The Carrington – Specialite: Beba y Cene has been on my list of places to go. It is a casual pub that serves Spanish and Tapas like food. I don’t remember what this place was like prior, it is right opposite Il Barreto, but Chef Jamie Thomas has created a new menu – pub grub with a Spanish touch.
I was catching up with S and suggested this place, he too has wanted to try this place for a while now. We rocked up for lunch at about 12.30pm and the place was relatively empty. The menu is vast, plenty to choose from, from snacks to salads, to mains, to sandwiches, burgers and even lunch time specials.
We started with the special – $10 plate which consists of crumbed mussels, tuna tostadia and pork belly slider. It had us both at ‘pork belly slider’.
Three perfectly round crumbed mussels which were beautifully cooked. Similar to a croquet, it was lightly battered, and the mussels with the slight chilli sauce was absolutely delicious. One ball each was definitely not enough.
The tuna tostadia I didn’t have, but I was informed that it was fresh and wonderful.
We were both in awe when we saw the pork belly slider – but only one? We had to share? Tender pork belly meat, on a slightly toasted bun – this was fantastic and I think we both could have at least eaten three of these little babies each!
Next came the spicy basque wings ($10). Served in a terracotta dish, marinated in spicy tomato sauce and slightly grilled were a little disappointing. I don’t know if it’s the sauce, or the grill but I was a little underwhelmed. But after eating the pork belly slider, anything would have been disappointing.
We also couldn’t go past the Media Noche (Cuban midnight sandwich $12) – double decker, triple pork, cheese and mustard toasted sandwich. WOW! It was huge – three slices of white bread and in between, roast pork, ham and cheese toasted until it was crispy and cheese stringy. It was a monster of a sandwich, and it was good. Again not as good as the pork belly slider but it was scrumptious.
We were stuffed, the Cuban midnight snack really was filling and couldn’t fit dessert. Originally, I had planned to go to Bourke Street Bakery to get some of their tarts, but I was defeated. Even dinner consisted of an apple of some watermelon, I was still very full.
I am definitely keen to try dinner with friends over beers and cocktails. You can check out their website for specials, pintxos happy hour and even new outdoor seating. Service was friendly and efficient, although there were only half a dozen people. Food came out relatively quickly and I think they should definitely have the pork belly slider on the menu permanently!
GA’s rating: 7 / 10
563 Bourke Street
Surry Hills 2010
Ph: +61 400 077 792
Yardbird, the new talk of town, it was even mentioned in the SMH paper. Located in Sheung Wan, this new place offers diners a neck-to-feet chicken yakitori amongst other things. No reservation, queues are long but there is a bar in which you can wait and have a drink or two. Opened by former Zuma chef Matt Abergel, this place has great service and a very relaxed atmosphere.
I was catching up two of my dearest friends in Hong Kong (and boy have I missed them) and R suggested this place. Thankfully we got there relatively early at 6.30pm and probably took the last table for three! We were all starving and were ready for a good meal.
The menu consists of a couple of sections, you start with the ‘Smaller’ dishes, then ‘Yakitori’ dishes which is the neck-to-toe chicken – everything on the yakitori dishes is chicken and if you are still hungry, then to the bigger and rice section.
We started with the corn tempura with salt and pepper (HKD85) – four perfectly round corn balls, it was deliciously crunchy, incredibly sweet and frigging juicy! It was probably one of our favourites for the evening.
I noticed ‘KFC’ – first thought was Korean Fried Chicken, alas it wasn’t. It actually stood for Korean Fried Cauliflower (HKD75) with yuzu and chilli. It was melt-in-your-mouth perfection, and quite crispy. It was a little disappointing I thought, I think fried chicken with yuzu and chilli would definitely have been better!
Now, the yakitori bit – we wanted one of each. The thigh (HKD38 per skewer) was deliciously tender and juicy but nothing special I thought.
The meatball (HKD42) which was served with this tangy sauce and raw egg yolk was incredible. Perfectly cooked chicken breast which was slightly crumbed and dipped in the sauce was absolutely delicious.
The oyster (HKD42) which is the dark meat near the thigh or as the waiter described ‘love handles’ were definitely our favourite skewer of the night. Two round pieces of dark meat, incredibly tender, ridiculously fantastic.
We wanted a taste of the liver, heart and gizzard just to see what it was all about. All were smoky, salty, and juicy. The liver (HKD38) creamy inside. (these were so unattractive to photo!)
The heart (HK38) was sprinkled with ginger and spring onion and it was also quite tasty, but not as good as the oyster.
The gizzard (HK38) which was cooked with olive oil and garlic was nice but nothing special I thought.
Overall, the three hungry girls were STILL hungry, but we didn’t really want to try anything else. Overall, it was good, I understand all the hype but it didn’t really satisfy us – we all wanted to eat more, and in hindsight we could have ordered more, but wanted something different, think we were all ‘chicken-out’. Total bill came to HKD860 which is about AUD$125, which was ok, but didn’t blow our minds off. However, the service was friendly and tentative.
So where did three hungry girls roam after an unfulfilling meal? Paisano’s Pizzeria to get one of the biggest slice of pizza I have ever seen. It was seriously bigger than my head and for (HKD30 – which is less than $5) it was well worth it! Not to mention we got some ice cream and chatted the night away.
I have definitely missed you guys and am looking forward to making the move next year!
As for Yardbird, it was good and am glad that we tried it, not sure if I would go back but it was fun, and if you like chicken, then definitely give it ago. I love yakitori, but I think prefer the vast variety of meat (ie chicken, pork, seafood) and not just chicken. Just remember to rock up early, when we left at 8pm, it was busy and a wait of more than an hour!
GA’s ratings: 6.5 / 10
33 – 35 Bridge Street
Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
Ph: +852 2547 9273
Fat Buddha, is the newest yum cha venue in Sydney which is located on the top level of QVB. It has been open for a few months now, I have heard mix reviews, some loved it and some thought it was just way too pricey, including ‘The Mother’ who went with his work colleagues a few weeks ago.
The décor is very modern, I love the natural light streaming through, the dark-toned wood panelling. It was definitely very shick. It was relatively empty when A and I rocked up at midday on a weekday, we have both been craving yum cha and thought we would try this place.
The prawn dumplings (har gao) were plump, although the pastry I thought was a little too thick and too gooey.
The siu may was excellent, we both enjoyed it.
Like the prawn dumplings, I thought the pastry for the chives and shrimp dumplings (gow choi gau) was thick and a little gooey.
Really enjoyed the chicken feet (fung jeow), the flavours and the smoothness of the skin was just delicious.
Unfortunately the pork dumplings, (xiao long bao) were not the best I have eaten. It wasn’t too bad but again it was the thick pastry that killed it. The soup inside was delicious though, and had the ‘right’ flavours.
The silky rice noodle filled with prawns were also good. Loved the silky, smooth rice noodle. They didn’t have my favourite pan-fried rice noodle rolls with peanut and hoi sin sauce, which was a shame.
For dessert, I couldn’t go past the egg custard tarts (daan taat), was served warm, the top pastry was very flaky and good but the bottom bit was a doughy and disappointing.
Slightly on the expensive side, but service was friendly and polite. They even made my lunch date, baby B smile!
GA’s ratings: 5 / 10
Level 2, QVB, 455 George Street
Ph: +61 2 9264 9558
Located on the busy road of Oxford Street, Dondon can be missed if you don’t know the existence of the restaurant. It’s not very fancy, looks like a rundown hole in wall with plain tables and interior but don’t let that put you off, as it is actually quite good.
I have been told Dondon makes brilliant noodles, the sushi and sashimi are good quality. I took ‘The Mother’ here one Saturday evening, thankfully we came relatively early, by 7.30pm the place was packed.
We started with the fried goyza, slightly crunchy on the outside, this was good but have definitely had better.
I couldn’t go past the pork katsu don ($9.50) – one of my favourite Japanese meals – a bowl of rice topped with deep fried pork cutlet, egg and shallots. The pork was incredibly tender, and I love the egg which was scrambled and drizzled on top of the pork. It was definitely a generous serving, didn’t even manage to eat half the rice!
With it, came miso soup, which had some udon in it.
‘The Mother’ opt for the prawn tempura with udon ($9.50) – he loves tempura, the batter was light and the prawns and vegetables fresh. I couldn’t help but steal the eggplant and sweet potato – yum!
The udon was good, but I definitely preferred my katsudon!
I have had a couple of takeaway also, the unagi don was incredibly rich but delicious. Their handrolls are fresh and reasonably priced. Did also enjoy the teriyaki beef temaki (handrolls). Definitely cheap and deliciously Japanese food. Good value, generous serving and service friendly.
GA’s ratings: 7 / 10
80 Oxford St
Ph: +61 2 9331 3544
It’s always interesting to hear how couples meet. I met ‘The Mother’ about 7.5 years ago now, we met whilst playing indoor soccer. While I admit, it wasn’t love at first sight (as I don’t really believe in that!) it was his kindness, his ability to make me laugh and his ability to listen to me crap on that attracted me to him. To this date, 7.5 years later, we still can’t agree on where we had our first date. I believe it was at the Opera bar, and he seems to think it was at the Cohi Bar.
It has been a wonderful 7 years – dated for three, married for four! We have many interests but the most important I would have to say would have to be our love for travelling! In the first three years, we went to London, Morocco, Wales, Indonesia, Hong Kong, China and my favourite would be our around the world wind trip – New York, Caribbean, Barcelona, Rome, Hong Kong. It was ONE HELL of a trip! The next four years was even better! More traveling – five weeks in the US, our one year stint in Hong Kong, where I traveled more than I have ever had in a year – 10 times in one year (and not all with my lovely husband!) including Paris, China, Taiwan, India, Sri Lanka and many more! I am sure there will be many more travels ahead, and I look forward to it! I am excited about next year and our future!
So on this ‘special’ day, I thought we would go and celebrate our four year anniversary at Food Society. I had originally wanted to go to Restaurant Arras, but ‘The Mother’ is not big on degustation, and he likes tapas-style food!
Food Society is located on Riley Street in Darlinghurst. From memory, this used to be a run down cooking school, which is now a funky, lavish restaurant and bar. The dishes are tapas-style, designed to share with a modern Eastern European flavour. I love the decor, the red carpet, the Grandma’s comfy lounge where we sat for dinner, and the friendly service.
We started with the complimentary house-cured pickles and bread sticks.
‘The Mother’ ordered the signature cocktail – spiced apple pie, zubrowka bison grass vodka, 4 hour infused apple juice, cinnamon, star anise and lemon zest shaken over ice ($14) and it indeed tasted like an apple pie!
The mixed vegetarian board of zucchini stuffed with ricotta, olive and lemon, fried cauliflower and pickles ($20) was a hit. I LOVED the fried cauliflower, kind of wished I ordered it for entree on its own. The zucchini stuffed with ricotta was also delightful.
For more of the substantial dishes, we ordered the chicken breast with potato dumplings, mushrooms and paprika ($25). The chicken breast was tender and succulent and I love the potato dumplings. The sauce I thought was a little rich for my liking and in small doses was ok.
The fillet of beef with lardons, kohlrabi puree and roasted carrots ($27). I had hoped the beef was more pink but chargrilled, this was wonderful. The kohlrabi puree a wonderful complement and there were MORE bacon bits! YUM!
I was getting full by this stage, but still had a little bit of room for dessert. I was intrigued by society signature pashka with strawberry compote ($10) – a Russian baked ricotta cheesecake topped with crumble and strawberry compote. I wasn’t sure what to expect, my first bite of just the pashka on its own was a little weird. It was a little bland but eat all the components together, it was deliciously tasty! I have to admit though, I think ‘The Mother’ enjoyed the dessert more than I did.
GA’s ratings: 7.5 / 10
‘The Mother’s’ ratings: 8.5 / 10
91 Riley St
Ph: +61 2 8090 3462
Cute little cafe on the corner of Fitzroy and Huchison Street in Surry Hills. Can be missed if you don’t know its there, however, I doubt it, as this cafe is ALWAYS busy. B and I were catching up for brunch and she suggested this place, and of course to stop by Farmer Jo to get some of their awesome muesli, as they are just next door!
They claim they have the ‘best Columbian Coffee’ and B couldn’t go past the long black with milk on the side. It was definitely way too hot for coffee for me. It was strong but not bitter at all.
The ricotta and spinach filo with salad had my name on it. I don’t think it was home-made, but it was incredibly tasty. The salad with corn was a winner – LOVE CORN.
No guessing what B had, she opt for the muesli with fruits and yogurt. She is a true muesli expert, the muesli was Sonoma’s and we both LOVE Sonoma’s muesli.
Service friendly, the cafe was busy when we got there, diners dining in and buying lunch for takeaway. I can see the coffee as a hit, as everyone who went in ordered a coffee.
Very small and friendly cafe.
GA’s ratings: 6.5 / 10
Cafe con Leche
104 Fitzroy Street
Surry Hills 2010
It’s been a while since my last visit to District Dining. I really enjoyed our first meal there, and have been keen to go back but never got around to it. Until Uncle organised a get together 11 people, 3 babies, to have lunch one Sunday. They had a new menu, so both Uncle and I were eager to try it out.
I wanted something different, and opt for spiced pumpkin marinated feta honey walnuts. It was indeed a GENEROUS serving for entree. Tender spiced pumpkin, the walnuts really gave it a nice touch. I didn’t finish this, as I was saving room for the two courses to come, but other diners picked at it and enjoyed it.
For mains, almost everyone had something different, L opt for the 12 hour lamb shoulder, cauliflower salad, olives and Moroccan spices. I didn’t have any of this, but she did say that it was incredibly tender and didn’t have that lamb-y after taste.
Uncle had the wagyu beef brisket, miso glaze, broccolini, pickled daikon. I almost ordered this, but couldn’t go past the duck confit. The beef brisket was melt in your mouth tender, it was deliciously rich and definitely a winter comfort food!
GA’s ratings: 8 / 10
17 Randle Street
Surry Hills 2010
Ph: +61 2 9211 7798