Guest post from my favourite Uncle - how he spent Chinese New Year with his family!
There is no secret that I am a big fan of Biota Dining. When Chinese New Year crept up on us last weekend, Shrek suggested we escape the madness of Sydney and have lunch with the family down at Biota. It takes very little to convince me to drive down to the highlands.
We pretty much ordered everything on their lounge menu (double orders of some of the dishes like the wagyu burger) eforxcept the olives and the salad. We even had a second order of the pork belly, the school prawns and the croquettes because we liked it so much. We thought we’d still have space for dessert after, but alas. Next time, I say! Just means we’d need to come back.
If you want some place to go to that is out of Sydney – head down to the Southern Highlands – it’s only an hour’s drive (driving to the speed limit) from the Sydney Airport (so longer, if you’re coming from across the bridge). There are lots to do there for a day trip – if you’re a cricket fan, you can check out the Don Bradman museum. Other fun things for a day trip or an overnight stay: Fitzroy Falls, Robertson Cheese Factory (they serve AllPress Coffee ice cream there), Illawara Fly Tree Top Walk and a couple of boutique wineries. Spring time is a good time to visit as well! There’s a mini floriade just off the main street of Bowral (called ‘Bong Bong Street’). And Milton Park is always pretty in Spring.
Side note: Lots of good produce comes from the highlands. We also want to visit Highland Organics next time we’re there. Boo, our free range baby really likes the dairy there. And don’t worry, they’re available for pick up from the weekend markets at Eveleigh and Marrickville. So you don’t need to hike all the way down there. Those on twitter: follow Ester. She’d sort you out with the goodies.
Back to Biota: Chef James Viles and team have done a great job: Acquiring their 2nd Chefs hat last year! Congrats, Chef! Always progressive, there are markets on the last Sunday of each month too where local producers bring their goodies and have them for sale on the grounds of Biota. Check it all out here. Lots of parking (yeah, you Sydney siders are always worried about that). Spacious, friendly and child friendly. For the lovey doveys who want to hold hands and stare into each other eyes: the fine dining side of Biota rocks. Don’t take my word for it, try it out for yourself.
And here are the goodies that we had to farewell the year of the Dragon.
Crispy morcilla – soft hen egg $12
Cheese and egg croquette $9
Season’s oysters – jerez vinegar $18
Shoestring fries with pine salt $9
Fried school prawns with spiced salt $16
Seasoned baby squid with shallots $14
Bruschetta with heirloom tomatoes and ricotta $12
Dry pork belly with native spices $16
Biota wagyu slides $14
Bowral, NSW 2576
Ph: +61 2 4862 2005
A trip to Melbourne for work meant that I get to eat at some of the restaurants I have wanted to try and Huxtable has been on the list for a while now. Located at Fitzroy, the restaurant is quite tiny, and reservations are highly recommended. Daniel Wilson is the owner and chef behind this great restaurant, and I have to say, I had high expectations and it did not disappoint.
I had made reservations at 7pm and the place was already busy at the time. I had perused the menu a week before so knew exactly what I wanted but let ‘The Mother’ have a quick look before ordering. He couldn’t go past the olives, green and brown and they were delicious and fresh.
‘The Mother’ couldn’t resist ordering the chilli smoked mussels, pickled shallots, aioli (g) ($9.50). They were deliciously smokey and plump and the aioli gave it a nice touch.
The jalapeno and cheddar croquette ($3.50) was excellent – the combination of the jalapeno and cheese was a match in heaven! Who would have thought? It was amazing!
The tempura eggplant and prawn fritter ($5.50) was lightly battered, I love the eggplant and the prawn was moreish.
For something more substantial, ‘The Mother’ opt for sashimi of ocean trout, finger lime & sesame ponzu, seaweed ($23). Beautifully presented, I love the redness of the ocean trout! It was fresh and absolutely delicious and I love the ponzu sauce.
I couldn’t go past the korean bbq pork ribs, spicy slaw, chilli gherkin ($24) – OMG! The ribs were amazingly good – tender, succulent and lots of flavour! It was a little spicy and the spicy slaw and chili gherkin a wonderful complement. Probably the highlight dish that evening.
For dessert, we ordered the warm banana bread, caramelised white chocolate, espresso ice cream ($12). Loved the espresso ice cream and the banana bread was soft and fluffy.
We really enjoyed our meal at Huxtable and would definitely come back to try their other dishes. However in saying that, it would be difficult to resist ordering the kimchi ribs! Service was very friendly and they really looked after us and Dragon which was nice. Loved the ambiance, the fit out and especially the food!
GA’s ratings: 8 / 10
131 Smith Street
Ph: +61 3 9419 5101
An impromptu work trip led me back to Sydney, I wasn’t really excited as first as I had only left 3 – 4 months ago but then I thought about catching up with friends and eating at some great restaurants including Movida and suddenly became excited! I admit, I love being in Hong Kong but I have missed my friends (you know who you are!) and I have missed the café scene as it is pretty much non-existent in Hong Kong! As always, I had a list of places to go, and although I have been to Movida and Movida Aqui in Melbourne, I was keen to try the Movida in Sydney! Menu was the pretty much the same, ‘The Mother’ and I tried not to order anything that we had before and I don’t think we did!
Movida Sydney is located on Holt Street, where Cotton Duck used to be – I dined there once, it was good but nothing special I thought and even though I was sad to see it close, I am glad that Movida has taken the place over! Thankfully they take bookings, so we made reservations for lunch, but it wasn’t too busy which was good.
We started with some sour dough bread – fresh and delicious – god how I have missed GOOD fresh bread!
We started with Sardinilla – house cured WA baby sardines, set in a Gazpacho jelly and served with a heirloom tomato salad ($16.50) which was on the daily menu special. ‘The Mother’ LOVES sardines so this was a must get. The sardines were fresh and not slimy and the heirloom tomatoes I LOVED! It was refreshing light and deliciously tasty!
‘The Mother’ wanted the grilled chorizo and pardon sandwich ($7 each) – he didn’t offer any to me but said it was ‘excellent’.
I couldn’t go past the quail terrine ($7 each) which was served with mash potatoes.
We both couldn’t go past Pancetta ($25) – oven roasted pork belly with quince ali oli and spiced carrot salad. OMG was my first reaction; it was definitely a generous serving. The pork meat was so tender that I didn’t even need a knife to cut through it (I was feeding Dragon and only had one hand!) The pork crackle – OMG! Crispy, thin and absolutely awesome – I would have loved more crackle!
The zucchini flowers with calamari were not what I expected. I guess in my mind, I had thought it was zucchini flowers STUFFED with calamari! Nevertheless, it was still good, and the calamari was incredibly tender.
Last but not least – I was getting full by this stage – patatas bravas con mojo ($16) – smoked potato bravas with faux bacon dust, served with Mojo pico. The potatoes were soft with a crispy layer and I loved the mojo pico.
Unfortunately we didn’t get any dessert, I was craving the lamington panna cotta from Flour and Stone and no doubt we went and I bought the last four lamingtons! Cravings satisfied and I still believe that it is the BEST lamington in Sydney!
Back to Movida – service was fantastic and food was as good as Melbourne.
GA’s ratings: 8 / 10
50 Holt Street
Surry Hills 2010
Ph: +61 2 8964 7642
As I mentioned earlier, Newtown is not a place that I visit very often and suddenly within the space of four to six weeks I have visited three restaurants – Bloodwood, Hartsyard and now Spencer Guthrie. Spencer Guthrie can be found on the busy street of King Street, created by Troy Spencer who is ex-L’etoile and Oliver Guthrie, ex-Lucio’s they have created a Modern Australian menu with a focus on locally grown, organic and seasonal produce.
There were five different choices for ‘to start’ (entrée) and ‘to follow’ (mains) and everything sounded wonderful. We started with complimentary rosemary bread with butter and salt and it was extremely tasty. It was served warm and slathered with butter was deliciously scrumptious.
For entrée, we both couldn’t go past the chicken and duck liver parfait, warm ginger bread and prune jam ($20) – such a pretty dish! The parfait was deliciously creamy, the warm ginger bread had a hint of ginger and the prune jam was a wonderful complement. We definitely did not have enough ginger bread, but were offered more, however, we opt for the rosemary bread instead as we both thought it was better than the ginger bread.
The food are not meant to for sharing, but we both wanted the pork cheeks so thought we would share the glazed pork cheek, roasted fennel, apple fondant and mustard ($31). The pork cheeks were incredibly tender that it melted in my mouth, the apple fondant was a wonderful complement and the pig’s ear was wonderful. We both really enjoyed this dish.
We also shared the lamb rump, smoked garlic confit and pickled radish ($30) – the lamb was pink, and cooked to perfection. It didn’t have that lamb-y smell and the baby organic vegies was a nice touch. It was definitely tasty – is it possible that I actually enjoy lamb now? Possibly!
And for dessert, we shared the honeycomb parfait, blood orange sorbet and coconut tuille ($15) – the blood orange sorbet really won us both over! The honeycomb parfait was delightfully creamy and smooth, and the blood orange sorbet – frigging delicious! It was a wonderful way to end the meal.
Servings I thought was a little small when compared to both Bloodwood and Hartsyard but it was enough for both of us. We were both stuffed and extremely satisfied. Service was impeccable and the wait staff were incredibly knowledgeable about the food. We definitely enjoyed ourselves.
I won’t do a comparison between Bloodwood and Hartsyard, I believe they are all quite different in their own way – it was still good regardless.
GA’s ratings: 7 / 10
399 King Street
Ph: +61 2 8068 1080
Rum Diaries can be found on the busy street of Bondi Road. I never knew this place existed as when it comes to dining at Bondi, I usually go to Bondi beach! But this was a great find and a true gem. It is a quirky and cute little place, I love the décor inside, the interior is dark and very intimate.
The chef behind the Rum Diaries is Gerald Touchard, he has been there since January this year. He has previously worked as pastry chef at Jena Georges’ restaurant Le Market in Paris, and sous chef at Pello Restaurant in Sydney and also sous chef for Sean Connolly’s Astral, also in Sydney.
The menu is for sharing, there is a degustation menu for those who are hungry and want to try a bit of everything. I came with my lovely brother, F, and thought we would go a la carte.
F started with a cocktail, and considering I couldn’t drink Sonny the bar tender kindly made me a mocktail – we don’t currently have a name for it, he suggested I come up with a name. It had all my favourite fruits – lime, organic apple and berries! Refreshing and deliciously sweet.
To start, tempura zucchini flower stuffed with haloumi, pine nuts and pomegranate vinaigrette ($11.50). Cut in halves, the zucchini flowers were absolutely delicious, the haloumi cheese was subtle and the pomegranate vinaigrette was a wonderful complement. This was a win win dish for the both of us as we both LOVE zucchini flowers.
Complements of the chef, we received a delicious chicken parfait which was served with crispy toasted bread. It is not yet on the menu at the time we dined, but we were told that it will be this week. The parfait was deliciously creamy and F wanted to lick the plate off! It was that good!
The crispy skin pork belly with tonka bean cloud, sour rhubarb puree and coriander gremolata ($18.50) was to die for! Crispy skin, the pork belly was incredibly tender and incredibly succulent. The sour rhubarb puree was a really nice touch! I could have easily eaten both pork belly on my own!
F couldn’t go past the wagyu rump of beef, pomme puree, heirloom carrots, watercress and smoked sea salt ($26.50) – the wagyu beef was cooked to melt-in-your-mouth perfect! The pomme purees was creamy and love the dollops of watercress puree. This was a hearty dish, perfect for winter!
Next came the tenderly cooked duck with sauté wild mushrooms, autumn vegetables and mandarin jus ($31.50) and the duck was definitely tender. I loved the mandarin jus, and the crispy mandarin that were served with it.
The chickpea jenga tower with paprika aioli ($8.50) were like chips but healthier. It was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, and I loved the paprika aioli!
We were getting full by this stage and thought about ordering one dessert. However, our lovely waitress and restaurant manager, Roberta suggested we get both!
The chocolate marquise, OP rum and allspice Chantilly with orange sparkle dust ($14.50) was quite a rich dessert, and perfect for chocolate lovers. It was dense and rich!
I love the orange sparkle dust.
The banana cream with smoked salt caramel, spiced pineapple tapioca and ginger beer jelly ($13.50) is a lighter dessert. I especially love the pineapple tapioca, and the smoked salt caramel well – who doesn’t like salt caramel?
Service was friendly and food was tremendous! Definitely a great find a true gem – wished I lived closer as this would definitely be my local! Can’t wait to take the parentals there in the next couple of weeks!
Thanks to Emily Sharpe from the Love Group and the rum diaries.
GA dined as a guest of Love group and Rum diaries
GA’s ratings: 8 / 10
288 Bondi Road
Ph: +61 2 9300 0440