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Brunch & Cake, Barcelona

Cake for breakfast? Salad for breakfast? Welcome to a world where anythings possible at Brunch & Cake in sunny Barcelona. I was on the hunt for a flashy brunch and this came up trumps on my Google-fu search. There’s definitely wonder and excitement on the menu at this venue, but the end result isn’t breath-taking. I bravely did a trio of whimsical items, including the scrambled eggs and mac and cheese, cheesecake in a flowerpot and the black peanut butter latte. Such items hark back to the brunch cultures of Australia. In a similar fashion it comes across the same struggles, when aesthetics does not equate excellence.


There is a lot to like. The spot is sunny, the service is prompt. My black latte ended up being more grey, I wanted to shout to the chef: “bring me more activated charcoal”. The cheesecake (€5.90) was my favourite part, but something that’s not a breakfast item. It’s dense and creamy and would hit the spot for an afternoon no doubt. I was most weirded out by the 11.50€ Iberico ham and potato scrambled eggs, mac n cheese, with sweet potato fries. It’s a food bingo of all the things I like, but they don’t go together. Some of the mac is a garnish and cold, and the bulk is used to fill half a loaf of bread. It doesn’t go with scrambled egg at all. The sweet potato fries are the best part, but even this didn’t need the heaping of parmesan. In the words of Coco Chanel: “take at least one thing off”.


Café Imperial, Nové Město, Prague

One of the consistently top ranked restaurants in Prague is Cafe Imperial, and it’s easy to understand why after one sitting. The service is top notch, the food is incredibly tasty and fresh, and it’s a place that feels like a class of its own. Whilst I had the unfortunate situation of having a hair in my main, the staff handled it well and I even got a gratis dessert. Still, it’s not ideal, so it loses a few marks for that. Actually, I also (attempted to) order an appetiser, but they may have misunderstood me there. It never came. Cafe Imperial is a fancy, stylish affair and although I was no doubt underdressed, the service  I received was impeccable.


My main for 285 CKZ was the chicken roulade stuffed with salsiccia on barley risotto. The meat was tender, tasty with gentle pockets of saltiness. The barely was delicate, creamy, the sauce was a lovely accompaniment. It was a very good take on a normal risotto. It was a big serving as well, so the lost entree wasn’t too missed. The bonus chocolate ganache was big as well. Quite heavy, maybe a touch too heavy. But a nice little gesture and I haven’t been dissuaded into a return. So still worth checking Cafe Imperial I think!


Café Imperial Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Wasabi, Soho

Back in my office/Soho lifestyle, I spent a bit of time at the nearby Wasabi’s. Corporate lunchtimes always feel so short, as there’s a stack of work to get done in the afternoon. That’s why I like these places. The food is all prepared, the cashiers are numerous and fast, and it’s quite easy on the wallet. My favourite dish of my Wasabi adventures was the chicken curry. Those who I’ve cooked for know I love a spot of this curry. Made from scratch, it’s a simple recipe, but does require some effort, time and balance to get the flavours right. The bowl itself from Wasabi is basic. Some rice, some token vegetable garnish, and then a seperate pot of the creamy, savoury chicken (or tofu option available) curry.


The keyboard warrior in me had this dining experience at my desk. Not quite my best decision. The curry is warm and hearty, and the chicken does taste good here. And the flavour of the curry is quite right. Slightly packet-tasting but not offensive by any means. So if you’re after something fuss-free and instant, Wasabi will do the trick for you.


Wasabi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mamma Pizza, Oslo

I was very prepared to shell out a small fortune for dining in Oslo. I kept things manageable by picking up some cheap eat options along the way. For example, I started with a slice (or whole) of pizza pie from Mammas Pizza. Like me, the weather was moody so I stuck around to the central part of the city. Eventually I got hungry, so I dipped into this place for some hot, cheesy goodness. The venue is seat yourself-but order at the counter. I haven’t decided yet if I found the service unfriendly or not (i.e. being asked to swap tables, no greeting etc). Or if that’s the mannerisms of the people here. Anyway let’s conclude the ambience was fair.


As well as pizzas, Mammas Pizza (ignore the title) also delve into pastas and other sides. I was quite happy to some pizza bianca options. These exclude the tomato base for a more cheese-centric conclusion. The flavours were quite enticing. I liked the sound of the Principessa: mascarpone, ham, walnut and honey. But I ended up ordering the Zucca: pumpkin cream, bacon, onions, rucola and parmesan. Each pizza sets you back about 150 – 180 NKK. It’s a light pizza, even the pumpkin cream is subtle and I forget it was there. I liked it – good base, simple toppings. A little on the plain side but the mix is pleasant. Worth bringing in a friend so you can enable a lot more variety.


Sandyan Pâtisserie, Toulouse

Sandyan is the kind of venue which I walk past, then determinedly u-turn and walk back into. We were already encountering a bother of rain, so I didn’t need any more telling. And the patisserie here is flat out incredible. The cabinets are a bit pompous, but take nothing away from how fantastic everything is presented. Tables for dining in are upstairs and there is service, albeit is a little slow. I had a juice and ordered the dashing egg-mousse looking dessert. My friend also ordered a coffee but they must have misunderstood, as that one never arrived and the server was never back so we couldn’t inquire.


At first glance the wacky dessert looks like an egg shell, but turns out it is actually an egg shell. I had been hoping for something fancy, like Masterchef Australia’s spray on speckled chocolate shell. The filling is super. Under the fruity mango yolk there’s some plain-ish vanilla mousse, and then some more passionfruit-y goodness at the bottom. The two sticks are a currant wafer and it’s a wee bit tricky to use for dipping, but there’s are also good. I also picked up a croissant for later in the day which was rich and perfect for the afternoon.


Bilbao Berria, Barrio Gotico, Barcelona

The last week saw me finally jet-setting my way into Spain (though I should say Catalonia). My face and my stomach was excited to be arriving at the very temperate paradise of Barcelona. And it meant time for some Spanish-style eating! The concept of pintxos were first introduced to me in the halls of Naked for Satan in Melbourne, and I recognise these anywhere. Barcelona has a few places like this but Bilbao Berria seemed liked the busiest of the bunch. It does help that it is in a more tourist area and like me, people are enticed in by the size of the crowd and platters.


Each standard pintxos costs €1.95. It’s a terribly confusing affair, as they don’t label what anything is. This is a bit outrageous to me. I had to ask the poor lady on each item what it contained as the croquette with jamon and the croquette with crab could not be told apart. Some guests had allergies which also made it hard for them. I don’t eat seafood so a lot of the (better looking) offering I couldn’t sample – I ended up with a mix of fried stuff, omelette and cheese. The bread’s a little too frequent for my liking and the quality was above average at best. I would have preferred the hot items a bit hotter and some of the other stock feeling a little less dried out. Fairly alright for a quick and (maybe) low-cost pick me up.


Oliver’s Coffee Cup, Nové Město, Prague

There’s something inspired about finding a fantastic cup of coffee irrespective of where you are. I’m thankful caffeine is such a universal language that everyone can appreciate. And the coffee at Oliver’s is of a very good brew. It’s a nice little arcade-type area, with enough air con and a sense of ease to help destress the mind. You go up a flight of stairs and enjoy some people-watching in the upstairs venue whilst you sip your top notch coffee. I’d be happy for this any time.



Oliver's Coffee Cup Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Le Banthai, Nice

Even here in the labyrinths of old town Nice, all I can crave is noodles and/or rice. I attribute that to my Asian household upbringing. It’s quick, cheap and a lot more fuss-free than some of the other options. I headed into a popular little Thai haunt called Le Banthai. The kitchen is definitely Thai, even if all the staff are perfectly French! The couple who started it all is in fact, Thai. I went with the Pad Thai option and it makes for an authentic experience, the usual much revered South-Eastern Asia flavours on offer. All the lunch specials are at 12€ but I’d say the curries may have been a better bet. They looked impressive. The noodle dish is alright but tastes a bit flat (excuse the pun). It wasn’t the biggest portion and lacked a kick that I’ve found in other Thai restaurants. More sweetness? More grill-age? Also, the menu font is Papyrus. I feel like that is important information to consider.

le banthai.jpg


Tim Horton’s, Glasgow

I’m not Canadian, and I only spent a week in Toronto, but still, something about seeing Tim Horton’s in Glasgow, Scotland brings a smile to my face. The food’s not even good but there’s some charm that I instinctively associate with Canadian things. And I’m not alone there. It’s proper busy. We went to this branch, which happens to be first store in Europe, twice over our Scottish weekend too. The menu is a bit smaller, but otherwise features the same Tim Horton’s Classic. Donuts, Timbits, fruit explosion muffins, mediocre coffee, it’s all here in identical form. The prices maintain their reasonable level and the staff are even quicker than the ones in Canada: I had my box of Tibits before I even finished paying. I’m not sure if you really ever come to Tim Horton’s for the food – the sausage egg muffin is a bit blah, the coffee blah, the donuts alright. I think I hope to see a few more around (but not too many more).