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Archive for April, 2011

Greek food at Medusa, Sydney

I have heard great things about Medusa – some claims that it is the best Greek restaurant in Sydney. Now I am no expert in Greek food, I may have had it once or twice. I have been to the Press Club many years ago and really enjoyed it. I was catching up with the lovely N and she recommended this place.

Opened in 2007, Medusa is located on the corner of Kent and Market Street. I have walked past this restaurant many times but have never tried until that evening. I love the decor, its modern and the floor to ceiling photographs of Cyclades, and the tiles running up the bar. It’s all very funky!

N and I thought we would share the tzatziki ($8) – yogurt, cucumber and garlic served with warm pita bread. The pita bread was deliciously soft and fluffy and dipped in the cool, refreshing but yet creamy yogurt, it was delightful.

It was hard not to stuff myself with pita bread.

N had the medusa’s arni sto fourno ($29.50) – whole slow baked traditional side of lamb, lemon potatoes and roasted vegetables. Wow – it was a generous serving of lamb! I am not sure if it’s my photo but the lamb glistened. It was extremely tender and extremely lamb-y for my liking. It was good though, I loved the lemon potatoes and roasted vegetables. N definitely enjoyed it.

I couldn’t go past the daily specials – hirini pancetta me glyko marathon, crisp skin pork belly on a moschato wine, caramelised carrots and fennel with chat potatoes ($30.50). Unfortunately, the pork meat was not as tender as I had hoped; it was dry, tough and partly chewy. The crackle however, however was exceptionally good! Gooey, chewy, and oh so very crispy. I loved the caramelised carrots and fennel, it was sweet, and complemented the pork well. It was a shame that the meat was a little dry.

We thought we would share the dessert – baklava ($10), walnut filled filo in cinnamon syrup with honey yogurt. It was already halved for us and was just too pretty to eat. It was rich, but delicious good, the sweet pastry filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with syrup and honey yogurt. It went down with my tea, but I don’t think I could have finished a whole one.

The service fantastic, our waiter was extremely attentive and friendly. The menu is extensive with different choices of meat! Head Chef Gregori Akridas ‘uses only the freshest produce available and where possible the finest ingredients sourced directly from Greece’. It’s a great place to go for birthdays or any sort of celebration, it’s fun, vibrant and although my pork belly was a dry, the lamb, tzatziki and baklava were sensational!

 GA’s ratings: 7 / 10

Medusa Greek Taverna

2 Market Street

Sydney 2000

Ph: +61 2 9267 0799

Medusa Greek Taverna on Urbanspoon

Categories: Greek, Sydney Tags: ,

Abell’s Kopi Tiam, Manuka

Not to be confused with the Kopitiam Cafe in Ultimo Sydney. A couple of friends at work have recommended that I come here for dinner. I was supposed to be heading home to Sydney, however, due to ‘unexpected maintenance’, my flight was cancelled and hence another night in Canberra. I didn’t feel like anything too fancy, and was exhausted so thought I would give Kopi Tiam ago.

Located in Manuka, Abell’s Kopi Tiam (coffee shop in Malay) serves different type of Asian food, ranging from Indonesian to Malaysian, Singaporean and Nyonya food. I thought it was a tad weird that they also had Western food and did not even look what was on offer. The Indonesian dishes were more appealing as I was craving for it.

It is so much harder to eat alone when ordering Asian food. You want variety but afraid you won’t be able to finish everything. I started with the grilled chicken satay with cucumber pineapple with peanut sauce ($12.90). Four skewers of grilled chicken, the meat was a tender, however, on the thin side. It didn’t have that wonderful barbeque aroma that I had hoped it had. The peanut sauce was exceptionally good, peanut-y, not so creamy with a hint of chilli.

It has been a while since I had dinner at Mum’s and was craving Indonesian food. Ordered the bali chicken simmered in a tamarind and coconut cream curry sauce with aubergine and French beans ($19.90). For some strange reason I had thought this was going to be fried, however, it was poached chicken in a pool of tamarind and coconut curry sauce. The sauce was rich, coconut-y and spicy which I loved. The chicken, tender and the aubergine was a wonderful complement. I am not usually a fan of coconut curry sauce but this was nice, the coconut was not overpowering and it was very Indonesian and very Balinese – I have had something similar like this in Bali and loved it.

I didn’t want rice, so the lady suggested I get some roti – YUM! Two generous fluffy and pillow-y roti. It was no mamak, but it certainly satisfied the cravings and eaten with the tamarind sauce, it was scrumptiously good.

For dessert, I wanted the pisang goreng (banana fritters) but they weren’t making them due to the high cost of bananas. One of the owners (I think) did say that he was happy to make me some provided I bring my own bananas! I may have to take his offer on that and bring some next time.

The owner and chef is from Malaysia, Abell Ong. I spoke to one of the owners briefly, the place was BUSY, the service helpful and friendly, they knew their product which was good. The wine list is extensive and lots to choose from by the glass. Meals are to be shared of course and reservation is highly recommended. It was a very yummy meal and it satisfied my Indonesian cravings, although, I can really do with some more.

GA’s ratings: 7 / 10

Abell’s Kopi Tiam

Shop 7 Furneaux St

Manuka 2603

Abell's Kopi Tiam on Urbanspoon

French Bistro, Element, Sydney

I have walked passed Element Bistro many times now. If I didn’t happen to stop in front of the restaurant to take a phone call, I don’t think I would have seen it, it is completely hidden under some stairs. It’s a tiny and cozy restaurant, probably a maximum of 40 people. As soon as you enter, you feel relaxed, welcome and at ease.

I was catching up with an old colleague, S, and I suggested this place. Matt Barnett is Head Chef and Owner. He’s worked at many different places, Awaba at Balmoral Beach, Milsons at Milsons Point and working under Hugh Whitehouse and the Ensemble Theatre as head chef. He’s worked in Canada, and travelled through France, Spain and London. He came up with the name ‘Element’ because he believes that when you dine at his restaurant, you ‘really will be in your element’.

There is one blackboard wall dedicated to the menu. However, if you are facing away from the blackboard, you are presented with an ipad! You can imagine my excitement when the waitress presented me with the ipad, all I wanted to do was play and surf the internet. However, I don’t think my friend would have appreciated that!

The menu is very French, five different choices for appetizers, entrees and mains. They all sounded wonderful but we both couldn’t go pass the Pan Seared Scallops, Sweetcorn Bread Sauce, Pork Crackling ($19). Four delicious plump and juicy scallops seared and cooked to perfection. The sweetcorn bread sauce was deliciously creamy, sweet and had a strong corn taste. I was a little disappointed that there were no pork crackle though!

For mains, I opted for Roast Fillet of Barramundi, Celeriac Puree, Lentil, Bacon & Zucchini Salad ($34). I heart crispy fish skin, the crispier the better. It was a rather generous serving of fish, thick, firm and cooked to perfection. Celeriac is one of my favourite winter roots, it tastes so much richer, deeper, creamier and sweeter than celery and the puree was just that. The lentil, bacon and zucchini salad really complemented the fish and celeriac puree well, it was oh so very satisfying.

S opted for the Crumbed Milk Fed Veal Cutlet with Bourguignon Sauce ($34). The veal cutlet was huge, crumbed and sat on a bed of potatoes and a pool of bourguignon sauce. I had a tiny piece of this, it was tender, and  the  bourguignon sauce was rich and full of flavour. S demolished this, so I can safely say that he definitely enjoyed it.

Unfortunately we were both too full for dessert. It is always hard to have a three course meal for lunch. I did notice they had Rhubarb & Red Apple Crumble, Lemon Thyme Ice Cream and would definitely have ordered it if I wasn’t stuffed and had to go back to work!

The wine list is quite extensive and you can get them by the glass.  Element would be a great place for a first date, or business lunch or just catching up with friends. It’s a great find and a wonderful restaurant that serves classic French food with a twist. The menu changes accordingly to the season and I can see this becoming a favourite. The service is warm and excellent. I am looking forward to returning and trying the rhubarb and red apple crumble for dessert. Rhubarb… I heart rhubarb.

GA’s rating: 7.5 / 10

163 King Street

Sydney 2000

Ph: +61 2 9231 0013

Element Bistro on Urbanspoon

Categories: French, Sydney Tags: ,

Italian and Sons, Canberra

This blog may turn into me eating my way around Canberra than Sydney soon! I was in Canberra again and caught up with the lovely E for dinner. Italian and Sons was another restaurant that’s on her list of restaurants to try. Tucked away in Braddon, Italian and Sons was awarded a one hat by the Sydney Morning Herald good food guide 2011.

I have heard mix reviews about this restaurant, the service can be a bit of a miss and so can the food. It was a busy Tuesday night, E had made reservations at 6pm. The place is relatively tiny buand cozy. I love the grainy wooden wall panels that stretch along the narrow place, the hanging salumi and the extensive formagio selection. The specials are written on the blackboard, including the daily specials and I couldn’t go past the Tuesday specials!

E opted for the Orecchiette with suckling pig, broccoletti, chilli and pecorino ($26). I do love orecchiette pasta – small round pasta that’s roughly shaped like an ear. I love the indentation of it as its great for collecting sauce. The pasta was al dente, the suckling pig tender, and I love the creaminess of the sauce and the chilli really gave it a nice spicy kick at the end. 

I couldn’t go past the Tuesday special – wood roast suckling pig on the bone with apple and sage ‘mostarda’, bitter Italian greens ($32). It was a generous serving of suckling pig – TWO large portions. The pork was deliciously tender and succulent, the mostarda was sweet and really complemented the pork well.

The crackle, my oh my, mouth wateringly gooey, and crispy and by far the best thing about the suckling pig. Sorry the photo is a little dark, my old point and shoot really doesn’t like the dark surroundings. I noticed other diners around me ordering this ginormous tender loving pork.

For dessert, E and I thought we would share the Tira mi su ($12). One of E’s friend dined here the night before and was blown away by the tiramisu. She said ‘it’s what the other little tiramisu inspired to be when they are all grown up’ and I have to say, it was one hell of a tiramisu!

The sauce was thick, creamy and oh so chocolate-y. Inside, delicious and moist cake-like that just melted in my mouth – it was heavenly! I didn’t want it to end, I wanted more and more.

The service was warm and friendly. We didn’t feel as though we were rushed. The food was absolutely wonderful, especially the suckling pig and the tira mi su – heaven in my mouth!

I did notice other diners having wood-fire pizza and it looked good – large servings with wonderful toppings. The signature dish is the rosemary foccacia (with freshly sliced salumi). The other desserts also sounded great, however, if sweets aren’t your thing, they do have a selection of cheeses. The wine list is quite extensive. Both E and I had a glass of the house red wine with our meal which was lovely.

Overall, I thought the meal was great, service warm and friendly and I still dream about that marvelous tira mi su. I may have to drop by just for that! Thanks again E for keeping me out of mischief! No doubt I will see you and J next time again.

GA’s ratings: 7 / 10

7 Lonsdale Street
 
Canberra, 2612
 
Ph: +61 2 6162 4888
 

Italian and Sons - Vino e Cucina on Urbanspoon

Chish and Fips, Coogee

Easter came very late this year, better late than never right? The upside, we get a FIVE day long weekend. YAY! I heart long weekends and Easter is definitely one of my favourite holiday seasons – chocolates, hot cross buns – what’s not to like right?

‘The Mother’ and I thought we would go to Coogee, sit under the sun, read a book and eat. He had me at ‘eat’ and the rest was just a blur. He sure does know how to get me out of the house.  

I was craving for fish and chips – as you do when you are at the beach. Chish and Fips can be found in the middle of Coogee Beach, it’s a heritage tram shelter and it’s in the perfect spot for beach goers passing by. It seemed like everyone had the same idea as us that day.

We arrived just a little after midday and the place was busy! The menu is pretty basic – different types of fish and chips, calarami and chips and burgers.

The service is efficient and friendly. However, I was a little confused about the numbering system. It seems a little sporadic, which was annoying as we couldn’t figure out how long we had to wait. So after about 15 minutes, we finally got our order. There are undercover seating at Chish and Fips, however, the place was so busy that there were no spare tables available. It didn’t bother us too much, we wanted to sit in the park anyway. 

‘The Mother’ couldn’t go pass the fish of the day, John Dory with both chips and salad ($17.80). The batter was crispy and the fish fillet was firm and fresh. The chips were good but definitely have had better.

I just wanted the fish, the barramundi ($11) – again the batter was thin and crispy, the fish I thought was a little on the thin side, but it was pretty tasty.

We sat there relaxing…

It wasn’t exactly the warmest day, but there were a lot of brave souls swimming! 

I sat there reading, pity the sun wasn’t out but it was a glorious afternoon in Sydney.

I do love the name – Chish and Fips. I can see why it is quite popular, food is relatively decent, and price is fairly reasonable.

It was indeed a relaxing afternoon.

Hope you all had a wonderful Easter and a relaxing weekend.

GA’s rating: 7 / 10

Chish and Fips

5 Arden St

Coogee, 2034

Chish N Fips on Urbanspoon

Aubergine, Griffith, Canberra

I think it takes a certain personality or courage to dine alone. It used to terrify me but there was a stage when I had to travel religiously for work and got comfortable to dining alone. However, it has been a while since then and it took a lot of courage and psyching on my behalf.

The problem with dining alone is that people either assumes you are a food critic, or you are a business traveller or you are dealing with relationship stuff. I believe, solo dining is really just a matter of changing your mindset and once you have gotten over the ‘I don’t want to be seen alone’ or ‘its’s so sad to dine alone’ you can start to enjoy your meal. It’s hard, but if you bring a book to read or a newspaper, or a flyer to keep you occupied, it really isn’t that bad. So once I got over all those fears, I went to Aubergine.   

Aubergine is located in Griffith shops in Canberra. It was given a lift a couple of years ago when head chef and owner Ben Willis took over in 2008. Ben a Canberra boy, left the Capital City to work in Sydney and London before returning. The food presentation is immaculate and contemporary and the flavours are absolutely delicate and refined. The menu has a combination of French and European twist and guests are offered a choice of either 2 courses ($60) or a 3 course ($70) prix fixe menu.

I was greeted by the lovely floor manager. The restaurant is small and intimate with high ceilings and huge windows overlooking the park and Griffith shops. There’s a long bench at the back, the bar and wine shelves are the backdrop over the room.

Whilst perusing the menu, I was presented with some roasted almonds and dates. Everything on the menu looked absolutely delicious and I was certainly looking forward to my meal.

The sourdough bread was warm with crusty exterior and soft fluffy on the inside.

I couldn’t go pass the confit ocean trout, shaved fennel salad, oyster beignet and avruga caviar. WOW. The confit ocean trout was served at room temperature, it was so delicate that it just melted in my mouth. The shaved fennel salad had a tangy, citrusy flavour, and it was refreshingly light and absolutely wonderful. 

The oyster beignet beautiful! Love the batter, it was thin and beignet batter just makes everything so much better! I really did love this dish, the cucumber and the fennel salad were a wonderful complement.

For main, I couldn’t go pass the mustard pork loin, black pudding, pork croquette, braised fennel and crackle. Again… OMG! Tender and succulent pork loin which is smothered with mustard was amazingly good.

The pork croquette with chunks of meat was fantastic and it was beautifully accompanied with fennel puree. I was in pork heaven!

It didn’t end there, the black sausage with gratin of cauliflower was frigging fantastic and eaten with braised fennel was just too good that I didn’t want the meal to end. The crackle which I ate last was one of the best things about the dish.

Unfortunately, I was too full for dessert, but the crepe suzette with blueberry ice cream sounded excellent so did the vanilla panna cotta, poached pear, and raspberry sorbet. I will have to come back on my next visit to Canberra and have the mains and dessert.

I sat there drinking my wine whilst talking to the floor manager. He moved to Canberra for a year, and three years later, he is still there and loving it. He was friendly and made me feel ‘welcome’. I did notice other diners ‘gawk’ but I was comfortable enough to sit there, read a book and scroll my iphone.

No doubt I will be back in Canberra and to Aubergine. I had such a wonderful meal here and am really keen to try their dessert next time. Reservation is highly recommended, most of the diners that evening was in suits. The service was friendly and warm, they had an extensive wine list, and the food, well, stupendous.

GA’s ratings: 8 / 10

18 Barker Street

Griffith, ACT, 2603 Canberra

Ph: +61 2 6260 8666

Aubergine on Urbanspoon

Opera Bar, Sydney

Opera Bar requires no introduction, located on the lower concourse level of the Sydney Opera House, it offers spectacular views of the Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge and the city skyline.

I was catching with one of my oldest friends, W and her gorgeous daughter, E. I can’t believe this was the first time in four years that I have met her daughter! Terrible I know! But this won’t be the last time I meet the adorable E. Don’t think she was highly impressed with me – a ‘stranger’ whom she called as ‘aunty’ as taking photos of her! But I think by the end of the day she warmed up and I managed to get her to call me ‘sister’ in Chinese!

I have many fond memories of the Opera Bar. ‘The Mother’ and I have had many dates here, and of course when visitors come to Sydney we take them here. The view is just stunning, and on a perfect summer night, it’s fantastic!

W and I were catching up for lunch and thought we would grab something to eat. It was a warm and gorgeous day in Sydney. I wanted something relatively healthy for lunch, and the salad of smoked duck, artichoke, pear & pecan ($20) sounded good. Thin slices of smoked duck on a bed of lettuce and rocket, I love the combination of duck and pear and rocket. The pecan was a wonderful complement and gave it that extra crunch. It was nice but nothing to rave about.

W on the other hand, shared the Beer battered flathead fillets, chips & tartare sauce ($27) with her daughter. Generous servings of fish fillets, unfortunately the batter was a little too thick and oily. I don’t think W really enjoyed it.

I don’t eat at the Opear Bar often, the menu is reasonable but it’s not memorable or mind blowing. I do enjoy the atmosphere, the balcony-like area, the live jazz, the cocktails and the view. Not to mention, the wonderful memories, conversations, laughters and shenanigans I have had here. On a gorgeous afternoon, Opera Bar is the perfect place to have a beer or two with friends, soak in the sun and enjoy the view.

I do take it for granted sometimes! No doubt there will be a visit here over the Easter long weekend – if the weather holds up!

W, it was so lovely to catch up with you! Lets catch up again soon.

GA’s rating for view: 9 / 10

GA’s rating for food: 6.5 / 10

Opera Bar

Lower Concourse Level, Sydney Opera House

Sydney 2000

Ph: +61 2 9247 1666

Opera Bar on Urbanspoon