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Mary’s, Newtown

I love fried chicken, and I am not talking just about Kentucky Fried Chicken but all sorts of fried chicken. Korean fried chicken, chicken Karaage, western fried chicken, you name it – I LOVE FRIED CHICKEN!

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There has been a lot of talk and hype about Mary’s which can be found in the cool suburbs of Newtown. I was in Sydney and was catching up with two of my lovely girlfriends. Originally we were thinking of going for a fried chicken crawl, start at Mary’s then go to NaruOne and potentially end up at Arisun! Yes, our eyes were bigger than our stomach. We didn’t even go to the second location, we went to Mary’s and that was pretty much it!

Mary’s is headed up by Jake Smyth (ex-bodega) and Kenny Graham (ex-Gardel’s bar at Porteno). Luke Powell, ex-head chef at Tetsuya’s is in charge of the kitchen – so there are some pretty big names! The entrance is tucked away down Mary’s Street off King Street, and if I didn’t see anyone come out I don’t think I would have found the place!

The menu is on a blackboard and it is short and sweet – it’s burgers or fried chicken.

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We ordered the fried chicken, whole ($28) and it arrived in a basket. The fried chicken is Southern American style, the batter was crunchy and had a lovely kick to it and the chicken meat was incredibly tender and scrumptiously juicy.

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The cheeseburger ($14) has been voted as one of the best cheese burger in Sydney. It was good, but for me, it would still have to be Dan Hong’s at Lotus. I have yet to try the cheeseburger at the Fish Shop so I don’t know. However, the Mary’s burger was simple, a glorified version of In ‘N’ out burger which I absolutely love. The bun was soft and a tad sweet but not overpowering.  The burger was simple and delicious, almost as good as Dan Hong’s but not quite!

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The shroom burger ($12) grilled field mushroom in placed of pattie was good but I have to admit, the cheeseburger was probably better.

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Mary’s is DARK! Extremely dark but I do like the vibe – it’s cool, friendly and extremely down to earth. The menu is simple which makes it easy to decide and I have heard the drinks are seriously awesome! Will definitely come back to have some cocktails and perhaps a cheeseburger or fried chicken.

Service friendly but there was one thing I noticed, majority of the guys, so about 90% of guys at Mary’s that night all had a beard! I kind of felt left out! HA!

GA’s ratings: 8 / 10

Mary’s

6 Mary Street

Newtown, NSW 2042

Ph: +61 2 4995 9550

Mary's on Urbanspoon

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Spencer Guthrie, Newtown

As I mentioned earlier, Newtown is not a place that I visit very often and suddenly within the space of four to six weeks I have visited three restaurants – Bloodwood, Hartsyard and now Spencer Guthrie. Spencer Guthrie can be found on the busy street of King Street, created by Troy Spencer who is ex-L’etoile and Oliver Guthrie, ex-Lucio’s they have created a Modern Australian menu with a focus on locally grown, organic and seasonal produce.

There were five different choices for ‘to start’ (entrée) and ‘to follow’ (mains) and everything sounded wonderful. We started with complimentary rosemary bread with butter and salt and it was extremely tasty. It was served warm and slathered with butter was deliciously scrumptious.

For entrée, we both couldn’t go past the chicken and duck liver parfait, warm ginger bread and prune jam ($20) – such a pretty dish! The parfait was deliciously creamy, the warm ginger bread had a hint of ginger and the prune jam was a wonderful complement. We definitely did not have enough ginger bread, but were offered more, however, we opt for the rosemary bread instead as we both thought it was better than the ginger bread.

The food are not meant to for sharing, but we both wanted the pork cheeks so thought we would share the glazed pork cheek, roasted fennel, apple fondant and mustard ($31). The pork cheeks were incredibly tender that it melted in my mouth, the apple fondant was a wonderful complement and the pig’s ear was wonderful. We both really enjoyed this dish.

We also shared the lamb rump, smoked garlic confit and pickled radish ($30) – the lamb was pink, and cooked to perfection.  It didn’t have that lamb-y smell and the baby organic vegies was a nice touch. It was definitely tasty – is it possible that I actually enjoy lamb now? Possibly!

And for dessert, we shared the honeycomb parfait, blood orange sorbet and coconut tuille ($15) – the blood orange sorbet really won us both over! The honeycomb parfait was delightfully creamy and smooth, and the blood orange sorbet – frigging delicious! It was a wonderful way to end the meal.

Servings I thought was a little small when compared to both Bloodwood and Hartsyard but it was enough for both of us. We were both stuffed and extremely satisfied. Service was impeccable and the wait staff were incredibly knowledgeable about the food. We definitely enjoyed ourselves.

I won’t do a comparison between Bloodwood and Hartsyard, I believe they are all quite different in their own way – it was still good regardless.

GA’s ratings: 7 / 10

Spencer Guthrie

399 King Street

Newtown 2042

Ph: +61 2 8068 1080

Spencer Guthrie on Urbanspoon

Black Star Pastry, Newtown

Black Star Pastry requires no introduction. This patisserie is located on Australia Street and well known for its cakes and delicious sweets. I can’t believe it has taken me this long to come back since it first opened.

It’s a small bakery, limited seating area and extremely busy on the weekends. We were there on a weekday around lunch time and the place was already busy. I had just eaten lunch but wanted some sweets to take home.

I couldn’t go past their signature Strawberry, Watermelon and Rose cream cake. My goodness – doesn’t it look pretty? Ok I wasn’t driving that fast, it somehow toppled!  I was tempted to buy the large cake but thought a slice would probably suffice. The cake is light and airy, I love the flavours and the subtle aroma of the rose cream. Topped with sweet strawberry, it was delightful – I couldn’t help but eat most of it, in hindsight, I probably should have bought the whole cake!

I love bread and butter pudding, and this was superb! As I didn’t dine in, I was told to heat it up for 40 seconds in the microwave and then pour the crème anglaise over it.

We devoured this within minutes! Eaten warm, it was incredibly sinful and incredibly delicious! One gripe though, I wish we had more crème anglaise!

It’s not all about the sweets, they have a mean pie here too – got two for the family, a lamb shank, red wine and vegetable pie – I can smell the aroma of the red wine, I am not usually a massive fan of lamb as you know but this was pretty good. The meat pie I didn’t get to try as I was stuffed, but I was informed that it was one of the best pies he has eaten!

I totally forgot to buy the donuts which means a visit again is in order. Next time we will definitely dine in! Can’t wait to go back, especially for that Strawberry, watermelon cake! YUM!

GA’s ratings: 8 / 10

Black Star Pastry

277 Australia Street

Newtown 2042

Ph: +61 2 9522 5643

Black Star Pastry on Urbanspoon

Hartsyard, Newtown

Hartsyard, the new kid on the block in Newtown which is owned by a husband and wife team Gregory Llewellyn and Naomi Hart. They met in New York whilst working in a restaurant, fell in love, and moved to Naomi’s hometown, Sydney. Gregory runs the kitchen, and Naomi runs Front of House. They decided to open their own restaurant last November, acquiring the former Gourmet Viking premises, it’s quite a cosy restaurant, a lot smaller than I thought but still very funky and pretty cool.

The menu – seed and feed is for sharing. M and I couldn’t go past the crispy pig tails ($18) – buttermilk dressing, pickles and hot sauce. Not what I expected, as I had envisaged a pigs tail, however, it was a ball with a crispy layer of batter, and inside, tender, succulent pork shreds. The pork was fatty and the buttermilk dressing a wonderful complement. The pickles were seriously tasty!

I couldn’t go past the oyster po’boy ($16) – English muffin, old bay mayo, coleslaw. The oyster was deep fried, a relatively large oyster and it was crunchy, moreish and absolutely delicious. It was served with shredded coleslaw and mayonnaise. It was good, my only gripe is the English muffin, a tad on the heavy side and I think it would have been better if it’s served with normal bread or brioche.

M couldn’t go past the Poutine ($19) – oxtail gravy, fried potatoes, crispy beef threads, cheddar and beer sauce – oh my – talk about calorific! It was seriously good, especially the oxtail gravy. Pity the crispy beef threads were a little hard.

The cold-smoked fried chicken($26) – buttermilk biscuit, low country sausage gravy had my name on it. A very generous serving of fried chicken, it was crunchy and the flesh was moist. I am undecided about the low country sausage gravy – a little too creamy for me but the buttermilk biscuit was definitely wonderful, soft, fluffy and pillow-y.

We were stuffed, and thankfully M stopped me from ordering more. I wanted to try either the roast pork, which the table next to us had and it looked absolutely fantastic or the smoked beef short rib which we were told were excellent!

We wanted room for dessert, peanut butter and banana sundae ($16) – pretzel ice cream, banana doughnut and salted fudge. This was insanely good, the banana doughnut balls with fudge sauce was divine and although I was full I could not stop eating the pretzel ice cream with the crumbled praline biscuits and salted fudge. It really was hard to stop!

We were beyond full! That last mouthful of ice cream really put me over the edge.  As for the drinks list, they have a variety of cocktails, wine by the glass (and a pretty comprehensive list of wines by the bottles), beers. They also have filtered water, sparkling or still, unlimited for $4. Naomi was extremely friendly, service was efficient and food came out relatively quickly. Definitely a great addition and can’t wait to go back and try the roast pork and ribs!

GA’s ratings: 7.5 / 10

Hartsyard

33 Enmore Road

Newtown 2042

Ph: +61 2 8068 1473

Hartsyard on Urbanspoon

Bloodwood, Newtown

Bloodwood has been open for a while now, it has been on my ‘go to list’ but have never gotten around to it. Partly because Newtown is just a suburb that I don’t go dining very often, parking is hard and traffic at peak hour is a complete nightmare! However, when T suggested this place for our mid-week catch up I couldn’t say no – it has been on my ‘go to list’ after all!

They don’t take reservations – not for parties less eight, and I was a little skeptical about getting a table, however, we had no problems in getting a table for two which was great. It looks like a small restaurant from the front, but there are actually more seating area inside and upstairs. Everything on the menu is to share – so tapas style and everything sounded wonderful. Since T has been here a few times, she suggested a few times.

We started with the kingfish, ocean trout ceviche ($16) – avocado, wasabi leaf, buckwheat crisp and finger lime. Oh my – I love the freshness and smoothness of the kingfish and ocean trout. Eaten with the creamy avocado on buckwheat crisp it was absolutely delightful. Definitely my favourite for the evening. I can eat this every day!

Next the socca ($15) – chickpea pancake, spiced pumpkin, quinoa, Persian fetta and fresh herbs. This was good, a little on the heavy side I thought, as chickpea is usually heavy but I love the combination of spiced pumpkin, quinoa and Persian fetta.

We also shared the Coorong Angus beef brisket ($30) – spatzle, cauliflower and beans. This was a rich and hearty dish, perfect for winder. The beef brisket was incredibly tender, and I love the crisp and crunchy spatzle.

Now dessert – we both couldn’t go past the bloodwood trifle ($14) – poached cherries, pound cake, port wine jelly, vanilla anglaise, yoghurt mascarpone. OMG – this was divine! The port wine jelly was fantastic, the vanilla anglaise was silky smooth – the whole combination was just excellent. I don’t recall having any poached cherries, but we did have mandarin and they were sweet! If I wasn’t so full, I could have probably finished the whole thing!

Here’s another shot from the top… AMAZING!!!

Service was friendly and food came out relatively quickly. I can understand why this place does get busy. I haven’t tried their other dishes but I would happily just come and eat their kingfish, ocean trout ceviche and have the trifle on my own next time!

GA’s ratings: 7 / 10

Bloodwood

416 King Street

Newtown 2042

Ph: +61 2 9557 7699

Bloodwood on Urbanspoon

Oscillate Wildly, Newtown

My first visit to Oscillate Wildly (‘OW’) was probably two or three years ago now. I came here with four other girl friends and unfortunately every single one of us did not enjoy it. I can’t remember what we had, but I do remember that it wasn’t a very good experience. Back then, I think the head chef was Daniel Puskas, who has now moved to greener pastures to Sepia. Now the Head chef at OW is now Karl Firla (ex Est, Marque and Bridgewater Mill) who joined in January2009.

I came here with a dear friend, S, one evening and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. It was definitely a better experience than the first, and the food I thought was simpler but tastier. Eight courses for $100 and if you wanted matching wine, that’s an extra $50. Neither of us had the matching wines, but S might as well had, he had about 5 glasses of red wine, 3 more and it would have been matching.

We started with bread roll which was served warm – the bread had a crusty exterior but warm and fluffy inside. How I love warm fresh bread, straight from the oven!

We started with the Kingfish, cucumber, soy – served on edible leaves. I was a little reluctant to eat the leave at first, however, seeing S stuffed the whole thing in his mouth and didn’t die, I thought I would also give it ago. The kingfish were cut into bite size, served with soy, cucumber and sesame seeds, they were light and absolutely refreshing. The leaf (which I can’t remember the name of) really gave it a nice texture. It was a great way to what was to come.

Next the Alaskan King Crab, horseradish, seaweed. This was an amazing dish – the fresh king crab with the savoury horseradish custard – it was subtle and unusual but worked. The mango jelly gave it that extra sweetness, and the seaweed was a great complement. S and I both really enjoyed this dish, the different types of flavours, it was just magnificent.

Carrot, cepe, walnut – this was a rather surprising good dish. Carrot sponge like cake which was light, and fluffy served with heirloom carrots, celery and walnuts. It was absolutely divine. S thought that it was a little dry, it needed more sauce, but I really enjoyed it just as it was. I loved the different types of heirloom carrots, the texture of the sponge like cake and the different flavours. It was different but it excelled in so many different ways.

Now the ‘mains’ – Murray cod, roast potato consommé, Jerusalem artichoke was probably one of the best dishes of the night. The Murray cod was absolutely lovely, tender and moist. The potato consommé was delightful. It was really quite exquisite.

Next the pork, young almond, coffee – oh my my, pork – pork – I really looked forward to this dish. The pork was a little pink on the inside, the coffee broth was subtle and the young almond really gave it that extra nutty flavour. I thought it was ok at first but as I ate more and more of it, the combination of the flavours really grew on me and by the end, I wanted more. It was just divine.

The last of the main dish – beef, samphire, prawn floss was another wonderful dish. Medium rare, tender and succulent beef served with apple and prawn floss exceeded my expectation. I was getting full but couldn’t help but eat every single thing on the plate. I couldn’t stop, it was just too good to stop.

Elderflower, lychee, rose – wow! The rose ice cream and the lychee served with tapioca jelly. It had fresh ginger, which was subtle and mad the dessert a little ‘spicy’. It sounds weird I know but far from it. There are really no words to describe it except wow! It was just outstanding.

Last but not least, Peach, beurre noisette, raspberry crisp – the grilled peach, the dollop of raspberry and the burnt butter crisp was the perfect way to end the meal. It was good but I would have preferred to end the meal with the rose ice cream and lychee – that’s definitely the best out of the two.

But wait, there was more – petite fours – coconut marshmallow and chocolate walnut. I was really getting full by this stage. The coconut marshmallow was nice, I am not a massive fan of the coconut, but marshmallow – I love. The chocolate walnut was wonderful, dark chocolate exterior with walnut in the inside – yum!

I was seriously impressed. Considering how much I didn’t like my first visit, I was definitely surprised. This was definitely better, and S did enjoy it as well. Funnily though, Daniel Puskas went to Sepia and I didn’t enjoy Sepia as much as I thought I would.

OW is quite a small restaurant, twelve tables max, the tables filled up as the night went on. The staff was friendly and tentative. The service I thought was fantastic and we didn’t have to wait that long between each courses. The menu changes on a regular basis and I’d be more than happy to revisit again in the New Year.

We had a great evening talking, laughing, catching up – thanks for listening S, it’s always wonderful to catch up with you. S treated me to this wonderful meal, and my turn next time round! Still on the waiting list my friend, I haven’t forgotten!

GA’s ratings: 8.5 / 10

Oscillate Wildly

275 Australia Street

Newtown 2042

Ph: +61 2 9517 4700

Oscillate Wildly on Urbanspoon