My date’s late, so I’m nursing an Old Fashioned ($20). It’s not on their short list of cocktails, but they do offer to make any classics you have a hankering for; so I forgive the bartender for it being sweet and gritty with undissolved sugar.
Ordering off-list isn’t my usual practice, but I’m combating pre-theatre anxiety. It’s certainly the place to do it, in a theatre bar surrounded by urbane theatre types, at the end of a very long wharf of timeworn floorboards.
Yet it strikes me as incongruous be tucking into Dip Boards ($22/2 people) and Meatballs ($14) in tomato marjoram sauce, in front of a world-class view.
More balls arrive – this time Nomad’s Spicy Chorizo and Pea Arancini ($12) – punctuated by drinks...
...a nicely tart Tommy’s Margarita ($18) and Sippin’ By The Sea ($18), which summons pina coladas using rum, coconut syrup and pineapple juice, updated by apple juice and Angostura bitters.
It’s an easy-drinking companion to lightly battered Calamari ($16) with smoked paprika aioli.
Okay, there’s something to be said for pre-theatre food being egalitarian and accessible, down to florets of Cauliflower ($9) with paprika and tahini, for under ten bucks.
A messy tangle of Meringue, Quince, Apple, Cream and Candied Chestnut ($12) hints post-show debriefs might be better accompanied in liquid form.
Bar at the End of the Wharf
Pier 4, Hickson Road, Walsh Bay
Ph: (02) 9250 1761
The first thing you’ll notice after stepping into Damda, beyond the strong design aesthetic, is the monstrous, smoke-belching oven.
It’s admirably manned by a smiling, tattooed, Korean coal-master.
As your salivary glands kick into overdrive, you’ll begin to appreciate that this is a modern reinterpretation of Korean barbecue - the name means ‘resemble’ - doing things a little differently.
Instead of cooking at your table, you’ll sit back and enjoy Korea’s most popular alcoholic beverage, soju, in sharing-sized, icy cocktail carafes, from delicate Green Seoul ($25) with mint, grape and lemon, to the more fragrant and interesting Yuzu Punch ($25).
Drinking snacks, like sticky-sweet chilli rice cake skewers, Ddeok Ggochi ($10/8 pieces), are great against Korean beers from Hite ($6) to Cass ($6).
Despite being tempted by Korean fried chicken and thematic nachos and tacos, I sensibly avoided loading up on entrees.
Lucky, because the outstandingly tender and smoky Kalbi Beef Ribs ($35.50) arrived in a large metal tray, laden with gochujang noodle salad, cornballs, lotus root chips and house-made kimchi.
The BBQ is fully customisable, from additional meat options like Bossam ($17) (pork belly), to three different accompanying Korean sauces.
They cover all preferences from sweet to heat; though for me it’s all about that intriguing blend of chilli (gochujang) and fermented soybean paste (doenjang) called ssamjang.
166 Norton Street, Leichhardt
Ph: (02) 9560 0527
This week Amie Barbeler got to wrap her lips around all sorts of good tings!
Someone once told me that the key to happiness is to make others happy. Well, they were wrong, because after a visit to this quirky Jamaican hangout, it's pretty clear that the key to happiness involves jerk chicken and alcoholic sunsets served over ice. From the team that brought us The Soda Factory, comes Rosie Campbell's – a happy, vibrant, Caribbean-inspired jerk diner and rum bar with a New York twist that serves 'sweet tings' from brunch until midnight.
For the jerk-uninitiated, no visit to Rosie's is complete without wrapping your lips around a spicy Jerk Chicken Burger ($16), which features sunshine ‘slaw, a dill pickle, crispy fried shallots, habanero pepper sauce and, of course, the venue's homemade signature jerk marinade.
Wash down the spicy jerk with rum or a cocktail, or better yet, jerk down some of Jamaica's own Royal Jamaican Ginger Beer ($8) (and yes, it's alcoholic).
320 Crown Street, Surry Hills
Ph: (02) 8356 9120
Alex Harmon & DJ Hookie both ensured they kept up with their fluids this week...
It has been a year since Mr Tipply took over the City Hotel in the CBD, so a birthday bash fit for a one-year-old boozehound was thrown. With a candy bar, exotic entertainers, and a dress-up photo-booth, it was a festival for the big kid inside all of us. Drinks were fun and fruity, like ginger mojitos and Belvedere berry cocktails; and live music resonated over two floors. Wait staff served canapés such as mini crispy fish tacos, tempura rock shrimp, pork belly and pickled cabbage sliders, and yakitori chicken skewers; but it was the pop-up dumpling bar that kept punters going back for more! A kitsch and quirky good time was had.
PS: You can read Ryan Kennedy's full review of Mr Tipply's back here: http://missdissent.livejournal.com/58178
Also this week, take advantage of Sydney’s latest artisan pop-up Grey Goose ‘La Boulangerie’ at Yellow Restaurant, Potts Point. There's everything from a daytime artisan bakery, incredible three-course dinner tasting menus, and a cheeky martini bar on offer, running between 21st August and the 6th September. (Salon de Martini runs only from 27th – 29th August). Go experience the wondrous delights of the naughty clear liquid we call vodka...
PS: You can read DJ Hookie's complete experience of the three-course dinner menu on his blog Look Mum No Hands here: http://www.lookmumnohands.com.au/2015/08/1
57 Macleay Street, Potts Point
Ph: (02) 9332 2344
Alex Harmon uncovered a vegetarian and vegan-pleasing hotspot in Bondi that might even entice carnivores...
You’ve got to wonder why it’s taken so long for a fully-fledged vegetarian restaurant to open in an old DVD store in Bondi. Lamenting the lack of options and the demise of movie rentals, co-owner Chitti Lardi, a vego who grew up in the Inner West, sought the perfect spot for a 100% vegetarian (with vegan options) diner.
Popular dishes include the Caramelised Tempeh, Shitake Mushrooms & Kale Dumplings ($18) with just the right amount of chilli and sweet miso sauce; and their monthly ‘Veegustation’ nights have word on the grapevine spreading fast.
The special of Pumpkin Ravioli with Goats Cheese ($24) was out of this world, a testament to there being an Italian chef in the house.
Unfortunately the DIY Cajun Fajitas ($22) were a little lacking in flavour, considering everything else, like the Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms ($19) with brie, was over-achieving.
Carlos, the Caribbean bartender, will whip you up a tropical delight.
The Dead Man's Chest ($16) – containing Sailor Jerry, Cointreau, orange and passionfruit, entices you to batten down the hatches and make a night of it at the bar.
And the dandiest dessert ever goes to the Peanut Butter and Orange Tiramisu ($13), served with a smile, and a flower.
Dandylion is a winner, even meat-lovers will agree.
The Dandylion Bondi
277 Bondi Road, Bondi
Ph: (02) 9365 1567
Chef Roy McVeigh marches to the sound of his own beat – and to be honest, it’s refreshing in a culinary world seemingly dominated by cronuts, overfilled doughnut milkshakes, and meals served on anything but plates.
In an unpretentious upstairs room, enlivened by vibrant Tapestry Girl pegboard murals, he defies expectations over and over again – though perhaps the Sydney Rock Oyster, Burnt Leek, Potato Skins and Citrus Leaf Gel ($3/each) might benefit from more staff explanation.
The neighbouring table was “freaked out” by not being presented with a visible bivalve, despite tasty tater skins dipped in oyster crème.
Beetroot, Boudin Noir, Crackling and Apple ($18) utilises sweetness to well-balanced effect, rather than simply working to elicit a Pavlovian response from our sugar-trained palates.
Against The Story Marsanne, Roussanne, Viognier ($50), the dish sings. This versatile (and underrated) wine blend travels well into my dish of the night: Pea Mousse ($28) set under a tangle of its own leaves and flowers, with candied bacon and poured-at-the-table Parmesan broth.
While vegetarians are gifted with their own page of options, my carnivorous dining companion tucked into well-rendered (36-hour) Lamb Neck ($34) with hay cream, mushroom sauce and native mint.
Geranium Panna Cotta ($17) deftly juggles intense floral sweetness with tomato soup cake and two forms of rhubarb. Nope, haven’t seen that before.
Level 1, 466 Cleveland Street, Surry Hills
Ph: (02) 8399 0907
Amie Barbeler proves once again, she can handle any bar, even one with mean girls...
After almost getting arrested (who knew you weren't allowed to wear a mask in a casino?), my date and I arrived at the Dom Pérignon Masquerade Party, only to be pointed and laughed at by one of the classy birds from The Bachelor.
Don't worry about us though; we quickly discovered that the key to mean girl-induced sadness is to mop up your tears with foie gras while binge-drinking 2004 Dom Pérignon Champagne.
As we quaffed the posh champers and worked our way through the assorted appetisers being dished out from award-winning restaurant Sokyo, atmospheric tunes spun by Didier Cohen provided the soundtrack to our night. After we'd had all the glamour, glitz and ditz we could handle, we ripped off the masks, threw our Spanx to the kerb, and went off in search of beer and kebabs. That's my glamour fix for the year…
The Star, Pirrama Road, Pyrmont
Ph: (02) 9657 7737
Alex Harmon started off this week with a great quality breakfast (or two)...
In an old skydiving shop, two buddies with impressive restaurant CVs have opened a café that will hopefully be a renaissance for the desolate fringes of Surry Hills and the CBD.
Serving up cleverly devised breakfast options like the Smoked Brisket Hash ($18) with egg, aioli, beautifully sweet beef brisket and (a standout) jalapeño salsa, the ‘bros’ Jono Forsythe (founder of Mad Pizza e Bar) and Deepak Singh (formerly of Kantine) know how to lure you into the fish tank-like café.
Housemade Beans ($17) with pork belly and ham hock show they can do simple food with flair, turning 'share house staples' into, dare I say it: elegant dishes.
Likewise the Hot Tuna Salad ($15) with quinoa, olives and a perfectly soft-boiled egg, prove these guys are restaurateur class.
With Allpress roasting the beans for their Coffee ($3.50) we're not surprised when Jono tells us the nearby Australian Federal Police have become regulars, as have guests at the hotel upstairs seeking a quality breakfast.
At lunch you can't go wrong with a Brother Burger ($15) - two patties of ground chuck beef, the classic Aussie fillings and shoestring fries.
With a liquor license and plans to dish up beers and burgers of an evening, prepare for these golf buddies to knock it out of the park.
Shop 1 / 184-196 Elizabeth Street, Sydney
Ph: (02) 9281 5198
Chef Kumar Mahadevan uses beautiful mandarin skin and fruit in his Salmon Kothmiri Tikki. The bold, acidic sauce also employs spicy tamarind but somehow leaves a hole big enough to taste the gently cooked (sous-vide) fish. It’s but one masterpiece presented at a series of 25th Anniversary Dinners held last month at Abhi’s in North Strathfield. While this is a little outside my usual stomping ground, Abhi’s is worth mentioning, not least of which because in the ensuing quarter century since opening the doors, it has fed around 1,014,000 customers. I’d also place it in Sydney’s top four Indian restaurants.
Kumar’s scallop and kingfish bhel is a good indication why. While I often think less is more with raw kingfish, this ceviche-style dish plays upon a traditional bhel-puri of puffed rice, wheat crisps, chilli, onion and vadagam (rice crackers). It employs considerable spicing yet manages to leave a slot so you get to appreciate the delicate fish. Even Kumar’s simple vegetarian dhal, Keerai Pappu, is amazing, so if you haven’t dined, don’t wait another twenty-five years to check this tastefully updated Indian restaurant out!
163 Concord Road, North Strathfield
Ph: (02) 9743 3061
Amie Barbeler wrapped her lips around some balls. Something about this sentence doesn't seem right...
The Newtown Social Club's fancy renovation has taken a lot of balls. Meatballs, to be precise.
Once reminiscent of your generic sticky-floored pub, the Social has recently been transformed into a hip and inviting place. No more schnitty's and burgers grace the menu though, instead, the focus is now firmly upon platters and meatballs.
Punchy Ginger Passion Snap ($16) cocktails in hand, my date and I grabbed a seat in the newly designated cocktail lounge area that is snuggled underneath the stairs, and sorted ourselves out with a Charcuterie Platter ($26) of Serrano ham, chorizo, smoked pork belly (speck), house olives and romesco dipping sauce.
Afterwards, we slid into one of the comfy booths that now line that wall of the dining area and decided to share Wagyu Beef Balls ($19) with Roma tomatoes and mash.
Juicy, hearty comfort food with loads of flavour - can't complain.
Newtown Social Club
387 King Street, Newtown
Ph: (02) 9550 3974