The Alexandra Hotel – Leura

Fancy a getaway only 1.5 hours away from the Sydney CBD in the picturesque town of Leura? Look no further as we have the tips for you!

It’s hard to visit Leura without spending a small fortune, as there’s a number of extremely expensive lodgings and restaurants in the town and surrounds. However, we will point you to somewhere that is extremely good value for money at high quality.

The Alexandra hotel, established 1903 is the only licensed hotel in Leura and a short stroll from the mall. It is an old quaint boutique building with ornate trims and stained glass windows.

The hotel is sectioned off into a number of areas, with a sports bar and lounge bar (with floor to ceiling bookshelf). There’s also plenty of space for a party or function.

There is also plenty of outdoor space to enjoy.

The hotel is right beside Leura train station, but the noise isn’t obvious at all. The hotel aptly has has a railway theme to it, with the outdoor bar in the beer garden called “platform 3”, and a Leura Rail sign featuring in the dining room.

We also stayed in the hotel. It was a comfortable heritage room with vintage furniture, double bed and modern bathroom. The rooms have old world charm with some modern convenience including the addition of a/c and tv. The room opens onto a balcony with a nice outlook of the hotel’s backyard beer garden and out to the valley below.

The hotel is a great spot to dine, whether it be lunch or dinner, pull up a stump at either of the two beer gardens for a causal vibe or for proper sit down meal book a table in the dining room, named “Redfern Bistro”.

There’s something for everyone, casual food including burgers and pizzas, with the pizzas made in the wood fired oven in a traditional manner by Marco Marano.

The summer menu, prepared by chef Anna Borna features modern Australian gastro pub food, beautifully cooked and presented.

We were seated in the dining room and ordered a glass of bubbles.

Their Garlic bread made on a house baked baguette and is topped with melted garlic and parsley butter an ideal start to the meal.

This came out with the confit mushrooms dish, a tasty vegetarian opttion. Pan fried portobello and button mushrooms cooked in olive oil with rosemary and lemon with feta, almond and coriander dukkah (gf).

Other entrees on offer include oysters, pate, calamari and baked haloumi.

For the mains, the Pan roasted duck breast instantly piqued our interest. The meat was cooked to perfection, skin nicely seasoned, served with duck fat potatoes and rustic heirloom carrots. It’s accompanying home made Peking duck citrus sauce was brilliant and kept us searching the plate for more of it.

From specials board, we couldn’t go past the pan fried and seared ocean trout. This was a splendid fish dish, the skin salted, nicely rendered and crisp. The flesh was perfect; a lovely pink orange hue, flakey and melt in the mouth followed by the beautiful flavour of the fish. The sauce was a delicious combination of smoked paprika dill and grapefruit veloute, served with roasted potatoes, charred leeks, broad beans, peas and cherry tomatoes. Perfect Bistro fare and one of the better fish dishes that come to mind, highly recommended.

Whilst we were extremely satisfied at this point, we had to go with the dessert option on the specials menu, the banana spilt. Here it is the classic dessert that has been pimped up with two bananas, deep fried in a Moreish crisp salty batter. This has been placed atop a butterscotch sauce and served with vanilla bean ice cream. So tasty, it was irresistible .

It is worth driving up to the Blue Mountains for the charm of this beautiful old pub alone and the scenery in the area is an added bonus.

The Alexandra Hotel is well located a short stroll from the boutique town of Leura and a short drive to the tourist sights in the area. Book a room and make for a short getaway.

We would like to thank the Alexandra hotel and staff for their hospitality and Spooning Australia for the invitation to dine.

Alexandra Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bodega 1904 – NYE Dinner

As of the past couple of years, we have booked to go to a nice restaurant on New Year’s Eve, rather than face the multitudes of crowds in Sydney Harbour. We did a little research and found a dinner menu at an amazing price at Bodega 1094, in the Tramsheds facility in Glebe.


Tramsheds is a large dining facility in an industrial building, the former Rozelle tram building. One of the numerous restaurants is Bodega, 1904. This restaurant and wine store has been brought to us by the team at Porteno and Bodega.


For $65, we received a glass of bubbly and 5 courses including dessert. For an extra $50 we could do the matching wines. The menu is predominately Latin American and Spanish inspired tapas and the menu arranged for New Years was pretty much everything we love to eat. Food is made using fresh produce from local suppliers and prepared in tapas style dishes. On New Year’s Eve, you were aslo able to do Ala Carte.

We received a glass of NV Cruzat Premier Extra Brut champagne on arrival. The staff were kind enough to top us up with another as the previous dining timeslot was still being served. We appreciated this.

The first dish were 2 Sydney rock oysters each with a Yuzu mignonette as well as a Crudo of scallop and finger lime. This went perfectly with the champagne.


We very much enjoyed the butterflied wood grilled king prawn and smoky capsicum butter, served with NV Alma Negra Sparkling wine.


We then tried a super soft steamed bun, with soft pork belly and a super crispy crackling, served with a tasty flavour of roasted sesame, wombok and salted peanut, served with the 2017 Amalaya Torrontes Riesling.


The standout of the dinner was the incredibly delicious. It was the ricotta gnocchi, with zucchini flowers, chervil and a buttery sauce. We could have had a few dishes of this. This dish was paired with 2016 Alpamanta ‘Estate’ Chardonnay.


The final main meal was a lovely Hanger steak with kohlrabi, xo. This meat was like a brisket and nice and smokey. Accompanied with a 2015 Tikal ‘Natural’ Malbec Syrah.


To end of the meal was a refreshing strawberry granita atop a coconut sorbet. This was lovely. This came with the NV Cumbres Andinas Moscato, a very sweet drink to end on.


We very much enjoyed all the food here and look forward to returning, especially for that gnocchi!

We sat at the bar, just beside the little wine store for our dinner, but the restaurant does fit larger groups. The wine menu is predominately Spanish based and the Sommelier can assist you to match your dishes. You can also purchase a bottle or two to take home.


Bodega 1904 also does a great lunch menu and brunch on the weekend. We thoroughly recommend a visit, whether it be brunch, lunch or dinner.

Bodega 1904

1 Dalgal Way, Forest Lodge NSW 2037

Bodega 1904 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Be prepared for your mind to be blown, CBD welcomes the new Bopp & Tone!

The corner of Carrington & Wynyard street has gone through a rebirth with the arrival of Bopp & Tone, the new finance district’s restaurant and bar.  Opening night was an opportunity to see the unveiling of the space as one of the city’s newest destination for after work drinks and dinner.  Open spaces, natural light and an alfresco deck will play host to after work drinks and summer dinners with a menu of Mediterranean influence.

Image credit: Guy Davies
Share food is the name of the game here.  Seafood dishes range from $26-$29 with whole fish options at seasonal market prices.  You’ll find the same exotic sourcing in Wagyu Flank ($53), MB3 Rib Eye $46), MB2 Sirloin ($38) and a monstrous 1kg Brooklyn Valley Bistecca for $135!  They pride themselves on offering a sustainable selection of produce while offering a high end experience in meal options of wood grill and charcoal oven.  Accompaniments (Sides) at just $8-$10 add that extra richness to your meal.

Image credit: Guy Davies
The opening night was a showcase of dishes reminiscent of the A ‘La Carte menus and functions menus.  The venue thriving at full potential with a feature piece grazing table, fresh seafood, wood fire opened and chargrilled meats as 300 palettes were delighted with the style of cooking one could expect in a full dining experience.

Image credit: Guy Davies

The wine list is in keeping with the theme with some of the most prominent vineyards at the forefront of sustainable production.   The flare of Mediterranean seeps into their cocktail list also with some clever innovations.  One stand out from opening night was their signature Raspberry Aperol spritz.  The Aperol’s sugary undertones in sweetness from the citrus blended with the tart edge of the raspberry work well together.


Image credit: Guy Davies

Bopp & Tone promises to be a escape for locals and CBD workers this summer

Bopp & Tone

60 Carrington Street, Sydney 2000

Joseph Lloyd, Contributor.

Bopp And Tone Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Afternoon tea @ The Westin

Sophistication, class, heritage and history. That, combined with good champagne, as well as sweet and savoury treats is what you’ll find at this Afternoon tea.


The Heritage Afternoon Tea at the Westin has been inspired by Sydney’s history and the surrounding area, which extend back to the colonial period, and beyond. With Sydney undergoing rapid gentrification, it’s great to see this hotel keeping up with current day tastes and also reflecting on our wonderful nations early history.


We are made aware that this hotel, right in the centre of the CBD, in Martin Place to be exact, was the location of the GPO – the general post office since 1874 and was one of the first major building developments in Sydney.


Throughout its time, it has been a communication centre, clock tower and bells rang out through Sydney.

The hotel has the old post box on display here, as well as a clock theme in the bar and numerous old photographs around the hotel.


In 1999, exactly 125 years after the GPO was opened, the building became the Westin Hotel. We love that it honours its heritage as well as being a modern hotel.


It is in this setting that we experience two versions of the afternoon tea: the heritage afternoon tea and the mad hatters tea party.

We love a good afternoon tea. There’s something about it; you feel sophisticated and quite relaxed as you sip that champagne, eat bite sized treats and finish with a warm cup of tea. Plenty of people would call this a ‘high tea’, but that infact is not quite right.

Afternoon teas and High teas are steeped in British tradition and it’s important to first distinguish between the two. History has it that ‘afternoon tea’ became the bridge between meals, since the real “tea” (or dinner), was not often eaten until late. This was often a light meal such as cake or scones and a cup of tea. This became fashionable by Anna the 7th duchess of Bedford in the 19th century who invited friends over for the first ‘afternoon tea’.

Unfortunately, whilst this was ok for the rich, but not necessarily possible for the working classes who worked late and didn’t have time to sit down and break. So, high tea became the go to for the working class areas of the UK. High tea was a mix of tea, bread and a heavy food like meat, fish and casseroles to keep that body full. Eaten at tables with high backed chairs, to be distinguished from the ‘afternoon tea’, enjoyed at low, comfortable lounges.


What is on offer at the Westin, is ‘afternoon tea’ in the Lobby Bar and lounge. Afternoon tea usually consists of tea, scones, finger sandwiches and sweet treats.


At the Westin, their heritage tea was a three tiered wonder, which had some beautifully prepared sandwiches – the double smoked ham and cheese and cucumber, as well as slow cooked chicken and picked bell peppers in a spinach toast roll, a smoked salmon triple stack with caper berries and a small green salad and ocean prawn boat with crostini and lime.



The sweet portion of the afternoon tea was amazing. There was a profiterole with chocolate filling, a glazed caramel mousse with fresh berries and raspberry gel. Topped off with our favourite – the vanilla Creme brûlée with a nut biscotti.


Accompanied by scones with homemade strawberry jam, raspberry chocolate jams and clotted cream.


We had a Ruinart champagne as well as a cocktail to mix it up a bit. The cocktail was the perfect choice with the Mad Hatters version of the afternoon tea. A bit of whimsical and magical addition to your experience.



On this version of the afternoon tea, you find the savoury component with a roasted beef and fresh asparagus roulade on a mini Lauren, an Alaskan crab meat salad on double Bread, as well as a cherry, bocconcini and tomato salad boat.


For the sweet option, there was the ‘clock’ – a green macaron with a blueberry cream filling and a ‘love heart’ – layers of buttercream with chocolate ganache and raspberry jelly. The pièce de résistance was the mad hatters hat itself – a dark chocolate mud cake, cased with icing.


So whether you’re up for tradition or a modern take on afternoon tea, the Westin can suit your taste. Come and enjoy on a beautiful afternoon and you will enjoy it immensely.

The Westin – Bar, Lounge & Room

1 Martin Place, Sydney, New South Wales, 2000, Australia  

T +61 2 8223 1197

Afternoon Tea

The Lobby Bar, Lounge and Room- Westin Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Song Kitchen does it again

Song Kitchen is at it again. They have a great new menu and we revisited to try their new culinary delights. Easy to access, right in the city at the Surry Hills end and at the lobby of a hotel. The street frontage is a bar and head downstairs for the dining area.


The staff are superb! In fact, the male waiter even remembered what we ordered last time. That’s incredible, seeing as though we visited 6 months ago.


One of my favourite things about this place is that 100% of profits support the YWCA NSW – an organisation that helps women experiencing domestic violence. Eating with a conscience.

Headed by chef Charlotte Gonzales (ex Merivale), she is innovative, having designed an extensive menu, with French influence. It is clean and stylish food and packed with flavour.


We began with the promotion which is on for Vivid – a bottle of Mumm champagne and 6 oysters. The oysters were silky and served with a side of vinaigrette and such a lovely entree to have with our champers.


Don’t fret, they have plenty of other drinks too and we really enjoyed the passion fruit mojito.


We had grilled king prawns, perfectly cooked and plenty of flavour provided by long red chilli, garlic, coriander, lime & romesco salsa.


For the entree we also had a lovely winter vegetables with pumpkin, onion, sweet potato, beetroot and broccoli. Perfect for the season.


We’d been craving the pasta, so decided on the Pince all’ amatriciana – guancial, tomatoes, basil & Percorino Romano. An interesting thick pasta, packed with flavour. It was an extremely generous serve. We also sampled the amazing rabbit gnocchi.


After this we were so full that we couldn’t touch dessert, although Creme Caramel is always a crowd pleaser.

Visit for breakfast, lunch or dinner, you won’t be disappointed. The food is outstanding, and restaurant ambience is also comforting, sophisticated, yet relaxed.





Mrs Jones – new cocktail bar and terrace

Named after Jane Jones, a 19th century publican, this new restaurant and bar, Mrs Jones is a hidden gem, found in the upstairs precinct of the Orient Hotel in the Rocks Sydney. Accessed via Kendall Lane, walk upstairs and you’ll find yourself in a cocktail terrace and bar with high tables and lounges, you’ll certainly find this a comfortable and trendy place to hangout. 

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Above photos: papaya pr

Gone are the days of dancing on sticky floors, drinking and beer skolling, football watching and burger eating at this place. It is now a refashioned area, an eclectic and stylish space for a more sophisticated occasion, whether that be a few drinks or a meal in the dining area.


This is the newest launch by the Ryan’s Hotel Group, and they have done this with precision and style. We were lucky enough to experience some wonderful cocktail concoctions, wine and a three course menu in this beautiful new elegant dining area.


Chef Brad Copeland’s menu has a range of snacks and starters to enjoy with your drinks, or some larger dishes like salads and steaks. The food highlights Australian influences of lamb or kangaroo as well as some of your staple pub classics like burgers, schnitzels or Sunday roast. 

We sampled a three course alternate meal for the launch lunch.The bruschetta, served atop two slices of sourdough with mixed tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella and basil, drizzled with oil. Refreshing and the perfect size for an entree.


I’m not normally a fan of eating Kanagroo but this was superb. Really nicely cooked at medium rare, served with rocket and melody tomato, hazelnuts and Persian fetta. It was lovely and lean and well seasoned.


For the mains, we received a large piece of pork belly which was juicy, served with boiled potatoes and beetroot. With some apple sauce and flavoured from the roasting juices. 


The pan fried barramundi came with broadbeans and a herbed salad topped with a parsley butter. 


We also shared some deliciously seasoned fries and rocket topped with Parmesan. 

But the chocolate brownie was the stellar performance on the day. A dark chocolate gooey brownie that was crispy on the outside and topped with double cream and honeycomb. It was outstanding and a must order! 


We also had some Tasmanian brie, grapes and quince paste with lavosh.


The food here is certainly much better than normally found at a pub! Quite nicely developed flavours and sophisticated plating. 

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Above photo: papaya pr

The cocktail menu boasts all your favourite classics. We sampled two awesome drinks prepared by mixologist Tommy Donnison, who has been in the industry for over 10 years. His creations included the Apple and Cinnamon Sour, which is a twist of a traditional whiskey sour and “The Mistress” (named for Mrs Jones) a twist of the traditional Tommy’s margarita. Don Julio, agave, lime and grapefruit soda – it was delicious! Perfectly mixed. 


                                                            Above photos: papaya pr 

We also sampled Moet and Chandon from the awesome Champagne tower, fit for Kings. 



Make sure to make this a meeting place for a few drinks with friends.

Cnr Kendall Lane & Argyle Street, the Rocks Sydney
02 9251 1255



Champagne Lunch and a show @Black Bar and Grill

Black Bar and grill, formally Black by Ezard at the star has prime location, looking out at Darling Harbour and the Sydney cityscape. Perfect for a meal before a show at the Lyric theatre, which is just what we did. We saw The Bodyguard, with Paulini playing the starring role along side Kip Gamblin as the bodyguard. A top show with some Whitney Houston classics with some dance ensembles. Highly recommended!

It is a hatted steak house, that also focuses on Australian produce and seasonal ingredients. They offer ala carte, pre theatre and champagne lunches. We were here for a 3 course champagne lunch, with unlimited Perrier Jouet for $135 for a maximum of a three hour stay, which is pretty good for a hatted restaurant with drinks.

New executive chef Danny Karam and team has a marvelous menu of beautifully prepared foods, cooked and presented like works of art. Before our menu options came out, we had my favourite thing – restaurant bread! This was a brioche loaf, quite like a croissant which was outstanding.

For the entrees, we had the oysters, beautifully shucked and served with a fresh vinaigrette. The beef tartare was marvelous– like a work of art with a beetroot sheet, curried egg topping and radish. I can’t explain how good this was. If you are after a fresh tasty dish you can order the fig salad, buffalo mozarrella, duck ham, candied walnut, bitter leaves and balsamic dressing. The chilled prawns with avocado, coconut and chilli dressing also had a nice bite to it. Amazingly, all starters are gluten free.

For the mains, we tried the Roasted lamb rack with an eggplant puree, tomato chutney, salt bush, goats cheese croquette and roasted onions. Cooked exactly as asked, the meat was wonderful quality and the flavours complemented each other perfectly.

Another great option was the grass fed angus fillet with roasted cauliflower and gremolata. It came accompanied with a variety of sauces including hot mustard, horseradish crème, bbq and salse verde.

The desserts were the climax to an amazing three course meal. You wouldn’t know from the menu, but the “chocolate ganache” was infact a chocolate ball, topped with chocolate sauce revealing peanut mousse and banana ice cream underneath – an absolute work of art. We also tried the lemon tart and cheese platter which was an extremely generous serving.

As for the service, it was as top notch as it should be, wait staff serving promptly and they kept the champagne flowing, and filled our glasses as we finished them.

We can’t speak highly enough of this restaurant and we will certainly be back.
BLACK Bar & Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato