November 28th, 2007

Does My Bomb Look Big In This?

Review - The Codfather

There were many things to like about The Codfather, the reasonably new restaurant owned by Ross Godfrey (who owns the very successful Newtown restaurant Oscillate Wildly). The first good point was the location in Stanmore where I got a park right outside!

I also liked the space itself, which is bright, contemporary and decorated by an underground Newtown graffiti artist (unnamed because the boys in blue do like to prosecute such people). The vibe is lively, cresting on loud so if you're after a quiet meal, I would go early in the week.

Another thing I like is the growing trend of late towards restaurants offering all diners a complimentary appetite stimulator. Here we got a lovely tray of Salmon Belly Ceviche with Coconut Slices and Seaweed Salad and it was great, and particularly tasty because of his use of belly!

We started by trying two different types of Wallis Lake Oysters ($3 each); I really liked the one with Tomato Essence and Wasabi Granita, but I found the one with Sherry Vinegar and Eschalot not really to my taste, as it dominated the Oyster's natural briny taste completely.

And in case you're wondering, the menu also caters to those who aren’t fish-friendly with the Steak Frites ($26) on their permanent menu, plus there are some vegetarian selections on the specials menu including the lovely plate of Crispy Zucchini Fritters Stuffed with Ricotta and Goat's Cheese, Shaved Asparagus, Toasted Pinenuts, Dried Cranberries and Lemon Myrtle Infused Oil ($17) pictured below which I enjoyed a lot.

But it was beaten by one of the meatier specials - a spectacular and beautifully plated selection of Smoked Spiced Lamb with Scallops, Felafel, pureed Eggplant & Yoghurt ($17). And I must say, chef Javier Carmona makes one mean felafel!

Mains are well presented too, with interesting accompaniments like the Hiramasa Kingfish with Duck Rilette, Pickled Apple & Nasturtium Leaves ($28). They’re also liberally seasoned so you won’t be reaching for the salt.

My preferred main was also a special - the Crisp Skinned Barramundi with Tomato, Nigella Seed, Tartar, Fondant Potato, Salmon Roe and Pomegranate Syrup ($28). As you can see from the photo below, it was also presented very artistically on the plate. By the way, if you are thinking it's a bit expensive, and perhaps it is a shade, the specials were all a bit more expensive than the regular mains ($24-26).

Before we move to the sweeter end of things, let me say that younger diners may enjoy decorating the cod place mats – when you’re ordering from their Kids Menu (mains $12/ sweets $6) ask the helpful staff for crayons. Older guests should remember to bring wine, as the local bottle shop (within walking distance) leaves a lot to be desired.

Now desserts were not as exciting as the entrees and mains, but they were nice. The least successful dessert was the Turron Icecream Pestinos Hot Chocolate Shot ($12). Well likened by the staff to Churros, it sadly wasn't donut-like at all, but the chocolate was a rich, intense hit. I think the pastry was just overcooked, so perhaps this wasn't their best attempt at the dish.

The other dessert we tried was actually very successful - and it looked nice on the plate - it's a Cardamon Infused Pannacotta with Macerated Rockmelon and Spiced Nut Praline ($12). I liked it, and I don't even like Rockmelon! Now I will say, that the last Pannacotta I had, from Glebe Point Diner, enhanced with Honey and Rosemary still is my winner.

So if the urge for something fishy grabs you, this lovely new neighbourhood restaurant should be high on the list of places you consider.

The Codfather
83 Percival Street, Stanmore
Ph: (02) 9568 3355

The Codfather on Urbanspoon
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Does My Bomb Look Big In This?

Review - Vivo Cafe

During the days I am at home writing my reviews up, I have also been kept busy with cafe reviews.

Recently I had an appointment with Angela Vithoulkas, the owner of CBD café chain Vivo Café. She bowed out of our meeting in order to rush out a forgotten order for a sheepish corporate client who gave her twenty minutes notice to cater for two hundred people. So you can certainly see why she’s also the winner of the 2007 Telstra NSW Business Women’s Award. Her business ethos definitely demonstrates pride in customer service, and puts clients first.

So after chatting about the service culture of the place to Executive Assistant Esra Timurtas who told me: “If there’s a problem, we don’t stand there arguing about it, we fix it.” I settled down to some lunch.

Now at a recent cafe review for Blue Orange, I fell in love with Orange and Strawberry Juice ($5.50) so here is the impressively presented Vivo Café version of the same drink...

There’s an emphasis on fresh, daily produce and a reasonably large café-style menu for breakfast and lunch. I had trouble choosing, but settled on a Steak Sandwich ($17.90) with caramelised onions, fries and aioli. It was quite good, and they certainly chose a reasonable quality steak, and cooked it to the requested medium.

I also tried one of their desserts -  the well-priced Strawberries Victoria ($7.90) a tower of meringue, strawberries, mascarpone, Cointreau and chocolate sauce. With it I enjoyed a nicely made Latte ($3.80) of Primo Coffee which was the perfect foil for the decadent pile of sugary goodness pictured below!

Perhaps their biggest line is office catering - from breakfast, to lunch, to dinner and afternoon teas. While I waited for my food, I watched an efficient operation get loads and loads of good-looking food out to the neighbouring offices. Definitely one to consider if you're ever left in charge of feeding people in the CBD.

Vivo Café
388 George Street, Sydney
Ph: (02) 9221 1169
(Also at World Square & 259 George Street)

VIVO Cafe on Urbanspoon
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