Friday, September 25, 2015

Utsav Indian Restaurant, Charlestown

All right, this is one of those restaurants which we visited twice, over two consecutive weekends. Now, it was more of a coincidence, and more chance to sample more food to be honest. The first week, we were in Lake Macquarie and after a day of barbecue and reds on a bright sunny day, we were out for dinner. Now close to Lake Macquarie, there weren’t too many places in Belmont or Swansea and the fact that Utsav had such great reviews on trip advisor and as number 1. So we drove the 14 kms in search of good food. The second time, we were on our way to Coonabarabran and started from Sydney to Charlestown. When I booked accommodation, I didn’t realise this is where Utsav was as well. Reaching at 8:30 again, Charlestown was nearly closed, with Utsav being one of the few restaurants which are open until late.

Lets me start of with all the dishes I have had here. For starters we ordered the tawa fish, and the gobhi 65. The tawa fish was a barra fillet, pan fried with some basic spices. You know what, if you think Indian and think fish and starters, chances are you will be either served a batter coated Amritsari fish or very high coloured fish tikka. But not here. The fish was an absolute delight to have.

The gobhi 65, my oh my, what a disaster. The gobhi or the cauliflower florets dipped in a batter and deep fried were about ok, but it was served in a chutney sauce on a flat plate. Not exactly Gobhi 65. To me, Gobhi 65, a variation of the famous Chicken 65 from Hyderabad, has to be crunchy, flavoursome and with curry leaves. So this was quite a disappointment for us.

Let’s come to the main course. We have come across a few dishes- butter chicken, the daal tadka, and goat Rogan Josh.  The Butter chicken is good. Most restaurants here do mess up butter chicken making it over creamy and too sweet. The butter chicken here was good, above average Id say. It was fresh, the curry wasn’t too smooth or thick in consistency. I got to tell you, I liked it. So a yes to the butter chicken. The only thing which did put me off a bit was when the order was taken, I was asked how much spicy or hotness, which the true dilli wallah would know. Butter chicken isn’t hot;-) But I liked the butter chicken here.
The Daal tadka or the yellow lentils was again good and flavorsome. Simple, with slight masala, topped with fresh ginger. Sometimes, you just want to have simple no frills food. This daal was like that. With roti’s it went well.

Next came the Goat Rogan Josh. Well, when I ordered, I was sceptical. Sceptical because goat is usually either not fresh, or too chewy, or substituted with Lamb. Indian eateries do make a mess of goat dishes, and the number of times I have ordered and been disappointed is far too high. Too high that I have stopped ordering goat at times. Anyways, that was the past.

At Utsav, I took a leap of faith and let me tell you, it was fantastic. The goat Rogan Josh when served came in a thick brown gravy, with some coriander and ginger strands on top of it. The curry was great. The quality of goat was also good. Soft and well textured. In fact both me and my friend who are fanatics for goat, loved it. So a thumb up from my side.

The rotis, naans and breads are fresh. The salted Lassi is really good over here. The gulab Jamuns and rasgullas are descent.

So overall a great place. In a place like Charlestown, its doing good business. We did interact with the owner, and other staff as well. The team tries to look after you and give you good customer service and they do request for Tripadvisor feedback. So I would like to come here again.

If there is one thing I would change about this restaurant- it would be the colour of the walls. Not Maroon or dark red colour on the walls please. It isn’t exotic, it just makes it look shady. Watch a few episodes of Gordon Ramseys – make it light colured walls and it will look classy and bigger.

2/199 Pacific Highway,Charlestown, NSW 2290
02 4906 0506

UTSAV Indian
Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

5 Little Pig’s Café, Huskisson

All right, this one is about Jervis Bay area- huskisson. Now we were to go on our whale and dolphin watching cruise. We settled into the 5 little pig’s café for breakfast. 2 rooms. First one, has the coffee machine and the cakes and all. Second room has all the seating. Very unique and modern seating. The table was made out of pipes.

We ordered coffees. While I settled for the Mexican brekkie, my friend ordered the simple bacon and egg role. The coffees came up quick and then it took a bit of time before the breakfast arrived. But on a sunny Sunday, it was just great to relax and take it easy. Now the Mexican brekkie was quite the thing. A tortilla, topped with red kidney beans, fresh onion tomatoes chopped, with guacamole. The red kidney beans and the super spicy salsa. Wow. This dish was quite colourful, fresh and well balanced. While the super spicy chillies touched the high, the guacamole balanced it. The lemon added the zing. The coriander sprig just looked so good. So, two fried eggs, fresh finely chopped refreshing tomato onion, hot chilli and avo. This was really good.

The coffee was good as well.

 The bacon and egg role was a bit different. Instead of English muffins, they had a Panini, with bacon eggs and spinach inside. While it was ok, I personally am a fan of crispy bacon and wished the bacon was crispier. The béchamel sauce was wonderful and fresh.
So all in all, if you are in Huskisson, or the Jervis Bay area, please do visit this nice café and relax with a great brekkie.

Shop 4-5, 64-66 Owen Street
Huskisson, New South Wales

(02) 4441 7056 

5 Little Pigs Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

3 Olives, Greek and Mediterranean Tavena, Newtown

All right, this one is about our search for Lamb. Slow cooked Lamb. This was our second visit to this place and trust me, its wow. 3 olives is on King Street, right when you come out of the station and start walking to the left, it’s on the right hand side of the road.

In both instances of our visit, I had visited this place after a visit to Bench for some live music, cheese platter and some red.  3 olives specializes in Greek and Mediterranean cuisine. It’s a small little shop, got a bit of a patio on the outside with some comfy couches and a heater. Inside, there is proper and regular seating. Well, let’s get onto it. There are banquet options and then there is a la carte.

We have always ordered for the banquet. There is a Meat tavern and the other one is the Seafood Taverna. We went in for the meat tavern. It starts off with the Greek salad. Fresh and with the salty feta. Next comes the trio of three dips. The eggplant dip, the fish eggs dip and Tzatziki dip. It comes with warms slightly pan fried pita bread. Again great. You will love this one. Next comes the haloumi. The haloumi, simple pan fried reminds me of fried paneer, except it’s more salty and a slight little bit chewier. Pretty good again. The homemade cheese filo parcels are heavenly and divine.  Flaky pastry filled with cheese, all molten and fresh. Words fail me to tell you how divine these pastries are. Next comes the vine leaves stuffed with rice. To be honest, I am not really fascinated by this one.

Next comes the main course. From my perspective, I usually tell them that no beef and no pork for me. So the Greek Beef burgers or the Kefthes and the Chorizo are ruled out for me. So, it’s basically extra chicken souvlaki and the specialty of this place- the slow cooked lamb.

The chicken Souvlaki, it’s a beauty. I usually despise chicken souvlaki at most take away's as they are crumbed, fried and weird when you eat them. But NOT this one. This is one of the best Chicken souvlaki I have had. One that has reinstated the faith in me to go out and try chicken souvlaki again. Very juicy chicken on a skewer and slightly fried, with fresh herbs.  So simple Verdict- it’s great.

Next comes the lamb. The slow cooked lamb. Unlike other places which serve the entire lamb shoulder, this place serves smaller portions. This is one the best lambs I have had. Soft, inside and yet a bit crispy outside. The meat portions are delicate with a layers of fat, and beautiful. I am so passionate about the lamb they serve here. As I write, I just wish I could go back and have the lamb again.  I would only say- highly recommended- please do visit this joint and have the speciality of the Arni Kleftiko- the slow oven roasted lamb.

The banquet is quite a lot of food, so do bear in mind.

The other dish I have had hear is the moussaka. It’s a vegetarian version with egg plants and potato slices. Topped with delicious béchamel sauce and cheese, and the baked to perfection. Non I am not a fan of eggplant, but man, this dish is again out of the world. Cheesy, delicious, flavoursome. This is awesome.

In this one evening, we were also fortunate enough to see the Greek dance. Here we were on a Friday evening having a meal and suddenly the music started playing and then the owner and his wife started dancing and very soon all the others joined. They had this thing with the paper tissues which they used along with them in the dance. Lovely atmosphere and loved watching this dance. Do a lovely place and a lovely evening.

For Desserts, we have tried the Galatoboureko- which is a greek custoard in filo pastry along with honey. It comes up in  plate with ice cream, strwaberries and dusted cinnamon. The dessert, while it was highly recommended, I found it to be just average and not out of the world.

Instead, the turkish delight which they serve as complimentary at the end, is actually out of the world. It is so soft and fresh and fragrant. So much that whenever I visit, I request for an extra serve.

So much that I would suggest and recommend very much this place.

365 King Street, Newtown, Sydney, NSW  

02 9557 7754

3 Olives Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato