Log in

No account? Create an account

Review - The Hive Berambing

Road food is always a contentious category for me. I simply won’t dine if it means eating mass-produced junk food. Cue me: scouring our planned route to NSW’s Central West for something approximating real food. I scored well with The Hive Berambing, a small grey shed with polished cement flooring and varnished wood details.

While it might be roadside on the Bells Line of Road, the food it produces is honest and inexpensive, plus there’s also the opportunity to team your visit with a spot of produce shopping.

They’re the home of Bilpin Bush Honey, so there are opportunities to taste creamed, cinnamon creamed, and raw bush honey, while you wait for your food.

Locally produced products take pride of place in their small range, with Hillbilly Cider and Wirraninna Ridge apple cider vinegar from nearby Bilpin, both standing out on the shelves.

Outside you’ll find straw-filled wooden crates with fresh produce. Picture-perfect oranges, lemons, pink lady apples and pecan nuts were on offer during my recent visit.

Fresh produce is put to good effect in their own range of products, like the house-made Spicy Tomato Relish ($10/400g).

You can try it before you buy it with The Hive Sausage Roll ($6) for an extra fifty cents. This pork-mince filled sausage roll is flaky and honest.

The sesame seed-studded Vegetarian Roll ($6) is even better against the chunky, round tomato relish.

On the succinct menu, you’ll also find this relish put to good use on the Vegetarian Toastie ($12.50). It's pitted against golden, freshly-grilled haloumi cheese, avocado and a generous helping of tangy sauerkraut on a toasted flat roll. It’s a generous size, big enough to share if you both want to try their baked products too.

Drink options include Remedy’s lovely Lemon, Lime & Mint Organic Kombucha, a range of coffees, including Iced Coffee ($6), and a clever Banana Turmeric Smoothie ($9). Made with a blend of bananas, walnuts, yoghurt, almond milk, honey and LSA mix (linseed, sunflower seeds and almonds); it’s nutty with a nice kick of turmeric - perfect for fuelling your onward journey.

The Hive Berambing
6-18 Bells Line of Road, Berambing
Ph: (02) 4567 2590

The Hive Berambing Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Review - Zilver Bondi

Bursting back into Zilver Bondi three years after my last visit – yeah, okay, I don’t like shopping centres very much – it was exciting to see that this modern Chinese restaurant has continued to develop.

The beautifully illustrated menu gives you an easy way to visualise dishes; and on this visit, by virtue of dining with a large and disparate group, I got to cover a lot of ground on it.

We began our meal with a flood of dumplings, with most of the table descending into a frenzy of Piggy Steamed BBQ Pork Bun ($11.80/2) squeezing poses to increase their Instagram cache.

Turns out cutest isn’t always best, with the ugly dumpling – a black-flecked, transparent and gelatinous Truffle King Prawn Dumpling ($9.50/4) – easily winning on flavour.

While my Insta-famous table mates were busy filming stories featuring themselves seductively biting the heads off Swan Scallop and Taro Puffs ($12.80/3), I took a large bite out of a fried Hedgehog Bun ($7.80/2) only to be surprised with a sweet chocolate and red bean centre.

Rookie mistake! While Zilver Bondi's lunchtime yum cha does come around on carts, there is a supplementary illustrated booklet that helps you determine exactly what’s inside them, and thus which order to order and eat them in.

However I have no regrets about the Yellow Monster Lava Buns ($9.50/3)! Their oozing salted egg custard centres strike a great balance between sweet and salty, and will eat well wherever you place them in your dumpling adventure.

The ugly-tastes-best rule also carried through to Abalone & Prawn Dumplings ($12.80/3). To enjoy these ones, you need to place an order, which helps to ensure their abalone toppers arrive nice and tender.

You can also order the edible molluscs as Salt & Pepper Baby Abalone ($12.80/each) presented on their beautiful mother-of-pearl lined shells - both were good eating.

Bright red Spicy King Prawn Dumplings ($9.50/4) had good bite and a nice chilli kick that creeps up after a minute or so. You're free to add your own chilli sauce to the Cheeseburger Spring Rolls ($9.50/2). The crisp, sesame seed-studded spring rolls arrive in a metal fry basket with shoestring fries for novelty appeal, but they eat well enough when smothered in chilli sauce.

With a big group, the opportunity cost to try out Peking Duck ($78.80) served on wobbly osmanthus jelly rather than in a pancake, is relatively small per person. While it's hard to pick up with chopsticks, it really centralises the flavour of the crisp-skinned duck.

Our table was able to work our way through a lot of main dishes, but many of them including a steamer basket full of Eggplants with Garlic and Lotus Leaf ($23.80) and wobbly little stacks of steamed Silken Tofu with Scallops and Prawns ($42.80), aren’t very practical if you’re dining as a pair.

If I were designing a meal for two from Zilver Bondi’s new seasonal menu, there are three dishes that I would include.

Diced Wagyu Beef with Black Pepper Sauce ($39.80) presents tender hunks of wagyu and mushrooms inside an edible, salty potato basket. This modern Chinese take on meat’n’potatoes is visually spectacular – eating the potato bowl is half the fun – but it’s the flavour of the wagyu that will keep your chopsticks coming back.

Stir Fried King Prawn & Turnip Cake with XO Chilli Sauce ($36.80) are my second must-eat. The tangle of plump, tenderly cooked crustaceans dance on the palate with garlic and lively chilli. The dish's heat is nicely punctuated by popping silky radish cakes into your mouth. It’s another dish I really found it hard to stay away from.

Your last must-try is the Hokkien Style Saucy Fried Rice ($26.80). It’s fried rice, but not quite as you know it - covered in a thick sauce with diced pieces of chicken, prawn, scallop, egg and mushrooms, which give it lots of texture. My Taiwanese dining companion explained eating it felt like being home. I found it compelling too, and can see myself revisiting Bondi Zilver just to eat it again.

NOTE: You can see a previous review of this venue back HERE.

Zilver Bondi
Shop 6010/11 Westfield Bondi Junction
500 Oxford Street, Bondi Junction
Ph: (02) 8866 2999

Zilver Bondi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Review - Espresso on Sussex Lane

While cool laneways might summon Melbourne faster than they do Sydney, there are still some tucked away spots in this town worth discovering. Take Sussex Lane as an example - you’ll find it running between Kent Street on the high side, and Sussex Street on the low side. It’s a narrow canyon between towering office blocks on one side, and the Erskine Street terraces on the other.

The terraces are a continuous row of historically significant Victorian terraces (built in the 1880s) with shop fronts on the Erskine Street side. With entrances in the laneway, the businesses along Sussex Lane help to keep their historic façades intact by confining contemporary changes to the rear. Sandwiched between Small Bar and The Bandit's Roost (formerly Shirt Bar), who both serve booze, Espresso on Sussex Lane has the rest of your daytime needs covered.

While the inside décor isn’t particularly noteworthy, our al fresco laneway table gave us a good view of the architecture and a steady people watching parade.

Most seem to be diving in for an afternoon Campos coffee pick-me-up, though I buck the trend with a Mad Mazza ($7) juice. Presented in a glass jar with a handle, this colourful concoction neatly avoids the too-sweet watermelon juice trap by adding pineapple, orange, lemon and beetroot juice for interest and acidity.

Current owner, Baris Kopuz, has had the space for two years. During a brief visit to my table, he explained that converting it from “a basic espresso bar that cooked scrambled eggs in a microwave” to what it is today hasn’t all been smooth sailing. While Kopuz tried out some different price points along the way, he finally hit a menu offering he was happy with in August. His Jamaican Jerk Burger ($12) makes me pretty happy too, though to be fair, I’m a sucker for anything that employs spears of freshly grilled pineapple. With spicy chook, lime mayo, and crisp greens sandwiched in a milk bun, it’s tasty but messy, so be sure to tuck in your tie and lean over the plate.

For an all-day breakfast dish you can order at lunch without looking like you’re hung-over, Chipotle Edamame ($15) is your go-to. Charred bacon, grilled chorizo and chipotle-buttered edamame beans help to elevate the smashed avocado café standard into something more exciting. Presented on thin toast with a fried egg, it’s surrounded by rocket and pesto, with lashings of balsamic glaze, all assembled in a way that avoids looking dated. I’d happily eat here again.

Espresso on Sussex Lane
Building E, Sussex Lane, Sydney
Ph: (1300) 886 104

Espresso on Sussex Lane Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Review - Broadway Crown

It’s hard to walk into such a classic art deco pub – the former Hotel Broadway – without being curious about its history.

Sidney Warden, the most industrious of the architects working for Tooth & Co., NSW’s major beer brewer, designed this pub.

Warden actually designed hundreds of pubs, including many you’ll be familiar with today - the Clare, the Lansdowne, the Henson Park, and the Light Brigade – to name but a few. While you might think the extravagant decoration would have sat at odds with their role as working class watering holes, the idea was to make them into imposing art deco advertisements for their brewery owners.

We have some history too, this pub and I; with this blog’s last visit back in 2011 when it went by the name, the Broadway Lounge. For a brief period this pub was also known as The Stoned Crow, before a tussle over naming rights morphed it into Broadway Crown. The slightly wonky O in the logo is a little reminder of this bit of history.

Today I find the interior darkened and relaxed, with exposed bricks, framed photos, and green ferns.

Over the course of my meal it fills out with a rag-tag bunch of Chippendale locals, students and people knocking off from nearby offices, with most arriving in time for the 4pm-7pm weekday happy hour(s).

This makes my White Chocolate Passionfruit Martini ($16) just twelve bucks. The vodka is cake-infused, the passionfruit is tart and fresh, and there’s a floating passionfruit full of yummy white chocolate buttons to play with. Vera Green ($16) takes gin, cucumber juice, limoncello and aloe vera juice and morphs them into something that – while too floral for my personal taste – would certainly be cooling on a hot day.

On the menu you’ll find all the contemporary pub classics, running from burgers to wings, to nachos and pizzas. The Giant Chicken Schnitzel ($25) is big, with the beer-battered chips almost completely obscured by well-crumbed, moist bird. It arrives with a simple mushroom sauce and a small, well-dressed salad; but if you still want more bang for your buck, come eat it on Thursdays when it drops to just $17.

We pad out our shared schnitty with Cauliflower Bites ($11) smothered in extra Cheese Sauce ($3). The interiors are soft, the crumbing is crunchy, and the lightly spicy, cheesy sauce makes them easy to like.

Korean Fried Chicken Wings ($11) are sweet and very sticky, with a bit of gochujang heat on the back palate.

They’re too sweet for me, but it’s easy to fix when Broadway Crown have the full range of Tabasco products ready and waiting for you to abuse them.

While brown crisp edges mean the 10-inch Crispy Peking Duck Pizza ($20) doesn’t look like much when it lands, it is certainly very ducky! With a liberal helping of Tabasco Chipotle to balance the glaze’s overt sweetness, I enjoy it despite it being gourmet (where the topping is more important than the base) rather than Italian.

Broadway Crown has thrown off all gastro-pub trappings to be a pub for the people; delivering what the locals want, at a price they’re willing to pay.

Broadway Crown
166 Broadway Chippendale
Ph: (02) 9211 5993

Broadway Crown Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Review - A1 Canteen

A1 Canteen is one of Kensington Street's more recent residents, opening up across the laneway from its older sibling, Automata, in June this year.

With high ceilings and lots of natural light, it’s clearly aimed at day-times. At night it feels strangely corporate, with armed black office-style chairs, laminated bluish tables with curved safety corners, and stiff grey fabric banquettes, and an older, conservative blue plaid shirt crowd to match. An oversupply of white light directs my attention toward steel and concrete pillars, and the lobby stairwell of The Old Rum Store; so maybe a window seat looking onto Kensington Street would be best?

The shiny open kitchen seems to be where the money has been spent, and affords you the opportunity to watch Head Chef Scott Eddington at work. On the floor, Manager Rachael Trewin is a star, with wine knowledge for days, and enough patience to triangulate an interesting drinking adventure for two disparate and fussy wine drinkers. Trewin sees us kick off with the 2017 Claus Preisinger Puszta Libre ($75), a juicy red blend of Zweigelt and St. Laurent, made by Austria’s best natural winemaker in Burgenland.

Blood Cake ($18) is friendly and accessible, particularly under rumpled sheets of sharply pickled beetroot. It’s drizzled with rosemary oil, and while slightly mealy, a good companion to our almost tingly, natural red.

We make short work of Sourdough ($4/head) with bush tomato butter, as we sink into one of the best musical selections I’ve ever heard in a Sydney restaurant. Running from Echo and the Bunnymen’s Killing Moon to Cheryl Lynne’s Got To Be Real, to UK punk band, A Certain Ratio, it’s wide ranging, interesting, and at an appropriate volume to drown out other conversations in the potentially echoic space.

With just eight Tua Tua Clams ($26) our next dish shows that this kitchen has its food costs nailed. However it’s such a happy-making dish, you’re unlikely to care. Clean, briny and ever so slightly creamy, the tasty bivalve molluscs are presented in a delicate blend of anchovy butter and preserved lemon that begs to be mopped up with any remaining bread. “I’m glad that you didn’t waste the sauce though, I’ve been drinking it like a soup,” our waitress says as she collects our plates, and I silently curse myself for not thinking to raise the bowl to my own lips.

Sugarloaf Cabbage ($16) doesn’t rely upon char for flavour, instead it teams the juicy, sweet and soft cabbage with funky, salty mushroom butter and some buckwheat for texture. It’s the kind of meaty vegetarian cooking that will have you wishing you hadn’t already gobbled all of your bread.

We opt to share a glass of the 2018 Xavier Papa Pinot Noir ($15) with our final dish, but Trewin gifts us with the remains of the bottle because it’s coming off the list. With raspberries and red berry aromas, the chilled and instantly likeable quaffing red is just what you want to be drinking on a warm day in the Aussie spring. By contrast, it takes me a few mouthfuls to wrap my head around the Tagliatelle ($26). With pickled and super-sour mustard greens, fermented chilli and chalky smoked goats' feta, it’s an unusual combination of creamy and sour, kind of like the fixings of a cheese plate transplanted to a pasta dish. It’s clever and quite unique, and quite indicative of A1 Canteen's whole offering, which belies the corporate-looking digs.

A1 Canteen
Ground Floor, 2-10 Kensington Street, Chippendale
Ph: (02) 9280 3285

A1 Canteen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Review - Brazilian Flame BBQ

Brazilian Flame BBQ allows you to hark back to a time when loaded fries and snack packs were the domain of working class diners, rather than overpriced, hipster affectations. This is barbeque (churrasco) run by Brazilians, the masters of flame-grilled meat.

You'll find it in Zetland, in an older-style red brick building that sits on the corner of Botany Road and Epsom Road. Weekday lunch times see a long queue of mostly men with a spattering of Brazilian people spilling out onto the sidewalk. Don’t be put off by a queue - this team has already honed their offering by operating stalls in a range of Sydney markets and craft breweries, including Marrickville standout, Batch Brewing Company, so they know how to feed a crowd quickly.

The store itself is divided into two halves. On the left side you’ll find a hot food section, backed by rotating skewers of meat.

The heated metal trays of meat are being emptied almost as fast as they can slide glistening chorizo sausages from their hot metal rods.

On the right there’s a butcher where you can buy a well-priced selection of meat including harder-to-find Brazilian cuts like the picanha or rump cap.

The two halves are separated by a salad counter, which contains trays of coleslaw and mixed leaves. There are also two little rows of plastic containers filled with Pudim de Leite Condesado ($6) or Brazilian condensed milk flan. You might know it from the Portuguese origin dish, the crème caramel. Near the freezer you'll also find a few shelves of Brazilian dried goods.

Despite arriving to purchase take-home meat, the heady aroma of barbeque sees us hit up both sides of this popular business. While I did eye off the big tray of feijoada, a meaty black bean stew, this time I just tried the Flame BBQ Loaded Fries ($12). Set on ordinary crisp cooked potato chips, this gives you 150grams of barbecued meat. We opt for a little bit of everything; slathered with their house-made smoked mayonnaise. It’s the best smoked mayo. I’ve ever tried, so I also pick up a bottle to take home.

While all the meats are good, it’s the juicy pink-centred picanha that’s an easy favourite, with liquid fat literally bursting in my mouth.

From the butchery we picked up Picanha ($17/kilo) to stick on our own barbeque rotisserie at home.

Asa ($7/kilo) seasoned chicken wings make for a tasty and fast mid-week dinner.

The highlight however are the Linguiça Toscana ($19.90/kilo), or fresh pork-meat sausages curled into a pinwheel and tied off with string. They’re made using hand-cut meat, so their texture is particularly amazing. We take them in Porco R. T. Q. with pork, rocket, sun-dried tomato and queso (cheese), and garlicky Linguiça Portuguesao, and throw in some Frango ($19.90/kilo) or chicken sausages dotted with cheese, for good measure. I like them all, sandwiched inside milk buns with sauerkraut to cut the fat, and plenty of Brazilian's Flame BBQ's house smoked mayonnaise.

Brazilian Flame BBQ
565 Botany Road, Zetland
Ph: (0430) 047 907

Brazilian Flame BBQ Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Review - Restaurant Plage

Eleven months on from my last visit, Restaurant Plage has relaxed even further into its Cremorne-focused groove.

There’s a comfortable feel to the dishes, even when there are a lot of individual elements on the plate. Each item is harnessed together to deliver a big umami punch; and here, vegetarian dishes are no exception to the rule.

We kick off with sake – the Dassai 50 ($14/180ml) – against a bowl of crisp, panko-crumbed Onion Rings ($13). Twenty minutes in the smoker has given the sweet rings a surprising amount of flavour. Dragged through a mango emulsion, they’re a good way to quickly appease a raging, post-work appetite.

Against an intelligent soundtrack of minimal house and techno, I pick apart a Kingfish Collar ($15) drawn from the short menu of chalkboard specials.

The charred exterior gives way to fluffy white flakes of fish, that retain their flavour against a nutty tan sauce made from sunflower seeds, butter and yuzu (Japanese citrus).

South Australian Kestrel potatoes (the ones with the cute purplish-pink bruises) come up very well in Kestrel Potato Gnocchi ($29). With black fermented onion, squash, mushrooms and truffles, this is one kick-arse vegetarian dish. The crisp, pan-fried gnocchi pieces add texture and caramelised notes against surprisingly fluffy interiors that have good structural integrity.

Billed only as a side, Crispy Brussels Sprouts ($13), are another vegetarian winner. Presented like a snow-covered garden with edible blooms, nasturtium leaves and truffle powder, the well-charred sprouts are moistened by Parmesan custard and set off by a gelatinous onsen egg. Bust it open and drag them through the egg like a dipping sauce, and you’ll get to properly experience the best Brussels sprout side I’ve ever eaten. It's worth heading in before their late season truly ends.

The sprouts actually eclipsed our shared Hazeldene Chicken Breast ($30) main, so we devoured the whole plate before even beginning to tackle it. The salty skin-topped chicken breast is balanced by a green spring vegetable emulsion, and accompanied by juicy roasted radishes, eggplant, savoy cabbage crisps, and a porcini jus.

Just think of it as a modern take on the Aussie favourite - the winner winner chicken dinner - and knock it back with a Blue Moon ($13) Belgian-style beer.

While the Mango Ravioli ($14) isn’t the prettiest dessert I’ve ever seen, it certainly shows off owner/chef Tomoyuki Usui’s wild imagination. Frozen coconut snow sits on top of a sheet of nicely tart mango 'pasta' next to a pinch of macadamia crumb. Fermented mango and a pocket of caramelised milk (think dulce de leche) are tucked underneath. The combination is crazy good, in an almost ais kacang kind of way, that should be even more appealing as the weather warms up.

Apple x Blackberry ($15) is nicely plated with sculpturally arranged super-fine langue du chat (cat’s tongue) shards dusted in blackberry powder.

They’re stabbed into nicely tart apple with mascarpone cream and a whisker of white chocolate to unite the dish. It’s funky, slightly tart and a fitting end to another solid meal by a chef who has the capacity to surprise.

Restaurant Plage
8/255 Military Road, Cremorne
Ph: (02) 8384 9043

Restaurant Plage Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

NOTE: You can see a previous review for this restaurant back HERE.


Review - Muum Maam

When my office first moved to Surry Hills back in 2011, I really liked Muum Maam. This week I gave them three chances to remind me why, but was left wondering whether this group, started by former graduates, had forgotten all of their Spice I Am lessons...

By day Muum Maam is a Thai hawker-style outlet, with orders placed at a little wooden food cart and most diners claiming their place on a long central table.


Kicking off on day one with a classic, I ordered the Sen Jan Pad Thai ($17) with prawns. Sen chan is the name for the Thai rice noodles, named for the Chanthaburi Province and created during a World War II rice shortage. My modestly-sized plate of thin rice noodles and four lightly-cooked prawns sits under a nest of juicy, fresh bean sprouts.

The plate is lined with chilli powder, peanuts and a lemon wedge, but even applying them all, including a good dousing of sharp citrus, can’t save me from all the sugar. Lightly speckled with egg, a few scarce pieces of chopped firm tofu, and a scattering of dried shrimp, the noodles are, quite frankly, boring. I finish the serve mostly because it's small, I’m hungry and I hate wasting food.

On my second visit, I pad out a salad with two plump Rice Paper Rolls ($8). While textural cold slices of roast duck are the hero ingredient, they’re padded out with greens and vermicelli, with fresh mint being the dominant note. Dragged through a sweet soy dressing that’s so thin it drips everywhere, they're fine without being particularly inspiring.

Larb Chicken ($14) is a rubbly chicken salad made with chicken mince and ground roasted rice powder, broken up with coriander, mint, red onion and thin rings of spring onion. It’s presented with an undressed handful of green leaves, and has a slight tremor of chilli on the back palate.

Once again I’m bored and looking for sriracha halfway through the plate. Where are the toasted, dried red chillies? Where’s the fragrance from kaffir lime, lemongrass and galangal?

On my third – and I suspect, final – visit, I break with my tradition of ordering dishes as the chef wishes to cook them, and ask for the Salmon Choo Chee Curry ($17) hot.

Under a lake of yellowish, coconut-dominated sauce sits an overcooked, deep fried salmon fillet with a wide brown bloodline sitting under its crisp skin. It’s resting on steamed greens - snow peas, snake beans and one of the choys - next to a mound of jasmine rice. Despite faint red flecks, there’s no heat to this curry, even after specifically requesting some. The end result is - once again - one-note sweet with none of the nuance you’d expect from fish sauce and kaffir lime.

While back in 2011 I thought Muum Maam was a Thai standout, there are now better places to eat Thai food, even in this little nook of Surry Hills. I miss the pungent, piquant dishes they began with.

Muum Maam
Shop 1, 50 Holt Street, Surry Hills
Ph: (02) 9318 0881

Muum Maam Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Review - The Owl House

The Owl House’s new digs on Victoria Street manage to keep the same cosy ambience as the former Crown Street bar. Rather than a narrow terrace, it’s now a dugout bar, tucked between Monkey Magic and Darlinghurst’s best sourdough pit stop, Infinity Bakery.

Owner Amir Halpert has cleverly kept the gang together, transplanting both his chef and his bar manager Owen Davies, as well as the very bar he served behind, over to the new space.

It’s nice to walk into a new space where everyone already knows your name, and have your post-work beverage of choice – the Corpse Reviver # 2 – lined up on the bar waiting.

After it strips away the remains of the day from my palate, I move onto Mezcalin ($19). With smoky mezcal and plum jam balanced by lime, a swirl of tobacco syrup and a rosemary salt rim, it’s the perfect slow sipper against a meandering Cheese Board ($29/3 cheeses) adventure. We opt for a tale of three cows, with a washed rind Pont L’eveque from Basse-Normandie, a Saint Agur blue cheese and a British semi-hard Larder & Co Oak Smoked Cheddar from Devon, against lavosh, muscatels and honeycomb.

A homely Charcuterie Board ($21) with house-made mortadella and rillettes rounded out with jamón Serrano, is served with toast, pickled onions and cornichons.

The toast to charcuterie ratio is out, but it’s an easy fix with a Daily Baked Bread ($5) add-on, accompanied by Hilal’s za’atar and local olive oil.

On this visit I was a bit more interested in drinking a smooth, butter-infused Bulleit bourbon Buttered Fashion ($24) than exploring the newly extended wine list. We also left the wider menu alone sufficing with some Pambula Oysters ($4/each) served both au natural, and with the house dressing – a mignonette granita that worked out nicely too.

The big question will be how does my favourite bar perform at brunch? The lure of a breakfast cocktail means I’ll undoubtedly bring you some news on that front before the year is out...

The Owl House
292 Victoria Street, Darlinghurst
Ph: (02) 9357 5060

The Owl House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

NOTE: You can read a previous review of this venue in their old location back HERE.

Review - Panama House

Let me guess, it’s only Tuesday and you’re already hanging out for the weekend? Make yourself feel better by booking in for a bottomless boozy brunch facing the famous Bondi Beach at Panama House. Now that I have your attention, the brunch part, which is also bottomless, is yours to be had for $35 or $45 per head, depending upon whether you want to kick off in the breakfast or lunch part of the day. It includes tea or coffee, though if you’re more a Mimosas kind of gal, the ‘bottomless’ 2-hour booze package is a worthwhile fifty-buck add-on.

While the drinks list also includes the brekky cocktail of champions, the Bloody Mary, plus a Mexican Michelada that blends beer, lime juice, seasonings and tomato juice, Mexican Tecate beer, and rosé, you won’t be allowed to double-park.

Drink up and blame the Government, like the rest of the Wentworth electorate you're sitting in.

Speaking of sitting, you’re going to be eating and drinking in comfort. Hovering one-floor above Campbell Parade with a sweeping view of the crashing surf, Panama House is an attractive space. I entered through the leafy concrete courtyard of the rebadged QT Hotel, and was mighty impressed.

While the balcony would undoubtedly be heaving on a sunny day, the interior gives you more luxurious seating. Reclaimed brick walls with a white panel provide a through-line to Panama House’s earlier incarnation on Bondi Road.

In this space, local stylist Jason Grant has employed a coastal colour palate of blues and earthy browns across ironbark hardwood tables, comfortable tub chairs and leather banquettes, including some cool high-backed booths for groups.

I’m not smart enough to bring a group or come on a Saturday or Sunday where I can afford to drink a copious amount of booze and write-off the whole day. Instead I slide in on a Friday morning with a girlfriend in tow, and stick to a well-made latte, while she’s kept happy with a frothy orange juice.

An efficient kitchen under the new stewardship of Head Chef Ben Fitton - a man who has cooked at The Fish Shop, Café del Mar and Macleay Street Bistro - gets us rollin’ with a heaving plate of quesadillas straight away. They’re filled with mole verde chicken (a green mole made with pumpkin seeds and green chillies) and served with pico de gallo (fresh tomato salsa), guacamole and lashings of ranch dressing, and make for compelling eating.

In case you haven’t guessed, the menu is broadly Central American, though the dishes have been re-interpreted with a contemporary, Aussie palate in mind. Chilaquiles verde is a great example of this, with corn totopos employed to modernise the dish for diners who prefer texture. As personable Bar Manager Jake Sherab explains, with a story of travelling to Mexico on an authentic alcohol recognisance mission, this classic Mexican breakfast is normally fried tortilla bathed in salsa verde until tender (read: mush).

Sherab also gifts us three condiments in habanero, jalapeno and pineapple, explaining quickly that they’re all very accessible. While personally, I was disappointed there was nothing with any heat, my misery was tempered by watching my non-chilli eating dining companion hoeing into the habanero but avoiding the jalapeno because she knew they were hot. After I explained the red chillies actually are ten times hotter on the Scoville scale, she happily ate all three.

The corned beef hash croquettes are something of a Panama House signature. They’re made on silverside that has been marinated for 4-5 hours and creamy potatoes, and served on a line of smoked garlic aioli – which salsa you add, is entirely up to you.

By the time we hit a skillet of baked eggs served in a black lake of frijoles adobo, I'm starting to hit the wall. I meander through the crisp kale leaves and try the beans on the accompanying sourdough, wishing for some hard-core chilli to get my endorphins flowing and allow me to push through.

Sadly it was not to be, and the heaped meat platter teaming Andouille sausage (the Creole version rather than the French original) and maple-cured bacon went virtually untouched.

I did like that they brought the meat at the end though, against lovely hazelnut, pepita and sunflower seed-covered hunks of roasted pumpkin. The yoghurt dressing did help to soothe the distress of my well-stuffed stomach - next time I come, I'm bringing a full crew so I can do this dish (and the booze package) justice.

Panama House
180-186 Campbell Parade, Bondi Beach
Ph: (02) 8090 5882

Panama House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

NOTE: See a previous review of this venue back HERE in their old venue.