Monday, August 24, 2015

Bennelong Restaurant - Circular Quay

As soon as we heard that Peter Gilmore was starting a new restaurant, my friend had it booked in. My friend is a huge fan of Quay (particularly their desserts) and could not wait to dine in this new restaurant. My hubby, on the other hand, had some reservation. He didn't like the 'fusion' element of Quay. Likewise, my last experience at this venue (when it was the previous restaurant Guillaume), left my wanting more. Lucky for both of us, Peter Gilmore's new Mod Australian restaurant (focusing tons on the flavour of local produce) exceeded both of our expectations!

Being inside the iconic structure, it was a dining experience with wonderful views (and for this sunny afternoon - plenty of young kids plastering their faces to the window). The staff were friendly and nice, and patient enough with our indecisiveness - which is lucky cos I think we all wanted to order everything on the menu. The freshly baked bread, warm, crunchy crusted and with super soft innards helped with our decisions... maybe?

Opting for the 3 course menu, we managed to all order a different entree. Our friend's beef tartare was a hidden gem under a pile of puffed grains, mushrooms, sesame, and seaweed. Like it should be, the egg yolk was placed on top perfectly. The smoked Blackmore Wagyu was mixed with a fermented chilli paste. Getting a sense that this is packed full of flavour?

Our other friend opted for a safe and surely to be amazing entree of scallops. Three delicately and perfectly seared massive sea scallops accompanied with spring vegetables, a creme fraiche emulsion, lemon jam, herbs and flowers - all for a really neat and clean feel to the dish.
My went for an entree of slow cooked quail. This was a soft and succulent square of quail meat hidden under cultured and fermented grains, a brioche cream, really tasty mushrooms and jerusalem artichoke. Lots of crunch. Loads of mushies. It made for a good flavour combo.

Although all three entrees were delish, hubby's entree was the winner - a really big, super nicely grilled Lady Elliot Island bug. Loads of sweetness, perfectly cooked bug. It came with nice little organic turnip cylinders, radishes and flavoured with XO sauce. YUM~
On to the mains - hubby and one friend ordered the duck. Two substantial pieces of Holmbrae duck sat amongst raw and pickled hispi cabbage, black miso, freekah and seaweed. It was good. There was flavour. But hubby thought it was ordinary, especially when compared with his entree.
My other friend and I both ordered fish. He got the King George Whiting - a super tasty little fish in and of itself. It was served with three, again perfectly cooked, scallops, leeks, native parsley, celery heart and ice-plant (a flower). He liked it.
I might be biased, but I think that my fish blew his fish out of the water! I got served a whole John Dory (minus the head) on the bone, with orach, turnips, and umami butter. The seasoning on the fish was perfecto. So tasty! And the fish was cooked just right. Fresh and really tasty. And so much of it! You even get a nice little theatrical hand towel (you know how we used to have those t-shirts which went from being tiny to normal size when you put it in water? it was the same with this hand towelette) to wipe your hands on after you finish demolishing the fish.
Oh - and you get these super tasty potatoes and a plate of fresh lettuce with the mains.
Now we were onto a much anticipated event for the meal - the dessert. We ordered the same desserts around the table. The Opera-house-looking pavlova and the creme caramel v mille-feuille. Yes the pavlova that looks like an Opera House was inventive in it's looks - but flavour wise? It's a pavlova with really nice tasting cream and meringue. It had nothing, NOTHING on the creme caramel mille feuille. Such a playfully plated dessert which was packed full of caramelly flavour. Not overly sweet, and with tons of textures and temperatures all mixed in. I can't describe it - you just have to taste one for yourself. It was absolutely DELICIOUS I wanted to lick my plate~
Coffee and petit fours were last. Coffee was good (which is saying a lot for restaurant coffee), and the petit fours were these cute little caramel-filled cookies.
So all up, it was a great meal. Really tasty. Playful but with a lot of heart and emphasis on flavour. Hats are on it's way I think. I would definitely recommend this place and would definitely try my best to return :)

Food - 9.5/10
Service - 8/10
Ambiance - 8/10
Value for money - 7.5/10
Overall - 33/40

Bennelong Restaurant
Sydney Opera House
Bennelong Point
Sydney NSW 2000
Tel: (02) 9240 8000

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Kitchen By Mike - Rosebery

I know that Kitchen By Mike has a big following. But for some reason, I'd never been a fan. Like  I know that the produce is fresh and made relatively well, but for that price, I think that you can get the same or better elsewhere. However, it does have a large seating area, making it convenient for our group of 10+ to all fit.

So at Kitchen by Mike, their menu goes from breakfast to lunch at 12pm. You line up like a good little school child waiting at the cafeteria and you make your selection. Salads are $5+ and meats are around the $15+ range. Everything you put on your plate adds to the amount you pay at the end of the line.

For this meal, hubby made all the selections. We got a roast chicken and a pork belly, with a cabagge and apple slaw, roasted root vegetable and bread. Came to around $25pp. Really not that cheap for self-service, no presentation style food. The chicken was OK, maybe just a tid bit dry for my liking. The pork belly (was quite a small serve) had good crackling but a ton of fat. If you weren't into eating mouthfuls of fat, there would have been very little of this slab that you could have eaten. The slaw was good. Fresh. Good amount of dressing. And the root vegetable was also decent. Highlight for me was probably the bread and butter. The bread was super soft and delish. The butter was also well churned - creamy and tasty.
Kitchen by Mike is right next to Black Star - so of course that is the obvious dessert choice. I was heaps disappointed that the only cake that seemed to be widely available was the watermelon cake. And if you were buying a big slab like we were, it was the only cake you could purchase. Yeh yeh I know it's big and popular and all that. But I'm not a huge fan and even if it was their best seller, I would want a bigger variety and more choice.
Food - 6.5/10
Service - 6/10
Ambiance - 7/10
Value for money - 5/10
Overall - 24.5/40

Kitchen by Mike
1/85 Dunning Ave
Rosebery, NSW 2018
Tel: (02) 9045 0910

Sunday, August 9, 2015

West Juliett - Marrickville

Working full-time in a place far far away from any shops or cafes, I never cease to be amazed by the shear number of people who manage to just chill out at cafes and restaurants during working hours. On this particular morning, we just managed to get ourselves a table at West Juliett, only deciding to come here after seeing a pretty amazing-looking salted choc chip cookie.

Coffee here was decent. And the food served all seemed pretty average. Hubby ordered a bacon and egg roll and I had a haloumi and egg roll. They really did look pretty similar. The bun was a good proportion of crispy and soft. Mine had a ton of chilli mayo on it which gave it a bit more zing. I wish there was a bit more haloumi, but it all went nicely with the spinach and egg. Hubby's bacon and egg got no complaints either.
Bacon & Egg Roll
Haloumi and egg roll
So that's all good and all that but really the main event came from their house baked goodies cabinet - the pink salt choc chip cookie. This was definitely pricey but definitely very tasty. Crunchy outer ring with a chewy center. Good amount of choc chips. Good sweet to salty ratio. Yum. I have to say though, I have since proceeded to bake choc chip cookies at home and sprinkled pink salt on them - just as tasty!
All up, a pleasant experience. Probably made more pleasant as it was a day off work. Not a bad cafe to stop by for a breaky or brunch.

Food - 7/10
Service - 7/10
Ambiance - 7/10
Value for money - 7/10
Overall - 28/40

West Juliett
33 Llewellyn Street
NSW 2204
Tel: (02) 9519 0101