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  1. Assiette – autumn/winter a la carte

    May 22, 2012 belinda / @bbbelt

    Having recently tried Assiette’s degustation I was keen to go back to sample their a la carte. Timed well – or as I like to think of it, fate telling us it was meant to be – it just so happened that the second visit to Assiette took place shortly after the restaurant had switched over to their autumn/winter menu. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the strawberry and raspberry salad with mini doughnuts was absent from the new menu. Fingers crossed this will return come spring/summer!

    If it’s one thing I’ll give this place kudos for it’s their consistency – the food and service maintain the same level of quality. K might even be a little obsessed, openly admitting to have been to Assiette a handful of times over the past year (and I thought I was being greedy)!

    Fried duck egg
    Fried duck egg with crispy pigs’ ears, cured duck breast and Szechuan consommé.

    Kombu
    Kombu cured Hiramasa kingfish with oyster beignets, black sesame and dashi jelly. DERRICIOUS! I think next time I visit Assiette I might just order four of these.

    Terrine
    Macleay Valley rabbit terrine with chicken liver parfait, pickled carrots and grapes. For a terrine, this is pretty light and refreshing. I find that terrines/pates/liver parfaits/other variations are a little too heavy on the palette for my liking.

    Pyengana
    An impromptu dish – Pyengana on toasted brioche with Jerusalem artichoke puree, mushrooms, asparagus and Pedro ximenez. I have similar sentiments to this and the Kombu cured Hiarmasa kingfish. Could totes go through a Costco bulk pack version of this dish.

    Wagyu
    Rangers’ Valley Wagyu bavette with beef cheek, kohlrabi, broccolini and shiitake caramel.

    Mulloway
    Panfried mulloway fillet with octopus, chorizo, cous cous and saffron mayonaise.

    Chicken prawns
    Assiette of holmbrae free-range chicken with sweet corn and roasted king prawns.

    Granita
    Pre-dessert: passionfruit granita.

    Brulee
    Banana crème brûlée with chocolate crumble and peanut praline ice cream.

    CrumblePear and ginger crumble – refreshing! But between the five of us we felt mad heffas for ordering two desserts.

    Assiette
    48 Albion Street
    Surry Hills NSW 2010
    Ph: 02 9212 7979
    Web: www.restaurantassiette.com.au

    Opening hours
    Lunch: Thursday and Friday, 12pm-3pm
    Dinner: Wednesday to Sunday, from 6pm


  2. Jed’s Cafe

    April 23, 2012 belinda / @bbbelt

    A friend of mine recently opened up a cafe in the south-east part of city, Redfern. Aptly named, Jared named his new found love, Jed’s Cafe.

    Fittingly enough, the courtyard area – with its timber communal tables, flora and fauna – is a little reminiscent of what I imagine a cubbyhouse / playground for grown ups would look like. I say ‘fittingly’ because we’re all still big kids.

    I have yet to try most of what’s available on the menu. In the meantime, here’s a snippet of what Jed’s Cafe has to offer.

    Bushes

    Hanging in the bushes on the day of the grand opening.

    Pumpkin soup

    Tasting platter from the grand opening – the teaser sized pumpkin soup served in shot glasses. Looking forward to trying an oversized bowl of these bad boys on my next visit!

    Mini burgers

    Mini beef and vegie burgers from the grand opening.

    Tiramisu

    Tiramisu with mini custard tarts and brownies from the grand opening.

    Big breakky

    Stopped by Jed’s Cafe a couple of weeks prior to the grand opening and ordered the vegetarian big breakfast with a side of bacon. Don’t judge me, I like my bacon strips.

    Jed’s Cafe
    55 George Street
    Redfern NSW 2016

    Opening hours
    Monday-Friday: 6.30am-3pm
    Saturday: 9.30am-3pm


  3. Assiette

    April 16, 2012 belinda / @bbbelt

    Being somewhat well-acquainted with the sous chef at Assiette, some of my friends and I had made it a priority to get a taste of what this restaurant had to offer. Plans had been pushed ahead of time a little further given that head chef, Soren Lascelles, was to part ways in mid-April for his new gig in Saigon.

    Leading up to this point I had only heard very positive things about Assiette. Some of the general feedback was along the lines of:

    - The food is really good and/or
    - ZOMFG I was so stuffed / there was so much food / I couldn’t finish my food
    - Must try the strawberry and raspberry salad with mini doughnuts dessert

    At $105 a pop, you are presented with an elaborate, eight course degustation. Each dish looks just as amazing on the plate as it feels like on your palate and not surprisingly, I stumbled out of Assiette with my waistlines bursting at the seams. I hate to say it but we skipped the last savoury dish before pre-dessert (only because said waistlines wouldn’t allow it / skipping the bread and butter early in the evening falls in the ‘too hard’ basket).

    There’s also the $175 per person matching wines option. In which case, unless you’re a trooper with a bottomless pit, you are far less likely to finish all courses given all the grog you would have consumed towards the end of the evening.

    An a la carte menu is also available, with both a la carte and degustation menus designed around seasonal produce.

    Menu

    We got a little overzealous as soon as scampi was spotted on the menu.

    Oysters

    Seasonal oysters with Vietnamese dressing and baby coriander.

    Scampi

    Sashimi of scampi with Yuzu vinaigrette – it’s a shame there seems to be a shortage on scampi across the Sydney dining scene.

    Quail egg

    Kataifi quail egg with mushrooms, duck consommé and crispy pigs ears.

    Seared tuna with oyster beignet, black sesame and dashi jelly.

    Tuna sashimi with tempura oyster, dashi jelly and black sesame.

    Seared mackerel with avruga, cucumber, cauliflower puree and dill emulsion.

    Seared mackerel with avruga, cucumber, cauliflower puree and dill emulsion.

    Hapuka fillet

    Hapuka fillet with crab and watercress risotto, razor clam and mussel remoulade – compliments of the head chef. Hard to choose but I think this was my highlight of the night!

    Quail and fois gras

    Ballotine of quail and foie gras with croustillant of confit leg, prosciutto, parsnip, walnuts and date puree.

    Denver leg

    Assiette of riverina lamb with Jerusalem artichoke puree, pearl barley and green olives. Although at this point I was starting to struggle trying to polish off my plate (again, not by choice). I don’t carry the appetite of a 16 year old anymore. Don’t worry, I still love lamp (lamb).

    Pre-dessert

    Pre-dessert: lychee jelly, pineapple and coconut. The pre-dessert tasted what I imagine a light, fluffy cloud – with lychee, pineapple and coconut – would taste like.

    Strawberry salad

    Strawberry and raspberry salad with yoghurt sorbet, vanilla doughnut and mint emulsion. So delicious! It didn’t feel kosher leaving this dish unfinished.

    Banana creme brulee

    The banana crème brûlée with chocolate crumble and peanut praline ice cream – compliments of sous chef, Tony Andrews. Still carrying very little success in finishing this off, even between three diners. Maybe we’re not as greedy as we thought we were.

    Assiette
    48 Albion Street
    Surry Hills NSW 2010
    Ph: 02 9212 7979
    Web: www.restaurantassiette.com.au

    Opening hours
    Lunch: Thursday and Friday, 12pm-3pm
    Dinner: Wednesday to Sunday, from 6pm


  4. Orto Trading Co.

    March 21, 2012 belinda / @bbbelt

    Sadface.jpeg.

    That was my reaction when the waiter passed on the unfortunate news. News that the kitchen at Orto had run out of the crispy pigs ear chips doused in chilli salt.

    Okay, so it’s more of a first world problem than a natural disaster. That said, the shortage of fried piggy ears does offer more of a reason to come back.

    Maybe I didn’t set the bar very high to begin with but I was genuinely surprised at how tasty all the dishes were. Let’s just say they kinda blew my mind more than I had expected. I’ve been sick on and off for quite some time and consequently, my appetite wasn’t being its usual vivacious self. Each part of every dish was made to perfection and I’m sure I would have demolished everything presented before my eyes if it wasn’t for said tarnished appetite.

    sangria

    Rose sangria with pretty – albeit feminine – table ornaments. I remember spending a fair bit of time trying to pick out the pickled grapes, lychees and berries from the bottom of the jug.

    witlof

    Smoked prawn and crispy pork cheek witlof bites. So little but derricious! Call me greedy but we would have liked to see more pork on our forks.

    lamb

    MMM I LOVE LAMP! Twice cooked lamb rump with a summer vegetable ragout. This dish looked and tasted equally wholesome.

    Pork hock

    Crispy pork hock tossed in spicy salt with a red cabbage slaw and chunky mango chutney. Served as a main ‘for two’, the three of us at the dinner table chowed down, nodded and agreed that this little fella would have easily satiated 3-4 diners. That is, assuming there’s entrees and drinks going around too. NB: I blame all the excitement for the blurriness and I refuse to use flash unless I’m in a dungeon with absolutely no light sources.

    Green beans

    Creamy green beans with tossed and toasted almond slivers. Not quite sure what’s in the creamy sauce but it made clean, green vegies taste naughty. Kinda like the equivalent of good girls gone bad.

    This rendezvous was only a couple of weeks ago but I’m already looking forward to my next visit back to Orto.

    Orto Trading Co.
    38 Waterloo Street
    Surry Hills NSW 2010
    Ph: 0431 212 453
    Web: www.ortotradingco.com.au

    Opening hours
    Breakfast and lunch: Tuesday to Sunday 8am-3pm
    Dinner: Tuesday to Saturday from 6pm


  5. Felix Bistro

    March 5, 2012 belinda / @bbbelt

    Instead of working on my PDR, I decide to pour a few nips of Yamazaki I had unknowingly neglected and write. Poor little guy – he started to collect a little dust propped along the kitchen bench with your standard salt and pepper shakers, the olive oils and miscellaneous dried herbs and spices.

    I’ve paid a fair few visits to Felix Bistro as of late and strangely enough, Yamazaki was included on the menu. I can’t say I’ve often stumbled upon Japanese grog at a Francois rest-au-rant!

    There’s something quaint about walking into this French bistro. Maybe the appeal has something to do with the tasty food; maybe it’s the striking resemblance to Balthazar which brings back memories of sweltering mid-July evenings in NYC (there’s no fancy mac and cheese here I’m afraid).

    The wonderful thing about Felix is that once you’ve been seated, it kinda feels like you’ve been removed from Sydney, which is nice even if is temporary. It’s easy to fool yourself into thinking you really are sitting in France (not that I’ve been). Even the waiters have the thick, difficult to understand French accents. Damn these taxies!

    Bread and booze

    Bread and booze – Johnnie Walker Black label and some sort of white Sauvignon blanc variety (memory is vague as this was from a while ago).

    Oysters

    Half a dozen fresh oysters with vinaigrette. How clever are those lemon net things? Have the juice without the pips.

    tartare

    Steak tartare: so much meat with a heartbeat! Looks can be deceiving – I found the main sized serving to be a little overwhelming. It’s nice to know there’s an option to order the entree sized version.

    spatchcock

    Spatchcock with iceberg and lemon. This dish is meant to be a specialty at Felix. The flesh was juicy and tender but regrettably, this dish tasted a lot like… well, chicken and iceberg lettuce.

    Felix Bistro
    2 Ash Street
    Sydney NSW 2000
    Ph: 02 9240 3000
    Web: merivale.com.au/felix

    Opening hours:
    Open lunch
    Monday to Friday 12:00pm–3:00pm

    Open dinner
    Monday to Saturday 5:30pm–10:30pm


  6. Tetsuya’s

    March 4, 2012 belinda / @bbbelt

    Oysters pair

    Tetsuya’s had been sitting dormant on the bucket list for quite some time, largely due to monies (or lack thereof). This isn’t exactly peasant food and with this in mind, it was certainly worthwhile saving for a special occasion for two December babies (S and I). And yes, I realise I’m about three months late in posting this update.

    The experience lived up to the hype – for me anyway. Each dish was derricious (delicious), the service was impeccable, the sommelier had a thick French accent… it’s all the important stuff that makes the experience what it is. That said, it wasn’t until a while after I discovered that upon request, Tetsuya Wakuda will make an appearance for guests at the dining table. Ah well – better luck next time!

    Truffle butter

    One of the most memorable parts of the meal was the complimentary truffle butter and baskets of fresh bread. Not exactly paleo friendly but how could you refuse warm sourdough bread and generous spoonfuls of truffle butter?

    Cold pea soup

    I’ve never been an avid fan of cold soups but this chilled pea soup with mint icecream was tasty enough to crave seconds (I tried my best not to scoff it down in a mouthful). It was an odd yet pleasing combination of sweet and savoury – something not a lot of people seem to nail down very well.

    oysters doz

    I’d have to say the truffle butter and the Pacific oysters served with rice vinegar and ginger are equally amazing and equally famous. One of my mates admitted her tear ducts switched on after trying these oysters (can’t say they had the same dramatic effect on me).

    ocean trout

    The infamous confit of petuna ocean trout – tasted pretty good, even if the diners did joke at the dinner table about how this dish tasted like ocean trout with a Migoreng rub.

    spanner crab

    Steamed Queensland spanner crab with bean curd, foie gras and junsai (a perennial water grass). To be honest, I only wanted to post this picture cos the centrepiece resembles Hello Kitty.

    dessert

    The meal ended with a decadent chocolate pave with cream cheese icecream and cinnamon twigs, chocolate fondant with hazelnut and praline – candlelit and all for the birthday girls. It’s all the finer details that make it count.

    Tetsuya’s
    529 Kent Street, Sydney NSW 2000
    Ph: 02 9267 2900 (bookings are essential)
    Web: www.tetsuyas.com

    Opening hours:
    Tuesday-Friday 6pm til late
    Saturday lunch from midday and dinner from 6.30pm til late


  7. Holy habanero!

    September 12, 2011 belinda / @bbbelt

    Suddenly chefs have been elevated to what seems like a celebrity status. New funky restaurants are popping up faster than you can say, ‘Can I has cheezbu… ?’ and turning what is traditionally cheap and nasty street stalls snacks into fancy, upmarket bar food (think American and Mexican eateries, i.e. gourmet burgers and hot dogs).

    The food phenomena continues to take fatties and soon-to-be-fatties by storm. Gourmet Traveller recently published its list of top 100 restaurants while Terry Durack and his team also recently released the latest Good Food Guide edition. The mounting interest in food and my bucket list continues to grow – whether it be great, different, fancy or cheap and dirty – is expanding as much as my waistline. Rockpool’s wagyu beef burger is still somewhere at the top as is degustation!

    This blog has been a little dead as of late but only because my time has been consumed – pardon the pun – by meating after meating (i.e. meeting and eating).

    Treehouse pork cutlet

    The Tree House pork cutlet. Ohh, crackle!

    Treehouse gnocchi

    The Tree House gnocchi with prawns and burnt sage butter. I’m to head there again mid-week this week and I’m a little worried I’ll be ordering this again!

    Pekish ravioli

    Pumpkin and somethingorother ravioli from Peckish, North Sydney.

    Peckish goulash

    A hearty winter warmer – lamb shanks with mash and vegies from Peckish, North Sydney. The flesh just fell off the bone!

    I recently went loco with El Loco, having been there as much as up to four times in one week. I can say with confidence that everything on the menu won’t disappoint. I recently signed up as a Club Loco member – looking forward to trying out the members’ spethals!

    El Loco salad

    The El Loco salad is surprisingly good with what seems like an odd mix of salad ingredients which include chilli spiced tofu, shaved fennel and radish, cabbage, coriander, spring onions, avocado, queso fresca (cheese), tortilla chips and the infamous El Loco dressing (tasty mayonnaise).

    Quassadilla

    $5 prawn quasadilla special from El Loco. The corn salsa… if only I had a bucketful on the side.

    Hot dog

    The flamin’ amazing Excelsior hot dog. I couldn’t help but turn this little beauty into a Christmas hot dog with the habanero sauces.

    Antipasto

    Antipasto platter from Ragu Pasta and Wine Bar on the top floor food court of Pitt Street Westfield. This went nicely with a bottle of Sangiovese like a marriage made in (Italian) heaven.

    Jager schnitzel

    Jager schnitzel from Essen’s in Broadway (formerly Una’s). I’m sad to say thi but bigger isn’t always better, both the mushroom sauce and the schnitzel itself were underseasoned.

    Chicken

    Food from Commodore Hotel – free range chicken wrapped in prosciutto served with potatoes, cherry tomatoes in a white wine cream sauce. It tasted like a homemade roast meal!

    Fritters

    Chickpea fritters with pork belly shish kebab, labne, baby spinach, roasted tomato, poached egg and capsicum sauce from Kazhbah, Darling Harbour. I got greedy and ordered grilled haloumi and potato hash on the side.

    Lamb tagine

    This is what has become Kazbah’s trademark/signature dish. The breakfast lamb mince tagine with what felt like an endless list of ingredients – i.e. sucuk (a spicy Turkish sausage), spinach, roast capsicum, roast tomato, caramelised onion, feta and eggs – thrown in the hot plate served with Turkish toast and Lebanese bread.

    Smoked salmon

    Feta potato cake served with smoked salmon, creme fraiche and red wine onion marmalade from Kazbah, Darling Harbour.

    Rolls on Oxford

    The newest kid on the block – Rolls on Oxford serves freshly made rice paper rolls, Vietnamese pork rolls and more. It’s about time someone opened up a pork roll shop along Oxford Street!

    The pork rolls are traditional with the exception of having more French-style baguettes and a little leaner, so you’re not left feeling greasey like you would with the standard Marrickville/Bankstown/Cabramatta type of pork rolls, making these bad boys good for your belly and your butt.


  8. One year ahead

    July 14, 2011 belinda / @bbbelt

    It’s been exactly a year since I left for the land of stars and stripes. The sub 15 degree weather isn’t helping my hunger for the food or the shopping in NYC. All I want to do is scoff down one of many bowls of Momofuku’s ramen, a handful of hot dogs from Gray’s Papaya or maybe an overly greasy 5 Napkin burger. If it weren’t for this foul virus that seems to be plaguing most of Sydney I might also want a Shake Shack shake too.

    Who says I can’t have it all? My wallet says so.

    Thankfully there’s been a surge in American diner-type eateries in town so I’ll settle for any alternatives that don’t call for the 22 hour flight (for now).

    Salsa fries

    The Dip’s salsa fries – tasty, but not enough to satiate the greedy appetite.

    Lev's Dawg

    Food always taste better when it’s half priced, thanks to the Dip’s happy hour hot dogs on Thursday nights.

    Cookies n cream

    The Dip cookies n cream – salted caramel icecream between two chocolate molasses cookies with hot chocolate fudge. Don’t be alarmed, the caramel icecream wasn’t as savoury as I expected it to be.

    Bagel

    This isn’t quite NYC either, apparently bagels with more than just cream cheese as a filling isn’t as widespread in the US as it is in Australia. A poppyseed bagel with smoked salmon, cream cheese, Spanish onion and capers tastes even better when it’s free and on a Monday. Thanks, Cafe Phoenix, you put me off to a great start to the week!

    Gumshara

    Apparently Gumshara has the best ramen in town. The soup was thick and lush but perhaps a little too dense for my liking. I’m still eagerly awaiting Momofuku’s local store to open in Star City in the next couple of months so I can start gouging at their pork buns.

    NOC

    This isn’t exactly NYC style but a pretty solid hearty meal. The New Orleans Cafe Jambalaya – a Creole spiced dish with ripened tomatoes, seasoned chicken and Cajun smoked sausage – a real winter warmer. Will have to try this with the novelty corn bread next time.

    Gumbo

    New Orleans Cafe Bourbon Street Gumbo. The menu describes this dish as ‘the heart and soul of N’Awlins!’ From the stockpot, the Gumbo is a grilled chicken and chorizo Cajun-style stew served with steamed rice.


  9. Pork belly. Get in ma belly.

    June 6, 2011 belinda / @bbbelt

    I can’t explain why but it feels so satisfying to have comfort food in shitty cold, wet weather. Lately my taste buds have been obsessing over pork belly and I’ve been a little overly enthusiastic with the kimchi.

    I went asian grocery shopping only to realise when I got home that the kimchi ‘expires’ (on June 12). Mind you I picked up this 2kg baby in the last week of May.

    I didn’t think rotting cabbage could ever go off and if it did, I imagined it would take more than a few months for it to be dangerous to consume.

    I’m told to keep on eating the kimchi until my stomach doesn’t feel so good anymore.

    Spindle

    A spindle of pork belly to be thrown on a charcoal barbeque plate at Madang.

    Hot pot soup

    Szechuan hot pot at Sancheng on Sussex Street, Chinatown.

    Lamb and beef

    I was under the impression that Szechuan hot pot usually has pork belly on the menu. Unfortunately Szechuan/country Chinese type of restaurants only offer the choice between fatty lamb slices or fatty beef as well as the dozens of fishballs and vegetables.

    Live kbbq

    Live Korean barbeque garden buffet. Don’t mind the tissue in the background.

    Eggplant

    Live Korean barbeque garden buffet. Surprisingly not bad for a $21 per person buffet.

    fried rice

    So it had been a while since I used the rice cooker. I got a little carried away one Sunday afternoon and made enough kimchi fried rice for lunch and dinner for a good week or so. To share the guilt, I brought this 2L tub into work, saved some of my workmates from spending money on lunch and stank up the office with fermented cabbage. Huzzah.

    Soup

    Lush kimchi soup with soft tofu and fatty slices of pork belly. Usually kimchi soup is never this rich, not when you dine out anyway. Though I’ll admit I get a little greedy when I make this dish at home.


  10. More cheese and wine.

    May 22, 2011 belinda / @bbbelt

    Not sure how but three girls and one very lucky guy ended up on a day trip to the Hunter Valley.

    Ring o Fire

    I’d say I can tolerate my chilli pretty well, but as the name suggests, this chilli chutney/jam really does leave a stinging ring of fire (and watery eyes).

    Oils

    A selection of different blends of olive oils and vinegars for taste testing from the Smelly Cheese Factory.

    Barramundi

    Cuvee from Peterson’s Champagne House – whole fish of the day (barramundi?) with crunchy hand cut potatoes and house made tartare sauce.

    Kangaroo

    Seared kangaroo loin with a kumara rosti, watercress and house made tomato relish, also from Cuvee.

    Chicken

    Cuvee chicken supreme on wild rice, fresh sweet corn and chicken jus.

    Chocolates

    Cute shaped chocolates from one of the chocolate factorys around the Hunter Valley.

    Antipasto

    This isn’t from the Hunter Valley. This is just antipasto in my courtyard with dips, cheese and cured hams from the local Coles. Nothing gourmet, though I’m sure I could have fooled you.

    Pork belly

    Spindle of pork belly (Korean barbeque) at – you guessed it – Madang.

    Corn fritters

    Corn fritters with bacon, homemade pesto and spinach.

    Tan Viet 1

    The signature crispy chicken with dry egg noodle dish from Tan Viet Noodle House, Cabramatta. I rarely travel to south west Sydney but when I do, it’s almost certain I’ll either want pho or the pork rolls. I came to grips with the fact that I won’t get my hands on either that day so I’d have to settle for something else at this noodle house. Ironically, Tan Viet has a selection of rice and noodle dishes, all except for pho.

    Tan Viet 2

    The crispy chicken part of Tan Viet’s crispy chicken with dry egg noodle dish. Greedy me thought it’d be a great idea to snack on Red Lea chips earlier in the day and consequently I couldn’t finish the crispy chicken or the dry egg noodle. Who would’ve thunk it!

    EDK

    The Reuben style sandwich with fries from Eat Deli Kitchen, Pitt Street Westfield. The new food courts from the refurbished Pitt Street Westfield has without a doubt won me over. Who needs to travel 20 odd hours for NYC-style samboes when you’ve got Eat Deli Kitchen?

    Snag stand

    Part of the new refurbished food courts also includes a fancy hot dog eatery called Snag Stand. Not schmancy, just a little bit fancy.

    Here’s the toulouse hot dog (gourmet pork hot dog with rosemary mushrooms and truffle aoili) and a Spicy Spanish chorizo hot dog with semidried tomatoes, goats cheese and chipotle aioli.

    I’m coming back for more, everything available on Snag Stand’s menu looked like a winner.