Restaurant Arras has relocated to Clarence Street, where the former Becasse used to be. I like what they have done to the place – the decorators has truly done an excellent job! The mural on one side, the spacious area, it’s truly very different to the old Arras.
I was catching up with the lovely M, she hasn’t been to Arras before, so suggested it. Diners can choose either a four course a la carte for $120 or degustation for $140, accompanying wine $80. The menu is slightly different, concept is still quite similar. We were informed that the chef ‘wanted to create something that’s different to everything else in Sydney, and trying to move away from that British fare’.
We started with complimentary canapes – smoked salmon croquette with egg, and some sort of blue cheese dip on crackers. The smoked salmon croquette was absolutely delightful, the blue cheese I wasn’t a huge fan off, only cause I don’t like strong blue cheese. Don’t think M enjoyed it either, for the same reasons.
Amuse bouche, tuna tartare which was served with some sort of puree (which I can’t remember for the life of me!) and deconstructed olives was delicious. It was extremely light and refreshing. A vegetarian option would be without the tuna tartare.
Like the old Arras, they offered a selection of in-house baked bread. I couldn’t go past the plain sour dough..
M had the onion sourdough. It was served warm and so hard to stop at just one.
We both couldn’t go past milk-cooked pork belly whey puree and crackling with apple cider sauce. The pork belly was incredibly tender and succulent. It came with THREE different types of crackling which all had different textures. I think we both could have definitely eaten another serving, or two.
For the second course, M opt for “Saturday lunch salad”, seared Mackerel, grilled lettuce, vegetable oil. Wonderfully plated, the mackerel was cooked to perfection.
The “Surf and some cereal”, black and white squid, sweetbreads, scallop and artichoke flakes had my name on it. I was a little disappointed with this dish, a little underwhelmed compared to the pork and what was to come. The scallop and squid were lovely but the sauce was too salty. It didn’t leave me with any ‘WOW’ factor.
Our third course, I couldn’t go past the Meuniere of groper, cabbages and mussels. This would have to be one of my favourite dishes. Thick cut of buttery fish cooked to perfection. The mussels hidden on top of cabbage which was crisp, slightly pickled and pureed were amazing. Pity I was too full to finish the dish, but it was seriously incredible.
M opt for ‘Migrating pigeon’, bulgur wheat, rocket and lemon. Again this was such a pretty and playful dish. The pigeon cooked medium rare, which sat on a bed of couscous with dollops of spinach puree. I didn’t have any of this, but M seemed to have enjoyed it.
For dessert, M chose the highlight I believe – cinematic soufflé – the sequel, popcorn ice cream, corn cracker. It was indeed ‘cinematic’! Popcorn flavoured soufflé which was served in a copper pot, it was light, airy, sweet, hot and absolutely wonderful. Served with popcorn ice cream, and extra plain popcorn in a bag – I had SERIOUS DESSERT ENVY!
My dessert was not as great after tasting the soufflé. The ‘not so smoothie’ banana chew, mangoes, cherries and coconut. Banana fritters with mango puree, little donuts and columns of pastry which had cream inside – it was good but it wasn’t a ‘cinematic souffle’.
I was full, beyond full but I knew what was to come – the famous dessert tray!! I wanted one of each, but knew that my eyes were wider than my stomach so opted for a couple of things. I couldn’t go past the chocolate freckle on a stick, peanut brittle and dark chocolate with truffle inside. I was on a sugar high but the chocolate was way more satisfying the ‘not so smoothie’.
It was a lovely dinner at Arras, I have been fortunate enough to go to their old venue earlier this year, and now this. I have to say, I really do like the new venue. The food is just as good – my only disappointment would have to be the second course – it was just underwhelming. The pork belly and the grouper would have to be the highlights.
Service was fantastic, as always. I have to admit though, I think I enjoyed my first experience at Arras than the second. Could be that I may have picked the wrong dishes, or that I came back too soon, but the dessert tray definitely made up for it!
GA’s ratings: 7.5 / 10
204 Clarence Street
Ph: +61 2 9252 6285
I vaguely remember coming to the Abercrombie Hotel Pub for quick beers before heading home during university days, but have not returned or remembered it existence since lately when I came here with E for some lunch time pub grub. For those who know this place well, the Abercrombie Hotel was very popular for its Friday night Purple Sneaker Parties, and has been leased to one of the Gang Bang DJ’s, Jaime Wirth.
The menu is very British I thought, I love the decor inside, the booth seating which is covered by different types of tartan, bookshelves filled with books and the cheeky paintings hung on the walls. I love booths, so automatically went to the first available.
Everything on the menu sounded delish, we started with mac n cheese balls ($12), four perfectly round balls, deep fried and served with a side of aioli.
Crunchy and crispy exterior, and inside, macaroni and gooey stringy cheese. It was tasty but definitely calorific!
We both couldn’t resist ordering the scotch egg slider ($6) – scotch eggs, mayonnaise on a mini roll. Incredibly cute – it was the tiniest and cutest burger I have seen in a long time!
The fried chicken burger ($10 – lunch menu), fried chicken, slaw, chili mayo and fries sounded awesome, however, it was a little disappointing. Thought the chicken was a little on the dry side however the slaw and chili mayo a wonderful complement.
E opted for the double cheese burger ($10) – double beef pattie, double cheese, pickles beetroot and tomato sauce on a toasted sesame seed bun. I had serious food envy – the burger looked absolutely fantastic!
The chips, I forgot to take a picture of it, but they were crinkle cut! Now you don’t see many places that serve crinkle cut chips so both E and I were in absolute heaven! She liked the soft and gooey one, I liked the thin, and crispy – worked quite well really!
The highlight of the Abercrombie hotel is supposedly their deep fried gay time. Now, after all the calorific food we just consumed, I really couldn’t stomach a deep fried gay time! I have heard mix reviews about this, some absolutely loved it, some questioned why you would take a good ice cream and deep fry it? It sounds wrong, I know but not doubt I will drag ‘The Mother’ in the coming weeks for some deep fried gay time and double cheese burger! I may need to work off all the indulgence from lunch first!
The Abercrombie Hotel is open to early hours on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights with a DJ spinning tunes. They serve cheap eats with food ranging from $5 to $19 and $10 lunch specials and dinner specials every night – if you like tacos they have $3 tacos on Wednesdays from 6 – 10pm. Definitely a visit if you haven’t been but be ready to eat some highly calorific food! YUM!
Corner Of Broadway And Abercrombie St
Ph: +61 2 9281 6675
Four in Hand is one of my many favourite restaurants in Sydney. I came earlier this year with a couple of close friends and family to celebrate my birthday. I had the pork dish and it was one of the nicest pork dishes I have had! Whilst dining, we noticed a suckling pig being carried across the room – we all looked at each other and thought ‘yup, we will have to do that one day!’
You all know my passion for pork, it is by far my favourite meat! This is my ultimate meal – a whole suckling pig amongst friends! With the help of my uncle, we managed to find 15 other pork lovers to dine at Four in Hand for their sublime suckling pig. I have been looking forward to this meal ever since I made the reservations six weeks ago!
I arrived early, and the lovely waitress showed me our ‘room’. It is not in the main dining area, but at the back of the pub – it’s a small, intimate and cosy room that could fit about 20 people. It was the perfect setting for 16 hungry diners!
I love the fire place – perfect for a cold wintery night.
We started with some fresh bread, not baked on site but from Iggy’s bakery in Bondi. Why have I not heard about this bakery before?
Once everyone has arrived, the waitress kindly told us sit so she can serve our amuse bouche. A small cup of soup was presented before us – white fish citrus and basil soup. The soup was strong flavoured, a little too fishy some said but had a wonderful citrus tang. I certainly enjoyed it.
We sat there chatting and the next I knew, the suckling pig was carried and placed on the table!
OH piggy! The star of the evening! Knife inserted into the back, ready to be cut!
As the waitress cut through the leg, I could hear the crackling sound of the crispy skin, it was like music to my ears! Oh how I heart crispy crackle! She cuts away, and I couldn’t help but salivate. I had to put the camera down and start eating this wonderful suckling pig.
Cut and then served on a wooden plank (I really need to get one for home!). Chunks of meat topped with crispy crackling waiting to be eaten.
The pork meat was unbelievably succulent that it cuts right through, the crackling was gooey and crispy and oh so wonderful! Best part about the pork!
C wanted the leg and the ear. The leg looked too much of an effort to eat for me, however, here are his comments ‘The ear was very crispy and crunchy but didn’t have much taste to it. The leg was very hard to eat, the skin on the upper leg was crispy but there wasn’t much meat to it. I couldn’t bite into the lower leg. Then I had some of the “normal” pork and it was very tender and tasty. I didn’t have much skin until late so it went a bit chewy and cold by then, oops!’
There were condiments that came with the suckling pig, jus (which was nice but a little rich), apple sauce (absolutely delightful and perfect combination) and chimichurri sauce. However, I ate most of the pig as it is and it was splendid! The suckling pig came with side dishes. Dutch carrots, absolutely wonderful! I couldn’t stop eating them!
Colcannon – traditional Irish dish which consists of mashed potatoes with kale or cabbage. It was so creamy and so yummy it was hard not to have a second serve!
Slaw with prosciutto I enjoyed the most.
Last but not least, these bake scallions.
WOW! Food coma, 16 hungry diners demolished the pig – there was nothing left, except for the legs and the head. I am proud to say that I had at least two or three serves (my mother would be appalled!) and couldn’t stop eating the crackle.
It was a wonderful evening shared with wonderful friends! Although there were two separate groups, we all bonded over our love for food and wine!
Cost of the pig is $80 per person and you need a minimum of 10 people. 16 was probably the right number for us for the size of the pig! We definitely didn’t have any leftovers. I have had a couple of suckling pigs in my time, mainly Chinese style roast suckling pig and I have to say, I think I prefer the western style better. The meat is much more tender and the crackle – heavenly!
Wouldn’t hesitate to do it again, but maybe not so soon! Completely OD’ed on pork and had a ‘pig hangover’ – yes that is possible! If suckling pig is not your thing, then try their dinner menu at Four in Hand – well worth it! Unfortunately C didn’t think the cost of the pig was worth it but I think most of the diners did enjoy it.
Can you believe that my dear uncle wanted gelato after this feast – so yes, we did go to messina for some gelato! I couldn’t stomach one so had a couple of spoonful and I was done! Fantastic evening!
Ps: reservations are highly recommended! We booked six weeks in advance and from memory they are fully booked this month!
GA’s rating: 8.5 / 10
Four in Hand
105 Southerland Street
Ph: +61 2 9362 1999
I have heard wonderful things about Orto Trading Co. It is opened by the people behind Baffi and Mo, a cafe that serves breakfast in Redfern (Anne Cooper, Louise Hunt, Chris Low). They sold Baffi and Mo last October and started this wonderful restaurant, which is only seven – eight weeks old! I have to say, and I said this to the lovely and absolutely friendly Louise that this is by far better than their previous restaurant.
Located on Waterloo Street in Surry Hills, Orto was buzzing by the time we arrived at about 7.30pm. People eating, laughing and queuing to get in. Luckily I had reservations, there are two sittings one at 6pm and the other 8pm. It was date night and I was SO looking forward to a wonderful meal.
We sat at the bar and I love the decoration, empty bottles dangling down like chandeliers.
The menu is quite extensive – English inspired with touches of Modern Australian and Italian. Food is hearty and perfect for a wintery night!
The waitress advised us to order two entrees and share a main as they are larger in size and boy was she right! Whilst perusing the menu, we were presented with a small bucket of popcorn and my goodness – it was the best popcorn I have ever had. The popcorn is laced with truffle oil and it was frigging delicious! ‘The Mother’ demolished half of it whilst I was taking photos of the menu and the restaurant. It is not your typical popcorn, it was deliciously crunchy, creamy and oh so truffle-y.
I wanted the Scotch eggs with house made pork sausages ($9). This was absolutely wonderful. Crispy fried pork with soft gooey yolk that oozed.
It has a light curry flavour, I could have easily eaten two of these, the oozy yolk – it was superb!
‘The Mother’ opted for pickled mackerel with gypsy pepper salsa and char grilled rye ($12).
The pickled mackerel was served in glass jar, it was warm, a little sour and tangy but delicious.
The char grilled rye was a decent serving and the pesto that came with it was delightful.
Eaten together – my goodness – heavenly!
For mains, I wanted the beef Guinness stew, however, ‘The Mother’ toyed with the idea of pork shoulder and king fish. Everything sounded wonderful so decided to let him pick. I was a little surprised with his decision but was glad at the same time. Slow cooked pork shoulder ($32) which was served on a huge wooden serving board and incredibly huge!
The pork shoulder is served with crispy and crunchy Brussels sprouts, carrot puree with hazelnuts and toffee-dipped pear. The pork was juicy and succulent. The crackle – OMG! AMAZING! Salty, crunchy crackle – what is there not to like?
The pear was soft and complemented the pork well. It was a satisfying and hearty dish! Every mouthful was better than the next. I didn’t want it to end and I especially loved the Brussels sprouts!
I was full but whilst perusing the dessert menu, I couldn’t resist but order the rhubarb tart. I heart rhubarb – it is such a warm and wintery dish.
The crumble was to die for, it was crunchy and gooey and had a slight ginger after taste. The rhubarb stewed until soft, and the vanilla bean ice cream a wonderful complement.
I was FULL – beyond full! I had to pause and could not move. It was a slow walk back home.
I love the friendly atmosphere, service excellent and food remarkable. I can’t wait to try their other dishes. Everything sounded absolutely wonderful!
Could this be a new favourite? You bet! You are allowed to have more than one favourite restaurants right?
GA’s ratings: 8.5 / 10
‘The Mother’s’ ratings: 8 / 10
Orto Trading Co.
38 / 55 Waterloo Street
Surry Hills 2010
Ph: +61 0431 21 2453
Restaurant Arras is one of the many restaurants that I love in Sydney. I have been here many times now, usually for lunch with work, which means no photos and no cameras. So when C, my eating partner in crime suggested this place for dinner one night, I couldn’t say no. But then again, I have never said no to dine out!
Restaurant Arras is located in Walsh bay, in a former bond store and has been awarded one hat in the SMH Good Food Guide in 2008, 2009 and 2010. I love the historic building – very old, very heritage looking and I love the exposed bricks.
Whilst perusing the menu, we were presented with complimentary bread sticks which was olive twists and house spiced almonds. I loved the house spiced nuts – crunchy with a nice spicy kick at the end. The olive twist was also wonderful but the nuts won me over, only cause I am a sucker for almonds.
We started with bread, which are all made on the premises, a choice of onion bread, malted sourdough, or fruit bread. I couldn’t go pass the sourdough, soft and fluffy on the inside with a crunchy crust. Smothered with butter it was oh so yummy! I love fresh warm bread.
Amuse bouche – beetroot jelly with beetroot and avocado. Two of my favourite foods on the one plate. The beetroot jelly was deliciously light and refreshing, the avocado a wonderful complement. Unfortunately, C wasn’t a huge fan of the edible flowers, but I thought this was excellent and a wonderful start to what was to come.
C and I opted for the Crab Eggy Bread, Dressed Crab, Jelly and Custard ($31) – it was beautifully presented. The French toast was deliciously soft and mushy and the ‘sausage’ of crab meat wrapped in gelatine was incredible. Beautifully cooked, however, C thought it was somewhat ruined by the herbs mixed in it.
Here is a close up of the crab eggy bread and ‘sausage’ of crab
I love the caviar like balls of jelly and a puddle of custard. It was very well seasoned and flavoursome.
J couldn’t go pass the plate for Mr. McGregor ($32), he didn’t know what it was and didn’t want to know. When the dish arrived, I thought it was one of the most colourful dishes I have seen in a while. Rabbit cooked in three different ways on a plate of dots of puree, leaves and flowers. I didn’t have any of this, as I was too engrossed in my crab eggy bread, but J seemed to have enjoyed it.
For mains, C and I opted for the same thing – pork belly, whey, head cheese and rice ($46) and OH MY GOODNESS! Where do I start?
The slab of pork was incredible, tender and succulent that it just melted in my mouth. I loved the top layer of crumbed crackle. To the right, potato and leek terrine, thinly sliced potatoes cooked to perfection. The crackle straw was ingenious and awesomely good. Underneath it was shreds of flesh taken from the head of the pig which was sandwiched between two thin discs of gelatine – mouth watering! Each mouthful was better than the next, I really didn’t want it to end. I love how the pork belly came with crackle which was prepared in three different ways: straw crackle, deep-fried as a ‘cracker’ and crumbed crackle – EPIC! Who doesn’t love crackle? I wish there were more of it though. C and I definitely enjoyed this dish.
J on the other hand, ordered the Ta, Jean ($34), tajine, vegetarian dish. Different types of vegetables which sat on a puree of avocado. It looked wonderful, however, C was glad that he didn’t order that as he would definitely not have enjoyed it.
It came with a side of custard, which wasn’t sweet but complemented the Ta, Jean well.
Pre-dessert was cherry and cashew trifle. I had expected the dessert to be served in a bowl or a shot glass like a trifle would. It was served on a plate, thinly sliced cherries which sat on a bed of crumbs and drizzled with cherry sauce and cashews. It was refreshingly light and not as sweet as I had thought. It was delicious and a great palate cleanser.
C and J couldn’t go pass revel in it ($20) – underneath that foam and chocolate sauce was balls of chocolate filled with orange creme, honeycomb, toffee, coffee, raisins or maltesers.
C absolutely enjoyed this – he couldn’t stop and popped them one by one in his mouth.
Now the moment we have all been waiting for. Arras’s legendary petit fours platter – WOW. It was a glorious sight and one that I have always looked forward to. Impressive rows of chocolate, jellies, toffees and honeycomb lined up. I was in awe that I didn’t really hear what the waiter said as he rattled the names of every piece.
I was trying not to be greedy, opted for five things which unfortunately I didn’t get to finish. Honeycomb, crunch chocolate with coconut, chocolate with cream inside (which I didn’t enjoy), fluffy aero mint chocolate and peanut praline. My favourite would definitely have to be honeycomb.
C’s petit fours – I couldn’t believe he demolished it all! He did say that he was totally and utterly full!
Stuffed to the max, we all walked back to the city. It was a walk that we all needed!
Restaurant Arras did not disappoint. Both Adam Humphrey and Lovaine Allen, owner and chef have done an extremely well with this establishment. It was better than I remembered it to be. Service excellent, food EPIC! I definitely look forward to going back again when they move to their new premises which will be on Clarence Street (where Becasse used to be) in either June or July 2011.
GA’s rating: 9 / 10
C’s ratings: 9 / 10
24 Hickson Rd Walsh Bay
Ph: +61 2 9252 6285