Review: Pizza Gio Vending Machine, Chatswood

There were confused rumblings coming out of the food blogosphere last month, as a rumour started spreading about a pizza vending machine that had been installed in a shopping centre somewhere in Sydney. What madness is this?! Pizza from a vending machine? It’s against the laws of nature!

It’s true. It exists. I’ve been there, I’ve been a guinea pig, and I present to you today Pizza Gio – Sydney’s first pizza vending machine.

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Owned by the same people who run Pompeii’s pizza in Bondi, the Pizza Gio vending machine is located on Level 4 of Westfield Chatswood right next to the Boost Juice kiosk. It’s relatively compact and doesn’t immediately catch your eye – I noticed groups of shoppers walking past it before doing a double take and returning to look at it closer. No one seems keen to try it themselves though, and I ended up having a family watch me as I stepped up to place my order.

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I placed my order on a touchscreen in the middle of the vending machine, giving it a few seconds as the touchscreen wasn’t particularly responsive. Pizza Gio keeps the choices simple with either a Margherita pizza or a Salami pizza, both priced at $12 for an 11 inch pizza.

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After making my selection and putting in my payment (coins, notes, pay wave and credit cards all accepted), I stood back and waited for a mere three minutes while the aromas of baking pizza wafted out of the machine towards me. It’s all very enclosed and very secret though – you can’t see the oven at work. How great would it be if there was a little viewing window into the oven and you could see your pizza cooking?

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Before long, our Salami pizza slid out in a little cardboard box. We were confused as it appeared that there was no lid to the box, making the pizza difficult to transport, and then we realised that the top of the box is folded in on itself. Transportation is possible – you can take this pizza home!

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It’s not much to look at with three simple ingredients on a thin crusty base – tomato paste, mozzarella and salami. Sometimes it’s the simple things that are most satisfying though – K and I had actually just finished a gym session and ended up smashing the whole pizza between the two of us in under five minutes (gym session be damned!).

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It’s not bad as far as takeaway pizzas go. The base was surprisingly crisp, though not as charred as some may prefer in their thin-based pizzas. It’s also surprisingly fresh, given that it’s technically a reheated frozen pizza.

While Pizza Gio certainly isn’t going to be winning any top pizza awards, it more than measures up to any pizza stall in a shopping centre food court – which really, is what it’s competing against. It is a little bit pricey at $12…for that amount, I could buy three pre-made pizzas from the supermarket and just heat them up at home. It’s worth a try though, for novelty’s sake if nothing else!


Review: Pottery Green Bakery, Gordon

I’m really learning to appreciate some of the dining available in my area. Since I’ve started on my diet and exercise regime, I’ve been doing a lot of low-intensity walking around the suburbs near me and poking my head into each restaurant and shop. There’s a fantastic range of restaurants and cafes in the Middle North Shore of Sydney, all highly underrated and unknown by the foodie community!

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One morning, I walk up to Gordon for breakfast with K. We’ve been past Pottery Green Bakery a few times, and have always been impressed with the popularity of the cafe. Inevitably, there’s always a crowd of people either waiting for a takeaway coffee or for a table. We join the crowd on this day, and surprisingly manage to get a table within five minutes!

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Pottery Green is decked out in that faux-industrial look that’s so popular right now. With little touches like water being served in a Patron bottle and the table sugar in a Chambord bottle, there’s just little quirks that make the experience of dining at Pottery Green just that little bit more special.

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Cappuccino, $3.50

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Hot Chocolate, $4

K and I both order hot drinks to help us warm up given the recent cold spell in Sydney. His cappuccino is made with Toby’s Estate beans, and my Belgian hot chocolate is deliciously creamy with two sweet marshmallows on the side to dunk into the hot chocolate and melt. For an indulgence like this, I’ll forget my dairy-free diet!

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Salmon and scrambled egg baguette, $11

In the interest of trying a bit of everything, we order a few things to share. We choose one of the few breakfast baguettes on offer – a salmon and scrambled egg combination. The creamy and soft scrambled eggs are the perfect accompaniment to the salty smoked salmon, and the crusty baguette adds a satisfying crunch every time you take a bite out of this delicious breakfast roll.

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Ham and cheese croissant, $6

Next, we share a simple ham and cheese croissant. The croissant is perfectly flaky and buttery, leaving smears of butter over my fingers that I lick off with delight. The ham and cheese are also top-of-the-range, and add to the overall decadentness of the dish.

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Walnut tart, $4.50

As we walked into the cafe, my eye was caught by the various tarts and pastries that lined the glass cases out the front. I decided that we needed a treat, especially as we had walked to breakfast, so technically we were at negative kilojoules or something like that…right? Anyway, I chose what I hoped would be a slightly healthier choice (nuts!) than the sweet and sticky slices and cakes that were also available. The deliciously sticky walnut tart was literally just caramelised whole walnuts piled high on a tart case…simple, yet surprisingly effective and tasty! With this good experience, I’m keen to try the other pastries and sweets at Pottery Green.

At under $30 for a large and hearty breakfast with drinks for the two of us, you really can’t fault the value at Pottery Green Bakers. We’ll definitely be back – next time for lunch perhaps, so that we can sample their famous Vietnamese pho!

Pottery Green Bakers on Urbanspoon


Review: The Moody Chef, Crows Nest

Crows Nest has its fair share of pricey cafes, but one of the better ones is The Moody Chef, located closer towards St Leonards station than the popular Willoughby Road. If you want a table for lunch during the week, you better be prepared to either arrive before 12pm or to sit outside, as most tables are booked out by local business people for their working lunches! It’s no surprise it’s so popular though – the decor is warm and inviting with featured bright green decor, and the quality of the food is pretty darn good!

In contrast to my usual habit of brown-bagging my lunch every day, I’ve actually been to Moody Chef twice in recent months – once to meet my friend April who was visiting from Brisbane, and once as a “get to know you” lunch with a new colleague.

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Salmon and Avocado Delight (substituted out cream cheese for a sliced tomato), $19.90

For my first lunch date, I ordered the salmon and avocado delight, but requested that the kitchen substitute the cream cheese for an alternative. From the way the waitress handled my request, you’d think that I was asking for something completely out of the ordinary – she was really confused by the concept of having salmon without having cream cheese! I finally managed to convince her that I was serious though, and suggested that they give me a sliced tomato instead.

It turned out well in the end, and I found the amount of avocado and salmon on the plate so filling that I didn’t even end up eating the toast it was presented on. The salad underneath the toast was well dressed as well, with the rocket adding a peppery punch to the meal.

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Veggie frittata

On my second lunch date, my new colleague ordered the lunch special of the veggie frittata, prettily presented with a big dollop of beetroot relish and shavings of parmesan. The layers of the frittata were just beautiful as well, and apparently the medley of health vegetable flavour worked really well.

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Grilled chicken burger (about $20)

I chose a much unhealthier option, and had the grilled chicken burger with thick hand-cut chips. Because the burger was so large, I actually ended up not eating any of the bun at all, and had the chicken patty and the salad (rocket, avocado, sundried tomatoes and more) in a deconstructed style with the chips. The salad was really well done and fresh, and the chicken was grilled well and not too dry either, which I often find with chicken breast.

Overall, while I really enjoyed the food at The Moody Chef (fresh produce and great flavours), it really is quite pricey for a regular workday lunch. If I was to pay $20 per day for lunch, I’d be broke before my next pay comes in! For the occasional special occasion, or when you use an Entertainment Book voucher (25% off the total bill), it’s a really nice treat.

The Moody Chef on Urbanspoon