Vogue Cafe – Macquarie Centre

Tags

, , , , , ,

Alex: So, I wouldn’t normally write a post about a coffee catchup (or in this circumstance, a milkshake catchup) but I just couldn’t resist after how impressed and completely gobsmacked I was after seeing these killer creations.

Owner, Sarah Aouad has amassed quite a following at ‘Vogue Cafe’ the past few years but as Macquarie Centre has reopened its doors and become the new fashion precinct of the north, things could get a little cray cray… (in a good way!)

_MG_8467

The quaint little cafe seems to effortlessly ooze homey vibes, from the very welcoming staff, the cute table decor, the lounges and colour scheme of the cafe to their famous and cheerfully creative drinks. _MG_8439

_MG_8493

Unfortunately, we arrived quite late in the afternoon so the kitchen was closed but on display were an array of cakes, tarts, and pastries that seemed to be yelling at me, especially that Nutella scroll.

_MG_8452_MG_8474

Alas, leaving with just the nutella scroll would’ve been sinful, right? So a doggy bag was sounding like the sure-fire way to make me leave a happy man. Chocolate croissants, ricotta cheesecake, lamington tart, and my lover, the nutella scroll.
_MG_8489

I asked Sarah for her suggestions but really I was just being nice. My mind was set when I saw the ‘Peanut butter milkshake’ $8. If you’re a peanut butter lover like myself then you will literally die and go to heaven. An extremely decadent and rich drink that might leave you feeling a little sick. I’m not going to lie I couldn’t finish this off, but I put up a good fight! The thick and creamy milkshake was cleverly contrasted with the crushed nuts that came up through the straw as you eagerly take a big sip. Who would have thought that drinking a milkshake could be so much fun!?

_MG_8498 _MG_8507

TheNutella milkshake’ $8while definitely a strong competitor could not overdo the peanut butter. This was a lot thinner and easier to drink than the peanut butter one. Honestly, I don’t know how one can fault anything with peanut butter or nutella. Some might say that there’s a point where it can be overdone but who doesn’t like to go a little over the top every once in a while. This is definitely not something you could have every day, but for a nice treat every once in a while, I could absolutely get my fill from one of these. _MG_8512

_MG_8531

just look at those tops! Ahh

Thank-you to Sarah for your lovely hospitality, I can’t wait to return.

Until next time!

Alex Squadrito

V.B.A
The Vogue Cafe on Urbanspoon

The Smoking Panda – City CBD

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Bianca: Now I know I’ve never seen a smoking panda in my life, actually scratch that, I’ve never seen a panda in real life. So I was thoroughly entertained before I even stepped foot into ‘The Smoking Panda’. Imagery aside, I was intrigued by the fusion of retro LA style, that quintessential down and dirty west coast charm with a Chinese focused menu.

_MG_9343Walking up the stairs above The Hotel Coronation on Park Street in the City CBD (few doors down from Woolies) you’re instantly transported to another city. Sleek is the one word I would use to describe the space. With soft pink hues lighting the bar, it’s easy to see yourself settling in for a night of cocktails or knocking back one of the 65 Bourbons on offer.

To kick off our Saturday evening we started with the ‘Harvey’s Headbanger’ comprising of Gin, green chartreuse, maraschino, fresh lime – served straight up with candied lime. $17. This was described to me by the barman as more of a ‘fellas’ drink. Which I don’t quite know what he was implying…. Oh well, it was very tasty and I would happily swig back a few of these in the future.

IMG_9351Completely reversing all ‘normal’ gender roles, Alex went with the girly drink. The ‘Blue Lagoon’ – Gin, vodka, blue Curacao, lychee, dragon fruit, and lemonade foam – served long & blue with popping candy. $17. Clearly I’m also a fan of all things pink and frilly, this was my favourite cocktail of the two. Much more of a pleasurable drink to sip at, the sweetness from the fruits balanced the gin. They were fresh out of popping candy though which was a little disappointing, it would have been interesting to see just how much that added.

IMG_9350

IMG_9355The menu, created by celebrity chef Danny Russo offers a varied roll call of popular Chinese snacks with a few modern twists. One of the most exciting points we found out during our little ‘visit’ (clearly that’s code for drinking!) was that The Smoking Panda is not affected by the state’s current lockout laws, in other words “Drinks…drinks for everybody”.

We made our way over to our table where we happily conversed with some fellow foodie friends. Then the onslaught began…and by onslaught I mean every person’s dream. Rounds and rounds of food. First up was the ‘San Choy Bau’ – w/ braised short rib. $5ea. Really refreshing to see something other than mince in a san choy bau, the short rib had that velvety texture after a slow cook. The added addition of the baby corn was also really interesting, adding a crunch to almost every bite.

IMG_9356

One of my favourites was the ‘Prawn Toast’ $12 for 3. I literally felt each bite travel straight to my arse but I climbed those stairs to get into the bar so they were essentially burnt off (right?). This would be a really great one to soak up the booze._MG_9366Every soft shell crab burger/slider from here on end has some pretty big boots to fill after Bowery Lane’s rendition (link here:http://forfoodssake.net/2014/10/01/bowery-lane-sydney-cbd/ ) so I was keen to check this one out. ‘Steamed XO Soft Shell Crab Slider’ – $7ea. I loved the ingenuity of the steamed bun but flavour wise it wasn’t quite there for me.

_MG_9394

Some ‘Duck Spring Rolls’ w/plum sauce. $11 for 3 really went down a treat. I’ve never had duck in a spring roll before so I loved that little twist, I did find them a little oily._MG_9409

_MG_9380

Panda Colada & Espresso Martini

And of course the penultimate carney fare ‘’Corn Dog & Onion Rings’ (2) $15. I’m not a big hotdog lover and before The Smoking Panda I have never had a corn dog, I can see its appeal, fried dough, sure. Slap some ketchup on it (hey, we are in LA right?) and you have yourself a party. Alex and I both really loved the onion rings, these were good’uns.

_MG_9417

We couldn’t finish a meal without something sweet now could we? First up was the ‘Deep Fried Green Tea Ice Cream’ –w/ coconut and a rum affogato. $17. I would be suggesting people order this even if you are at the ‘button undone’ stage, I’ve had a few terrible fried ice-creams from dodgy restaurants but this was executed very well. We found the green tea flavour quite mild and pleasant, not at all overpowering. It was served alongside a Rum Affogato. Which worked exceptionally well._MG_9426_MG_9433And lastly we tried the ‘Black Sesame Panna Cotta’ w/a sesame wafer. $9. Our least favourite dish of the night, texturally it was a great panna cotta, taste wise, it didn’t really have any discernible flavour.
_MG_9443_MG_9442

IMG_9447

Another great addition to the Sydney bar scene, I would kind of put it in the upmarket stream of bars, very chic, very sophisticated. It’s nice to see a large emphasis on the food served alongside the alcohol and it’s pretty clear a lot of work has gone into creating some harmony between the two.

Bianca

Photos by Alex

*For Food’s Sake were invited to The Smoking Panda by Wasamedia, all opinions however are independent and our own.

 

The Smoking Panda on Urbanspoon

La Lomita – Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Tags

, , , ,

The first leg of our recent honeymoon brought us to the beautiful island off the coast of Cancun, Isla Mujeres.  The Island of Women, as is its literal translation, is a short fifteen minute ferry ride from bustling Cancun and is surrounded by pristine waters in the Caribbean sea.

This was our first trip to Mexico and as such, were on the hunt to experience some authentic, local cuisine. Lonely planet and Trip Advisor gave one place on the island an overwhelming thumbs up all round, so we made a bee line!  La Lomita (The Little Hill) is a simple yet colourful eatery serving up all the quintessential Mexican dishes as well as a number of dishes I’d never come across.

photo 2

IMG_8215

Situated in the backstreets, this unassuming little eatery is a real gem that could possibly be missed if you weren’t on the lookout.  The décor is simple. Plastic tables and chairs, brightly coloured flowers on the walls amongst other mismatched objects and a view into the little kitchen where you can see the staff busily preparing food.  You get a real sense the minute you walk through the door that it is a family owned operation and as a guest, you are experiencing a meal as you would in their home.

IMG_8213

photo 4

We sat down and immediately ordered two pints of Sol beer (when in Rome!)  A HUGE draw card for La Lomita is that the beer is served in clay glasses which keeps the beer ice cold. This is a rare find on the island – as we found beer elsewhere to be served quite warm due to the hot climate.

photo 5

Determined to steer away from the more traditional tacos, nachos or burritos (all of which they offer) we chose a few simple dishes that allowed us to really appreciate the authenticity of the dishes.
IMG_8224

First up was a serve of Guacamole with Home Made Tortilla Chips.  Guacamole is a definite staple in Mexico and was had with all previous meals, but I have to say this was the best we had on the island. It was so fresh and mixed with just the right amount of onion, tomato and lemon juice. The tortilla chips were dense in texture but still had a crunch to them.  This was brought out with 3 little bowls containing lime wedges, hot sauce and habanero sauce.  As I’m not a fan of chilli I avoided them, but the habanero sauce nearly blew hubby’s socks off!
photo 3 (3)

Next up was the dish that originally enticed us to La Lomita, The rice and bean soup.  The best way to describe this soup really is that is comparable to a  liquid burrito. Okay, that might not be the most appealing description but trust me this soup is delicious. It is a mix of rice, red beans, tomato, avocado, cheese and herbs – what a combination!   It did lack a little bit of seasoning but that was all fixed with a pinch of salt and some lime juice.

photo 4 (3)For our mains, hubby chose the chicken mole served with rice and I went with the fish fillet with vegetables and herbs cooked in foil. The chicken mole sauce was rich with the chocolate tones clearly noticeable . It was a decent serve as well with half a chicken heavily covered in mole sauce accompanied with rice.  The fish fillet was cooked beautifully and flaked apart easily.  The vegetables gave it a slightly acidic taste but it was balanced nicely with the rice and accompanying salad.

photo 5 (2)

photo 1 (2)

photo 2 (2)

There were so many dishes that looked appealing on the menu including the selection of cevice and the burritos would have given me major food envy had I not been so full and content at that point.

I would definitely recommend a little trip to La Lomita if you happen to find yourself on Isla Muejeres one day and looking to experience the authentic flavor of Mexico!

photo 3 (2)

Vanessa
V.B.A

Customs House Bar– Circular Quay

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Bianca: With the warmer weather ramping up, there is nothing better than catching up with friends and family with a bevvy and some good food. Pubs and bars nowadays are no longer relegated to the old fish n chips, parmies and greasy snack foods. ‘Customs House Bar’ is situated just off the leafy Macquarie Place Park and offers a generous covered beer garden, perfect for dwindling the long summer hours away.

_MG_8891

_MG_8872

Alex and I arrived for lunch at 1:30pm on a Friday, filled out with a mixture of folks in business attire, tourists and the general throng starting their weekend early, not that we could talk of course. Chatting with bar manager Mirza we started our lunch with a few beverages, wanting to check out a few of their extensive beers served (exclusive to Customs House) we opted for a ‘tasting’, with Mirza bringing out three of their popular beers. The first was the ‘Founders – Dark Ale’ which we found a little too strong, it was quite a thick beer and left a lasting bitter note at the end. Next was a ‘Weihenstephaner’ a German brew and a favourite out of the three, it was the sweetest and the smoothest to drink. The last of the trio was the ‘Beez Kneez’ by Australian brewer ‘Matilda Bay’, we detected some light honey notes but similarly to the Founders it left a bit of a bitter note which we weren’t so keen on. Being on a cider kick, we shared the ‘Koppaberg Strawberry & Lime Cider’ which REALLY hits the spot on a hot day, between us, we were drinking that like water.

_MG_8889 _MG_8882

Moving away from the alcohol, Mirza suggested a sort of ‘grazing’ menu, whereby we could try a few dishes in smaller incarnations. First up were the ‘Braised Galangal Beef Short Ribs’ – slow cooked, seasonal market salad, pine nut salt’ $21 (For the full size). If every place was to be known for one dish and one dish only, Customs House Bar would want it to be this one. I would recommend it to everyone that goes. The meat was so tender it yielded at the slightest touch, the galangal itself was not strong or overpowering. I’d go back for those short ribs alone, no joke.

_MG_8894 _MG_8897

We then sampled the ‘Cajun Quail Skewers’ – w/ shaved cucumber & radish. $19. I would never think to put quail on a skewer, no idea why because it really does work, very well in this case. I had my first bite without the cucumber and I wasn’t blown away but then I tried it with the cucumber and for some reason that made all the difference. It almost tasted completely different.

_MG_8903

Executive Chef Hemant Dadlani came out to check on us and we couldn’t help but gush about the short ribs, his favourite dish as well. We then tried the ‘Warm Heirloom Tomato & Buffalo Mozzarella Salad’ – w/ baby greens and preserved lemon dressing. $17. I really enjoyed the salad and I’m not the greatest tomato lover, it was nice to see a range of tomato’s used, with varying colours. It surely made for a pretty picture. Alex wasn’t as taken with the salad as I was, there really is nothing better than creamy buffalo mozzarella and I also enjoyed the acidic hit of the dressing.

_MG_8911

Lastly, I just couldn’t help myself… we shared the ‘Tajima Wagyu Burger’ – Brioche Bun, Swiss Cheese, Heirloom tomato salad. $20 and ‘Parmesan Fries’ with Truffle Mayonnaise. $9. Everything was delicious up until this point sadly, yes – I’m super picky and judgemental with my burgers, I didn’t enjoy this one at all I’m afraid. Alex didn’t mind it but on the whole it wasn’t to my taste, with the main downfall being the patty, it needs work. The chips on the other hand, bang on, some of the best parmesan fries I’ve ever had. Really great with the mayo.

_MG_8927

_MG_8945 _MG_8925

To finish up our lovely laid back lunch we shared the ‘Raspberry Collins’ $17. Warning for the wise, this was strong, so in that respect great value for money, we were buzzing after a few sips.

_MG_8950

All in all a really enjoyable meal at Customs House Bar, I’d be running not walking for those short ribs.

_MG_8877

Bianca

Photos by Alex

Customs House Bar on Urbanspoon
*For Foods Sake were invited to dine at Customs House Bar onbehalf of 6DC Lifestyle PR, all opinions however are our own and independent. A big thank you to Natasha for organising our visit and to Mirza for looking after us.

The Grounds Pop up – Bondi

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Waking up at 4am generally doesn’t put me in the greatest mood (unless it involves jumping on a plane to go to Europe), even when I write this I cringe just thinking about it. To make that early morning a little bit easier I decided to try out The Grounds Pop up Eatery at the Sculptures by the Sea at Bondi/Tamarama. _MG_9080

The eatery opened at 7am, we got there ten minutes early and as soon as they opened there was already a line of 20+ people.  I was still half asleep at this point being a sour puss and watching beautiful fit people run past me as I was ready to stuff my face.

_MG_9093

_MG_9115

making the Acai bowl

It was very interesting how they set up the Pop up cafe. They aimed at mimicking the layout and ‘warehouse’ design of The Grounds of Alexandria whilst obviously taking a lot of influences from the laid-back surfer vibe that Bondi is known for. There was a station where you could get your takeaway coffee as well as another station where you could order the famous Grounds Lemonade.
_MG_9121

To satisfy my famished state I ordered theBrioche Brekkie Burger’, a cheeky collaboration of fried egg, bacon, cheese, avocado, tomato relish and smokey mayo all snuggled into a fresh brioche bun. $12I’ve been going through an avocado phase for the past few months where I have become utterly obsessed with it so I was delighted to see that it was big thick chunks of avo and not just a smidgen smeared on the bun. The brioche bun itself didn’t have that particular buttery taste to it that it should have. It just tasted like a toasted bread roll. The tomato relish and mayo had great flavours and helped to mesh everything together but I would’ve loved if they lathered on a bit more! I was also very happy to see the golden yolk dripping onto the basket as I picked the burger up and squished it. Perfectly cooked!

_MG_9132

My good friend and health freak Gillian ordered (thanks to my helpful guidance) the Bircher Muesli By The Sea bursting with coconut, almonds, quinoa topped with poached pears, strawberries, blueberries and banana. $10. This was a complete surprise. A fantastic dish that encompassed everything a good meal should! Texturally it was perfect. The quinoa had a bit of a bite to it that was also accompanied  by the crunchy almonds. The shredded coconut helped to give everything that refreshment otherwise it would’ve been to sweet with all the different fruits. If only I had the energy to make this every morning!

_MG_9138 _MG_9156 _MG_9164

I couldn’t say no to the morning pick me ups! I ordered the Berried at Sea, strawberry, raspberry, banana, mango, ground flaxseed, and coconut water $9 A wonderfully thick and refreshing smoothie that seemed to pull me back to Hawaii! This was definitely the drink to be sipping while walking along the beach in the morning. I did order it to come in a coconut but unfortunately they didn’t have any in stock.
_MG_9175My favourite health freak ordered the High Tide Mango Mulch with mango chunks, mango juice, chia seeds, non fat milk, low-fat yoghurt and LSA. $9 This reminded me of the passion mango at Boost Juice but a thousand times better and obviously a lot more fresh.
_MG_9178While the early morning was not ideal, the breakfast more than made up for it! I just wish this wasn’t temporary because it would be a great permanent addition to the Bondi scene, especially those fresh juices and smoothies.

_MG_9090

Until next time! (after 6am)

Alex Squadrito
The Grounds of Alexandria on Urbanspoon

Eleven Madison Park – New York City

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , ,

I’m going to open this post with a very brave and bold statement. That is that I was recently fortunate enough to have had the best dining experience of my entire life to-date at Eleven Madison Park in New York City. A big call I know and I do encourage you to stay with me as I attempt to succinctly summarise the delights that Executive Chef, Daniel Humm, has brought together in his 15-course degustation menu.

IMG_9658

My companion for this four hour dining adventure was my newly betrothed, whom we shall refer to as Mr M. As this restaurant was one of our desired honeymoon experiences, we were delighted to have been fortunate enough to secure our ideal date when we booked in 28 days prior, as per their reservation policy.

The restaurant currently holds the accolade of fourth best restaurant in the world* and if this is the standard of the fourth, I honestly cannot imagine what kind of experience patrons at number one restaurant, Noma, are having!

IMG_9587

Situated adjacent to Madison Park, in midtown Manhattan, the restaurant boasts enormously high ceilings which accommodate large full length windows that allow patrons to gaze out over the park whilst dining. Whilst the dining room has a sense of grandeur, the simply décor adds a comforting feeling which we certainly felt as we settled in at our table.

IMG_9627

The first thing we noticed as we sat down was the presence of a small box, an envelope and letter opener. Our friendly waiter explained to us that this was the first part of the dining experience in which we had to open the envelope to determine our individual flavour themes. Inside the envelope were two cards containing four different perforated symbols which represented various flavours. We were each instructed to punch out a flavour and told that it would appear over the course of the meal. I chose Maple and Mr M chose apple.

IMG_9580

IMG_9581

As we were not presented with a menu, we had no idea what each course consisted of. I have to say this further added to the element of intrigue and suspense as we eagerly awaited the arrival of each course.

The entire menu has been created as an homage to New York. The ingredients used are all sourced locally and some dishes synonymous with traditional New York cuisine. Each dish within the 15-course degustation was so well thought out both in terms of flavour and presentation. Couple the outstanding food quality with the smooth, impeccable service and you have one unforgettable dining experience.

Course one: Savoury black and white cheddar cookies with apple

IMG_9583

IMG_9585

We began the degustation by opening the box to find two small black and white cookies, which to our surprise were savoury rather than sweet. The savoury element definitely played tricks with the mind but tasted sensational. At this stage, the excitement levels from the cookie alone were high.

Course two: Duck broth, two hot bread scrolls and homemade butter

IMG_9589
IMG_9592

The broth has a bold, salty taste and the bread rolls had a similar texture to that of a croissant. My observation was that the butter was quite salty as was the broth, so as a whole the course was a little oversalted for my liking.

Course three: Kabocha squash with pear, chestnut and radicchio

IMG_9594

This dish was beautifully assembled on the plate. It was light dish and the presence of the chestnut gave it a crunchy texture which worked well.

Course four: Hudson Valley foie gras, marinated with grapes and mushroom breadcrumbs

IMG_9595

IMG_9596

The taste and texture was incredible and my only gripe with this course is that there was not more of it. Although around course 13, I was very grateful for the portion sizes throughout! Mr. M had chosen to have his portion of foie gras pan fried which creates quite a gelatinous texture, which is not to my liking but it’s good to see that they offer the option of having it cooked that way.

 Course Five: Pastrami with Rye bread, various mustards and potato crisps.

IMG_9599

IMG_9601

IMG_9603

The next course was one of two main standouts of the degustation for me both for taste and presentation. The course plays tribute to the longstanding history of Jewish deli’s that are synonymous with New York. Two succulent pieces of pastrami were placed on top of the small circular rye bread and mustard to create a very high-end pastrami sandwich. The first element of my flavour choice of maple was introduced during this course when I was presented with Eleven Madison Park’s homemade version of Dr Brown’s Soda, with maple flavouring.

Course six: Long Island Seafood

IMG_9604

IMG_9605

Four small ramekins were set down containing four different seafood options that had been sourced from Long Island. In all honestly this was the only course I didn’t thoroughly enjoy, as I’m not a huge seafood fan but for those that are this course allows you to sample a variety of high quality, local produce.

Course seven: Atlantic halibut slow cooked with clams, squid and shellfish parsley sauce

IMG_9609

IMG_9611

This was a fantastic! A juicy serve of fish that was extremely flavoursome for a white fillet. The accompanying shellfish parsley sauce added a deeper seafood flavour dimension but was balanced by the presence of the parsley.

Course eight: Lion’s Mane Mushroom

IMG_9613

IMG_9616

When one of the kitchen staff appeared with a tray of three large, furry objects and explained they were rare mushrooms, we were intrigued. When they were then brought to our table having been cooked in their own broth, we were amazed at how  succulent and juicy they were. They could definitely be considered the vegetarian steak, as their denseness is comparable.

Course nine: Duck charcuterie

IMG_9618 IMG_9620

When we arrived our waiter had asked if we would prefer duck or venison for two of our main course to which we chose duck and I couldn’t have been happier with that. We were brought a charcuterie board that consisted of duck sausage, liver on toast and cured breast. An absolutely delightful and rich course, which set up the palate for, the next serve of duck

Course ten: Finger Lakes Duck with apple, rutabaga and fall spice jus

IMG_9622

IMG_9626

As per the mushroom course, a kitchen staff member presented us with the entire duck that had been dry aged to ensure a crispy exterior and well covered with various spices. The result was an unbelievably succulent breast with a crisp, aromatic exterior. Delicious in everyway. The presence of the top of an apple that had been filled with a duck paste was a great addition to the overall dish visually, but I felt it was a bit heavy.

Course eleven: Cato Corner Farm Cheese

IMG_9629

IMG_9632

Our waiter wheeled over to us a trolley containing three sheep’s milk cheeses, two blues and three goats cheeses on display. We were given the choice of having one or all, but both myself and Mr M took the option of having one of each variety. As expected they were of high quality and served with a homemade soft pretzel, plum conserve and balanced nicely with a bitter green salad.

Course twelve: Whey sorbet with caramelized milk and milk foam

IMG_9633 IMG_9635

This was very much needed at this point to break up the richness of the duck and cheese. The sorbet was light but well matched with the sweetness of the caramel and levity of the foam.

Course thirteen: Baked alaska with rum, caramel and maple

IMG_9636

IMG_9638

IMG_9641

The entire baked Alaska was brought to our table and then lit with rum by our waiter. The meringue was visually rich but rather creamy and light in flavour. It was well paired with the caramel and my flavour choice of maple.

IMG_9643

Course fourteen: Chocolate Covered Pretzel with Sea Salt

IMG_9655

I’ll be honest by this point my body was pleading with me to stop ingesting food, but I did manage to muster up the determination to have a bite of the pretzel. It was covered in dark chocolate, which I love, but I can’t say that I noticed the inclusion of sea salt as a distinct flavour

Course fifteen: Sweet black and white cookie served with apple molasses

IMG_9657

The arrival of the familiar box, which unveiled two black and white cookies, was a great way to end off the degustation as it brought us back to the beginning. The traditional sweet black and white cookie was a great way to sign off our dining experience. Our waiter poured us a nip of the apple molasses each and left the bottle for us to consume at our leisure.

Feeling full and overwhelmed by the incredible experience we had just had, we requested the cheque and prepared to use our legs again after four hours of indulgence. To our delight our lovely waiter brought us parting gifts of house made granola and some boysenberry jellies. A wonderful touch, which topped off this incredible experience.

If you happen to find yourself in New York and looking to a restaurant for a special occasion or simply wanting to splurge, then I would definitely recommend putting this on your list. Do remember to plan in advance as they only accept bookings 28 days prior to the day you intend to dine.

I believe the degustation at Eleven Madison Park will hold the position of my greatest dining experience for a very long time… if not forever.

IMG_9652

Vanessa

V.B.A

*Eleven Madison Park is rated fourth best restaurant in the world according to the World’s 50 best restaurant list released annually.
Eleven Madison Park on Urbanspoon

Park Hyatt – Sydney

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

IMG_5672

Alex: Walking into the luxurious Park Hyatt felt almost as though I was walking through a museum. Beautiful artworks and sculptures adorned the walls and walkways while the fit out of ‘The Dining Room’ mirrored the rest of the hotel in that it emanates a clean, chic and sophisticated experience. _MG_7971

Myself, Bianca and Madre had decided to try out ‘Lime and Tonic’ as they offer quite a wide range of experiences, at a varied price spectrum. For $69 ($49 with a promo code) how can anyone refuse a 3 course set menu at the Park Hyatt?

_MG_7982

…and with views as stunning as these, I believe it made it so much easier to just sit back and take everything in.

_MG_7977_MG_7991

Bianca: To ‘cleanse the palate‘ we were given a Beetroot, coriander and finger lime juice Amuse BoucheFresh with a hint of sweetness and gone in a second. Beetroot isn’t normally something that Alex and I enjoy but this seemed to stimulate the senses and give our taste-buds a real pick me up in order to prepare for what was to come..

_MG_7995

Alex and I’s first meal for the night was the Grilled Wagyu beef confit potato & Boursin cheese, chimichuri (Ordinarily $36). The Wagyu was absolutely gorgeous, perfectly tender. Every element cohesively gelled, so taking a bite of the wagyu with the silky softened capsicum, potato spheres and the crispy boursin cheese was an experience in its-self.

_MG_8006 _MG_8008

Smoked salmon & Nori watercress & Wasabi condiment, green apple emulsion. (Ordinarily $28). Madre’s entrée, consisted of thinly sliced pieces of rolled Salmon, smoked salmon in particular is probably one of mine and Alex’s least favourite types of fish. We both did have a bite to try it and found it very smoky, with that being a predominant flavour…obv’s its smoked salmon! Mum appreciated its lightness and delicate textures, she enjoyed the kick from the wasabi.

_MG_8014

Alex will interject here: My main was by far the winner of the night. The O’Connor pastured fed beef tenderloin pommel purée, tomato concassée & Provençale condiment (Ordinarily $48) was exquisitely moist and succulent. It seemed as if after each bite, the medium rare delight became greater in both texture and taste so it’s safe to say this was probably the best beef tenderloin I’ve ever eaten. The purée was thick and creamy and paired very interestingly with the thin crisp seen on top which had a similar texture to that of a crumbly biscuit.

Back to me: I’ll second Alex’s opinion there, only because we both wanted this main but for pictures sake we needed variety.. FFS!!! <<< See what I did there?

_MG_8017

_MG_8032

Carnarolli risotto green pea & asparagus, crispy parmesan & radish (v) (Ordinarily $38). I don’t think in my 27 years on this earth I have ever ordered a risotto when I have eaten out, I kind of feel like I’ve been missing out now. I almost didn’t want to eat it, it was so stunningly plated but thankfully I had my wits about me and dove right in. I enjoyed the contrasting textures of the silky smooth risotto and the parmesan crisp, I had to be quick though because a) Mum and Alex were thieving and b) the risotto was starting to turn the crisp soft. I wouldn’t hesitate to order this if I went again.

_MG_8026

Cobia, carrot & ginger mousseline baby spinach & sesame, orange & mirin. (Ordinarily $42). What is Cobia you ask? It is also known as Ling Fillet, something I have had before. We were just slightly puzzled by the name, apparently something they get often. We pretty much pushed mum into ordering everything we didn’t want to eat because……that’s what parents are for. Lucky for her, she enjoys fish so was happy to make that sacrifice. The Cobia was incredibly meaty, with a texture similar to that of swordfish, it didn’t have a strong fishy taste or smell (unlike the salmon entrée) so it’s good for those that like a milder tasting fish. The puree was fantastic and well-seasoned. Another great dish for the warmer weather.

_MG_8029 _MG_8019

Side of chips $10 …….. Because? _MG_8031

Caramelized pineapple & Malibu banana & coconut, mango granite (All desserts $19). So the desserts was where Alex and I compromised, he got his desired main (the Beef) and I got mine (the Chocolate). I think I lucked out in both cases there. While this was fresh and zingy it lacked something substantial, some sort of biscuit crumb adding a bit of body and texture would have brought this up to the chocolate desserts level. Alex did enjoy it but I could tell he was a little jealous, an everyday occurrence I’m sure!

_MG_8050

Chocolate Gran cru hazelnut & quinoa, raspberry sorbet. Bada bing, while all the desserts on the Lime & Tonic menu selection were on the lighter scale of indulgences, this one deserves top billing. Literally a multitude of varying textures, flavours and temperatures. It kept not only my mouth, eyes and stomach interested but the old broad upstairs as well. I could have done without the sorbet, just because I find it nine times out of ten in a dessert, rather disappointing, a cream based ice-cream would have suited far better. Highlights were the chocolate crumb, the sphere and the standout of all – the Valrhona chocolate slither.

_MG_8043

Petit Fours, Skim Flat White + Skim Mocha._MG_8054

I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Lime & Tonic’s – Park Hyatt dinner special, $69 for three courses, as well as an amuse bouche, bread and butter, petit fours and coffee. It’s a steal actually. As well as complimentary valet parking – you certainly felt looked after. A gorgeous sunset dinner overlooking the Opera House and one of the greatest Harbours and cities in the world, it really couldn’t get much better.

Processed with VSCOcam with m3 presetUntil next time!

Bianca and Alex

Photos by Alex

V.B.A

The Dining Room @ Park Hyatt on Urbanspoon

Rupert & Ruby – Darlinghurst

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

Murmurings of a good burger is a sure fire way to get my attention and having been opened for just 7 weeks now ‘Rupert & Ruby’ have certainly done that. Occupying the ICON PARK crowd funded venue, formerly inhabited by ‘Stanley Street Merchants’, touting itself with the tagline ‘Modern Australian meets traditional American’.

*And an apology for the photos.. a certain someone accidentally deleted them off his memory card, so we have some substitute iPhone photos.

IMG_5821

Taking the general ‘footprint’ from its ‘sister’ counterpart in Bondi ‘Fat Ruperts’ – a collaboration between Aaron Pearce and executive chef Eli Challenger, they have managed to bring their laid back Bondi vibes to hipster central Darlinghurst with Challengers wife, Ruby, responsible for the design and fit-out.

Oozing effortless cool, inside its all exposed brickwork and dark wood tones, with eclectic pieces of furnishings as well the coolest light fittings I’ve seen in some time – cooking whisks. I’d try to pull it off in my place but I think it would just look weird.

Fat Ruperts is somewhat geared more towards a late night eatery/bar than a day café, clearly due to the hours of operation, whereas R&R caters to the early risers, offering the trifecta of breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week.

What is great is the diverse menu. From eggs in the morning, to burgers and fried chicken for lunch, then dimming the lights and classing it up a few notches with Beetroot Cured Salmon, Ruby’s Skirt Steak and BBQ Prawns in the evening. All items of course being interchangeable, burgers for dinner/steak for lunch etc. So a meal at R&R is truly whatever you want it to be.

For myself, I can’t go past a good burger so no surprises as to what Alex and I ate here.

To settle into our Friday lunch, we both ordered a beverage. I ordered for the both of us because sometimes that Kelis song plays just a little too loudly in my head… and then it totally backfired as I preferred his drink and he mine. So a switcheroo was on the cards. I finally ended up with the ‘Young Henry’s’ – Cloudy Apple Cider and Alex the ‘Bilpin Pear Cider’.

To graze before the main event we shared ‘Ruperts plate’ – charcuterie, cheese, preserves. $15. A really decent platter to accompany a bevvy or two, with thin slices of salami, pickles, buttered toast and two wedges of cheese. One blue and the other a manchego from Spain. Alex and I ordinarily can’t stomach blue cheese but this one was heavenly.

IMG_5680

Now on to the main event – I take my burgers more seriously than most normal people should, so I am a very harsh critic. I can’t go past a regular beef burger so my choice was the ‘Big Poppa’ – Smoked Brisket burger, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onion and special sauce. With a side of fries. $15. You do have the option of a double patty for an extra fiver but I don’t deal well with too much meat and it always tends to detract from the whole burger eating experience so I went with the classic. What a burger! Firstly the patty, seasoned extremely well, flavourful. You could REALLY pick up on the smoky aspect – it actually reminded me of a Hungry Jacks burger but a thousand times better. Also loved the addition of the parmesan over the fries, a treat was picking up a fry and coming across several that had clumped together, it’s the small things in life.

IMG_5825 IMG_5824

Alex opted for the ‘Notorious K.F.C’ – Fried Chicken mayo, lettuce, honey butter with a side of fries. $15. This was another occasion where we couldn’t agree on what we preferred more. I enjoyed the Chicken but loved the Big Poppa. Alex had the total opposite opinion. All in all both were winners, the chicken was crispy and cooked beautifully internally, there was a discernible sweet aspect that derived from the honey butter that worked very well against the savoury elements. It kept every bite interesting.

IMG_5684

So we may not have agreed on our favourites but we did agree on Rupert and Ruby, one thing that really struck me was just how reasonable the prices were. $15 for a large burger and fries in inner city is a damn near steal. When you have Chur Burger a suburb over in Surry Hills charging the exact same price for a slightly smaller portion I know where I’d be heading. Service was friendly and unobtrusive, with a really laid back atmosphere. It would be a great place for casual drinks or a romantic dinner.

Rupert and Ruby end their four month tenancy in December so get in quick, you won’t regret it.

Side note- they take their beards very very seriously here and it’s a fairly welcome sight for the ladies!

Bianca

(thanks for the photo Bob! http://www.jugernauts.com/ )

IMG_5689

V.B.A

*For Food’s Sake were invited to Rupert and Ruby on behalf of 6DC LIFESTYLE PR, all opinions however are our own and independent. A big thank you to Natasha for organising our visit and special thanks to Aaron for looking after us.

Rupert & Ruby on Urbanspoon

Knafeh Bakery – Jerusalem Street Food

Tags

, , , , ,

The joys of having such a diverse group of friends is that I have been introduced to an array of different food cultures but for this post, I will be thanking one person in particular my very good friend Claudia (better known as “Khalbeh”), who is of Lebanese descent. In the many years that I have known her she has attempted to teach me very basic Lebanese, like “how are you?”, or more importantly, “Can we get the bill?” but after ridiculous failed attempts I just stick with “Shu”. Anyway…I’m blessed to have Claudia  in my life because she has introduced me to traditional middle eastern dishes like Sambousek, Kebeh kbeb, fried lebanese bread that I cannot pronounce or even spell and now, my new weakness…’Knafeh’. 

Knafeh Bakery, is a mobile bakery that is run from inside a redesigned shipping container by a family of three siblings and their lovely mother. The place is designed with creative light fixtures, a simple colour scheme and fantastic ‘street art’.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with t1 preset

I’ll get to the good stuff in a second, but can I just mention how large the crowd was. From when I got there till the time that I had left there were lines and people continuously flocking from all different directions! The atmosphere around the bakery was so chilled, even while people waited for their little bowls of heaven, they had the Middle Eastern music pumping and all the brothers were very welcoming and bubbly to every customer. It was nice to see how much pride they take in what they are doing.

Processed with VSCOcam with x1 preset

And now, to explain what knafeh actually is. I’m not going to lie, it took Claudia a good 10 minutes to explain what it was because I just didn’t understand. “So it’s a creme brûlée? No wait, so is it dessert or savoury?” Ahh, bless my poor little head.

From what I understood, knafeh is a traditional dish that originated from Jerusalem (thanks to the big honking sign on the back of the shipping container). A traditional filling for knafeh is Ashta, which is a clotted cream that floats on top of fresh milk when you boil it and then give it time to cool. Once it is cooled it is mixed with a little sugar and orange blossom water. There is also a cheese knafeh (the one that Claudia terribly explained) and then the knafeh that was available at this hotspot. ‘Mumma Nabila’s’ knafeh is quite a lighter take on the two traditional versions.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

it is rich and velvety with a subtle flavour, dangerously moreish, served warm and incredibly fresh.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Drown in it in the many bottles of the sugar syrup that are on hand, and voila!

IMG_5729For our first order we were given “#smilz” obviously because we’re a bunch of bloody hilarious people and were delirious at how excited we were to try the middle eastern dessert but I don’t muck around, my next order needed some ForFoodsSake luvin!
Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

A very successful first attack at my new favourite middle eastern dessert.

Until next time! (and I mean that seriously, because I forgot my camera)

Alex Squadrito

V.B.A

*Knafeh Bakery just finished their run in Strathfield, EDIT: They can now be found at ‘BATMAN WALK, Parramatta, 70 Macquarie Street. 

Knafeh on Urbanspoon

Sydney Night Noodle Markets

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The ‘Good Food Month’, the perfect excuse to eat like a glutton and have it be celebrated. October, besides being the month I decided to make my first appearance on this earth twenty-seven years ago, is also home to a month-long festival celebrating all things food, different cuisines and varying locations.

The Night Noodle Markets run for almost three weeks in Hyde Park and is one of the most popular attractions of the month long food celebration.

IMG_6507

Last year was a calamity of errors and total amateur hour on our part, buying dishes on a whim without proper research (my middle name). Alex went once before our visit together so this will be a bit of a mish mash post…..like his brain.

So we were well prepared this time around with a list of stores and dishes on our hit list.

Read on to hear all about Alex and my eating adventure..

So, I (Alex) first ventured to the noodle markets on a very quite wednesday evening. The popular stalls were on my list for that particular evening because I knew we’d get it fairly quickly. As I walked around I scoped out the park to get my bearings and can I just say, I was very confused as to why anyone would get “korean” chips on a stick when there is such a vast amount of food to try from. Cmon’ guys! Be adventurous!

My first stop was Hoy Pinoy’. I actually had heard nothing about this place but was drawn to its vibrant smell and smoke that was enveloping the far right area of the park. (Because it makes sense to follow smoke right?) Luckily my senses are amazing and brought me to an army of chicken and pork skewers. I was feeling adventurous tonight so I went for the ‘Inihaw Na Baboy’: Barbecue pork belly with banana ketchup glaze. $10 for 2. Amazing flavours that seemed to mesh so unusually well together, I did find that the pork was quite chewy and a bit rough to eat, but I thoroughly enjoyed the crispy pork. _MG_7554 _MG_7573For some odd reason I get these unusual cravings for dumplings every time I have a break at work in the city, so I always get my fix from Din Tai Fung, but as I’ve heard so much about New Shanghai’ I couldn’t discourage fate.

_MG_7596

The dumpling gods worked their magic and alas I had found myself eating possibly the bestXiao Long Bao’ (Steamed pork dumpling) I’ve ever had!

_MG_7595

My friend and I also got a serving of thePan Fried Pork Buns buns’ and oh my lord! I could eat a box of these bad boys. The contrasting textures, the perfect seasoning. Such a moreish dish that begs to be eaten.

_MG_7761

I also tried out a yum cha food truck? Don’t remember the name but it was right next to Izakaya Den and got the pork buns. Unfortunately I am now turned off pork buns for a while. Not only did I find a hair inside my pork bun but they were cold, overcooked, and tasted as though I was eating rubber. Not even drowning it in soy sauce could save them which was a shame. Rookie mistake…

_MG_7638

The last meal of the night was the Satay roll from Chinta Ria. Was I blown away? Not really, It tasted okay, If it was a soft roll I think it would’ve went a lot better texture wise with all of the ingredients, but I wasn’t disappointed, I always love a bit of satay.

_MG_7657

_MG_7662

Amazing artwork been drawn at the noodle markets

First up for mine (Bianca) and Alex’s eating fest at the Night Noodle Markets, were the Melbourne juggernauts ‘Wonderbao’, with their traditional and not so traditional bao’s. Those pillowy bites of heaven won’t be forgotten soon. We shared the ‘Twice Cooked Pork Belly’, ‘Braised Pork Belly’ and the ‘Fried Silky Tofu’ $7 each. This is where we disagreed and when we disagree, I generally take it as a sign that I am right and Alex is wrong. He preferred the Pork which I did enjoy, however the pork was slightly tough. My heart belonged to that tofu bao, crispy with a little bit of a crunch on each bite. Texturally it kept my brain interested with every bite. I’m planning to hit up Melbourne early next year and a date with Wonderbao will be on the cards…they just don’t know it yet.

_MG_7601

_MG_7611

_MG_7791

silky tofu and twice cooked pork belly

_MG_7613

braised pork belly

And with the gods all aligning we hit the trifecta our next three stops were virtually all next door to each other and right near an exit…because there is nothing a fatty likes more than minimal movement, an easy escape and a quick purchase to mouth turnover. Yep…I just said that.

With a division of resources I dispatched Alex to ‘Poklol’ where he was buying our Korean tacos. We got two because we’re greedy. A ‘Chilli Chicken’ and ‘Chilli Pork’ 2 for $12. I kind of wanted to snatch these off Alex and eat them behind a tree somewhere, they trumped the bao’s. They both had a decent handful of fried crispy onions which contrasted really nicely with the soft tortilla and succulent pork/chicken.

_MG_7800 _MG_7806 _MG_7819

I was tasked (by myself) to get the ‘Char Kway Teow’ from ‘Jackie M Malaysian’, I missed out on her restaurant before she shut up shop on Majors Bay Road, around the corner from us. So I made sure I got in here. I enjoy my hearty noodle dishes and this one was very satisfying, whilst it was on the steep side at $16 with Chicken it was a generous serve. And an added bonus I went with the side of Sambal, having yet mixed it in, Alex dived right in and got a big ol spoonful. He probably didn’t appreciate my laughing as loud and heartily as I did. My bad.

_MG_7825

And lastly for our haul, the ‘Den Fried Chicken’ from ‘Izakaya Den’ there was no-one at their stall when we walked past with our CKT and taco’s and I’m not going to argue with fate so we picked up ourselves a small serving $8 and headed to our shameful eating corner. Another highlight – the exterior batter was crunchy while the inside was perfectly moist. We also loved the addition of the kewpie mayo.

_MG_7853 _MG_7805 _MG_7832

We decided (or so I thought) to skip Gelato Messina at the markets but found ourselves at the Darlinghurst Dessert Bar forty minutes later….sorry not sorry.

And that concludes the Sydney Night Noodle Markets, I’m already looking forward to next year. (and so is this little guy I think!)

IMG_6510

Bianca & Alex

Photos by Alex

V.B.A

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 110 other followers