Sunday, 17 April 2011

Chef's Gallery

12/501 George Street
NSW 2000
(02) 9267 8877

Category: Cheapo ($0 - $50)

Hmmm… Where do I start with this place?

Well, seemingly it ticks all the boxes. The service is good (not amazing), someone greets you at the door and you are seated accordingly, the kitchen is as clean as it gets considering it is totally visible (I mean totally), as is the rest of the restaurant. The décor is modern, ceiling is relatively high and the use of yellows and darker coloured woods throughout gives it that earthy feel. There is even the ‘wow factor’ of the guy effortlessly making the hand made noodles inside the see through kitchen and ‘bar style’ seats for easy viewing for those interested. The menu is relatively simple (this is good) and the imported beers are dirt cheap (albeit a minimal selection). So on paper, one would think they are in for a good overall experience. Now for the food…

Maybe I am being overly critical however when I think handmade noodles I am thinking thick, chewy, bouncy strands (think Sea-Bay Noodle house). Chef’s gallery however offers the thin version (which I am not that much of a fan of); Disappointment number one. Next, we try a few of the so called ‘signature dishes’ including a chilli chicken stir fried noodle and the snowflake chicken with pumpkin noodle soup. The chilli chicken is ok, however as my colleague noted, felt more like 2 minute noodles with some vinegar mixed in (not a good way to describe a signature dish). As for the snowflake, the chicken was well marinated, and juicy, however I could taste the MSG, and it was not really as crisp as would have liked or expected. As for the noodles in the pumpkin soup, it is interesting… just interesting though.

Overall, the cost was quite good, despite a fried rice costing $12.90 (white rice with some bits of pork, herbs and tossed in a wok for $12.90!!!) Again, fine without being anything to really write home about.

Despite this, by the time we left a queue had emerged outside the entrance, and I found myself wondering again, am I being too critical? Is it really that good?

I think I have solved my own problem however.

Very much like the old-school Chinese methods and customs, the restaurant is mechanical. It is like watching a clock tick over, or a computer or a car, just going through the motions. All the pieces are in place, and everything rums smoothly, however it lacked something. To me, it lacked heart, passion, and love. The soldiers here toil about there business in stoic fashion, they rarely show emotion and they are here to fulfil there roles in the chain of processes that ultimately leads to food on your table. This was truly a business (a very good business at that), but not a restaurant. This was food, not a dining experience. 

At the end of the day, as I stated early on, it ticks all the boxes. From cleanliness to service, presentation, décor and even that wow factor. The food is good, just good, not amazingly cheap however in comparison to many other establishments is not bad. Given its strong location, piece all the above and you have a great formula for success. Not a bad experience, but I doubt I would return on my own will.

Bottom Line:
You can probably get away with anything from $25 - $40 for two depending on how hungry you are.  

Food                            6/10
Service                        1.5/3
Décor etc                     2/3
Cleanliness                  2/2
BONUS                       1/2

Total                           12.5/20

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