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Archive for November, 2010

Lunch at Bistrode CBD, Sydney

I have been to Bistrode in Surry Hills a couple of times now (again prior to having this blog). They have opened in the city, where Bistro CBD used to be on the corner of York and King Street. Jeremy and Jane opened Bistrode in Surry Hills in 2005. Jeremy is now based in the CBD cooking his Modern British food, and Jane has taken the reigns at Bourke Street.

I came here one lunch time with some colleagues; I have had some great memories at the Surry Hills branch that I was keen to check out the not-so-new venue.

We were all offered some fresh sour dough – crispy crust, moist and with a slither of butter was delightful. I was starving and everything does taste so much better when you are starving!

None of us really wanted entrée, except for S1. We had a quick peek of dessert and the honey tart and peanut butter ice cream caught my attention! S1 ordered the chicken liver parfait and house made brioche (for two). It was a relatively generous serving of chicken liver parfait. It looked a bit like crème brule, without the burnt sugar on top. The chicken liver was served cold, it was creamy, and for those who doesn’t like chicken liver, then this is not for you. It had a nice strong flavour, rich, and smooth. The home made brioche was sweet, but the combination of both was a little sickly for me. I personally thought it tasted better with the sour dough bread.

S1 had the grass-fed dry aged rib-eye steak (400gm) served with café de butter. S1 asked for it medium rare and it was a tad on the red ride but S1 did say that it was absolutely delicious! I didn’t have any of this, but it looked pretty fantastic!

S2 had the warm duck and peach salad. It was a fairly small serving, the duck was tender and succulent, and served on a bed of rocket, spinach and peach, she did say that it was rather refreshing and light.

B had the corned wagyu beef and English condiments served with potato salad. Unfortunately I didn’t have any of this, B loved it, she grew up with corned beef and really enjoyed it.

I couldn’t help but get the organic pork chop, black sausage, silverbeet and black vinegar. Earlier that day, I saw a picture of this dish and it looked absolutely magnificent and it certainly was! The pork chop was tender, succulent, juicy and silverbeet and black vinegar was a great complement. The black sausage is made from congealed pig’s blood and my my, it was delicious! I know it sounds gross, but seriously, it had a lovely sweet flavour and eaten with silverbeet was wonderful. At the end, I couldn’t help but pick up the bone and eat the luscious meat around it – classy I know, considering I was with work colleagues but hey, how can I not pick it up? It IS the best bit!

A had the grain-fed Butler’s steak (250gm) and red wine sauce with or without roast bone marrow served with a bed of salad. Unfortunately A isn’t a fan of bone marrow – HOW CAN YOU NOT? I forgot to take a photo of this – it was a miniature version of the grass-fed dry aged rib-eye steak. Unfortunately, as A was eating her steak and her salad, a little ‘visitor’ came to visit. By ‘visitor’ I mean a slug! Yes, you heard me, a little slug squirmed its way out of green leafy salad and said hello to A. She showed us the little slug, and it was the most disgusting thing I have ever seen. Thankfully I was almost done with my meal, it was rather gross and disgusting.

We told our waiter and they profusely apologized and gave us that meal for free. S2 thought Jeremy himself should have come out to apologise, but alas he didn’t.

As much as I was looking forward to dessert, I was feeling a little ill after that and didn’t order any. Apart from the slug incident, we did enjoy our mains. It was a shame that A had a little visitor from the garden – I don’t think she was too impressed and she did feel sick afterwards – I would too.  I don’t think A will be visiting Bistrode CBD anytime soon.

Overall service was great, waiters were tentative. From memory, I think the Surry Hills venue was a little better, in terms of ambiance.

GA’s ratings: 7 / 10 (I think A begs to differ considering her incident!)

Bistrode CBD

52 King Street

Sydney 2000

Ph: +61 2 8297 7010

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Charlie & Co Burgers, Sydney

There has been so much hype about Charlie & Co, which is located on the level five food court of the new Westfield Shopping Centre in Sydney. It is the latest venture by Justin North who is behind Restaurant Becasse, Plan B, Etch and Le Grand Café.

I have heard a lot about the burgers here – good and bad, and wanted to try for myself as I am always on the lookout for a ‘good’ burger.

I came here one lunch time with a dear food lover, C. We arrived at about 12.20pm, and even after it has been opened for a few weeks, the place was still buzzing. We waited for a good 20 – 30 mins before it was our turn to order.

C and I thought we would share two burgers – the classic wagyu burger and the federation burger. The wagyu burger with beetroot relish, pickled gherkin and aged cheddar on a toasted brioche is their classic and biggest seller thus far.

The federation burger comprised of a seasoned Angus beef patty, aged cheddar, fried egg, bacon, sautéed onions, iceberg lettuce and tomato on a sesame sourdough bun. There is a $2 difference if you want to sit inside their restaurant area (which isn’t really that big) but we opted for eat-out and sat at one of the tables near the counter.

Trying to cut the burger into halves was a challenge, we tried to cut it as neatly as possible without making too much of a mess! I thought the classic wagyu burger was a little dry. The patty wasn’t as succulent as I have hoped, even the beetroot relish which I loved, couldn’t save it. I thought it lacked a little flavour, it was missing something – the moistness, the messiness, and that ‘juicy’ factor.

The federation burger was a little better. The fried egg, bacon and sautéed onions gave it a little bit of the flavouring. I thought the Angus beef patty was more succulent. It was a little juicer and a little on the messy side – as you can see I like messy burgers! The messier the burger the better. I like how sauce trickle down my hands as I take each mouthful. Unfortunately, it didn’t have that effect with either burgers.

All the burger buns are baked fresh at the Becasse bakery which is in the Westfield complex. Apparently, it is due to open shortly.

We also ordered a side of the fries – the parmesan and truffle oil and they are really something! Delicious golden, thick cut crispy fries with fresh grated parmesan cheese and a bit of truffle oil for that extra flavouring. C and I could not stop eating them – it was hard to stop once you start and before we knew it, half was gone! If you love truffle oil then this is for you! This would be the highlight for me.

It seems the menu has an international theme, there is a Malaysian chicken burger, Marrakesh lamb burger, Mexican spiced minced beef with chili beans and for the vegetarians, a producers’ burger of marinated local mushrooms, haloumi and sun dried tomatoes.

So why the name Charlie and Co?  It is a homage to Hamburger Charlie (who was born in Wisconsin and at age 15 invented the burger concept). The Co refers to the various people that is involved in making the place happen – so the kitchen, the restaurant, the etc.

Apparently Justin is also looking at other suitable venues for the Charlie & Co brand, with the Opera house already agreed and opening shortly.

For me, I was a little disappointed with the burger, I had so much expectations that it truly did disappoint. I haven’t been to Plan B for such a long time that I can’t really describe the burgers. However, I do remember raving about them.

So where’s the best burger you’ve had? Me, I really don’t have to think about it – it’s DEFINITELY Dan Hong’s cheese burger – a tower of frigging goodness!

GA’s rating: 6 / 10

86-100 Market Street, Westfield Sydney

Sydney, 2000

Ph: +61 2 8072 7777

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Categories: Burgers, Sydney Tags: ,

Breakfast at Sel et Poivre, Darlinghurst

Sel et Poivre is one of my favourite French restaurants in Sydney. I have had many good meals here and have recommended it to a couple of my friends. I have never had their breakfast though, so was keen to try it, and they were open at 7am which was perfect for B and I.

The menu is very French – croissants, baguettes, brioche French toast. B and I picked the most non-French thing on the menu. B’s not big on eggs, she doesn’t like poached eggs, the sight of yolk oozing make her sick and well I have had my quota and really shouldn’t be eating anymore. I am not big on sweet breakfast, so would never order French toast or pancakes, unless ‘The Mother’ orders it and I will have a taste. I prefer something savoury to start with.

I love how the coffee is served in a bowl – French style, like when I was in Paris. It was HUGE and the coffee was smooth with strong aroma. I didn’t think I could drink so much coffee – I really shouldn’t be surprised of my ability – and managed to drink it all.

B opted for the organic muesli with grated apple and honey yogurt. The serving of muesli was generous, however, there weren’t enough yogurt. We did ask for more yogurt and they were more than happy to give us more. The muesli I thought was nice, but nothing to rave about. The yogurt was deliciously sweet and creamy, infused with honey flavour. I thought at first that it might be sickly sweet but I was pleasantly surprised.

I had something healthy also – I have eaten so much on the weekend that I really needed something light! Ordered the orgy of fresh sliced fruits with honey yogurt and granola. Fresh mix of strawberries, apple, rockmelon, watermelon, and pineapple. Not a lot of granola though, but that was probably a good thing!  It was delectably refreshing and exactly what I needed after a weekend of heavy and rich eating!

There was only one waiter at that hour, the place was quite, however, as we were leaving at about 8 ish more people started to rock up. I thought breakfast was nice, but nothing to rave about.

I do recommend the dinner though, it is sensational!

As always, it was good to catch up with B and catch up on the latest goss!

GA’s rating: 6.5 / 10 – dinner is infinitely better!

263 Victoria Street

Darlinghurst 2010

Ph: +61 2 9361 6530

Quick dinner at Bavarian Bier Cafe, Sydney

The relatives are slowly coming for the big event, my brother’s wedding. One by one, they are all coming, and my dear cousin, Ir, have been here for a few days now. He has heard about the Bavarian Bier Café from his friends and was dying to try out the beers. Mind you, he is not really big on beers so I was interested to see how much he can drink! I for one am not fan of beers, it just makes me feel bloated and surprisingly, I get drunk a lot quicker!

I met Ir after work one evening, he was pretty relaxed, as he should be on holidays! We rocked up at Bavarian Bier Café on York Street and were seated immediately. It was a busy evening, the place was buzzing with people in suits having a quick drink with friends and dinner.

After much perusing, Ir decided to have the Paulaner Premium Pils. I was trying to convince him to get the 1 litre beer, and thankfully he didn’t listen to my stupid idea! He would have made me drink it and well, I don’t think I would have enjoyed it. I am no expert on beer, but this was seriously bitter. Ir seems to have enjoyed it though, but he did say that he still prefers to drink wine – how can you not? No comparison really!

Ir opted for the mixed char-grilled sausages – a selection of gourmet Bavarian sausages served with Sebago mash and sauerkraut. It was a huge serving, five delicious looking char-grilled sausages. I didn’t have any, but he devoured this and absolutely enjoyed it. He wasn’t a huge fan of the sauerkraut though, but demolished the mash and the sauces.

I was torn between the crackling roast belly served with granny smith apple compote and sautéed potatoes and Bavarian tasting platter – succulent pork belly, sausages and schnitzel all served with Traditional Bavarian Condiments. I wanted variety, so tasting platter it was. It was also a big serving, but I was looking forward to it – a mix of things to try.

The sausages were absolutely tasty, mini-size and char-grilled served with sauerkraut. The sausages were tender, succulent, three different types, and my favourite was of course the pork!

Two small pieces of juicy, luscious and scrumptiously good, chicken schnitzel! The accompanying sauce was just perfect, with the tenderly chicken schnitzel. The roast pork belly was good but not the best I have eaten. The meat was not as tender as I had hope. The crackling though, was divine. It was crunchy, gooey, crispy and deliciously satisfying! The crackling was definitely the best part. It was a ‘good’ size, I think any bigger I would have been sick.

The tasting platter was definitely a great choice – a taste of everything. I gave Ir a taste of the schnitzel and he certainly enjoyed it.

It certainly has been a while since I last visited the Bavarian Bier Cafe. The food is not too bad for ‘pub’-like, bit on the expensive side, but the tasting platter was absolutely tasty! It has great atmosphere and service is really friendly. Very modern, and relaxing, great décor and well if you like beer and would like to try different types then this is the place for you.

We sat there catching up about life in general. It has only been 3 months since I last saw him, but I have certainly missed him. In fact, talking to him made me realize how I miss everyone back home.

It was a great evening catching up with my dear cousin – I have missed you!

GA’s rating: 7.5 / 10

24 York Street

Sydney 2000

Bavarian Bier Cafe York on Urbanspoon

Categories: Bavarian, Beer, Pub, Sydney Tags: , , ,

Dinner at Universal, Darlinghurst

A dear friend, C, has been away and I was dying to catch up with him to hear all about his trip to China and Hong Kong, especially the culinary part of his trip. Universal was one of the places he wanted to try, and I haven’t been to Universal since, believe it or not, my hens which was about 3 years ago! My dear bridesmaid organized dessert at Universal (my hens was a revolving food!) and I came back to have dinner a couple of months later. I have very fond memories of this place, especially the desserts! I can’t remember what I had for dinner but from memory, at the hens, I had the mango tango and it was simply divine! Thanks a million dear bridesmaid, M – it was one fantastic night!

I met C after work at Universal, it was a gorgeous evening, a little on the cool-ish side. We sat outside in the courtyard, and both C and I love the open air outdoor seating. It would be terrible if it was raining though, but thankfully it wasn’t.

If you haven’t been to Universal, the idea is that the dishes are ‘entrée’ size, they start from the lightest (which is top of left hand page) to the heaviest (which is bottom of right hand page). The waiter suggested that each person should order about three dishes, plus dessert, however we both opted for two, plus dessert.

We started with sour dough bread with olive oil. I love fresh bread, crusty exterior and soft and fluffy interior. I mean, who doesn’t love fresh bread?

I started with the hiramasa kingfish tartare, sweet grilled eel, shiso and sesame salad, sushi rice, and dashi jelly. This was wonderfully presented, and wonderfully executed. I love the hiaramsa kingfish tartare and the sweet grilled eel. It certainly has been a long time since I had eel. The shiso and sesame salad was light and refreshing, and really complemented the kingfish tartare and eel. It was a fairly light dish and a great way to start to meal.

C, had the steamed whiting, squid and clam, seared sea scallop, black beans, ginger soy broth – this was a slightly ‘heavier’ entrée. I didn’t have any of this, but I did ask C for his comments and he said ‘All the seafood components were perfectly cooked. Loved the scallops and the broth was sensational! Really bold flavours, extremely tasty.’ Judging by how he demolished this, I think he really enjoyed this dish – he did say that it was probably the dish of the night! (and I didn’t try any?!?!)

For the second course, I opted the sweet and sour pork belly, trotter croquette, roasted parsnip and green peas. As soon as C saw pork belly, he turned to me and said ‘pork belly?’ – he knows me well!

The pork belly was small, a little on the fatty side but was incredibly tender and incredibly succulent. It just melted in your mouth, it was just absolutely superb! The trotter croquette was lightly battered and deep fried, it was mushy, tenderloin-like and eaten with the roasted parsnip and green peas was just to die for! Each mouthful was better than the next. I couldn’t decide which to eat first, the pork belly or the trotter croquette – they were both simply divine. I loved this dish, and could have probably eaten more. For me, this was the highlight of the evening!

C had the slow braised wagyu beef shin and bone marrow vol au vent, chestnut mushroom tempura, spinach. His comments ‘the mushroom tempura on top was beautiful and very crunchy. The pastry wrapping was just as good. The beef and the bone marrow was a lovely combination.’ His only gripe would be the spinach puree, he is not a massive fan of spinach – how can he not?

Dessert – I had high expectations! Unfortunately I was a little disappointed. I ordered the tinkled pink – strawberry yogurt cream, balsamic strawberries, raspberries and basil. It was more like a cheese cake, however, not as creamy as a cheese cake. It wasn’t moist either, it was rather ordinary.

C had gaytime goes nuts – honeycomb ice cream, caramel parfait, chocolate crunch, salted hazelnut caramel. I had SERIOUD FOOD ENVY! This was outstanding – a tower of serious delicious sweetness! It was sweet, it was chocolate-y, it was salty – all the wonderful flavours combined together – it was just outstanding! I secretly had hoped I ordered this. C loved their take on golden gaytime, ‘lots of flavours with different textures and layers’. It certainly is a WONDERFUL dessert!

Universal was as good as I had remembered it. The two dishes were amazing, the wait staff tentative, and friendly. I think both C and I were happy, content and satisfied, I for one was extremely satisfied with my pork belly dish, it was scrumptiously good. It certainly made up for the ordinary tinkled pink dessert.

It was great catching up with C and hearing all about his culinary experiences in China and Hong Kong. It made me realise how much I am looking forward to my trip! It’s always great catching up with C and I look forward to catching up with you again soon!

C’s rating: 8 / 10.

GA’s ratings: 8 / 10

Universal

Republic 2 Courtyard Palmer Street

Darlinghurst 2010

Ph: +61 2 9331 0709

Universal on Urbanspoon

Brunch at Mad Spuds Cafe, Surry Hills

I was getting my hair trimmed one weekend. It seems like my life revolves around Surry Hills! I eat around Surry Hills, I drink around Surry Hills, I exercise around Surry Hills and my hairdresser is even in Surry Hills! Yes – life does revolve around Surry and well I.Love.It!

I have walked pass this café many times. It is a couple of doors down from Fouratefive. They specialize in potatoes, everything potatoes! Who doesn’t like potatoes right?

I met ‘The Mother’ here – he got the last table outside. It was a gorgeous sunny day, and it was one of those perfect days to people and car watch.

The coffee here is seriously awesome! The coffee beans are from Pigeon Coffee who roast their beans at their premise in Bourke Street, which is also in Surry Hills. The flavour, the aroma, it was deliciously smooth and a perfect way to start the day!

It was definitely too early for potatoes (well for me anyway) so I opted for the Breakie Bruschetta, which is spiced Italian pork sausage, fresh tomato and basil, poached egg, onion jam and olive oil. Apparently it is new for their Summer menu.

The Italian pork sausage was tender, moist and spicy which gave it a really nice kick. The tomato and basil were great compliment, the poached egg was a little on the ‘cooked’ side unfortunately, but the onion jam (love onion jam!) gave it a nice flavour. It was exactly what I wanted.

‘The Mother’ had the BLAT sandwich – not what I expected! Blat being bacon, lettuce, avocado and tomato on toasted sour dough with a side of cheesy crispy spud skins.

The sandwich I thought was nice but nothing to rave about. I was surprised that he ordered this, but he wanted something plain – I think he was a little hungover from the night before.

The cheesy crispy spud skins were cheesy, crispy, carb-y and scrumptiously good! It was frigging tasty and a serve was just not enough for the both of us! I am tempted to give this a go one day at home – pure sheer genius!

The service was fantastic and efficient. The menu seems to be influenced by Irish and Middle Eastern flavours. I was in a hurry to meet some relatives, so didn’t get a chance to take photos of the interior. ‘The Mother’ and I spent way too much time people and car watching that we lost track of time!

I will definitely be back to try their specialty, potatoes. I noticed a couple ordered the baked spuds and my word… it looks absolutely heavenly. I think she ordered the chili con carne and my goodness, I wish I had taken a photo of it – trust me – it looked heavenly – pure evil, pure carb-y but heavenly!

If you love potatoes as much as I do, then this is a must visit! I for one, will be back for some baked spuds!

GA’s ratings: 7.5 / 10

479 Crown Street

Surry Hills 2010

Ph: +61 2 9698 8108

Mad Spuds Cafe on Urbanspoon

Dinner @ Sepia, Sydney

I have wanted to try this restaurant for a while now. I thought we should wait for a special occasion and no other occasion can be as ‘special’ as our anniversary.

Sepia is headed by Martin Benn (ex head chef at Tetsuya’s) and backed up by Daniel Puskas (ex Oscillate Wildly). I have heard great things about this restaurant, so had high expectations. Everyone I have spoken too except for one really loved this place. The one girl that didn’t enjoy it was with me when we went to Oscillate Wildly about two – three years ago and we didn’t really enjoy the experience at Oscillate Wildly, but this is not about that, it is about Sepia.

The restaurant is situated on Sussex Street, Darling Park, it’s beautifully slick and as soon as we walked in, we felt extremely comfortable. I love the atmosphere, and the ambiance of this restaurant.

I was keen to try the degustation, however, ‘The Mother’ wasn’t so keen. So we opted for the a la carte.

We started with warm bread roll which was served with whipped truffle butter. The bread roll was so soft and fluffy, and slithered with whipped truffle butter was absolutely delightful! We were asked if we wanted more bread rolls, but one was enough. I was looking forward to what was to come.

Amuse bouche – I can’t remember the name of it, but it was jelly which was absolutely delicate served in a glass with a cute wooden spoon. I didn’t particularly like the sauce that came with it – it was ‘interesting’ to say the least.

We shared a serving of the ‘special’ for the evening: Sydney Rock Oysters, served with sweet rice wine vinegar and lime dipping sauce. The oysters were wonderful, a little on the ‘small’ side but delicious and satisfying.

We also shared another entrée, Yellow Fin Tuna Tartare, Avocado Cream, Soy and Wasabi Jelly with mango – this was outstanding. The yellow fin tuna was creamy and fresh, the avocado and, wasabi jelly was wonderful. I loved the texture, the flavours, the combination of it all, it was simply magnifique and probably the highlight of the evening.

For main, I had the scampi, murray cod with white asparagus. The scampi and murray cod was beautifully cooked. Unfortunately, the scampi was way too salty that it was just overpowering. I am not a massive fan of salty food, so this was slightly disappointing. However, the sauce, the texture of both the scampi and fish was just wonderful. It was a shame that it was just way way too salty.

‘The Mother’ had the angus beef tenderloin with buffalo and milk ‘tofu’ and quinoa. The beef was, pink, luscious and tender. It was juicy and succulent. The milk ‘tofu’ was superb – I have never tasted anything like it. It was so soft that you really didn’t need to chew. Like me, ‘The Mother’ truly enjoyed the buffalo and milk ‘tofu’. He thought the angus beef tenderloin was ‘nice’ – he is not a man of many words.

Pre-dessert was jelly with raspberry and crumble. This was light, refreshing and a great palate cleanser.

For dessert we shared the raspberry mousse covered in white chocolate served with ice cream, and pistachio. It was a new addition to the Spring / Summer menu and it was beautifully presented. I originally wanted to try the poached quince crumble – I was told that it was a must try, unfortunately they have taken it off the menu.

Below is what was inside the white chocolate log – raspberry mousse which was deliciously creamy and the white chocolate really gave it that extra sweetness. The pistachio was beautiful and was a great complement.

‘The Mother’ ordered tea, and were given petite fours. It was two servings of passionfruit macaroon and orange jelly cube lolly. I didn’t have any of the passionfruit macaroon (not a massive fan) but ‘The Mother’ seemed to have enjoyed it. The orange jelly was nice and chewy but nothing special.

It was a great meal, unfortunately, I wasn’t blown away. I expected more, a bit disappointed with my main, the dessert was wonderful but nothing of the ‘wow’ factor unfortunately – damn ‘high expectations’! The entrée, however, was just superb.

The service was fantastic, professional, flawless and friendly.

Nevertheless, it was a great evening. I was totally and utterly spoilt. To my wonderful husband, happy anniversary, three wonderful years and I am sure there will be many many more wonderful years to come.

‘The Mother’ gave it a 6.5 / 10. His comment was ‘it was OK, small serves though’.

GA’s rating: 7 / 10

Sepia Restaurant

291 Sussex Stret

Sydney 2000

Ph: +61 2 9283 1990

Sepia on Urbanspoon