Italian Dinner with a Sea View at Sorriso Italian

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One of my favourite things about travelling away is eating out at new and exciting places. My recent getaway to the South Coast was no different.

It’s often super busy at this time of the year up and down the East Coast. Without a doubt, most of Canberra leaves the territory around Christmas Eve and will stay down there until New Year’s Day (or whenever they have to return to work). Because of this, the accommodation is usually expensive and you often need to book a year in advance. We were lucky that we have family we can stay with (and have the Christmas celebrations with too) so we decided to capitalise on that this year and stay longer than our usual Christmas dash.

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Winter Dinner at Rubicon Restaurant Canberra

We recently decided to have a last minute dinner at one of our favourite fine dining restaurants in Canberra: Rubicon.

Rubicon is a restaurant tucked away at the Griffith shops, near another favourite restaurant of mine, Aubergine. Like Aubergine, we like to go to Rubicon for special occasions, and have only been there a handful of times.

Click here for a review on Aubergine Restuarant

This time it was a double date night and the spot chosen was Rubicon. This wouldn’t be my usual spot for just any night out for dinner, because it is not a budget friendly dining experience, especially if you add a couple of bottles of wine onto the bill!

But it had been a while since we had gone out to a fancy dinner, so I was happy to go to this somewhat random double date dinner at Rubicon.

The Atmosphere

Rubicon is a small restaurant with intimate, dim lighting and pretty fairy lights in the back to give it a relaxed “starry night” feel. The tables a covered with white table clothes and many of the group tables (4 or more people) are placed closer to the back of the restaurant. This actually makes sense – the more talkative groups can be placed away from the intimate dining for couples.

There are no windows to look out of, and therefore no view to muse over when you run out of conversation with your date. But the relaxed feeling of the lighting makes it a beautiful place for an intimate or romantic dinner.

This was the first time that we went to Rubicon with more than just myself and my partner, so

The Service

The service is always fantastic at Rubicon. It’s not quite fine dining but fairly close to it. The service is a little more on the casual side, but they really know how to multi task being attentive to all tables, even when the restuarant is full.

I’ve never noticed any staff member looking stressed or like they didn’t want to be there. They also have exceptional knowledge of the wines on their menu – which is one of the reasons we like to go there.

The Food

We were given complimentary appetisers which unfortunately were not gluten free. The were some kind of pork bite on a mini toast crust. Everyone on the table enjoyed their little appetiser. When the waiter realised that I needed a gluten free option, he kindly brought me out some delicious marinated olives for an appetiser.

My man chose the cheese souffle for his entree and I chose the pork belly. The souffle was the size of a muffin and came with a small salad of baked sliced tomatoes, warm tomato wedges, and a quinnel of herbed sour cream. Tristan liked the taste of the souffle, but decided to let me eat the tomato salad. The sour cream seemed to be a bit much but the tomatoes were nicely seasoned and have a good combination of herbs and spices. I think that the combination would have would have gone nicely with the souffle.
The pork belly had a few small cubes of prom belly with a delicious combination of sweet sauce, shaved apple and sautéed onions. The pork belly was cooked to perfection as it melted in the mouth with each bite. However there were no crunchy crackling parts of the pork belly. I always expect a bit of crunch when it comes to pork belly, so I was slightly disappointed with this one. Other than that, the dish was perfect.
My main was a gnocchi style dish. This was quite exciting for me as I more often than people realise, I can’t eat gnocchi, especially if the potato is incased in pasta. This kind of gnocchi was so delicious and creamy, and it was complimented perfectly with the zucchini. There was also a creamy sauce. The zucchini balanced out the creaminess of the sauce and the heaviness of the gnocchi. It was very filling though and I only managed to get through about half of the dish.
My partners dish was a beef dish (no surprise, he always gets steak or beef of some kind). This dish had sautéed onions and a rich jus on the side. I had a small bite and the beef so very tender and juicy. It’s a fairly predictable combination to have sautéed onions, but if it works you may as well stick with it. And they were cooked perfectly.
Most of the meals seemed like very “safe” kind of dishes, with not too many surprises in the flavours or combinations of flavours. However they were done very well and we were all satisfied at the end of our meals.

 

My rating of Rubicon

Atmosphere: 4.5/5 | Customer Service: 5/5 | Speed of Service: 4/5 | Presentation of Food: 4.5/5 | Taste: 4.5/5 | Value for Money: 4.5/5

Total: 27/30

Overall thoughts: Rubicon is a great fine dining restaurant with excellent attentive customer service. I will definitely be back to experience the delicious food and wine. 

For more info on Rubicon Restaurant click here

Have you been to Rubicon Restaurant? What are your thoughts on it? Let me know in the comments section!

Bye for now,

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All opinions in this post are my own. Unless otherwise stated, this post has not been sponsored and I have not been paid for this post

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Kinn Thai Canberra

Kind Thai is a fairly new restaurant situated in the Canberra Centre restaurant strip on Bunda Street. It took over the spot that once was Wagamama. I believe that Kinn Thai is part of some kind of chain of restaurants.

I recently went there for a group dinner to catch up with a lot if my friends whom I hadn’t seen in a while. Asia. Food restaurants are generally good for catchups with large groups because of the casual and relaxed dining, the variety of options, the speed of service and of course the price point is always good. It was definitely a good choice for a group of 16 people!

I really liked that the menu was available online to look at before dining, because unfortunately gluten free people like myself have to see what options there are before dining. Otherwise we are often left surprised or unprepared (mentally, money wise and even left feeling hungry!)

I knew before I was even having dinner that I would be having the Pad Thai – it’s one of my favourite dishes and I struggle to make it properly at home, so it’s always a nice treat to get a delicious Pad Thai dish when eating out.

We were seated near the entrance Of the restaurant where a few large tables had been moved together. I think they did the best the could to seat us. They were fairly attentive by giving us water and asking if we wanted drinks, however I felt rushed when it came to making my order – they seemed pretty keen to get us in and out very quickly! I don’t think it really mattered though because we all just ended up pretty quickly. A few other people also ordered the chicken Pad Thai after hearing that I was ordering it.

I also ordered an entree and being Asian food I expected good value for money, but unfortunately, my entree was just one bite. One prawn. On a leaf. It would have been nice if the wait staff told my when ordering that it is a small entree, because I would have ordered more!

The food came out sporadically but it was pretty quick inbetween each dish being brought out so we were essentially all fed at once. Two of my friends had the great idea of sharing dishes with some steamed rice on the side. If I was to go back to Kinn Thai this is definitely what I would do – it’s a sharing kind of environment and that way you can fill your tummies up pretty quickly!

The only problem was that when my friend started eating her Pad Thai, she noticed a nice long strand of black hair matted into the dish. She was not going to say anything and was just going to put the dish aside because she could no longer eat it. However, my other friend knew this was not acceptable and walked up to the counter with the dish to show them. Before she even said anything the wait staff said “oh, there’s a hair in there, isn’t there?”

All I could think is: wow…Seriously? If you know that there will be a hair in someone’s dish then it shows that there are some serious problems with the hygiene practice in the establishment. They offered to make another one, which they did, but my friend could no longer touch that food without feeling sick. When it came to paying for the food, my friends had to make sure that they were not being charged for that dish, whilst it was something that just should have been taken off the total bill.

The restaurant itself is quite large, and it looks like it is best for large gatherings or group dinners. I wouldn’t recommend coming here as a couple or just with one or two friends as it seems like it is more of a group restaurant place. It is licensed as well as BYO, and from memory corkage was around $3 each, which is pretty reasonable when I brought along my $5 Aldi Moscato to drink! (Which I highly recommend because that Moscato is delish!)

Overall I was a little disappointed. There had been a bit of hype about this new restaurant but I don’t really think it was worth all the talk – it’s just another Asian restaurant in an already crowded market. It offered nothing new to me and the experience was not a good one.

My Rating of Kinn Thai Restaurant Canberra Centre

Atmosphere: 2.5/5 | Customer Service: 2.5/5 | Speed of Service: 3/5 | Presentation of Food: 3.5/5 | Taste: 3/5 | Value for Money: 4/5

Total Score: 18.5/30

For more information on Kinn Thai to their website: http://kinnthairestaurant.com.au/canberra

Have you been to Kinn Thai Canberra? What’s your favourite Thai dish to order when eating out? Tell me your thoughts or show me links to your reviews!

Bye for now,

Vintage Barbie

All opinions in this post are my own. Unless otherwise stated, this post has not been sponsored and I have not been paid for this post

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High Tea at The Tea Salon Sydney

I’ve been to quite a few hens weekends. A lot of them have been in Sydney as well. I definitely had fun at the last one I attended, which including high tea at The Tea Salon.

This is not your traditional high tea. It is set right in the centre of shops in the Pitt Street Westfield mall, which I found a little strange at first. It also looks like it is permanently busy, especially if people can come in when they are in the middle of their shopping. However this gives it a casual, relaxed kind of feel. There is a secret little kitchen off behind some shops, with a large cabinet in the centre of the cafe for water and glasses. It is very cute, a little kitsch and fairly girlie. They had so many cute serving dishes and teacups that I would like to have at home myself!

We had a very group, I think around 20 people. Obviously this kind of place is not meant for groups this big and it looked like they had struggled to fit us all in the same area. Quite a few of the round tables were pushed together, which made the placing of food very squished, and also made socialising with others a little difficult. I often had my back to some of my friends because of how we were set up with the round tables.

Staff seemed a little overwhelmed at times. There was no coming to the table to make sure that our food was ok and no one coming to top up water. They didn’t even leave the water jug so we could top up our glasses ourselves, which was a little annoying considering I wanted water, not champagne at that time in the day. Although, the pink champagne was pretty nice… Just wish I felt like drinking it and it probably would have enjoyed it more..

The great thing about this place is that you can choose to eat a la carte, or select the high tea platter. There are also many options available for vegetarians, gluten free, dairy free and even pregnant women.

So for once, I was actually rewarded for my gluten intolerance – I got a whole platter to myself! It was amazing! There were so many pieces of food that I literally took a bit of everything but could not get anywhere near finishing my platter!

There were the standard scones with jam and cream, but also blueberry scones and raisin scones with orange marmalade. If you order scones off the al a carte menu then you can try a fair few different tasty treats.

I found the gluten free scones to taste extremely doughy and even with the jam and cream they were quite dry. I somewhat expected this of gluten free scones though as it would be difficult to make scones with the same texture and taste as your regular, gluten included scones.

There were lots of sweet things and I literally could not eat them all. However I made sure I tasted everything, even if it was only a little bite. There was this indescribable dessert in a shot glass. I think it was a custard of some sort with tea on top. It reminded me of camomile flower buds mixed with some other tea. As I said, it was indescribable, mainly because it have no idea what it was! I also was not a fan of the taste.

Champagne was fairly nice too. It was pink, sparkly and had a sweet taste to it. However it added on an extra $11 to the total bill, so keep that is something to keep in mind for next time.

There was a good selection of teas to choose from – There were a few regular black teas and green teas, rooibos, chai and then a good selection of flavoured teas. I can’t remember what it was called and I forgot to take a picture of the tea menu, but I do remember that it was kind of like an apple pie. It was scrumptious!

My rating of The Tea Salon

Atmosphere: 3.5/5 | Customer Service: 3/5 | Speed of Service: 4/5 | Presentation of Food: 4.5/5 | Taste: 4/5 | Value for Money: 4/5

Total Score: 23/30

For more information on The Tea Salon, go to their website: http://www.theteasalon.com.au

I would definitely like to go to The Tea Salon again to try out many more of their funky teas and possibly get some other delicious treats on the menu.

Have you been to The Tea Salon? Tell me your thoughts on this place!

Bye for now,

Vintage Barbie

All opinions in this post are my own. Unless otherwise stated, this post has not been sponsored and I have not been paid for this post

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Friday Night Sharing Plates at Soju Girl

I remember when Soju Girl opened a few years ago. It was considered a hip new place to go. I went when it was still in its early days with a small group of people. Back then I enjoyed quite a few cocktails as well as the share style meals.

I was invited to go recently, and whilst there certainly were no cocktails involved, it was a lovely dining experience with a group of people from my work.

A Zucchini Flower, as well as trying a prawn and lychee from the Spicy Prawn Dish

The kind of eating at Soju Girl is described as “refined Asian sharing plates”. It’s a similar experience to going to a Chinese restaurant and each person on the table ordering a different dish to be shared with the group, alongside steamed or fried rice.

There are more choices than would usually be expected at this hipster-style restaurant. Surprisingly there are plenty of gluten free options – about 75% of the menu. I love that on the menu it says “the menu has been designed with gluten intolerance in mind” – hooray! I actually have a choice this time and not a forced choice!
The menu also caters for vegetarians and even vegan.

My table consisted of a variety of dietary requirements: gluten intolerant (me), vegetarian, vegan, and two people with shellfish allergies. With that many dietary requirements, eating out can be difficult, often with people feeling left out or feeling like they are that “annoying person”.

It’s good that there is finally a place that caters for all dietary requirements! And I love that it’s a pass-the-dish-around kind of setting. It gets people talking, breaks the ice between people that don’t know each other very well, and truly allows everyone to fill their bellies with delicious food.

The friendly staff always make sure that everyone knows how it works at Soju Girl before they let everyone properly look at the menu.

Essentially there are the large plates and the small plates. You choose a few plates to share around the table, and you can add some sides on as well. The dishes will usually be staggered throughout your time there, so you are not overloaded with too many choices at once, and so the dishes compliment one another.

Crispy Pork Belly

Food reviews

Zucchini Flowers: I’ve got two words for this dish: absolutely delicious. The fillng tasted like minced turkey or pork mince, although it was completely vegetarian (and gluten free!). It came with a ginger, soy sauce and capsicum dipping sauce. They didn’t even need the sauce though because they were so tasty! My dish of the night!

Pan Tossed Prawns with Crispy Noodle Salad: whilst this dish technically not gluten free I ate part of it anyway. The prawns had been mixed with lychees which gave it a nice sweet taste. The prawns themselves had a delicious slightly spicy taste to them. The only problem was that my prawn had not been entirely removed from its shell, causing me to have an uncomfortable chunchy bite into part of my prawn. But the meat of the prawn melted in your mouth. The sauce had a tomato-style-tang to it. It came with a crispy noodle salad, which I obviously didn’t have as it is not gluten free.

Crispy Pork Belly: Not the best pork belly I’ve ever had. It was not a melting in your mouth experience like I usually have with pork belly. The crackling was thin but not too salty. It had a pleasant taste but it isn’t something I would choose again.

Lamb Shoulder in Massaman Curry: This dish was a lot bigger than I expected! There was a very generous lamb shoulder in the middle of the curry dish. It had a medium spice to it, delicious aroma, and was well marinated. We ordered some steamed rice to have with this dish.

Sizzling Asian Mushrooms: The sizzling mushrooms came out like the sizzling lamb dish at Chinese restaurants – in the same kind of plate, with the dish still sizzling away. It was mixed with fried egg, tofu and Asian vegetables. It was another winner dish for me. It was great that this dish could be eaten by almost everyone at the table – it was gluten free and vegetarian, but not vegan. Although the it was not entirely vegan, the vegan diner at our table still ate some of the vegetables out of this dish and it seemed that she enjoyed the taste of this dish as well.

Lamb Shoulder Massaman Curry

I was totally shocked that after all that food it was only $26 per person! And that was even after everyone put in money for the person the dinner was in honour for.

I would definitely recommend going to Soju Girl and I am already thinking about planning another dinner there soon. It would be great for groups of friends or work colleagues to catch up over dinner and share delicious food.

I would say Soju Girl is one of my top restaurants in Canberra.

For the full menu please click here.

 

 

Waterfront Dining at Waterfront Cafe

Last week I decided to spend the weekend with my family in my home town. My sister and I drove down Saturday afternoon and same back on Sunday night. I had been hoping for sunny weather so I could chill out and relax at the beach… But Mr Weatherman decided to rain on my parade!

Although it was disappointing that I’m cursed (it rains every time I go to the coast), It was so nice to see the family and catch up.

It was also great to go out for lunch. We were planning on going to Oaklands, but they were booked out with people crammed inside whilst it rained. So we decided to head into Merimbula and find a spot to eat.

We decided on the always busy Waterfront Cafe. I’ve been here for many meals before, so I was happy to go back again.

Flashback to a sunny winter day, enjoying a delicious breakfast and coffee

The menu has changed a lot over the years. This menu appeared to be very “hipster-ish”. There were none of the regular wedges and toasted sandwhich type meals that I had come to expect. Instead, there were plenty of gluten free options and many of the hit health foods. I have no qualms with that… However, the prices were something a little less inviting…

My dad and sister chose the Lean Beef Burger, and myself and my mum chose the Lamb Salad. I wish my mum chose a different salad so I could have tasted that as well! The great thing about the salads is that they can all be made gluten free. I know I’ll definitely be back to try out some more food!

The burgers did not automatically come with chips – it’s an additional $2.50 for that. But they came out looking fresh and very tempting for the gluten-free individual!

However, my sister was not too impressed. Being a picky eater, she said that there was too much meat. Umm.. Is that even a thing? I’m pretty sure I would have gobbled down the whole thing, just like my dad did.

The lamb salad came out with a large peice of lamb, sliced into about 5 slices, and placed over the bed of baby spinach, roasted capsicum and chickpeas. Baby carrots were strategically placed around the sides of the dish. There was dukha sprinkled over the salad, and a tahini dressing, giving the salad a hummus-like taste.

 

The salad was beautiful, but I was undecided about the meat. I just couldnt quite put my finger on it. The meat was tender, cooked well and tasted nice, but it had something missing. I feel that it should have been sliced into smaller pieces and tossed with the rest of the salad. Maybe this would have given it the oomph and flavour that seemed to be missing.

The coffees were also good. I got a nice large latte in a mug and my mum got a long black. You know that the coffee is good and made well when you have the slight foam on the top of the coffee… Which I had to explain to my mum. She thought they had out milk in her coffee – No mum, they just made good coffee, that’s all!

My sister was also happy about her drink choice – an iced coffee! Although, she doesn’t seem too impressed in the picture:

Despite being run off their feet with lots of customers, the staff were very friendly and helpful. It appears that they forgot to place water on our table, and I had to ask for it, but we did just walk in off the street during their peak time, so those kind of things would definitely be forgiven 😉 The staff quickly set up a table for us when we came in, and they attentive to the fact that my sister didn’t finish her burger. Nothing was wrong – the skinny girl just can’t finish her meals!

 

 

 

 

 

Chocolate dreams at San Churro

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I recently went to San Churro for a well over-due catch up with a friend. I had never been to San Churro before, and for some strange reason I had never even heard of it! I don’t know how that is when I love my chocolate. My friend told me that San Churro is waaay better than Max Brenner or Koko Black… so I definitely was keen to test out this theory!

I arrived a bit earlier than my friend and was given a seat inside at the comfy couch up against the window. It was raining outside and I could image this being a nice place to sip on a hot chocolate and read the paper when it’s cold outside. There were a mixture of people inside, from couples to mums with their babies to teens having a fun afternoon catchup. It seemed to have a really nice atmosphere inside.

The staff were attentive too, which always makes a difference to the experience.

When I sat down I was informed that they had run out of milk chocolate for their hot chocolates… I was pretty disappointed because a hot chocolate was exactly what I felt like. But looking at the menu I realised there were plenty of other things to choose from.

After my friend got there we decided on what to have. I wanted a Couveture Caramel Hot Chocolate, but as they didn’t have milk chocolate the waiter asked if I wanted white or dark chocolate instead. I had no idea what would be better, especially as I had never had the drink before, so I asked him what I should get instead. He suggested dark chocolate, so I went with that.

However I seemed to get something different. I realised that I received the Hot Ducle de Leche. I think I might have confused the waiter when I was telling him I had never been there before so I was happy for him to make the decision for me (yep, being one of those annoying people…) But what he brought me was pretty tasty. It definitely didn’t have a caramel taste to it, but it is true that it was a ‘sweet satisfaction’. It was thick and creamy and perfect to warm me up on that cold rainy day.

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I also ordered the Flourless Chocolate Cake. It was presented on a rectangular plate with a dollop of whipped cream and creative chocolate piped across the plate. This chocolate part was all the way to the edges, and although it looked pretty, it was annoying that it kept getting all over my hand when I was trying to ear (I guess I rest my hand on the side of the plate a lot…)

The cake itself was delicious. Very filling. And it wasn’t too dense like many flourless chocolate cakes are. The chocolate ganache on top of the cake was stiff like icing though, showing it obviously had been made a little while ago, but it still tasted delicious. The cream and the nuts on top complimented the cake by bring some nice texture to the dish.

Although the dish is for one, it definitely could be shared. Unless you’re like me… I will just eat the whole thing by myself! Damn, I love chocolate!

Overall I really liked San Churro. It’s just a shame that I can’t eat the churro’s dipped in chocolate, because they look fantastic! If they did gluten free churros I would probably be there a lot more, and I would probably be a little bit rounder in the tummy too 😉

Overall, I would give San Churro a 4/5.

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Chocolate Heaven at Koko Black

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I have been to this place many times and every time I go back I remember why I went there in the first place – so much deliciousness you walk away with a full tummy and plenty of chocolate-responsible-endorphins running around your head.

If you’re going to break your diet, then this is the best place to do it at… hehehe…

Koko Black is perfect all year round – ice cream and iced chocolates in summer, and hot chocolate and cakes in winter. So so yum.

The staff are very friendly too. I have never had a problem with customer service from Koko Black staff – they are always attentive and helpful without being too much in your face with the “how can I help you today?” business.


Today I chose the hot chocolate and the Salted Carmel Delice. I already knew that the hot chocolate would be amazing because I had one the day before as a takeaway. (It’s definitely worth getting a takeaway one if you don’t have time to sit down and enjoy it).

Menu at Koko Black

Menu at Koko Black


One way to describe the hot chocolate : liquid orgasm. It is so rich it is like drinking melted chocolate. But it isn’t too thick – there is still the right consistency to make it perfect as an afternoon pick-me-up, but could also be a dessert.

I wasn’t going to stop at the hot chocolate today. No – I definitely wanted to try some desserts. I hadn’t been for some time, so I couldn’t remember what I had eaten previously. But I did remember eating the Mousse Martini a few times before. Oh my gosh… I would be surprised if you could finish it! I have a lot of room in my tummy but I definitely have trouble finishing this devine mousse. That’s why I normally go for the baby mousse now.

Today I decided to go with a different dish. I decided to not have chocolate as I was already going to order the hot chocolate. I wanted to get the raspberry dome but part of it is not gluten free so I decided it would be best to stay away from it.

Instead, I chose the Salted Caramel Delice. WOW.

Salted Caramel Dlice

Salted Caramel Dlice


This caramel-like mousse is on top of a biscuit-like layer, with a caramel sauce and curled toffee. The toffee broke easily with the spoon, showing that it had been made to perfection. It was also a great addition to the mouse and biscuit, creating delicious texture for the dish.

And that caramel mousse… It just melted in my mouth. So yum. The caramel sauce was devine as well, and there was definitely plenty in the small sauce jug. If I was Manu off My Kitchen Rules I would be very happy with the amount of sauce in this dish!

I also had some mouthfuls of my friends degustation tasting plate. The plate included 5 small servings of some of Koko Black’s finest and most popular desserts. Aimed to be shared between 2 people, you could easily share this between a table of four because of how rich the dish is you could easily just eat it yourself because it’s too delicious to share 😉

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The chocolate icecream was creamy and smooth with a light chocolate flavour. This was a perfect break in between the other dishes like the chocolate mouse, which I’ve already said is very rich and filling. There was also a smaller version of the strawberry dome, which had been sprayed with raspberries over the light mouse covering the chocolate and milk chocolate dome. I only had a bite of the strawberry mousse but it was very good. A perfect choice to team up with the rich chocolate flavours in the dish. I also had a small bite of the affogato cake (which is not gluten free and I did feel a lot of pain later for this test taste… ) and I loved the rich coffee flavours in the cake. It was layered like a parfait and had some really nice textures to it.

I felt very full after my food, and did not regret one bite (ok except maybe the non gluten free bite…)

I would definitely recommend people to go to Koko Black. It is the perfect place to catch up with friends. But it does get booked out pretty quickly, so you may need to make a booking if you can. Sitting outside in winter isn’t too bad because they have those lovely warm heaters over the top of the tables, but I would probably still go for an inside table in winter if I could.

Also inside, you will see the amazing selection of bite sized chocolates you can take home for yourself. My favourite is the love heart shaped chocolates with strawberry flavour inside. They come in both milk chocolate and dark chocolate coatings and are sooo good.

Koko black also makes great gifts. You can choose a selection of chocolates to give to a special someone or even just select some to take home for yourself… Hehe

 

Until next time…

Vintage Barbie xo