Cheap Date Sydney… for the frugal romantic in all of us.

Cheap Date #23: Pick Your Own Mandarins and Oranges at Anderson Farm
August 22, 2014, 3:29 pm
Filed under: family friendly, food, outdoorsy, regional

Hey guys. I’m back! Again. I did the whole reproduction thing again. So now I have two little ladies to go on cheap dates with, as well as my main man Mr CDS. Look forward to more family-friendly and time-poor and sleep-deprivation-appropriate dates coming soon!

Let’s get into it with something sweet and juicy. Mandarins, duh!

I got a hot tip from a fellow mum that you can do pick your own (PYO) mandarins and oranges out at Sackville as part of Hawkesbury Harvest. “Where the heck is Sackville?!”, I hear you ask. It’s out in the north-west of Sydney, about 40 minutes or so past Castle Hill. Worth the drive.


A friendly old mate farmer named Ken Anderson decided to open up his citrus farm to PYO this season. He arms you with buckets, gives you simple directions for where the best fruit is, and off you go! We brought home – oh gosh I have no idea how many kilos, maybe five? – for just $10. Sweet deal! They were delicious mandies too. Varying in size and outward prettiness,but very sweet, juicy and seedless (hooray). Ken is a great host and was good for a bit of a chat afterwards.


The three-year-old had a great time running amongst the rows of trees and helping Mr CDS do the occasional taste test. (Is that allowed? Surely it’s okay! I guess I just incriminated myself, oops.)

On the way home, we crossed the Hawkesbury River on a car ferry which I thought was quite fun (though the three-year-old was too busy playing Toca Hairdresser to notice). Lots of country charm out this way, and really not far from Sydney city at all.


Total date cost: $10 for a big bucket of fruit, plus a bit of petrol
Total date rating: 4 out of 5 sweet little mandies
Link: Anderson Farm – open weekends from 10am to 4pm while fruit is in season



Cheap date #22: The Baron Coffee Shop and Small Bar, Castle Hill
March 8, 2012, 11:51 am
Filed under: drink, food, tea and coffee

Just a quick one today…

Three cheers for The Baron, Castle Hill’s first hipster cafe.

Cheer #1: Good coffee. Sister J and I both had decaf caps: lovely flavour, no bitterness whatsoever, served in nice cups with saucers. Bonus: a little melty chocolate on top of the foam. Yum!

Cheer #2: Good food. Sister J partook of a BLAT, served on a cute plating board thingy (what’s the real word for this?). We also shared a brownie which was rich in chocolate taste, though maybe a tiny bit on the dry side.

Cheer #3: It’s licensed and turns into a bar on Thursday/Friday/Saturday nights, complete with sharing plates and simple cocktails for just $8-9.


Total date cost: Under $25 for two coffees, sandwich and brownie
Total date rating: 4.5/5 (You have no idea how exciting it is to have a decent cafe in the Hills!)
Link: The Baron on Facebook

Here’s that BLAT again…

Cheap date #21: Pies at Harry’s Cafe de Wheels
February 9, 2012, 6:48 pm
Filed under: family friendly, food

Okay. I’ll get right into it. Pies are good. But! Only good pies are good. Know what I mean? Nothing worse than a bad pie (barring war, famine, etc).

So it thrills me to no end that Harry’s Cafe de Wheels, originally in Woollomooloo, has franchises across Sydney (and one in Newcastle! Lucky you, Novocastrians). We live closest to the Parramatta location, so we visit every now and then. I think we may even have visited the day before I gave birth to our daughter, but anyway I digress.

Harry’s pies are good pies. The pastry is fresh tasting, the fillings are real ingredients, and the prices are cheap – less than $5 for a pie with mash and peas.

Speaking of which, if you go past the “Tiger” (i.e. pie of your choice with mash and mushy peas and gravy), you’re a fool. Mr CDS will argue this point; he usually opts for a “Hot Dog de Wheels”, a “Continential Viennese smoked frankfurt served with mushy peas, chilli con carne and garlic onions with cheese sauce and chilli sauce”. While I admit this does sound delicious, I can’t really go past a good old pie, stacked high with buttery mash, lovely mushy peas and a generous amount of salty gravy.

The traditional Harry’s Cafe is in a kind of caravan type structure (hence “de Wheels), so there’s no inside to sit in, but they have umbrellas over some outdoor tables, as well as some bar-stool type seats. We’ve never had to wait for a table, and there’s plenty of room for prams for those kid-friendly daters.

Total date rating: 4/5 (Harry’s is reliably good, simple and delicious)
Total date cost: approx $13 for two lunches and a Coke Zero
Link: Harry’s Cafe de Wheels

Cheap date #20: Pizza and beer tasting at The Australian Brewery, Rouse Hill
January 23, 2012, 9:18 am
Filed under: drink, family friendly, food

This marks my first review of a date which took advantage of a Living Social deal. If you haven’t heard of Living Social (or Scoopon or Love It Up or any of the others), then you’ve been living under a rock. Basically they are websites (usually with accompanying apps) that offer discount deals on all sorts of stuff. I’m mostly interested in the restaurant/cafe deals (and hairdressers, but that’s another story). They offer good value and a reason to try a new establishment. You’ll probably be seeing Living Social et al pop up fairly regularly on Cheap Date Sydney going forward!

A while back, I bought a Living Social voucher for two pizzas and two beer tasting boards for $25. I’d never been (or even heard of) The Australian Brewery in Rouse Hill before, but I do like to try new places in search of cheap date ideas. And especially now that we have a little one, pub bistros are quite appealing.

Mr CDS and I were quite surprised (in a good way!) when we arrived at the Brewery. The bistro section has a large, open feel and at lunch time on a Sunday was buzzing with families. The service was friendly, polite and relaxed. We were able to  choose two pizzas from a menu of around ten varieties. I went for the “Chilli King Prawn with basil salsa verde & fresh lemon” and Mr CDS chose the ridiculously named “Brewpreme – pepperoni, onion, ham, mushroom, & capsicum”. We were both very happy with our pizzas. I love a prawn pizza but, as with anything seafoody, it’s always a bit of a risk. I’m not sure whether my prawns were indeed king prawns but no matter, it was tasty and the base was crispy. The salsa verde added lots of colour and a fresh taste – heightened by a good squeeze of lemon. I had a bite of the Brewpreme and it too was tasty, crispy, and very satisfying. Both pizzas had generous amounts of toppings which made us happy.

I’m not much of a beer drinker, but the novelty of a beer tasting board is hard to resist, so I had a few sips of each kind. Fun! And beery. The bar staff were kind enough to swap one of the beers for their “Spider cider” which I was keen to try. Not my favourite cider ever, but would be a hit with those who like their ciders quite dry. Still, we had a great time reading the blurbs on the beer menu and comparing flavours.

While we were there we noticed a kids area complete with face-painting, as well as a decent kids menu (mac and cheese, nice!) so my suspicions of this being a family friendly venue were confirmed as true.

All in all, we are keen to return even without a voucher.

Total date rating: 4/5 (We were pretty pleased with this find)
Total date cost: $25 (would be roughly $53 without the Living Social deal – “roughly” because I’m not sure how much the beer tasting platters are, we think we saw a mention of $5 somewhere which seems an exceptionally good deal!)
Link: The Australian Hotel and Brewery

The return of CheapDateSydney
January 14, 2012, 9:38 pm
Filed under: housekeeping, Uncategorized

Well well. It has been almost two years since Cheap Date Sydney was last updated. Oops. Big oops! But… I have a decent excuse. This may give a clue as to what exactly I’ve been up to in my absence…

I’m so Crafty I Make PeopleAwesome image from here.

That’s right, we (Mr CDS and I) procreated! We now have a small family member who goes by the moniker of Miss D. This is me and she:

Cute, yeah? This was taken months ago, on her very first date out with Mr CDS and I. More on that to come!

I’m not even sure if any of my readers are still around… time will tell. Or rather, my WordPress stats will tell. Muchos gracias to those who still remember me! xox

Cheap Date #19: $10 pasta night at Tre Pesci, Drummoyne
March 29, 2010, 7:16 pm
Filed under: food

Somewhat shamefully, Mr Cheap Date Sydney and I rarely go out for Italian food. This is especially shameful considering what part of Sydney we live in: we live not ten minutes from the popular Italian eateries of Haberfield. Even closer is Tre Pesci, Drummoyne’s only (as far as I know) Italian restaurant. I’m not sure why we’ve never been before. Actually I do know: the one time we did attempt to visit, we were rejected on the basis of “sorry, we’re full”. Of course this just made us want to eat there even more!
So, fate will not make fools of us twice so this time we ring ahead and confirm three things: that they are open from 6pm, that they have a table for us, and that the rumour of $10 pasta night is indeed true and not just a rumour. A big tick on all three, so off we go.

We are greeted warmly and it is a standard of service which continues through our evening. Everyone is friendly and lovely, even if we are looked after by three different people and our (first) waitress forgets to give us the specials or wine list. We were pleased to learn that the pasta special (which happens every Wednesday and Sunday night) includes any of the pastas on the menu, with a $7 surcharge for those that contain seafood (fair enough I reckon!). Mr CDS likes the sound of the bucatini while I cannot avoid the temptations of a traditional lasagne. The lasagne is decent: nothing too remarkable, but the pasta is cooked well and both the white and red meat sauces are generous and delicious. However it arrives, as does the bucatini, slightly cold in some areas.

Hearty meals for $10 each; I really can’t complain. The food is decent enough and the atmosphere is so friendly that gaffes are forgotten. I’d return here on a cheap date again or with a group – families seem especially welcome.

Total date rating: 2.5/5
Total date cost: $32 (we had a glass of house red each as well as our pastas)
Link: Tre Pesci

Cheap Date #18: Cheap movies and burritos
March 15, 2010, 7:37 pm
Filed under: film, food

A while ago, I received from a couple of different friends an email* pertaining to an Event Cinemas (formerly Greater Union) “Family and Friends” special offer of movie tickets for $7.50 each. This was later opened up to the general public on the Event website I believe. The deal was that you could purchase codes for $7.50 each which could then be used later to purchase move tickets, up until the 24th of March. And no online booking fee applied!

I assume the reason this promotion came into being was due to expected slow business at the cinema during Feb/March. This makes sense as there have not been a lot of appealing (to me) movies on lately! But I sometimes am nice enough to let Mr CDS pick a movie and so last night found us sitting in a mostly empty cinema watching The Men Who Stare At Goats. This film is a who’s who of incredibly handsome and/or talented actors (George Clooney, Ewan McGregor, Kevin Spacey, and Jeff Bridges) and despite its bizarre storyline, is actually quite a sweet and uplifting tale of optimism, imagination and camaraderie. There are a fair number of LOL moments too – Clooney in particular is just so deft in bringing ridiculousness to life.

For a pre-movie snack/dinner (you know those nights where you’re not starving but you want to eat something before the movie otherwise you WILL be starving when you get out? Yeah.) we headed to Mad Mex. I’ve written about these guys before, and I am still a fan. My #1 reason for liking Mad Mex is that it is a tastier, more wholesome alternative to Maccas etc al, but with a similar speed and ease. I noticed they’ve changed the menu slightly – there is now the option of a smaller sized burrito (which is what I chose) and some different salsas too. To be honest, everything I’ve ever eaten at Mad Mex has tasted somewhat similar (kinda like Maccas, eh?) but this is not necessarily a negative thing – it’s all pretty tasty.

I had a small burrito with shredded beef and tomatillo salsa (along with the standard salad, cheese and sour cream). Mr CDS had a regular burrito (they’re really quite big!) with pork and corn salsa. We both suffered from a bit of acid reflux later that night, either an added bonus with all Mad Mex meals, or we’re getting old. Maybe both.

Total date cost: $33 ($15 for the movie and $18 for burritos). Not bad at all!
Total date rating: 4/5 (You really can’t beat the classic dinner + a movie combo, even on a tight budget!)
Links: Event Cinemas Mad Mex

*My tips for being in the know when it comes to sales/freebies/specials: Join Facebook groups, add companies on Twitter, and sign up for newsletters. Yes, you will have some more junk(mail) in your trunk, but I think the savings can be worth it.