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The Baron in Castle Hill is like a breath of fresh air in the area. Good to see a place with a bit of character!

The Place

The Baron - outside

The Baron is on the outside of Castle Towers, across from the park. It’s open for breakfast and lunch every day, closing most days at 4pm, except Thursday and Friday, when it stays open for dinner and into the evening.

The Baron - inside

The industrial /retro decor looks more like Surry Hills than Castle Hill.  A pleasant change.

The Baron

The Baron - noticeboard

The Baron - counter

Menu

Here’s the current lunch menu – it changes regularly.

The Baron - menu

Good food with fresh ingredients, with a variety of options sure to suit any appetite.

Following is one side of the drinks menu.  They are also licensed, so can offer some good beers, and other alcoholic drinks, or add shots of spirits to affogato or the iced tea.

The Baron - Drinks

Food

The first time I tried out food at The Baron, I had the “new southern pulled pork roll”, which is slow braised bourbon and coke pork with a creamy red cabbage slaw:
The Baron - pulled pork

That was enough to fall in love with the place.  The sweet bourbon flavours with the pork were gorgeous, accented perfectly with the slaw.  I’d happily keep going back to keep on eating this!

On my second visit I had the Ploughmans Lunch: a selection of cured meats, cheese, fresh fruit ‘n nuts and chutney.

The Baron - Ploughmans

On the board was salami, jamon, goats cheese, apple, walnuts, a tomato-based chutney, and half a dozen light wafer crackers.  While each of the elements were quality, full of wonderful flavours, just having a few light wafers was not satisfying enough for lunch.  I would have preferred a few slices of sourdough with it, and then it would have been closer to perfection.

I had to go back and prove that my original view of the cafe was correct, and this time tried the Mexican Chicken Salad: coriander, chilli, chicken, with corn, radish, cucumber & buttermilk jalapeños dressing.
The Baron - mexican chicken

As I went back to look at the salad description, I realized that I didn’t notice any coriander in there, but didn’t miss it because all the rest was so good.  The chicken was tender. There was a lot of freshly cooked corn, so it still had the crisp outside to the kernels and sweet juicy insides.  The lettuce was primarily curly endive, with a few leaves of other lettuces in there.  The cucumber and radish added more texture to the salad.  The buttermilk dressing was creamy, with black pepper adding the occasional kick.

I’m not sure why it was called a Mexican salad. It did have corn, and a lime wedge.  Maybe if there was more chilli and coriander it would seem more Mexican.

It was a tasty dish, thoroughly devoured.  I was glad I returned.

Drinks

One of the things I love at The Baron is the cold-brewed coffee, served with a huge ice-cube, so that it stays cold without watering down the coffee.
The Baron - cold brewed coffee

The hot black coffee is also good. I wish this photo showed the steam rising from the coffee, which was particularly hot.
The Baron - coffee

The Baron also offers an iced tea with citrus and mint. A refreshing drink.

The Baron - citrus and mint iced tea

On Reflection

Despite some little imperfections I’ll still keep on going back to The Baron, because it’s interesting food, in a funky environment, and easily accessible. The pricing is reasonable.

A new menu is going to be released next weekend, and I’m sure there will be more good things. And then there is breakfast and the dinner menus to try.

It’s good to see people doing something different, and providing tasty food with quality, fresh ingredients.

Details

Here are the details about The Baron at time of posting. Please check their web site for more current details.

Web site / Facebook http://www.whoisthebaron.com/ / https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Baron-your-local/223535157704991
Address Shop 461, 4-16 Castle St, Castle Hill, NSW 2154
Phone 0401 498 877
Open Monday – Wednesday 7:30am – 4pm
Thursday & Friday 7:30am – 11pm
Saturday & Sunday 7:30am – 4pm
Menu Breakfast / Lunch: $5-16
Dinner: Around $11-30
See the menu for more details.
The Baron on Urbanspoon

 

Where is your favourite industrial-feel cafe?

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On the weekend I was honoured to be part of a celebration of a friend’s mother’s (Mrs C) big birthday. Mrs C has been part of my life since early high school days, more years than I care to remember.

We dined at Mr Chow’s Peking Restaurant, in the Rocks, in the area close to Hickson Road. It’s upstairs at the Captain Cook Hotel.  Mr Chow’s does have food from a variety of regions in China, but it specializes in northern Chinese cuisine, which is why we were there, for Mrs C, originally from Shanghai.

The people there were a collection of family and friends. Much laughter. Much discussion about good food. And then there was much eating of great food.

What We Ate

Dish after dish kept on arriving from the kitchen, so much that the last few dishes ordered had to be cancelled. Several of the dishes were ordered beforehand, so they could be specially cooked for us. So here’s what we ate:

Shallot Pancakes

Shallot Pancakes
The shallot pancakes are flaky pastry discs, fried until golden in colour. The crispy, crunchy pancake exterior holds in the tasty shallots.

Jellyfish and Assorted Seafood Combination Vegetable and Cold Noodles with Mustard Sauce

This next one was a surprise in that on first bite we discovered that it was cold! It was a mountain of noodles on a mound of veggies, such as cucumber, on another mound of seafood, including prawns, scallops, jellyfish, and who knows what else, with a mustard sauce. All that seafood felt luxurious, with a marvellous array of textures.
Jellyfish and Assorted Seafood Combination Vegetable and Cold Noodles with Mustard Sauce

Peking Fried Egg Rolls?

After eating the food, I’m now trying to match up what we ate with the official name on the menu, but as some things were specially ordered this is a challenge. This was a roll with shredded veggies inside. The roll was made with a pastry with layers and layers, soft and flaky. Inside that was finely shredded vegetables, including carrot, bean sprouts. Tasty.
Mr Chow's Rolls

Dumplings

There were two versions of these dumplings, both with green vegetables, and one with prawns.
Mr Chow's Dumplings

And then we had some gorgeous soup dumplings:
Mr Chow's Soup Dumplings

Love it when the soup just oozes out and it’s so moist. Then a special order was delivered, beef dumplings with lots of coriander, giving it a light, fresh taste.
Mr Chow's Beef Dumplings

Peking Duck

Now, the waiter brought out the tea-smoked duck, one of the specialties of Mr Chow’s, tearing it up in pieces in readiness for us to eat with the pancakes, with scallions, cucumber, and hoisin sauce.
Mr Chow's Peking Duck

Mr Chow's Peking Duck

The pancakes were light. And the duck! Wow. Somehow it’s cooked so that it’s not fatty, but just a rich flavour.  The skin and many of the smaller bones were so crispy that they were crunchy. Oh so good.  That was quickly devoured, leaving just the bigger bones.

Wonton Soup

The wonton soup had been cooked in a pot, with a whole chicken, a variety of elements added to bring flavour, such as cabbage, and goji berries .  Slurping the soup was like being in heaven.  The ultimate comfort food dish.

This was another dish ordered ahead of time, because it would have been cooked slowly over a long time.

Mr Chow's Wonton Soup

Salted Egg Yolk Prawns

Next was delivered a plate with more huge prawns, deep fried in a light batter (similar to tempura but crunchier), with salted egg yolks.  They had that lovely salty, eggy, taste, without it overwhelming the prawns.

Mr Chow's Salted Egg Prawns

Peking Shredded Beef

The southern China version of this dish is quite sweet, made with a sweet and sour sauce.  This northern China version was similar, but more savoury, saltier.  It still had the deep-fried shredded beef, shredded carrot and other shredded vegetables (daikon?).  The sauce included just enough chilli to add another layer of flavour without making it too spicy.  I believe it’s made with hoisin sauce, mirin, tomato sauce and some brown sugar, only enough for adding complexity to the flavour, not sweet.

Mr Chow's Beef

Longevity Soup

Several more dishes had been ordered, but as the eating had slowed right down, they were cancelled. There was one more dish we had to have, though, in celebration of Mrs C’s birthday, a longevity soup.  Of course everything in there was long: noodles, shredded chicken, finely diced long veggies, bean sprouts.  This had a delicate, gentle flavour.

Mr Chow's Longevity Noodles

In summary

Where’s the rice? There was no rice, seeing that in northern China noodles are eaten instead.

What a meal.  With most dishes I could have just eaten that dish for the next week and been happy.  With each one arriving, I kept on thinking “this is the best”. Stand-outs were the cold noodles with mustard sauce and all of that seafood, the Peking duck, the wonton soup, and the shredded beef, and… well I could list them all, but I’ll leave it at that.

Thanks so much to my friends (you know who you are) for being part of this special occasion.

It helped having people ordering who knew the dishes well, and ordering ahead of time.  There were not many in the restaurant, and we received the best of service from all of the staff.

May I please go back and eat this all again next weekend?

Details

Here are the details about Mr Chow’s Peking Restaurant, The Rocks, at time of posting. Please check their web site for more current details.

Web site / Facebook http://www.mrchowspeking.com.au/
https://www.facebook.com/mrchows
Address 33 Kent St, The Rocks, NSW 2000
Phone 02 9252 3010
Open Every day except Monday:
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday
Lunch: 12:00pm to 3pm
Dinner: 6pm to 10:30pm

Friday, Saturday
Lunch: 12:00pm to 3pm
Dinner: 6pm to 11:30pm

Menu Menu
Mr Chow's Peking Restaurant on Urbanspoon

 

Where’s your favourite place for Northern Chinese food? For those who were there, what did I miss / get wrong?