Monday, 18 August 2014

Big Tree House Cafe (Rydalmere, Sydney)

It's nice to find out through social media of new cafes and restaurants. Especially when this cafe is so close to home, I would even say it is within walking distance!

Big Tree House is a cute cafe located in the suburb of Rydalmere. It is one of 2 stores located amongst a row of houses. Quite unusual to see a cafe situated in this way. But it works; people come and have a coffee, breakfast or lunch. Ultimately that's all that matters!


Once I found out about it through Instagram, I decided to visit over a few weekends. So please don't think I had all these in one go! :)

Gang nam style burger - I kicked off my first meal by having one of the specials. It was soy marinated beef, with onions, lettuce, mushroom, served with crispy kipfler. The beef was juicy, tender and bang full of flavour. The brioche bun was nicely soft. Yum!

Note: This dish has since been incorporated to their menu.

Corn fritters with poached eggs, bacon, avocado, and tomato relish. The eggs were perfectly poached and I loved the combination of bacon with the corn fritters. Nice!

Ricotta pancakes with honey cinnamon butter, and caramelised bananas. Lovely caramelised flavours without being overtly sweet. The pancakes were soft and fluffy but had an interesting texture because of the ricotta.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Bentley Restaurant & Bar (Sydney CBD)

Bentley used to be located in Surry Hills but earlier this year relocated to the business part of town. It is now located on the ground floor of the Radisson Blue hotel. It made it a lot easier for me now that Bentley is in town (literally) to have an early birthday dinner with my dear friend SH.

SH is, I must say, a wine buff and for special meals she tends to frequent restaurants that have a good wine list. Bentley was earmarked by her because they have a good sommelier and have a reputation of having a good repertoire of wine. Having recently won the NSW Wine List of the year, expectations were high!

I found the interior to be quite interesting, it was very modern in look and feel. And it was quite dark. Sigh! :(

One of the first things SH does is to scrutinise the wine list to decide what she wants.

When the young lady attending our table asked for her choice of wine, there seemed to be a slight miscommunication and no matter how many times SH pronounced the label, the young lady failed to understand her. You can imagine how frustrated SH was starting to become. She had to resort to opening the wine list to show the actual label name and vintage she wanted.

To make matters worse, when the wine was being poured, there was no showing of the bottle to her nor was there even a chance to taste the wine before the glass was filled. And on top of that they did not even provide the right wine glass for the pinot noir! Poor SH was quite offended with the whole process and I think that set off a rather negative view of the service at Bentley.

But let's talk about the food. :)

We started with a complimentary Smoked eel and mash crisp. I thought it was going to be a warm bite but surprisingly when I bit into it, the filling was cold but the pastry was crunchy. Very interesting contrasting texture of cold and crunchy.

Entree of Alpine salmon, malt, mandarin, and black sausage crumbs. SH was thoroughly enjoying this dish. The verdict was delicious!

Entree of Quail, smoked celery, and white soy dressing. I was enjoying how perfectly cooked the quail was. The meat was tender, and had a nice touch of pink. The texture of the celery shaved lengthwise was different and this provided the much needed crunch.

Main of Kurobata pork, macadamia milk, wattle crumbs, and rhubarb. I liked that there were elements of our native greens being used in this dish. SH couldn't help but enjoy the dish. She mentioned that the flavours and textures made it a delicious dish.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Queenies (Surry hills, Sydney)

After reviewing my recent posts, I have just realised that I have been hanging out quite a bit at Surry Hills lately! I need to break this trend or before I know it, I might just end up living in this trendy end of town! :) Wouldn't that be a hoot?!

A recent mid week catch up with a friend ended up with us having some Jamaican food at Queenies. It is located above The Forresters and I almost missed the corner stairs to get up to Queenies.

As I was walking up the stairs and taking in the decor, I had a feeling of déjà vu. The position of the restaurant and decor reminded me very strangely of The House of Crabs! For the life of me, I know not why!?!

Once again, the concept is shared plates and we decided to try out the following:

Bammies filled with Prawn, mango and ginger; and pulled pork and pineapple. Firstly a little internet research has revealed to me that bammies are West Indian flat pancakes made from cassava flour. Of the two, we definitely preferred the prawn and mango bammy. Such a classic and tropical flavours.

We found the pulled pork a trifle flat in flavour. I know what to order next time. :)

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Sugarcane Restaurant (Surry Hills, Sydney)

Sugarcane has been in the food scene for a while now but I think since it recently went through a revamp of their menu and a fresh interior look, it has picked up interest in the Sydney food scene.

Recently I had an opportunity to check it out one Saturday night. It was a rather chilly night actually but quite warm in the restaurant. We were seated at one of the long communal tables.

Sugarcane is one of those restaurants with 2 seatings and since we had to vacate by 8.00 I decided to take the 6.00 pm option. KL and I had already checked the menu online so we had an idea of what we wanted.

The food came out thick and fast!

Sydney rock oyster with Sugarcane dressing - a few hmmm's from my table indicated these were good. I am not an oyster person so I skipped this one.

Prawn, rice cake and caramelised sugar cane. This piece of appetiser stood alone on its own as I was the only one who ordered it. I popped the whole thing in my mouth and was greeted with an explosion of flavours! Completely surprised but delighted by the tart and sweet flavours and the crunchy texture of the rice cake was spot on! I now wish I had ordered more of these! Super delicious!!!!
Sorry - not a great shot! :(
Crispy tortilla, crab, green apple, coconut and lime. Light, fresh and tangy flavours with a delightfully crispy tortilla.

Fried eggs, black vinegar and caramel. Better known as son-in-law eggs, these were so addictive. The egg was gooey on the inside and the black vinegar and caramel sauce was oh so deliciously sweet and slightly sharp. The sauce perfectly complemented the egg. Yum!

Pad Thai with a serve of chicken. Now, I thought we were going to get the normal chicken that comes with Pad Thai. You know, the chicken breast slivers we typically get when we order Pad Thai with chicken. Boy was I wrong! These were twice cooked chicken and came fried! There was a delicious caramelisation to the chicken which brought a nice complexity to an otherwise standard pad Thai. I liked the fact the bean sprouts were not fried and were fresh and still crunchy.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Bar Surry Hills and Italian Kitchen (Surry Hills, Sydney)

The story of how we came to be here is quite amusing. I hope my regular visitors will bear with me while I regale you with this snippet. My friends and I had been planning this catch up for a while now and we had decided on lunching at Tapavino.

But we had arranged this quite a while ago and Tapavino's website at that time did indicate it was open on Saturdays. Lo and behold, around 10 pm the night before the catch up, for some reason I was compelled to check the website and realised to my horror Tapavino was no longer open on the weekends! Aargh!

After some scrambling of text messages and some quick googling, I decided on checking out Bar Surry Hills and Italian Kitchen which recently launched a revamped refurbishment and menu.

At around 12.30 pm on a Saturday, I was the first to walk in and it felt quite strange to be the first one on the premise. But over the next few hours, it started to have more and more people coming in. Phew!

We chatted and chilled over drinks and some delicious food. I was very surprised at how good the food turned out.

Garlic Parmesan Crust - talk about super crusty. My friends said it was delicious! They finished the lot so that says something!

Salumi Misti Board of prosciutto, sopressa, mortadella with hand made grissini, Sicilian olives, grana and extra virgin olive oil. I shared with this my friend MA and we both loved the board. I even got to see the salumi being thinly shaved by the young cook. Loved the grissini and the salumi were so thinly sliced the shavings were practically melting in my mouth. More please!


Bianco Pizza which was a potato, rosemary, mozzarella, and garlic pizza drizzled with truffle oil. I did not expect the pizza to be as thin as it turned out. It was wonderfully crusty and the potatoes were thinly sliced yet had a nice bite. Yum!