This year, as part of Sydney’s famous Vivid Light Show, Chatswood was transformed into a steampunk retro-futuristic city. As part of the festival, three venues created special menu items to tie into the steampunk theme. We were invited to try out these once-off items by Willoughby Council.
Our first stop was Orchard Tavern, at the top of the stairs leading from Chatswood’s train/bus interchange towards the mall. As you would expect on a Friday night, the tavern was full and the staff were quite busy. Unfortunately there was a bit of a mix up when we showed up which meant we had a difficult time communicating that we had been invited. A rather awkward start to the evening.
The Garden Salad consisted of spinach, spanish onion, quinoa, cherry tomatoes, pine nuts and vinaigrette. This salad just seemed really plain to us. There was nothing special about the salad at all.
The main event at Orchard Tavern was the Vivid Burger. The burger was a stack of crispy skin pork belly, bacon, pulled pork, peri peri mayo, swiss cheese and rocket on a charcoal bun. Though it looked impressive, it was underwhelming. The pork tasted slightly off and the charcoal bun gave the burger a strange taste. I wouldn’t order this again, especially not for the $22 asking price. The chips were great, though.
Our next stop was The Choc Pot on Level 3 of The District in the Interchange, directly above the train station. We loved how bright and open the shop is and our appetites were whetted just looking at the staff work behind the counter making delicious chocolate treats.
The Red Velvet Hot Chocolate looked beautiful when it came out. The eye is immediately drawn to the bright red and white foam flame design. The drink is made with Jersey milk and a mix of dark and milk Belgian chocolate topped with a cream cheese whipped cream. It was like drinking a cake in a cup and, in our opinion, one of the best Red Velvet Hot Chocolates we’ve ever tasted.
We’re very familiar with bubble tea here at Sydney Tum Tum so when we saw the Hot Chocolate with Crunchy Pearls, we had to try it. I loved the idea of Jersey milk with Belgian milk chocolate served with these chocolate covered biscuit balls. When I tasted it, I loved it even more! It was great that they served the balls separately but even when you pour them into the hot chocolate, the chocolate coating keeps them crunchy. This drink is definitely recommended.
The Choc Pot’s special Vivid item was the S’mores Mocha Ice Cream Sandwich. It was vanilla bean ice cream sandwiched between baked mocha cake on a bed of powdered honeycomb topped with, yes, that is a chocolate bolt. The Choc Pot took the steam punk theme and ran with it and the result was absolutely delicious! I would love to order this again. The ice cream had a strong, delicious vanilla flavour that perfectly complemented the flavour of the baked mocha cake. We loved the crunchy honeycomb with the brownie-like consistency of the baked mocha cake too.
Halfway between a waffle and doughnut, the Honeycrumb Waffnut was our second dessert at The Choc Pot. Honey and cinnamon “waffnuts” served with rock salt ice cream, topped with biscuit crumbs, Belgian chocolate and a waffle cone top hat, this dessert was absolutely decadent. The sweet and salty ice cream went well with the warm waffnuts and I found the waffle cone top hat very cute.
Our final stop of the night was at Passion Tree on the same level of the District. When we walked in, we were greeted by the very friendly and conversational Jerry. He was only too keen to help us with our choice of the special Vivid hot chocolates he had devised.
We were struck by how colourful and beautiful the display of cakes and macarons were. We wanted to taste all of them!
We decided to try the White Rose and Mint Delight hot chocolates. To be fair to Passion Tree, we were full up on sugar from The Choc Pot but nevertheless, we forged on. We found the hot chocolates to be a bit on the sweet side. The White Rose was ok and was topped with packaged Turkish Delight but we couldn’t finish the Mint Delight. The flavour combination reminded us of spearmint toothpaste and was a bit unpleasant to drink. Unfortunate because I got along really well with owner Jerry. I’d like to come back to sample their regular menu.
It was a lot of fun running around Chatswood and seeing how a few of the eateries in the area took up the Vivid theme and what they came up with. Thanks to Willoughby Council for inviting us. I can’t wait to see what next year is like!
Sydney Tum Tum was invited as a guest of Willoughby Council