Australia, Sydney, Sydney - CBD, Sydney - Inner City

Orto Trading Co

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Orto Trading Co is a cafe situated in the quieter part of Surry Hills.  The cafe’s name, “Orto”, means “kitchen garden” in Italian.  The use of glass panels around the cafe, allowing natural light to permeate inside the cafe, makes the place look like a living greenhouse.  The theme is enhanced by having herb pots on the outside, and the placement of various plants and gardening tools on the inside.  The simple wooden furniture, with an exposed brick wall, gives the cafe a simple, down-to-earth vibe that is welcoming and inviting.

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Arriving here on a cool Saturday morning, the inside of the cafe was already full, so we sat outside on one of the tables.  The lack of heaters on the outside proved to be an issue, as we were quite cold from just sitting there.

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Southern Fried Chicken Bene ($18) – Orto’s English muffin, hollandaise

The star of this dish was the chicken – crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, with nice seasoning and a good kick from the use of chilli powder in the marinade.  However, the rest of the dish was underwhelming – the muffins were too sweet and dry and did not compliment the chicken, while the eggs were overcooked and the texture was too dry.

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Brekky Joe ($16) – last night’s chilli beef, bacon, fried egg and brioche

Pure comfort food suitable for brekky after a big night out, the dish was dominated by the flavour of baked beans.  We expected more of a spicy kick to come from the chilli beef, and we had to add some Tabasco to achieve the spiciness that we were looking for.  However, the bacon was crispy and enjoyable.

 

Overall, this seems to be a nice place to hang for a long brunch, but their food was only “so-so” in our opinion.  Maybe we should have tried their vegetarian dishes instead.

 

Orto Trading Co. Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Orto Trading Co

Website: http://www.ortotradingco.com

Address: 52 Waterloo Street, Surry Hills

Phone: 0431 212 453

Opening hours: Monday to Friday, 7am to 4pm; Saturday and Sunday, 8am to 3pm

Accepts all major credit cards

Australia, Melbourne, Melbourne - East

Top Paddock

 

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Situated in Richmond, 3 km southeast of Melbourne CBD, Top Paddock is a very popular venue with a long waiting queue most days of the week. The concept of Top Paddock is the intention for the produce to arrive from the paddock directly onto the customers’ plates. Most of the ingredients used in this café are sourced personally by the owner.

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We arrived here around midday on a Saturday and was greeted with a sight of many people waiting to get in. Even though there were lots of people, they had a good system of registering people and calling their names when a table was available. The staff was very attentive to their customers and always had a nice smile to greet customers.

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The inside is decorated in a modern manner, with the use of natural light and plants to bring the place to life. There is also an outdoor seating area.

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The coffee (mostly $4) was roasted by Five Senses. It was brewed perfectly, and the taste was a blend of nutty and smoky flavours, combined with a hint of subtle sweetness.

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The Rangers Valley Wagyu steak sandwich with beetroot relish, tempura beetroot shoots, fresh horseradish and wasabi leaves ($20.50, with an extra $2.50 for added fried egg) was a delight to our palate. It was a perfect blend of contrasts – the soft bread contrasted well with the crunchiness from the tempura, and the saltiness from the beef contrasted well with the bitterness from the leaves, the spicy kick from the horseradish and the sweetness from the relish. A fantastic dish.

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The Fresh Queensland soft-shell mud crab with a fennel and dill salad and lime mayonnaise in a brioche bun ($21) was all about re-creating the freshness of the ocean. The crab was fresh, well-seasoned and nicely cooked, sitting on a cushion of soft flesh. The freshness of the dish was further enhanced by the use of fresh herbs. The sweetness of the brioche bun provided some sweetness to the dish. This was a delightful dish and one that we would go back for again.

 

Overall, this café lived up to its hype, and is a place where we will come back again to try a few other items on its menu.
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Top Paddock

Website: http://toppaddockcafe.com

Address: 658 Church Street, Richmond, Melbourne

Phone: (03) 9429 4332

Opening Hours: Mon to Fri, 7am to 4pm; Weekends and Public Holidays, 8am to 4pm

Accepts MasterCard, Visa and American Express

 

Australia, Sydney, Sydney - Inner City

Devon on Danks

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Late last year, the infamous Devon Café in Surry Hills opened another café in the hip suburb of Waterloo, called Devon on Danks. We tried their food at the end of last year, and had fond memories of the food. So on a gloomy Easter Monday, we went back to this café to try to relive our previous pleasant experience.

We arrived at the café around noon, and there was already a line waiting outside. We waited for around 15 minutes, which was a reasonable time to wait.

We requested to sit on a table outside the café, and when we sat down on the table, we noticed that the table was not cleaned at all, with food scraps left from the previous diners. Two wait staff came by, one to give us the menu and cutlery, and one to take our orders, but both failed to clean the table for us. We were forced to clean the table ourselves with the serviettes that were given to us. Not a great start. Tsk tsk…

We ordered a coffee each to start our meal, and the coffees were pretty standard. We then proceeded to order three plates to share.

Since we already tried their infamous Breakfast with the Sakuma’s ($25) previously, we order three dishes that we have not tried before.

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Spanner Crab Pasta ($28)

This was a homemade egg yolk pasta, with spanner crab, cherry tomatoes, garlic and parsley. There were also some beans thrown in which provided a good textural contrast to the other ingredients. The taste of this dish was unfortunately very one dimensional – full of tomato flavours and lacking in flavours from the crab and other ingredients. It has failed our expectations.

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Dr Seuss’s Green Egg and Ham ($20)

This dish consisted of thick cut bacon, crispy potato, 63 degrees egg, green tomato ketchup, pea puree, soy beans, pea tendrils and jus. The green eggs were soft and silky and nicely flavoured. However, the rest of the dish was not as enjoyable. The potato was crispy but overly salty making it inedible. The bacon had a good smoky flavour but was again overly salty. Dr Seuss’s words seems appropriate to describe this dish:

“Do you like green eggs and ham?

I do not like them, Sam-I-Am.

I do not like green eggs and ham.”

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The Manny P Burger ($19)

This burger was filled with annatto spiced fried chicken fillet, chilli mayo, fragrant herbs and pickles, with a side of chips. The chips were thickly cut, crunchy and well-seasoned. The burger was delicious as the chicken fillet was juicy and soft and the mayo provided a good kick to the burger. The fresh pickles and herbs provided some light refreshing flavour and contrasted well with the spiciness from the chicken and mayo. A nice dish.

Overall, this experience at Devon on Danks was a disappointing one. Our pleasant memories from our previously experience has now been shattered. We were so unhappy with two of the dishes that we did not even want to order their infamous desserts, Danks-in-Donut ($7) or Cronnies ($6.50). Maybe we were just unlucky by going to this café on the wrong day, but this experience has really questioned us whether we should ever visit this place again.

Devon on Danks on Urbanspoon
Devon on Danks

Website: http://www.devoncafe.com.au/

Address: 2 Danks Street, Waterloo, Sydney, NSW 2017

Phone: (02) 9698 7795

Opening hours: Mon to Fri 8am to 4pm, Sat to Sun 8am to 3.30pm

Accepts MasterCard, Visa and American Express (for purchases over $10, with surcharge for Amex)

Australia, Sydney, Sydney - CBD

Brewristas Cafe, Glebe

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Located in the trendy suburb of Glebe in Sydney is this cool café. It has a sleek, modern interior and is also quite big, with tables by the windows or the side wall. There is also a small courtyard at the back with more tables.

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The first thing I saw walking into the café was the counter with a big coffee machine. Surrounding it were other coffee related equipment such as filters, which showed how committed to coffee this place was. The barista uses a horn system to notify the serving staff when the coffee was ready, so customers can enjoy their coffee at the right temperature.

The staff was very open, friendly and attentive. Their enthusiasm showed their commitment to the customers and their products. They were always smiling

I ordered a macchiato. The coffee had nice intense flavours, which were nicely balanced, with a smoky yet fragrant flavours.

Jono ordered an avocado shake. He liked this drink, as it was not overly sweet, with a milky flavour from the use of condensed milk in the drink.

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Porky Pigs Hotteok – Traditional Korean honey jam pancake with bacon, poached egg, spicy guacamole, rocket & mango habanero mayo $15

Jono found the whole dish too sweet – the pancakes were already sweet themselves, the jam filling made them sweeter, and even the mayo was leaning to the sweet side. He thought that maybe he should have used the lime to make it less sweet. The bacon did help in reducing the sweetness somewhat. The poached eggs, though, were perfect.

I thought this dish had too much going on. I would have loved to have eaten the pancakes with the jam filling by itself as a sweet snack. It reminded me of Korean red bean pancakes. The addition of bacon added some saltiness to the dish, while the mayo added some spiciness and the lime added a touch of sourness. They actually detracted me from the real star of the dish which should have been the pancakes.

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Kevin’s Balls – filled with roasted pork belly, tofu, kim chi, sweet potato, encrusted with shin ramyun $10

This dish is named after the owner, and four small balls were served in a small cup.

One bite of this dish took me back to high school days, where I would make shin ramen in the middle of the night to keep me sustained as I studied for the HSC. The spiciness of the shin ramen that I remembered were all captured by this dish, and the kim chi added a depth of flavour to this dish. The portion of pork belly in the balls was also very generous. The crunchiness of the outside contrasted well with the soft texture of the pork belly and tofu.

Jono thought the dish was well presented, but a little hard to eat. He thought that putting the balls on the plate would have made it easier for people to eat, as the balls tended to fall apart when you put a fork into them.

Overall, Brewristas is a neat little café with very innovative food that you would not find in normal cafes. The coffee here is their specialty.

Brewristas on Urbanspoon

Brewristas Cafe

Website: http://www.brewristas.com.au

Address: 73 Glebe Point Road, Glebe, Sydney

Phone: Not available

Opening hours: 8am to 2pm, 6pm to 10pm, Mon to Thurs; 8am to 2pm, 6pm to 11pm, Fri; 9am to 11:30p, Sat; 9am to 9pm, Sun

Accepts MasterCard and Visa only, not American Express

By Greg