamon bark (G)
“THE GREAT” LAMB RAAN – marinated & tenderly slow roasted over 48 hours w/ fresh mint chutney & lunumiris
LEMON RICE – crispy lentils, smashed peanuts, green chilli, fresh coconut (D, G, V+)

AMMA’S DAAL – red lentils, mustard seeds, fresh ground coconut (D, G, V)
HOUSE-MADE PARATHA – A North Indian unleavened bread (V)

WHITE CHOCOLATE – coconut cream, caramelised pomegranate & fig (G)

KERALA KOLADA – Spiced rum, coconut & chai syrup, pineapple, coconut sorbet
THE CHENNEL CHILLER – Gin, mixed berries, basil, curry leaves, lemon juice, agave
ACROSS THE UNIVERSE – Whiskey, pomegranate chutney, lemon juice, egg white
THE GINGER KING – Gin, fresh lemon, INDU gingery syrup, Kingfisher lager

Seared Scallops
Goat's Leg Dosa - I Wish This Came As A Main

My top pick was most certainly the Goat’s leg dosa. A south Indian lentil dosa (think savoury pancake/crepe) it was cooked to perfection and was accompanied by a zucchini raita, pomegranate and chilli bacon jam (which we were told wasn’t actually bacon, it was coconut that was smoked).

“The Great” Lamb Raan
Pork Belly & Lamb

Other favourites were the pork belly curry, which was very light and had a delightful undernote of nutty creaminess and a good punch of heat. It had a generous amount of tender pork throughout and also had snippets of crispy flakes of crackling which added extra layers of crunch to the dish.

Secondly the Signature lamb (which you can get either in a half or full serve) is wonderfully succulent and had been slow roasted for 48 hours in rich spices and yoghurt. The mint chutney served on the board complimented the complexity of the lamb and topped with lunu miris, sweet chilli and salt to balance the meatiness of the dish.

(The dahl was also light and creamy for you vegans!)

Amma's Daal, Light & Fluffy
White Chocolate My Fav!!

To finish the night off, we made the tricky decision to get only one dessert (we were so full by this time!) With the help of the waiter we decided to go for the white chocolate and coconut cream. This was smooth, velvety and surprisingly light that was perfectly matched with caramelized fig and the right amount of pomegranate.

The drinks menu is full of classic cocktails with exciting twists, my favourite of the night being the Kerala Kolada ( a delicious playful twist on the ever popular Pina Colada). It was quite refreshing from the heat of some of the dishes.

The Chennel Chiller

The only downfall was that the staff were a little slow at the very beginning but after our first drink order was placed the new waiter was extremely tentative and enthusiastic. After our first order was taken, the meal was out to the table in a shockingly speedy time, which made up for the lag in the beginning.

Also that our favourite dish (Smoked Goat) was that good we would have preferred to have seen it as a main rather than a smaller serve.

My New Favourite Indian In Sydney

Overall:

As this is one of Sydney’s newest culinary hotspots I would suggest on getting indu* it quickly as you might find in the upcoming months it will be harder to get a table.

*sorry for the pun 🙂

Indu Dining
350 George St,
Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9223 0158

Have you eaten at Indu before? What was your favourite dish or drink?  I would love to hear your thoughts and comments below.
K x

” Tokyo Tina is the smaller, edgier Japanese-inspired sister venue to Melbourne’s Saigon Sally & Hanoi Hannah “

Essentials

Located just opposite Windsor Station in Melbourne, Tokyo Tina (click here) offers a smaller yet playful eatery to entice your Asian fusion delights.

Formerly a bong shop, Tokyo Tina is the edgy Japanese inspired sister to Melbourne’s Saigon Sally & Hanoi Hannah. Sitting amongst the hustle & bustle, the venue is filled with Astro boy pin up posters, Japanese pop art, crumbly walls and slatted timber transcending you into a fluorescent alleyway in downtown Toyko.

Cucumber & Yuzu Sour

The menu is predominantly Japanese but also dabbles slightly in Korean & Peruvian cuisines. All dishes can be accompanied with a great selection of cocktails, Japanese whiskey, sake or beer. Offering a vast variety on the menu, you can find delicious morsels of kingfish cones and a three types of Bao catering for those who want a light lunch or for the hungrier folk a hearty ramen or poke (pronounced po-kay).

What we ate:

KINGFISH CONE – Wasabi, Apple & Charcoal Cone
KARAAGE CHICKEN RIBS – Hot Gochujang Sauce & Lemon (gf)
PORK BELLY – Pickled Daikon, Teriyaki Sauce, Kewpie (2pc) (gf*)
SPICED EDAMAME (v) (gf)
SEARED DUCK BREAST – Orange Miso & Carrot Chips (gf)

MATCHA BRIOCHE BUN – Crunchy Brioche Bun Filled With Matcha Soft Serve

BlOODY TOKYO – Belvedere Vodka, Tomato, Japanese Spices, Sancho Salt
CUCUMBER & YUZU SOUR – Belvedere Vodka, Elderflower, Yuzu, Cucumber, Honey
SHIMO SOUR CHAIRMANS – Spiced Rum, Cointreau, Mandarin, Cranberry Bitters, lime

Kingfish Cone
Extra Crispy Pork Belly
Karaage Chicken Ribs

The stand out dishes were the Karaage Chicken Ribs and the Duck breast. The Karaage Chicken batter was extremely light and crunchy while the Duck was cooked perfectly.

Seared Duck Breast
Duck Breast & Beans

Overall

Our dining experience at Tokyo Tina, was fun, tasty and exuberant. The staff were really helpful with their tips on what they thought the best dishes were and matching drinks. I Highly recommend Tokyo Tina for an Asian fusion meal in Melbourne.

Tokyo Tina
66A Chapel Street
Windsor VIC 3181
(03) 9525 2774

Have you eaten at Tokyo Tina? Did you like their Food & cocktails? What did you think of my review? I would love to hear your thoughts and comments below.
K x

“Set over 4 levels, each with its own unique charm. The Royal Hotel Paddington has something for everyone”

The Rooftop

Located in the heart of the iconic Fiveways in Paddington, the Royal Hotel Paddington (click here) is helping shape the posh pub grub scene in Sydney.

An establishment rich in history, this 1888 building has recently undergone a $4 million renovation transforming into a multi levelled hospitality operation. Set over 4 levels, each with its own unique charm. The Royal Hotel has something for everyone. If you are after a relaxed sports pub scene, the first level “The Royal Bar” is the perfect spot for you, there is ample space for large groups and the room boasts cosy leather lounges and has live streaming of all sports.

Royal Hotel Paddington

On the second level, the Verandah is clean cut white with splashes of navy throughout. This level is split into two sections by sliding doors; the sit down ‘al fresco’ dining area and inside bar area with communal high tables. Sitting within the ‘restaurant’ section* was warm and cosy with the sky roof open and the fire crackling in the corner.

*The only downfall of this area on the night I went, was I would have liked to see how this level opens up, the restaurant area was boxed in with the sliding doors being closed, which then created a bottleneck for the people walking to their tables or to the restroom with the patrons lining up for a drink at the bar (which unfortunately is smack bang right in the middle of the room). On the other hand if you are after a private section for an event/function, the versatility of this level works out perfectly.

Up on the third level is the Elephant Room, which is colonial inspired with it’s deep reds and burgundy tones throughout and many plush features and seating arrangements.

Through to the fourth level, the rooftop area is rather small and was very packed by the time we went up for a look-see (8pm Saturday night) however, the views of the city are quite picturesque.

Refreshments

The mastermind behind this newly revamped menu is Ben Varela, a seasoned Sydney chef familiar with the pub scene. Ben has combined traditional pub classics with his own personal twist.

Beef Carpaccio

What we ate:

TRUFFLE FRIES – self-explanatory
CHARCUTERIE BOARD – cured meats, house pickles & sourdough
BEEF CARPACCIO – olives, green tomato, rocket & sourdough toast
SPANNER CRAB LINGUINI – peas, garlic, lemon & chilli
LAMB SHOULDER – smoked eggplant, herb coulis & macadamia crumble
180g EYE FILLET – Gippsland VIC 150 day grain fed, mashed potato
250g RUMP – MSA3 Riverina angus, cumin roasted tomatoes mash & fries<

RHUBARD BOMB ALASKA rhubard gelato with vanilla meringue

CHERRYWOOD LANE – bourbon, cherry bitters & port soaked cherries
LAVENDER BRAMBLE – gin, Chambord, lemon juice, lavender monin & lavender
5 WAY G+T – hendricks, St. Germain, lime, basil , mint, cucumber & lemongrass

180g Eye Fillet
The Lamb Shoulder

I had two standout dishes in this meal, the lamb shoulder was extremely succulent and tender, the pomegranate and macadamia crumble gave the dish a nice added crunch. The crab linguini was a nice comfort meal perfectly balanced and fresh.

Crab Linguine At The Royal
Bomb Alaska

Overall:

If you are after a place for afternoon drinks to carry on into the night with somewhat upmarket pub food, the Royal has you covered.

Royal Hotel Paddington
237 Glenmore Rd
Paddington NSW 2021
(02) 9331 2604

Have you been to the Royal Hotel in Paddington? What were your thoughts? Leave any questions you have below.
K x

“My Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb experience was fun, funny & interesting. A must for anyone visiting Sydney”

On Top Sydney Harbour Bridge

The Sydney Harbour Bridge, represents more than just a bridge to get from A – B. In my eyes, it is one of Sydney’s most symbolic and iconic landmark, that all of us Aussies should be proud of. When I was given the opportunity to climb the bridge on Australia Day and to take in our gorgeous harbour and surroundings. I could not have thought of anything more ‘Aussie’ to do.

We did the express climb, which is at fast tracked pace and a slightly shorter route. Our guide was super friendly, funny and knowledgeable which made our experience even better. We learnt about the history behind the bridge, got to see and feel how it was constructed and heard the grand tales that accompanied the Bridge as it was being made . The view to be expected is absolutely breathtaking.

Opera House Through The Bridge
On The Way Down

I normally live by the phrase a picture is worth a thousand words, but in this case, I wasn’t worried about getting the perfect shot, I wanted to take it all in and really appreciate the bridge and all its entirety.

A big thanks to the team at Sydney Bridge Climb for creating this beautiful memory that I will never forget. If you too want to climb the bridge you can book directly here.

At The Top
How was your Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb experience? What was the best part of the walk? Share your thoughts, comments & photos if you want below.
K x

” In my humble opinion Barbacoa is the best grill in Bali”

Barbacoa Bali - Looking In From The Street

Barbacoa (click here) has made its mark as one of the best of the best in Seminyak’s dining scene if not the whole of Bali. The energetic atmosphere is full of laughter and cheerful chatting, while still creating an intimate experience for guests who are ready to tantalize their taste buds with some Argentinian bbq goodness.

Barbacoa Rice Fields

Outside the back of Barbacoa is an outdoor patio which overlooks verdant rice fields. Another one of Bali’s perfect spots to relax and unwind in the soft cool breeze of the afternoon and through into the night.

Looking Out On To The Rice Fields From Barbacoa's Balcony

From the moment you enter the reconditioned substantial ‘barn’, the smell from the smouldering charcoal grill & the open fire pit overwhelms your aromatic senses.

Pigs On A Spit At Barbacoa

Inside is an eclectic mix of dark recycled wooden features, bright Peranakan tiles, red exposed brick, blonde sandstone walls, French style floor to ceiling windows, oversized statement lighting and vintage leather booths. These are just some of the things that make up this immensely popular, rustic South American smoke house.

Barbacoa Barn

Firstly, let’s start off with the drinks menu, which was curated by one of the owners (and owner of Mexicano in Sydney). You will find an ample tequila selection with any of the frozen margarita’s being the perfect drink to cool down in the Balinese heat (My favourite; the frozen chocolate margarita after dinner).

The menu is inspired by the Latin American style asado (or BBQ). The uncomplicated style of grilling meats with perfectly matched sides, sauces and seasoning. If you aren’t the biggest of carnivores, there are plenty of vegetarian and pescetarian options on the menu too.

The Menu

What we ate:

WARM GRILLED CHAPA BREAD – Roasted Garlic • Balsamic Vinegar
BRAISED BEEF BRISKET TACO – pico de gallo and onion on a corn tortilla
PORK EMPANADAS – (special)
JALEPENO CROQUETTE – (special)
BARBACOA’S SPICY SNAPPER CEVICHE – with spring onion, coriander, capsicum

CHARCOAL GRILLED OCTOPUS – crispy Polenta, chorizo and paprika oil
8 HOUR WOOD-FIRED LOCAL SUCKLING PIG – Crackle and green chimichurri (220gm)
CHARCOAL GRILLED AUSTRALIAN GRAIN FED RIB EYE – with green chimichurri (250gm)*
GREEN BEANS – anchovy butter, lemon and oregano

CRÈME CATALANA – with scents of lemon and vanilla
WHITE CHOCOLATE & HONEYCOMB ICE-CREAM SANDWICH

This Chapa Bread Is Heavenly
Brisket Taco
Empanadas
Jalepeño Croquette
Snapper Ceviche

To pick our standout dishes is pretty challenging, so I have narrowed it down to a few. Starting off with the warm Chapa Bread, it isn’t necessarily the warm pillow like bread that makes this dish fantastic but the roasted garlic oil that is out of this world. There is something about Balinese garlic, which makes it softer and more delicate and not so ‘pungent’, which makes it the perfect spread to cover your bread and not worry about lingering ‘garlic breath’.

This Chapa Bread Is Heavenly

The Bbq Octopus was also very good, it had a lovely bark to it and was impeccably charred while still remaining completely soft. Mixed in was some polenta that added a nice bit of crunch, although next time, even though the flavour was spectacular, we would have liked to see a bit more chorizo.

Bbq Octopus

The Grilled Rib Eye was simply, perfection. Cooked extremely well and combined with a simple green chimichurri that really heightened the dish and lastly Barbacoa’s staple dish the Suckling Pig was some of the best I have ever had.

The Staple Dish. Suckling Pig
Green Beans w/ Anchovy
The Staple Dish. Suckling Pig
The Servings Of Dessert Are Huge
Crèma Catalana

Overall:

Barbacoa continues to deliver time and time and time again. The best grill in Seminyak by far. During our trip in October 2016, we loved our meal so much we dined here twice.

Barbacoa
Jalan Petitenget 14,
Kerobokan ,Bali  80361
+62 812-3999-9825

Have you eaten at Barbacoa before? What was your favourite dish? Leave your answers and comments below.
K x