Saturday, 15 February 2014

The Apollo - 44 Macleay Street, Potts Point

Ahh Valentines Day, the day to show your loved one how much you love them and shower them with gifts so everyone else can see how much they are loved.  Yeah right.  This day is an excuse to go out for dinner, stuff the roses!  I just wanted to go to a nice restaurant and eat a nice meal with my husband.  So I took the liberty to book a restaurant (yes how romantic "I" booked it) I have been meaning to go to since it opened a few years ago as, Greek cuisine would  remind us of our honeymoon.

The Apollo is a restaurant that serves Greek food in Australia in a modern way, put simply.  Using ingredients that are in season in Oz but go well with Greek staples like octopus and lamb.

To start off with we had the grilled octopus with cucumber, oregano and some thin potato chips, $26.  The octopus had a great charred flavour and the cucumber soaked up all the juices, very tasty.  We said we could have had a plate each. 


Next up we had the rabbit salad with charred radicchio and manouri cheese, $33.  This was a yummy salad, lots of rabbit meat.  I was trying to come up with an adjective that differentiated it from chicken.  I couldn't really.  It's just very similar to chicken.  The dressing added the saltiness along with the shaved cheese, a bit creamy which balanced out the sight bitterness of the raddichio.


Then we had the fried okra with mint and vinegar, $12.  I only ever had okra once Egyptian style in more of a stew so I decided to give it a go as a side to the main.  Okra is kind of like a seedy, less meaty zucchini I guess.  The vinegar and mint went really with it.


And the pièce de resistance!  The oven baked lamb shoulder with lemon and greek yoghurt, $38.  Oh my how I love this dish, anywhere in the world!  The generous piece of  meat was cooked perfectly with the crispy bits on top and the melt in mouth fat under the skin.  With a squeeze of lemon and the yummy thick yoghurt peppered with cucumber each mouthful was insanely delicious. 


I highly recommend you try The Apollo.  Great service and food.  Lots more I could try on the menu.  Thank you to the waiter who chased us up the street to give my husbands bag back when we left without it!

 
The Apollo on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Wooden Whisk - Shop 8, 38-46 Albany Street, St Leonards

To find a café where you can book I think is quite rare.  So when Wooden Whisk took my booking for a Saturday brunch I was well surprised especially for 5 adults and 2 kids.  This is definitely a kid friendly café as they have a play corner with toys, which is hard to come by in Sydney. 
 
It's a cute cafe, with coffee bean scales as the main tables centre piece, cool herringbone wall tiles and bench style seating around the walls of this café which is under a big office building. It was pretty busy despite the eerie weekend CBD feel in this part of St Leonards.
 
The menu has great choices from "Organic maple crunch granola"  to "Croque Monseur" to good old "Eggs Benedict".  Swift service and coffee wasn't too bad either, which to you coffee aficionados out there, they use Single Origin Roasters blend.
 
Ok so this is what we all had.  Consensus was that the meals were good but not memorable despite the good sized servings.  It takes a bit to make a memorable breakfast.  For example I had the "Sautéed field mushrooms with garlic, truffle butter, marinated fetta, smoked pork, poached egg and toast."  Sounds amazing right?  Totally my type of dish - truffle butter and pork!  But alas it was lacking that punch.  Not enough truffle butter  to tie it all together perhaps?   Only a slight shortcoming but it was overall pretty good for only $15.90!
 
Wooden Whisk is a must try if you live on the North Shore.

 
My mushroom dish, $15.90




 
Corned beef and potato hash, fried egg, sautéed spinach,  oven roasted tomato, hollandaise. $14.90
 


 Fried eggs with grilled tomato and bacon on sourdough toast. $13.90
 



 

Wooden Whisk Breakfast - two free range eggs, bacon, sausage, sautéed mushrooms, tomato, black pudding, Spanish style beans, toasted sourdough, $16.90


Eggs Benedict with ham, $15.

 
 Brioche French toast with fresh banana, strawberry, mascarpone and maple syrup, $14.50.


  

Wooden Whisk on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 5 January 2014

House of Crabs - Level 1, 305 Cleveland Street, Surry Hills

First of all, Happy New Year!  I have been slack lately and have not posted as much as I would have liked.  Anyway I hope you still like reading my reviews and will continue to do so in 2014.  There is still a mighty long list of new places I want to try and write about.  So please stay tuned.

Ok so finally I went here just before Christmas and after all the fun pics that I had seen on social media I was really hoping it was going to be a good night of good food! And. . . it didn't disappoint! As soon as you walk upstairs from the Norfolk pub you are transported to an interior filled with fishing paraphernalia. Nets hanging down from the ceiling with buckets, shells and specials written on blackboards. Quirky and fun. Lots of groups. Being a super hot night though it was quite warm up there!
 
There were 7 of us so it meant we could taste all the four different sauces: Cajun, Mexican, Oriental and Lemon Pepper and a variety of the tasty shellfish on offer. Of course we had to have the King Crab x2, the most meatiest, followed by the Snow Crab x2 and the Queensland prawns x1 topped off with the special of yabbies x1. But as we were a hungry bunch we also ordered starters of Crab, black bean and chorizo balls, fried chicken, lobster fries x3 and the Southern Romaine salad for a bit of green factor. And dessert for a few of us.  All of it including beers was only $45 or thereabouts per person.  Pretty good I say for all that fresh seafood.
 
The weighed out portions of crab come in clear bags filled with the tasty sauces and the delicious shellfish. Bibs are a must as it is a messy ordeal. Shell goes everywhere. The scissors are genius! So easy to cut the soft shell of those long legs and pry it open with your plastic glove covered fingers to get to that juicy sweet crab meat out and into your mouth. Mmmmmmm. I must say the Cajun sauce was my fave. Lemon pepper at the bottom. Anyway here are the pics of our seafood feast.


 
 Romaine salad, my only gripe of the night, was it was a bit exxy for what it was at $16.

 
Fried chicken times four big pieces.  Crunchy and tasty especially the mayo. $18.
 

 
The Lobster fries were amazing for $12.  Very American.
 
 
The crab chorizo and blackbean balls were a tad salty.  But were well received. $15


The yabbies (Didn't get the price of this special)  were not very meaty but the prawns ($25)  were huge! 


The King Crab!  So good!  $45 per bag of 500grams of crab heaven.


 
I was too full for the dessert but here is the Waffle Sandwich, good for $12.  It was huge.  I had a bite and it was good.  Not much to add as I'm not a dessert fan.
 
I totally recommend this joint. If not once, then twice.  I'm planning my next trip back already!
 
House of Crabs on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Pintxos Perfection - San Sebastian, Spain

For those who haven't been to the beautiful, best in-city beach destination of Europe, you have to go! It's got my two loves side by side.  Golden sand and turquoise water along with an array of yummy food to boot!  San Sebastian is split into the new and old town.   The old town is where you want to be near as this is where you wander around the streets eating pintxos and drinking at all the different pintxos bars.  So the difference between pinxtos and tapas is that pintxos is pierced with a toothpick and the others are tapa.  Tapas from my understanding is a more general term for small plates of various dishes.  Pintxos is more popular in the Basque country.

There are plenty of different pintxos bars to wander into and after 4 days we definitely knew which ones were our faves and went back to for a pintxos or two.  Here is a pictorial list of all good ones we went to.  Some we just ate 1 or 2 pintxos and then left as it didn't have an atmosphere that made you want to stay.  Most of them were the ye oldy ones with not much variety of dishes so they didn't make it to this post.

Ok, so this was the first one we went to as it looked modern and interesting and funnily enough plonked ourselves next to a table of Aussie guys!!!

Beti Tai Berria - Address below
Pintox Variety: 7/10
Vibe: 6/10
Modern
Positives: Had my first Kalimoxo (pronounced kali mutcho)! A recent icon of Basque culture.  Equal parts Coke and red wine.  My fave drink along with another traditionally Basque drink, you'll see later on.
 

Baztan, Calle Puerto 8, Donostia-San Sebastian, Spain. 9/10
Pintxos Variety: 8/10
Vibe: 8/10
Traditional/Modern
Positives: Was the first pintxos bar that sold meat pintxos!  The deep fried pork and chicken wings were delicious!  The staff were the friendliest and we ordered our own bottle of Txkaoli  (cha coli) which is a slightly sparkling, very dry white wine with high acidity and low alcohol content.  Since we got back we have been searching far and wide for this drink, but no one imports this.  There are similar ones but damn just not the same.  We wish we brought some back with us.

 




Bar Zeruko, Calle Pescaderia 10, Donostia-San Sebastian, Spain
Pintxos Variety: 10/10
Vibe: 8/10
Modern
Positives:  It is great to see someone push the boundaries of pintxos.  This was one that I had found online before this trip and had it on my list to visit.  They have won awards for their innovation.  Naturally you order what everyone seems to be ordering.  So I ordered this amazing dish of smoked cod with a biscuit covered with sweet jam and cheese followed by a chaser of cucumber juice!  The smoke filled the bar and as each new group of people came in they asked the very switched on people behind the bar  what that smoky tapa  was and ordered this dish.  That's what I did! 

The guy that served us all night was amazing.  Each time you grabbed some pintxos from the bar you showed him and he would take back any that needed to be heated up and then serve to your table when it was done.  He kept tabs on everything.  Again we had kalimoxto, quite a few and stayed there for quite a few hours, people watching and eating amazing food.


Amazing sea urchin roe was so deliciously salty and creamy.  This was one that was at the bar but had to be heated up.  They disappeared quickly.  Hot tapas of tender beef with roasted capsicum sauce ordered from the menu.  Beautifully tender.




This dessert below was another one of their signature dishes.  It was a flavour bomb, literally!  The yolk like bulb was filled with a strong peachy, orangey liquid that was super intense.  I quickly spooned in the cream to balance it out and then ate the sponge with it.  The two little things on the side were a sticky date thing and the centre of a flower which was super peppery and again strong with a lingering numbing feeling in you mouth, kind of like Chinese Szechuan peppers.  The guy told me to specifically eat it at the end.  I wish I didn't have it as it took all the sweetness away.  But it was certainly a taste sensation.  And glad I tried it.  An American lady walked by and said she was watching my expressions as I ate it as she said she did the same thing and commented on how the flower bud tasted. 
 
This is a must stop by in San Sebastian.
 


Tamboril, Pescadería, 2 - Donostia
Pintxos Variety: 7/10
Vibe: 6/10 more for old local men
Traditional
Positives: Cheap.  This little tapas bar was standing room only and specialised in mushrooms and stuffed peppers. We also found out that the pintxos from the menu were mostly deep fried.  The pintxos on offer ranged from the traditional omelette to a few strange ones like a fish roe one, see below in the middle bottom row.  The veins made it a big gruesome but it actually tasted nice and fresh with finely sliced onion and a kind of vinegary dressing.
 
 


La Cepa, Address below:
Pintxos Variety: 9/10
Vibe: 8/10
Traditional
Positives: Lots of space to stand at bar or sit down.  Restaurant area at the back.  A la carte, and lots of large and small plates made to order.  This is where we tasted different grades of Iberico ham!  OMG, melt in the mouth meat!  I never really felt like dessert but had dessert here and chose the the chocolate mousse.  It was to die for, I can still taste it now as it wasn't super sweet just rich in cocoa flavour and super creamy!






Bartolo, Calle San Bartolome / San Bartolome Kalea, 15
Pintxos Variety: 7/10
Vibe:7/10
Traditional
Positives: Friendly staff who were happy to explain what each pintxos on the bar was.
Negatives:  Filled with young tourists as tourist groups walk by and the guide stops outside this one.  We witnessed and heard the spiel.

 


 

La Mejilonera, Puerto, 15 - Donostia
Pintxos: 9/10 - the quality of mussels were so fresh, plump and juicy.
Vibe:7/10
Traditional: Standing space only
Positives:  Fast and tasty.  They pretty much only serve up mussels and seafood.  You can pick from about 6 types of toppings for the mussels.  I'm trying to remember what they were.  Top one was served cold.  The creamy looking one was warm white sauce with a bit of chilli sauce.  This was my fave.   They also put this sauce on top of patatas bravas. The green sauce, have no idea what the flavour was.  Bottom left, we had a plate of plain ones then the red sauce was tomato and capsicum sauce.  Washed down with another Kalimotxo, it was a perfect pit stop before we arrived at the next bar!

 

 
 
A Fuego Negro, Calle 31 de Agosto
Pintxos: 7/10
Vibe:7/10
Modern
Positives: If you are after more modern Basque pintxos then go here.  It has a more touristy and cool vibe than the others and prices more expensive and small serves.  We only had 3 plates as the kitchen was closing for the afternoon before opening again later at night.  The rabbit was tasty but tiny, liked the playboy bunny touch.
 

 

I took so many food pics that it was very hard to cull and edit this San Sebastian post.  Please feel free to email me if you plan to go and need some more advice on anything food or about planning your itinerary.



 
 

Friday, 18 October 2013

Le Mestruet - Paris, 2nd Arrondissement

This was a great find online.  It was close enough to our hotel, but in the next arrondissement.  I love how everything is so accessible in Paris by walking, and even better if you're on a bike.  Le Mestruet is traditional Parisian bistro that is always busy, so we were lucky to get a reservation for a table a few hours before.   There were a lot of tourists but also heard  lots of Frenchie speaking peeps too.
 
We had a drink at the bar first.  The attentive and fun waiters made this a great and memorable last night in Paris for us.  Plus it was the night that we felt like we were going to burst with food and alcohol!  I think the huge desserts put us over the edge.  Lucky we had a 15 minute walk back to the hotel to walk it off a bit. 
 
 
 
 
Our very own bottle of olive oil to "leoube" our bread with.
 
 
Cold pea soup with peppermint and basil.  Had to give it a go and it was really refreshing a great way to line the stomach.  If I had a heavier entrée I really would've burst!
 
 
This was the potted rabbit.  We had to order a protein that was a bit out of the norm.  And I'm glad we got this.  The meat was soft and flavoursome.  Hubby didn't like the gherkin so I happily ate that with the rabbit and bread.  Deee - licious!
 
 
Chicken with wine and fig sauce and custard tart.  The custard tart was the thing that made me order this.  It was in fact an eggy quiche which was rich and creamy.  I could not finish this.  Don't worry, no wastage though as my human vacuum cleaner always finishes my leftovers :)


Hubby ordered one of "Grandmother's Favourites".  The traditional creamy veal stew with baby onions and pilaf rice.  Again this was so creamy and rich, the meat so soft.


Ok, so this is the "not for small appetites" dessert, it actually says that on the menu.  Traditional Paris Brest pastry with praline flavoured cream.  This was to die for.  Looking at this now I could eat two of them, but that night. . . O M G!  More richness!  I guess this was what we wanted the whole trip.  Rich, buttery French food and my goodness did we get it!


And I ordered the macaron of strawberries with cream and vervain liquer, which I think from a quick google search is a liquer produced in the Alps. . .  Anyway this was a big, damn fine macaron that had to be eaten with a knife and fork.  I think I was in a food coma when this came out, hence I just noticed that as a food blogger/stylist (haha) I should've turned the macaron around to the non cracked side first before snapping away.  Jokes aside, this was truly yum.  The macaron had the strawberry flavour in the pastry along with the intense strawberry filling.  The cream mellowed everything out into mouthfuls of heavenly sweetness. 



Thursday, 17 October 2013

Au Jardin - Paris, 9th Arrondissement

Just a quick show and tell as I must get a move on with my holiday food posts.  There is still so much I want to show you guys.
 
This is another neighbourhood restaurant in the cluster we kept on walking by.  It had snails on the menu so we went in.  It is pretty hard to find snails on menus must not be as popular as it used to be I think.  And we didn't see frogs legs anywhere.  I don't think it was the right season for them.
 
This is what we ate.  The food was simply presented, good quality and traditional French.  It was delicious and filling.  Service was good and had no problems with ordering.  A cute restaurant with mainly locals.


The snail entrée below in a yummy roast capsicum tomatoey sauce with a parmesan crisp.  The snails were already taken out of their shell.




The eggs baked French style were perfectly cooked and had the great mushroom flavour through it.




The dish doesn't look great but it was a tender piece of beef with a cocoa sauce, which was the reason I chose this main.  Never had that combo before and lucky it worked! 


Guinea-fowl main below.


Pretty full so we decided to share the cheese platter as we never usually order this, as it's kid of an old people thing don't you think?  Anyway what better city to try an array of yummy mature cheeses?  All of them were really strong, went well with the different wines we tried.







 



 

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