Review: Belmontes Gourmet Pizza, Gordon (via Menulog)

A few weeks ago, I was chatting with some colleagues about what we did on the weekend. “Oh, I had some friends randomly drop over on Sunday afternoon and they ended up staying for dinner,” I said casually. He was flabbergasted. “They just dropped by? With no warning? I would freak out…I always plan dinner parties weeks in advance, and I’m always so stressed about what to serve everyone”.

Once again, I was reminded how entertaining at home can be stressful, rather than enjoyable for many people. Luckily our fridge and freezer is always well-stocked – whether it’s quickly throwing together a pan of roast vegetables and grilling some chops, or cooking a big pot of dumplings, we always have enough food to feed whoever drops by at a moment’s notice. On the rare occasion when I still want to have people over but not spend time cooking, I always think that sharing some takeaway is nice as well. That’s where Menulog comes in!

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I was recently given the chance to try out Menulog, an online hub for ordering home delivered meals, and decided to take the opportunity on a night that we were entertaining four other people. As soon as you get onto the website, it’s super easy to put in your location, so that you find the food options closest to you.

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Once you find the restaurants close to you that offer home delivery, you can narrow down your search if you know what you want. In this case, we wanted pizza – it was a pizza, beers and board games kind of a night! Given the state of our rumbling stomachs, we choose to go with Belmontes Gourmet Pizza in Gordon, as they’re rated 7.7/10 for speed of delivery.

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We go through and start ordering a number of pizzas. It’s just as easy as ordering over the phone or over the counter with multiple size options available, and the opportunity to add or remove ingredients on individual pizzas.

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Once we make our choice, we go to submit our order, putting in the voucher code that I was provided. It’s super easy, and we’re offered several options including Cash on Delivery, Paypal and Credit Cards. I opt for Paypal – I always feel more secure paying online using Paypal!

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A quick redirect to and from the Paypal website, and in less than five minutes from when we started placing our order, I’m shown the confirmation page. It’s very easy, and we end up only waiting around half an hour until our pizza is delivered – amazingly quickly considering that it’s a Friday night! I was also impressed by how easily the delivery driver found us – our apartment can be difficult to get to, but he had no issues at all, and we didn’t have to go wandering down the street to find him.

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Bruschetta Pizza, $11 (Large)

We ordered a simple bruschetta pizza to start. Why is it that sometimes the simplest pizzas taste the best? The simple combination of tomato and cheese with a sprinkling of basil was a real winner.

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Meat Lovers, $23.90 (Family size)

One of the boys insisted that we get a Meat Lovers…and not just any Meat Lovers, but the largest family sized Meat Lovers! I think he ended up regretting it when he realised how big the family size actually was. With the plentiful ingredients piled on top, it certainly made for a hearty slice of pizza.

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Barbados, $19.90 (Large)

I enjoyed the Barbados chicken pizza. I always think that chicken and avocado is an excellent combination, and it made for a lighter and seemingly healthier pizza without the sticky fried mouthfeel that you can get with other pizzas.

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Tuscany, $21.90 (Large)

The seafood Tuscany pizza was done extremely well. Octopus on pizza can be a bit hit or miss with many places overcooking the octopus to a rubbery death. Happily, that wasn’t the case with this pizza!

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Roasted Vegetarian, $19.90 (Large)

Hoping to add some vegetables to our order, we ordered the Roast Vegetarian pizza. Disappointingly, it didn’t provide the healthier option that I was hoping for, as I found many of the ingredients to be on the over-salty side, resulting in slices of pizza that left you gulping down a glass of water.

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Cheese and Garlic, FREE (Large)

We were surprised to receive this gift from Belmontes of a free large Cheese and Garlic pizza. As the delivery driver said “The boss threw in a free garlic pizza for your party because of your large order”. It was very generous, and just one of those little touches that helps ensure that your customers have positive memories of their experience with you that keep them coming back for me. We certainly appreciated it, and Belmontes will probably be one of our top options next time we want to order pizza!

…Needless to say, we ordered way too much for six people, and there was the equivalent of three full pizzas left by the end of the night. Luckily, leftover pizza makes for a great breakfast the next day!

I found using Menulog to order food online extremely easy to use, and a great option for feeding the masses at the impromptu gatherings that we tend to hold at our house. Next time we use it, Belmontes Gourmet Pizza will definitely be one of our first choices!

Gourmanda received a credit from Menulog towards the purchase of this meal. The remaining cost of the meal was self-paid.


Chatswood Dumpling Crawl: New Shanghai, Shanghai Stories 1938 and Din Tai Fung

I take things to the extreme. My reactions to things are always over the top (according to my friends anyway…), with some of my favourite exclamations being “That’s RIDICULOUS!” and “That’s INCREDIBLE”. Nothing is ever done by halves…and in this case, I certainly take dumpling eating very seriously as something to be done properly. With the recent opening of Din Tai Fung in Westfield Chatswood, I headed off on a small ‘dumpling crawl’ of Chatswood with five friends.

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We started off at New Shanghai in Chatswood Chase. Prior to the opening of Din Tai Fung, New Shanghai was always my ‘go to’ option for delicious xiao long bao. The six of us ended up waiting around for half an hour for a table at 12pm on a Saturday – which isn’t bad by any means!

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Dishes ordered at New Shanghai, Chatswood Chase

Conscious that we had a few stops to go, we ordered just three dishes between the six of us:

  1. New Shanghai Xiao Long Bao – Steamed mini pork bun (8pcs), $7.80
  2. Deep fried tofu coated with salted egg yolk, $16.80
  3. Prawn wonton tossed with peanut butter, red chilli oil & spice (10pcs), $14.80

The highlights here were the xiao long bao (traditionally the best in Chatswood!), and the tofu with egg yolk. The tofu was just deep fried to perfection, with a crisp skin, and soft centre. The peanut and chilli sauce with the other dumplings was delicious as well.

Conclusion - you can always count on New Shanghai for delicious food at a reasonable price. There’s a reason why it’s one of the most popular restaurants in Chatswood and always has a queue!

New Shanghai Chinese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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Our next stop was Shanghai Stories 1938, located in the (semi-)newly developed Chatswood Concourse area on Victoria Avenue. With only a short five minute wait, the six of us were shown up to their only spare table…a round table set for twelve people. Well…if we must sit a bit spread out, we will!

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Dishes ordered at Shanghai Stories 1938, Chatswood Concourse

Completely disregarding our earlier decision to be careful about what we ordered, we went all out here and ordered their recommended four dumpling specials:

  1. Pan fried Pork Bun, $9.80
  2. Pork and Chive Dumpling, $9.80
  3. Shanghai Xiao Long Bao, $9.80
  4. Wonton in Red Chilli Oil Sauce, $9.80
  5. …and just for good measure, we also ordered the Grilled Onion Pancake, $7.80

In hindsight, we ordered too much. Way too much. The highlight here was the pan fried pork buns – the ones with the cute Caution flag stuck in them! With a soft pillowy bun top, and a crispy fried bottom with hot porky soup inside, these pork buns just had everything going for them. The xiao long bao were a little disappointing though, with skin that was much thicker than it should have been.

Conclusion – the rest of the menu at Shanghai Stories 1938 offers a more modern take on Shanghainese food than you will find at New Shanghai (ironically), but in terms of the overall quality of food, New Shanghai still takes the crown. There’s good value for money here though, with most dishes being extremely reasonably priced.

Shanghai Stories 1938 on Urbanspoon

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Our last stop for the day was the new Din Tai Fung in Westfield Chatswood, opened in April 2014. As K and I go to Chatswood every week to do our grocery shopping, we had had plenty of opportunity to check out Din Tai Fung but had bypassed it every time as we were scared off by the mile-long queue! Its popularity hadn’t diminished by the time our group got there, but thankfully as we showed up late in the afternoon, we had managed to miss the worst of the lunch crowds, and beaten the pre-dinner crowds.

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Dishes ordered at Din Tai Fung, Westfield Chatswood

I’d hate to say we went overboard here but we did end up ordering:

  1. Xiao Long Bao, $10.80
  2. Black truffle Xiao Long Bao, $4.80 each
  3. Snake beans with pork mince and chilli, $12.80
  4. Dan-dan noodles
  5. Cold soy milk for everyone
  6. Mango pudding for everyone

The general consensus from everyone around the table was that the black truffle xiao long bao was the mind-blowing dish of the day. It came out quite a bit later than everything else we ordered, but when you consider the care you must need to take in creating a work of art like this, it’s completely understandable. The aroma of the truffles fills the air as soon as you take the lid off the steamer basket, and the earthy and pungent tones that it lends to the pork soup in the xiao long bao is simply sensational. It’s a real treat, and at $4.80 each, is probably one of the cheapest ways of enjoying truffles!

Conclusion – Din Tai Fung is really the undisputed king of well-made xiao long bao with absolute precision in the thickness of the skin and the tastiness of the soup. They’ve turned an art into a science. They are on the pricier side though, and if you were to feed a family of four here at Din Tai Fung, you might find yourself walking away with a bill of $100, instead of an equivalent meal costing you only $75 at New Shanghai.

Din Tai Fung on Urbanspoon

In the future, I think I’ll stick with New Shanghai for my regular fix of wallet-friendly xiao long bao and only brave the long queues at Din Tai Fung when I’m in need of ‘special’ xiao long bao with truffles and other cool ingredients!


Launch of Mordeo Bistro & Bar, Sydney

I’m not going to lie – Southern European isn’t generally a cuisine that grabs me and insists that I partake of its delights. I grew up on Chinese food, and other regional variations, and that’s what I naturally gravitate towards. My late mum’s version of a pasta was home-brand spaghetti mixed with some mince and frozen vegetables. Heck, my own current fast version of a pasta is spaghetti with mince and frozen vegetables! I really just haven’t had the opportunity to try Southern European cuisine beyond the usual spaghetti bolognaise and lamb kebabs, so my interest in the region’s cuisine was never really piqued.

With my recent visit to Mordeo Bistro & Bar though, I would say this has all changed! K and I were recently invited to attend the launch of this new restaurant in the heart of the Sydney CBD, and treated to an evening of music, drinks, and delicious food.

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Located in the Assembly of Deutsche bank place, Mordeo is perfectly situated for those after work drinks for anyone working in the city – from suits to creative types. The giant lampshades that mark its presence are eye-catching – you definitely can’t miss it! The space is surprisingly warm as well, despite the open-air location.

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Slow cooked Octopus Carpaccio with split green beans and chorizo sausage

Starting with a slightly healthier option, we try the octopus carpaccio with split green beans and chorizo. The octopus is sliced so thinly that it’s almost translucent, and cooked to perfection. There’s no rubbery octopus served at Mordeo!

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BBQ lamb ribs with Pedro Ximenez

Moving onto a slightly less healthy option, I simply fall upon the BBQ lamb ribs with Pedro Ximenez. The lamb is incredibly tender and simply falls apart almost as soon as you pick up the rib. The sticky sweet marinade is just melt-in-your-mouth goodness.

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Squid ink Gnocchi with truffle salumi

The squid ink gnocchi was extremely simple, and the soft gnocchi texture worked really well with the extremely flavourful truffle notes in the salumi.

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Grilled quail with caramelised red onion salsa

The quail was excellent – I often find it hard to eat quail because it’s so small and fiddly, but this quail was prepared beautifully and grilled to melt-in-your-mouth perfection.

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Chicken Ballotine with pearl barley, spinach and a hazelnut salad

The chicken ballotine was tender and tasty, with the pearl barley adding a special something to the mouthful. The creamy spinach wasn’t bad either!

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Pea risotto with sage and Iberico Jamon

I personally really liked the pea risotto, which I found had a really fresh mouth-feel by itself but an extra salty burst when combined with the jamon. This is something I want to try and replicate at home!

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Catalana

We tried the Catalana, a Spanish-style creme caramel. As K’s favourite dessert is creme caramel, I bet you can expect how wel this went down! We ended up going back for seconds.

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Loukoumadis

My favourite dessert was the Loukoumadis though, a Greek-style donut. Soaked in honey and topped with icing sugar, these little fried doughnuts are dangerously more-ish.

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Trio of cocktails:

Keen to try some of the cocktails listed, K flags down one of the wait staff on the evening who obligingly gives us all three to try.

  1. Red wolf – white wolf cream ale with Campari, Antica formula red vermouth and a blood orange foam
  2. Jamon and chargrilled pineapple sazerac with a jamon and sage crisp – Jamon and Pedro Ximenez butter washed Hennessey vsop with a chargrilled pineapple shrub and pechauds bitters
  3. Cold drip spiced rum old fashioned – Kracken spiced rum, cold drip single origin coffee, cold drip syrup, angostura bitters with a twist of orange

I’m not drinking very much at the moment, but I’d say that my personal favourite was the red wolf – the blood orange foam really topped off the drink. K preferred the smokiness of the pineapple and jamon cocktail…can you blame him?!

We’ll certainly be back to Mordeo – and in fact, their weekly Friday banquets caught my eye! For only $35 per person, you can have a “Chefs Pick” all you can eat feast…now that’s the type of dining experience that convinces me to give Southern European cuisine a try!

Mordeo Bistro and Bar on Urbanspoon

Gourmanda attended the official launch of Mordeo Bistro and Bar as a guest of Pendulum Communications.