Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Charlie & Co Burgers

All right this one is about burgers. Now again, I go back to India and speak about how any burger patties are made out to be of mince meat. So typically when I crave for a burger, I expect a lamb patty, fresh toasted buns, some mayonnaise, some mustard and a lot of chips. The beauty of it in India is that even for a chicken burger, its is made out of a minced chicken with slight spices. The especial usage of minced chicken in the patty makes it more juicy and tasty.

Now I have been in Sydney for quite a few years and love the fact that there is a burger option that has chicken in it, but usually it’s the entire chicken breast portion. Either crumb fried or just simply grilled. Now, it started with the  basics- Macca’s and Hungry Jacks, followed by Oporto’s and red rooster. Now the beauty of Australia is that even if you step put to any other joint, which is not a part of the big chains, they still love their burgers. Each joint has a different twist to it. Some can be as basic as Asians cooking burgers out of a schnitzel with basics mayo etc, to all the way of gourmet burgers with caramelized onions, aioli, mushrooms, avocado along with meat.

Well this one is about Charlie and Co. Burgers. The context- after a long day of shopping around on Boxing day sale, I head over to the food court- food at five. There is Charlie and Co. Burgers which has its own enclosure and a wide array of burgers. A  long line of people waiting to order burgers. Of course, majority of the items on the menu are beef burgers- wagyu patty, which I think are probably premium quality meats. There is an option of fish burger, a veggie burger and also the Roadside chicken burger.  There is also a summer menu which features a special beef burger and a Charlie’s chilli Chicken.
As I stand in the line, I can peek across the glass wall looking into the chicken where they are methodically getting the meat patty’s onto a flame and grilling it, with juices dripping down. At this instance I am just a bit regretting that I could have had beef. But no regrets, I have a bigger task to decide between the two burgers.

The Summer Special Charlie’s Chilli Chicken burger features a grilled chicken breast, brie, lettuce, tomato, avocado, chilli jam and charlie’s smoked paprika mayo. Well that sounds yum and this is what I decide to try. On the contrary the roadside chicken burger is herb, crumb fried burger. I decide for the chilli chicken burger. I order it with chips. In chips I have the option of simple Sea Salt Fries, or the Parmesan and truffle fries. I decide for the truffle Fries. And to wash it down is a simple coke. The ketchup and mustard sauce have to be paid for as extra.

Now lets come to the food.  The burger served looks awesome. A big fresh bun with sesame topped. A bite, and you can get the lettuce and rocket along with tomato and the chicken. A few more bites and you get the smoked paprika mayo along with the chicken.  The Parmesan and truffle fries are good.

Overall, I find the burger to be descent. I mean with the avocado and the smoked mayo and the fresh  tomato and lettuce is great. Quite filling as well, to be honest. However, it is the grilled chicken which I personally find a bit bland. I wish it was better tasting and more juicy. I mean I know in Australia perhaps people are used to it, but for me, although everything was awesome in the burger in terms of ingredients, but the main component – the chicken was too bland and tasteless. I mean I was tempted to open  the burger and put in salt and pepper as well. But nonetheless, not bad.  I did like it. Perhaps let me put it another way. I might go there again, if I have a chance or if I am in the vicinity, to try out the other burger, so its not bad. But would I go there to finish my carving for a juicy burger? Perhaps no. Would I go there specially. Most probably No.

Overall, the burgers cost about $14-$16. The fries cost $8. The sauces cost extra, $1 each, which I find quite expensive.  There is no concept of a meal, so everything is ordered separately.  The overall meal costs me $30, which to me expensive for a burger, even a gourmet one. I mean I would not mind paying, but not for the burger I ate.

Overall Verdict: Average burger, a bit on the higher side from a price perspective.

(02) 8072 7777

Charlie & Co Burgers on Urbanspoon

Monday, January 20, 2014

Snag Stand

All right, this one is about hot dogs. Something so tantalizing. I mean if you think about it, its just about a hot dog and a bun. But if you fall in love with it, think about the juicy sausage, just perfectly cooked, and topped on a roll with spicy sauce, mustard, cheese. I mean, as I was growing up in India, there were two things. Firstly all those American movies which feature the quick hot dog shops and takeaways on the streets of New York. 

Secondly the craze for fast food and American food in India which we went through in India as kids, as India transitioned in the 80’s and 90’s from the closed economy to an semi open economy.

The Vegetarian Toulouse(front) - Chicken & Rocket(rear)
In India, the beauty of it is that since its predominantly a nation which loves chicken and goat, you can get version of juicy chicken sausages or mutton sausages. But when you come abroad, the true sausage is all about meat- beef and or pork.  Well, in Sydney, one of my favorite joints to have hot dogs is the Snag Stand. Located in the food court in the Westfield Mall, the hot dogs are really great and popular. Contrary to the American version of just a sausage and some sauce, the Snag Stand really gives you interesting gourmet hot dogs.

These are delicious hand crafted hot dogs, with a gourmet and boutique look.
The Greek Lamb and Rosemary Hot Dog

Well if you ask me, whenever I have a craving for hot dogs, this is the place. There are lot of interesting variants. For the review today, I’ll cover the three that I could possibly try- the chicken hot dog, the lamb one and the vegetarian one.
The Chicken and Rocket hot dog, has a fresh poppy roll. There is a delicious and juicy chicken sausage. It is topped with rocket leaves, pesto, aioli. There is delicious level of fresh grated or shaved parmesan cheese along with fresh tomatoes.  One bite and it is heaven.  For me it the best one.

The next one in the line is the Greek hot dog. The greek hot dog has the grilled lamb sausage. It is served on a toasted poppy seed roll. In terms of toppings, fresh tomato and onions. What makes it interesting is that there is crumbled feta cheese and mayonnaise. The sausage is  bit tougher than the chicken one, which is extremely juicy. The lamb sausage has a smoky flavor, a bit chewy and yet with the typical lamb flavor. Pretty darn good again.

The last option is the vegetarian one. Well, this one is interesting one. On one of the Tuesdays, when I am a vegetarian by choice and I was out on Christmas eve, I was starving and looking out for a veg option. Pleasantly surprised to find a veg option, in fact there were four. The Veg Nacho Libre, Toulouse Vegetarian, the spicy veggie chorizo, and the beetroot horseradish. Well, the Veg Nacho Libre had run out and I presume that’s probably the more popular one.

The Veg Toulouse was not that bad. I mean, it had a veggie potato and sage sausage. There was rosemary and mushrooms, and aioli. The garlic favored mayonnaise went pretty well. To be honest, if I didn’t have to a vegetarian, I would probably not have it again, as sausages have to have some meat in it. The veg hot dog did taste descent, but its not what I crave for to be honest.

Also, when you order a meal, go for the chips which are claimed to be from 100% tassy potatoes.

All in all, a great place.  Most hot dogs cost about $10. With the fries and drink, it may go up to about $14.

Highly recommended.

Westfield Sydney
Level 5, 188 Pitt St
Sydney NSW 2000
Telephone: (02) 9221 9600

  Snag Stand on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Niro's Jaipur

All right, This one is about Niro's Jaipur. Well, close to 14 years back, I did venture into this restaurant with my father. After getting admission into engineering, my father took me out for a lunch to Niro's. At that point, I probably didn't know that I would fall in love with this place for ever. In the years to come, visits with friends, girl friend and family. I have looked out for an excuse to be here.

Niro's, located at Panch Batti, is the perfect spot for a great meal followed by a movie at Raj Mandir. In the last 14 years, I have been to Niros a number of times. The decor is great. It has that charm of the old bygone British era. Its got the old world charm some how in the ambience, the service, the dresses of the people serving. 

There is usually a rush and there is waiting at times. Looking into the menu, there is quite a variety across Indian, Continental and Chinese. Well, for me Niro' is about Continental. Ever since I have been coming here, the dish for me, that I love and crave for and can have any time is the Chicken Ala Kiev.  Well, to be honest as a kid rowing up in the 80s and 90s, India was going through the metamorphosis and opening up to the outside world. Indian food was of course readily available. What I really wanted and craved for is continental dishes. Usually there were select few restaurants in Delhi and other cities where you could have great continental food. 

At Niro's, I had the Chicken Ala Kiev for the first time. To describe the dish, when it is served, you see a cylindrical crumb fried dish, served with fries and boiled veggies- beans and carrots. Now, as you pick up the fork and knife, it easily glides into the crumb fried only to uncover a chicken minced cylinder shaped dish which is topped with golden crumb fried. The chicken mince is delicious and delicate. Soft and juicy, it is exotic. As you move on to the next bite you can savor the juices of the soft chicken mince. But when you dive the knife for the third time for a cut, you are in for a surprise. Apparently, the crumb fried chicken mince has a hidden interior cavity filled with butter and herbs.  The butter is neatly sealed inside this cavity of chicken mince and as you cut it for the third time, all the molten butter flows out. This dish in my humble opinion is the most heavenly dish I have ever had. Highly Recommended. 

In the years that went by, I have stayed abroad and tried the chicken Ala Kiev at various places in Australia and Netherlands, but trust me, nothing like what I have had at Niro's. Now perhaps the Niro's version might be customized  but to me it is the best. I was sad to discover that the chicken ala kiev served at various places here and even the readyto cook were sadly a disappointment here in Australia. 

Other things that I have tried here is the cream of chicken soup and the fried fish with Tartare sauce, each immaculate and perfect. I guess, the way continental is made in India and served, has its own unique taste. The fish is beautiful and golden crumb fried and served with chips and tartare sauce. Now again, this is something that I have not seen in Australia. Over here, it is ieither grilled or beer battered. But the one served at Nir's is again exotic and tasty, and very Indian Continental I'd say

In the Indian, i have had the Rajputana Laal Maans here at Niro's andthat was also descent. But for me, Niros is only about Continental. Highly recommended from me if you are in Jaipur.

Niros Restaurant, Mirza Ismail Road, 
Jaipur 302-001 Rajasthan (India)
Phone:+91-141-2374493, 2218520