Ampersand Bookstore and cafe

As you walk down Oxford St, Sydney in Paddington, you’ll find yourself passing by Ampersand cafe & bookstore. Make sure you step inside.

Downstairs, it looks like a familiar cafe, with indoor and outdoor seating, but make sure you head upstairs in one of the three levels and find a seat amongst the floor to ceiling bookshelves.

Set into three rooms, consisting of books aplenty, organised into their themes with comfortable seating, this is somewhere you could absolutely sit for hours. Order your food at the front, and it will be delivered to you as you immerse yourself in the books.

Whilst it is only a small menu, the food is interesting and they also have some daily salads, sandwiches and pastry goods.

A couple of options using black rice, we chose the brekky bowl with Bircher and sticky black rice with figs, cinnamon and fresh fruits. We really liked this as it was quite different to your normal Bircher.

French toast is an option, baked or poached eggs and smoked salmon is on the menu but we opted for a familiar favourite – the eggs Benedict with crispy bacon and creamy hollandaise.

We were hungry so we also shared one of the fresh Reuben Bagels. It was filled with a super flavoursome pastrami, cheese and sauerkraut and this was the winner on the day.

For those wanting lunch, there’s a burger, steak sandwich and even a black risotto or polenta chips.

Coffee is by Little Marionette and the mocha was a good drop, complete with Lindt chocolate. We also had a cold drip which we certainly enjoyed. Smoothies and teas are also available.

Pop in for a nice meal and a good read.

Ampersand Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Calabur cafe – hidden little gem in Bondi Junction.

Calabur cafe is super close to Bondi Junction Westfield and Eastgate shopping centre. Walking by, you would probably not notice it, underground off the Main Street. Definitely make it a destination to visit.

It’s a vintage, rustic style place, with exposed bricks, pipes, rustic chairs, succulent plants, and feels like some of the cafes we’ve seen in Bangkok. They hold a few events like live music and charity fundraise too.

On walking in, the waitress and waiter were super polite and were warm and friendly. We took a seat at a table for two, and they offered us a larger table if we pleased. Very nice atmosphere!

We ordered the granola fruit market which was delicious – greek yoghurt with granola, kiwi fruit, blueberries, kiwi fruit and passion fruit, there was also some honey to put atop the creation. It looked beautiful, a real work of art!

We also had the ‘spicy’ Onsen eggs, which actually were not too spicy, served with avocado, heirloom tomatoes, radish, carrot and mushrooms.

The ‘magic’ noodle salad of purple steamed butterfly glass noodles that are meant to turn a lighter purple with a touch of lemon, served with carrot, seaweed, cucumber, zucchini, radish and a sesame dressing. You can have this with raw fish, so we opted for the tuna. This is a lovely fresh and healthy dish.

The coffees were excellent and a nice smooth brew.

Calabur Cafe & Diner Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

XS Espresso @ Prestons

The new XS Espresso store is in a large space in a shopping complex featuring a new Woolworths off the Camden Valley Way.

It is styled similarly to the other stores and an open coffee window for people ordering take aways.

The young girl front of house was lovely and took us to a table. It it was extremely busy and buzzing with diners so took a while to get our order taken and served. However the manager was extremely helpful and generous. On our visit, it was only a few weeks old so they’re understandably busy and learning the ropes.

The menu is pretty much the same as the other stores, known for their freak shakes, over the top sweet dishes like pancakes and waffles, and a number of burgers. Don’t come here if you’re worried about your waistline. It is certainly a place to indulge.

We shared three dishes between us: The New York, New York – normally 250 g sirloin, but they had run out so we got the lamb – with roasted chat potatoes, asparagus, tomato and sweet potatoes with chimichurri. A super big serving and all components were very tasty.

I’m always keen for a healthy dish and there was only a handful of this category, so we ordered one of them. The “Happy Bowl” was bright and colourful and filled with nourishing goodies like quinoa, mashed sweet potato, kale, beetroot hummus, boiled egg, tomatoes, cucumber, avocado and radish. We added some chicken to it for the protein and polished this meal off quickly between us.


The other members of my party wanted a sweet option, and so opted for the absolutely beautiful ricotta hotcake. Extremely light and fluffy, it’s one of the better ones we’ve had. Topped with summer fruits and vanilla cream – we’d thoroughly recommend this.

They have Campos coffee, which we enjoyed, as well as smoothies and shakes. We tried the lovely banana smoothie and it was presented so nicely too.

You can’t visit XS Espresso without a freakshake. We opted for the XS Surprise / a Nutella and crunchie base, topped with fairy floss and a waffle cone, complete with a kinder surprise and covered with honeycomb and hundreds and thousands. Your family will go crazy for this! (And afterwards 😉

When you’re keen to indulge, pay XS Espresso a visit – it’s in a convenient location and very spacious. Enjoy!

XS Espresso

Shop 5/1975 Camden Valley Way, Prestons NSW 2170, Australia

XS Espresso Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Butcher’s Block – for a brunch option in Barangaroo

The Butcher’s Block have planted their culinary seed in many areas of Sydney including Wahroonga, South Hurstville, Parramatta and now with their new eatery located in Barangaroo. With an emphasis on seasonal, locally sourced organic ingredients, this is the place to get some nourishment. With a team of experienced Chefs and a magnitude of high end dining experiences, you will find this a culinary delight. The Butcher’s block team has to put multicultural elements  into the menu, providing variety and excitement to the table.


There are many great places to grab a bite to eat in Barangaroo. But there are only a few places to visit for breakfast or Brunch. Butchers Block, with its new breakfast menu is the place to visit. 


The Butchers Block use Allpress coffee and have a menu full of breakfast favourites. All menu items are prepared with the freshest of ingredients. 


Dessert for breakfast, why not?

The Banoffee waffles were a crowd favourite. the waffles were perfect, nice and light topped with fresh bananas, a ridiculously good ginger butterscotch sauce, vanilla mascarpone and roasted almonds.


If you prefer a healthy start to your day, there is delicious Bircher, topped with a mix of seasonal berries, poached pears, pomegranate honey and a sprinkling of homemade granola. 


Another healthy option is the smashed avo bruschetta which is also perfect if you are on the run.


The cornfritters are quality, nice and light and fluffy with plenty of flavour. 


The Green Breakfast bowl is another popular breakfast option. This dish was super tasty with a crisp brown rice flavoured with a sweet teriyaki style sauce and served with a mix of BBQ vegetables including broccolini, zucchini, asparagus, add some more green with a generous portion of avocado. There is something satisfying about cutting in to a perfectly poached egg and watching the yolk ooze out over the breakfast bowl, working its magic, adding flavour as it floods with a tidal wave of yum.


The Butcher’s Block is the ideal setting to enjoy a meal in the heart of Barangaroo. This cafe restaurant is modern with a casual vibe. The service is relaxed and the food is great.

The Butcher’s Block

Shop 2/100 Barangaroo Avenue, Barangaroo NSW 2000

Thank you to the venue and to Wasamedia for the invitation to dine.


The Butchers Block Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Family friendly @ The Beach House Maroubra

The Beach house is located on the main strip (Marine Parade) at Maroubra Beach. It is a large cafe, with it’s decor fitting of the theme – with surf pics and boards adorning the walls and rustic furniture.


It has a casual and relaxed vibe and perfect for you to take the kids, with a play section out the back as well as some outdoor seating.


Offering brunch, lunch and dinner, you can visit anytime. There a bar at the front and also pizza and beer deals to get those crowds in.

We visited with friends who have kids for brunch on a weekday and it was good as whilst we sat and chatted, the kids amused themselves in the play area. Genius. We ordered some coffees, tea and babycinos as well as some food. The menu has a good mix of healthy and indulgent options to select from.


We went for a porridge (which isn’t on their online menu), but a dish we really enjoyed. Made with oats and topped with poached pears, it was super flavoursome and filling.


We also tried poached eggs with tomatoes and I ordered a side of spinach which was presented nicely on some really good, fresh bread!


Other options include an acai bowl, shakshuka, buttermilk pancakes and smashed avo to name a few.

Good for a casual meal in a relaxed environment.

Staff were efficient, hospitable and eager to help.

Beach House

198-202 Marine Parade, Maroubra Beach


Clever and creative dishes @ at_neutral

Tipped off by a fellow foodie and coffee lover @sakinav, we decided to meet for brunch in Neutral Bay. The area is a hub of places to eat and thus its tough as a new addition to the scene. However, we’re sure at_neutral will have no trouble, with their creative and culinary flair added to each dish. Here, you won’t find your typical eggs on toast with a side of bacon nor fairy floss atop your pancakes, rather some very sophisticated brunch options.

IMG_8948 (1)

Its decor is clean and stylish with grey and wooden tones, geometric tiles and greenery. We sat on a table outside to enjoy the sunshine and take in all the action of the cafe. If you’re planning on paying a visit, get in early as it has already become popular.

IMG_8947 (1)

Staff are on their game, despite it being their first cafe venture. They’re all super friendly and efficient. We begin with coffees, and they use Gabriel’s, one we do quite like.

After perusing the menu, we are stuck on what to order, with all options looking extremely enticing. Whilst the banana bread with honeycomb butter was calling our name, we slected a few larger dishes to share.


The apple and coconut chilled oats, with house made granola, seasonal fruit and rhubarb consomme was a lovely healthy dish and beautifully presented, with the consomme served in a small jar to pour at your leisure.

IMG_8939 (1)

If you’re into the cool healthy options, the cacao infused chia would also be a good choice.

We then had the mushrooms atop a carrot and cardamon puree at incredibly amazing bread, served with spiced blacberry. We could not fault this in any way. It would certainly be a dish to re-order.

IMG_8941 (1)

One cannot go without ordering truffle scrumbled eggs, served on the same amazing bread and presented with greens. Aesthetically appealing and stomach satisfying.


We’re always fans of ordering healthy options where possible, and the poached chicken salad with puffed rice, quinoa, soft herbs, greends, tomato and radish with an edamame pesto was light and refreshing, whilst also being extremely tasty.


If you’re bringing the family, there’s options for children too and a number of solid toasties for the bigger eaters.

We recommend this cafe for those who like brunch options that are a bit more interesting than your run of the mill cafe.

Find them on Instagram @at_neutral

Located at 9 Rangers Road, Neutral Bay, NSW

Where to great brekkie in Bondi @ Parida

Parida, Bondi Beach has a grand new menu. It is the perfect excuse to visit this beachside oasis. Located on Campbell parade, this cafe is a great spot to enjoy a beautiful brunch meal. Parida has has a cool and casual atmosphere with comfortable indoor and outside seating options. The decor is stylish with Moroccan tiles and bifold windows, apt for the trendy Bondi Beach location.


The new menu has fabulous takes on our brunch favourites, with some of the typical classics, healthy options and some exciting creations that will entice you. We were excited by this since we like cool brunch dishes that differ from the norm.


Very importantly, the coffee is pretty good, they use Gabriel beans for coffee which we do like. There are also some fresh made juices available, great for that spring health kick. The ‘Bondi juice’ is made of pineapple, apple carrot, lemon and ginger was a tasty refreshing blend. Parida also have a range of smoothies, teas, and if you are up for it wine and boozy drinks too. Can’t beat a weekend mimosa!


The menu has good variety to suit all. Our pick of the meals was the “Baby Parida”, that was thankfully not so baby. This dish had us excited with a cheese and chorizo croquette showcasing a crisp panko like outer shell, gooey cheese inner with bits of chorizo thrown in the mix. It had a potato rosti, perfectly poached eggs with hollandaise sauce and toast, oh baby! Perfect for sharing!


The classics were also solid, the avo and feta smash which is a good version of this dish. It has a decent amount of avo and feta, served on a large slice of sourdough with heirloom tomatoes. Opting for the poached egg is a good idea and they were perfectly poached. The granola and yogurt, served with berries and passionfruit, a good choice if you are looking for a lighter meal.


Bondi beach and Campbell Parade can at times be a little hit and miss with all the tourist haunts. However, if you are looking at a good cafe to hit, pop into Parida. It is the perfect choice before or after the coast walk, a surf or just enjoying the serenity. A top weekend brunch spot, but any day suits as they’re open 7 days a week. All day breakfast is their specialty with fresh and simple ingredients and reasonably priced too.


We enjoyed our visit and will undoubtedly be back.

Parida, Bondi

Shop G08A, 180 – 186 Campbell Parade Bondi Beach NSW

61 280697910

Parida Bondi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Where to get a Middle Eastern Breakfast – @ The Middle Feast


The Middle Feast restauraunt in Merrylands has been operating since 2012 and up until recently served lunch on weekends and dinner throughout the week. Recently, they’ve started opening at 8am on weekends with a new breakfast menu and we were invited to sample it.


Merrylands is deceptively simple to travel to especially if you are driving. It was about 20 minutes west from the city on the freeway – we loved that the freeway exit took us to the restaurant in five minutes with easy parking all around.


Owner Zayd and his manager Marion warmly greeted us and seated us in the front of the restaurant – it’s a large dining space which opens out to the kitchen, bar and grill.


Inside there is an even larger dining space and private room. Designed for entertainment, they often have singers and dancers performing there.


The new breakfast menu spans several pages and offers predominantly middle eastern breakfast dishes as you’d expect, though we did notice a muesli bowl ($12), acai bowl ($12) and a five egg omelette for you to customise ($18). We wanted the more traditional experience and opted for the middle eastern offerings – especially given a family recommended the breakfast platter to us – we queried them and they said it was delicious and their first visit there.


The breakfast platter or “The Middle Feast Banquet” ($27 per person minimum 2 people) was a beautifully presented two-tiered platter including two sides of scrambled egg dishes. You receive scrambled eggs with sujuk (sausage), menemem (tomato and pepper scrambled eggs), sigara borek (Turkish cheese rolls), aged cheddar cheese, danish fetta cheese, mixed olives, fresh tomato, cucumber, strawberry jam, cream and honey, tahini and grape molasses, apricot jam, halawa (halva), fresh seasonal fruits, walnuts and oven baked bread topped with black and white sesame seeds, and Nutella French toast (as dessert).


The banquet includes unlimited Turkish tea and owner Zayd assured us the kitchen would bake more complimentary bread if desired (we had plenty but this is a very generous offer especially given the chef bakes the bread to order!). The banquet was delicious – fresh, tasty and it was obvious a lot of love went into plating this up. The presentation was superb.


We also tried the Zaatar with Labne ($7). Three pieces of freshly baked mini bread with homemade Zaatar mix, served with cucumber, tomato wedges and labne. Very special and still warm from the oven.


Next we tried the Sujuk and Egg Guvec ($18), an absolute meal in itself and perfect to share. Plenty of sauce to mop up with the homemade sesame bread served with the dish too. This dish consists of Turkish sausage (Sujuk) pan tossed with fresh tomato, lemon juice, Napoletana sauce, layered in a crock pot, with 2 eggs sunny side up topped with fetta cheese, all oven baked. The flavours and textures made this a delight to eat.


Owner Zayd reminded us of their diverse range of fruit cocktails and gourmet shakes – we tried two: the avocado cocktail ($12) and halawa and pistachio shake ($11.50) Beautifully presented, with the avocado cocktail blended with fresh avocado and served with ashta (clotted cream), honey and fresh nuts. A healthier choice, and delicious.


The halawa and pistachio shake was a sweet indulgence, topped with halawa fairy floss and pistachios, and drizzled with melted Belgian chocolate. You could skip dessert for this shake, it’s very generously served, and delicious.


We finished off with some Arabic Coffee (Kahwa) $6 for 3 people, $12 for 6 people – a very strong coffee with a hint of cardamon – served unsweeteended, some might prefer to add sugar. We tried it unsweetened and it made a nice contrast to the cocktails and shakes. Beautifully presented and generously proportioned.


Overall, this is a breakfast worth travelling for. The restaurant space is superbly decorated in middle eastern art and the lighting is worth wandering around to look at – it’s beautiful. Merrylands is a fascinating suburb worth spending more time in too – we are spoilt in this city with the diverse range of food on offer. Get out one weekend for breakfast and see for yourself.

The Middle Feast Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Girdlers for delicious and nutritious food

Girdlers has made a name for itself, not only because it’s owned and named after the silver fox, Mr Ryan Girdler himself, but because of the wholesome and amazing food on offer.

Although it’s located in Warringah Mall, the design of the cafe and ambience makes you feel like you’re at a beach, especially if you are seated in one of the three cabanas.


They serve fresh, wholesome food which is not just nutritious but also well presented and super tasty. The menu is enticingly diverse and caters for all dietary requirements. They support local, organic produce and promote sustainability. Very good service and friendly staff who don’t mind a joke or two.


On this visit we tried the Holy Avo – avocado and kale florets with grilled haloumi, fresh micro herbs and poached eggs on rye sourdough. You can replace this with gluten free bread if you wish.


The organic buckwheat crepes had multiple options and we went for the Veggie Patch crepes, which were beautifully made into a little pocket, with baby spinach, crumbled fetta, mushrooms, avocado and spiraled beetroot. We added a free range egg to this.


The Love Me Berry crepes are on the sweet portion of the menu, topped with seasonal berries, blueberry infused maple syrup and coconut ice cream.


On the menu you can also order Shakshuka, oats, granola, chia pots and more!! So many healthy options, that this really is the perfect cafe for us.

Girdlers also proudly roasts their own coffee serving their own house blend but single origin is also available. We had a few drinks on this visit including a beautiful turmeric latte, Almond latte and a hot chocolate, as well as some Kombucha (from a local supplier) and a Mango & Almond Smoothie.


A place that is definitely worth a visit!!!

Girdlers Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bik’s cafe – new to Botany


IMG_1298  IMG_1975

Biks cafe is a new cafe, occupying a large space on Botany Road in the main shopping junction. This is a welcome addition to the area. It has a bright open plan cafe that has plenty of indoor space, tables and booths for you to enjoy a meal. Scandinavian styling with greenery and wood panelled walls, it’s certainly a palette that is inviting.


It’s also inviting to your palate. A great menu with food that showcases the talent of the chef through its aesthetically pleasing plating and depth of flavours. Paying respect to the community and local area, Biks sources it’s ingredients from local suppliers. Bread from Brassiere, meat from Viks meats and a local supplier for milk too. The coffee is from a local roaster, Single Origin, a smooth blend that’s received well by customers.


It is run by local identity, Bik, having worked on the cafe scene in the area for a while now. He’s sure to gain a loyal following here. Keen for beautiful dishes that are also healthy. He’s also keen to support charities in the future. He greets us on arrival, has a great chat and his hospitable nature is extremely welcoming.

We’ve been here on numerous occasions and as such sampled quite a few of the dishes.


On my first visit we had a lovely roasted granola with fresh fruits and coconut yoghurt. A lovely healthy dish that is suitable for vegan diners too.


On a later visit, it was a lot colder so we shared some winter warmers such as the truffled mushrooms. This is a few varieties of mushroom, with crunchy spring onions in a soupy liquid. The flavour is of truffle and miso and you can mop up the source with fresh and crunchy bread and you will be competed satisfied.


The veggie shakshuka is a small bowl of an eggplant and tomato mixture (seasonal ingredients), topped with some fetta and asparagus. The flavours work well together and it has a nice light kick of chilli to it as well. Again, it comes with a side of sourdough to dip in the liquid or spread some Pepe Saya butter on your bread and you’ll enjoy this a lot too!


We also sampled the crowd favourite, a bacon and egg roll with fennel sauce and slaw on milk brioche bun and the light and fluffy fritters, made with pumpkin and zucchini and topped with smashed avo. These are also a gluten free option.


You’ll find the food here to be beautifully presented, lovely flavours and suitable for all dietary requirements. The cafe is homely and you feel very welcomed.

Bik's Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato