Amie Barbeler slipped into the suit matrix to follow the White Rabbit this week...
This upmarket CBD bar is not only a hotbed of silver foxes in suits; it’s also a great place to just kick back with carafes of cocktails and watch the world hurry by.
White Rabbit is the place to go if you need to trick someone into thinking you’ve got your shit together.
After a carafe of the Alice in Wonderland ($17): vodka, Licor 43, passionfruit and apple juice, followed by another of the Dr Jekyll ($17): gin, elderflower liqueur, fresh watermelon juice and cucumber, I was convinced that one more drink might have sent my date and I stumbling out of the rabbit hole.
Slightly inebriated and armed with two forks, we shared the surprisingly large Lamb Pie ($22), which featured White Rabbit Dark Ale and crisp butter pastry. As we ate our weight in pie in the sun, surrounded by suits, we laughed about the embarrassing states of our Linkedin profiles.
28-34 O’Connell Street, Sydney
Ph: (02) 9221 1841
Driving through Orange NSW last month I got a behind-the-scenes peek at the Fresh Fodder factory. Max Schofield showed me through his rapidly expanding small business, and explained firsthand why his taramosalata is known as ‘the gangster dip’. All I’ll say is his father’s act of kindness clearly paid off. While I was there, I got to sample their new White Taramosalata [RRP $4.99], which I predict could be your gateway to getting to love this traditional dip. Spicy Semi Dried Tomato and Feta [RRP $5.99] was another strong favourite.
Max has also added salads to the range – great for work lunches. Freekah, Lentil and Kale with Spinach Felafel [RRP $6.99] won me by nailing healthy without being boring.
I also got my hands on some Kikkoman Inspir-Asian microwavable rice products. While I’m generally not a fan of pre-flavoured rice products, my partner did find the Rice Inspir-Asian Korean Bibimbap [RRP $3.79] and the Rice Inspir-Asian Teriyaki [RRP $3.79] convenient lunch-sized companions to complement homemade curries. What’s even better is they only take 45 seconds to make in the work microwave – perfect for those days you’re so busy it’s lunch al-desko.
With the upsurge of enthusiasm for pizza certified Napoli, it’s easy to lose sight of pizza styles popular across the rest of Italy.
Add that Nicola Piteo slid his restaurant into an existing Italian spot, keeping the original name, and you get some idea of how his outstanding pizza has largely flown under the radar.
The bases are crafted using unrefined, stone-ground Petra 1 flour, and a dough maturation process that takes 48-72 hours. The resulting pizzas are crisper, without being dry.
Each slice can be held between thumb and forefinger, providing the perfect base to explore high quality toppings, like Norma ($19) featuring fior de latte, deep fried (well-drained) eggplant pieces and shaved salted ricotta accentuated by fresh basil.
I’m even more impressed with Ortaggina ($23), which takes cleverly salted vegetables – eggplant, zucchini – teams them with cherry tomatoes, red onion and fire-roasted red capsicum, then dribbles the lot with stracciatella di bufala.
That’s the gooey heart of burrata cheese.
It’s made freshly in Auburn using imported Italian buffalo milk, and also featured on Nicola’s killer antipasti plate - Montagna ($28), against a great collection of Italian salumi (mortadella and speck being standouts).
Drink wine from Nicola’s home city - Il Conte Pecorino DOCG ($35/bottle) – and end your night with exceptional Orange Yoghurt Gelato ($5/cup).
25 Lackey Street, Summer Hill
Ph: (02) 9716 9000
Hotel restaurants are curious beasts; and while Abode has been cleverly located as a stylish, stand-alone restaurant, it is still very much part of the Parkroyal Darling Harbour.
As you’d expect, the restaurant fulfils a role in providing accessible, comforting and familiar food to overnight stayers.
What you might not expect however, are enough seasonal, well-handled proteins - including moist, crisp-skinned Cone Bay Barramundi ($32) on a heaving plate of crabmeat risotto – to make it attractive to locals.
You’ll find the occasional spark of interest - like Salt Baked Celeriac ($18) with toasted hazelnuts, sweet and sour dressing and house-made ricotta - but mostly it’s straight-up, honest cooking of dishes you’ll recognise.
The standout Braised Short Rib ($30) with buttery mash and glazed carrots proves no exception.
Hotel-style service means nothing is too much trouble, from how you want your premium Aussie beef (Tajima) cooked, to Sommelier Jasmin Leighton not even flinching when your only wine descriptors are white or red.
Jasmin commands quite an interesting list, with by-the-glass selections like the Western Australian (Great Southern) 2013 Harewood Estate Chardonnay ($13) supplemented by Aussie benchmarks like the 2013 Mount Horrocks Cordon Cut Riesling ($52/bottle).
Take it against chef’s ode to Rhubarb Four Ways ($15) - counting may not be his forte, but cooking sure is.
159 Day Street, Sydney
Ph: (02) 9260 2945
When I handed DJ Hookie the chance to meet Dan Aykroyd, he was keen to ask lots of questions...
What type of person would pass up the opportunity to ingest copious amounts of vodka, wine and caviar whilst listening to Dan Aykroyd ramble on about the significance of crystal skulls and how they somehow relate to large-scale quantities of vodka and en masse marketing techniques? Not I, said the Walrus. Precisely how I found myself at The 3 Winos Trade Day last month. Each year, Winestock, World Wine Estates and Combined Wines and Foods get together at the Four Seasons Hotel to display a comprehensive spread of various wines and food for industry giants, and lowly food bloggers like me. A standout of the brand varieties sampled was Whitehaven Wines, based in the Marlborough region of New Zealand, whose richer-than-Donald-Trump pinot noirs, while subtly sweet, certainly hit the spot. (You can get your mitts on them via their website: www.whitehaven.co.nz). The only things I didn’t engage with were the spit buckets, so I’m appreciative that the lads from The 3 Winos booked a venue with a working elevator to facilitate my rather ungracious exit.
PS: You can read DJ Hookie's complete experiences on his blog Look Mum No Hands
Amie Barbeler reflects on her Bar Fly journey so far...
If you'd have told me a year ago that you'd find me in a slick Japanese lounge bar, picking caviar from between my teeth amid a thick haze of liquid nitrogen, I would have choked on my cider and fallen off my bar stool.
Behind an unassuming entrance in Potts Point sits Geisha Haus: a swish new sushi bar specialising in molecular mixology (think fire, smoke and dry ice) and pretty bar snacks that the Instagram crowd are bound to lose their shit over.
After a round of fresh and foggy ice-cold Kawaii Kisses ($19) smoked up our table (Belvedere, sake, rose tea, sugar, fresh watermelon and lime juice, infused with liquid nitrogen), my girlfriends and I shared a round of juicy Miso Cod ($24).
As I pondered how my life went from pubs to posh, I munched on Geisha's Seared Scallop Nigiri ($22) – flame seared scallops served with creamy Japanese mayo and tobiko.
Level 1/5-9 Roslyn St, Potts Point
Ph: (02) 8065 1812
This week Alex Harmon checked out some new knife-shaved noodles...
It doesn’t feel like a food court restaurant inside a shopping mall, in fact it doesn’t feel like you’re inside at all. Mrs Mi in Chatswood Chase brings the authentic taste of Northern China's Shanxi region into what appears to be a bustling and vibrantly coloured street-side location.
You may not know the Shanxi province, but you do need to discover their specialty: knife-shaved noodles – made by none other than the robot chef.
The Braised Beef with Noodles ($14.80) are the freshest you’ll taste; in fact it’s all fresh - you can see the (human) chefs preparing everything right before your eyes.
Go for the Handmade Dumplings ($14.80) – it’s best to grab a selection of naturally colourful dumplings (purple sweet potato, beetroot and spinach supply the colours). Cleanse the palate in between with the surprisingly delightful Cherry Tomatoes in Plum Juice ($7.80); then dive into the Taiwan-Style Fried Chicken ($15.80) - the perfect street food. These lightly tempered parcels may not be traditional to the region, but they don’t disappoint either.
Neither do the crowd favourite: Pan Fried Pork Buns ($11.80), which ooze sweet, tender pork from inside their delicate casings.
End your feast with a Mango Pudding ($7.80) – and unlike the noodle chef, there’s nothing artificial about this flavour.
Shop B-040, Lower Ground, Chatswood Chase, 345 Victoria Street, Chatswood
Ph: (02) 9904 6375
From slickly modern private dining rooms...
...to texture-rich ceramics and stone, highlighted by natural light flooding into what must have been a difficult u-shaped space, DS17 have taken the lessons of Alpha and outdone themselves.
Equally so, in Head Chef Chris Yan’s hands, the now-extensive menu builds upon the ideas germinated in Lotus’s initial Walsh Bay outlet, but far surpasses them.
The through-line is the dumplings – like Steamed Mud Crab and Pork Xiao Long Bao ($21/4) and Steamed Scallop Siu Mai ($14/4) – loaded with the expected premium fillings, but boasting even thinner skins.
Surprisingly, your go-to dish from this selection, is the compelling Baked BBQ Pork Bun ($9/3) - perfect against a richly herb-infused Tea Thyme ($18) cocktail.
Well-handled okra elevates Wok-fried King Prawns with Home-Made XO Sauce and Lime ($36) but the real stars are the dishes that celebrate natural, healthy, Aussie ingredients, homage to chef’s time with pioneer, Kylie Kwong.
Gently closing your lips around the supple, yielding Crystal Ice Plant Salad ($16) is a revelation, and it responds favourably to Chinese interpretation with cucumber, enoki and black vinegar dressing.
Equally exciting are the vibrant green saltbush leaves offsetting tender hunks of Wok-Fried Wallaby Rump ($29) that Chef Yan has cleverly sautéed in sweet-bean paste.
Yes, this is the Chinese-Australian I’ve been waiting to enjoy.
Lotus @ The Galeries
The Galeries, Level 1, 500 George Street, Sydney
Ph: (02) 9267 3699
David Yip’s enthusiasm for what could broadly be termed stunt food is palpable.
An ideas man, David is constantly devising new ways to make his dishes and cocktails fun.
This is basically how I ended up with a rotating, dry ice billowing, Matcha Wheel ONE Tea Experience ($50/8 people) dominating my table for two.
Not that I mind a bit of spectacle, which is lucky because it was rapidly followed by a dramatic at the table glass cloche reveal of tea-smoked Gyokuro Smoked Octopus Avocado ($15), an intensely smoky cold dish.
Then, as we worked our way through our eight flower-accentuated cocktail cups (and teapot of refills), more smoky wisps of dry ice curled around our fingers, this time from under a pretty verrine of Salmon Tartare ($13).
By contrast, sambal-dipped Lollipop Corn ($12) seemed almost sedate, luring us into a false sense of security...
...before our 300 degree Lava Stone Grill ($58/180g) landed with cubes of top-notch 9+ wagyu beef ready to sizzle and dip in yakiniku (BBQ) sauce and matcha salt.
Yes, Japanese green tea pops up everywhere, though its best expression is in the Matcha Lava Bomb ($20) dessert.
After the requisite at the table flaming (with orange liqueur) it literally had me scraping oozing matcha white chocolate pudding and miso caramel from the plate.
ONE Tea Lounge & Grill
73 York Street, Sydney
Ph: (02) 9279 3311
Last month I revisited Pastoral Smallgoods in Waterloo.
Headed up by Jonathan Sankey, they were last year’s winner of the best Traditional Bone-In Leg Ham in the prestigious Australian Ham Awards run by Australian Pork Limited.
A tour of their super-clean factory taught me a lot about the journey Aussie pork takes between the farm and our Xmas tables, with this busy little producer selling their award-winning hams to everyone from David Jones Foodhall to ALDI.
However if you’re a bit sick of waiting until Xmas time for quality ham, they’ve recently come up with a new product I think you might enjoy. It's an English-style raw ham that you roast up at home.
The Gammon Ham Roast (Smoked) [RRP $18.99/1.5kg] comes in the perfect size to feed a dinner table full of guests, with enough slices left over for sandwiches the next day, or maybe a breakfast fry up with ham and eggs? If you follow their website cooking instructions, you’re assured of getting a nice bit of crackling up top.
While I preferred the simpler smoked version for reasons of versatility (and crackling), there’s also a Gammon Ham Roast (Herb Dusted) [RRP $18.99/1.5kg] adaptation for the same price.
You can pick both types at your local Harris Farm, and surprise the family of choice with a different sort of Sunday roast. Against honey carrots, green beans and baked spuds, it's sure to go down a treat!