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Review - Cornersmith Annandale




With the minimalist blonde wood design, a Scando-inspired breakfast and single origin coffees from Sample and Mecca, the new Cornersmith Annandale is definitely on-trend.



Housed in an old milk bar on the edge of Hinsby Park, they’re the corner store-come-café of a new generation. Instead of sliced white bread and mixed lollies, this modern day corner store offers up Cornersmith pickles, preserves and chutneys, Alto olive oil, and Nonie’s gluten free charcoal bread. And while users of corners stores old and new, all visit them looking for convenience, here it’s likely that locals are also seeking food ethics and sustainability.



The move to Annandale makes perfect sense for owners Alex Elliott-Howery and her husband, James Grant. Their new store has the same light-filled corner aspect as the Marrickville original (opened back in 2012), and the surrounding locale has a similar community-minded spirit. I popped in for gander and a refreshing Cucumber and Basil Soda ($6) that wasn’t overly sweet.



From their short all-day vegetarian menu I chose a lunch-friendly Poached Egg Roll ($14). Their use of ingredients like a house-made tasty lime pickle help to ensure that even a simple poached egg roll with Maffra cheddar, snow pea and cabbage ‘slaw, and aioli isn’t lacking in the flavour department.



Battling a log jam of expensive prams, I made my way to their product aisle to pick up some Alto Olive Oil ($18), a nicely funky Cornersmith Pumpkin Kimchi ($14) and, after trying one in-house, I decided to give their Highland Fresh Free Range Eggs ($10) a whirl. The proximity to Annandale North Public School is making this café an early hit with parents with youngsters, so next time I might take their 'borrow a picnic blanket' hint and enjoy my lunch in the park across the road.


Cornersmith Annandale
88 View Street, Annandale
Ph: (02) 8084 8466

Cornersmith Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Review - Lal Qila




An eye-catching quartet of Paani Poori ($10.90/4) is our first introduction to the new Lal Qila. Building upon the repertoire of their successful Cleveland Street restaurant, this more luxurious King Street Wharf spot refines their offerings with a few fine dining touches.



Presented on top of shot glasses of vividly green tamarind water, Lal Qila keeps these tasty puffs beautifully crisp. This dish is an update on a popular street food in India and Pakistan (where they're called gol gappy) that starts with hollow, fried pastries, punches a hole in them, fills them with sweet chutney, chickpeas, potato and a spice blend called chaat masala, then pours in tamarind water for a whole-of-mouth vegetarian experience that's hard to beat.



If you’re not familiar with Pakistani Mughlai cuisine – the food of the Muhajir people, the Muslim immigrants who left India after the partition to settle in the newly formed Pakistan – order some Pappadums ($5.90) while you peruse the extensive menu. The menu writing alone is worth your attention – you can feel owner/chef Namir Mirza’s genuine enthusiasm for the dishes he’s presenting.



Pakistani food can be understood as conquered cuisine, with each of the conquerors – Persian, Roman, Greek, British and others – leaving traces on the dishes.



You’ll also find hints of these conquerors in the restaurant's décor, which eschews the dim lighting and colourful clutter of the Surry Hills space, for a more elegant, white-tablecloth affair.



Along the figurines, you’ll find some wonderful geometric pieces common to Islamic art, which has had a somewhat varied attitude to figurative art (art that depicts people) over the years.



Being a Muslim restaurant, Lal Qila does not serve alcohol, though they are happy for you to bring your own. They have created a rather unique range of mocktails, which may be an acquired taste. The watermelon-based Jaam-e-Lal Qila ($7.90) was slightly more palatable than the Jaam-e-Taj Mahal ($7.90), which has a heavy, funky masala layer that my mouth struggled to find refreshing. Next time I’d bring wine.



The tandoor oven is put to good effect here, with marinated, thick-cut ling fillets scrubbing up as my favourite item on a well-presented Shahi Thaal ($34.90) mixed platter for two.



It’s quite a lot of food, so if you’re after a smaller adventure into this style of cooking, consider Shahi Kebab-E-Beef ($24.90) - flavoursome beef turned red with tandoori spices, and cooked in the tandoor oven after being squeezed onto metal skewers.



Our mains arrive in an avalanche of food and flavours. I’m impressed with the number of different styles of dishes that are available here, branching beyond the ubiquitous Indian curries you’ll find across Sydney.



Alive with fresh ginger, a hot plate (tawa) of Zafrani Tawa Chop ($26.90) chosen in chicken, has a garam masala, tomato and onion base. Refreshed at the table with a squeeze of lemon, this dish would likely suit those who are not crash hot on heavy curries.



For those who are into curries, we went gaga over the gravy of Handie ($28.90). As we were eating a lot of other meat dishes, we chose to have this one in paneer (cheese) and didn’t regret a thing.



Dipping a traditional sesame-seed sprinkled Pakistani bread - Roghani Naan ($4.90) – into the aforementioned slow-cooked Mughlai curry was a revelation.



For a gentler, smoky curry, the Shahzada-e-Saleem Khas ($22.90) or white korma takes yoghurt and well-sweated onions, and turns them into a thick aromatic sauce.  While it will have its fans, I reckon I’d skip over it for a chance to eat biryani.



Arriving in a high-topped dome of starch-free, golden rice, our Dumpukht Biryani ($22.90) was the envy of surrounding tables. It hides well-cooked, bone-in goat pieces, and the portion of it we couldn’t finish re-heated beautifully for lunch the next day.



Put your well-exercised palate back together with an icy treat. There’s a mango kulfi (ice cream) called Aam Ki Kul ($7.90) or an even better pistachio, almond and rose syrup drizzled, condensed milk ice cream called Shahi Kul ($7.90). Be careful not to spear your mouth with the sharp end of the stick.


Lal Qila
30 Lime Street, Darling Harbour
Ph: (1300) 525 745

Lal Qila Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Review - Good Luck Pinbone




Don’t worry, I won’t be serving you this dish,” said a grey-haired photographer as we enter Good Luck Pinbone. We interact because she's blocking the restaurant door, photographing the aforementioned dish against the grungy red carpet floor.



I sympathise; it’s a hard restaurant to make food photography look good, what with half obscured east-facing, late afternoon light that’s blocked completely each time a bus offloads at the bus stop outside. That's every few minutes - it is Anzac Parade in Kensington after all, and accordingly, they’ve spared every expense. Summoning suburban Aussie-Chinese restaurants of yore, they’ve slapped some garish pink and peach paint onto chipped plaster walls, and turned the blue Japanese tō-style roof of the previous tenant - Sushi Tengoku - Chinese pagoda red.



Yes, the crazy kids Mike Eggert and Jemma Whiteman, who first introduced us to the liver parfait-topped chocolate crackle, have returned with a take on modern Chinese. Our meal starts quite well with Chilli Cucumber Pickle ($6) - it's bright, crunchy and full of red-hot chilli zing.



My Polish dining companion has never met a pickle he hasn’t liked, so we throw in Pickled Radish, Turnip and Carrot ($6) too. They’re another crunchy, palate-stimulating pleasure, topped with a scattering of toasted sesame seeds as a nod to Chinese.



Raw Prawn ($18) is served on buttered rounds of bread; a cute gesture to prawn toast and reminiscent of the fish roe fairy bread this kitchen team served in their previous Pinbone incarnation. It's kept on theme with a light drizzle of Sichuan oil - though not enough to numb your palate - and a pleasurable, soft, creamy eat.



I’m less enamoured with Smoked Eel Toast ($14). While I like the wet, crunchy celtuce, this feels like a British dish. The only loose connection to modern Chinese I can find seems to be that the Chinese eat both celtuce (they call it wosun) and eel.



Stepping onto Malay-Chinese territory, the Eggplant Sambal ($18) is a much better dish. Caramelised eggplant and toothsome black fungus intertwine with coriander and other greens, in a garlic-heavy, spicy sambal mix that’s a pleasure to eat.



I can’t say the same about Chrysanthemum Greens ($17) - the intensely floral, slightly bitter greens jangled awkwardly against an underlying macadamia custard, which was sloppy torture to pick up with chopsticks.



No such problems with the Stir-Fried Potato ($17) adorned with an uncustomary egg yolk, though the strands of potato were slightly too toothsome for me. It's good for filling out corners but really wanted something to punch against, like the spicy Sichuan you might have been expecting. Perhaps it's just one to order against a saucy main?



At risk of sounding like Durack, this restaurant is bloody noisy. Worse yet, there’s no liquor license, so you can’t dampen the impact by ordering more booze.



There’s simply no way a Lychee Mango Soda ($6) or Peach Iced Tea ($6) is going to make this earsplitting room sound any better, even if they do come with kitsch paper fruit pom-pom straws. Now you can BYO ($5/head), but you might want to think about that before you get all the way to a suburb like Kensington. Throw in no bookings, high prices, and reasonably uncomfortable mustard-coloured chairs, and I’m ready to take my too-old, too-deaf, too-sober arse back to Surry Hills.

Good Luck Pinbone
121 Anzac Parade, Kensington
Ph: none provided

Good Luck Pinbone Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Event - Australian Ham Awards




"This scene is iconically Australian and we wanted to share two Australian icons with you today," said Australian Pork Limited Marketing Manager, Mitch Edwards.



The first Aussie icon he was referring to was visible through the wide glass windows: the iconic Bondi Beach. However it was the alluring smell, and wonderful appearance of the second icon that had actually caused us to gather at Icebergs Dining Room and Bar...



It’s Australian Ham Week, a week that celebrates Australian ham, and effectively launches the Xmas ham season. Cracking the ham was always a big moment at our house. For most households, a bone-in leg ham represents a significant spend, so everyone wants to get this purchase right. We'd hang over it waiting for the first slice, asking will it have the right balance of flavour, smoke, aroma and texture?



Well if you live in Toowoomba, you can be assured that Westridge Meats have got the goods. Taking out the overall artisan and best boneless ham, this family-owned butcher shop is one of three stores run by John and Lynette Yeo.

We source all our ham locally from Clifton just outside Toowoomba - the Jones - they've been running that piggery for years," said John as he collected his second award, having first taken out the trophy in 2011. He tells me that his resident master smallgoods maker, Kerry Brisbane, will be turning out nearly 1800 handcrafted hams using his own secret recipe this year, with most going to the lucky folk in Toowoomba.



Winning an award like this one – or even taking out second prize as they did in 2013 – is good for business. “We got lots of customers who email and then drive 4-6 hours to come in," explained Lynette. They arrived in Sydney from Toowoomba earlier this morning, carting down packets of their leg ham so guests like me could try their-award winning leg ham.



Executive Chef of Icebergs, Monty Koludrovic, kept guests entertained with tantilising tastes of ham across dishes like Wapengo ostrich ‘Kilpatrick’ fredde con caviale (cold Wapengo lake oysters with pearls of ham caviar) and verrines of ham risotto.



However we were all salivating for the big event – cracking Monty’s beautifully presented, glazed ham masterpiece.



He served it up quite simply, with pickled peaches and green leaves, which is all the garnishing a beautiful Australian ham needs.



Australians eat 5kg of ham per person per year,” said Mitch Edwards. For a nation of ham lovers though, a whopping 56% of us are unaware that ham can be made using imported pork. Make sure this Xmas, you support Aussie farmers by looking for the pink Porkmark logo.



While I strongly recommend you choose artisan ham from an independent butcher, if you buy your ham from Coles, look for Bertocchi Brothers Triple Smoked Leg Ham. They took out the best nationally available ham with their hickory smoked leg ham.



If you like boneless ham, Sunshine Meats in Milperra took out that toque for NSW – and their factory outlet is well worth a visit! I’ll personally be heading to Campbell's Superior Meats of West Pymble (where I already buy my bacon) for NSW’s best artisan traditional bone-in ham. I have no doubt it will be exceptional.


Bondi Icebergs Dining Room & Bar
1 Notts Avenue, Bondi Beach
Ph: (02) 9365 9000


Bondi Icebergs Club Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Travel - Toowoomba's Gardens




While I’m normally most captivated by restaurants, bars and farmers' markets, Toowoomba excels in three other categories that are pretty hard to ignore. This town has a lot to offer to lovers of gardens, street art and architecture. So, after covering Towoomba's restaurants, cafes and farmers' market, it would be remiss of me not to give you a little glimpse of the other treasures you’ll find in this beautiful part of Queensland.



Toowoomba is already well known for flowers, with the sixty-seventh annual Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers taking place earlier this year.  Even visiting outside of the festival's 16-25 September time period, the town's gardens were impressive enough to warrant a walk-through. My highlights included the riotously colourful Queens Park - home to Toowoomba's Botanical Garden. Foodies like me could easily team this park with a visit to Toowoomba Farmers’ Market across the road.



I was also impressed by Newtown Park, home to the State rose garden.



It painted a beautiful picture using countless pastel flowerbeds.



Those with children will enjoy finding a well-trimmed Thomas the Tank Engine, and will likely also notice that there are well-equipped parks with lots of playground equipment right across this town.



You’ll also find plenty of rotundas, shaded walkways and tree-lined avenues to help beat Toowoomba's blazing sun.



Bang smack in the centre of the central business district on Ruthven Street, you’ll find Art Gallery Park.



This small but impressive strip of blooms running between the Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery and the shiny copper of the steam punk inspired library, is worth a peek as you wander around town.



This park is well placed if you're dining at Zev's Bistro (and I recommend strongly that you do)!



I’d also recommend taking a peek inside the art gallery – it punches above its weight for a regional gallery, with many different styles of art represented on its walls.



The collection includes a lot of older works, as well as a good showing from the region's local artists.



Now, if you’re anything like me, in a new place you’ll find it hard to resist a lookout. At the eastern edge of Toowoomba you’ll find Picnic Point Park.



While the gardens aren’t that impressive in comparison to some of the other parks in town (bar for the jet-black pansies) you will find a waterfall and a reasonable viewpoint looking back towards Brisbane over the Lockyer Valley.



Jump back in your car and continue north along the ridgeline, past Mount Lofty on the New England Highway, and you’ll come to Murphys Creek Road. If you drive along it and follow the signs to Spring Bluff, you’ll come to one of the most picturesque railway stations I’ve ever seen.



It's teaming with flowers, and a lovely pit-stop on the scenic route back to Brisbane.



Following this tourist drive lets you wind your way through the Lockyer Valley, with ample opportunities to stop at roadside vegetable stalls along the way - a perfect way to combine all of my interests!


Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery
531 Ruthven Avenue, Toowoomba
Ph: (07) 4688 6652

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Review - Next Door




After nine months in the D.A. stage and 1.5 years trying to get it approved by Liquor, we finally as of two weeks ago opened our doors,” explains Simon Fadous, who also co-owns Made In Italy with Sergio Checchi.



Despite the entranceway mural of a muzzled bright pink balloon dog on the leash of a cap-wearing leather man (which might have you thinking you’re heading into something else entirely), this tiny back-lane basement-style bar seems pretty benign.



Kicking back with an icy Made in York Lane ($16) – their rosemary-infused Bombay Sapphire and Aperol aperitivo – it’s hard to see why a quiet post-work drink and pizza proved so troubling to Baird’s bungling bureaucracy.



Set right next door to Made In Italy on York Lane, this venue was designed to give people a more pleasant laneway seating option than milk crates while eating one of their pizzas.



The proximity means you’ll get your patriotic Tricolore Pizza ($18/medium) piping hot – much better than delivery, no? Crisp green rocket leaves, white flakes of shaved Parmesan cheese and red cherry tomatoes adorn this thin-based pizza, flavoured with chilli flakes, garlic and oregano.



Working the same three shades, a well-dressed Bocconcini Salad ($15) with crisp cucumbers, mixed leaves, cherry tomatoes and tiny balls of cheese is a nice counterpoint.



Taking over a vacant storage room, this tiny bar actually seats fifty people. They keep the post-work crowd hydrated with a decent list of wines, beers and cocktails. The Martini Espresso Twist ($16) proves another winner; with cinnamon-infused Finlandia Vodka and Patron XO Tequila it packs a punch that’s only partially gentled by the cinnamon sugar rim.



Sipped slowly against a simple Pollo Pizza ($18/medium) that pairs chicken breast with onions, mushrooms, oregano, Parmesan and garlic, I can feel it working its magic, helping me unwind after a busy day of having my nose to the corporate grind.


Next Door
33 York Lane, Sydney
Ph: none provided


Next Door Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Travel - Toowoomba Farmers' Market




What stood out for me about Toowoomba Farmers’ Market is that it felt very well curated.



Someone with a good eye for aesthetic appeal had laid out their key stalls at the foot of the windmills in the Cobb & Co. Museum grounds.



The market organisers’ own stall offers up wildflowers, Paddock to Potager Apple and Porketta Burgers ($7), and flavoursome Lamb Kofta ($4/each) on sticks. Prices here – as you can see – are way lower than Sydney.



Appropriately the museum celebrates horse-drawn vehicles and heritage trades, and so does the market, with a good amount of old-fashioned pickling going on. From Brandis Home Grown we picked up a Curried Cucumber Pickle ($8/520g) full of yellow mustard seeds, and so tasty it inspired us to recreate our own version when we returned home.



These products are made in a small town called Douglas, about twenty clicks from Toowoomba. These makers - Howard and Eileen Brandis - are dab hands with strong flavours. Using a catalogue of ingredients like allspice, turmeric, pimento, cloves and cayenne pepper, they make a great Green Tomato Pickle ($8/520g), and an even better Flaming Hot Chilli Sauce ($8/250g). Despite the name, the chilli sauce is a triumph of bright flavour over bald, searing heat.



Their pickled vegetables stay wonderfully crisp – perhaps a testament to the quality local produce that they use; much of which is grown in the neighbouring Lockyer Valley and at Kulpi.



As we wind our way down the side of Campbell Street – one of Toowoomba’s famous green camphor laurel avenues – we’re encouraged to smell the dirt of the Lockyer Valley on the organic and chemically-free offerings.



This flat flood plain that you probably drove through on your way to Toowoomba from Brisbane, is referred to as ‘Australia’s Salad Bowl’ for good reason. The farmers at this market help to show that the Lockyer Valley is used to grow a wide range of things.



Another standout stall selling bonafide Queensland products is the Peanut Van. We’re loving their Cold-Pressed Virgin Peanut Oil ($5.95/375ml) made from peanuts grown in Kingaroy - the 'Peanut Capital' of Queensland.  After cooking with this high flash-point 'good fats' oil at home, I’m wishing I bought more of it, and delved deeper into their range of products, which include peanut brittle and peanut butter. Don't just take my word for it, they've got the Spanish bull - Miguel Maestre's - stamp of approval too, with his face adorning the Toowoomba stall.



With sun-warmed organic Mulberries ($4) staining my lips and fingers purple, I did the rest of the market in a haze of childhood memory, thinking about what food used to taste like before the price war between supermarket giants Coles and Woolworths ruined it.



The buzzwords of this boutique collection of stalls are definitely organic and chemical free. There are also the best selection of stalls from meat producers I’ve seen in a while, all touting the word ‘happy’ - Toowoomba is the gateway to the Darling Downs after all.



As Toowoomba Mayor Paul Antonio explained to me, what’s great about Toowoomba is that you don’t have to drive to the big smoke (Brisbane) to get what you need.  Looking around at this fortnightly market, I can see he’s correct – they’ve got everything you need right here.


Toowoomba Farmers’ Market
2nd & 4th Saturday of the month, 8am-1pm
Corner Lindsay and Campbell Streets, East Toowoomba
Ph: (0439) 844 849

Review - Harbour Bar & Kitchen



Alex Harmon finds her way around the new, post-International Convention Centre, Darling Harbour...



Sometimes I spend too much time in dingy dive bars drinking cocktails from used soup cans and mopping up fries loaded with cheese curds and bacon bits that I forget how the other half dine. You know, with natural lighting and a classic, seasonal menu. Harbour Bar and Grill is one such place that reminds me of the other way to dine. It's got water views, it's got wait-staff who smile; it's got a huge list of meaty options. Not to say it's boring.



The menu is inventive and bold with a focus on smoked meats and a slight twist on some Aussie classics. I mean, where else can you get a crocodile burger? The Chargrilled Crocodile Burger ($24) isn’t a gimmick either, I’ve had a croc. pie in Darwin (definite gimmick) but here it’s cooked superbly with that wood-fired taste, smoked zucchini and beetroot relish - delicious.



On the more delicate side is the Grilled Scallops ($21) – it’s like something you’d see at a wedding, served with quinoa and apple salad, and butternut squash puree.



Darling Harbour just screams out for cocktails and the signature cocktail list here has some hits, especially the elegant Kiss in Kyoto ($17) with pear vodka, hints of Frangelico, apple juice and egg white. The Frozen Strawberry and Basil Margarita ($17) is good, if a tad O.T.T. with its snow cone vibe. Charming waiter Jacopo wants us to order the bruschetta (“I’m Italian of course”) but tells us the Duck Spring Rolls ($19) walk out the door. We can’t help but go with the popular vote – they’re gorgeous.



This restaurant is full of head-turners, like the rack of smoked barbeque ribs that go past our table sending us into food envy disarray - but for something a bit more subtle the Smoked Swordfish Fettucini ($29) is a quiet achiever, with sundried tomatoes, olives and mushrooms. Goes down as nice as the sun over the water with a glass of Tightrope Walker Pinot Noir $8) from the Yarra Valley.



The gold star on top of the tree has got to be the Chocolate Brûlée Dome ($10) with chocolate mousse and caramel brûlée insert finished with a shiny dark chocolate glaze and gold dust. It's a true knockout on the dessert menu.

It’s nice to do something different every now and again - smoky flavours in the fresh outdoors - lovely.


Harbour Bar and Kitchen
Level 2, Harbourside Shopping Centre, Darling Drive, Darling Harbour
Ph: (02) 9280 2029

Harbour Bar & Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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This Week's Food News - Allen's Lolly Bar




Opening this week, the first-ever Allen’s Lolly Bar should be a trip down memory lane for Aussie candy-lovers. Suck the sugar off Allen's Spearmint Leaves, as you get your own bespoke Allen’s favourites done up all fancy-like, in a Personalised Lolly Jar ($30/2L) with your name on it (or the name of someone you love). What’s even better: if you’re doing the whole Xmas retail caper, they’ll make it while you shop, and text you when it’s ready to collect.



The Allen's Lolly Bar also offers some quirky twists on your old-time favourites. Allen’s Strawberries & Cream - invented before I was born in 1973 - have been redone as Choc & Cream ($6/150g) using the same fluffy, creamy bases.



I also got stuck into some minty-fresh Funny Teeth ($6/150g) - a twist on Allen’s Teeth - in apple-mint, berry-mint or (my personal favourite) pineapple-mint.

You’ll find your Fantales, Minties, Red Frogs and Jaffas (the perfect objects for rolling down Aussie cinema aisles since 1931) in the brightly coloured Allen’s Lolly Bar on Level 2 of Westfield Sydney up until Xmas Eve.

Allen’s Lolly Bar
Level 2, Westfield Sydney, Corner Pitt Street & Market Street, Sydney
Ph: (1800) 025 361

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Review - Nour



Earlier this month I headed to Sydney's latest modern Lebanese it-restaurant, Nour, with Tom Nash (DJ Hookie) and our respective partners (Sydney and Craig). Rather than writing a review for what was really a social evening, I thought I'd just share our post-meal email exchange...



Dear Jackie,
Let me start by saying it was wonderful (as always) to catch up the other night. I do hope this last week have given you time to reflect on the positives and negatives of our experience at ‘Nour’, Monday evening.




Before touching the topic of the food, I’d like to know your opinions on the welcomed lack of ‘hipsterdom’ we seemed to encounter at the restaurant. Apart from what was possibly the most hipster cutlery I’ve ever been furnished with (Do you remember the words ‘Rose Distressed Copper’ being mentioned at any stage?), and the fact that Ibby Moubadder resembled a young Jason Schwartzman, I think the similarities to a Wes Anderson film end there. Ok Maybe the colour scheme.

The decor and use of lights seemed almost reactionary to the onslaught of trendy eateries, while maintaining an element of class and cool. I liked it.


 

I think you and Sydney both won the cocktail war, with your marginally more masculine beverages, whilst Craig and I sat around like Carrie and Samantha with our fruity aperitifs.



The Pacific Oysters ($5 ea) were Oysters, but I would submit that the real fun began when the Cauliflower Falafel ($18) was brought to the table. My ex-flatmate was a great cook of traditional Lebanese dishes, and I’ve always been a fan of what they do with the vegetable.



This dish presented a nod of respect to traditional flavours, with the modern yet modest twist of run falafel mix to the flat side of the cauliflower. Very cool.

I’ll leave it for you to shed some light on the other dishes and hopefully we can get to the bottom of whether ‘No baba ganoush’ was really a bright idea, and subsequently whether it fit with the theme of this new establishment.

Regards
Tom


Hey Tom,

Great to dine with you and Sydney in a space utterly devoid of hipster affectations! Maybe they're just preempting new trends though - because since our adventure into distressed rose copper cutlery, I’ve now encountered a brass version... however I digress.



I liked the décor, it felt modern and open, and with the emphasis on letting light into the dining room at both ends, I suspect Nour would also be a pleasant lunch spot. Ibby Moubadder was indeed handsome and well composed on the floor, dealing with our baba ganoush related-ribbing with aplomb.



Updating a cuisine that we’re very familiar with can be fraught with peril – it’s hard for every update to be better than the original – but I think Nour nailed it with Baby Prawn Felafel ($18/4). No more vacillating between dry or under-cooked centres when there’s a prawn taking up the middle! And didn’t I catch Sydney scraping up the remaining smoked black tahini for you onto bread?



How do you feel about them having a chef solely there to man their bread oven, ensuring we were kept well supplied with pillowy warm pita? Is it taking 'do one thing and do it well' a step too far?



And before we take on baba, did you think it’s odd that hummus wasn’t tarred with the same brush? It made a pretty standard appearance - livened up with some pomegranate and lime - under those pleasantly pink slices of Za'atar Smoked Goat ($21), as I recall. (I appreciated that they were well rested slices too - I hate things bleeding on my hummus.) Do you think this favouritism is likely to inflame tensions in the Middle East?

I look forward to your thoughts,
Jackie



Thanks for your response Jackie. I agree wholeheartedly about the Baby Prawn Felafel. What a winner! The Arabic Lamb Tartar ($22) was nice enough (and gluten free - which was a bit of a lol), but the Lamb Shoulder 400g ($39) pleased me more, I must say.



I’m not sure a dedicated ‘bread chef’ is entirely necessary, but with the amount of covers Nour seats, it’s obvious they have big dreams. Perhaps it is necessary.



Vis-a-vis the Baba / Hummus speculation; I think it’s probably hard enough distancing yourself from one all-time favourite, before even considering to denounce more. You may not make friends with salad - but without hummus - you could make notable enemies.

I’ll leave it to your next email to sum up the review, but i’ll just suggest as a topic - Baklava Our Way ($15). Discuss.

Tom




Yo Tom,
Sorry for the radio silence… club night weekend. Speaking of clubs, I think the most exciting thing about dessert at Nour was that your super-famous Starfuckers DJ status meant we got sent it all for nix. Loving being your plus one for a change!



While I know the avocado ice cream interior gave Sydney some serious consternation, I was a bit of a fan of the Middle Eastern Bombe Alaska ($16) set on a kataifi pastry bed.



I thought the Camel Milk Mouhalabieh ($17) was clever, with an added a level of funkiness that cut against the sweet; but did they really need to deconstruct the baklava… my two cents worth says, probably not.

They won me on wine though... and I’ve already made another booking.

So where are we dining next?
Jackie


Nour
Shop 3, 490 Crown Street, Surry Hills
Ph: (02) 9331 3413

Nour Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato