Gelato places seem to be all the rage these days but one that’s causing quite a stir in Melbourne for it’s quirky spin on the common ice cream scoop is N2 Extreme Gelato. MS and I weren’t actually planning on going to N2 Extreme Gelato. We were driving down Brunswick Street in Fitzroy when I spotted a large queue of people out of a shop door and recognising the name (N2 Extreme Gelato) I demanded MS pull over – pretty please pull over? – so we (I) could see what all the rage was about.
So just what IS all the fuss about I hear you ask? Well, at N2 they freeze their gelato on the spot with liquid nitrogen before they serve it to you. Here’s an excerpt that I pulled straight from the N2 page explaining why they use liquid nitrogen to make their gelato… “The use of liquid nitrogen at N2 Extreme Gelato plays on the strength of a phenomenon called nucleation-dominated ice crystallisation, it forms a large number of microscopic ice crystals in seconds, resulting in exceptionally smooth textures”. It’s pretty much recreating the fresh flavour that ice cream has when it comes fresh off the churn. Interesting huh? After doing a bit of online research it seems N2 also has a shop in Sydney (the original one) and there are a couple of similar concepts popping up around Australia – such as the one in Noosa that fellow blogger Baking Myself Happy told me about, Nitrogenie.
Anyway, after seeing the lineup and considering we were still ridiculously full from brunch MS and I decided sharing our scoop of N2 Gelato was the best bet. We chose one of the flavours off the wall… the Ferrero Reveal – Hazlenut and Nutella Gelato, Rice Bubble Milk Choc Top and a Warm Milk Chocolate Ganache (the menu changes weekly). It’s cash only – typical of many places in Melbourne – and at between $6 and $8 a pop these guys are making an absolute mint. The system was pretty disorganised and erratic with names being taken from a sea of people wanting gelato within a sea of people waiting for theirs.
I went up to the side of the counter to take some photos and have a look-sie at what goes on with the whole gelato ‘making’ process. There was a hell of a lot of Kitchen Aid type mixing appliance with plenty of cold mist rising out of them and workers completely run off their feet trying to pump out individual ‘made to order’ scoops. It was all pretty theatrical I guess and cool to see – kind of reminded me of the whole ‘double bubble toil and trouble’ thing from Macbeth or at least the one that SS, HT and I did for our grade 10 English assignment with Miss Bagnall.
20 minutes later my name was called… “Foodvixen?” Haha just kidding. MS and I shared our melting mess of gelato and rice bubbles with it’s novelty idea of a syringe full of ganache that I guess you are supposed to inject into it. That just didn’t work for me – the idea of the syringe I mean. Here’s an idea… You leave the syringe out of my gelato and we will make it $6 all up? Sweet.
Personally I didn’t think the gelato at N2 was anything to write home about and neither did MS. I also think that the whole liquid nitrogen thing is just a fad that will fade with time, just like frozen yogurt (something I still go crazy for). Firstly, at N2 there’s the waiting over 20 minutes in a shop that’s shoulder to shoulder with people each waiting for their own gelato to be ‘made’. I know the ‘show’ is all part of the experience but a five minute show is enough for me. Secondly, well, the true gelato lovers are probably going to hate me for saying this but it’s just ice cream with a higher price tag (AU$8????!!! You’re frigin kidding me right?). And thirdly, the stuff is near damn completely melted by the time you get your hands on it. I know the whole liquid nitrogen thing is part of the freezing process but they need to freeze that sh*t for longer man.
Yeah the flavours are wacky, they use full cream milk and fresh cream from local dairies, real fruit and herbs and the list goes on but surely that’s a prerequisite for any good gelato place these days? Cool concept, shitty waiting times and for me I think they aren’t really making particularly great gelato but just jazzing it up with some dry ice and plastic syringes. If you want amazing gelato without all the BS – apart from the lineup – then head a few blocks over to Gelato Messina on Smith Street – hands down the gelato shop of all gelato shops (IMO).
N2 Extreme Gelato
329 Brunswick St, Fitzroy VIC 3065
Opening Hours: 1pm- 11pm 7 days
As planned months in advance and after my awesome dinner at Bazaar at the QT Resort in Port Douglas my family and I (plus a few extras) headed up there again for Mother’s Day brunch last Sunday. After many a ‘cheat dinner’ for MS and I we were looking forward to a ‘cheat breakfast’ for a change. I called up about two weeks prior to make a booking for 11 people and while on the phone I asked the guy on the other end what kind of food they would be serving out of interest and so MS and I could prepare ourselves for what was to come. The guy had no idea what they were going to serve and after putting me on hold to ask around the restaurant he came back with a blank. All he knew was that it was buffet style but had no idea what kind of food they would have. He apologised that he couldn’t be of any help to me but I was still disappointed that he couldn’t tell me anything. The Mother’s Day Brunch at Bazaar was being held from 10am – 12pm and AU$28 for adult’s and AU$15 for children with a glass of bubbly for mum on arrival. Being the highly organised person that I am (the majority of the time) and not wanting to follow in my mother’s foot steps of arriving late to every goddamn thing MS and I +2 arrived 30 minutes before the start time. I think I overestimated the time it took to drive to Port just a little. (Here’s a bit of trivia for you – apparently the head breakfast chef at Bazaar is Sri Lankan and also Mohamed Al-Fayed’s personal chef for 20 years.)
The four of us grabbed a seat near the bar and waited for 10am to arrive. The rest of my family, true to form, were still driving along the range anyway so there wasn’t a whole lot we could do. I saw heaps of people coming in and out of the restaurant with plates of food and sitting at the tables and chairs near the bar so I figured I would head on over and see what was going on. I was told by the girl at the counter that the brunch didn’t start for another 16 minutes and I could come back then. She could have fooled me because it looked like the service had already begun but I assumed that the people digging into the food must be the dregs from the resort’s breakfast buffet. I thought it was a bit strange considering that we only had 16 minutes till the Mother’s Day Brunch which was to be served in the same restaurant. Anyway I went and sat back down with my party of three and while we waited we drooled over the food being eaten around us. Croissants, pancakes and kransky’s, oh my.
Eventually the rest of our group arrived and wishing the four mother’s a Happy Mother’s Day we went and joined the large queue that had formed out the front of the restaurant. After about 20 minutes we finally made it to the front. We paid our brunch money and our table was given a ticket for the lucky door prize which I hung onto for safe keeping. One of the waitresses led us over to our table which was situated directly in the sun out on the deck and might I add the ONLY table in the sun out on the deck. The feisty one of our group TT politely told them that we weren’t going to sit there and to find us another table. I really don’t understand why someone would make the ridiculous decision to have one table out in the stinking hot mid-morning sun. Anyway so they moved us out of the sun and onto a smaller table (it was really only a table for 8) where we were all crammed in and to cut a long story short we complained about that table and ended up moving to the one next to it. We weren’t being difficult but from the get go I could see that this whole she-bang (aka Mother’s Day Brunch) was very poorly thought out and not very well executed. The powers that be eventually moved another group to the table in the sun but moved in a couple of poolside umbrellas for a bit of shade (in hindsight that probably would have been a smart thing to do before diners arrived). By the time we had waited in line, paid, moved tables twice it was already 10.30am the worms were biting. One of the waitresses poured out glasses of champagne for the mum’s at our table (my dad also managed to get in on the act), which surprisingly enough was the rather expensive French Champagne Moet and Chandon. To be honest, I was expecting some el-cheapo champagne to come out and mum nearly fell off her chair when she saw the Moet label on the bottle.
The first station of the buffet (the one that is the salad station at the dinner buffet) was full of juices (apple, orange and pineapple) in small milk-type bottle with straws. These were being replenished regularly as they looked to be pretty popular. Next to that was four different types of, well I didn’t know what they were because there was no signs. I asked a waitress that just so happened to be walking past and she said the one was a passion-fruit yogurt drink, the next was bircher muesli, the third one was a mixed berry smoothie and on the end in the shot glasses was watermelon and lime shots. The watermelon in the shots had separated from the lime juice but they were still really yummy! I grabbed an orange juice and another watermelon and lime shot for myself and left them back at my table to be consumed with my breakfast. Station no. 2 was pretty much all cut up bits of fresh fruit. It looked good but I wasn’t there to eat fruit and I don’t think anyone else was either since I didn’t see anyone serving themselves fruit that morning.
We all headed up to the buffet to take a look at what was on offer. There was already a large line of people hovering around the hot food station serving themselves what was on offer. I managed to snavel one of the mini Egg’s Benedict’s with poached eggs on top an English muffin with spinach and hollandaise sauce before they disappeared onto the plates of other awaiting diners. There was some sort of cold meat that I thought was a strange looking bacon but soon realised that it wasn’t when another chef brought out a plate of real bacon. I don’t know what it was. It looked like pastrami. Also at the buffet there was baked beans, a large bowl of chick peas (WTF?), fried eggs, scrambled eggs, poached eggs, hash browns, French toast, roasted tomato, some sort of creamy potato and mushroom thing that everyone was picking the mushrooms out of, baked veggies with capsicum and garlic in it and mini cheese kransky’s. And that was about it. I arrived to a large dish that had the leftovers of some sort of red sauce in it and MS informed me that it was bacon with BBQ sauce but I was obviously too late. The chef removed the dish and it was never replaced. The pancakes that we had drooled over had run out and one of the chef’s was busily trying to make some more. However, the pancakes that he did make were taken in about 3 seconds flat by a large pancake line that never seemed to subside. Let’s just say the chef never managed to get on top of that pancake line. Once the French toast had run out that was it for the French toast as well. The baked veggies with capsicum and garlic ran out quickly and were replaced by the large dish of chick peas that of course no one had eaten with a couple of pieces of zucchini tossed in with it. Pretty poor substitute if you ask me. Next to the hot buffet was a large stand with bread and toasters on it but there were no croissants to be found. If I hadn’t seen them on other peoples plates when we first arrived then I wouldn’t have even known that there was any croissants. Additionally, I have no frigin idea what other sweet selections and pastries were there before hand but when I got there at about 10.45am there was only empty wooden boards with a few measly crumbs remaining and a handful of ordinary looking muffins.
Suffice to say that in between all the pushing and shoving to get what little selection of food that was left I didn’t managed to get any photos of the breakfast except for the one photo that I took when I returned with my plate to the table. I am not going to write a whole lot more on this topic because frankly it pisses me off. I was disappointed, MS was disappointed and pretty much my whole table was a little disappointed in the lack of food. It was almost like a mad stampede for food between 10am and 11am and then everyone and everything just disappeared. I know that the Mother’s Day Brunch was only AU$28 a head but it seems to me that all they did was just tack it onto the end of the usual breakfast fare and hope for the best. By that stage a lot of the food was already gone and only half of it was replenished. Once a particular item (i.e. the BBQ Bacon, the French Toast and the croissants) was gone then that was it for that food item. I have no doubt that half of that stuff was already gone before the Mother’s Day Brunch had even started!
The waitstaff (especially the lovely female host) on the other hand did an excellent job with what they could even though by mine and MS’ calculations they were at least 3 people short as they were absolutely run off their feet the poor things. Despite the short comings with the food our table left ridiculously full since we did manage to more than fill up on the food that was actually there. I loved the little Egg’s Benedict’s with their perfectly poached eggs (a mean feat at a buffet) although the hollandaise sauce left much to be desired because it tasted like nothing. MS claimed that the coffee was some of the worst he had ever tasted. Another thing – MS and I were really enjoying the little cheese kransky’s until we saw one of the chefs pull out what had to be about a 3kg industrial sized bag of them and tip a pile into his frying pan. That sort of ruined the whole illusion for us and I guess that is one of the downfalls with having an open kitchen in that everyone can see what it is that you are doing. There is however, a mile of kitchen out the back for them to keep that big bag of kransky’s out of the gaze of buffet goers. The whole idea of the Bazaar buffet is to recreate the traditional marketplace and put an emphasis on produce and flavours. Somehow this seemed like a step back from that concept.
Reading over the online reviews of Bazaar‘s breakfast buffet it appears that running out of food is a regular occurrence with many diners saying that you ‘need to get in early’ to avoid disappointment. Isn’t the whole reason for holidaying/staying at a resort like QT to relax, unwind and maybe even sleep in a little? Surely no one wants to have to get up at the sparrow’s fart to make sure that they don’t miss out on the majority of the selections available at breakfast. A little more careful planning would go a long way to ensure that this wasn’t the case not just for the Mother’s Day Brunch but for their daily breakfast buffet in general. Well, lets get something straight here, the breakfast buffet and the Mother’s Day Brunch were from what I saw exactly the same thing (except we got champagne and the breakfast diners got more food).
In Bazaar‘s defense the four mums at our table were kept happy with the almost endless, but responsibly served, glasses of Moet and Chandon and they were more than a bit giggly. On the advertisement for the Mother’s Day Brunch it said a glass of bubbly on arrival – we certainly got more than that. In addition to the large amount of champagne consumed at our table we also won the lucky door prize which was a bottle of Moet. In the end I can whinge and complain as much as I like but last Sunday it was all about mum and she had a really good time even if she was half cut by midday – Love you mum x
87 – 109 Port Douglas Rd, Port Douglas QLD 4877
Ph: (07) 40 998900
Opening Hours: 7 days, Breakfast 6.30am – 10.30am, Dinner 6pm – 9.30pm