Curry Vault, Melbourne, Australia

It had been a little while since I’d been to the Curry Vault in Bank Place but having seen an episode of the Travel Channel show Food Paradise International (episode Hot & Spicy Paradise 2) that featured the Curry Vault’s Lamb Vindaloo I decided that I had to visit again.

The publicity must have worked as at dinner time on this Monday public holiday there were a fair few people already enjoying their meals when we arrived.

I mentioned the TV show when I ordered our beers and soon the owner was at our table talking with us about the show and the lamb vindaloo that was the topic of the show.

While I like spicy food, it can’t be over the top stupidly spicy. Luckily the lamb vindaloo can be ordered in a number of intensities. There was no way I was going to try what they had cooked on the show, so we went for a mild version.

Along with the vindaloo we ordered onion bhaji for starters and a chilli chicken for a 2nd main. We also got a couple of servings of rice and garlic naan.

The onion bhaji, and complimentary poppadoms, were dispatched is record time and then out came the mains. The smells of the spices were sublime and it was with trepidation that I tasted the vindaloo expecting my tongue to recoil in horror. I was pleasantly surprised by the mild spiciness and overall great taste.

The chilli chicken was mild as well which made for a great meal that you could actually taste rather than just assaulting your taste buds.

One starter, two mains, two naans and rice were just the perfect size for the 2 of us.

Curry Vault would have to be one of the better Indian Restaurants in Melbourne. If you are in the CBD then you should have a meal.

Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney, Australia

I’d attended a seminar at the Sydney Shangri-La before but never had the opportunity to stay here.

It’s in a sort of weird location right at the corner of the Cahill Expressway and the southern approach to the Sydney Harbour Bridge. So close that my room window allowed me to almost look across the bridge in it’s entirety.

Upon entering the hotel you’re welcomed by a bright, marble reception area with a lobby lounge to the left and reception to the right. Checking in was fast and painless and I was off to my room in about 5 minutes.

In many hotels the corridors are cramped and claustrophobic. But here they are expansive. Probably the widest I’ve seen in any hotel recently. No filthy carpet like the Hyatt Regency either :).

The room was large by comparison to the Marriott and the InterContinental. I had a view of the Harbour Bridge and Circular Quay from my sixth floor room.

For drinks we headed upto Blu Bar on level 36 which offers absolutely magnificent panoramic views of Sydney. Drinks were standard hotel prices but the view means you’ll forget getting gouged.

The bed and pillows were some of the most comfortable I’d had in quite a while but that’s expected of a 5 star hotel.

Bathroom was large and had a separate bath and shower which you don’t see that often anymore.

Despite my room being on a low floor and being so close to 2 majorly busy roads there was no problem with noise.

Superb hotel!

Pier One Sydney Harbour, Sydney, Australia

This is a little out of the way gem of a hotel on Sydney Harbour. This hotel is built on one of Sydney’s old piers and uses the rustic form of the pier in the design of the building.

The rooms are on the largish side and with soaring ceilings. My room had a huge beam as a central feaure that supported the upper floor of the original pier along with the intricate metal work that connected the beams together. It looked pretty impressive I must say.

Outside the front door of the hotel is the south supporting column of the Sydney Hardbour Bridge along with the extensive stone work that supports the approach road of the bridge.

Foodwise I couldn’t be bothered leaving the hotel and I had 4 meals at the hotel restaurant, The Gantry.

The dinner menu was small but had quality.

On my first evening I had the pheasant, and on the second the wagyu steak – both cooked to perfection. I would eat these dishes any day!

I also had breakfast at the hotel each morning as there was a special on that gave me free breakfast with the corporate rate.

My only beef with the restaurant is the consistent errors they made on the bills! When eating in the hotel I always have the total put on my hotel bill, makes it easier for me as I only have one bill to worry about at the end.

What were the problems?

Even though I charged my dinners to my room account I found out that they had added a credit card surcharge to the dinner bills before they added it to my room account. I noticed something was wrong when I was checking out as the restaurant bills weren’t round numbers. If I hadn’t noticed I would have been paying a credit charge surcharge twice for my dinners, and also paying a credit card surcharge on the¬†credit card surcharge.

Secondly, even though I showed the discount card for the free breakfast to the wait staff they didn’t record it and still charged me for breakfast. I also bought this up at checkout and the charges were removed.

So a great hotel, a splendid restaurant menu…. just make sure you check your bill before you checkout so you don’t pay more than you should.

Alfredo’s Restaurant, Sydney, Australia

In the laneway next to the Sydney Harbour Marriott is Alfredo’s Restaurant.

The quality of the food here is superb.

I ordered the bruschetta which tasted fresh and refreshing on soft fluffy bread – a great starter dish.

For my main I ordered the large pheasant ravioli which would have to be one of the best dishes I’ve eaten this year – I could have ordered a second one it was just so good.

For desert I had to order the tiramisu, as I try to do in most Italian restaurants, and it too was perfect.

Foodwise, a great restaurant.

What wasn’t so good was the service. Rather than look after their customers the staff just chatted away between themselves, or started cleaning around the bar area totally ignoring that customer were waiting to be served.

While the food was spectacular the quality of the service was probably bad enough that I won’t be returning.

Beer Deluxe, Sydney, Australia

At 7:30pm on a balmy Wednesday evening Beer Deluxe was heaving. Most of the tables were taken, luckily we were able to grab one of the very few empty tables.

On Wednesday’s they do a chicken schnitzel and a beer special for $18… the portion wasn’t overly generous, I commented it looked more like a kiddies meal.

I didn’t choose the special ¬†instead I ordered the Pizza Deluxe which was very good and could have done as a main course on its own.

I also ordered a Chorizo, Chive and Cheese Bread which was a bread roll that had been sliced 80% of the way through and a cheese and chorizo mixture was spread on the slices. This was then warmed up. However, I’m going to hazard a guess that these are prepped earlier and popped in a very cool fridge, or even a freezer, and when they heated this to serve me the crust of the bun became warm, but the cheese and chorizo mixture was still cold, and was as hard as a rock. Very disappointed with this dish.

My choice of beer was much better – choosing a Sierra Nevada Sidecar Orange Pale Ale.

Overall you can’t go wrong with the beers here – but YMMV foodwise though.