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I can't help looking into things. I spend all day looking at eyes - I AM an Optometrist, after all.
In my spare time, photography takes over - and I love going out, exploring and eating where and whenever I can!
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Saturday, September 8, 2012

Cheeky Chocolate, Bakehouse Quarter

Well, what can I say? After a long day out, I need to recharge my sugar batteries.
I apologise to my dearest friend, but even her company all day isn't sweet enough =P (I know I'll probably get slapped when she sees this)

Following on from being out all day at Biennale with dinner at Fratelli Fresh, we headed over to North Strathfield's Bakehouse Quarter. Now this was a place I had a hankering to go to, ever since one of my friends told me about it a year ago. We had planned to go two months earlier... unfortunately, our plans (spelt 'traffic') fell through and we cut our time losses, opting to come back another time... TONIGHT!

When we got there at 8.45pm, the place was already full: the main table under the chandeliers was filled, all the couple-y nooks and crannies and the cafe tables for 4 were all taken. There were seats outside as well, with large open-air gas heaters to keep the atmosphere alive... we decided not to, on this windy evening.

Reading other blogs about this place, I came with a hint of trepidation. Not regarding the food - the Zumbo-designed creations at this place is worth the hype (and also the 20 minute drive from the City). Rather, the level of service that everyone either loves, or hates, about this place. More on that later.

Stepping in, there is a cosy warmth to the place. Despite all the bustle and chatter of a full cafe, everyone here is quiet pleasant - not rowdy or too noisy! Now the normal routine is to enter and be seated... but with a full cafe this was impossible to do. So we made a beeline for the pastry cabinet - the showcase of their confections! For Zumbo-designed creations, there was a lot of items to select from (on par with the offering from a Zumbo outlet: too many to try in one evening, I'm afraid =(

Fortunately for us, a few couples left soon after we arrived, and we were quickly seated. After the 5 minutes at the showcase, we had narrowed down our desires from the selections on display: the Hazelnut Dome, White Chocolate & Passionfruit Cheesecake, and the Hazelnut Milk Chocolate Cake.

Desserting out with friends are quite easy: draw two circles, list the things you want, list the things she wants, and see what overlaps. (Basic high school maths... but who cares :P) Chocolate-y and hazelnutty items caught our attention first, from which we pruned out the Panna Cotta and other items.

(I promise you - I'm going back for that Chocolate Panna Cotta sometime!)

For my friend and I - plans are short-lived concepts which we shatter into little bits. In this case, we just sat down and were almost ready to order... before we opened up the menus to find more creations!

10 minutes and a lot of page flicking back-and-forth later... we committed to our final selection:

Dark Hot Chocolate ($4.90, above) - smooth and warm =)

The Hazelnut Dome ($11): it was a narrow toss up between this one, and the Chocolate Bomb/sphere listed in the menu. It was either one or the other - I was certain that two big circle-y things would have been too much for our post-dinner snacking... and I was close!

This was simply a delight! I'm not going to dissect this down to the components - all I will say is that if you love your sugar, this is one you have to try at some stage: chocolate mousse here, bits of salted caramel there... I just loved how everything intermixed so well!

"Roll the Dice is it Naughty or Nice" ($18) - Chocolate creme brulee, cinnamon ice cream and cherry gel with pistachio sesame crumble.

Remember how I said we were thinking of getting the cakes? Well... after looking at the menu, we decided to try one of these instead. And it was a good idea at the time.

Verdict: so-so, unfortunately. I loved the ice cream - well infused (some may say 'heavy') cinnamon flavour that went well with all the other elements. Unfortunately, it was already melting when it was served... uh oh.
Cherry gel was quite tarty, and went well with most of the other elements - especially if it was the last element you taste on each spoonful.
Pistachio sesame crumble was GREAT! Unfortunately, it's not the key aspect of this plate - I can sit there and keep nibbling away at those crumbs...

Key element was the creme brulee was let this dish down, in my opinion - acted more like a mousse than anything. The caramelised coat wasn't bad... but overall it just didn't have that 'wow' factor that the Hazelnut Dome had for me.

Lastly, and a practical favourite of mine - macarons. Unfortunately, my friend gave up on my part-way through the desserts... so I got to finish the lot :)

Except the macarons... still sitting merrily on their plate... *sigh*
So we took them home, and had them later.

Verdict: it's not a Zumbaron. We did expect a little more from a $3 macaron. Make what you will out of this =P
Closing remarks:

This place is DEFINITELY worth coming back to. Desserts are fine - some better than others, of course... and you simply can't judge a place properly on your first time there, with only a small sample of their menu.
Ambience was great - scoot in either early or late to get seats, or be willing to wait your turn.

Service - now this has been a contentious bone amongst all the blogs I've come across. We'd say that we got a fair bit of attention - the waiters and waitress kept an eye out for us and approached us quickly when we needed them. And they can handle a camera rather well too (my SLR, and my friend's cute little Polaroid). So I would have to disagree about the lack of service others have said. Or perhaps it was even more hectic when they went. Make your own judgement on this - perhaps come in without the highest expectation?

Cheeky Chocolate
11 George St
North Strathfield, 2137

Directions: look up "Bakehouse Quarter" and follow directions. It's on the western side of the train line (Concord Road, then find the overpass; or Parramatta Road and the underpass), then turn into George St. Parking available in the council area - free after 7pm.

Open: Tues - Sun,11am - 11pm.

Cost: $3 macarons, Display delights $7-15, Menu items: $18+
Sweet comment: sugary, without being extremely sweet.
Cheeky Chocolate on Urbanspoon

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