From memory, the last time I was in Castle Hill shopping centre was about 10 years ago! The place is a frigging maze! I was lost and couldn’t get out to street level – my goodness!
There has been a lot of talk about The Baron which is located in Castle Hill – it is not in the shopping mall itself but on street level. The interior is quirky, open every day for breakfast and lunch and also turns into a bar with a separate menu on Friday and Saturday nights.
Started with a Chai Latte which was nice but thought it was weak in flavour.
Both S and H had the mushrooms on toast with wilted baby spinach and Persian fetta ($9). I didn’t try any of this but both said that it was lacking ‘something’ some sort of dressing.
I had the scrambled eggs on toast ($9) with a side of bacon and avocado ($3 each). It was a generous serving, eggs were deliciously creamy and bacon were cooked to perfection!
I do love the vibe of the café, and service was friendly and efficient. Was it worth the 30 – 40 minutes’ drive, I am not sure – probably not! Mind you, if I was living in Surry Hills, it would probably have taken me longer and I am certain I can get something just as good, if not better around Surry Hills. Nevertheless, it’s good to have The Baron in Western / North Western / Hills District! Regardless, it was good to finally check out The Baron, go somewhere different and catch up with friends! I heard dinner is pretty good also!
Shop 461 Castle Towers Shopping Centre
Old Castle Hill Road
Castle Hill 2154
Ph: +61 4014 498 877
Truffle – ‘the fruiting body of an underground mushroom’. There are many different types of truffles, white, black, Chinese, summer or burgundy and many more. I love truffles and when my dear friend IW and owner of Cibo e Vino said they were doing a tribute to truffle evening I couldn’t resist. How can I say no to a night of truffles? The team at Cibo had sourced their stash of ‘black gold’ Perigord truffles from Majimup, Western Australia.
A not so local, Cibo e Vino serves Modern Italian restaurant in the heart of Castle Hill. It certainly has been a while since my last visit, last year I attended their spring menu and that was superb.
Two truffle-mania, C and DC attended the feast with me. Started with mushroom cappuccino with truffles with brioche and house-made truffle butter – YUM! Delicious and creamy mushroom with a rather generous serving of truffle.
I love brioche, it was toasted and rich and smothered with truffle butter – oh my – sinful but yet delish!
The slow egg cooked egg which sat on a mountain of salt, and again topped with truffle. Eggs and truffle – perfect combo!
I was a little hesitant about the tartare of NZ scampi with smoked mullet roe and mixed salad with truffle dressing. I am not usually a huge fan of raw scampi but I was pleasantly surprised and this turned out to be the highlight of the evening, for myself and the diners.
The scampi was magnificently fresh and I love the smoked mullet roe (more of it would have been good though!) and the mixed salad with truffle dressing a wonderful complement.
No hesitation there – gone! I could have easily eaten another serving… or two! Thanks to the Chef, Shiman Wu for giving me some to take home!
Linguine with confit of pork neck and shaved truffles. Generous serving of tender, juicy pork which has been ‘shredded’ and topped with shaved truffles. It was oh so truffle-y and oh so delicious!
I was getting really full by this stage, didn’t finish the all the linguine but as IW said ‘you ate all the important stuff’ – yes the pork and the truffle!
Palate cleanser – watermelon and blood orange granita. Refreshing, however, I couldn’t taste any of the blood orange.
Last of the savoury, poached beef fillet with foie gras, truffles and truffle mash. Extremely pink and tender, I noticed both C and DC savoured the best bit of foie gras, I on the other hand ate it first! The truffle mash – OMG – melt in your mouth fantastic!
Dessert, rice pudding with truffles which sat on a bed of biscuits crumbs. I am still undecided about this dessert. C loved it, he said it ‘tastes like ice cream the more you eat it’. DC said it was too truffle-y, and I have to somewhat agree with him.
Don’t get me wrong, it was deliciously creamy, and truffle-y and different in a good way, but I don’t know if I would order it if seen on the menu. The crumbs I loved and complemented the rice pudding well.
Overall, it was a wonderful evening with friends, who share the same passion for truffles as much as I do. The degustation costs $110 pp for six courses and $160pp if you wanted matching wines.
Below, a couple of photos that are on their menu. Uncle took the photos a while back and no doubt his pictures looks absolutely fantastic! I (and two other hungry girls!) had the pleasure of tasting it.
The crab cake with a salad of onions and baby herbs ($18) – one of the nicest crab cakes I have had.
The market fish with fennel and pomegranate salad and herbed breadcrumbs ($31).
Parpadelle with wild mushroom ragu ($26), a favourite of ours, different types of mushroom, el dante parpadelle – YUM!
I never really had a ‘good’ brussel sprouts until I had it at Cibo. Now I won’t hesitate to make it at home or order it at the restaurant. Brussel sprouts with bacon ($7). If you like squid ink linguine, then Cibo has one of the nicest squid ink linguine with prawns, calamari and scallops ($29).
Unfortunately they have taken the beef short rib off the menu and replaced it with beef cheeks, but this was ONE UNBELIEVABLE red wine braised Riverina beef short ribs with mash and gremolata ($31). So GOOD!
Mash potatoes ($7) – creamy and oh so delicious.
Cibo would definitely be a ‘local’ for me if I didn’t live so far away. However, still manage to go a few times a year as the food is tremendous! Sorry DC – I know I got us lost a couple of times. If you haven’t been, definitely a must! Excellent Modern Italian cuisine, both IW and Chef really do put effort and soul into it! Service super friendly and definitely worth the trek!
GA’s ratings: 8 / 10
Cibo e Vino
301 Old Northern Road
Castle Hill 2154
Ph: +61 2 8002 0912
It’s very rare that I do go to Castle Hill for dinner. To be honest, besides Cibo e Vino, I wouldn’t really be able to suggest a place to eat at Castle Hill. Cibo e Vino, has been around for a while now. They were previously located inside Castle Hill Towers, but now, opposite the Castle Hill Towers Shopping centre. I first heard of this place from my dear friend I, whom I have known for over a decade! He runs / owns this place. I met him during my first year of uni, and even back then, I knew about his passion for food. He was the one whm introduced me to the world of ‘fine dining’ and our outings would always be around some ‘food’.
Anyhow, this is not about my wonderful relationship with I and his wife, S. It is about the little gem at Castle Hills, Cibo e Vino. The chef, Paul Toogood, ex River Café, London delivers some brilliant local Italian food, delicious, authentic food with emphasis on fresh produce and flavour. He makes many of his ingredients on site, handmade gnocchi, fresh orechiette, and even nougat in his orange nougat ice-cream, to name a few.
I have been here a few times now, a couple of times I have had the a la carte, and a couple of times the degustation, including the Spring degustation. The last degustation was a truffle theme and as much as it was delicious, I have to say that this one was infintely better!
We started with the roasted marron with herb butter and sorrel and cress salad. Oh my, the roasted marron was fantastic. Cooked in herb butter, it was deliciously creamy and deliciously scrumptious! My only gripe would be, HALF a marron?!!?! I did ask IW if I could have the other half, alas, he said no! *sigh*
Next the salt cod brandade with egg and oregano. Brandade is a puree of salt cod, olive oil and milk. The salt cod brandade was a tad salty and the bread was a little hard for my liking.
The egg, poached, and wonderful but the yolk was not oozy as expected, but it was cooked but still a great compliment.
Fennel risotto with prosciutto di parma, was beautifully executed. The risotto creamy, the prosciutto was salty and a great compliment. The parmesan cheese gave it a nice touch.
Northern rivers veal crudo was served cold, like veal tartare. I was not a fan of this, as I am not a fan of veal. My brother, F, seemed to have enjoyed it and ate my serving. However, he did say that the second serving made him a little ill, as it was too rich.
Last but not least, the char-grilled glenloth squab. This was superb.
The squad was served medium rare, it was tender, succulent and absolutely magnificent.
Now dessert: Manchego, quince paste and oat biscuits. Manchego is a famous Spanish, semi-firm cheese. It is creamy and has a slight nutty taste. The quince paste was sweet, the combination of the manchego and quince paste was just divine.
We ended the meal with Lemon tart, a generous serving of bright yellow tart with fresh cream. The tart was rich, and had a tangy flavour. It was marvelous and a perfect way to end the meal!
I thought the servings were just ‘right’. The spring degustation with matching wines was A$80 pp which I thought was quite reasonable! I was content and full. My favourite dish that evening would have to be the roasted marron, the risotto and the squab.
Their a la carte menu is also delightful! I love their shoe string fries with herbs, chilli, parmesan and garlic! Their char-grilled grass-fed beef fillet with silverbeet, white bean puree and oregano – remarkable and so is their spiced char-grilled kurobuta pork with sweet potato, borlotti beans and salsa rossa, but then again – I am a sucker for pork!
Every time our dear friend, J, comes for visit to Australia, from Hong Kong, this is one place on her must go list! It’s a great little gem and will definitely be back!
Thanks I and S, it was great catching up with you guys!
GA’s ratings: 8 / 10
Shop 2, 299 Old Northern Road
Castle Hill, 2145
Ph: +61 2 8002 0912