Dining and drinking – The Branksome

The Branksome Hotel, only only 1km from the airport is a great hotel for travellers, families and corporates alike. See our blog here for more details.

If you’re staying here, chances are you’ll need to eat and drink – you do that all here too. You can enjoy a meal at the restaurant, alfresco or order room service if you’d prefer to stay in. They’ve also got a huge rooftop bar where you can go for a few bites to eat and a drink or two.

Restaurant

Th Branksome has a restaurant and bar onsite, “Nate’s: east meets west dining” where we had both the buffet breakfast and dinner here.

The decor is bistro style with marbled tables and some Art Deco influences furniture.

The buffet offered cold and hot options; from fruit, cereal and cold deli items to western hot breakfast options such as scrambled eggs and sausages. You can also make pancakes and try a few baked goodies.

There’s a huge variety of loose leaf tea, coffee and juices to accompany your meal.

For dinner, we tried the new menu. The name of the restaurant is apt, since there are both eastern and western options. The food is quality and nicely presented. We shared three dishes including a Riverina Sirloin steak, Cooked to order and nicely seasoned. It came with a lovely jus and presented with julienne carrots and toast and sweet potatoes. This was a decent portion.

The quail was also a great choice, the tender meat was also flavoured superbly and served with similar sides to the steak.

Miso cod is also a favourite and the one here is particularly good, served with Hainanese rice and edamame beans. We really enjoyed this fish and it’s delicious glaze.

We were pretty full by this stage, but dessert wise, the sticky date pudding or deconstructed cheesecake would be our pick.

They have a good range of drinks on offer st the bar, including craft beer on tap, an extensive wine list and cocktails. The drinks are well priced and there’s also an early weekend happy hour.

Rooftop bar

They also have a lovely rooftop bar and outdoor terrace, perfect for an afternoon drink and you can also order food up there. Catch a glimpse of the amazing sunset with an unobstructed view stretching from the airport to the city skyline.

We enjoyed a networking event, which they have time to time, with heaps of food, drinks and live music.

IMG_6702.JPGThe space is large, so it could certainly host a number of events from parties to weddings or even fashion shows; it has a cool little stone walkway and plenty of tables and lounges to relax.

The Branksome Hotel & Residences

60 Robey Street

Mascot, NSW 202

Nate's Restaurant and Bar - The Branksome Hotel & Residences Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

.

Afternoon Tea with Wedgewood, The Tale of Mr Rabbit at the Langham

The Langham Hotel on Kent Street Sydney is a beautifully sophisticated hotel with a sandstone facade greeting you on approach, as do the impeccably uniformed doormen. Flow through the entrance past the lobby and the suave looking bar, and make your way to the tea room for the high tea. The staff will run you through the details of the afternoon.

The tea room overlooks the harbour with views out to Balmain and beyond. The tables perfectly set with white linen and beautifully intricate Wedgwood china tea sets, silverware and tea pots. Looking around the room, a very traditional afternoon tea is on the cards. Alas, there is a flash of a white rabbit, the Easter Bunny bouncing around the room fancifully and happy to provide joy to the children in the room and add whimsical fun to the experience.

The theme of Easter is not only present with the Easter Bunny, it also makes a very visual appearance at an enchanted feature table in the centre of the room. The table full of sweets; chocolate easter eggs and assorted lollies, the display further decorated for Easter with an assortment of rabbit ornaments, flowers and a touch of theatrics with a fog cleverly created with dry ice, slowly cascaded to blanket the table.

The service begins with a formal greeting from the waitstaff and a glass of bubbles, Perrier in this instance. They are also happy to cater to special dietry requirements. We are left to peruse the menus, the food, drinks menu and most importantly the selection of tea. Do we go with a traditional tea, English breakfast or Earlygray or perhaps a masala chai or peach oolong? Feeling a little adventurous, the peach oolong nicely accompanies the tasty delights on offer.

The three tier selection of afternoon treats made its way to our table. Where to start? Is it with the savoury plate containing a delicious mix of tasty pastries and sandwiches or sweets? We went for savoury first and tried the smallest item; the mushroom and gruyere cheese puff. It is quickly lifted from the plate by an index finger and thumb pincer and disappears like a chocolate Easter egg on easter Sunday. This is followed by the beef and potato pie, the tuna and creme fresh tartlet, then the sandwiches; chicken tarragon and the old staple – curried egg. Then was our favourite bite, the kingfish tartare, lime, and corriander served in a little charcoal cone.

It wouldn’t be much of an afternoon Tea without scones and vanilla scones at this afternoon tea, along with the carrot cake were a real treat. Perfectly prepared and served with homemade jam and cream.

Already a good amount of food consumed, there were the dainty easter sweets on top of the serving platter. Cute as a button and very creative; there was a mini easter scene displayed on the plate with easter bunny heading down the hole on top of the Mr Rabbit tartlet, the tasty carrot and ginger garden bed complete with a mini carrot and cherry decoration top, the cream egg split in two and the scrumptious hot cross bun macarons.

This was a great cultured experience, good to share with the children and well curated with a visit from Mr Rabbit and the enchanted sweets table. Well worth a visit for their yummy afternoon tea and they are open all days, including public holidays until April 28.

We’d like to thank the Langham for the invitation to dine, and the hospitality provided on the day.

The Langham

The Observatory Bar @ The Langham, Sydney

The swanky new bar, located in the heart of Millers Point, on the lower level of the Langham Sydney has opened up as a lounge bar, serving up some amazing cocktails with clever flavour combinations. Themed with a basis on nature and Australian ingredients, the Observatory Bar is not your run of the mill cocktail bar.

This bar is not just for hotel guests, rather a sophisticated space to come as a bar destination for those looking for some quality drinks.

The setting is intimate and the decor is inspired, with a classy bar vibe featuring astronomy themed furniture. The space has velvet chairs, ottomans and plush lounges. Floor to ceiling bookshelves with art and stocked bar trolleys, they’ve done a great job keeping to the theme.

We enjoyed a few special cocktails prepared by skilled Melbourne bartender, Jimmy Burchett, who took over the bar for the evening, with his charismatic and hip personality, serving up some incredible cocktails along with the bar’s signature serves.

Jimmy made his cocktails, whilst narrating the story behind each one, which was thoroughly appreciated.

We tried the BAYSIDE – an oceanic twist to the Southside, this drink features Cedar Fox Dry Gin, sea vegetables, river mint, Strangelove Hot Ginger Beer topped with a vanilla and cucumber foam.

The NOT ON TAP is a dairy free and bourbon shake featuring Bulleit 10 Year old American Whiskey, IPA reduction, Chartreuse Yellow. almond Milk, peanut butter and ripened banana. Sort of like an alcoholic shake!

IN THE MOMENT was a beautiful cocktail to sit and sip on with the Cedar Fox dry gin, dry sake, Imbruglio, lemon oil and spritzed. We loved the kick to this.

If cocktails aren’t your thing, there’s an exclusive and varied wine and rare spirit list to choose from.

The food menu has an emphasis on sharing, perfect to order a few to accompany your drink. These treats are delectable and we very much enjoyed their take on a Saganaki cheese on a crudo, flavoured with slipsmith gin, honey and thyme. We also had the mini wagyu tacos and caviar topped sour cream, shallot and chive donuts.

We enjoyed our visit to the Observatory Bar in the Langham and would like to thank all staff for the hospitality provided. Thank you also to 3 degrees marketing for extending the invitation.

Observatory Bar

The Langham Sydney

89-113 Kent Street, Sydney, NSW 2000, Australia

T 61 (2) 9256 2222

E tlsyd.info@langhamhotels.com

QT Hotel Canberra – Rome: city and empire package

This hotel is 10km from Canberra airport and right in the heart of the Canberra CBD, only a few minutes’ walk from the Department store, cinema and restaurants. It is also only a very short drive to the Parliament House, National archives, Art Gallery, Questacon and more. It really is in a top location.

img_3186

We would describe this as a luxury boutique hotel that would be considered quite ‘kitsch’, mostly of a political pop art style decoration. This can be observed as you enter the hotel, with art representing political figures, a hall of mirrors, reception staff in power suits and all round clever theming.

img_3178

The hotel as 205 rooms, with plenty of spaced and featuring some cool art. Rooms have a bar fridge complete with supplies, a coffee machine and kettle as well as snacks and products for sale. We also really appreciated the free wi-fi and complimentary movies.

The hotel has an onsite bar called “Lucky’s”, a barber in the hotel for shave, beard trim or haircut and there’s also free on site free parking.

img_3189

It is a short 5 minute walk to plenty of great restaurants in the city, but if you’d prefer to eat in, the hotel has “Capitol bar and grill” with an Italian themed concept devised by food director Robert Marchetti with entrees like oysters, steak tartare and antipasto plates to name a few. For the mains, they have plenty of seafood options of seafood and amazing cuts of steak cooked on the wood fired grill. It is in this restaurant where the buffet breakfast is served. As far as hotels go, this was a good buffet – deli meats freshly sliced, baked goods, roasted granola and fresh fruit and yoghurt, as well as hot food. There’s regular tea and coffee, but if you’d prefer a proper latte or cappuccino, it comes at an extra cost.

img_3190

We stayed for the package deal “Rome: city and Empire” which is extremely good value. Priced at $245 + (as the website states), but ours was $225 on the Sunday. This was for the room, on site parking, movies, buffet breakfast for 2, 2 tickets to the Rome Exhibition at the Australian museum and an exhibition book. This exhibition brings over 200 objects from the British Museum to Australia.

img_e3179

So, if you’re exploring the nation’s capital, this is a great place to stay and we recommend the Rome package

Note – there is no pool, spa or fitness centre (something I normally look for in a hotel

https://www.qthotelsandresorts.com/canberra

1 London Circuit,

Canberra ACT 2601

Dining at Six Senses, Uluwatu

If you are staying at the Six Senses or visiting The Bukit Peninsula or Uluwatu, this resort has a number of options for your dining pleasure. In keeping with their sustainable vision, ingredients are mostly sourced from their own private garden or local producers if needed. Thus, menus change seasonally according to what is available.

In terms of dining choices there is Rocka Restaurant which is open all day for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is primarily an Indonesian restaurant for dinner, showcasing the authentic flavours of the Indonesian Archipelego. It has amazing views and you can sit inside or out. Rocka also host’s a ‘chef’s table’ on their small terrace, called ‘Rocka Edge’, where you can dine in a more intimate setting by the wine cellar and up close with the chef and special menu.

IMG_2415

Crudo is a fusion of South America and Japan, with chefs following the Robatayaki philosophy, simply grilling the ingredients and adding light flavour of sea salt or sauce to enhance the natural flavours. Cliff Bar is as it sounds, set at the cliff, offerings panoramic views of Uluwatu, its beaches and the incredible sunset. The menu here runs until 7pm, serving sushi, salads, burgers and sandwiches and woodfire oven baked pizzas. There are plenty of cocktails on offer at each of the bars too. Cliff Bar will be even more perfect when their open air cinema comes to fruition.

IMG_2413

If you’re keen to stay in for the night, then Rocka serves breakfast from 6:30 -10am in the Villa, Ala carte daily food ( a smaller selection of meals from a few of the restaurants) for the rest of the day and all night 11pm-6am.

IMG_2560

You’ll also be please to note that free gelato and sorbet is on offer just outside Crudo restaurant and the boutique from 12 noon – 6pm. We are good authority on this being outstanding, with us trying guava, yoghurt and berries, coconut and you’ll be pleased to see salted caramel and rocky road making an appearance. Flavours change daily.

49098486_572659516566446_2198155191121870848_n

If you’ve got kids, there’s kids menus at each restaurant and in the villas as well.

Rocka Restaurant

We visited Rocka Restaurant upon arrival for a drink and a wonderful sambal demonstration, learning how to make different types of sambal such as sambal tomat, kacang, dabu dabu, nyuh, matah and embeh. These differ in the additions of chilli, tomato, sweet soy, shrimp paste, coriander and more.

IMG_2418

IMG_2427

Dinner

We returned for a dinner meal and were impressed by the food at Rocka. They have a number of mains from tuna to pork belly, roasted chicken, pork ribs, king prawns, Balinese pork sausage, baked duck and more. We selected the ‘Pepes Ikan’ or fish with green tomato, blimbing wuluah and Gado Gado – an Indonesian green bean salad. They are all super creative dishes with interesting flavours and showcasing proteins from different regions of the Indonesia. Your much loved Nasi Goreng is also on offer. If you are on a special diet, there are Gluten free, dairy free, nut free, sugar free options. There is also a special vegan menu.

IMG_2501

IMG_2502

Rocka restaurant also have western options if some of your party aren’t up for the International foods. These options include salads, sandwiches and burgers. Desserts are a mix of Indonesian and International options. They’ve got an amazing list of sodas and cocktails too, and they differ slightly bar to bar.

IMG_2497

Tea and coffee is also on the menu, and the coffee is made using Tanamera medium roasters espresso blend, which is 100% organically sourced from Indonesia. We tried the espresso, cappuccino and a flat white – it was a nice light coffee flavour, complete with latte art.

IMG_2561

Breakfast

The breakfast buffet is incredible. Everything is homemade – the pastries, granola, yoghurt, juices and even down to the Nutella. I’ve never seen anything like it. Starting fresh with fruits, homemade yoghurt; fruit yoghurt, fresh and also coconut. Add this to their house made granola, and you’ve got a great start. Moving onto the cold dishes, I was impressed to see a whole iberico jamon, cured meats and fish and these were brilliant.

The hot menu boasts sausages, an amazing beef brisket, tomatoes, mushrooms, potatoes and Indonesian specialties.

They make freshly baked pastries in house such as brioche and multi-grain breads, cinnamon scrolls and chocolate croissants. Gluten free and vegan selections are also available.

IMG_2559

You can also order from the special made to order menu, including a crab omelette, huevos rancheros, chilaquiles, avocado on toast or any eggs to your liking.

IMG_2566

The drinks were lovely and they have small juice hits like the ‘detox booster’, ‘trim and fit’ and ‘Kintamani’s tangerine’. For a thicker smoothie style, there’s a few more options for cleansing and resilience.

We were also recommended to do the floating breakfast where you are served your breakfast in a floating basket to enjoy in your infinity pool in the villa. This would be amazing for a very special occasion, coming at a 600 000 + price point per person.

Crudo

A mix of South American and Japanese influences, you will find tacos, ceviche’s, sushi, sashimi, udon and more. There’s quite a large vegan offering and plenty of dishes for those on a trim and fit wellness program. We enjoyed a smaller meal here, a few plates of sushi and tacos but there’s plenty of substantial dishes like steaks and a couple of sides if you’re hungrier.

Staff are absolutely delightful and are incredibly hospitable and do their best to provide you with amazing service. The dining space is sophisticated and has a wonderful outlook of the hotel and the sweeping views of the ocean.

Salamat Makan, or Bon Appetit.

https://www.sixsenses.com/resorts/uluwatu-bali/destination

 

Six Senses Resort Uluwatu

When it comes to holidays, we love finding brilliant places to stay with great facilities, beautiful views and lovely staff to make it an all-round enjoyable experience. Thus, we spend hours researching to find that place that really pops out. Whilst scrolling Instagram, I saw that Six Senses, a luxury resort chain, had opened up in the destination of our holiday, Bali, and knew this was the place to go. This particular resort is located on the southern-most tip of Bali in Uluwatu, about 3o – 45 minutes (pending traffic) from Ngurah Rai International Airport. Set on a cliff top of Uluwatu, offering uninterrupted views of the Indian Ocean.

IMG_2446

Upon arriving, we are greeted by the lovely General Manager, shown to a lounge and offered fresh towels, a welcome drink, snacks of home-made cookies and granola to enjoy as we took in the breathtaking outlook of the site and ocean beyond the resort. Whilst it has been open only 6 months, it is making waves as not only as a beautiful luxury hotel, but also encouraging purposeful travel with its many sustainability features.

IMG_2384

We are met by a GEM, or Guest Experience Maker who will look after you during your stay. He (or she) shows you around the site and can help to book restaurants, arrange activities around the island (like windsurfing or island hopping to name a few). They also can arrange your golf buggy to transport you around site.

IMG_2474

The site has 2 restaurants (to be discussed in more detail here) with ingredients sourced from their own organic garden, there is a cliff top bar, cinema under the stars, boutique shop with local crafts, gelato cart, fully equipped fitness centre and spa. They offer signature therapies and wellness programs, adapted to suit the individual. Onsite are two large pools, including one super infinity pool looking out into the wide ocean, complete with lounges and day beds for you to sun tan or enjoy a book with a beautiful outlook.

IMG_2387

IMG_2479

The site and rooms

With 103 suites and villas on an enormous property, you often feel like you’re holidaying in isolation as it is so peaceful and quiet, fitting with its vision of tranquillity and wellness. Select your room of choice, whether it be a one bedroom suite (with or without a pool) or the one bedroom villa. We were lucky enough to stay in the one bedroom villa, complete with its own outdoor swimming pool, deck, outdoor shower and cabana lounges.

IMG_2464

Inspired by Balinese architecture, it’s like you’re in a luxurious version of a traditional hut, with its interior wicker roofs. The rooms brought into the modern day with their design features. As you enter the villa there’s stepping stones to your room, and each villa complete with traditional offerings. Our room was in a twin configuration, as I was staying with a friend. The room was set with two beautifully arranged beds that were super comfortable, complete with a mosquito net. We also had a lounge, study area, fridge, use of a kettle, pod coffee machine and a welcome chocolate fondue set.

IMG_2449

IMG_2461

IMG_2469

Rooms have European standard sockets and USB ports with plenty of outlets, as well as a portable speaker for you to listen to music in your room. The rooms also feature an electronic safe to store your personal items. Plenty of products are also available in the room for use such as hairdryers, toothbrushes, toothpaste, vanity kits, razors, nail files and more. In the bathroom, there’s a dual vanity, internal and outdoor shower, there’s a deep soak bathtub and high tech toilet, you are staying in absolute luxury. Rooms have air conditioning, ceiling vans and remote operated technologies.

IMG_2458

If you need more, you can always call their guest services. The hotel also has baby-sitting services, laundry services, and in house doctor.

The rooms are serviced twice each day and there’s also an evening clean and turn down service. You are certainly well looked after.

Sustainability focus

The hotel has a strong vision with a series of initiatives and a commitment to sustainability and supporting the local community. This is at the core of their vision and brand, and something that really aligns with our personal vision.

IMG_2459

Some of the sustainability features including the removal of plastics. There are no plastics on sale for purchase, including straws. They even have their own on site water bottling plant, where water is purified and mineralised for drinking. You will find numerous bottles of this in your room and if you purchase any on site, 50% of water sales go towards local projects. There are also some products available for sale, focusing on community crafts, and sales going towards local artists.

IMG_2406

In the rooms you will find all your products in refillable ceramic containers, recyclable coffee capsules and an encouragement to save water. Products such as sandal, hairdryer and washing bags are all made from linen rather than plastic and the site also uses compost for their organic waste.

Six Senses has a strong focus on the community and social equity, with a commitment to employing local Balinese staff, work experience students and internships. They aim to raise awareness amongst staff and guests of being environmentally responsible.

These aspects of the hotel are wonderful and it is great to see that a resort is doing what they can to reduce our carbon footprint.

Spa and Wellness

It is important to focus of your own wellness, to find a clear sense of purpose, relax and find where you’re at your best. Six Senses have a set of practitioners, offering a range of therapies to support improving your personal wellness. From personal training to yoga, and sleep experts, nutritionists and beauty therapists, they can craft an experience for you and you can certainly leave feeling your best.

IMG_E2531

Wellness – they offer wellness screening to build you a personalised program for your stay. You can sign up to 3,5,7 night wellness programs that include yoga, meditation, massage, personalised food and exercise programs. Price wise, for a wellness screening, 3 spa treatments, 3 fitness sessions and nutritional guidance, it is approx. 9, 700 000 IRD pp. Their fitness centre is also top notch!

IMG_2445

Sleep – Six Senses offer personalised programs that begins with a sleep questionnaire and then your bedroom is prepared to ensure positive sleeping conditions, combined with a sleep tracker so that the experts can determine the best set of arrangements to enable you to have quality sleep.

Nutrition – Six Senses offer a nutritional plan that suits each person and when dining at the restaurants, the menu highlights appropriate offerings for those on each program, whether it be for a cleanse and detox to improve your digestive system and mind, or the trim and fit to aid toning the body, sleep and resilience to gain energy and rejuvenate.

Yoga – Six senses offers a range of yoga in an air-conditioned yoga pavilion. There’s daily complimentary meditation and intro to yoga (30 minutes each), pilates and Pranayama Yoga. If you’d prefer more intensive yoga for 45-60 minutes, such as Yogic intestinal cleanse, Yoga Nidra (lying down, or sleep with awareness) or a longer Traditional Yoga session, you can request this at an extra cost to yourself. Meditation, combined with a yoga session aims to help improve flexibility, relax, release stress and improve your overall wellbeing.

IMG_2568

Beauty– we all love a good massage and there’s certainly plenty on offer here. Whether it be detox, holistic, tension soother, deep tissue or simply a head or foot massage, there’ll be one that suits your needs. A few more specialised choices are also on the menu. There’s a number of facials including a special crystal healing face therapy, body scrubs and wraps. If you’re prone to getting sunburn, there’s a natural sunburn soother.

Weekly Activity Schedule

The room highlights their weekly activity schedule and during our visit, they offered daily complimentary meditation and intro to yoga (30 minutes each), pilates and Pranayama Yoga. For a small price, there were TRX suspension classes, Aerial Yoga, stretch and mobility.

For families, kids were able to participate in cooking, learning Balinese dance, making tie-dye shirts, basket painting, making soap, dreamcatcher making and more.

This changes weekly, so keep an eye out for the timetable in your room.

Dining at Six Senses

Six Senses have a number of options for your dining selection. In keeping with their sustainable vision, ingredients are mostly sourced from their own private garden or local producers if needed. Thus, menus change seasonally according to what is available.

IMG_2560

In terms of dining choices there is Rocka Restaurant which is open all day for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is primarily an Indonesian restaurant for dinner, showcasing the authentic flavours of the Indonesian Archipelego. It has amazing views and you can sit inside or out. Rocka also can host a ‘chef’s table’ on their small terrace, called ‘Rocka Edge’, where you can dine in a more intimate setting by the wine cellar and up close with the chef and special menu.

IMG_2415

Crudo is a fusion of South America and Japan, with chefs following the Robatayaki philosophy, simply grilling the ingredients and adding light flavour of sea salt or sauce to enhance the natural flavours. Cliff Bar is as it sounds, set at the cliff, offerings panoramic views of Uluwatu, its beaches and the incredible sunset. The menu here runs until 7pm, serving sushi, salads, burgers and sandwiches and oven baked pizzas. Plenty of cocktails on offer at each of the bars too. Cliff Bar will be even more perfect when their open air cinema comes to fruition.

IMG_2413

If you’re keen to stay in for the night, then Rocka serves breakfast from 6:30 -10am in the Villa, Ala carte daily food ( a smaller selection of meals from a few of the restaurants) for the rest of the day and all night 11pm-6am.

IMG_2566

You’ll also be pleased to note that free gelato and sorbet is on offer just outside Crudo restaurant and the boutique from 12 noon – 6pm. We are good authority on this being outstanding, with us trying guava, yoghurt and berries, coconut and you’ll be pleased to see salted caramel and rocky road making an appearance. Flavours change daily.

IMG_2414

If you’ve got kids, there’s kids menus at each restaurant and in the villas as well.

Really, you are not starved for choice.

Summary

We would like to comment that the Six Senses hotel is outstanding in every way. We absolutlely loved our stay. The staff are delightful and do everything they can to make your stay the most luxurious, comfortable and relaxing trip. The sunset is also incredible. You will never forget it! We hope to visit again sometime.

IMG_2493

Six Senses Uluwatu

https://www.sixsenses.com/resorts/uluwatu-bali/destination

Address: Jl. Goa Lempeh, Uluwatu, Kuta Sel., Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia

Where to go if you have a day or two in Santiago, Chile

Where to stay

Providencia is a great place to stay if you’re starting your time in Chile. It is in the heart of Santiago and it is very close to the central business district and many attractions. There are a number of hotels and hostels in the area and it is pretty busy and we felt very safe. There are a number of restaurants, cafes and shops in a close vicinity to explore. We stayed at the Park Plaza, which we found on booking.com and selected it based on the price and it had a pool and gym.

Bellavista is another good option as it is the trendy, bohemian part of town. This is the area where you will find many of the happening bars and restaurants, as well as some institutions that are ingrained in the culture of the city. This notably has a distinct bar strip and a cool modern dining precinct “Bella Vista Patio” with handy craft/souvenir stores. That said, it’s probably more suited to a younger or party going crowd.

Santiago itself is not a cheap city, very comparable to Sydney although there are a few places to be found that offer great value for what you receive. At the top of the list is the 99 restaurant lunch menu, which will be described later.

Park Plaza

A quaint hotel in the CBD area of Providencia. Close to the shops and sky tour. The hotel looks like it’s old worldly with its cedar wood and furniture. Staff greeted us warmly and we were checked in easily. The hotel has an indoor pool, a gym and a sauna and a few business rooms. Rooms were quite big, complete with a desk, safe, mini bar and television. The room had beauty products and a hair dryer. The housekeeping was super nice and left us chocolates each day. We liked that we received a welcome drink and the concierge was extremely helpful.

The dinner buffet was excellent and had good value and variety, however it was hard to get served. There were enough staff but not managed well, they seemed to never be doing the necessary thing.

Where to eat

99 Restaurante

“I got 99 problems but this restaurant ain’t one”, especially if you’re dining here for lunch. Their three course lunch, which will set you back roughly AUD $25 is extraordinarily good value. Funnily enough, we were put onto this restaurant whilst dining out in Buenos Aires and the restaurant was referred to us by a Japanese guy who now calls Santiago home.

It is an alfresco dining space, on a relatively quiet street in the CBD. The setting is tranquil, a number of tables neatly aligned and a few groups entertaining a business lunch. The service is professional and swift, to accomodate those on a lunch break.

As we are much accustomed to in South America, we are provided with house made bread served with mushroom butter, provided on a cool rustic display, the butter served in a small piece of copper half pipe.

With a range of drinks to choose from, we opt for the red wine. A traditional and once common Chilean grape variety Paise that went out of vogue, and is apparently now coming back into trend like the three stripe adidas tracksuit. The wine is easy drinking and quite light with sweeter notes of blueberries. The wine is exclusive to this restaurant and supplied by Don Modesto.

The lunch menu consists of 6 items, you have the 6 item tasting menu or a half serve. The 3 course menu was perfectly suitable and worked out well considering our contrasting tastes. Plus, it was a generous serve and there’s no way we would have finished 6.

Half of the menu is vegetarian so it is suitable for many diners. The menu items are locally inspired. The first course options were both very tasty and very different. The Espuma d papa y yema curada was a potato and yam foam, with nice texture and very much soup like, served with an egg yolk and crisps. It aaa served in a beautiful ceramic bowl.

img_e8649

Then there was also the Sandwich de lengua, which is a beef tongue and cheese sandwich/slider. Don’t be scared by the “tongue”, it is essentially their version of a typical local beef and cheese sandwich. The tongue was nicely stewed and they certainly did not skimp on the cheese. Served with some potato crisps and chilli mayo, it was a great starter.

img_8646

For the main meal, we both opted for the papada de Cerdo y lentejas. This was essentially Jamon and lentils. The Jamon was served crisp and melted in your mouth. This was sitting atop lentils, which were served with egg and pecorino cheese on top and it was a very flavoursome and hearty dish.

img_e8650

The desserts were a standout. The Brownie, manzana y chocolate was a rich peanut butter brownie nicely presented with a chocolate mouse and a sorbet to cut through the richness, the pais also served this purpose nicely.

The lighter delicate option being Bavaroise frambuesa bey marscapjone, the texture of this dessert was dreamy. It was a block of strawberry flavoured mousse cake with a cookie crumb, sorbet and fruity sauce. This dessert was delightful and a perfect to end to a great meal.

img_8657

The staff were lovely and efficient. We thoroughly recommend this restaurant and it is outstanding value for money.

Bellavista

Bellavista isn’t a restaurant, it’s an area with streets full of restaurants, bars and clubs. There’s a patio where you’ll find plenty of cool restaurants. A good area for tourists because it’s central and safe.

We went to a restaurant in Bellavista, called Galindo. A typical casual Chilean resturant with huge portions of meat, fries and stews. The stew was incredible. Expect to put your name down and wait a little, but it is worth it.

img_8625

Cafe Cultura

Perfect if you want to find quality coffee in Santiago at this speciality coffee house and training school for roasting, latte art and barista work. Staff were very friendly and hospitanble. This cafe is located close to the Costanera centre.

img_8634

What to do

You can head to Bellavista and find the hiking trails and furnicular which can take you up San Cristobel Hill for a great view. There’s also a cable car there and a zoo.

The Museo de la Memoria (The Museum of Memory and Human Rights)

We visited The Museum of Memory and Human Rights in Santiago and its on the outskirts of the town (in the CBD) but ten minutes in the cab from the CBD. It is designed to commemorate the victims of human rights violations which took place during the military regime led by Augusto Pinochet. The museum is well designed and begins in a Hall outlining what human rights are, as well as examples from across the years. As you move upstairs, the information covers the military coup, civilian response, imposition of the constitution, military controls and media response. There’s also a sensitive area with information about imprisonments and crafts made by the inmates. This took place between 1973 and 1990. As you move upstairs the information is about the fight to gain peace. The museum is well organised and has a lot of information provided. The only issue is it isn’t in English. There are audio devices which are great, but do take 1.5 hours. There is no entrance fee.

img_8662

Sky Costanera at Constanera Center

Head to the Constanera Shopping centre for a huge amount of stores to get shopping done. There’s also plenty of eateries to keep you full. But don’t forget to head to the bottom floor, purchase your tickets and grab a lift to the top of the Sky Costanera tower for an incredible 360° view of Santiago. Seeing the whole city surrounded by the mountains is beautiful. This tower is the tallest building in South America. Visit on a clear day and you can head up until 9pm at night.

img_8636

img_8695

Valparaíso and Viña Del Mar – Turis Tours

Note: this tour company is most suitable for older people and those who don’t like a lot of walking. It’s mostly a bus tour.

TurisTours runs a range of Tours from Santiago. These include some to the Andes, Farellones Snow Park, Valle Nevado, Cajon del Maipo and El Yeso Dam, Vina del Mar and Valparaiso as well as wine tours and a general city tour. We selected the Vina Del Mar and Valparaiso tour for $36 000 CHP. We were collected at 8am for a 9 am tour. We drove around to pick up other guests and reached a central location where we all swapped buses for the relevant tour. Our bus was a small mini bus but there were larger ones depending on the tour.

img_8606 (1)

Our tour Included a bilingual guide. Most people were Spanish so he primarily spoke Spanish and translated for us. On the drive down the bus driver commentated on what we were passing with a lot of detailed knowledge. Unfortunately due to the public holiday, the winery was closed and we couldn’t visit it.

img_8581

This tour included a trip to Vina del Mar, known for its green surroundings and gardens in an urban city. There’s a visit to the famous Flower Clock. Take a photo and get back on the bus. The same at a few other spots like a beach and to see some sea lions.

img_e8577

We then drove through the city and were explained things. We would have liked a look around. We were taken to a restaurant and offered ala carte or the special “tour company” lunch. It was expensive so we chose to leave eat and at a cheaper excellent restaurant across the road at D’Lamari. We highly recommend doing this.

The bus travels along the pacific coast to Valparaiso, Chile’s main port. This city is also a heritage site selected by UNESCO. Here we stopped for some more photos. This was better as we did a 1 hour walk through the Multi-coloured neighbourhoods and caught the Furnicular down. We would have liked to look more here. There was the offer of a boat ride (which minimum 8 people needed to do) at an extra cost but our group weren’t keen. We had 30 minutes to look around and then headed back to the city and dropped at our hotel. Brochure said bus has wi fi, which it didn’t.

img_8601

We personally found this extremely expensive for what you get. We also found it pretty boring – it’s a bus tour. We would prefer to look around. So do your research to make sure it’s your thing. You can do this cheaper by catching a local bus, but we had limited time and felt like a tour was easiest for us. That said we wouldn’t book these sort of things again. The guide Martin was outstanding. Knowledgeable and funny.

Other

  • Fantastic views from Cerro San Cristobel. Just catch the funicular up from Bellavista. Note – there always seemed to be a massive line, so get there early.
  • A great spot for a viewpoint is Cerro Santa Lucia: a 15-20 min uphill walk for a 360 degree panoramic view of Santiago.
  • Plaza de armas (former city centre)
  • Catedral Metropoliatana de Santiago (Church)
  • Salsa dancing

If we had more time, we would have been keen to visit Easter Island or Southern Chile to Patagonia, but time did not allow it. Keen to revisit and do those things another time.

In Summation 

Unfortunately we only had a few days here, two of which fell on the public holidays (which meant practically everything was closed). We would say there’s a limited amount to do in Santiago, though we enjoyed the time there. We’d recommend 2 days, and a trip to Valparaiso and then head down to the Southern end of Chile.

The level of English in Chile is pretty good, it’s easy to get around with trains, buses and Uber.

The newly revamped Botany Bay Hotel

Botany Bay is iconic. It is the location of Captain Cook’s first landing. Since this time and the development of Australia, the area has seen a lot of buildings rise up in the area.

The Botany Bay hotel, close to the ports, was established in 1865 and known as one of the oldest hotels in the Eastern suburbs. Whilst it looks old from the outside, it has recently undergone renovations inside by the Publica group (known for Goldfish in the Hunter Valley and Henry’s in Cronulla).

IMG_5708

The stylish wood interior and light blue painting and menus is welcoming and the new outdoor beer garden is a great area to enjoy your dinner or socialise with friends over a few drinks.

26695014_10159899435350008_1712462565_o

The bar has plenty of beers of tap, a wide range of wines and they also do a good cocktail. I had a nice espresso martini as well as a wine or two. You can socialize with your friends at the public bar which has sports on TV, and Keno as well as sports bet. There’s also a pokies area.

The executive chef Raf Tonon has put together a lovely bistro menu with a great variety of food and a brand new pizza oven, preparing your pizzas outdoors in a shipping container.

IMG_E5721

From the entrees list they offer foods such as chicken wings, Haloumi, Calamari, Fried Polenta, croquettes as well as some Asian influences in the dumplings and Sang Choi Bao.

26539853_10159899431390008_1477566592_o

We ordered mains on this occasion and absolutely loved the gnocchi with confit cherry tomato, buffalo mozzarella and basil. It was extremely tasty and perfectly cooked gnocchi.

IMG_5726

We also selected a salad that was a picture of art on the plate. Our salad was the beetroot, quinoa, smoked goats curd, sorrel and burnt onion dressing. It was just delightful.

IMG_5723

If these options aren’t your fancy, there are burgers, fish and chips and steaks, just to name a few.

There’s also a woodfired pizza oven serving traditional pizzas made using the Italian method established in 1885. You can order these to eat in or takeaway. We watched these being made, and amazingly they came out in only 5 minutes, with a nice light dough and fresh toppings. We tried the Capricciosa with tomato sauce, mozzarella, mushroom, ham, olives and artichoke.

IMG_5729

26654942_10159899432395008_2022191630_o

They run weekly specials each night so keep an eye out for that, as well as happy hour and Karaoke on a Saturday night.

This has some top food and is perfectly suitable to any guests, including families. Certainly worth popping in for a visit.

Botany Bay Hotel 

1807 BOTANY ROAD, BANKSMEADOW, NSW, 2019, AUSTRALIA

Botany Bay Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Out and About @Cairns

Where to eat?

Waterbar and Restaurant

Located at the Marina Pier, this is a steakhouse selling different varieties and sizes of streaks. Its selling ribs and seafood, it is perfect if you’re hungry! I went for a 200g steak with baked potato and salad. You have to pay an extra $3.00 for sauce. The meat was good quality and perfectly cooked. The staff were fairly new and thus our waitress had difficulty taking the order and made a mistake or two, but is fair when people are starting out, so it didn’t really bother our experience.

Boatshed

A restaurant on the marina just by the Reef Terminal. Offering lunch specials for $22.50 with a drink or 2 courses and a drink for $35. Pretty good deal and the restaurant had good ambience. We just went for coffees which were great and service was friendly.

Tha Fish

This seafood restaurant is in the pier of the marina. There’s a number of restaurants along this pier, but this one was quite busy comparatively, so presuming that translates to it being good, we decided to go. Unfortunately it was full, but the lovely man said to put our name down and come back in 45 mins. We went for a drink and did just that.

The menu has starters, entrees, mains and a fish selection. We shared the whitebait, lightly dusted and was nice start to the evening. We all couldn’t go past the fish option where you select a fish and your choice of cooking. One of us got the trout, with a lovely Indian flavour which was the staff suggestion – incredible. I went for a barramundi which sat atop udon noodles in a broth and lotus chips, this had gentle flavours and a lovely combination. My friend also had the barramundi with a butter sauce and snow peas and potatoes. The fish was beautifully cooked and our dinner was outstanding. Staff were excellent, particularly the front of house who was extremely accommodating and friendly. The waitstaff were excellent and gave good suggestions. Prices are reasonable for seafood. Worth a visit.

IMG_3694

Prawn Star

Recommended by a friends, The Prawn star is a trawler that sells platters of fresh seafood; prawns, oysters, bugs, crayfish or combos. We got a plate of beautifully fresh tiger prawns and seafood sauce, as well as a glass of wine. A good option for your lunch or dinner as it is open until 8pm! Ranging from $25 – $80. You have to shell your own, but that’s part of the fun, right?

IMG_3527

Pier Hotel

Went here for food and drinks on a Friday night. It was pumping with customers of all ages. We had some wines and an amazing salted caramel espresso martini. One of the most amazing drinks was their ‘mini beer shot’, liquor topped with white chocolate. We also ordered food – the barramundi, a little lacking in flavour and presentation. The Caesar Wrap was excellent. Food wasn’t too pricy. They also had live music on Friday night.

IMG_3638

IMG_3639

Salt House

We Went here for a couple of drinks and tapas food. Happy Hour is good as drinks were $5 and the food was 2 for 1 plates. We tried the pull apart bread, tuna sashimi, squid and fried chicken. The food was all excellent. The location is great, just by the marina and they have Trivia on a Thursday and live music on Friday nights.

Where to get beautiful?

Honey

Honey is a place to get a tan, wax, or relax with a facial or masssage. I went for a 2-4 tan which was $30. It was extremely natural and gave a nice bronze colour. I also got an eyebrow shape and the staff member did an excellent job. The lady there was also extremely nice and helpful; giving me tips about what to do in Cairns.

What to do in Cairns?

Lagoon

In the main part of town along the esplanade is a lagoon where you can swim, as there is no beach or accessible ocean in this area, plus there could be crocodiles or dangerous jellyfish. The lagoon or fake beach is perfect for a swim to cool off.

IMG_3687

Active Living activities

The town offers free fitness activities which some gym equipment, yoga, rock climbing, aqua aerobics or box fit. I decided to do the box fit class which began at 6:30am. 15 minutes of a warm up which included sprints, push ups, burpees etc and then boxing combinations for the last 45 minutes. It was physically hard, but you can take it at your own pace. The instructor was knowledge and friendly and i’m impressed that Cairns council offers these activities for free.

IMG_3680

Bungee or Bungee Swing

If you’re an adrenalin junkie that wants something exciting and fun to do, make sure to check out AJ Hackett Cairns. At 140 m above sea level, and a 50m jump, you can take a bungee jump in the rainforest! Your jump can be taken in many ways; swan dive, water touch, titanic, backwards, tandem, jump off the roof, handstand or even off the roof with a BMX. Different levels to suit you the less kenmore experienced. It’s $179 for the jump and prices are less for extra jumps.

For those looking for something a bit different, they also offer the Minjin Swing, which 1,2 or 3 people can take. In a body harness, you are taken up high (higher than the bungee) and pull the cord which drops you for a few seconds and then you’re let swinging. It drops from 45m-1 metre in 3.5 seconds at speeds of up to 120km an hour and is for those seeking thrills! I did this with a friend and absolutely loved it. Scary as you’re rising, but exhilarating! Next time, real bungee for sure.

There’s purpose built platforms for friends and family to watch and a licensed bar selling drinks and some snacks. You can buy t-shirts or media footage to remember your experience.

The company pick you up and drop you home from Cairns or the Northern Beaches.

 

IMG_3513

Visit the Great Barrier Reef

Visit Cairns and Mossman Gorge

Seasonal menu @Mobius restaurant, Pullman Sydney Airport

We returned to Mobius Restaurant in the relatively new 5 star Pullman Sydney Airport. The Pullman is a premium hotel, under the Accor banner, offering the highest of standards. We were lucky enough to unwrap their shiny new spring menu and try some of the gorgeous food on offer.

Upon entering the hotel, you experience the high level of service offered by the Pullman and you are greeted by the charismatic concierge dressed in suit and tie. Once inside, take in the modern sophisticated styling and sleek lobby and bar, which is appropriate for an airport hotel, that offers convenience and a comfortable evironment for business to be conducted.

We are greeted by the lovely Tika and accompanied to Mobius restaurant, which is set to the right of the bar. Being open plan, the styling seamlessly flows from the lobby to the bar and onto the restaurant. Shorly after being seated, a glass of bubbly appears at the table, followed by the chef’s charcuterie and greetings. The waitstaff ever present, proactive in attending to any possible need. 

The starters are very on trend with a delicate and refined version of kingfish poke with black rice soy and wasabi dressing, which was delicate and as fancy as a 5 star hotel. There were also some beautifully prepared scallops. Sorry, spoiler alert: The scallops are actually king mushrooms. There would usually be disappointment as we have major love for some scallops but not on this occasion, as the mushroom scallops were exquisite with beautiful texture and full of flavour.

For mains there was substance and style displayed in the plating of the Crispy skin barramundi and octopus served with sqiuid ink risotto. The barramundi perfect, the skin so crisp. Equally perfect in preparation was the rangers valley black onyx steak with roasted tomatoes this was served with a basket of shoestring fries seasoned with black garlic and rosemary and had us going off like a pack of seagulls. The fries so good we ordered a second serving. The steak paired nicely with a glass of red.

We have a bit of an infatuation with the bombe alaska, it is always a show stopper. When that meringue mountain arrives at the table there is always a little anticipation which is followed by the excitemet of opening it up, to see what is inside. With everchanging flavours in Mobius’ Bombe Alaska, it can always be a surprise. This time it was a trio of flavours being passionfruit, coconut and matcha which hit the mark. There was also the dark chocolate soufflè always a crowd pleaser, thus was served with milk chocolate mousse with brownie soil and a white chocolate and macadamia ice cream sandwich. Enhace the dessert with a nice dessert wine.

An enjoyable dining experience from start to finish. Great service, food and ambiance. We will keep an eye out for the $20 express lunch, which will definitely get a run on a Friday. Thanks to Cecelia and the FCBA crew for arranging another great catch up. A huge thank you to Tika and the staff at the Pullman for the impeccable meal and service.

http://www.pullmansydneyairport.com.au/mascot-restaurants-bars/mobius-bar-grill-restaurant/

Mobius Bar & Grill - Pullman Sydney Airport Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato