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Bar Fly: The Butler

The lure of The Butler is actually neither the cocktails, nor the food, but that sundrenched patio; bang on the perfect place to while away a Sydney afternoon. Book early to get a coveted outside table, set under the hanging plants, and time your visit for an hour shy of sunset.

You’ll drown in golden light as the last rays of sun cut through the city skyline. Whet your lips on Grandma’s Vase ($35/jug) – the rather twee name is perhaps a nod to camomile, joined by a showering of citrus, Beefeater gin, and enough Aperol to keep it from being insipid.

By way of drinking snacks there are Soffritto Croquettes ($15/4) with a fairly uninspiring (and not particularly spicy) tomato relish; and Sausage Rolls ($12) that eat more like pastry-wrapped Lyonnaise pork snags.

My dining companion wishes they had used more fat. Call me a heathen, but I wish I could switch out the pineapple relish for good, old-fashioned tomato sauce.

We’re all more enamoured with the French Fries ($8) dipped in chipotle mayonnaise; though truth be told they’re pretty similar to the ones you could find for half the price under the golden arches.

At the healthier end of the menu you can tackle Hand-cut Steak Tartare ($22) served with house-made ‘toasts’ whose greatest selling point is that they’re weighty enough to pick up after being heavily loaded with tartare.

Both the tartare, and the BBQ Pork Neck ($28) that follows, are under seasoned. Tomatoes, borlotti beans and a scattering of parsley brighten the slightly pink medallions of pig, which I observe flying out across the buzzing Friday arvo dining room.

Now, about that unmatchable view…

Note: You can a previous visit to this venue here: http://missdissent.livejournal.com/566166.html

The Butler
123 Victoria Street, Potts Point
Ph: (02) 8354 0742

The Butler Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Suburban Gems: Fairfield

"Arabs don't buy one piece, two piece... we always buy by the kilo," our Taste Food Tours guide, Yamane, explains.

We’re sitting in Al Anwar Sweets in Fairfield and she’s just solved a mystery for me - I’m going to stop asking for two pieces of baklava and getting funny looks immediately!

We try ma’amoul - shortbread biscuits filled with date paste traditionally eaten after Ramadan. Yamane explains it’s common to “break your fast with it for an sugar hit, an energy boost." They remind me of the little pillows – Arnott's Spicy Fruit Roll – I used to eat as a kid. Even more popular with the group are lwzina – pistachio and white chocolate logs dusted with coconut.

I’m on a tour called Babylonian Delights and being introduced to Fairfield as ‘Little Iraq’. While the suburb is definitely multicultural, Iraqi people "are starting to become the most prominent community in Fairfield," Yamane says.

The tour also takes in Al-Baghdady Bakery, one of oldest Iraqi bakeries in Australia. The owner was persecuted in Iraq and forced to immigrate. When deciding upon what to do here, he thought: ‘people will never stop buying bread’.

And if his churak is anything to go by, I am sure he’s correct! The bagel-shaped breads are covered with sesame seeds but have a hint of rosewater and gentle sweetness to them. Samoons are also good – they’re bread rolls shaped like a boat, a reference to the two rivers that flow through Iraq. River-centric life is also reflected in masgouf, the most popular dish in Iraq. It’s barbecued fresh water fish (here they tend to use cod), which they make at this bakery because many customers think it’s better to "make at shop rather than make whole house stink," Yamane explains.

As we wander through the streets of Fairfield, Yamane points out the suburb’s claims to fame – the first Australian Bing Lee store, and street displays celebrating Fairfield’s most famous resident: former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam. Knowing the landmarks helps you feel like a local when you revisit - and if my track record is anything to go by, you will revisit!

Babylonian Delights ($79/person) includes two substantial feasts at an Iraqi and an Iranian restaurant, and considerable sampling across a number of other stops – you won’t need much in the way of dinner.

In fact you're free to assemble dinner along the way, purchasing everything from tart pickles, dried fruits and savoury watermelon seed snacks at Al Jamil Market, to the grass-fed meats at Hamze Meats that Iraqis generally like to mince and stuff into intestines. Taste Food Tours even supply you with a cloth bag to hold all your purchases. Now that's clever thinking!

Finally if you’re interested in learning more about Ramadan, the most significant celebration in Islamic culture, Taste Food Tours are running two special tours in Lakemba, the place where thousands of people will come together in the streets to break their fast. Join this Ramadan Evening Tour on Friday 19 June or Sunday 26 June for an interesting mix of food and faith.

Al Anwar Sweets
14 Smart Street, Fairfield
Ph: (02) 8764 3988

Alanwar Sweets Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Review - Rengaya

If you think of Rengaya as a wagyu specialist, and design your meal around beef, you certainly won’t leave disappointed. Take your mouth on a journey through eight different textures of beef, starting with Premium Wagyu ‘Yukke’ ($33.80). 'Yukke' is the Japanese spelling of the Korean raw dish ‘yukhoe’, and combines premium grade beef tartar with a mix of egg yolk, sesame oil, garlic and finely chopped shallots that ensures it slides down your throat.

For something a little more toothsome, Premium Wagyu Beef Sashimi ($23.90/6 pieces) is the perfect way to examine the grade 9+ wagyu’s fat marbling and flavour, against a smear of freshly grated wasabi and soy.

It’s also the perfect excuse to crack into quality sake, like the pretty Kuromatsu Hakushika Gouka Sennenjyu Junmai Daiginjyo ($43/300ml).

Refresh your palate with a couple of Korean vegetable selections: Assorted Kimchi ($9.90) and Namuru ($9.90) of blanched, seasoned and dressed vegetables, both work nicely to prepare your palate for the meat onslaught. A Koshihikari Echigo Beer ($13.50/500ml), originating from rice grown in the same Niigata prefecture of Japan as the sake I mentioned earlier, wouldn’t go astray.

You cook your wagyu on a special barbeque inlaid within each table. It’s ringed by clever ventilation holes, which effectively pull the smoke away before it’s even had a chance to infuse your clothes and hair. The absence of overhead extractor fans allows the dining room’s screened wooden surrounds to remain quite elegant. Rengaya is decorated in a very traditional Japanese fashion, similar to CBD icon Azuma. Both venues work hard to belie their Sydney office tower locations, transporting diners with a mini Japanese vacation that doesn’t require time off work.

Being a first-time visitor – something I’m quite ashamed of, as this restaurant has been around since 1993 – I headed straight for the Premium Wagyu Amusement ($49.90). This beautifully presented assortment of beef showcases five different cuts of wagyu, starting with thick-cut slices of wagyu ox tongue. All it wants is to be rolled in freshly squeezed lemon juice, and it will likely be your gateway to wanting to eat more of this delicious secondary cut.

Traverse your way up the marbling scale, from oyster blade that’s so tender you just need to give it a little nip, to strip loin that dissolves into a juicy, fat-drenched explosion when pressed between tongue and roof of mouth.

Keep your canines happy with more toothsome cubes of wagyu rib finger, drawn from the super-tasty muscles between the ribs.

Punctuate everything with sake and King Brown Mushrooms ($9.90) that shine on the grill with a simple flip.

The key difference between Japanese and Korean BBQ is that Korean BBQ is generally marinated, while Japanese BBQ focuses on the simplicity of a premium cut. Now that’s not to say you can’t enjoy Japanese BBQ it with sauces, ranging from a compelling Garlic Sauce ($3.50) that went with everything, particularly the wagyu rib, to vinegar based Radish Ponzu ($3.50) designed to cut the fat.

You’ll also find a richer Sesame Sauce ($3.50) that sings against thin slices of Premium Pork Rib ($15.90), and a free house-BBQ that can be applied to pretty much anything you want.

Filling carbohydrates are traditionally served at the end of a Japanese meal, after sating your taste buds on the more glamorous proteins. The Yukke Bibimbap ($19.90) gives you your final texture of this wonderful wagyu beef, teaming the raw version you had earlier with rice, vegetables and seaweed, in a super heated stone bowl. Stir it through with sweet and spicy miso paste (use it all, it’s great) for the final stage of your beef adventure, that has traversed your way from raw, through medium-rare BBQ, to something that the searing earthenware bowl ensures is fully cooked.

NOTE: If you love Japanese cuisine as much as I do, become a member of Washoku Lovers (for free) and receive Premium Beef Rib (2 pieces) & Premium Beef Loin (2 pieces) for $28 (worth $35) when you dine: http://www.washokulovers.com/

73 Miller Street, North Sydney
Ph: (02) 9929 6169

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


Review - Taste of Shanghai

Handmade dumplings are the drawcards here, and after a brief dumpling making experience hosted by personable owner Aaron Mi, I tucked into my perfectly pleated Xiao Long Bao ($10.80/8 pieces) with renewed appreciation.

Behind the bars and their masks, these ladies pleat, pinch and fold up an intimidating collection of dumplings, presented in a glossy, beautifully photographed magazine-style menu.

Skip straight to the menu hits with Pan Fried Pork Buns ($10.80/8 pieces). They’re the ones that require the on-spoon hole punching to avoid being scalded with hot soup, which forms inside them from melting gelatin broth cubes.

Pork Wonton in Hot Chilli ($10.80/10 pieces) impress too, offering up a good kick of chilli and fragrant Sichuan peppercorns. However if you’re less of a hot-fiend, green Shrimp and Chive Dumplings ($12.80/8 pieces) make for another palate pleasing selection.

More than just a dumpling bar, Taste of Shanghai also excels in other parts of their extensive menu.

Peking Style Shredded Pork ($18.80) is slightly sweet, but a real crowd-pleaser when wrapped in Pancakes ($3.50) so thin they’re practically transparent.

Similarly, Crispy Duck ($19.80/half) shines once encased in Chinese Wraps ($5.50), with the pillowy white, freshly steamed bao dribbling sticky sweet soy down your fingers.

Slotted spoonfuls of Fish Fillet in Spicy Chilli Oil ($22.80) assist in filtering off the chilli oil, leaving behind tender boneless ling fillets brimming with flavour.

They’re even more appealing on a bed of Special Spicy Fried Rice ($13.80), perhaps with a side of Stir Fried Green Beans with Pork Mince ($16.80) for contrast.

While the usual suspects like Salt and Pepper King Prawns ($26.80) and Grilled Spring Onion Pancakes ($6.80) are present and accounted for, this menu really rewards diners who journey beyond them into the wide range of regional Chinese cuisines represented in the vibrant city of Shanghai.

Taste of Shanghai also lends itself nicely to group dining, with many of the signature dumplings coming in easily divisible serves of 8-12 pieces. Yes, there are plenty of reasons to be looking down (rather than up) next time you come to World Square with handmade dumplings in your sights!

Taste of Shanghai
World Square, Shop 907, 644 George Street, Sydney
Ph: (02) 9261 8832

Taste of Shanghai Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Review - Monopole

The distance between tables is so small that you could be forgiven for looking up from your phone and accidentally rejoining the wrong table’s conversation. Combined with what I’d call an excessive level of darkness, Monopole is much more a wine bar, than it is a restaurant. No matter, I’m partial to wine, and Monopole certainly has a good list. The shine does wear off the 500-strong list pretty quickly though when your first two choices turn out – just like the oysters – to be unavailable.

Making a good wine recommendation is as much about listening as it is about extensive wine knowledge. Landing a light-bodied Italian Vermentino when the diner expresses they like the voluptuousness of white Rhone varietals is unlikely to end well; ditto an unfiltered, natural style wine when they say they love an elegant Chablis or Chardonnay. We eventually agree upon the 2012 Domaine Charles Audoin Marsannay Burgundy ($98), which was rich but not buttery, and drank well throughout the meal.

What Monopole does well is cooking meat, starting with their House Cured Beef Pastrami ($8) presented on cracker boats with goats’ cheese and pickled cucumber.

The cold cuts, like Cured Rangers Valley Tri Tip ($10), are also great wine companions, the thin slices melting on the tongue like meaty communion wafers. Tart pickles and bread offset the well-kept charcuterie selections, hanging in a climate controlled fridge behind the bar.

Smoked Eel Brandade ($24) is another winner, its creaminess balanced by pickled beetroot and tiny dabs of burnt apple. It’s served on bark-like crackers, and makes our Chardonnay sing.  I’m less impressed with my Moreton Bay Bug ($26) though the fault is entirely my own, this crustacean was listed in singular form on the menu. It’s split down the middle and treated quite simply with dill and chilli oil. There’s nothing wrong with the cooking or flavours, I’m just smarting at the price.

Having being drawn to try Monopole after falling in love with the nuanced vegetarian dishes at Yellow, I was disappointed with the only vegetable dish on the menu. Shaved Zucchini, Mint and Pepitas ($18) is overpriced, and something I could easily whip up at home. It does however play well with the more substantial end of the menu, which you shouldn’t be afraid of; size is of course relative, and even the most expensive Rangers Valley Brisket ($32) isn’t what I’d call big. It is however delicious, cooked slow on the charcoal grill after being brined. It's the epitomy of New York Jewish cuisine and I love it.

You'll love Monopole if you love wine, and places like LP's Quality Meats, but want your meats served with less generosity and a little more refinement.

71A Macleay Street, Potts Point
Ph: (02) 9360 4410

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


Review - The Tea Cosy

Housed in a typical 1870s Victorian terrace, The Tea Cosy was once the home of a merchant seaman and his wife, who lived in it from the 1920s until the 1970s when the Government tried to move the local residents on. Their neighbour, Nita McCrae, whose family had lived in the area from 1805, formed The Rocks Residents Group, a precursor to the green bans, in order to oppose breaking up her local community.

Flash forward to today when the Government is still trying to remove public housing tenants from the area, including those in the historic Sirius Apartments, which are listed by the National Trust of Australia (NSW). Luckily the historical tradition of strong resident action groups has continued, with the Millers Point Resident’s Action Group fighting hard to save their local community.

So as you take in tea at The Tea Cosy, which now managed by the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority, raise your cup to the tenacity of local residents, who have fought hard to ensure that Government takeovers of public housing in The Rocks have never gone well.

The Tea Cosy feels a bit like visiting Grandmother’s house. The upstairs rooms are populated with mismatched tea sets and chairs, knitted tea cosies, and unfinished baskets of knitting resting here and there. The drawcard is the freshly baked scones, pulled out of the oven at particular times each day, as indicated by scone o’clock on their chalkboard.

You can enjoy the scone flavours in the day in The Tea Cosy Tasting for Two ($45), a tiered platter bearing four scones, six ribbon crust-off sandwiches, two choices of jam and a pot of double thick cream. On the afternoon I dined, the scones were offered in both lavender and plain, against tangy rhubarb, raspberry and vanilla jam. Lightly golden, my scones were dense, crunchy affairs, failing to edge out BangBang Cafés airy, buttery lemonade scones for the best I’ve had in Sydney.

If the weather is warm, dip into a jug of their homemade ice tea. I was hard pressed to choose a favourite between Lemon and Lime ($13/jug) made on black tea, and Lemongrass and Ginger ($13/jug) made with a gentler herbal base and apple slices. They’re the perfect way to refuel if you’re taking a stroll through The Rocks Markets on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.

The Tea Cosy
33 George Street, The Rocks
Ph: (02) 9247 4955

The Tea Cosy Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Is the macaron dead? MakMak’s Carlos Heng and Dan Pigott clearly don’t think so, opening up a new city store – this time a collaboration with Bakedown Cakery – late last month. “Sydney can be a competitive and fickle market for dessert companies,” Heng is quick to admit, adding, “being able to harness each other’s strengths allow us to do more than we could on our own.

The MakMak team met Bakedown Cakery’s Jen Lo during a macaron-making class. Their new joint store called MADE, is located in the Gaffa Gallery Precinct, and is decked out with Astroturf and a Mondrian-inspired wall that was hand-painted by Heng and Lo “over some late, crazy nights!

Guests at the MADE launch party were treated to trays of their chewy 36-hour Belgian chocolate chip cookies, their flavour enhanced with a quite generous sprinkle of Maldon Sea Salt. MakMak macarons of course made an appearance; with this store slated to showcase three seasonal macaron collections each year. We were kept well hydrated by the Young Henrys crew, who deserve special kudos for lugging their kegs all the way up to the Gaffa Gallery Precinct rooftop.

With the prime city centre location, MADE is definitely directed towards corporate clientele who’ll be able to work with the team to produce branded corporate gifts, or pick up a macaron cake ($120 serving 10 people) for their next employee birthday. For the rest of us, you can pop in for Bakedown Cakery cupcakes ($5.50 each); hand painted blocks of Pollack-inspired chocolate ($10/120g); MakMak’s famous macarons ($3.50 each) and layered dessert fingers ($7 each) in flavours like Malteaser and roasted banana.

City life just got a little bit sweeter...

MADE by MakMak & Bakedown Cakery
Gaffa Gallery, 281 Clarence Street, Sydney
Ph: none

MADE by MakMak & Bakedown Cakery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Travel - Manfredi at Bells at Killcare

Some places have a reputation that precedes them. Manfredi at Bells at Killcare Boutique Hotel, Restaurant & Spa is one such place, though strangely, despite its easy proximity from Sydney, I’d never visited. Taking the Gosford exit, and winding around the various channels and bays of Brisbane Water, you’ll feel like you’re about to holiday in suburbia. However when you come upon the entrance to this boutique hotel on the ascent towards Bouddi National Park, you will finally get the sense that you’re somewhere else entirely.

The property is centred on a large one-storey manor house surrounded by manicured gardens, dotted with a series of cottages.

They bandy about the word Hamptons to describe them; referring to the place where wealthy New Yorkers escape for their summer holidays.

For those not familiar with the proclivities of America's East Coast ruling class, it means faded blues and neutral linens, nautical stripes, white painted timber blinds and timber floors in spacious cottages that look artificially casual, when they’re actually luxurious.

Take the in-room snacks as an example: you’ll be doing your late-night munching on mackerel fillets in organic olive oil, and bags of honey smoked BBQ and wild thyme chips. Yes, Bells is the type of place where you feel like you need to speak in a whisper, lest they eject you for gatecrashing a playground of the super-rich.

While the Manfredi dinner menu prices even had me wincing, Sunday Family Lunch ($70/head) presents the opportunity to hobnob with the upper classes without too scary a bottom line. Leaving the comfortable dining room for dinnertime, we took advantage of the gorgeous day with lunch on the terrace, bounded by manicured green hedges.

The four-course lunch is served sharing style, starting with trays of antipasti bearing figs with Gorgonzola, and lardo crustini.

Cubes of spanner crab and zucchini frittata rank among the lightest I’ve tried.

For the pasta course, we tuck into patriotic trays of stracci alla Sorrentina that intertwine the rag-shaped pasta with red tomatoes, green basil leaves and torn white mozzarella.

Not quite as picturesque, our braised beef cheek main arrives on a plentiful amount of mushroom puree. The cheeks split easily with a fork, with all their internal connective tissue transformed into melting, meaty richness.

We pass around bowls of green beans and roasted parsnips to offset the dish’s hearty intensity.

Nobody leaves hungry, especially after honey gelati draped by crostoli with a scattering of seasonal fruit.

The extensive wine list celebrates Italian wines, but has plenty to amuse those who favour other global wine regions. It’s here your bill can easily begin to climb, but it’s possible to drink well at the bottom end of the list, or you can stick to craft beers like the Lord Nelson Brewery Pale Ale. After dabbling extensively in an off-dry Germanic Riesling I take in the indigenous Australian healing techniques at the Bells Day Spa, while my partner squeezes in a last swim of the season in their inground pool. Therapist Ngaire has indigenous heritage, and clearly believes in the Li'tya product range she’s presenting across a rhythmic Kodo massage, relaxing facial, and heated Quandong hair and scalp treatment followed by a lovely Yulu tea. They’re all part of the Bells Signature Special ($220/90 minutes), which leaves me relaxed and rejuvenated, and almost ready to take on dinner.

Dinner’s where the train came off the rails a bit. After a good start with freshly shucked Oysters ($30/6), my partner looked a bit disappointed with his measly serve of Spaghetti ($38) lightly coated with Tasmanian sea urchin butter and dusted with bottarga.

Poured across a flat, black plate, my Gnocchi ($38) with black mussels, broccoli puree and broccolini was more plentiful, but otherwise unremarkable; not branching far from something we could make for ourselves at home. A fairly plain Glacier 51 Toothfish ($50) kept the in-laws happy with accompanying borlotti beans, leaks and mild pepperoncini.

Perhaps the problem is that as a diner, there’s an upper limit to what I’ll pay to worship at the altar of rustic Italian. Or maybe it’s just that I’ve enjoyed better rustic Italian dishes for considerably less coin, including at other Manfredi restaurants like Balla Osteria without leaving Sydney. Yes, they’re making everything in house, but so do many Sydney restaurants who charge half the price, leaving me to wonder should diners really be penalised for heading to regional gems?

A King Spa Suite at Bells at Killcare will set you back $420 for the night. Breakfast is included in this not inconsiderable room rate, but I was surprised to find this boutique property didn’t see fit to include the little things, like a turndown service helping guests by storing day cushions, spraying for (plentiful) nighttime mosquitoes, and shutting all those picturesque wooden louvered blinds.

Well-made Espresso di Manfredi coffees, house-made pastries and breads, verrines of strawberry topped tangy yoghurt, bircher muesli and fresh fruit are supplemented by a made-to-order hot breakfast.

Despite knowing the smoked bacon comes from Sydney gem, Pino's Dolce Vita, in combination with lovely yellow scrambled eggs, it somehow leaves me with the sense that I'm finally in the country, with happy pigs and chickens roaming close by. I guess that means the whole Bells of Killcare experience was restorative after all.

Bells at Killcare
107 The Scenic Road, Killcare Heights
Ph: (02) 4349 7000

Manfredi at Bells Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Review - Kebab Abu Ali

The name of this restaurant lets you know it’s a father and son affair. In Arabic, abu means “the father of” and it’s used as a nickname, so your friends might call you “abu” followed by the name of your eldest son - in this case, Ali.

The cuisine here is Iraqi, and you’ll be eating it in a rather glorious dining room. The room is lined with bright red banquettes and woven Iraqi tapestries. One wall has bright orange ogee arches inset and filled with knickknacks running from camels to dallah (Iraqi coffee pots), while the other hold shelves of beautiful blue ceramics.

Almost all Iraqi foods are eaten with sesame and nigella seed sprinkled flat bread.

The flat bread, which is freshly made on the premises, is cooked in a tandoor, just like flat breads from the Indian Subcontinent. Torshi (pickles) are also served with every meal in Iraq, and the ones you find here are stained-yellow, and all at once crunchy, salty and sour. The pickles are nicely wet, working well against the dryness of kubba al mosul, which has been fried into a crisp, brown disc. This dish is the famous flat version of the Lebanese dish you should know as ‘kibbeh' that originated in the city of Mousel, a couple of hundred klicks north of Baghdad.

The dish you should come here to eat is called Parda Plaw ($17.99), and arrives looking rather unremarkable – a bundle of golden brown pastry.

Cutting into it you’ll find a wonderfully aromatic biryani with super-long grains of basmati rice interspersed with hunks of lamb, vermicelli, nuts and fried onions. Biryani is another dish showing the geographic link between Iraq and the Indian Subcontinent, though here it’s aromatic (think cumin, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom) rather than chilli-hot. The fragrant spiced rice is wonderful, and when eaten in conjunction with the tender lamb and pastry, it’s a satisfying meal, in and of itself.

Finish with sumac-dusted Minced Lamb Kebab ($12/3), cooked on the open fire charcoal grill – after all they are a speciality of the house, and one of the most popular dishes with Iraqi diners.

Seeing as there’s no illustrated picture menu here, if you crave a facilitated experience, you can attend this restaurant by booking the Babylonian Delights food tour of Fairfield run by Taste Food Tours. They're a not-for-profit social enterprise that employs people from the local area to act as tour guides, with the proceeds being invested back into the local community. Their aim is to increase understanding of others through food, and as a result, their tours are always tasty!

Kebab Abu Ali
1/41-47 Spencer Street, Fairfield
Ph: (02) 9723 3644

Kebab Abu Ali Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Event - Zomato Meetup at The Tilbury

Settling into blogger life after journalism, I decided to investigate a Zomato Meetup at The Tilbury. Zomato hosts these events for some of the 300-odd restaurants who advertise on their Australian platform, allowing them the opportunity to be seen by social media influencers who post about them. By having more activity on their restaurant listing, these advertisers climb the Zomato rankings and are thus seen by hungry Sydney diners more often. My Zomato staffer dining companions tell me this not-quite-organic way of improving visibility on Zomato can never beat actually being the next big thing.

As someone used to dining as a twosome, group meals are a whole different ballpark. Rather than seeing individual entrees, our amicable waitress tells us we’re being served the whole range of them on a platter.

When it lands, the awkward sport of sharing them fairly begins, but only after copious Insta-worthy photo documentation, with one clever lass peeling back the sourdough toast to reveal a visually impressive Wild Boar Terrine ($18).

The Ox Tartare ($22) entree I would have ordered, sounded adventurous on the menu, what with coal oil, kohlrabi, egg yolk jam and a charcoal cracker, but ate quite subtly.

Intense beads of miso dressing and the shock of red chilli elevate Hiramasa Kingfish Carpaccio ($22) into something quite engaging. It’s surprising to see so many raw dishes – there’s also a yellow fin tuna tartare - still featured on the menu so late in autumn. I put it down to this year’s seemingly endless summer.

Head Chef James Wallis has immigrated here after making his mark in the Mother country. You’ll see modern British influences peeking out in mains like New Zealand Snapper ($33). The crisp skinned fish is pan fried and served up on a bed of saag aloo and lentil dahl with lashings of lassi (yoghurt). The gently curried spuds would make the British Raj proud.

For regulars at The Tilbury, these modern British leanings offer nice continuity, running on from dishes like the ever-popular Beef Wellington trotted out by previous Head Chef, Elton Inglis. With cosy padding wrapped wooden chairs, plenty of natural light and earthy tones, the dining room has a casual informality that speaks of long Sunday lunches.

I can see myself sitting back with an Australian Cheese Board ($24) bested by an organic white mould goat’s milk cheese from Holy Goat, and a fruit-forward 2014 Croix de Bézard Picpoul de Pinet ($11/glass).

For something more decadent you can load up on the sweet stuff with the Chefs Selection Dessert Platter ($50/4 people). Alternatively you can cut to the chase and get the standout: a moist Carrot and Walnut Cake ($15) offset by an intensely green quenelle of coriander sorbet. Chocoholics may also appreciate the addition of cardamom, and pretty rose water ice cream with their gooey-centred Chocolate Pud. ($15). As for me, I reckon I'm back to sneaking into restaurants as a twosome, so I don't have to share...

The Tilbury
12-18 Nicholson Street, Woolloomooloo
Ph: (02) 9368 1955

The Tilbury Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato