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Review - Turka: Café | Meze | Bar

It would probably be quicker to list the types of hospitality experience that Alex Buharali does not have, rather than the places he’s worked. Suffice to say, his restaurant experience stretches far beyond his original homeland, Turkey, across Australia, and the United States; and ticks off many different cuisines. At Turka, Buharali is focused upon Turkish food, as you'd find it in Istanbul, the city where he was born.

Buharali is bringing his vision to life inside a beautiful Art Deco building in Crows Nest. Cajun foods fans might remember it as the former home of the New Orleans Café. While the building itself occupies a narrow strip of land between Willoughby Road and its five-way intersection with the Pacific Highway, from curved window-lined interior, the 240-degree view makes it feel expansive.

It’s just the place to pull up with wine and cold meze; grazing across them slowly as you would in Turkey while the light fades from the sky, and the room’s golden lights grow brighter.

Meze Star ($39) will set you up with five generously proportioned cold dishes, or you can buy them individually.

While there’s literally nowhere you can go wrong on Turka’s cold meze menu, the sweet and savoury, garlicky Aegean Green Beans ($10) are the best version of this dish I’ve ever eaten. Eaten with the Suvla Kinali Yapincak ($11/glass) from Gallipoli (an indigenous grape variety that drinks like a high attitude Chardonnay) the beans bring out the wine’s soft buttery, pastry characteristics. Annemin Sarimsakli Kabagu ($10) (Mum’s garlic courgettes) created into a compelling dip with garlic, yoghurt and walnuts; show off the wine’s austere side.

Turka’s Enginar ($9), or marinated baby artichoke hearts, will make an artichoke convert out of anyone. They’re treated with pomegranate molasses and olive oil, then topped with fresh tomatoes, feta and fresh mint.

Popping Finger Dolma ($9) into my mouth was another revelation. While the rice and herb stuffed interior was pretty standard, the quality of the vine leaves themselves captured my tastebuds’ attention. We worked our way through an array of dips on a basket of lightly toasted breads.

The Turkish bread you eat here doesn’t exist in turkey,” chuckles Alex. His breads come courtesy of a local Turkish baker, though you’d be advised to eat lightly if you intend to follow your cold meze feast with hot dishes. My pick of the Dip Trio ($19) that traversed through green olive, capsicum, eggplant and chickpea, was actually the non-Turkish interloper, Hummus ($8). It has an intensely nutty chickpea flavour, with just a hint of tahini.

We make the shift to hot meze with Kibris Izgara Hellim ($17), well-caramelised batons of pan-fried haloumi from that are drizzled with honey and dotted with raisins. The creamy Jersey milk cheese is produced in Tilba, on NSW’s South Coast, and is a good reminder that this Turkish restaurateur is working from memory-taste rather than simply using imported Turkish produce. As Alex summons the home-style Turkish meals of his memory, his on-the-phone consultant is his mum. Both of Alex’s parents hail from the province of Bolu, where the main town, Mengen, is famous for training chefs. “It's known as the town of cooks, where a lot of good chefs come from,” Alex said.

Alex is a charming restaurateur who can conjure up vivid imagery of bars on the banks for the Bosphorus that only serve mussels, right as you're popping his Istanbul Midye Tava ($19) into your mouth. The deep fried mussels are New Zealand’s finest, cut in half to make the size of them match Alex’s memory-taste. They’re dragged through a simple homemade tartare involving vinegar, white breadcrumbs, salt and pepper. Alex explains the Turks won’t eat them without this sauce and an EFES Pilsen ($10) beer; and his menu affords you the same opportunity.

While we’re enjoying Alex’s storytelling talent in the dining room, laughter rings out from inside the spotless kitchen.

His all-female kitchen team are smiling and telling their own stories, which are also reflected on the plate with Iskenderun Falafels ($18). With vividly green interiors, these Iraqi-style falafels are second only to my current favourites at Hammoud 1 in Liverpool.

The kitchen doesn’t miss a beat across Sultan’s Lamb ($19) and Izgara Kofte ($18). The tenderly spiced lamb back-strap is presented pink in the centre with a nicely charred exterior.

The hand-shaped lamb and beef mincemeat balls are great alone, but even better under a melted blanket of Turkish Kashar cheese. Both dishes come with pickles to help aid digestion, but I'm groaning from the sheer amount of food we’ve consumed in a short Sydney-style dinner.

With our char grilled meats and Divan Spinach Beetroot Salad ($18), we also moved onto two Turkish red wines; Kayra Bogazkere ($11/glass) from Diyarbakir; and Vinkara Doruk Kalecik Karasi ($12/glass) from Ankara. It’s here that Alex’s restaurant experience shows, as he explains relative to familiar Australian grape varietals. The first wine drinks like a Shiraz, with dark berries, mint and roasted coffee flavours; while the latter throws raspberries and strawberry with the palate weight of a quaffable pinot noir.

Toasty Baklava ($12) is a given, especially when they’re making the Maraş dondurması – stretchy mastic ice cream - right here. With my stomach overtaxed by our onslaught of meze, I don’t wolf down as much as I want to, resting secure in the knowledge that I'll definitely be coming back.

Turka - Café | Meze | Bar
4/6 Willoughby Road, Crows Nest
Ph: (02) 8592 1267

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


Travel - Paper Daisy

The first thing I should tell you about Paper Daisy is that the second you arrive for dinner, you’re going to wish you were staying the night. The restaurant is set inside Halcyon House on Cabarita Beach.

The area is home to a renowned surfing break, and the property was once a two-level 1960s surf hotel, complete with daggy arches. These days it’s a boutique luxury hotel, with a wonderfully Australian feel; and those white-painted arches and orderly rows of small, square balconies are the only hints of its former life. The resulting hotel is testament to what you can achieve through artful renovation over knock-down rebuilding.

I turned green with envy from just peering at the blue and white striped banquette of pool lounges facing the aquamarine pool. The restaurant and pool are screened from the pumping surf by a row of pandanus, creating intimacy and giving the place a tropical feel.

With room rates starting at $540 a night, staying at Halcyon House might well be out of reach, but you can still enjoy the beautifully appointed hotel by visiting Paper Daisy as a casual diner.

The large open dining room keeps up the hotel’s blue and white theme, with lots of textures and quirky collections of seascapes, and other beachside bric-à-brac.

Three Courses ($95/head) each and a bottle of imported New Zealand wine, set us back just under three hundred bucks.

Paper Daisy throw in all the extras, like an amuse bouche of choux pastry with smoked fish and tartare sauce, that you eat wrapped up in a mustard leaf. You'll also receive a big slab of sourdough with their own macadamia nut butter, situating you nicely in the local surrounds, so expect that for your coin, you'll be quite well fed.

We were very happy with the slippery, wet 2012 Rippon Gewürztraminer ($90); a fruit forward wine with a whiff of rosewater, and a dry finish that cleans up the palate nicely after eating fish. It was a particularly good match with smoked fish, presented in a tangle with sprouted rye grain noodles, oysters and mushrooms. It’s earthy and intriguing, and I’m delighted to see a kitchen really pushing the envelope of what can be done with kingfish.

Our wine is light enough to also suit a gentler poached and grilled squid dish, accentuated with sea lettuce, egg yolk and prawn vinegar.

The aquatic location sees us stick with seafood for mains, which included a lovely coal-roasted Squire (baby snapper) kept light and summery with preserved cucumbers and citrus.

While this dish was simple, showing off the kitchen's skill cooking over coal, the grilled and glazed blue eye cod was more complex, with a coriander and basil puree, crisp Jerusalem artichoke chips and pickled turnip, all tied together with a sauce made from pipis.

Vegetable sides magically appear with your mains. They included a fabulous pasta-like salad with long strips of carrot and sunflower seed dressing. There’s also some broccoli that's a little dull; though it is hard to complain when the nightly sides simply come with your meal.

High quality staff really take control of your meal, running from a knowledgeable sommelier, to a maître de who asks for feedback with: “Don’t be nice, be honest.” Heed their advice, and skip over the fragrant Ducasse banana parfait sitting under a crunchy hat of caramelised milk and wattle seed then dusted with orange zest, in favour of the more boring sounding lychee sorbet.

Presented under shavings of macadamia milk chocolate and accentuated with chrysanthemum tea granita, it's not a visually exciting dessert.  However it strokes the pleasure centres in a most surprising way; and, like the rest of inventive young chef Ben Devlin's menu, it's not something I've already eaten fifty times before. After eleven years and more than two thousand reviews, that's really saying something.

Paper Daisy
Halcyon House, 21 Cypress Crescent, Cabarita Beach
Ph: (02) 6676 1444

Paper Daisy - Halcyon Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Review - PaletTé

Arguably the prettiest bubble tea venue to spring up in Sydney, PaletTé, is decked out in pastel colours from pink to a pretty frosty green.

There’s also a textural green leaf wall offset with a white park bench, and a soft graduated floral feature wall, cleverly designed with whimsical bubble tea selfies in mind.

For those manic pixie dream girls who carefully curate their life on Instagram using reduced colour palates, this store is going to be bubble tea nirvana.

While I’m clearly not the target market for this particular activity, I was lured in anyway by the on-counter display of fruit teas. Presented in inviting, transparent black-topped plastic bottles stuffed with fresh fruit, PaletTé Fruit Tea ($6.50) is a nicely tannic tea with watermelon and fruit salad. It’s light and refreshing, and not overly sweet like so many bubble tea drinks. Peach and Kaffir Lime Leaves Fruit Tea ($6.50) is also very good. It’s a gentler tea, with fresh white peaches providing the sweetness.

Friendly staff present your teas in a paper bag with plastic forks to eat out the high quality, tea-marinated fruit pieces – just avoid the kaffir lime leaves and the teabag at the bottom of the jar. PaletTé are open late (until 11pm) for anyone who fancies a healthier post-film beverage on George Street, though I suspect they may live to regret the accent and weird capitalisation in their name.

Shop 181/569 George St, Sydney NSW 2000
Ph: (02) 9261 0117

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


Review - Sherpa Kitchen

After watching Jennifer Peedom’s amazing feature documentary Sherpa (2014) at the Sydney Film Festival, I approached Sherpa Kitchen in Newtown with more understanding. Rather than an occupational reference to people who carry things, Sherpa are an ethnic group living in the Himalayas, the mountainous region that spans Nepal, Tibet, India and Bhutan.

This Newtown restaurant, located on busy King Street, showcases the Sherpa people's environment with a restaurant-length mural of snow-capped peaks. On the opposing orange wall you’ll find photographic scenes from Nepal, including colourful traditional clothing, and religious symbols running from prayer wheels to Buddha and the Hindu deity, Ganesh. Gold tablecloths and bright red chairs complete the restaurant’s bright and cheery look.

Perhaps it’s these religious influences that mean you won’t find beef or lamb on the Sherpa Kitchen menu; though you won’t notice their absence with great goat to play with. Try it in the Sherpa Kitchen signature - Special Khasi Ko Taas ($15.99). This dish takes boneless goat meat, marinates it overnight, then slow cooks it with ginger, garlic, coriander and other spices for two or three hours. The resulting stew is lighter and brighter than the Indian curries you might be used to. The well-rendered goat is tasty, with a spicy undercurrent. It’s served with chewra (beaten rice), which adds an intriguing textural element. It does make me smile though, because I can’t shake the feeling I’m eating curry with a rice flake breakfast cereal.

From the Nepali grill menu of piro (hot) dishes we take Chilli Chicken ($11.90). It’s a lovely, bright chicken dish that tastes of ginger and fruity, red chillies. Sweet, lightly cooked onions and crunchy, red capsicum are reminiscent of Chinese dishes; and, along with a squeeze of lemon, work to moderate the spiciness.

Our chilli chook is served with bland, flat roti, which are the meal’s only weak point for me, but traditional for the cuisine.

If you do struggle with chilli, you'll also find Nepal’s premium lager, Mustang ($7), to be sweet and malty, ideal to beat the heat. It's great against Chilli Momo ($11.90), Nepalese dumplings filled with dry spiced chicken mince and vegetables, then coated in a fruity chilli sauce made from long red chillies. The end result is not that texturally dissimilar to Chinese xiao long bao, just without the hot soupy interior. 

Compared with other Nepalese food I’ve tried in Sydney, which has been dominated by soupy lentil dishes, the dishes I tried at Sherpa Kitchen were flavoursome and texturally interesting. Owner/chef Purna Sadasankar explained he brought Nepalese food to Newtown "for the foot traffic, but there’s too much competition, too many choices.” So if you do make the choice to try his Nepali cooking, you'll find your meal is very competitively priced for the area.

Sherpa Kitchen
165 King Street, Newtown
Ph: (02) 9519 7153

Sherpa Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Review - Pablo's Vice

Pablo’s Vice has been a Darlinghurst fixture for as long as I can remember – twenty-one years in fact. The subterranean cafe is tucked right behind the even more longstanding Route 66 on Crown Street, though it opens onto Goulburn Street. With a bright rainbow Rasta gorilla mural by Mulga the Artist on the opposite side of the street and leafy green tree cover providing shade, the coveted outdoor tables are the place to be. Though if they’re full, the tiny interior is actually better than it appears from outside.

With Sydney Posters providing the colourful décor, the space is small without being poky.

From your table along the cafe-length banquette, the large window makes the semi-underground location feel quite pervy, as you watch the legs of people and pooches parade by.

Three well-placed speakers means lovely, round sound, with bass you can feel in your toes. The thumping soundtrack of Nightmares on Wax and Zero 7 (tracks we also have in our home collection) really got our Saturday morning started right.

Well-made Campos Coffee didn’t hurt either. This coffee actually can handle a double shot, as it was slightly dominated by milk in my Latte ($3.80) but perfect in a Strong Flat White ($4.30).

In term of food, Pablo’s Vice feels like an honest, modern café. Sure you’ll find the ubiquitous smashed avocado (OK, I really prefer it sliced), but the dishes here feel more about flavour than awkward towering height, super-sweet Persian fairy floss, or rafts of edible flowers. The Haloumi Stack ($12.50) takes a generous amount of golden, pan-fried cheese, teams it with wilted spinach, aioli and a poached egg, and sticks it on smashed avocado smeared rye. It’s tasty, the portion size is right, and I don’t have to spend the first ten minutes trying to work out how to dismantle it into something I can actually eat.

From the specials chalkboard, I’m equally pleased with the Eggs Benny with Bacon ($10.50). It’s got a good amount of decent bacon, a pair of poached eggs and some wilted spinach sitting on sourdough toast under an appropriate drizzle of light, airy Hollandaise. I appreciate that it’s not drowning in a lake of yellow sauce, and that the only garnishes are micro herbs, which actually add to the dish’s flavour. The price is very good by Darlinghurst standards, though I personally don't mind paying more for higher quality pig.

After my visit I had a chat with owner Bruce Schaafsma, who took over Pablo’s Vice two years ago. “Pablo’s was a nice little starter business to test the waters for me,” said Bruce said, who went on to explain that the café was a chance to revive an interest in food and beverages that developed during his early working years. These days Bruce is a Certified Practicing Accountant, and together with his Italian girlfriend (who he says “is a wonderful chef / cook”) they’re running Pablo’s “under management” while they both work other full-time jobs. With his son studying at Ryde Catering College, Bruce sees the café as “a great opportunity for him to learn about all aspects of a small business in a wonderfully eclectic part of Sydney.

Pablo's Vice
Shop 3, 257 Crown Street, Darlinghurst (enter Goulburn Street)
Ph: (0414) 648 174

Pablo's Vice Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Event - Murder on the B.A.T.F. Tram

To celebrate the release of Murder on the Orient Express to Blu-ray, DVD & Digital, I was invited to a specially tailored dinner at Butcher and The Farmer in Tramsheds at Harold Park.

Showing off the function capabilities of this large restaurant, the evening began with a bespoke cocktail – the French 75. Said to have the kick of being shelled with a French 75mm field gun, this smooth World War I era cocktail contained McLarenvale gin, Champagne, egg white, lemon juice and sugar.

Hard liquor in hand, I jumped aboard the last operating tram, number 1995, with eighteen of my soon-to-be-closest friends, a dashing conductor, and a murderer...

Okay, so it’s all a bit cheesy, but then again, so is Kenneth Branagh’s 2017 remake of the 1974 film, Murder on the Orient Express, which was in turn based upon Agatha Christie’s 1934 novel.

It’s basically a star-studded, dress-up romp through a classic murder mystery that is set on a train trapped somewhere between London and Istanbul.

With the upmarket white-tablecloth dining carriage featured in the movie, and Michelle Pfeiffer purring into a cocktail, it’s certainly an appropriate movie to theme to a dinner party.

We kick off with Steak Tartare ($14) made on finely diced beef topped with cured egg yolk. The dish is presented with toast and a wet zaatar salad on kitsch blue-and-white farmhouse-style crockery; and is a good introduction to the Butcher and the Farmer.

Butcher and the Farmer is owned by the Seagrass Boutique Hospitality Group, whom you might know from their flagship brand, The Meat & Wine Co.; their mid-range outlet Hunter & Barrel; or from their entry-level Ribs and Burgers outlets.

This spot in the historic Tramsheds development, is all about celebrating good produce. This is evidenced in their Charcuterie Board ($35/2 people) that impresses with biltong, or air-dried beef, that’s aged for at least 64 days, and cut right before serving to ensure it stays nice and moist. We enjoy dissolving thin slices house-made pork belly on our tongues, contrasting them with cornichons also pickled in house.

If you take a wander through the space, you’ll see lots of pickling jars filled with brightly coloured produce, all preserved at the height of their season.

You'll also find jars lining the walls in their funky private dining room upstairs.

You’ll find the staircase just past the hanging pigs.

Yes, this restaurant is also a proper butcher shop where they’re buying in whole carcasses and breaking them down for the restaurant and for their butcher’s counter.

What impressed me was that the butcher stays open as long as the restaurant, so if you happen to fall in love with your Melanda Pork Cutlet ($29) – and you should – you can buy one to take home with you.

You'll also find the delicious apple jelly it's served with sitting on the counter too if you'd like to try to recreate this lovely dish. While most of the dishes I tried were certainly achievable in a home kitchen, the Butcher and the Farmer does have an impressive array of hardware - charcoal, flat top grill, flame grill, smoker, spit and oven - that might not be present in your average home kitchen.

With the weather getting colder, you could have a go at making their slow cooked Duck Leg ($28) made in a cast iron pot with Puy lentils, and a whole duck sausage. The house-made duck and orange sausage was so good, I looked for them in the counter as I left, but sadly they had all been sold.

Meals here are served family style, with bowls of well-handled Squash ($6) steamed with butter and parsley, and decent fat-cut Chips ($6) passed around to share.

You'll also find smooth Farmers Mash ($6) tarted up with fried shallots and fresh spring onion, and simple button Mushrooms ($6) cooked in thyme and butter. It’s nothing particularly remarkable – just simple cooking that allows good quality proteins to speak.

The Conductor’s moustache-twirling fake Belgian accent starts to wear thin by the time we hit dessert - a pretty standard Lemon Meringue Slice ($11). So I start dreaming up ways to alight the train and hit up Gelato Messina next door. Of course that’s no reflection on the dinner or the film, which has an all-star cast including Kenneth Branagh (who directs and acts in it), Penélope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench and Johnny Depp. It's more about my patience with long and convoluted murder mystery games over dinner - so if you like cheesy one-liners: “The killer is mocking me! Good! His first mistake!” and snowy vistas, my suggestion is to skip straight to the iTunes download.

As for the restaurant, you can eat the dishes I've described up until April 11 when they're updating the menu completely.

Butcher & The Farmer
Tramsheds Harold Park,
Shop 7, 1 Dalgal Way, Forest Lodge
Ph: (02) 8629 8800

Butcher and The Farmer Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Review - Thievery

Slotting into a building that looks like it should be condemned, and cleverly making a feature of it, Thievery has a renegade aesthetic. Climbing the rickety staircase up from the packed bar level, you’ll find a likeable room with Arabic graffiti along one wall and magenta light streaming through designer-bombed out holes in the ceiling.

This imagery cheekily summons the images of West Asia constantly bombarded onto our television screens. At the same time, the modern, pan-Arabic menu speaks to cultural borrowing and the porous nature of global cuisine.

Despite the full restaurant, things get underway very quickly. Friendly wait staff steer us away from hummus and into Baba Ganoush ($14). Here the creamy, smoky eggplant dip is dabbed with sheep’s milk yoghurt, dotted with pine nuts and drizzled with burnt butter, giving it smoky, nutty appeal on flatbread. Dining with a vegetarian, our meal is weighted towards cheese. I can’t profess to be unhappy about this, especially when our Warmed Mozzarella ($14) arrives, combined with spiced oil and fig jam on flaky bread.

It’s followed with a golden mound of Haloumi ($19) cheese, with the saltiness offset by a puddle of honey and macadamia dukkah.

Made in a strangely arranged bar where bartenders work with their backs to diners, standing in the passageway between front door and dining room, cocktails are thematic and fun. Marketing speak would add something about dissolving the barrier between drinkers and bartenders here, though I’m more inclined to say it’s about capitalising upon limited real estate. Fo-Fizzle Ma-Rizzle ($17) a Beefeater gin concoction with rhubarb, lemon, sour cherry and rhubarb bitters edges out Baby Got Baklava ($17) that treats Maker’s Mark bourbon with amaretto, lemon and pistachio. Both cocktails go well with the Lamb Kafta Pancake ($19), a simple but tasty affair with lamb wrapped in a crisp pancake, topped with fresh parsley, sumac onions and tarted up with lemon and sheep milk yoghurt.

For a small bar, the wine list is impressive enough to quash any desire for further exploration of the cocktail list. It’s full of interesting options, including some from my favourite mid-range producers, Ochota Barrels and Jamsheed. We start with the latter, in the 2016 Jamsheed Roussanne ($68), to accompany Roast Broccoli ($14), nicely charred and served with labne crème, burnt honey and za’atar.

With the unique Turmeric Baghrir ($18), a golden crumpet topped with confit leek and four mounds of crème fraiche and grape molasses, we moved onto the 2014 Wines for Joanie Chardonnay ($104). It’s a cracking Tamar Valley chardonnay offering up grapefruit, bread, and flinty characteristics. It's also a wine, as a keen chardonnay drinker, I’ve not seen on other Sydney wine lists.

Rounding out our mostly vegetarian meal with some well-disguised greens, the Sheesh Barak ($16) are Lebanese dumplings stuffed with braised silverbeet and yes – more cheese – in this case, it’s shanklish. The plating is pretty, with micro herbs and fried chickpeas, though this joint is definitely more about flavour than where it puts things on a plate.

While Toasted Rice Ice Cream ($13) got me intrigued into ordering dessert in the first place, the nigella seed and za’atar-crumbed ice cream was a bit sour and uninspiring.

The Failed Blackberry Cheesecake ($14) on the other hand was crazy-good, against burnt butter crumb, verjuice and grape molasses. This dessert was a feel-good ending in a setting where atmosphere is prioritised over good Instagram imagery. Well played, Thievery, for using terrible lighting to help keep the focus upon good times and simple, good tasting food.

91 Glebe Point Road, Glebe
Ph: (02) 8283 1329

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

Review - The Mews

With a convivial European feel, Myahgah Mews is a short pedestrian-only street with a number of cafes spilling out onto the pavement.

The Mews is one of these cafes, so named for the historic, low-set architecture that looks like it has been converted from stables.

It plays upon this theme with bottle green wooden wall detailing, exposed rafters and a lantern light. The small space is expanded through the clever use of mirrors, and lightened up with a silver, pressed tin ceiling sitting over one side.

However while the weather still allows for it, the place you want to be is sitting at their outside tables, watching the good burghers of Mosman walk on by.

Suitably ensconced, we’re tempted into smoothies by the café’s better-than-most smoothie selection. My dining companion’s Cool Bananas ($8) arrives dripping with honey, dusted in desiccated coconut and garnished with a lightly brûléed banana. It looks decadent and drinks well, with a good intensity of fresh, ripe banana. Before my eyes turn green with envy, my own smoothie Samba ($8) arrives, garnished with fresh lime, mint and coconut. While on the menu it sounds quite healthy, the blend of Brazilian cupuacu, caja fruit, acerola cherry, banana and coconut water, is equally easy to drink. The exotic fruits exist in harmony, with no one flavour dominating the gently fruity, sweet but tart drink.

Owner Daniel Kim and his team have gone above and beyond in creating a well-realised menu that is both interesting and exciting. Since their launch in May 2016 there have been regular menu updates, all designed to keep regular diners interested. The latest menu change has resulted in the Grilled Peche ($18). This mountainous salad is based around grilled yellow peaches. More than just a pile of wild baby rocket, woven in amongst the leaves you’ll find prosciutto, soft-boiled egg, and slices of soy linseed toast. It's made visually interesting by pistachio dukkah and an oozing chilli mango emulsion that’s more than just pretty – the chilli adds a nice spicy bite, and the mango heightens the salad’s summery fruit experience.

Karaage Chicken ($18) is a good blend of East-meets-West with moist, fried chicken breast pieces served with a cold mashed potato salad and a healthy shredded iceberg lettuce ‘slaw. This winner of a chicken dinner is tied together with a good savoury gravy, giving you a better version of everything you could get at KFC, just without the awful feeling that follows after actually eating there.

While it isn’t new to the menu, your go-to dish at The Mews is definitely the Braised Pork Shakshuka ($18). Loaded with pulled pork, this is definitely the best version of this North African-inspired poached egg in tomato dish I’ve tried. Set on the top from being under the grill, it’s moist without being sloppy underneath, with nicely runny egg yolks, perfectly cooked chick peas, red capsicum, tomato, feta cheese and a crunchy pistachio dukkah topping.

It’s served in a skillet with roti on the side, but I was happy eating this tasty concoction straight from my fork. I would return to The Mews just to consume this dish.

The Mews
Shop 4, 3-5 Myahgah Road, Mosman
Ph: (02) 9969 8973

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


How many people can honestly say they’re living their dream?” Jonathon Lupica’s enthusiasm for gelato is palpable. He opened Little Red Wolf Artisan Gelato & Desserts in Glebe just four months ago, though his passion for gelato started long before that. While Jonathon has worked for ice cream businesses like Ben & Jerry’s, he attributes his interest in gelato to childhood visits to a family friend’s gelato store in Newtown.

Little Red Wolf has slotted into an existing gelato spot formerly occupied by Grand Gelato on busy Glebe Point Road. “I fell in love with the shop frontage before I even looked at the business,” Jonathon explains.

While the big curved bay windows aren’t original, the site does have historical significance as the site of the former Glebe Hotel, an 1864 Victorian era hotel located right in the retail strip.

Moving into an existing gelateria certainly has some advantages. The gelato-making equipment came as part of the sale, though Jonathon explains he’s quickly outgrown his churner! He’s making a sixty-litre batch of his base while we’re talking – something he does four times a week. The blend of rich Jersey milk, sugar and cream smells like memory – it reminds me of the old-fashioned custards my grandmother made.


From there it goes into the freezer in buckets for a period before it is ready to be churned into 4.5L flavours one at a time in his small churning machine. You can view this process through the same window he uses to watch the little store, which has suddenly become flooded with high school students.

With a waiting bus, Jonathon makes short work of dispensing their icy treats as they choose from the colourful display inside his curved glass counter. He's using a gelato spatula, rather than the simpler to use ice cream scoop, because he likes the theatre of shaping gelato into cup or cone. Jonathon is helped along by a contactless Square card reader that allows for super fast payments, though a waiting teacher injects some anxiety into the eagerly waiting hoard.

About a third of the display space is given over to sorbet that will likely reduce as we bid fond farewell to Sydney’s warmer weather. The rest of the freezer real estate is taken up with an eclectic mix of gelato flavours, running from Italian classics like Zuppa Inglese (Italians bagging out the English for their trifle) to crowd pleasers like salted caramel and Nutella.

Some flavours like the sugar-free Stevia-based blueberry sorbet and the Gaytime-inspired Love Is Love, speak specifically to the interests of the area. The store already has a strong vegan following, so vegans will always find flavours to enjoy.

Other flavours like Dutch Speculaas, tell you more about the store owner - this one is based upon his favourite spiced biscuit. You’ll also find Jonathon putting his own stamp on the pistachio, which is laced with rosewater, a nod to his childhood influences growing up in Western Sydney.

After tasting my way through the counter – Jonathon is a very patient man – I settle upon You’ll Never Go Back in a Lone Wolf ($5). I take my single scoop of this black, coconut and activated charcoal gelato in a cup. This flavour is made from coconut water, cocoa, and coconut milk powder that gives it a toasted coconut flavour I wasn’t expecting, something like eating a Coconut Rough. It's rich and milky, leaving you with the sense of having drunk a glass of whole milk. There’s good palate length to the gelato without it overstaying its welcome, or leaving your mouth furry. This roughly shapen cup of gelato keeps my spoon returning until I’ve finished the whole serve.

I want to show people you can expand and grow a business without compromising quality,” adds Jonathon. He’s certainly made a solid start towards that mission here in Glebe.

Little Red Wolf Artisan Gelato & Desserts
Shop 2, 37 Glebe Point Road, Glebe
Ph: (0421) 809 186

Little Red Wolf Artisan Gelato and Desserts Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Event - Planar Restaurant

It’s not every day you see Gladys Berejiklian launch a restaurant.

Clad in red, the ribbon-cutting NSW Premier caused a ripple of excitement through the tightly packed attendees, many of whom were Armenian-Australians. Fellow politicians, the Hon. Natalie Ward MLC and Councillor Sarkis Yedelian, joined Berejiklian at the event.

The restaurant in question - Planar - carves out a space under the new International Conference Centre. It’s the latest outlet for Gary Simonian from Platinum Restaurant Group.

Simonian already owns a significant amount of restaurant real estate in Darling Harbour, with Harbour Kitchen & Bar, Blackbird, Casa, and Meat District Co. taking up prime positions on both sides of Cockle Bay.

The architecture of the restaurant works in well with the soaring concrete flyovers, framing the view of Darling Harbour in a uniquely angular way.


Cutting into our enjoyment of the space over-zealous International Conference Centre security made a militarized zone between the bar and outdoor seating (a mere metre and a half away) targeting anyone holding an alcoholic drink.

One can only hope their enthusiasm is curbed during Planar’s usual operation, as the space – despite serving up breakfast, lunch and dinner - definitely looks like it should be a dugout bar. The beverage list is extensive, and I’m told cocktail making classes are on the way.

Like Simonian's other Cockle Bay restaurants, the menu at Planar is wide-ranging, designed to please a wide variety of eaters. Across the course of the evening we were introduced a good portion of the dishes, starting with Crispy Squid ($16) with soft polenta, pesto, cherry tomato and fried shallots.

Ingredient quality was high across cubes of grilled wagyu and medium rare beef mince that was presented as patties with yoghurt sauce and pita bread in a dish called Acropolis ($16).

Effortless dough twirling in the open pizza kitchen captivated the attention of guests, including myself.

The culinary highlight of evening was the miniature versions of their Red Lobster Pizza ($28).

Even with sparingly applied toppings of fresh lobster, cherry tomatoes, chives, Italian cheese, and roasted garlic butter, these thin-crust mini pizzas really impressed.

After a quick fire in the gas pizza oven, they were dressed with fresh lemon zest and drizzled with aioli right before our eyes.

I look forward to heading back to Planar to give the menu a proper going over next time I'm in the neighbourhood for a show.

Planar Restaurant
Tenancy C08, International Convention Centre
1A Harbour Street, Sydney
Ph: (02) 9212 6789

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