GPK Erina Fair

GPK (Gourmet Pizza Kitchen) is, as the name suggests, a pizzeria located in the Hive at Erina Fair. GPK also serves pastas and alcoholic beverages; and is conveniently located near Hoyts, if one wishes to follow food with a trip to the movies.

Food

I ordered the Bacon & Mushroom pasta. I thought the meal was average. While it wasn’t bad, the pasta lacked the oomph that would have made it delicious.

My friends, who ordered a variety of pizzas and pastas, also found their meals to be bland.

2.5/5.

Drinks

I ordered a piña colada.

I thought the drink was thicker than other piña coladas I’ve had in the past, however I still enjoyed the taste of it. Despite the piña colada containing white rum and myself being a bit of a light weight, I never felt even the slightest bit tipsy, which does make me wonder if they forgot to add the alcohol… but, hey, maybe I was just having a heavy weight kind of day *shrug*.

Meanwhile, a friend of mine, who considers herself a piña colada connoisseur found the drink lacked the pineapple-y taste that usually characterises piña coladas, and she agreed that it was a bit thick.

2.5/5.

Service

We were served by the owner and we found the service exceptional!

My friend had a voucher for two free pizzas… and we somehow ended up with four free pizzas! One of these extra pizzas was due to kitchen forgetting to leave off an ingredient. They caught the mistake themselves, so the pizza wasn’t brought out to us before they offered to give it to us anyway. A friend that joined us later in the evening ended up eating this pizza rather than buying one for herself. The other extra free pizza was because a friend went home sick… His leaving had nothing to do with GPK, yet they offered us a free pizza anyway!

On top of this, the owner was funny (or as funny as you may find some lame dad jokes). He made the night enjoyable for our group.

5/5.

Overall

While we found the food and drinks to be very average, GPK’s service was some of the best I have seen. Altogether, I rate GPK 6.6/10.

The Grounds of Alexandria

The Grounds of Alexandria are a beautiful floral themed space, located in a 1920s Industrial area. This history has been absorbed into the design of the Grounds, creating a unique, rustic, and quaint space. The Grounds include The Café, open for breakfast and lunch; The Potting Shed, open from 11:30am until late; and, The Garden, a variety of takeaway style eateries, namely The Garden Bar, The BBQ, and The Pizza Silo. 

The Grounds are well known for featuring a changing theme. The current theme is Disney’s Maleficent. 

“As a beautiful young woman of pure heart, Maleficent has an idyllic life in a forest kingdom…”

One way in which The Grounds have incorporated the dark beauty of Maleficent into their garden is as you walk down the main walkway, you are flanked by hedges decorated with black roses, crow feathers, and wispy dead leaves. These additions stick out haphazardly yet in perfect harmony. This pathway is truly stunning, if not dark. The effect is that you feel as though you really are entering the horned fairy’s dominion.

Halfway down the walkway, there is an opening to the right where you can enter into the courtyard of The Grounds; the centrepiece of which is a beautiful water fountain. The backdrop, an archway of fairy lights, looks as though it continues eternally in an ethereal fashion. This area is particularly picturesque at night. I felt as though this space would be perfect for hosting a wedding reception.

There is also plenty to do here, with a kid’s play corner containing a rocking horse, both a cow and a pig seat, a large connect four game, and more… All to keep the little ones entertained while you browse the gardens. There’s a pig pen for The Grounds’ resident pig Harry Trotter, as well as a pen of hens + Russel Crow the Rooster. All of these areas keep to a farmyard theme and are ultra fun additions to the venue.

The rear side of the courtyard connects to The Garden, where the aforementioned takeaway shops are located. This too is beautiful to walk down, and if you take a left here it also loops back to the main walkway.

Design 5/5.

The Potting Shed

Luke and I had a dinner reservation at The Potting Shed for our third anniversary. We arrived half an hour early, yet the staff were willing to seat us and begin service upon our arrival. There was a line up, however, to get a seat and only one lady on host, so in saying this, we did have to wait about five minutes in line before we were eventually seated. We also found the service throughout the night a bit slow.

We were seated directly under a large industrial heater. Our waitress offered to turn the heater off for us if it became too hot, but we found it comfortable in light of a slight chilly breeze.

We were handed a drink menu and two food menus. The food menus came on a heavy metal clipboard, once again tying in to that industrial history of The Grounds.

We read through the drinks menu and I immediately fell in love with the description of a cocktail The Casual Encounter at first sight. “Save a dance for this belle of the highball – the glassiest drink in the gin joint. A thirst-quenching kiss of elderflower, Tanqueray Gin, peach and rose syrup.” The drink itself looked better than the water-colour illustration in the menu and it tasted equally as satisfying.

We ordered a Grounds Garlic & Herb Baguette to start. We found it quite bland. There was a twig of rosemary on the side; while this appeared aesthetically pleasing on the side of our bread board, it would’ve added more to the taste of the baguette if it had been baked into the bread.

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On its arrival, I ordered my second cocktail, The Fluffy-tiki. “Dedicated to our feathered friend, Fluffy. Delightful Captain Morgan Spiced Rum with pineapple and chased by citrus. Cheers Fluffy.” The Fluffy-tiki is served in a parrot mug. No, I’m not joking… Yes, it looked awesome. I didn’t realise this on the night, but you have the option of buying the mug from the restaurant for an extra $17.

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Our food arrived next:

1x The Shed Cheeseburger for Luke

ground brisket, onion rings, house sauce, pickles and melted cheese with chips; and

1x The Potting Shed Game Sausages for me

with colcannon mash, burnt onion and thyme gravy (gf) 

While the dinner could have been ever so slightly more tasteful, particularly for how much it costs, I otherwise couldn’t fault it.

Drinks 5/5.

Food 3/5. (-1 not as tasteful as it could be; -0.5 price; -0.5 understaffed).

Amenities

I have never seen bathrooms that look as nice as the ones at The Grounds. So much thought and effort has gone behind the design of these bathrooms and I loved it. To sum up how pretty they are, I have to point out: How often do you have the urge to take a picture of a bathroom?

5/5.

Overall

The Grounds of Alexandria have, within me, inspired a love for nature, beauty, and the rustic. I will definitely be going back in the future.

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My overall rating for The Grounds of Alexandria is 9/10!

Breakout Bar and Escape Rooms

Luke and I recently visited Breakout Bar and Escape Rooms in Wollongong because they were closing down their Ancient Egypt -themed room The Tomb (to make way for a new room!).

Décor

The escape rooms are designed around the story of the mad Professor B, and this theme is reflected in the unique décor of the bar. As both a nerd and a romantic, as well as someone who just generally appreciates good art, I felt like I was right in my element.

5/5.

Drinks

Of course, I had their Cleopatra cocktail. Concocted from Four Pillars, lemon, and Pimms, it was one of the nicest cocktails I’ve ever had.

Luke had their Lava Lava beer. Despite the sheer force of lava (and its sourness), he somehow survived!

5/5.

The Escape Room

You can read all about the escape room here. In summary, we loved it.

5/5.

Board Games

In the corner of the bar, we found some board games stacked on top of a piano. After many years, we decided to ignite some childhood nostalgia by versing each other at the notorious game of Guess Who?. I’d like to say I won, but I’m fairly sure he bested me 3/3.

I love that Breakout Bar & Escape Rooms have board games available. I feel like it’s something that sets them apart from other bars we’ve been to.

5/5.

Overall

An outstanding bar with an ingenious concept. Definitely worth visiting!

10/10.

Grease Monkey, Canberra

My partner and I were told the Braddon precinct was the best place for food in Canberra. We had a quick look around and decided to eat at Grease Monkey as it looked enticing, busy, and came recommended by locals online.

Atmosphere

Busy but not noisy.

Great music.

Great set-up with plenty of seating and heaters, as well as bottles of sauce and paper towels across the establishment.

5/5.

Drinks

My partner ordered a beer, which I (of course) had a sip of. It was their equivalent of a house beer and on their menu was called the Greasy Lager. It was cheap, costing only $5. I thought it tasted a lot like a Great Northern. We both loved it!

My partner also bought me a cocktail. He couldn’t remember the name of it and I was unable to find the drink on their website, but it was made up of rum, passionfruit, pomegranate, and came garnished with a lemon slice. I don’t usually drink rum but I really loved this drink!

My drink also came with a paper straw. I’ve always loved the idea of supporting the environment by using straws alternative to plastic, however I find that I don’t like paper straws much as they break easily and their texture feels gross… What I really loved about this particular straw is it stayed solid and was pleasant to drink from.

5/5.

Food

I ordered the Grease Burger (below, left). It’s a typical beef burger with pickles, lettuce, mayo, cheese, and onion. For $15, it was incredibly disappointed. It seemed basic with not a lot on it, and tasted as plain as it looked.

My partner ordered the Parma Burger (above, right). It was a fried chicken burger and was just as lacklustre as my Grease Burger. I even managed to find a bone when I took a bite into his burger, which could’ve been potentially dangerous had I swallowed it.

The chips were also disappointing. They looked and tasted flat and had a strong peppery taste. If this peppery seasoning had more flavour to it, the chips could have potentially tasted great. The tastelessness of these chips weren’t helped by the fact that the only sauce available was self-serve bottled tomato sauce. Having a great side of sauce may have made these chips amazing.

1/5.

Amenities

Toilets were clean.

I wasn’t a fan of the hand wash basin as it was open to the bar and eatery and I felt exposed as I washed and dried my hands. It also seemed like the noise of the hand drier was super distracting for other patrons because a few people did look over when I used it.

2/5.

Overall

I would highly recommend the Grease Monkey for their bar.

However, I would definitely not recommend eating here.

It was a nice establishment, but the bathroom section should be separated from the rest of the bar/ restaurant for privacy and sound management reasons.

6.5/10.

Looking for other activities near Canberra? View Days 1-2 of my itinerary here for ideas!

Lazerpig, Melbourne

Lazerpig is located in Collingwood and in a great area to go bar-hopping if that’s your desire.

We went to Lazerpig for dinner in-between Parts I and II of the Cursed Child at the nearby Princes Theatre.

We nearly gave Lazerpig a miss due to some bad reviews online, however since Lazerpig was recommended by a friend, we decided to give it a risk. And we did not regret this decision.

We arrived just before 5pm, so their restaurant wasn’t actually open when we got there. However, we were able to order food, so we sat in the bar area to eat and drink.

Atmosphere

It wasn’t busy but it was only off-peak.

Music was at a good volume.

Beautiful, dim lighting. Really made the bar look alive.

5/5.

Drinks

I bought and drank the Rhubarb Pie Cocktail while I waited for my food. The drink comprised of sfumato rabarbaro, sazerac rye bourbon. jameson, tasmanian leatherwood honey, lemon, cassia bark, and came with a strawberry garnish. I was shocked at how similar it tasted like Rhubarb Pie. It was also warm, so made for a great drink on a cold winter evening.

I could really see that a lot of love had gone into making my cocktail. 5/5.

Food

My Ronny J pizza came quickly, coming only after about ten minutes. Some reviews we read said the food took up to an hour to come out, so perhaps we got lucky since we went to Lazerpig at an off-peak time.

I expected my pizza to be hot from the jalepenos but I could barely taste them (I mean you know it’s not hot if Luke can tolerate it because he’s weak af for hot foods). On the other hand, the honey gave a lovely undertone to my pizza that I really enjoyed… It was tasteful in such a way that the honey was subtle yet added a unique twist to the pizza.

Though unique, my pizza could have been a little more flavoursome. 4/5.

Ammenities

It was a bit of a maze to find the toilets but they were clean.

3/5.

Overall

I had a great experience at the Lazerpig. I loved their drinks, they definitely had some unique food, their music was good, and the design was great.

I’d love to return!

8.5/10.

Check out Days 3-5 of my itinerary here to view other things to do in and near Melbourne!

Bar-Hopping in Melbourne

Whether you’re unsure how to spend the night after seeing the Cursed Child or just looking for a great night out, I have some suggestions for you!

With the Princess Theatre conveniently a 30-min walk from Collingwood and Fitzroy, which is filled with a plethora of bars, hotels, and pubs, you are in the perfect place to have find yourself in a drunken stupor (unfortunately there’s no butter beer!).

I suggest starting at Bar Americano, proceeding to Eau De Vie, then walking over to Collingwood for drinks at Lazerpig, then down to Naked for Satan at Fitzroy and over to the Evelyn Hotel to finish. Walk down Brunswick St between Lazerpig and Naked for Satan and you may find a gem to add to your list!

While we didn’t go bar-hopping ourselves, we did have dinner at Lazerpig. Their food was great and their drinks even better! I tried the Rhubarb Pie cocktail and it actually tasted like Rhubarb Pie!

Check out Days 3-5 of my itinerary here to view other things to do in and near Melbourne!