Showing posts with label Sydney Eats. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sydney Eats. Show all posts

Monday, November 26, 2012

Sweethearts Rooftop BBQ, Kings Cross

sweethearts rooftop bbq
In one of my recent posts I mentioned one new venue that we opened recently, but we actually have another new baby - yes, that's right, we opened two new venues within two weeks of each other (phew)! Sweethearts BBQ is located on the rooftop of the Sugarmill building in Kings Cross, which also houses Kit & Kaboodle nightclub... and I like it so much that I've been back 5 times in the last 4 weeks!

Think sunshine (although there's a retractable roof too for when it rains), beers, ciders, cocktail pitchers and shandies. Did your aunties drink shandies too? The food is fresh as can be, and perhaps a little fancier than your regular family BBQ - definitely no burnt snags here! I think this will turn into the perfect place to spend summer evenings and catch up with friends over a few drinks and delicious food to share. I love the super relaxed vibe and tick box menus.

sweethearts rooftop bbq
In the name of research, we tried all the cocktail pitchers and I would be hard pressed to pick a favourite. The Hills Hoist above is definitely a crowd pleaser and perfect for sharing with the girls containing watermelon, apple, lemon, mint, gin and soda. But I also really liked the Mango Tree that mixed up mango liqueur, pineapple, rum, ginger ale and lemon. The tap cider (James Squire I believe) is also great, and they also offer a Spiked Cider Slushie that might just become my drink of the summer.

Onto the food! We started with some barbecued turkish and olive bread (similar to how my Dad does it for our family BBQ's) and the thickest, fluffiest chips with a homemade tomato sauce that I think had a hint of Dijon mustard in it. I love when the potato skins are left on chips, so of course these were a favourite. I recommend adding Truffle Salt for $1 extra.

sweethearts rooftop bbq
After that, the starters started coming out fast. I was looking forward to trying the soy-braised brisket and beetroot burgers, although I was expecting it to be a full size sandwich. However mini size was probably for the best considering how much food there was! As a general rule, I will love anything containing brisket, and these were no exception - the tender beef was delicious with the beetroot relish.

sweethearts rooftop bbq
Sweethearts potato salad was a blast from the past, with bits of crispy bacon and sweet corn kernels, it reminded me of family BBQ's when I was younger. Not to mention that it was served on a plate that looks like something my Nanna would own! I liked the little bit of heat that the green chillies brought to this version.

sweethearts rooftop bbq
A surprise favourite of mine also from the 'Rabbit Food' category was the Grilled Watermelon with feta, mint and pita chips. A sort of unusual combination to be sure, but wow, it works so well and is definitely a must order when you visit!

sweethearts rooftop bbq
The Grilled Prawns are a tribute to Paul Hogan's shrimp on the barbie, cooked in butter and loads of garlic. A great dish to share with your mates over a few beers.

I don't have any photos of them but a recent favourite dish has been the Skewers. On offer are chicken, beef, pork, salmon belly and veggie with your choice of condiment, so there are endless combinations for deliciousness. I love the chilli caramel with the pork, the chimmichurri with the chicken, and the truffle salt with the salmon.

sweethearts rooftop bbq
Another standout was the Glazed Pork Belly. Just look at that crispy skin! It was beautifully cooked and served with a salad of sweet and sour slaw, chilli, pear and sesame. Suze, this one's for you!

sweethearts rooftop bbq
Promise me you'll try the ribs when you visit. It's a little more unusual to see lamb ribs on a restaurant menu, but when they're done perfectly like this, it's a welcome surprise. I've never seen ribs that fall off the bones like these do, and the honey, chilli, coriander and lime sauce is absolutely delicious.

sweethearts rooftop bbq
As stuffed as I was, I couldn't rightly turn down bone marrow butter now, could I? I've wanted to try this since I was designing the menus! We requested our Black Angus Sirloin very rare and it was served perfectly pink. Once the butter started to melt into the meat, it was absolutely incredible. I also liked the selection of mustards that accompanied it, but who are we kidding, it was all about the butter.

sweethearts rooftop bbq
What's an Aussie BBQ without the classic Aussie dessert - pavlova! Sweethearts' version is a Smashed Pav with summer berries and cream with flecks of vanilla bean throughout and it's absolutely freaking delicious. Also on the dessert menu is a delicious grilled pineapple with coconut sorbet, and a selection of house made choc tops and cornetto ice creams!

I have to say it's very interesting being involved in the early stages of opening a venue, from the first mood boards to menu designs to finally seeing it all come together and open. I loved the food, the decor, the lovely staff, the casual atmosphere, touches of nostalgia coming through in the retro coasters and plates, and even the old school hip hop music playing. I think this will definitely become one of my regular haunts over the summer months!

Sweethearts BBQ on Urbanspoon

Sweethearts BBQ, 37 Darlinghurst Rd Kings Cross (02) 9368 7333

Spicyicecream dined as a guest of Sweethearts BBQ.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Signature Brasserie, Brighton Le Sands

signature brasserie
I don’t go out to eat that much any more. I know it’s almost blasphemous for a food blogger to admit that, but it’s true. In years past I would often find myself out most nights of the week, but these days I often prefer to return to my favourite places, and the camera hardly ever comes with me. But the desire to share really great discoveries will never die – I mean that’s what blogging is all about!

Signature Brasserie overlooks Botany Bay at Brighton Le Sands. A family-owned restaurant and part of Le Sands Pavilion, the Greek hospitality and lovely staff are one of many reasons to return. The view is just beautiful, and I was fascinated watching the planes landing at the airport just across the water, but surprisingly you can hardly hear them at all. I guess you'd describe the food as a cross between modern Australian and modern Greek, with some really clever flavour combinations and interesting twists on classic dishes.

signature brasserie
We started with a delicious assortment of shared dishes, each more delicious than the last. If there are ever zucchini flowers on the menu, I have to order them, and these definitely didn’t disappoint. Stuffed with goats cheese and caramelised onion, they were fried until perfectly crispy and served on a delicious beetroot puree. The flavours complemented each other perfectly.

signature brasserie
Anything wrapped in pancetta is usually a winner, as were these scallops served with a mysteriously named ‘Dragon sauce’. The basil aioli was a delicious and unique accompaniment to the Salt and Pepper Crusted Calamari. The perfect thing to nibble while sitting so close to the water!

signature brasserie
But my favourite had to be the Braised Wagyu boneless short rib on celery puree. Words cannot describe how tender and flavoursome this meat was. It fell apart under your fork and virtually melted in your mouth. I know these are meant to be share plates, but really, how can you be expected to share when something tastes so delicious!

signature brasserie
We were intrigued by the Signature Dishes as they all sounded absolutely delicious! The Hot Seafood platter is a combination of a their From the Ocean dishes in smaller tasting form including the Barramundi served with superfood salad, honey yoghurt and pomegranate, Snapper with lemon butter sauce, Salmon with braised leek, carrot, King Prawns and Scallops. It’s hard to believe that up until a few years ago, I didn’t like seafood at all! My favourite was the Barramundi, which was cooked to perfection, plus I really liked the mix of flavours and textures in the superfood salad, with the pomegranate giving it a little boost of sweetness.

signature brasserie
The other dish I just knew I had to try was the Rib Eye. 700grams of Cape Grimm dry aged beef is perfectly cooked to order. Large enough to share between 2 or 3, and I loved every mouthful of this delicious dish. I've already decided that next time I have to try the Lamb Shoulder, which is slow-braised for 8 hours. Yum!

signature brasserie
Dessert is a tough decision at the best of times, but here is made even more difficult when the waiter brings out the huge platter of gorgeous desserts for you to pick from. The items change regularly and could include anything from tiramisu, gooey chocolate fondant, berry panna cotta and fruit tarts. Indecision has never tasted so good...

signature brasserie
In the end though, we decided on the Strawberry Kisses - served with both milk and white chocolate. It's such a simple idea but the strawberries were so beautiful and sweet. I do recommend the double dip into both kinds of chocolate!

If you're ever in the Brighton area, I'd definitely recommend Signature Brasserie for lunch, dinner or even just a coffee and something off the dessert tray for afternoon tea!

Signature Brasserie on Urbanspoon

Signature Brasserie, The Grand Parade Brighton Le Sands

Spicyicecream dined as a guest of Signature Brasserie

Friday, June 29, 2012

Orto Trading Co, Surry Hills

orto trading co
My friends are the best in the world. Seriously. Steph and Karen gave me the choice to go anywhere in Sydney for my birthday lunch, and after much deliberation I picked a restaurant I'd been meaning to try for a while, Orto Trading Co in Surry Hills. Nestled in right next to El Capo and Izakaya Fujiama (both awesome) on Waterloo St, the three restaurants couldn't be more different to each other, but I guess that's why it works.

It was a gorgeous sunny day and the restaurant space was light, bright and airy with pretty flowers hanging in bottles over the bar for a cool design feature. Though it was so light and bright that as the afternoon went on we found our table in full sun even though we were inside and were almost sweltering. Crazy for winter!

orto trading co
I think on your birthday you're allowed cocktails for breakfast right?? I had the Espresso Martini, which was one of the best I've tried (and I've had a fair few in my time!) with the perfect hit of caffeine and of course booze, made with Belvedere Vodka, Brinley Gold Vanilla Rum and Kahlua.

Karen got the pretty pink drink you see in the back there, a Berry Fizz with house made berry sorbet and Prosecco, and Steph decided on the Bloody Mary, made with basil-infused vodka, muddled heirloom tomatoes, tobasco, worcestershire sauce and lime. I'd never actually tried one before (not a huge fan of tomato juice) but surprisingly I quite liked it. The kick of tobasco will definitely wake you up! Plus, it had a stripy straw! This is definitely my kind of place.

orto trading co
As is our usual custom, we ordered way too much food, starting with this unexpectedly generous serving of crispy whitebait to snack on. I'm surprised at how much I enjoyed these, especially with the tarragon aioli. They would be perfect to snack on with a glass of wine too. Yum!

orto trading co
Look at this beauty! The Ploughman's Lunch was served on a rustic wooden board with duck scotch egg (I didn't try this, but Steph and Karen thought it was great), house made pickles, a hunk of cheddar, wagyu silverside and house-baked sourdough rolls. We enjoyed nibbling away at the various components of this colourful dish.

orto trading co
We had a tough time deciding between this dish and the Boston Baked Beans with Pork Belly, but the Bangers and Mash won out and boy am I glad we chose this because it was our favourite of the day. Actually it was the only dish we managed to finish! The pork, sage and prune sausages were house made, and I loved the use of colcannon mash instead of standard mash, that was strewn with red cabage and silverbeet. And that delicious onion jus brought all the flavours together. I'd definitely come back for this dish.

orto trading co
Okay, so I know waffles are technically a breakfast dish, but we saved this one for our "dessert" and I must say, they were still crispy and delicious when we finally got to eating them! The cinnamon butter was out-of-this-world good, plus I liked the nice crunch from the walnuts. Orto's waffles are served with seasonal fruit, in this case poached pear. Sooo good.

orto trading co
I really enjoyed the food, drinks and lovely decor, although the service was a little aloof and occasionally slow. Orto Trading Co is a great brunch spot, and I love reading "house made" so many times on one menu, from the jams to the sausages to the bread rolls. Their garden of herb and flower pots outside is really nice too. And any place that serves breakfast cocktails is fine by me! I'll definitely be back.

Orto Trading Co. on Urbanspoon

Orto Trading Co, 38 Waterloo St, Surry Hills Ph: 0431 212 453

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Grounds of Alexandria

the grounds, alexandria
I was about 9 years old when we moved into our house, which at the time had beautiful gardens lovingly tended by the retired couple that lived here before us. I would spend hours outside, chasing my chickens to try and catch them and pet them (which they probably hated me for) and pretending I had my own secret garden - it was one of my favourite movies. I have some great memories of those times, and I have to say that is what I thought of when I visited The Grounds in Alexandria.

the grounds, alexandria
the grounds, alexandria
Located right next door to 4143 at the James Barnes, the gardens outside feel a world away from the industrial surroundings, yet the warehouse space feels just right. I was surprised at how busy they were for a Monday lunchtime, but the 15 minute wait for a table allowed us to scope out the veggie patches, say hello to the chickens, and take some gorgeous photos.
the grounds, alexandria
In fact, I found it hard to stop taking photos of the beautiful space, and now sorting through the 90-odd snaps, I’d be back there tomorrow if I could. Yep, it’s that good. If you were facing a longer wait (I hear on weekends the wait time can be up to an hour!) you can grab a take away coffee and enjoy it at one of the lovely garden tables. Flowers are planted in all manner of vessels, from recycled cans to cute retro wagons. I wish this was my backyard.

the grounds, alexandria
the grounds, alexandria
We were shown to our table inside and I ordered a long black coffee and was treated to one of the best coffees I've had in a while, probably the best I've had since visiting St Ali in Melbourne and possibly one of the best I've had in Sydney ever. I usually like my coffee very strong and quite sweet, but this was such a smooth blend, I could have skipped the sugar entirely.

the grounds, alexandria
Steve ordered the Chicken Schnitzel, which came in a very generous serving with an interesting slaw on the side - red cabbage and sultanas studded through it. The extra-crunchy coating on the schnitzel looked like it had cornflakes in it - an interesting twist. The chicken could have been a little more juicy, but was delicious nonetheless.

A side of chips turned out to be a very wise decision, as they were kind of a stand out! I'm continually frustrated by restaurants charging up to $10 these days for a side of soggy fries, but these were earth-shatteringly crisp, perfectly cooked and definitely worth a try.

the grounds, alexandria
It was a tough decision for me as I liked the look of, practically everything on the menu, but went for the slow-braised lamb shoulder sandwich on our waitresses recommendation. The meat was fall-apart tender and the sandwich was stuffed with lettuce, roasted capsicum, house-made pesto and apparently spiced eggplant, although unfortunately I couldn't really taste it in there.

the grounds, alexandria
"The Bakery" as they called it was a cabinet at the counter filled with all manner of delicious looking sweet treats from tarts to brownies, carrot cake to banana bread. After much deliberation, I settled on an almond and rhubarb tart, and Steve chose a strawberry and white chocolate muffin. They were the perfect end to the meal, with a rustic look that suited the place perfectly. The tarts come from Luxe Bakery in Newtown, which is also on the list as a must-visit.

the grounds, alexandria
The weekday crowd was a quite a mix of different people - from suits on their lunch break to a table of young creatives catching up, a few yuppie mums with their kids on the balcony and at least one mother-daughter catch up. I can see why this place is busy though, because it ticks all the boxes - great food, coffee, atmosphere and prices - and those things are worth waiting for. I'm looking forward to coming back for brunch in the near future - there's some brioche french toast with my name on it!

The Grounds of Alexandria on Urbanspoon

The Grounds of Alexandria, Building 7A, 2 Huntley St Alexandria

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Fish Shop, Potts Point

the fish shop, potts point Fish are friends and food, the menus proclaim at Merivale’s newest venue The Fish Shop, situated where Lotus used to be in Potts Point. Inspired by those idyllic seaside towns of yesteryear with a nod to retro Americana. There are cool quirky touches where ever you look, like giant sea shells on display, toilet signage marked “Buoys” and “Gulls” and especially those amazing takeaway canteen style windows in the middle of the restaurant with textured glass and painted lettering.

Jeremy Strode heads the kitchen with a focus on sustainable seafood. The menu is a mixture of beautiful fresh seafood and then the battered and fried (ie delicious) stuff. There’s something to please everyone – even the carnivores in fact, with Dan Hong’s cheeseburger still gracing the menu.

the fish shop, potts point It’s only a Monday night but we throw caution to the wind and order a couple of cocktails to start. But when they arrive in cute champagne coupes they feel almost out of place here. Almost as if a paper cup with a striped wax straw would fit in better. Beth really liked her Lotus Martini, with Zubrowka Vodka, Peach Schnapps, passionfruit and apple. I was a little undecided on my Bonnie Sour, with Hendricks Gin, Pomme Verte, lime and apparently rhubarb. I couldn’t really taste the rhubarb, and almost wished I’d gone for a beer instead.

I was interested to see how a restaurant potato scallop would rate against the greasy takeaway shop kind. I’d also not had one in years and years, so it was kind of a guilty pleasure, but so worth it. The potato interior was thick, fluffy and delicious, and the batter that encased it was perfectly crisp. I’d call it a winner!

the fish shop, potts point I have to admit, it felt a little wrong ordering the Cheeseburger when at The Fish Shop, but I’d heard so many good things about it that I really, really wanted to try it. Happily, it turned out to be a highlight of the meal, I’d say one of the better burgers I’ve had in Sydney in recent times. I guess it’s easy to see why it’s famous, or rather infamous! 

the fish shop, potts point Perhaps they just paled in comparison to the burger (most things would, for the record) but I was a little underwhelmed by the Fish and Chips. The batter was a little soggy (especially when compared to the super crisp potato scallop) but a splash of malt vinegar livened up the taste. I wish there was some mushy peas to go with it! The chips were nice, clearly homemade with the skins still on and the tartare sauce in a little jar was a cute touch. I was expecting this dish to be the standout and it was actually our least favourite.

the fish shop, potts point The ice cream sandwich is clearly the dessert of 2012, appearing on restaurant menus all over Sydney. Caramel sauce seems to be the accompaniment of choice for most places too. I liked the chocolate biscuit/brownie that wasn’t too crunchy that gave way to the creamy ice cream sandwiched within. I may be somewhat biased, but I’m still very much in love with the one at Bungalow 8, with its passionfruit sauce and peanut brittle for that awesome textural contrast that this one might have just been slightly lacking.

The Fish Shop would be a great place to go with a group of friends (however they don’t take bookings so go early!) so you can try a whole bunch of different dishes. The staff were very friendly and service was quick and attentive. I also liked their stripy uniforms!

There were a few big hits and a couple of misses in terms of the food itself, but I still had a lovely dinner and will be back in the future. We barely made a dent in the menu, and there’s still lots of great things to try. I like the sound of the Blue Eye fish and chips, and the smoked salmon sandwich! Apparently they also do takeaway, which is a little bit dangerous with my office being so close!

The Fish Shop on Urbanspoon

The Fish Shop, 22 Challis Ave, Potts Point (02) 9326 9000

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Barrio Chino, Kings Cross

barrio chino, sydney

“We have to go there!” my cousin Ros exclaimed upon reading a review of Barrio Chino. I had been meaning to check out the new Mexican place that had opened up around the corner from my office so immediately I agreed, and so plans were made to have her upcoming birthday dinner there. Because we were in a group, we were given three menus to choose from, which all seemed like excellent value. We had the $35 menu and there was sooo much food, we all left very satisfied.

A pitcher of Margaritas was a must. A second pitcher of Margaritas is also a must. We got stuck into the Guacamole, Salsa and Chips while we waited for the rest of the group to arrive. The guac is made to order, and is one of the better versions I’ve had, though El Capo still takes the cake on this one. The roasted tomato and mint salsa was great too, but it was the guac that I kept going back for. Our chips were replenished when we ran out.

barrio chino, sydney

One of my (and birthday girl Roslyn’s) favourite dishes of the night was the Albondigas, which are pork and beef meatballs with an insanely delicious smoky tomato and chipotle sauce. I still think about these, months later!

barrio chino, sydney

One of my favourite things on any Mexican restaurant menu is BBQ corn. Charry and sweet, Barrio Chino’s version was served with chipotle mayo, queso and lime, and was everything you would expect from this dish.

barrio chino, sydney

And now let the tacos begin! We were served platters of five different varieties, with sides of refritos (pureed pinto beans), Mexican rice and three types of hot sauce. The tacos themselves are small, but they’re definitely not short of fillings. First up was the Chicken borracho with chipotle-beer braised chicken, crema, avocado, lettuce. While this was great, I always feel that chicken tacos are simply less impressive by default than beef or pork.

barrio chino, sydney

And the Beef Barbacoa tacos are particularly awesome at Barrio Chino. The brisket is smoky and fall-apart tender, served with red chilli sauce, lime cured red onion and oregano. A must order!

barrio chino, sydney

Next was the Baja Market Fish with lightly battered blue eye, cumin-lime crema, cabbage and coriander. I didn’t manage to try these but the consensus was that they were very good, with a great variety of textures. I didn’t manage to get a photo of the Vegetarian tacos with roasted pumpkin, capsicum, cactus and toasted pepitas. These were unexpectedly spicy!

barrio chino, sydney

Saving the best til last? The Carnitas tacos were the final ones to arrive and I was struggling for stomach space by this point but of course I had to try them! Chock full of braised pork, onion and cilantro, I think they tied with the brisket tacos as my favourites of the night. And unlike Mamasita and La Cholita, where the tacos needed help from the condiments to save them from being a little bland, these didn’t. But that smoky chipotle sauce was awesome!

As a side note, Barrio Chino also does taco specials, and on my second visit (alas without my camera this time) we had an absolutely freaking awesome Duck and Pomegranate taco. The a la carte menu also includes other delicious sounding shared dishes including tostadas and quesadillas. We skipped dessert in favour of birthday cake, though the churros and the traditional Mexican flan both sound delicious and I’ll have to remember to leave room to try them on my next visit.

The restaurant filled up quickly after we arrived (evidently popular with the hipster crowd), the atmosphere was boisterous and fun and there was a line out the door when we left. They don’t take bookings for groups under ten, but there’s a great little bar inside where you can have a drink while you wait for your table. Barrio Chino ticked all the boxes for me, especially those amazing meatballs and brisket tacos.

Happy Birthday Ros (sorry that this post is several months after the fact!) xox

Barrio Chino on Urbanspoon

Barrio Chino, 28-30 Bayswater Rd, Kings Cross (02) 8021 9750

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