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Travel - Dandy Lane (Hobart)




There are two ways to get into Dandy Lane.



While we came in through an old-fashioned arcade, which made it look like we’d be dining in a terribly lit office corridor, more savvy folk would enter through Collins Court, where a giant Phibs mural captures the beaks, plumage and beady eyes of Hobart’s plentiful bird life.



Viewed from this side, the interior space is attractive and inviting.



While I’m not sure about the white wall decorated with empty picture frames, I do credit Dandy Lane with coming up with a new way to hang their Edison bulb hallmarks of a hipster café.



The stark steampunk-inspired minimalism is offset by some organic forms - a beautiful glass dome of pastel blooms sitting right on our window table, and a glass pot of the kind of sugar that says they're serious about coffee. The beans, which are from by local, small-batch roaster, Villino, went okay in a Latte ($4) but performed better in our strong Flat White ($4); so go the Extra Shot ($0.50) if you like good coffee cut-through.



Dandy Lane puts their own spin onto hipster breakfast standards. They are clearly concerned with how their dishes will look on Instagram, but the vanity metrics are mostly kept in balance with creating good flavour. Zucchini, Mint and Fetta Fritters ($19.50) are fresh and tasty against a pink lake of harissa labneh scattered with seeds (seed scattering seems to be a bit of a Hobart motif). You'll find the crisp brown balls tucked away under a tumble of springy fresh herbs and house-made pickles, along with a golden slab of haloumi cheese and a poached egg.



Continuing the good Hobartian form on chilli, the sriracha Hollandaise is the real win across both a Fried Chicken and Waffle Benny ($22) and a Pulled Pork Hash ($23). While there’s a lot of waffle to get though, the fried chook is a standout against poached eggs, freshened up with spring onions and parsley. I’m not quite sure what the prosciutto is doing on this plate other than adding some pink.



The same goes for the peanuts on the pulled pork hash, though I like the rest of the combination - long shreds of tasty pulled pig, crisp potato, ‘slaw and onion rings - even if it is kinda hectic for an early breakfast. It’s all bound together with that bright orange sriracha ‘Holly’ which I am pleased to report has actual bite.

While Hobart seems to err on the side of generosity, it’s my view that the portion sizes at Dandy Lane are exactly right for breakfast without bloating.

Dandy Lane
Shop 10, 138 Collins Street, Hobart
Ph: none provided

Dandy Lane Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Travel - Room For A Pony (Hobart)




Being new to the Hobart dining scene, I scoured countless café menus before deciding upon Room For A Pony based upon their Hawaiian-inspired loco moco breakfast. Y’all know how I live to eat something different...



Located in North Hobart – an area touted as being similar to Sydney’s Newtown – it’s situated in a former petrol station. My flavour-seeking dining companion went diving for a bottle of chilli sauce as soon as we pulled up under a brightly coloured umbrella at a picnic table on their AstroTurf lawn.

 

Turns out his fervor for additional flavour was unwarranted – Hobartians are much better at chilli than we Sydneysiders.



Loco Moco ($18) takes a tasty beef patty, plonks it on a mound of white rice, tops it off with two fried eggs, and then surrounds the lot with jalapeño gravy. The gravy was so good I’m itching for a recipe to be able to make it at home – it’d work on everything from turkey to fried chicken. And no extra chilli sauce was required!



Created in a wok, my Chinese Fried Chilli Omelette ($17) was also big on heat with both chilli jam and plentiful fresh red chilli slices. It was also served on steamed jasmine rice with dash of oyster sauce and both fresh and fried shallots. Eating rice for breakfast was surprisingly gentle and easy to digest in both cases. Worried about enough interest on the plate, I added on a side of Ziggy’s Free Range Bacon ($5), which was thankfully unnecessary, because it arrived incinerated in a sad little pile on the side of my plate.



Coffee was decent but not remarkable across both a Latte ($4) and a Flat White ($4). Staff were friendly, even in a big and busy space. Despite the tiny external face of these ex-garage station digs, you’ll find Room For A Pony could also fit a small horse inside too! This makes it perfect for breakfast no matter what Hobart's weather throws at you - which for me, was bright blue skies and endless sunshine.

Room For A Pony
338 Elizabeth Street, North Hobart
Ph: (03) 6231 0508

Room For a Pony Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Review - Bakhtar Restaurant




Restaurant food does not need to be expensive to be good. Afghani restaurant, Bakhtar in Liverpool, illustrates this point rather admirably.



I popped back in recently for a dinner which set me back thirty-six bucks for two people, including a (non-alcoholic) drink each.



Sitting at a plastic-covered table in their chocolate brown and lime green dining room, decorated with neo-chandeliers and elaborate tasseled cream curtains, we tucked into three dishes for our under forty-buck spend.



The centrepiece of our meal was the Mix Plate Kebab ($17) that comes with a basket of piping hot Afghani bread. Arriving in a waft of fresh bread that’ll make your mouth water, the large round flatbreads are cooked on the wall of a tandoor oven.



As for the kebabs, it’s really hard to identify a favourite between the turmeric marinated chook kebab, that’s moist and juicy inside and charry on the edges, and the lamb tikka kebab marinated in cumin, yoghurt, garlic and lemon juice. The tubular lamb and beef mince kebab - kebab koobideh - is strongly flavoured with paprika and garlic, so eats best wrapped up in flatbread with sumac sprinkled washed red onions and crisp, golden pickles.



Flavoured with dried lime, Qorma Sabzi ($7) is a curry quite unlike any of its Indian cousins. It’s got an almost tannic edge, like green tea, against kidney beans, green herbs (dill and coriander) and small pieces of lamb.



I use it as a dipping sauce for my Bolani ($5) – fried bread stuffed with potatoes and chives – that also came with spicy tomato and yoghurt dips if you prefer. All up, this was quite the feast for two people, with change from forty bucks. It's also across the road from the movies, if you prefer real food over eating Westfield rubbish.

Bakhtar Restaurant
Shop 8/48 Elizabeth Street, Liverpool
Ph: (02) 8798 2795

NOTE: See a previous review for this restaurant back HERE.

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

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Review - South Sailor




You’ll find South Sailor on Lawrence Hargrave Drive just a block back from the golden sands of Thirroul beach. With a super-popular outdoor dining area and curbside tables under nautical striped navy and white umbrellas sitting on an AstroTurf lawn, it’s aimed directly at the sandy-feet crowd. Everyone is sporting a tan; and swim suit tops, singlets, hats and sunglasses seem to be an unofficial dress code.



Inside there’s a small interior dining space filled with blonde wood tables and rattan chairs. The white paling walls are highlighted with vintage palm tree wallpaper.

 

It opens out into a larger room where window tables are backed by a limited amount of bar seating in front of a tiny bar lined with fish-scale tiles in alternating shades of blue.



With them running very close to their hundred people capacity during the busy lunch service when I visited, I was glad to see them turning away folks just looking for takeaway fish and chips.



Gin is heavily featured on the beverage list, with an eye-catching Sunset Sour ($17) made on Husk Farm Distillery’s Ink Gin. Coloured with the Thai butterfly pea flower, this mauve cocktail sees it teamed with blueberry, lemon, and an egg white foam that’s guaranteed to get the taste of salt off your lips. You’ll also find a gin+tonic list with some clever matches, like Japanese Raku Gin with Fevertree Indian Tonic and ginger, in a quaffable mixed drink called Made in Japan ($14). With two taps, and a range of craft brews, you can also indulge in an ice-cold beer to whet your lips after a surf or paddle. We stayed local with Wollongong’s Five Barrel Brewing’s Golden Ale ($8.50) that drinks a bit like Young Henry’s Newtowner, just with slightly more hoppy bitterness.



Hoping for a bit of a menu overview, we hit up the Seafood Share for Two ($68). Delivered in two waves, it kicks off with cold dishes before heating things up with buttery grilled prawns served on the shell against skin-on chips and a perky little side salad.



The salad is dressed with sesame seeds and yuzu (a Japanese citrus), with hidden pockets of seaweed, and is pretty indicative of the kitchen’s Japalian (Japanese-Australian) brief. Do ask for some of their fluffy, garlicky aioli to make the most of the hand-cut chips.



The sharing menu – which blossoms into a bottomless two-hour boozy offering on Saturday and Sunday lunch for $69/person – starts off with sashimi. Thick wedges of salmon and thinner slices of raw tuna speak to the quality of their seafood, though perhaps would benefit from the use of a sharper knife.



South Sailor's island ceviche sees translucent slices of kingfish given an almost Mexican treatment with tiny dots of cream, chilli, tomato and lime against slippery cubes of young coconut jelly.



Crunchy cold fish tacos are the winners from our next trio of entrées, presented somewhat haphazardly on the same plate. They’re perched beside a seed-scattered fillet of ocean trout pastrami that’s delicately handled and accompanied by dabs of smoked labneh adorned with tiny crisp sails. There’s also a little bowl of white anchovies sitting on a tomato salsa that are meant to be eaten on the accompanying super-crisp toast. While it’s not quite as grand as a seafood platter, I reckon this menu gives you a pretty good deal for your thirty-odd bucks apiece.

Lunch at South Sailor makes for a pretty satisfying end to a morning at the beach.

South Sailor
216-218 Lawrence Hargrave Drive, Thirroul
Ph: (02) 4268 6008

South Sailor Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Review - Frenchies Brasserie




Summer in Sydney is all about the beach, and there are few areas better populated with long golden stretches of sand than our Northern Beaches. Having some mermaid time at North Narrabeen doesn’t mean compromising on good food either, with the surrounding area really coming online with some high-quality eateries. Many of these suburban gems seem to be tucked away in the cooler climes of the surrounding hills, like Coya in Cromer, and Frenchies Brasserie in Elanora Heights.



Residents in this leafy green suburb have their needs met by a sleepy, two-sided shopping strip. Sitting at the base of a low-rise residential block, Frenchies Brasserie is much more impressive than it first appears.



Lined with recycled wood, wine crates and distressed mirrors, the restaurant’s interior really comes into its own as the sun goes down. The rich red ceiling and shabby chic chandeliers help to focus your attention inward – which for me was down into my wine glass.



Booze is unexpectedly spectacular here. Owner David Singer is a wine-buff – but more than just a drinker and collector, he’s worked as a wine retailer, so has a whack of experience at tasting, choosing and selling wine. It shows in his eloquent wine list descriptions, his nuanced table service, and in the fact that he’s got a Coravin wine preserver system. This basically gives you access to expensive wines by the 50ml pour, so for twenty bucks, you can dip your nose into the 2010 Mayer ‘Close Planted’ Pinot Noir ($20/50ml).



Along with an excellent pinot nose, you’ll get plum, Chesterfield leather and spice in a super-smooth package with enough acidity to cut through the cheese in the St. Agur Twice Baked Souffle ($19). While being twice-cooked in an enamel tin plate makes it super-heated, this is pretty much a textbook soufflé with an airy texture and nicely burnt edges you can enjoy scraping off the plate. The big blue cheese is held nicely in check in this generously proportioned dish that’s both big enough and rich enough to share.

  

The soufflé is the work of head chef Fabian Oliveau who honed his skills with four years under Justin North at Hotel Centennial. To complement Singer’s extensive beverage list, which extends beyond wine to beer, cocktails and Spirit Flights ($23-34), Oliveau has constructed a compact but exciting French menu.

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He has taken the work out of escargots by serving them as Snails Vol au Vent ($22) in little pastry cups with onion jam and garlic butter.



Along with warm Marinated Mixed Olives ($7), they’re perfect mouth-popping drinking snacks, with their juices best mopped up with a crusty baguette.

  

Accompany them with a glass of the bubbly stuff – the smooth and complex Drappier 1er Cru ($20) is worth the price; or if you’d prefer a cocktail, La Basquirita ($18) is another worthy aperitif. It’s basically a margarita taken to the long-contested Basque region between France and Spain.



The area is known for L’espelette peppers, so here the dry, lemony cocktail has been given a Basque update with a dried red pepper sea salt rim.



Against a classic Steak Frites ($29), presented here as a 250 gram Rangers Valley black angus sirloin with shoestring fries, we dipped back into the Coravin list. We pitted Domaine Prieure Roch’s 2010 ‘Ladoix Le Clou’ Pinot Noir ($30/50ml) against Torbreck’s ‘Run Rig’ Shiraz Viognier ($30/50ml) with the peppery, raisin-like dark fruit flavours of the latter wine winning my favour, especially in combination with our well-rested steak. It’s served oozing with Frenchies’ butter – Oliveau’s own café-de-Paris inspired concoction with parsley, garlic and anchovies, among other things.



The kitchen’s only misstep was a side of Green Beans ($9) that lost their snapping crispness after spending slightly too long in the pan.



On the summer evening I dined, the Pan-Seared Market Fish ($33) was a kingfish fillet, cooked so the skin was crisp, but the underlying white flesh remained moist and yielding. With thin spears of green asparagus and a pretty fennel and citrus salad, the summery plate was united by a simple citrus sauce vierge. I was sad it disappeared too quickly, before I remembered they do a classic Tarte Tatin ($15).



The buttery upside-down apple tart here is well executed though the super-sweet, white chocolate butterscotch ice cream could be overkill.



As I tuck into a palate-cleansing scoop of raspberry sorbet from the Selection du Glacier ($5/scoop) I asked whether the delightful blend of frozen puréed red fruit was made in house? Turns out it wasn’t, but I was informed that chef has just received his Pacojet, so his own icy concoctions are on the way; so there's hope for a more adult vanilla bean on the tarte Tatin.



Take an Uber to Frenchies Brasserie – you’ll thank me later.

Frenchies Brasserie
54 Kalang Road, Elanora Heights
Ph: (02) 9907 2528

Frenchies Brasserie Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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In 2018 Does My Bomb Look Big In This? presented you with 250 different pieces covering restaurants, cafes, clubs, bars, pubs, events and produce located in 91 different Sydney suburbs. This is no mean feat when you consider this blog is currently the work of a single writer! When you consider 42 (16.8%) of those reviews were drawn from rural and regional areas, you’ll get some idea of the sheer number of kilometres I covered on the hunt for good food.

Best Rural and Regional
Across 2018 I rediscovered Terrigal and other parts of the Central Coast; areas that are right on Sydney’s doorstep with wonderfully uncrowded beaches and an emerging foodie scene. I travelled across the state dining everywhere from Cabarita Beach in NSW’s farthest northern reaches, to Canberra in the south, with a few dives into western NSW to places including Bathurst, Orange, Oberon and Scone. While I remember the meals that I had at Lolli Redini in Orange, Town Restaurant & Cafe in Bangalow, and Paper Daisy in Cabarita Beach with particular fondness, it was Raku in Canberra that produced my most notable out of town meal in 2018. It's contemporary Japanese in a moody, minimalistic setting in the middle of Canberra's main shopping district. Along with these eyecatching and textural slices of tamago, Raku's tenaga ebi - nigiri sushi made with creamy New Zealand scampi teamed with shaved foie gras, truffle and a soy jelly disc - was the best thing I put in my mouth all year.



Best Bar
In 2018 I visited 19 different bars. While most were in Sydney's entertainment district, I did fit in a wine bar in Bathurst, a hotel bar in Terrigal and some quality drinking in Manly into the mix as well. My three best bar nights included cocktails, shots and tamales by Lulu’s Sydney at the Midnight Special in Newtown; club sangas and craft beers at The Nook in Manly; and an epic night at my eventual winner - Kagura in Surry Hills. This quirky glass box has that magic combination of a serious Japanese whisky collection, a stellar chef in Yoshi Harada, and a level of intimacy that sees you talk to strangers like they’re already friends.



Best Cafe
Cafes were a particularly big feature on this blog in 2018, with 54 different cafes covered across the year, including 13 in rural and regional areas. Looking for that perfect combination of coffee, eats and daytime atmosphere, I traversed the Sydney metropolitan area going everywhere from Dural, Glenbrook and Wetherill Park to Freshwater and Mosman. Two of my standouts were District in Marrickville, who get the coffee, setting and interesting eats combo. almost exactly right, and La Herradura Coffee Stable in Chippendale who won my heart with sweet corn arepas and ajiaco, a comforting Colombian chicken soup. While it’s almost splitting hairs between the garden-like Korean tacos at 5 Loaves 2 Fish in Neutral Bay, and the shakshuka from The Mews in Mosman, it’s the braised pork shakshuka update I can’t get out of my head. Converted from historic stables, The Mews has a convivial European feel, and food that's as innovative as it is tasty.



Top Cuisines
In terms of cuisines, 2018 saw Does My Bomb Look Big In This? cover Nepalese, Pakistani, Indonesian, Ethiopian, Taiwanese, Sri Lankan, Syrian and Peruvian cooking in amongst 34 distinct cuisines. Beyond meals I’d broadly term Australian, which of course also come with a plethora of ethnic influences, the cuisines I covered most often were Chinese, Italian, Japanese, Indian and American, so here are the best five of these top five cuisines consumed in 2018.

Chinese
While I’m still obsessed with malatang from Yang Guo Fu Ma La Tang outlets across town, captivated by Burwood’s regional Chinese eats like the wide Shaanxi noodles at Biang Biang, and partial to the the odd Cantonese feast at Zilver Bondi, my best Chinese feed across 17 venues in 2018 was the contemporary Cantonese smoked meats at Yan Restaurant in Wolli Creek.



Indian
Rather than centralised around the city, the best Indian restaurants seem to be scattered throughout the ‘burbs. This year I was enchanted by the spacious Urban Tadka in Terrey Hills, surprised with a blue cheese naan at Maharaja’s on Carmen in Carlingford, but the restaurant I’ll be heading back to most quickly out of the 12 Indian venues I reviewed in 2018 is Manjit’s Balmain who made me finally love paneer and produced the best goat curry I ate all year.



Italian
Across 15 different Italian restaurants in 2018 I ate a lot of excellent meals. Under the talented Nicole Bampton, Capriccio is eating better than ever; while Nonna Gio left me with a warm memory of heartfelt, home-style Italian eats. The lure of Neapolitan pizza at Pizzeria da Alfredo will definitely draw me back; however the one that’s been consistently on my list to return to is Vizio Caffe e Cucina. Saddled with a difficult spot on busy William Street, this all-day Italian eatery is somehow greater than the sum of its parts.



American
There was a whole lot of Americana in my 2018, from hot tamales by Lulu’s Sydney to burgers, poke and fried chicken. American sandwiches were big – I’ve already mentioned the ones by The Nook in Manly, but there were also some beauties at Nighthawk Diner in Chippendale too. However it’s impossible to beat the killer combo. of excellent American cocktails, corn bread and gumbo at Dogwood, BX, though you’ll have to travel all the way to Bathurst to get it.



Japanese
Japanese remains the cuisine of my heart, and across more than 18 different venues, I had some wonderful meals in 2018, including Raku and Kagura who both quite fittingly took out earlier categories. Ryu Japanese Kitchen is a tiny spot that warmed up a wet and miserable wintery night. Juan Bowl + Tea produced my most perfect meal in a single bowl, though it was Gaku Robata Grill I was compelled to return to twice to ensure I ate both ramen and chef Harunobu Inukai’s evening selection, including a perfect negi toro hand roll with uni.



But what about the price?
In 2018 Does My Bomb Look Big In This? covered all price ranges. This year I definitely ate at less fancy joints than I did mid-range restaurants, but there were also quite a few cheap eats thrown in, where a meal for two people came in around fifty bucks.

Best Cheap Eat
In the most memorable cheap eats there was an Ethiopian meal at Gursha in Blacktown, as well as countless dinners along Burwood’s main drag covering everything from dumplings to noodles to malatang.



Also in this category, I'd like to make a special mention to Cheezy Burgers who produced my favourite burger of 2018 and got me into a petrol station to eat it (no mean feat). Though the cheap eat that won me over, alongside with a queue of people clad in high vis., was Brazilian Flame BBQ in Zetland. They made the best snack pack I’ve ever eaten - chips topped with three kinds of rotisserie grilled meats and drizzled with a smoked mayonnaise I literally can’t live without. (I’ve been back three times to buy more.)



Best Mid-Range Eat
The mid-range was the most hotly contested category of all, making up the bulk of my 2018 eating.



There were three top meals I find it hard to separate, starting with Sang by Mabasa who made a cabbage leaf into a work of art. District Brasserie was the complete package, able to take you from sourdough in the morning to post-work drinks followed by a high-quality, accessible dinner in the heart of the CBD. My favourite by a nose though was S.O.G. in Abbotsford – perhaps simply because they shocked me with a modern Korean dish, the notorious P.O.R.K. pictured below, that I literally had no analogies for: just go and eat it.



Best Fancy Night Out
When it comes to fine dining my preference is definitely towards contemporary restaurants that reimagine fine dining into something less stiff. Sixpenny takes fine dining to a Stanmore parlour setting with sophisticated yet accessible results. Lumi Dining in Pyrmont is exciting, and eating better than ever; as is Macleay Street Bistro who produced the best steak I ate all year, though it did come with a fifty-buck price tag.



My surprising fancy feed favourite was Cucinetta in the wilds of Woolwich. It’s old-school Italian dressed up with a contemporary twist. The service is warm, the view is fantastic, and Vincenzo Mazzotta's signature gnocchi with pork sausage, Gorgonzola, candied hazelnuts and fresh fig is a killer dish.



That's it from Does My Bomb Look Big In This? for 2018. Catch you all on the flip side, after we all enjoy some down time and quality holiday eating!

Review - The Winery




We'll end the year with some convivial good cheer at The Winery. Armed with a gaggle of gal pals, I descended upon this Surry Hills stalwart for their popular Bottomless Bellinis Lunch ($79/head). Climbing the stairs, you’re immediately assaulted with noise. The room is packed to the rafters, and nearly every diner is a woman with gleaming long hair, clad in either a frock or a playsuit (wardrobe choice will prove important later on).



Most are seated at long tables, but there are a few more intimate girlfriend catch-ups scattered here and there.



We’re happily ensconced in the room’s sole curved booth, complete with a Perrier-Jouët Champagne button, enticing us to 'Press for Champagne'. We try it, obviously, but sadly it doesn’t make our waiter appear.



When Eduardo does arrive, he’s handsome and friendly. He eventually accedes to our early request to get another round of drinks underway. Like most of the women in this room, we’re here to get in some quality drinking time, so it feels a little like being treated like a recalcitrant toddler to hear you can’t be double or triple parked with the trio of available Bellini. We broach a deal and dutifully scull our first glass to ensure we're empty by the time Eduardo appears with our second, working our way through raspberry, peach and lychee. While I start off preferring the more acidic lychee, I drink the most peach Bellinis, only shifting to raspberry later in the day when I need a break from the acidity.



Despite the initial adherence to responsible service of alcohol, it takes three or four rounds of Bellinis before any food gets underway.



When it does arrive, our food comes in two distinct waves - hot and cold.



In the first wave we get plentiful bowls of Alto mixed olives and a moderately sized cheese board for six people that's perhaps a bit heavily weighted towards blue.



There’s a small plate of good quality salumi - one slice each of three different cold cuts - and not quite enough crackers, grissini and bread to consume them with.



The second wave is hot food, starting with charred pita bread with chickpea dip.



Each diner gets a mini Winery burger, that’s tasty even if it doesn’t look all that flash.



By the time I pop my allocated spinach and four-cheese arancini with aioli and a touch of lemon into my mouth, I’m starting to get the point. This is food designed specifically to soak up alcohol – heavy on the carbs.



There’s a big bowl of sweet potato fries and some deep-fried cauliflower with sour cream and hint of harissa – nothing I’d hurry back again to eat, but that’s clearly not the point.



The wisdom of wearing a playsuit comes into question on my first visit to the bathroom, when one young lass can be heard to exclaim: “Did you see my vagina?” Getting completely stripped in a tiny cubicle proved too daunting for her to also remember to close and lock the door. “I hope you liked what you saw,” she says as she flounces out the door and the whole bathroom erupts into uproarious laughter.



Dessert is more alcohol, with frothy Champagne poured into glasses of sorbet at the table.

 

Drinking this Champagne spider against a good quality salt-topped chocolate apiece, I finally achieve that elusive state of being triple parked.



I also find some empathy for our handsome waiter, Eduardo, who says: “At 3pm it all starts again,” with a slightly beaten smile as he clears away the rose petal remnants of our dessert. Also used as Bellini toppers, I can tell you, a lot of roses died to make this meal.



It does look like a trying day for floor staff as I watch the room get more and more raucous. When I return to the bathroom for a final visit, a winking lass is trying to get Jenny to let her in. “I’m vomiting,” Jenny replies. “It’s OK, I’ll hold your hair back,” her friend quickly replies. And maybe these moments are what friendship between women is all about, in between posing for snaps with the lion’s head Prosecco fountain, that is.

The Winery
285A Crown Street, Surry Hills
Ph: (02) 8322 2007

NOTE: You can read a previous review for this venue back HERE.

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

Review - Yan Restaurant




With the rapid expansion upwards in many Sydney suburbs has come many new places to dine at the bases of these residential towers. In amongst the chains, who decide on location based upon predicted population growth, you’ll find some independent beauties by young restaurateurs, like Yan Restaurant. Yan is nestled deep in the soulless high-rise canyons of Wolli Creek. From the outside it’s a fairly spartan glass box with a long open kitchen and a warm glow emitting from rectangular rice paper lanterns.



It’s furnished with comfortable Scandinavian-style chairs and dark timber tables, though just shy of their second birthday their varnish is already a little the worse for wear. The only decoration are jade green tiles with an interlocking Chinese-inspired pattern, which run along the lengthy stainless steel counter. Against this fairly spartan backdrop and alienatingly empty streetscape, your attention is directed on the people who inhabit the space. In the kitchen it’s co-owner and chef Raymond Lim, and on the floor it's co-owner Narada Kudinar, who moves through the tight 30-seater space with the confidence of a rock star.

 

Drawn from a succinct ten bottle wine list, Kudinar delivers our 2017 Shadowfax Chardonnay ($57) at precisely the temperature it should be drunk at (warmer than most restaurants serve Chardonnay). While he stands by the serving temperature, Kudinar acquiesces to the request for an ice bucket with good grace. To my palate, while the wine is served at the right temperature, it needs an ice bucket to stay there in a dining space heated by a kitchen constantly erupting into open flame. Thankfully there are cooling bouts of water fog as the tables around us order dessert – Coconut Ice Cream ($15) – served in a whole young coconut that is big enough to share. Its coconut-on-coconut simplicity allows you to revel in the silky texture only liquid nitrogen can produce against grated coconut, coconut jelly, and chewy scrapings of fresh young coconut flesh stripped from the shell.



As for the rest of the menu, the emphasis is on smoked meats, which should be the centerpiece of your meal. Think of Yan as your Asian-influenced answer to the American smokehouse, where Cantonese and Japanese culinary traditions have been brought to bear upon dishes like Smoked Beef Short Rib ($39) - and damned if short rib isn’t easier to eat with an Asian sensibility! Well-rendered, smoky, charred and tasty, this beef short rib really takes it to the masters over at LP’s Quality Meats. When I mention this Kudinar, he looks almost horrified, saying: “We Love LP’s. We went as a team to LP’s, the best thing was the cheese Kransky.” And just their idols, the Yan team can also make kale taste good.



You'll find the hunks of well-caramelised short rib that are cooked in fragrant mountain pepper, particularly delicious over Olive Rice ($6). This steamed koshihikari rice with Chinese olives is another revelation. “The chef’s grandmother used to make it,” Kudinar explains when I asked how it fitted into Cantonese cooking. Punctuate the richness with a generously proportioned bowl of Pickled Cabbage ($6) and throw in some greens, and you have quite the healthy dinner.



We opted for Sauteed Broccolini ($12) with ginger, chilli and a Cantonese sauce, so expertly handled, I even enjoyed eating the crisp stalks.



The combi oven, where Lim does his smoking using trays of charcoal, can also produce trays of freshly steamed bao. Up your calcium intake by consuming them with whole Crispy Prawns ($24) eaten head, shell and all inside the fluffy white pillows. Dragged through a fruity, house-made chilli sauce they’re fun, hawker-food inspired bites.



With interiors that are equally soft, five crisp Fried Tofu ($11) squares topped with modern Sichuan peanut chilli sauce are another tasty way to pad out your meal so it lasts as long as your bottle of wine. While neither entrée nor dessert is to be sneezed at, I’m inclined to treat Yan as a modern day BBQ King for a one-course smoked meat feast whenever I get the urge for barbeque.

Yan Restaurant
G.03 19 Arncliffe Street, Wolli Creek
Ph: (02) 9599 8712

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

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Review - Hurricane's Grill




With the city blanketed in cloud, I left my comfort zone to go eat meat in Darling Harbour.



Hurricane’s Grill made its name at a fledgling restaurant in Bondi Beach. People have flocked there to eat their famous ribs since 1994, so it feels remiss of me not to have visited.



The Darling Harbour outpost was opened a decade ago in 2008. It has aged well by keeping the epic view of the CBD skyline central to the glass-box décor, which also employs lots of flames.



With the city whiting out almost completely while I dined, the trenches of dancing flames held more interest than the floor-to-ceiling windows and the open-air balcony.



Hurricane’s Grill is all about ribs, bibs and bro’ culture.



It’s loud and confronting, with a queue outside, and long tables of mostly men with booming voices within. Tables for two seem to be in much shorter supply than they are at most restaurants I visit.



When heaving platters of meat arrive it’s intriguing to watch these tables descend into silence, and beads of the meat sweat begin to form upon furrowed brows.



Eating meat here is serious business for this mostly working-class crowd.

 

With the wine list not being very exciting, and the beer list too mainstream for a crafty drinker like me, I hit up Sangria ($40) served only by the jug. Your forty buck spend will deliver you four glasses filled about two-thirds of the way to the top with summery, light sangria made using gin, red wine, brandy and two kinds of vermouth.



Being newbies we pass up the tempting Pork Knuckle ($40) special in favour of the Hurricane’s BBQ Meat Platter ($55/head). Presenting five different types of meat and one side for each participant, it’s a good way to taste across the menu’s main meats. The standout are the beef ribs with their signature, dark and fruity sauce, well-rendered fat and meat that falls off the bone.



With the original idea for Hurricane’s Grill being based upon a South African steakhouse, seeing boerewors wasn’t a surprise, though I didn’t expect them to be a small straight sausage rather than the usual coil. It’s finely grained and accessible, though to make it really sing you’re going to need to order Monkey Gland Sauce ($3) – a fruity and tangy South African barbeque sauce. Our 200-gram top sirloins, both ordered medium-rare, edged more towards medium despite the platter arriving super quickly. They’re basted the same way as the lamb loin chop that accompanies them, which can get a bit same-same as you wade through all the meat. Sauces are your salvation, though none actually come with your initial platter spend.



With your barbeque-basted chicken wing, I’d normally suggest Peri Peri Sauce ($3) but I found the Hurricane’s rendition too tomato heavy for my liking. Blue Cheese Sauce ($3) on the other hand, is really good, so long as you like it heavy on the fried garlic powder and light on pungent cheese. I found it worked a treat on both the chicken and the sweet potato fries. The side salad was a bit lacklustre, but I’m guessing nobody comes to Hurricane’s Grill to eat salad.



And say you did find yourself falling in love with a Hurricane's Grill condiment, never fear, everything from their signature rib baste to the South African Monkey Gland sauce that went so well with the sausage is available in bottles to take away.

Hurricane's Grill
Harbourside Shopping Centre, 433-436 Darling Drive, Darling Harbour
Ph: (02) 9211 2210

Hurricane's Grill- Darling Harbour Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Review - Martabak Cafe




With a large open window onto Harris Street and an airy tiled interior, Martabak Café seemed like a good spot to escape the heat on a warm Sydney weekend.



The cooling effect comes from the frosty blue and white colour scheme with a feature wall depicting wayang golek (rod puppets). It’s filled with large family groups, with well-behaved kids and mothers breast feeding – a sure sign everyone is made to feel comfortable and welcome here.



There’s also good table separation, and long, ice-filled drinks. Es Cendol ($5.95) is drunk across South East Asia. It’s made with salty coconut milk and bright green pandan starch noodles, and sweetened with palm sugar syrup (gula jawa) that rests at the bottom until you stir it through. Es Teh Thailand ($5.50) or Thai iced tea, made with Ceylon tea sweetened with sugar and condensed milk, is lightly creamy and gently floral.



Both drinks would be good chilli companions, though the food we eat here isn’t particularly spicy.



Leaving aside the namesake martabak, available here as both savoury martabak telur and the even more popular sweet versions, martabak manis, we hit up the roti canai we can see and hear being slapped onto the grill behind a glass screen.



Ordering Roti Canai dengan Telur, Bawang & Kari Ayam ($12.95) will deliver you a light, elastic roti stuffed with washed onions and a cracked egg plus a little bowl of chicken curry that’s yellow from turmeric and creamy from coconut milk. Use it as a dipping sauce for torn off bits of pliable flatbread, punctuated by hunks of deboned chicken thigh.



Siomay Bandung ($11.90) gives you a mysterious looking lumpy brown plate. While it isn’t particularly eye-catching, it is tasty, especially the steamed chicken and prawn dumplings that remind me of Chinese shumai. They’re accompanied by siomay tahu (wedges of tofu stuffed with fish paste), crunchy cabbage leaves, boiled egg and waxy potato hunks under the lumpy brown peanut sauce drizzled with kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce). I found the dish a bit sweet at first but after making use of the supplied lemon and some sambal, passed separately in a little orange-topped jar, I quite liked this popular Indonesian street food.



Ayam Penyet ($9.95) or Indonesian fried chicken was a lunch special. You get a well-rendered fried chicken thigh scattered with crispy crumbs against a dome of white rice, and fresh cucumber and tomato on a cabbage leaf. It’s pretty plain and dry, so eats better with lots of sambal.

Martabak Cafe presents simple, gentle and likeable Indonesian food; and with our three dish lunch for two people including drinks coming in at just forty-six bucks, it's affordable as well.

Martabak Cafe
439 Harris Street, Pyrmont
Ph: (02) 9566 4178

Martabak Cafe Australia Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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