Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Chelsea Bistro @ The Barracks, Brisbane

The 'Barracks' at Milton is like a big roof that just about fits a cinema, couple of restaurants, a supermarket and a few shops here and there; not exactly big enough to be a shopping centre and not exactly a row of shop lots. However it totally serves my purpose for a meal and some grocery shopping. You got to love the 2 hour free parking too.


Having driven pass this complex quite a few times, we decided to pop by one day and take a look. With the Entertainment Book in hand, we decided to use the buy one free one deal (only for mains and to the value of AUD35) to lunch at the Chelsea Bistro.


The Wife felt in some ways the place reminded her of Paris while it does fit the profile of restaurants that I like to dine in; comfortable, casual, small, cozy and a slightly upmarket menu. In fact it is rather small and in the colder and wetter months to come, it might be very comfortable sitting outside.

With the buy one free one meal not eligible for the AUD32 2 course lunch + wine, we decided if the food was good enough, we would come back for the lunch. 

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The special of the day was the wagyu rump with fat chips and peas. Oh so English with the peas and yet distinctly Australian with the rump and chips. The steak confirms my love for the more marbled rib eye as even the fattier cut of wagyu cannot convert me to eat rump steak. The chips were awesome, all these months in Australia have somehow created the addiction of these heart clogging carbohydrates.


The more sensible beef cheeks with home made pasta was probably a wiser choice for a lunch although the rather big portions meant I still got few bites to try. The cheeks have evidently gone through many hours of cooking and melted in the mouth with a chew or two. The home made pasta was well cooked. 

All in all, I thought the lunch was worth its money with the use of the voucher with the whole meal well under AUD50. Nevertheless if your budget is in the AUD30 for a main with another AUD10 for a drink, a wise option if you are in the Barracks. Otherwise, the AUD32 lunch special seems like a steal and is available on weekends too!

Address and contact details: 

The Chelsea Bistro on Urbanspoon

Verdict: 3.5 stars out of 5 stars. I will definitely come back for lunch if the quality is as good as the mains, otherwise one in the book for a casual meal with easy parking.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Pourboy Espresso @ Wharf Street, Brisbane

It is jolly about time that they start serving double ristretto lattes in Brisbane. After discovering Driftwood and Dandelion where all their latte are made with a double ristretto shot but was really a weekend option since it was a good 10 minute drive away, Pourboy came to the rescue. 


Situated on Wharf Street, I happen take this road to work so it cannot be any more convenient for me to drop by for a coffee. With the barista understanding what a double ristretto latte when I ordered (trust me when I say not many places understand what a double ristretto latte is in Brisbane), this has been my go-to-for-coffee every working day of the week.


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The slight irritation is that Melbourne charges AUD3.50 for the same cup but Brisbane charges a premium of AUD4 and at the same time we don't get paid more than them, so what gives I wonder?


Back to Pourboy.


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On my weekday trips, I have tried their buttermilk muffin, chocolate and cinnamon broiche and trust me there are all awesome to go with your coffee, even if it is quite a sugar overdose early in the morning. My favourite has to be the cinnamon brioche.


On a particular weekend, we decided to skip down the hill for their weekend breakfast menu. So was it any good?

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Poached eggs, jamon serrano and corn blinis. The blinis or savoury pancakes were bland on their own but eat it with the flowing egg yolk and the salty cured meat, it was a satisfying breakfast from the looks of the Wife. 

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If anything this was a slight overkill, the egg benedict came with brioche. Rich as brioche already is, it is topped with the familiar items making this quite a calorific meal. Unlike the other poached eggs on the table, mine was slightly overcooked but overall it tasted alright.

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The other option came with smoked salmon which looks like it could have been made in-house which looks just as scrumptious.

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Looking for a sweet option, the pancakes looked divine but the comment that came back was that it was too sweet as a main, I suggest this be shared if the table has a sweet tooth.


Given that the place is after all less than a 10 minute walk from my house, there could very well be more weekend re-visits if we don't want to drive out but meanwhile, this is still the place to takeaway my daily caffeine fix. 


Address and contact details:

PourBoy Espresso on Urbanspoon

Verdict: 4 stars out of 5 stars. In terms of coffee in the CBD, this is as good as it can get. Although I am hoping there will eventually bring in a different blend to mix things up in their regular lattes instead of their Mecca blend. Otherwise, I can always order their single origin aero press style. 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Fresh Sushi Co @ James St Market

I am glad out of all my readers out there (I know there aren't too many) that one amongst them all did come forward to make a donation to my team who in less than 2 months will trek 100km in 48 hours. Thank you so much J!


If you have a spare dollar or maybe two, please give it another thought, the details are in my team page (which is rather sparse till I get some time off during Easter to brighten it up with some content).


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Back to the Brisbane eating scene.


Last weekend, the Wife and I finally had some sort of alone time with friends out of town, studying for exams and so forth. When we were having our dose of caffeine at Driftwood and Dandelion, we decided that we didn't want to feel left out after hearing that my friends were digging at seafood in the Sydney Fish Market by going to eat some oysters too. Where to go we wondered and we decided to try our luck at the James St Market.


Being the fancy high end super market, this place is still packed to the brim and we were incredibly lucky to find a car park space within seconds. 


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Fresh Sushi Co is attached to Fresh Fish Co. With relationship to a fishmonger and manned by everyone Japanese, it gives you that little more assurance that the seafood quality should be tip top. 


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The sushi platter gives you a complimentary miso soup to warm you up, considering the chilly days that we have been going through (not that I am complaining, rather I am loving it!)


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The platter is slightly expensive at AUD 33. However it does come with premium ingredients including salmon roe, sea urchin and scallops. The thick fish slice wraps around the small ball of sushi rice making it a perfect light meal (which burns the pocket). Accompanying it you have three different kind of soya sauces for you to dip the sushi. 


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The oysters came very fresh and juicy topped with a vinegar jelly (the name escapes me) which matches the seafood perfectly. A dozen for AUD 26 which is a slight premium considering we bought another dozen from a fishmonger for AUD17. 

All in all good quality seafood that does come with a premium, just for those occasions where you want to splurge a bit and enjoy life.

Fresh Sushi Co on Urbanspoon

Verdict: 4 stars out of 5 stars. Worth a quick bite if you are into sashimi and sushi.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Dancing Fish @ Bangsar Shopping Centre, Kuala Lumpur

Yesterday I appealed to you dear readers for a donation. A pity I have yet to receive a single donation. Please consider again to donating a small sum for charity, particularly to the Oxfam where I will be one of the many teams attending their charity 100km Brisbane Trailwalker in June. It is for a good cause and particularly to the Australians, it is tax deductible too!


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Back to my trip to Kuala Lumpur. 


Despite all that craving for food before the trip, I was feeling rather flat by the end of it of all with the running and driving. So 2 days before we had to fly off, my friend asked where I wanted to eat and catch up. 


Feeling all lazy, I let her choose and we ended up in Bangsar Shopping Centre which turns out to be a good decision except for the ridiculous parking charges (although who am I to complain when Australia charges multiples of that for parking). 


Many more restaurants have sprouted in this place, who knew that what looked like a dying place could have been bought back into life.


I decided that  I wanted Asian cuisine and Dancing Fish fit that criteria serving a mix of Indonesian and Malaysian cuisine.


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The Crackers with the Fiery Sambal was a good start since I had actually didn't really eat breakfast and it was close to lunch time.


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The less spicy Sambal Eggplant was much more appetising without burning my tongue right through.


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The Taufu Telur was alright with the sauce too watery but the taufu very smooth within. I still remember the best I had (which was the first time I had it) from a stall at the KLCC food court yonks ago, a pity it is no longer there. Anyone know which stall I am talking about? 


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The Bebek Bali, the crispy duck that everyone talks about when they go to Bali. While I loved the crispy bits that they sprinkle on top of the duck, the meat was cooked to the point of being dry. Was it a re-frying job, I wonder? 

I know I haven't taken a picture but when you call out for rice, take the yellow option, the fragrance from the spices calls out to you for another scoop during the course of the meal.

All in all, a pleasant meal but prices as expected in shopping malls are quite expensive, setting you back RM50 per pax.

Address and contact details:

Dancing Fish Malay-Indo Cuisine,
3rd Floor, Bangsar Shopping Centre,
Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: 2095-6663

Verdict: 3.5 stars out of 5 stars. Looking for that combination of Malaysian-Indonesian cuisine, this fits the plate with its offerings. Food is pleasant in a swanky environment. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Oxfam Trailwalker 100km Walk in June @ Brisbane

Those who follow me on Facebook and Twitter would have seen an announcement or two that I have decided to participate in the event.


What is it? 


Essentially a 100km walk in 48 hours, all for the sake of charity. 


Why?


If I survive this, it would be the greatest story that  I can ever tell over dinner or a party. Apart from that, it is for charity, good for my karma, good for my increasingly heavy body. 


What you can do?


One of the requirements to join the event is to raise AUD$1,000 for charity. For all those in Australia, donations are tax deductible. So your spare change has some benefits for you!


For those outside of Australia, I still appeal to you to for a charitable cause and you will get to see me blog about my progress during training and coverage on the actual day(s) which is slightly 2 months away.


Here is the link: OXFAM Click on my name: Zhi Jun Chen. Any amount is appreciated! 


If you do make a donation, please remember to leave me an encouraging note too so I know who you are!


Don't disappoint me readers, surely you must have some spare change somewhere. 

Friday, April 15, 2011

Noble House @ Jalan Delima, Kuala Lumpur

Google up "Noble House", and you can see that the common topic since 2007 is their lunch buffet which I believe is still available. Apart from that, it is surprising that not many have reviewed what they have to offer for dinner reviews. 

As some of you might not know, after being officially being labelled as a Husband for 15 months, we will finally be holding our wedding dinner at Noble House at the end of the year. Being the picky me, we had to squeeze in a dinner during our trip just to make sure the food was edible. As in most cases, the dinner is usually not representative to the banquet food; it still gave us that bit of faith because the dinner we had that night was pleasant and certainly very tasty.

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The Father was feeling generous that night as we started off with the Soon Hock or the Marbled Goby. This fish is famous for their springy and smooth texture and that is usually the key to whether you have in front of you a good quality one. Thankfully, the half a fish we had was spot on and no meat was spared.

The story is that most of the top quality supply in Malaysia is exported to where it fetches a higher price i.e. Singapore and Hong Kong and most restaurants here have to resort to imports from Indonesia. A similar story with our petroleum, don't you think?   

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The grilled spare ribs was marinated with mint and that lent a gamey taste to it. As with most chinese restaurants, the meat was tenderised with something that make it even for the toothless easy to chew.

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There are some styles that you can't get over in Australia unless the trend catches up and one of them is the salted egg style. Being too lazy to eat crabs, I insisted that I must have it with the squid. Alas, although the coating was excellent, the coating also made it rather soggy instead of retaining the crispiness. 

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The Spinach Tau Foo tasted healthy and for once I welcome the starchy oyster sauce base as a perfect accompaniment to my rice. 

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To balance it off, we had a vegetable that I can bet my bottom dollar that I would not be able to get in Brisbane, translated as the Green Dragon vegetable. As far as I know it is a local inbred organic vegetable (i could be wrong of course). Stir fry with some mushrooms, it was a good end to the dinner.

Would I come back again for dinner? I sure would. Now to keep my fingers crossed, really crossed that the food on that wedding dinner night will be good.

Address and contact details:

No.19, Jalan Delima, 
Off Jalan Imbi, 
55100 Kuala Lumpur  

Tel: 03- 2145 8822 

Verdict: 4 stars out of 5 stars. Based on what we had that night, the food was good, however I think the meal does come with a premium price of which I have no idea what the quantum was because the dear Father footed the bill (although technically since I am earning the big currency, I should be footing the bill but I shall not explain further).

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Coffee Square @ Sunnybank, Brisbane

Read my posts about eating Chinese food in Brisbane often enough and inevitably the same key words will pop up; "Sunnybank" being the suburb where Chinatown is and "Market Square" a big plaza of restaurants that serve Asian fare. 


One of those weekday evenings where we didn't have an ounce of creativity and energy, we found ourselves in Market Square. With almost 30-40 restaurants in the vicinity, we stuck to my friend's usual spot; Coffee Square. 


Packed to the brim, Coffee Square is your typical Hong Kong cafe (char chan teng) which serves a plethora of dishes that range from asian to western. Although there is a big menu, one must still choose wisely to find the better tasting dishes. Prices are reasonable.  


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If you are lazy to choose around, you can start off with their daily dinner sets, a choice of asian or western with a drink too. If you have to order a drink, their Ice Milk Tea is a must order.


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We decided to be adventerous and ordered the fried pork intestines. Unfortunately, there was still a big offal aftertaste which meant their cleaning of the intestines was probably not thorough enough. 


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Servings are huge as evident from the size of this cheese baked chicken rice. My friend who is the same size as me could afford to take away half of it and still be stuffed.



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For a jack of all trade place, their roast duck was pretty good. Succulent meat and crispy skin are prerequisites for a good roast duck.



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The main that comes with the set dinner is blatantly much smaller than your ala carte dish, not in terms of the plate size but the ingredients used. While the braised beef brisket was good, there was no more than a few pieces. 

A place for a quick meal with plenty of choices for those who like a bit of everything.

Address and contact details:

Coffee Square on Urbanspoon

Verdict: 3 stars out of 5 stars. Don't expect too much and you won't get disappointed when you dig in. Another decent option to choose from a range of shops in Market Square

Monday, April 11, 2011

Snö @ Pavilion, Kuala Lumpur

This recent trip back, I met two friends who unlike me, bit the bullet and said "hey, work is not for me. let's open a place that I can call my own and make it my career."

One of them was the brainchild behind the concept of the milkshake store; Sno or Snö as they would prefer


What they serve is not new, in fact it calls for a reversal in the way we lead life. All this staying healthy and no sweets is getting a bit stale and the feel i get is let's live life to the max and indulge in some calories. 


Milkshakes that starts off with an ice cream or yogurt base and you work your way through with candy to blend in and toppings to finish it off. 


What make them different or innovative is the introduction of iPads to their ordering system.

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Ordering is self service as you run through what you want and what you don't want. With tons of different toppings and blends, it might take a while and I am not sure how effective the 3 iPads will be dealing with a long queue.

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When you have friends who are very supportive of their friends (not me in this case), they do the craziest thing and apparently the most expensive milkshake one can buy is RM25.50. Their app designer should definitely fix that and try to create a RM50 option for their supportive fans. 

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With the pink theme evident from the decor to their cup, it is a colour and a brands that wants to demand attention and it helps when there occasionally hot girls (you got to be lucky to spot them) to serve you your drink.

Located at the Food Court floor of Pavilion.

Verdict: I don't know, why don't you give them a try and tell me instead since what I tasted on my RM25.50 milkshake was essentially peanut butter. A promising concept and hopefully there are plenty of calorie hungry people out there to keep them alive.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Little Hong Kong @ Sunnybank, Brisbane

I am jumping back to some Brisbane food loving for some roast meat galore today with good reason. One of the many items I wanted to go back to Malaysia to eat was some good roast duck from Sunrise (missed), Meng Kee Char Siew (BBQ pork) (missed) and Pudu Siew Yuk (roast pork) (missed). With the fame trio missed out, I got to thank my lucky stars that Brisbane has a substitute for all three; not as worthy but as least it resembles in the way it looks, smells and taste.


So who is that worthy substitute? Little Hong Kong appears to be here to stay.


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Looking at the display of meats, tells you that they are serious about their meats. All their meats seem so  glossy and shiny. However don't expect top service and a quiet dinner, the place is packed with people and the noise levels can be uncomfortable at times too.

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In all honesty while the 3 meats are not outstanding compared to better versions I can get in Kuala Lumpur, there are all very good on their own merit. The duck is juicy with crispy skin, the roast pork was tasty with the required layers of fat and meat and the bbq pork had the sweet and sticky texture that I like.


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The eggplant claypot was underseasoned and rather watery. Not exactly what I had in mind. Although I secretly hope that their other dishes are more up to par so that more visits can be warranted. I mean after all I can't be always eating roast duck, roast pork and bbq pork rice, can I?

Address and contact details:

Little Hong Kong on Urbanspoon


Verdict: 3.5 stars out of 5 stars. A decent roast meat place for those occasional cravings. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Restaurant Richwell @ Along Rothmans Roundabout, Petaling Jaya

Despite the lack of enthusiasm in bringing out the big chunky camera for my meals, I still made sure that the iPhone was always in my pockets; ready to snap anything drool worthy. That particular night, not only was the food worthy but the company was priceless. 


There are not many meals out there that can be as memorable as those you eat with food bloggers; especially the ones that you have bonded with over the years. To those who came that night, you know who you are, it was so nice to meet all of you after all these months and the laughter and food we shared that night was fantastic.  


Before I continue being so soapy that I can almost shed a tear (which was exactly the opposite of the atmosphere that night, I can assure you)  back to the food. 


Richwell and I seem to always cross path just before I fly out of the country. I remember 9 months ago, we had a farewell dinner for me here and coincidentally we were here once again, a couple of days before I flew out.


Not as crowded and probably not as famous as Greenview despite both of them being on the same street, Richwell continues to do its thing with it's scrumptious cuisine.


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One of their signature dishes (call to pre-order, just in case), their roasted pigeon is pretty good with it's gamey meat and crispy skin. A whole pigeon goes for RM35 (AUD 12) so if you are looking for a good money:meat ratio, this might not be for you. Otherwise, a good starter and remember to use nothing but your hands to eat this!


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I was hankering for a good sweet and sour pork and I think the chef did it justice despite the dish's reputation for being one for the kids or the caucasians. 


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With the gang, there is never too much pork on the table and the second pork dish being the claypot pork belly with salted fish was another screamer. If you stare at the picture long enough, I assure you that it will whisper in your right ear for white rice or if you stare at it longer, you can see the word "rice". 


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Another specialty that comes in the form of fibre is the Siu Nai Pak with Yam. The gooey texture comes from all the mashed up yam served along with some crunchy vegetables is another comforting dish.


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Finally, one more plain vegetable to put into the system before the finale.

What is more fitting and suitable as a finale than the (freshwater?) prawn noodles (or prawns with noodle). The gigantic prawns was nothing but a magnificent sight. Long after devouring it did I wonder how the waitress must have worked her biceps while carrying it from the kitchen to our table. 


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A prawn will set you back RM50 (AUD17) so this plate of noodles or prawns will set you back a good RM250 (AUD 85). 


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With an individual portion so huge, this made not possible to stuff anything else into the stomach except for a dessert. 

Try the sweet sea coconut with longan drink to round up such a lovely meal. 

While the meal was in no way cheap and actually quite expensive in some ways, it compensates for quality and good food. Throw in good company and you wont blink an eye at the total (which reminds me, I got to thank the bunch for treating me too!). Set aside a budget of RM80-90 if you want to eat the prawn noodles.

Alas, back in Brisbane, this is nothing but a dream as I sip my coffee in the morning.

Address and contact details:

Restaurant Richwell
24G&26G, Jalan 19/3
Petaling Jaya
Tel: 03-7955 5855

Verdict: 4 stars out of 5 stars. Worth a try if you happen to be in town or even if you are finding a place for a good dinner or for some sang har mee.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Vue Lounge @ New Farm, Brisbane

As expected, the trip up back at home was jam packed. While describing the trip as tiring was probably an understatement, it was worth every ounce of sleep and energy used throughout the week. 


From attending a wedding dinner, buying all things silly for a photo shoot to going through a whole day pre wedding photo shoot to just sitting down with some very close friends for a coffee and a meal, the only regret is that it wasn't long enough. 


It seems so weird to return home after being away from home for so long, yet I fit right in, as if I had never left. Yet, the minute we landed in Brisbane, KL suddenly feels nothing but a good dream. Weird isn't?


Even more weird, a few days before the trip, I was salivating at the fact that I would be able to stuff myself silly with all kinds of food possible, the trip was quite contrary. Surprisingly, I thought I had barely enough time to eat and the camera that I lugged back in Malaysia to take some food pictures sat in my room for the duration of the holiday.


Let me see what pictures I can salvage from my phone but meanwhile to get the in the mood and swing of things by starting with a breakfast that almost became long forgotten in my archives of photos. 


Vue Lounge is another popular breakfast / brunch spot with the locals. 


However the first thing we noticed was the slight stale alcohol note in the air from possibly a very heavy drinking night as the place also serves dinner and naturally alcohol. With that aside, let's dive into the food.


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Come to think about it, the alcohol note may have come from my friend who had a terrible hangover. His idea of a hangover breakfast? A breakfast with all options possible; from extra eggs, mushrooms, smoked salmon, spinach and god knows what else was hidden behind the vegetable. 


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A special that weekend that came with Yorkshire Pudding. To have pudding without roast might seem weird but my friend didn't think so and licked the plate clean. 


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With so many breakfast places struck off the list, I think Vue Lounge is probably the first place I have seen to serve a Croissant. I can only imagine that a good buttery Croissant with some creamy scramble eggs with bacon be irresistible. 


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As with other weird things that have happened, that morning I actually ordered one of the lighter choices, poached eggs with beetroot relish and some roast tomatoes. Certainly very refreshing. 

Another busy cafe that serves a good breakfast but is it one of my favourites? Not really, it probably misses the mark for me as I always like a good decor or an unique concept to come with the food but in Vue Lounge, theres not a whole lot of atmosphere, just plain busy and loud but the food as shown was pretty good. 

Address and contact details:

Vue Lounge on Urbanspoon

Verdict: 3.5 stars out of 5 stars. Another good breakfast place but lacks a concept or a more unique decor.