Saturday, March 31, 2012

Sailor's Thai, The Rocks

Very very ordinary meal at Sailor's Thai last night.  Peter Bowyer passed away last April, and he is sadly missed. 
On arrival the entry area smelt like urine.  It's old and tired and needs to be redone. 
We were shown to a very ordinary table downstairs, but then offered a table on the balcony, which was lovely as it was a beautiful Sydney night.

It supposedly has One Hat - Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide, but I suspect that was then.

We started with Pork Crackling & Quail Eggs with Green Chilli and Tomato Relish.  It was lovely - the crackling like paper.   Then the Duck Salad - which was for me the standout dish of the night.  The Stir Fried Tajima Wagyu Beef with Onions, Oyster Sauce & Thai Basil was very good.    The Stir Fried Mushrooms with Spring Onions were also good.  The Deep Fried Berkshire Pork Hock with Garlic, Peppercorn & Chilli Sauce was fatty and almost inedible, and the Chicken in Banana Leaf just revolting.

I am being harsh, but we have been coming to this restaurant for years, and to the original Darley Street, and it's just not as good as it once was.  Shame, as it is such a short walk from our apartment.


Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Cut Bar and Grill, The Rocks

The Cut also deserves a mention.  We've had dinner here twice since we moved (two weeks).    Again, it's just a walk from our apartment.  It's owned by John Szangolies who owns Sake, The Argyle and also the Bavarian Bier Cafe and Lowenbrau Keller.  The interior designers of  
The Cut (with a silent 'n') and also The Argyle and Sake are Luchetti Krelle - Stuart Krelle and Rachel Luchetti.  Love their work.
It's like a New York Bar, underground and dark with fabulous leather chairs and great lighting.  How they managed to get around the Heritage obligations beats me, but they have done an amazing job without damaging the historic elements.
The Executive Chef/Head Chef is James Privett (Bennelong, Bistro Moncur and Light Brigade).
Both times we've had one of their steaks - grilled over Beechwood & Charcoal then finished under a 650o broiler.  The first visit I had the Riverine 150 day, Grain fed New York Sirloin.  My son ordered the Sher F1 Wagyu 400 day, Grain Fed (marble score 7) Scotch Fillet and it was amazing and certainly beat my Riverine Sirloin.  So that's what I ordered on the second visit.  It was very good indeed.  On the first occasion I ordered Medium Rare to Rare, but it was more Medium to Medium Rare.  The second time I ordered Rare to Medium Rare and got Medium Rare.  I don't think they believe a lady, as the men's Medium Rare were rarer than mine!
That's not actually my steak above - completely forgot to take any pix!

The most amazing dish kept rolling by - 4 Hour Slow Roast Sher F1 Wagyu Standing Rib served from the Wagyu Beef Trolley.  I think I will have to try this.
Their side of Steamed Green Peas, Onion & Mint is to die for (I do love peas), as were their Shoestring Fries with Horseradish Aioli.  Their Mixed Leaf Salad with Herbs & Lemon Vinaigrette was also very good.

Make sure you visit the loos - love the door handles.
I have to mark them down because of the pushy girl at the door.  She sat four of us - in a near empty restaurant - by the bar and when we asked if we could move, said all the other tables were booked.  We asked our waiter, who managed to convince her to change her mind, which meant waiting at the bar for half a hour.  It was worth it.  Nothing worse than trying to have a conversation at your table with noisy people standing right beside you at the bar!


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Rockpool at The Rocks - last night

To celebrate selling and finally packing up the family home of 20 years and the office of 12 years and moving to a new apartment in The Rocks, we decided to reward ourselves with a lovely meal and of course, a very Dirty Martini.  So we walked to the ShangriLa Hotel (literally 200 yards), headed for the 32nd Floor, sat right at the window's edge and sipped an excellent Belvedere Vodka Dirty Martini.    The view from there is amazing, and of course we could see our apartment right beside the bridge.  It's the 'V' shaped building, and our apartment is the top floor one on the far right with the huge round balcony. If you look carefully you can even see our outdoor furniture and the blue glass table top!
We then walked to Rockpool.  And what a fascinating walk through little laneways and shortcuts. Loving The Rocks.
Arrived at the restaurant with no booking at 6.30 pm on a Wednesday, then escorted to a lovely table with the proviso that we leave by 8.30 pm.  No problem.  This restaurant just celebrated 23 years - pretty amazing.  And amazing that we have been coming here since it opened!  Owned by Neil Perry, the Head Chef is Phil Wood, and he is doing a great job with his Chinese influenced menu.  The food has been likened to 'Chinese Fine Dining'.  I'm not a great fan of fine dining, but this is not as annoyingly 'up itself' as others.
We were immediately offered water, then our wine order taken (Reschke Bos 2004), then a superb loaf of home made Spelt and Honey Bread with home made Butter, conveniently cut into quarters and served warm.  Too tempting.
There was a choice of a First Course, Second Course, Main Course, Dessert  ($100 pp for two, $135 pp for three, $155 pp for four), so having been advised that the serves were not too big, decided on the first, second and main.

We were then given the complimentary Canape - Queensland Spanner Crab, Toast, Tabasco Mayonnaise, Peach Leaf Jelly.  Served in a shot glass, it was amazing.  The Toast was a crisp wafer half way through.  Bit too much of the creamy Tabasco Mayonnaise at the bottom though.

For my first course I chose the Chirashi Zushi of Tuna, Kingfish, Bonito, Prawn and Squid.  Very different, but fresh and light.
After much thought, Hal ordered the Blue Swimmer Crab and Corn Congee, Almond Tofu, Star Anise Scented Peanuts, Fried Bread and Chilli Oil.  The Congee part worried him and nearly stopped him from ordering the dish, but it was a really lovely surprise and the stand out dish of the night for him.
We had a lovely waiter with a small speech impediment, so I somehow ended up with two Main course dishes.  I guess it was because we were finding it difficult to make a decision.   Fine with me.  And also a nice surprise.  I ended up with the Quail filled with Eight Treasures, Risotto, Quail Tea Egg and Daikon Remoulade.  The risotto was rich, the Quail amazing, the remoulade lovely.
Hal ordered the Tiger Prawn on Toast, Pickled Carrots, Bok Choy and Tomato Bread Sauce.  He loved it.
I then had the Chinese Roast Pigeon, Smoked Eggplant, Black Mushroom and Cucumber Pickle,  Black Bean Sauce.  The Pigeon was almost lost on the black plate, but it was crisp and tasty  and the Eggplant really smokey.
Hal ordered the Whiting Grilled over Rushes, Squid, Iceberg Lettuce, Pearl Balls and Red Date Infusion.  It looked amazing, and tasted amazing too.  We couldn't figure out what the slices of 'black' were - they were Korean Black Garlic slow cooked for hours.
The mains came with a small complimentary salad, with the best dressing ever.
 This food is why you come to a restaurant.  You just wouldn't cook like this at home!

We, well Hal, had to have the Date Tart - which is the original since 1984.  And I believe we had it in 1984.  It was to die for.  The dates were so fresh, and the texture of the tart just unbelievable.  Just forgot to take a photo of the finished dish, but found this photo of it being prepared on the web!
 We both ended up having a sticky wine - me a Hunter Valley Botrytis and Hal a more fortified one.  They gave me a choice of two and insisted Hal have a small glass of the one I rejected!  As we didn't want coffee, our waiter presented us with a box of Petit Fours to take home.  Very sweet.  He also cheekily suggested we should take his photo.
Lovely meal.  Not cheap, so not somewhere you would come to terribly often. But the food was amazing, the service excellent and the fine dining not stuck up at all.


Sake Restaurant, The Rocks

Have been to Sake three times in the last couple of weeks, and never seem to get around to giving it a mention.   This would have to be my favourite restaurant at the moment.  And with our new apartment, it's literally a five minute walk away!  Shame it's a bit difficult to get into.
Amazing dining room, extraordinary food, great sake - what more could you want.  We have to stop ourselves from going back all the time in case we get sick of it!
Serving very contemporary Japanese cuisine, Executive Chef Shaun Presland (was at Ivy Teppanyaki)
 and his Head Chef Adam Lane (David Thompson's Nahm and Nobu in London) are to be applauded.  They have been awarded a Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide Chef's Hat each year since they opened in 2009.

My favourite dishes of all are:

Kingfish Japaneno - Hiramasa Kingfish, Yuzu Soy, Thin Jalapeno Slices & Coriander.
Steamed Prawn Dumplings - Chinese inspired Shumai with Spicy Ponzu.   Amazingly delicious.  In fact we ordered a second serve!
Butterfish Lettuce Cups - Grilled Miso Marinated Butterfish in Lettuce Cups.
Popcorn Shrimp - Prawn Tempura Pieces Tossed with Creamy Spicy Sauce.  Sounds rich, but the dash of lime makes it so light.
White-Soy Snapper - Thin slices of Sashimi Snapper Topped with Sesame Seeds, Chives, Yuzu Juice & White Soy Dressing.
Also recommend Tonkatsu Cups - Panko Fried Pork Belly & Spring Onion Bites, served in Lettuce Cups with Mustard Miso & Japanese Barbeque Sauce.

But basically you can't go wrong with anything on the menu.

Just make sure you don't book the 'sunken tables' - extremely difficult to get into and out of, particularly if you are wearing something short!
Obviously that didn't dampen our appetite, because the dessert tasting selection was completely over the top, but fabulous.  And finished off with an Expresso Martini - as you do!
Can't recommend this restaurant highly enough.  Excellent service, excellent food, excellent surroundings and buzz.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Friday Lunch at Neild Avenue

 Been wanting to try this restaurant for ages, so spur of the moment and in the area, decided to give it a go.  Very busy even for a late lunch, so we were offered a seat at the bar.  Fine with us, keep our eye on the busy bar staff.   I must admit that after a short time it was a bit uncomfortable balancing on these wobbly backless stools. But I  do like the decor - especially for such a huge warehouse space (200 seats) that used to be a tyre factory.
We've been to one of Maurice's Terzini's restaurants three weeks in a row, something we told him when he approached us.  He was literally speeding!  His Head Chef, Robert Marchetti and he are definitely on a roll.
Really don't like the  Kirrily Johnson's uniforms at all.  Very daggy.  And Maurice looks likes he's slept in his.

I can't say I'm a fan of Mediterranean food, but - knowing these guys...!

The service was very efficient.  We were offered water, wine and given the most delicious barbequed flat bread I have ever tasted. 
We then shared the Cauliflower Fritters with Chilli, Parsley, Garlic on Cumin and Yoghurt Sauce.  Really light and lovely flavours - bit like popcorn Cauliflower.   Forgot to get a photo of this dish though.

I had to try a Kebab from the Coal Spit.  The barbeque smell was amazing, and the flash of fire from the kitchen was irresistible.  These are described as "all hand-minced kebabs, served with Afghan flat bread, Cracked Wheat and Bell Pepper Paste, Grilled Green Chilli, Sumac Onion Salad and Hung Yoghurt".   So I ordered the Minced Veal, Lamb, Chilli Spices Kebab.  Very nice - not too much.
Hal couldn't resist the Half Free Range Crispy Duck, Aylesbury Cross Pekin Dutton Park, Young, NSW, marinated in Roasted All Spice, Cinnamon, Star Anise.
It was delicious - tender and juicy with a very crisp skin. I'm just not a big fan of Star Anise, and it really stood out for me.  But Hal just loved the dish.
We had to have the Fries, of course.  But they were a little disappointing - overfried -  and lost their heat too quickly.
We also ordered the Any Village Salad, Pearl Onions, Sun Dried Olives, Tomato, Cucumber, Fennel, Green Peppers, Barrel-aged Feta, Dried Oregano and Fresh Dill.  But someone forgot the Pearl Onions, which was the main reason I ordered this.  And the Feta was pretty full on.
Nice lunch.  Don't think I would rush back.