Amie Barbeler ventured into the Cross this week for a cocktail...
Denim wallpaper, disco balls, paranormal activity and taxidermied roosters... what more could you want from a bar, really? Set over four storeys, The World Bar is a labyrinth of rooms, booths, stairwells and hidden nooks. Calling the place eclectic is an understatement: it's a choose-your-own-adventure… with alcohol.
Upon arrival, my date and I managed to narrowly avoid a group of highly-spirited backpackers by escaping to one of the secluded booths in the stylish Apothecary Bar, where we shared a teeth-achingly sweet teapot cocktail of the Fruit Tingle ($18) variety. Think vodka, tequila, blue Curaçao and lemonade.
Food wise, the bar keeps it simple, with gourmet pizza being your only option. We settled on The Plato ($20): goat’s cheese, roasted pumpkin, snowpeas and cashews. Delicious. From jazz and dubstep, to hip hop and comedy, every night is different at The World Bar; but if you like music and you love adventure, then you’ll fit right in.
The World Bar, 24 Bayswater Road, Kings Cross
Ph: (02) 9357 7700
Alex Harmon gives you the lowdown on where to get a sanga in Alexandria...
It’s the inkblot test – whether you think of a knock to the face, or a succulent hock of pork. Although here, co-owner Diana Thompson assures us, “Knuckles is just a fun and easy to remember name.”
The sandwich bar lies amongst factories in the industrial fashion precinct of Alexandria, and it’s seriously the only decent place to get a sanga on McEvoy Street. With that in mind, you must try the Veal Schnitzel Ciabatta Roll ($12) made fresh to order with lemon aioli, rocket and Parmesan. Everything is made fresh here, Diana tells us, because there’s “nothing worse than a toasted sandwich with warm lettuce.” Agreed.
However don’t neglect the burgers! The Cheeseburger ($10) is popular (and cheap!) with a sesame milk bun. They have a golden crust that reminds me of the old school milk bars. Speaking of which, you must order a side of Hand Cut Chips ($3.50) and the Belgian Chocolate Milkshake ($6.50) to wash it all down.
If all this bread and milk is too much, simply opt for a salad, the Spanish-inspired Grilled Corn Salad ($10) is as healthy as it is colourful, what with quinoa, avocado, radish, toasted pepitas and a spicy lime dressing. Go on, knock yourself out.
Knuckles Sandwich Bar
88 McEvoy Street, Alexandria
Ph: (0403) 821 117
This week, Ryan Kennedy found a little piece of Paris in Redfern...
Every neighbourhood should have a little Parisian bistro.
Better still, one with young French chefs from the south-west of France in the kitchen who play to their seaside strengths and offer up a clattering mound of Moules Marinières ($25) in a white wine and cream sauce, slightly smoky from a good flambé.
Sitting just off Redfern Street and a block from Redfern Park, the little converted terrace that is Pitt St Diner assumed its most recent mantle two years ago, and has been building a solid local customer base using classic French cookery and friendly service.
Steak and Frites ($31) here is a blushing, charred, rib-eye with shoestring fries.
The Whole Fish of the Day ($25) is a crisp skinned and meltingly tender baked ocean trout. A side of Broccolini and Beans ($10) comes al dente, sautéed in butter and crunchy with hazelnuts. Both the menu and space are simple, unpretentious, and completely at ease.
Owner Gary Prebble takes orders and is a dab hand at matching wines. Tonight he suggests the Chocolate Fondant ($12) against the spice and fresh fruits of a Storm Ridge Pinot Noir ($45/bottle); it's a knockout combination.
Cosy, tasty and friendly, this is the perfect neighbourhood local and a charming escape from the gathering winter chill.
Pitt St Diner
96 Pitt Street, Redfern
Ph: (02) 8668 5936
Alex Harmon found herself in Double Bay this week...
Double Bay has had a little makeover, and riding on the coattails of the impressive InterContinental Hotel, is Little Jean.
Tucked away on the fringe of a shopping mall and a construction site, it’s not in the prettiest of spots, but amazingly, once you step inside, you’re welcomed into a relaxed and streamlined space.
It’s like a first-class airport lounge, so keep it classy with freshly shucked Sydney Rock Oysters ($20/6) and glasses of Prosecco ($9.50) from Victoria’s High Country.
The café (bistro by night) is by the guys behind the Golden Sheaf’s bistro and showcases seasonal, sustainable produce to the nautically clad families of the east.
The Bruschetta ($16) with house-cured salmon is fresh and filling DIY job with just the right amount of tart radish, fennel and capers. The Steak Frites ($28) are Frenchy and chic like the clientele, but uses an Aussie “butcher’s cut” sirloin and comes smothered in maître d’hotel butter.
On the lighter side, and my personal standout, is the Roasted Cauliflower Salad ($18) balancing a creamy and nutty tahini and yoghurt dressing.
For something sweet there’s a selection of house-baked pastries. It’s so hard to be faithful to just one – go on, double your pleasure, double your fun.
1 Kiaora Road, Double Bay
Ph: (02) 9328 0201
Ryan Kennedy found teppanyaki is more than just entertainment...
Usually I’m not a fan of the theatre around teppanyaki grills—I just want to eat; but at Kujin the deft hot-plate work is less about theatre, and more about the food. Here the chefs are Japanese and the cuisine Osaka-style. the teppan grill is hot, and the udon are hand-made.
Scalding-hot off the teppan comes Osaka-style Okonomiyaki ($18) with pork and egg noodles.
Smeared in okonomiyaki sauce, highlighted with mayo, dusted with aonori seaweed, and topped with a feathery billow of bonito flakes, it is a sticky, umami-rich taste of real Osaka.
Similarly grill-hot Eggplant ($14) topped with miso and cheese, tastes like a vegetable-substitution vegemite and cheese toastie—take that as you will.
And while I was sceptical of blowtorch-burnished Grilled Oysters ($9) with miso mayo, they are a revelation: smoky, briny, salty and funky.
Murky and gently spicy, the winter-special of Red-Brown Miso Simmered Udon ($16) showcases their pleasingly dense udon.
For a lighter option the Soft Shell Crab Salad ($14) plays textures against flavours in classic Japanese style.
Simple elegance characterises the sweet Japanese-omelette log of Tamagoyaki ($8) rolled deftly off the Teppan—engrossing viewing with a glass of Yuzu Sake ($8) or a frosty Sapporo ($8) in your hand.
PS. If you sign up at http://washokulovers.com/ you will get free green tea ice cream here with your meal.
1/41B Elizabeth Bay Road, Elizabeth Bay
Ph: (02) 9331 6077
It’s Monday night and I’m wondering whether an after-work cooking class at the Casa Barilla Italian Cooking School might have been ambitious.
Luckily they get an Aperol Spritz into my hand the second I walk through their Annandale door, along with enough antipasti to prevent me from gnawing my arm off during the class.
The kitchen is well equipped, down to TV quality cameras, ensuring you don’t miss a moment of the on-bench action. Tonight’s guest chef is Francesco Spataro from Leichhardt’s Aperitivo, one of four Sydney pizzerias to be certified by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana.
Alongside some clever tips for home pizza making (like adding oil to the dough because you’ll be cooking it for longer in a home oven) the pleasure of this class comes from watching a master work his craft.
“You have to let the dough feel that you love it,” espouses Spataro as he gently stretches out his perfect 250g pizzas.
We retire to the courtyard where a wood-fire pizza oven on a trailer has been brought in especially. Chefs Series Masterclasses ($50/head) like this one, allow you to add a fourth-dimension to your favourite television cooking shows – one where you can taste, talk and interact with your idols.
And if you admire Head Chef Richard Learmonth from Pendolino Restaurant, book in now for May 28.
163 Norton Street, Leichhardt
Ph: (02) 9564 0003
Mayfield Garden is a grand folly.
When the opportunity arose to visit the public-facing segment of billionaire Garrick Hawkins’ Oberon weekender for an Autumnal Harvest Feast, I leapt at the chance.
Walking the long allée of London Plane trees to take in the obelisk pond, blue stone bridge and pale yellow water lily-filled ponds, I am struck by the sheer scale of things.
The Water Garden is 6 acres, sitting inside the 160-acre private estate garden, which is part of a 5000 acre working cattle farm.
While the intriguing private garden with its Chinese pagoda, cascade, amphitheatre and walled kitchen garden only opens to the public at certain times of the year...
...you can now visit the Water Garden, nursery, shop (selling locally produced food products, like truffle salt from the nearby Lowes Mount Truffiere) and Kitchen Café all year around.
Their inaugural Autumn Harvest Feast ($110/person) celebrated the produce from...
...the garden’s orchards and veggie patches, chook shed and herb garden.
While we waited to begin, there was cheese, antipasto and Vale Creek wines to sample...
...and music to listen to, before we all sat down at the long communal table.
The produce was shown off in Italian-inspired dishes like pumpkin soup served in individual golden nugget pumpkins; pumpkin spinach and ricotta rotolo...
...and colourful bruschetta topped with tomatoes and olives, silverbeet and eggplant.
After platters of porchetta and rustic bone marrow...
...guests were treated to a metalworking display by the garden's on-site ironworker, before grand fig and caramel pavlovas stole everyone’s attention.
And the plentiful dessert didn't even stop there - poached pears in red wine, apple crumble and pumpkin pie also joined the heaving table.
Travel Tips: Oberon is approximately 2 hours and 50 minutes drive from Sydney.
While you're in Oberon, you might consider doing some mushroom picking, which runs from late February to early May. You're likely to come home with saffron milk caps and slippery jack mushrooms. If you're in doubt about what you can eat, the Oberon Visitor's Centre at 48 Ross Street, Oberon is the place to go for more information.
Mayfield Garden Kitchen Cafe
530 Mayfield Road, Oberon
Ph: (02) 6336 3131
Amie Barbeler seems to have discovered her hidden green thumb in Kirribilli...
Quite frankly, I'd rather eat a bag of wet hair than potter around a garden any day of the week. Hence I was quite sceptical about how much I was going to enjoy a night out at a botany-themed bar. But, The Botanist, which has drawn its inspiration from the adventures of historical botanist Gerard Fothergill, won me over by successfully showcasing a side of the garden that I can actually get excited by – one that links plants to alcohol and comes in a tall glass.
My date and I kicked off the evening with a few delicious Winter Mules ($17); a flavourful concoction of vodka, lime, blackberry puree and ginger beer. Cocktails in hand, we retreated to a cosy table in one of the low-lit corners and ordered some corn and chorizo croquettes with chipotle mayo ($12) to share. If you're in North Sydney, consider this garden oasis when planning your next after work drinks.
17 Willoughby Street, Kirribilli
Ph: (02) 9954 4057
Raw materials are a definite focus at the recently refurbished Pier One Sydney Harbour.
Interior designers Bates Smart have done wonders with reclaimed timbers; creating a stylish maritime playground stretching from the brass-caged boating clubhouse bar to...
...the nicely substantial dark wood dining room, including tables extending seamlessly onto the pier (if you dare).
Inside the kitchen, Canadian Chef Chris Irving pays reverence to the bounty of our seas; though on a blustery evening it’s his handling of land critters that beckons.
Venison Tartare ($20) is quickly eclipsed by...
...Smoked Bone Marrow ($16); a brutally satisfying dish that gives Sydney's smokers a new benchmark.
Irving’s touch of the rustic continues into Beetroot Homefries ($8), salt-crusted slabs of earthy-sweet beetroot.
They provide a good stick-to-your-ribs supplement to judiciously sized mains, from moist Cone Bay Barramundi ($33) to...
...an ultra-pretty Jumjum Muscovy Duck ($36) with citrus glaze, carrots and purslane.
Stay thematic with the distinctively Tumbarumba 2013 Even Keel Chardonnay ($78), or if the rain is lashing, send your waiter to the cocktail bar for a rum-based Stormriders ($19) using standout house-made ginger beer.
End with the deceptively simple Fresh Austral Figs ($15), dessert elevated to near perfection using Riesling syrup, white chocolate mousse and roasted white chocolate crumble. Service while not polished, is certainly well intentioned.
The Gantry Restaurant & Bar
11 Hickson Road, Walsh Bay
Ph: (02) 8298 9910
They travel the world just to dine at three Michelin-starred restaurants. They’re part of an elite group of international food bloggers, and they’re hitting the big screen on June 10 in Foodies at Sydney Film Festival 2015.
And what’s even better, after you spend time contemplating the “big change in the culinary world, where diners themselves gain control”, you can move on to a communal three-course dinner at Azuma, and offer Master Chef Kimitaka Azuma some “instant feedback” of his own on Instagram. Yes, the Gourmet Cinema program is back, and more exciting than ever with three foodie flicks and matched meals.
Paired with a gentle Danish documentary about the biodynamic beef farmer that supplies Noma, Good Things Await, The Governor's Table has concocted a nicely Danish-inspired menu, starting with celery root tortilla, smoked ocean trout, cured egg, green goddess and roe. And for Sergio Herman: Fucking Perfect it should be no surprise that the 2014 Chef of the Year, Ross Lusted (The Bridge Room), has been chosen. Last time I ate his food I thought it was fucking perfect too. These three well-priced dinner’n’movie combos ($120-$145/head) include matched Eden Road Wines and Little Creatures beers. Be warned: these events will sell out quickly.