I heard about this restaurant through a University friend, C. The Gowings heritage building has been transformed into Sydney’s newest boutique hotel – I have always wondered what they were going to do with this place! QT Sydney has opened and it is not your average hotel – the place is quite hip, funky and has that ‘cabaret’ feel to it, even the ‘bouncers’ downstairs are dressed in cabaret outfits.
Robert Marchetti (ex-North Bondi Italian Food and Neild Avenue) is behind this find establishment and offering diners ‘the freshest produce from Australian’s best artisan providores, prepared with cooking techniques featuring wood fired rotisseries and ovens’.
I was catching up with a couple of friends, and suggested this place. The menu VAST – couldn’t decide what I wanted to eat, duck, pork or beef! We started with warm fresh bread with pepe saya butter – yum!
We went straight to mains. I was craving beef and opt for the rib eye 100% black angus, darling downs ($48) – it was cooked to perfection, medium rare, the beef was incredibly tender and succulent, it was exactly what I wanted and needed.
About 1/3 of the table ordered the ½ crisp spiced duck served with Paris mash potatoes, steamed warrigal greens and salt bush ($44) – oh my, tender duck, crispy spicy skin and the mash incredibly creamy and delicious!
The hot spanner crab cakes with salad of hearts of palms, aioli and hot sauce ($19) were a hit!
The hand-picked spanner crab salad with avocado mousse, pickled asparagus, chervil, baby coz and black truffle dill mayonnaise ($28) was light and delicious – you can never go wrong with crab and avocado!
The steamed kinkawooka mussels with shallots, garlic, crème fraiche and sea parsley in a reisling sauce and shoe string fries ($38) were plump and moreish!
We all enjoyed the iceberg, red peppers, Ortiz anchovy, seeded mustard dressing ($10).
The fried onion rings ($7) weren’t too bad.
‘The Mother’ and I shared the Gowings classic profiteroles – filled with crème patisserie and vanilla ice cream drowned in Valrhona dark chocolate sauce ($17) – oh my! 3 decent size profiteroles, they were sinful but absolutely fantastic and the chocolate sauce was a wonderful complement.
Others had the hot German doughnuts dusted in Cinnamon and nutmeg sugar ($12). Although it was relatively huge, I had high expectations for these doughnuts and it did not live up to it. It was a little dry and wasn’t even fluffy! The profiteroles were definitely a better choice.
Service tentative, food was pretty good, it’s definitely a ‘fun’ place to go for dinner with friends. I definitely enjoyed my steak and those profiteroles were excellent!
Would like to come and try their lunch – we were curious about the 11 seeded sandwich – pastrami, corned beef, brisket, asiago cheese, sauerkraut, seeded mustard mayonnaise, house made pickle – WHAT A MOUTHFUL! I’m sure this would be fantastic! Till next time!
GA’s ratings: 7.5 / 10
49 Market Street
Ph: +61 2 8262 0062
Our last meal in Honolulu with both Lobster Dynamite and The Professor was at Roy’s. There are six different locations in Honolulu alone, and we went to the one in Waikiki Beach which is a short drive from their place.
The chef behind this restaurant is Roy Yamaguchi. Born in Tokyo, he worked as executive chef at le Serena in LA in 1979, and by 1984 he opened his own restaurant in LA called 395 North. He moved to Hawaii in 1988 and open Roy’s. There are now 31 Roy’s including 23 in the US, 6 in Hawaii, 1 in Japan and 1 in Guam.
There were a few hiccups with our reservations, but thankfully we didn’t have to wait for long for our table, as we noticed there were a few people waiting. The menu looked wonderful, a mix of everything, ranging from raw seafood, cooked seafood, poultry and meat. Considering there was a lot of raw seafood that I could not eat, I thought I would just order separately from the group. Their food looked spectacular and yes, I was uber jealous.
We started with the edamame which was served with sesame oil and chili – just the way ‘The Mother’ likes it.
‘The Mother’ couldn’t go past the king fish tuna, it was the first time that The Professor had it and she enjoyed it. Lobster Dynamite also loved the freshness of the fish, it did look very very good!
The crab cakes were also delicious – full of chunky crab meat in a spicy sesame sauce.
The lobster roll was also a hit!
That was their entrees, for mains, ‘The Mother’ had pan roasted kona kampachi – big island clams, local vegetable minestrome, roasted garlic – the fish was pan fried, it was tender but yet firm at the same time.
The Professor had the sea scallops – butter wilted nalo arugula, fresh wasabi sourdough fritters, local orange, and seared scallops. I didn’t have any of this, but it looked absolutely divine and no doubt The Professor really enjoyed it.
Lobster Dynamite had the roasted garlic and sesame baked jumbo shrimp and indeed they were JUMBO shrimp!
I on the other hand couldn’t go past the pork belly with buns – tender succulent pork belly which was served with radish, and bao (buns).
They were seriously good, so good that I don’t think I offered anyone some! I could have happily eaten another half a dozen for my main.
For mains, roasted half chicken, Asian herb thai chili, and mac-nut relish, kobacha spaetzle and oxtail cassoulet. It was a rather large serving, larger than anyone else’s on the table. It was rich, the chicken was tender, the spaetzle and oxtail I loved but it was a little on the rich side. It didn’t help that I was full from the buns.
We shared dessert, upside down pineapple cake which was served with vanilla bean ice cream.
The pineapple cake was a bit rich but incredibly delicious.
The chocolate soufflé was another wonderful dessert, it oozed with chocolate, and wow… what a perfect way to end the meal.
It was a wonderful meal with friends. Service was spot on, and food delicious! Would definitely recommend this place but reservations are highly recommended.
Thank you to both Lobster Dynamite and The Professor for your hospitality! We look forward to our next trip together in Vegas! Vegas baby, Vegas!
GA’s ratings: 8 / 10
226 Lewers Street
Honolulu, Hawaii 96815
Ph: +1 (808) 923-7697
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
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
Originally Una’s, Essen Restaurant and Beer Cafe serves European and German food such as schnitzels, classic old-fashioned deep-fried camembert, sauerkraut, confit of duck with duck sausages and many more. It was my brother, F’s, birthday celebration with friends and he suggested this place – beer, schnitzels, schnapps and more beer – how can one say no?
I couldn’t go past the Jaeger Schnitzel, chicken with a creamy mushroom sauce. Oh my goodness! It was bigger than my head. Generously LARGE serving of tender, succulent chicken, with creamy sauce which sat on a bed of potato roesti. I have to admit, I didn’t even finish half of it, it was just gigantic!
‘The Mother’ couldn’t go past the gulash, beefsteak with paprika, onion, potato and capsicum served with sauerkraut, sour cream and sourdough bread ($26.50). It was rich and hearty, the sauerkraut gave it that nice sour touch.
F opt for the pork knuckle, marinated in a honey, thyme and rosemary brine, slow roasted for 3 hours and served with bread dumpling, gravy and sauerkraut ($29.50). The crackle was crispy and oh so delicious, but the meat wasn’t as tender as we had hoped, it was a little disappointing. Loved the bread dumpling though.
My sis-in-law, O, opt for the mushroom ragout, served with home made spatzle ($21.00). I didn’t have any of this, but judging from her reaction, I don’t think she was too impressed with the dish.
I was getting quite full by this stage, but ‘had’ to get the apple and pear strudel served with vanilla ice cream and sauce ($10.00). Chopped apples and pear, and cinnamon, the strudel was warm, and was delightful, especially with vanilla ice cream.
GA’s ratings: 6.5 / 10
Essen Restaurant and Beer Cafe
Ph: +61 2 9211 3805
I have heard wonderful things about this place, Quarter Twenty One is the newest addition to Justin North’s empire. Visible to shoppers, the food at Quarter Twenty one is ‘inspired by the food retail in Paris’, hence ‘Quarter’, whilst Twenty One refers to the weight of one’s ‘soul’. Quarter Twenty One is located next to the Cookery School and Pantry, Becasse Restaurant and opposite one of my favourite bakeries, Becasse Bakery.
Wonderful spacious area, copper coloured shades, the restaurant is slick and service, immaculate! Like Becasse, the complimentary bread at Quarter Twenty was excellent and did not disappoint. Fresh from the oven, it was still warm when served and I love the crunchiness and the fluffiness of the dough – it was frigging delicious! The butter, don’t get me started on the butter, it was fabulous and a wonderful complement!
I couldn’t go past the caramelised kurobuta pork belly, smoked bacon consomme, mushroom, slow cooked yolk and jowl ($25). I adored the plate, wanted to take it home. The pork belly was melt in your mouth delicious! The paper-thin sheet of bacon draped over the shitake mushroom, it was scrumptiously good and the slow cooked egg – perfection.
S had the daily special, three different types of animal, from memory pheasant, chicken and another which I can’t remember mixed together and rolled into a sausage, served with truffles, mushroom and sweetbread. It was delicious – full of flavour and left you with wanting more.
For mains, the 24-hour veal cheek, sweetbread, scallop, cep potato puree butternut squash and lemon thyme ($35) had my name of it. Tender, melt-in-your mouth veal cheek, the sweetbread was sweet and fluffy and I love the cep potato puree, I wanted to pick up the plate and lick off all the sauce. The sauce was amazing and the veal cheek even better. FANTASTIC!
S said that it was the best meal he has had in a long time! The meal was indeed fantastic and did not disappoint. Was it better than Becasse? It’s a tough call, S hasn’t been to Becasse, but judging from the two courses, I think I prefer Quarter Twenty One just a little better. We didn’t have dessert but I am definitely keen to go back.
Quarter Twenty One
100 Market St Level 5 Westfield
Ph: +61 2 8064 7900
I have always wondered about this place. It has been around for as long as I remember. Located on the bottom of Oxford Street in Darlinghurst, this restaurant is rather old looking, facade rather plain with a sliding door. However, once entering, the decor is that of a diner, reminds me a little of a diner in America. The cute booths, the bar at the front of the cafe, and the cute old looking typewriter near the entrance.
It was one of those days, I needed ME time. A couple of hours on my own where I can eat something yummy, drinking good coffee and read a book. So with my book ‘Shit my dad says’, I went to the Falconer and ate.
It was past midday, I was hoping to get some breakfast, however, they don’t serve all day breakfast. The only breakfast item on the menu was croque madame with kuributa ham, gruyere cheese and a fried egg. It sounded wonderful but I wanted something ‘healthier’.
Started with blood orange juice ($4.50) – I don’t think it is freshly squeezed, but it was still rather refreshing.
The confit duck with rocket, orange, tomatoes and pine nuts drizzled with vinaigrette ($16.50) had my name on it. Generous serving of shredded confit duck which was incredibly tender and succulent. I love the combination of duck and orange and the pine nuts a wonderful complement. It was exactly what I wanted. It was relatively healthy, light and incredibly filling!
The cappuccino ($3.80), smooth, strong and aromatic.
I love the old record player – strictly vinyl. The staff are dressed quite trendy, it has a very chill and cool vibe, very relaxing. I didn’t feel as though I was rushed or pushed, I sat there for almost two hours, eating and reading my wonderful book.
I came back a week later after a lunch gathering backfired, but I didn’t mind it so much. I wanted to go back to The Falconer to try their reuben sandwich ($14)- corned beef on a toasted sandwich with ‘kick arse’ horse radish pickles and a side of salad.
WOW! Thinly sliced corned beef, which was incredibly tender with generous dollop of horseradish cream and was it ‘kick arse’? It sure was! Deliciously creamy and a wonderful complement to the corn beef.
The pickles were extremely sour – made up for the sauerkraut. It was missing cheese – melted cheese, but it was still pretty good I thought. Delicious! Definitely worth coming back for.
There are many versions of Reuben sandwich, but a ‘true’ Reuben consists of corned beef, sauerkraut, swiss cheese and russian dressing on toasted rye bread. I ‘may’ be on the hunt for the best Reuben sandwich. If you do know of a place, let me know!
The falconer is open every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
GA’s ratings: 7 / 10
31 Oxford Street
Ph: +61 2 9267 8434