The Rook, Sydney

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The Rook, located in the Sydney CBD specialises in lobster, burgers and liquor – one simply cannot argue with that! My good friend Edrea and a group of colleagues thought we’d give this one a try next on our mega list of places to visit and eat at around town. Although located on York Street you would never actually know it existed. It’s on the rooftop of a big building which is pretty much not visible from the street level. Once you get over that fact and make it up the lift and indoors, it’s a pretty hip venue. We arrived there early dinner wise (around 5.30pm) but the place did fill up quite fast after that. So anything after 6.00pm I would recommend a reservation for.

Our waitress came round after we were seated and handed out the dinner menu and drinks menu. A cool selection of – you guessed is – lobster, burgers and liquor. There are starters (lettuce cups with different fillings, arancini and croquettes), chicken, wagyu and a lone haloumi burger, standalone lobster and other lobster indulgences, and desserts (deep fried mars bar, cheesecake). Cocktails start from $18 and there are many-a other alcohol options to choose from. We all mostly decided on burgers (all served with truffle fries) and a scattering of cocktails for the night.

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Wagyu burger with cheddar and beetroot ($20)

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The meals came out fairly prompt. Edrea’s wagyu burger with cheddar and beetroot ($20) was juicy with generous fillings and the wagyu was cooked pink in the middle. She said the beetroot appeared to be house pickled and didn’t have that sort of canned sharpness as you’d traditionally expect. The bun was also nice and soft but not so soft that it disintegrated. The truffle fries could’ve been marginally crunchier but were nice overall and had a strong (and somewhat lingering) truffle flavour. Her Pineapple Express cocktail ($20) consisting of Tanqueray gin, pineapple juice, soda, Yellow Charteuse and peppercorn syrup was not too sweet, had a nice peppercorn flavour, and used fresh pineapple. The rosemary sprig added a strong, but nice flavour, but she overall would’ve preferred the pineapple to be more prominent. All that said though, Edrea wasn’t sure if she would spend $20 on it again.

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Orange County ($19) and Pineapple Express ($20)

The other cocktail ordered for the night was Shareeza’s Orange County ($19). This one had in it Bulleit Bourbon, passionfruit, and orange and elderflower liquer. Sweet, passionfruity, and bourbony. She said it was a bit small for $19 and was left wanting more!

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Lobster roll ($25)

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As a bit of a change from the burgers that we all had, Dakota had the lobster roll ($25). It looked quite large on arrival and appeared to be full of delicious, juicy lobster. A little disappointingly, however, the lobster roll actually contained a few more ingredients – potato and bacon in the mix as well, so it was mostly potato at the end, which was a little bit of a let down for her.

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Haloumi burger with peppers and spinach ($20)

My burger (the vegetarian option on the menu although not labelled as such) had a nice combination of haloumi, peppers and baby spinach ($20). Initially I wasn’t sure what ‘peppers’ meant – soft and sweety capsicum? or death by chilli jalapeno peppers? or worse? Needless to say I forgot to ask before I ordered! The flavours of the burger worked well together. The peppers were actually marinated red capsicum which provided a lovely sweetness. The haloumi I found could have been a little bit more salty, and unusually had a spongey/springy kind of vibe like eating a chicken burger (thinking Oporto here). The scattering of baby spinach added some nice greenery. The actual bun worked quite well – soft, not crusty. The chunky fries were lovely, generous and large although I thought they could’ve been a touch crispier. The mayo sauce was fabulous – thick and flavoursome. Overall, a really great burger experience, but I was expecting something a tad bigger/taller for $20, particularly since Jamie Oliver’s burger is $19.50 and it is, well, a Jamie burger. Or maybe like this ginormous burger that Big Bear and I tried at the Hazelhurst Gallery and Café.

Deep fried mars bar with vanilla bean ice cream ($14)

Deep fried mars bar with vanilla bean ice cream ($14)

Gabriel and Dakota ordered the deep fried mars bar with vanilla bean ice cream to share ($14). The crispy batter encasing the mars bar contrasted well with the gooesy mars bar inside. The extras on the plate – vanilla ice cream, meringue, nuts, soaked cherries, caramel and chocolate bits – helped to break up the richness of the mars bar, but also enhanced the flavour when it was eaten with the mars bar. It’s also recommended to share this dessert as most people probably couldn’t eat all of it unless it was the only thing you were eating!

I would visit this place again if I needed a good burger or if someone else wanted to pay for my cocktails and let me enjoy them free of charge.

Palatable level of hipsterdom for the after-work crowd with lobster, burgers and liquor a-plenty

The Rook

Address: Level 7, 56-58 York Street, Sydney 2000

Phone: 02 9262 2505

Lunch: Wednesday – Friday

Dinner: Weeknights from 4.00pm, Saturday from 6.00pm

Website

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Melbourne Sweet Treats

I went down to Melbourne recently and, as you do, ate my way across town. I thought I’d collate some photos of the many ‘sweet treats’ I enjoyed along the way and what I subsequently had to spend a solid two weeks at the gym burning off. It samples one of my all-time favourites as well as some new places I researched before the trip down. American Doughnut Kitchen First up, American Doughnut Kitchen. I can’t even recall how I stumbled upon this gem but it goes way back to one of our family holidays around a decade ago. Anyway, whenever I have journeyed to Melbourne I am a serious repeat customer here. Never has a doughnut been this good, and I’m actually glad I live 1,000km away just so I am not compelled to visit it every weekend. IMG_0511  IMG_0508 Situated in the Queen Victoria Markets since 1950, it operates out of a van selling only one thing – jam filled, sugar coated doughnuts. It’s a popular tourist destination and there is a constant line up outside the van, but don’t worry, the line moves fast. The doughnuts are made and baked inside the van using a ‘secret recipe’ and the smell is simply incredible. I’m pretty sure the price has fluctuated over time but I scored my bag of 5 for $6. I usually pause to have a smell inside the bag and let the world keep spinning while I am in my doughnut moment. Here’s the experience – crunchy, sugar crystallised doughnut exterior with a soft and fluffy interior and an oozing red jam centre. It’s simply incomparable to any doughnut I’ve had elsewhere. I’m fairly sure also that I overheard a customer say “no sugar or jam please” on their order and I quietly died on the inside…Ok so the doughnuts aren’t gluten free, contain animal products and yellow food colouring, and are fried in oil using animal fat, but heck, you’ve got to make compromises in life sometimes! IMG_0515IMG_0524 Website Facebook Merry Cupcakes As a bit of a complete contrast to the American Doughnut Kitchen are Merry Cupcakes. All their cupcakes are 100% vegan and contain no animal products. Even more tantalising is the fact that their cupcakes have on average 77% less saturated fat and 5.3% less sugar than your regular cupcakes. Some are gluten free as well. Merry Cupcakes loves to incorporate real, seasonal fruits and vegetables into the mix all the better to increase the fibre content of the cupcakes. IMG_0533IMG_0530 “We focus not only on the taste but also the nutritional content of our cupcakes. We make sure that when we create our recipes, we increase their nutritional goodness so that they are healthier than the average cupcakes of their corresponding flavours.” Their Facebook keeps you updated on all the flavours going for the day. Here’s a sample: Vanilla Ice, Beet It, Chocolado, Strawberry Fields Forever, Blondie, Passion Pit, Charlie Brown, Blueberry Pancake, and Carrot Top. Website Facebook Invita Living Food Situated in the Queen Victoria Markets, Invita Living Food offers super healthy food at reasonable prices. Pop in for breakfast or lunch and enjoy some award winning coffee, scrambled tofu or french toast for breakfast, hearty soup and salads, and round it off with a sweet treat – vegan muffins, carrot and olive oil cake, banana bread, cheesecake, or raw bliss balls. IMG_0572IMG_0569 I opted for a vegan lemon poppyseed cake this time round – light and fresh and poppyseedy. I don’t get people who don’t like poppyseeds with the ‘but they get stuck in my teeth’ argument. Lemon and poppyseed or orange and poppyseed is the absolute best, and the frosting is always amazing. This place is highly recommended if you are looking for something fresh, filling, wholesome and cruelty-free around the markets. Seating is provided (though it sometimes might be tricky to snag a table with the crowds) but it’s comfy and enclosed. Website

Lentil as Anything, Newtown

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I have always wanted to go to Lentil as Anything since I first heard about it many years ago. I got my chance when in St Kilda Melbourne about a year ago. Hearing there was a new branch opening in Newtown Sydney, I was there. Big Bear and I went there mid-week. This isn’t your average place to eat. The most distinguishing feature is that there are no prices. You don’t get handed a menu with the price of what each item is. You can literally go in, eat and pay nothing. Alternatively, you could pay $50. You choose! There is a ‘contribution box’, however, so the ethos of the place isn’t really ‘come in here to get a free feed’. It’s a really interesting concept and I won’t go into the debate about how they can keep running financially after all these years, but the place definitely attracts a crowd for it not to be in perpetual bankruptcy.

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So we were counting the numbers along King Street and kind of walked right past it and looked at each other in confusion. At this point I wondered whether I dragged Big Bear to yet another one of my odd, must-try-restaurants-because-it-sounded-really-cool-but-I’m-not-sure-if-it’s-real-cause-the-website-hasn’t-been-updated-in-a-while, the-phone-is-disconnected-or-it-just-doesn’t-exist. The signage isn’t obvious so keep your eyes peeled. It’s fairly centrally located in Newtown, a short 10 minute walk up from Newtown station. All that said, it has very very recently changed address, so maybe you will have more luck that me.

I have to give you a warning though in terms of what to ambience you should expect. If you want a ‘quiet night’ or ‘romantic dinner with the partner’ choose somewhere else. Or, on a different point, if you’re not happy to go vegetarian or vegan for the night your choices will be a significantly if not completely limited. On the contrary, if you are happy to shuffle onto different seats at different stages of the night to make room for extra people, aren’t too socially awkward to turn strangers into acquaintances, and don’t mind getting all cosy with others, this is the place for you! 100% community oriented so just breathe it in.

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Warm spiced chai

So once we actually found the place and were informed outside to wait to be seated, we walked into a loud, buzzing and almost full to the brim room. At 6.30pm it was nearly at capacity. We received some water and warm spiced chai on arrival and were told about the menu for the night. 3 items – a burger, moussaka or curry. The chai was lovely. The first sip gives a great flavour and then you’re hit with a strong punch of cinnamon and cumin.
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The menu is slightly different every night. I would recommend following their Facebook page for updates on the latest. Some dishes you might be lucky enough to sample:

  • Baked sweet potato gnocchi with green vegetable and pesto salad
  • Chunky silverbeet, chickpea and tomato curry with rice pear chutney and poppadums
  • Pumpkin and green bean tagine with apple and shallot infused cous cous
  • Warm organic quinoa wombok salad with sprouts, nori and sesame served with a tahini and miso dressing
  • Sliced apple topped vanilla cake with ginger caramel sauce

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From the choices, Big Bear had the open lentil burger with hand cut chips and pickled vegetables and I had the lightly spiced pumpkin and tomato moussaka with mixed grain garlic bread. In the meantime, Big Bear was off making friends with people he’d just met and we both enjoyed the music of a live and loud duo hitting up some acoustic tunes, who I found out to be known as the ‘Investment Buskers’. I think at this stage we also had to move at least once to make some more room on our table for others who showed up.

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Open lentil burger with hand cut chips and pickled vegetables

The meals arrived rather quickly. Big Bear said the wedges were hand cut, cooked wonderfully and seasoned well. The burger itself was nice but more of a half burger since it was a pattie sitting on one piece of bread! The nature of the pattie being fairly crumbly made it somewhat difficult to eat. But the taste was great and it came with a tomato salsa on top which blended well with the burger. The pickled vegetables were basically a coleslaw. Portion size was good and it didn’t detract from the rest of the dish. Overall, he said it was a good portion size and the food was definitely of quality right down to presentation.

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Spiced pumpkin and tomato moussaka with mixed grain garlic bread.

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The moussaka presented really nice as well with bases of pumpkin, tomato and eggplant. Flavour was a little bit lacking however (a sentiment I think shared with a fellow patron who ordered the moussaka and asked for the salt) but the meal was filling. Half of my bread was unusually burnt as well.

Service was great. All the waiters and waitresses were really nice and didn’t mind stopping and having a chat. The clientele is also a spectacle in itself. Hipsters…hipsters everywhere…You gotta see it to believe it!

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The slide downside to the night was that I was hoping for some dessert. The menu posted onto their Facebook page earlier in the week spoke of delicious coconut rice pudding with caramel sauce. But they were out!!! *Sad face* I’ll need to come back to sample a bit more of the menu I feel.

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Pay as you please. Communal. Hippie. Newtown as its finest.

Lentil as Anything, Newtown 

391 King Street, Newtown, NSW, 2042

12.00-3.00pm Lunch and 6.00-9.00pm Dinner

02 8283 5580

Website

Facebook

Want to volunteer? Email sydneyvolunteers@lentilasanything.com 

Harajuku Gyoza

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My good friend Edrea is always on the lookout for cool places to dine for post-work dinner. This time around we treated ourselves to Harajuku Gyoza in Potts Point. Famous for its Japanese dumplings (described on their website as being “Japanese dumplings of happy”), we trekked up Bayswater Road after work to satiate out dumpling fever. We booked for 6.30pm but arrived around 6.00pm and the restaurant was fairly empty at that time. The staff didn’t mind that we were a little bit early for our reservation. In fact, the staff were really nice throughout the whole evening – accommodating, responsive and enthusiastic.

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Browsing over the menu, the dishes always confuse me at these types of places as I can never quite anticipate the portion size and how much I’ll need to order or not order straight up. This all means that I’m invariably in a state of flux over deciding what to get. And often price doesn’t match up with portion size. Even from the photos I browsed while Googling beforehand, it was a bit tricky in determining comparative sizes of the dishes. The menu is split up between gyoza (little dumplings), side dishes like edamame and miso soup, izakaya dishes (tofu, eggplant, chicken), and dessert (nutella and banana dumplings).

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Amongst the group of us, we decided that we were going to order each of our meals individually and not do a system of just ordering everything and sharing it around. After much deliberation, I settled on the vege gyoza (grilled) ($8.00 for 5 pieces), miso soup ($3.00) and tempura eggplant ($6.00). Sporadically, parts of our meals started to be brought out. It wasn’t until a couple of minutes in that our waiter realised that we had each ordered our meals separately and weren’t going with the sharing thing (we ordered off someone different initially). We weren’t too fussed with this, but the restaurant specifically operates in bringing out one dish at a time, no matter whose it is, so FYI, if you’re expecting to eat all your little dishes at the same time.

Grilled vege gyoza (5 pieces for $8.00)

Grilled vege gyoza (5 pieces for $8.00)

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Miso soup ($3.00)

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Tempura eggplant ($6.00)

The vege gyoza had a lovely flavour. I couldn’t distinctively pick out what vegetables were used, it seemed to be a bit more of a mush or paste with some spice flavourings, but was really tasty. Although I mainly think that is attributed to the fact that I drowned it in soy sauce – absolutely love soy sauce and frankly would drink it straight out of the bottle! The portion size was reasonable, however for the price of $8.00 for 5 pieces it kind of doesn’t balance out too well. The miso soup was lovely with some spring onions and tofu. The most memorable and interesting dish of the night was the tempura eggplant. For a ‘side dish’ it was massive and was a main meal in itself – I am fairly sure it was a whole eggplant sliced up on a plate. The battered coat was quite light with a slight crunch. The syrupy sauce it was sitting in was really unusual, almost like a slightly thick maple honey. It was quite nice to begin with but after some bites into it became a little overpowering for a savoury dish. I found that what I had ordered was actually a decent amount – I was pretty full at the end – stuffed with salty and sweet.

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Cucumber and miso salad ($5.00)

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Chicken Karaage ($8.00)

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Raspberry sake

Edrea’s poached duck gyoza was equally as nice as the vege gyoza but she felt that the duck could’ve had a stronger flavour. On the plus side, the fried chicken (chicken karaage) with mayonnaise was delicious and was well on its way to being completely eaten and gone before I had the chance to take a photo of it. The cucumber salad with sesame seeds was also flavoursome. Not a fan of cucumber myself, I didn’t go there. Edrea felt a bit adventurous that night and also ordered the raspberry sake – a really strong and sweet hit of alcohol and fruity flavour. Others in the group didn’t quite get that ‘how much do I order/not order balance’ right, and had to order a few other accompanying dishes, mostly different flavours of the gyoza.

A really interesting and rather unusual feature of the restaurant was the choice of music. Contemporary, thrown in with some jazz and piano, then some dance tracks and a bunch of other things, in a way that kind of cuts through everything making it very noticeable. By the time we were towards the end of stuffing ourselves, I hadn’t even noticed that the restaurant had filled up considerably. If you’re there early enough, like we were, a booking wouldn’t be essential, but anything after 7.00pm would be necessary.

All in all, a delicious and filling experience, however Edrea didn’t think it was a big enough drawcard to warrant repeat visits.

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Sweet and salty. “Japanese dumplings of happy”.

Harajuku Gyoza

9-15 Bayswater Road, Potts Point, NSW 2011

Open 7 days for dinner and Wednesday to Sunday for lunch

(02) 9356 3834

Website

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Zokoko

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I first heard about Zokoko at Emu Heights on an episode of Sydney Weekender many years ago – might I say that show is a bounty of good information! I visited once not long after during my Honours year (2012), I believe, and haven’t been back since!! Shameful, I know. Although being a busy working girl, the window of opportunity I have to visit is a short 4 hours on a Saturday morning, so I really gotta muster up the energy and strength to drive out there and be ready for a chocolate hit that early. With a renovation in between the years, the place, thankfully, hadn’t changed much!

“Zokoko is the result of Michelle Morgan’s dream to make and share amazing chocolate reflective of its origin.”

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Big Bear and I arrived around 10.30 that morning. You first walk into the store and are hit with a counter of chocolaty deliciousness – chocolate crackles, croissants, carrot cake, brownies, more delicious looking chocolate cake, and, of course, rows and rows of gorgeous little individual chocolates in some wonderful flavours – coffee, whiskey, coconut white chocolate, honey…You can also read all about Zokoko’s exclusive chocolate sourcing and process for more of a background.

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The shop itself is located in one of those industrial community complex of shops, so parking is readily available, just make sure you don’t park in the spots which are allocated for other businesses. After we unglued our eyes from the counter of chocolaty goodness we chose a two-seater table inside. Warning: this place is popular and busy. It might be tricky getting a table for more than 4 people, but if you can shuffle around some chairs and be accommodating then all should be good. The main seating area is within the store itself, with a scattering of seats outside. It was particularly windy so inside it was for us! The major crowd, however, is at the front of the store, with many, many people wanting some take away coffee and goodies.

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One of the more stand out features of the renovation was the uber cute wallpaper. A storybook of boys and girls with cake, cupcake and cappuccino heads! Kind of reminded me of Willy Wonka’s tasty edible wallpaper, if only each of those elements had flavour.

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I went back up to the counter and spent a decent couple of minutes deciding on what to get. At last I settled on a mixed berry muffin, lemon polenta cake, and 3 chocolates to share, along with a soy and full cream latte. I kinda hoped, however, that there would be some sort of menu available on the table to peruse through instead of having to choose directly from the counter. Maybe an electronic menu could’ve helped considering I assume there would be a fairly high rotation of sweets and treats, so it can be updated more regularly.

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There was a teeny bit of a wait, but credit given, it was very busy and the service was still lovely. The mixed berry muffin (warmed up) was fresh, soft and not too crumbly and not too sugary with a nice crunchy top. The berries were juicy and plump. Gorgeous to have as a morning snack and you can bet I was picking off every last crumb from the muffin pattie!

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The lemon polenta cake definitely backs a punch in lemony flavour! The texture of the cake is quite dense but not hard. The drizzle of icing sugar adds a very rich sweetness to it. Because of the richness and sweetness it is just the right size.

The chocolates I selected are all highly recommended:

  • Raspberry – a dark, smooth and silky chocolate/cherry taste, which definitely reminded me of cherry ripe
  • Coconut white chocolate – the taste resembled Bounty or Golden Rough
  • Whiskey – this had the most robust flavour of the three we tried and was our favourite. Quite a strong and smooth alcohol hit, but didn’t have that harshness or bite to it. It definitely had the strongest flavour of the three, and you’d have to put a limit on how many of these you consume in one sitting. That little bow on top is certainly deceptive!
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Catching up on some blogging homework

And let me not forget the coffee, courtesy of Morgan’s coffee – wow! I’m not a big fan of when my soy tastes straight up like soy (yes, bizarre), but this latte was so pleasant to drink – rich and smooth and just luscious. Now I understand why so maybe people were there just for the coffee.

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On your way out you can also pick up some goodies to take home – tea, teacups, and more gorgeous varieties of chocolate.

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Big Bear caught me daydreaming…about chocolate!

Boutique chocolate café. Artisan chocolate. The perfect weekend treat.

Zokoko

Unit 3, 84-90 Old Bathurst Road, Emu Heights, NSW, 2750

1300 965 656

info@zokoko.com

Monday-Friday: 7.00am-5.00pm (drink service finishes at 4.00pm)

Saturday: 8.00am-12 noon (drink service finished at 12 noon)

Website

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The Gingerbread House

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I by chance stumbled upon this place after I picked up a pamphlet about the Gingerbread House sitting at the front counter of Josophan’s beautiful boutique chocolate shop in Leura Mall (Chocolat anyone?). A great fusion of indulgent café treats mixed with edible products and gifts you can take home for later.

Opening in October 2013, the Gingerbread House in Katoomba was established by the creators of Josophan’s Fine Chocolates and is heralded as creating “a new concept in sweetness”. It operates within a 100 year old church with a children’s play area in the courtyard outside – a great opportunity to have a relaxing morning or afternoon whilst the kids are occupied.

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We decided it was a must-do whilst continuing on our Blue Mountains holiday. We drove into the main town centre of Katoomba and parked. It’s conveniently located and only a short walk away from the main street. We unfortunately couldn’t upload their website before we arrived (I think it might’ve been a hosting issue on their part?) but their Facebook page is up and running perfectly. Facebook also says there is an on-site parking lot, but we didn’t look into this because we were on foot (I will have to take their word!)

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After we first walked in we had a quick peek around the ‘gingerbread house’ before ordering anything off the menu. The gingerbread house itself is set up inside the café area and is a gift shop of delectable edible and homewaresy treasures. It’s a bit breathtaking when you walk in – think Willy Wonka cutesy kitsch – with rabbit statues, cookie cutters, cupcake patties, striped drinking straws, teacups, lollies for every tastebud, gingerbread men, and of course Josophan’s fine chocolates. The fact that it operates out of a seriously old church adds a vintage boutique touch to the whole experience.

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Being a gingerbread house after all, I expected nothing less than uber-cuteness from the menu. Cookies, cakes, ice-cream, ginger beer floats, scones, cheesecake, muffins, spiders (sugar rush!). It’s certainly not shy in describing itself as a “sugar feast”. The menu does also provide a few savoury options such as hearty soup and local bread, maybe as a way to detox.

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Big Bear ordered their chocolate brownie ($5.00) with a full cream latte and I selected their date and chocolate scones with a hint of ginger and cinnamon served with whipped cream and berry jam ($7.50).

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Chocolate brownie ($5.00)

Big Bear’s full cream latte was not too hot and not burnt (win!). The brownie had a boutique, quality dark Belgian chocolate taste. The consistency was lovely and gooey, melt-in-the-mouth kinda stuff, but maintained it shape on the plate well as you devoured into it. Because it was fairly chocolatey however, a side of cream or ice cream would be recommended. Having said that, it could put an ultimate Zumbo brownie to shame.

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Date and chocolate scones with a hint of ginger and cinnamon served with whipped cream and berry jam ($7.50)

Both of my scones were rich with dates, spicy ginger and cinnamon sugar. A touch dense…I was expecting a bit more lightness. The chocolate seemed to be hiding unfortunately. Loved the innovation however. The jam (I’m guessing strawberry from the colour and seeds) was tart, plentiful and accompanied the scones nicely alongside the simple and just-the-right-amount whipped cream.

I am expecting terrific things from the Gingerbread House in Katoomba – it’s just what the town needs. The Hansel and Gretel-labelled toilets are mighty adorable too.

Almost edible gingerbread house. Chocolate hit. Sugar coma.

The Gingerbread House Katoomba

56 Lurline St (Cnr Lurline & Waratah Streets), Katoomba, NSW, 2780

(02) 4784 2031

Mon-Sun: 9.00am-5.00pm

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Cafe Madeleine

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Café Madeleine is Josophan’s sister site. What or who is Josophan’s? Well I’m glad you asked!!

Josophan’s Fine Chocolates is an exquisite and tantalising chocolate shop gracing the boutique streets of Leura Mall in the Blue Mountains since 2005. The store is fitted out with every imaginable chocolate goodie ranging from chocolate bars and slabs, cocoa powder, cookbooks, chocolate eggs and bunnies, and cake decorating and chocolate making supplies. A little peek behind all the goods for sale on the shelves and you’ll see the laboratory, workshop and tasting room, home to where all these delicious treats are created and where you can learn all about them!

The lady behind Josophan’s is Jodie Van Der Velden. A full profile is available online to read, but from a quick glance of where she’s trained (Savour Chocolate and Patisserie School, Cordon Bleu and the Ritz, to name a few) I trust that I’m in safe and delicious hands. In addition to the retail outlets (there’s also one for you Sydney-based folk!), Josophan’s also supplies wedding and celebration cakes and bonbonniere for those special occasions. And if you’re really keen you can browse through Jodie’s chocolate travels abroad to various cacao plantations. Oh and go on, just look at all the petit fours on offer too…Kahlua kiss, Mayan chilli, butterscotch schnapps, hazelnut praline…okay, okay I’ll stop.

Now, back to Café Madeleine. Café Madeleine is kind of an edible chocolate smorgasbord of Josophan’s. Also conveniently based in Leura Mall, it serves locals and tourists an impressive range of cakes, brownies, tiramisu, hot chocolates and iced chocolates (Fair Trade of course), plus some savoury breakfast and lunch options and High Tea (hello!!). The café also offers a ‘food store’ with other take home goodies for sale such as muesli, jams and spreads.

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Bright and welcoming, Café Madeleine is easy to spot in Leura Mall, which is good because Big Bear and I were really tired after a day’s shopping and lunching at Solitary Restaurant and Café. We arrived about 3.00pm on a Wednesday afternoon and chose a nice sunny window table with cute French provincial seating. The café caters well for small groups and couples though I imagine larger groups and those after High Tea would need to book ahead. After a quick squiz at the menu we selected the flourless chocolate torte with a side of ice cream and two full cream lattes.

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After ordering from the lovely staff, we were left to sit and suffer next to the glass fridge glistening with cake and sweets. But soon after we were served a delectably presented chocolate cake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and warm melted chocolate. In place of the usual flour, the cake had a beautiful hazelnut and almond meal with a soft and light texture (not dense like mud cake). As you can see from the photos, there were also some delicious, oozing chocolate chunks scattered throughout. The coffees were also quite milky, not too strong and not too hot.

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Flourless chocolate torte with vanilla ice cream

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Chocolate, cake, coffee and sunshine – the perfect Autumn afternoon pick me up.

Café Madeleine & Josophan’s Leura Boutique

Café Madeleine is at 187a Leura Mall, Leura, Blue Mountains, NSW, 2780

Josophan’s Leura Boutique is at 132 Leura Mall, Leura, Blue Mountains, NSW, 2780

(02) 4784 2031 (This is for Josophan’s Fine Chocolates in Leura Mall)

Café Madeleine open 7 days a week 9.00am-5.00pm

Josophan’s Leura Boutique open 7 days a week 9.30am-5.00pm

Online store

Sydney CBD store details available online

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