Category Archives: One Hat

LP’s Quality Meats, Chippendale

As many of you will know, we have a resident vegacaquarian in the Napoli household.  This has meant a largely vegetarian diet for the family, with seafood every now and again.   Regardless, the (Not So) Small People are die hard carnivores, and would happily demolish a steak every night of the week if it was presented to them.  So when their birthday rolls around, and a special family dinner out is called for, the request is always for a steak restaurant. “Would you like to try somewhere new or somewhere we’ve been before?” I ask, when the big day is approaching.  “Somewhere new” they say.  So here we are at LP’s which I’ve been keen to try since it opened in 2014. It’s consistently scored a hat in the Good Food Guide Awards.

There’s plenty of wood going on, between the communal tables, the tables, and the long bar, next to which a giant ham is being carved.  There’s a definite saloon vibe, and a cowboy hat or two would not go amiss. We are warmly welcomed and the staff all night are lovely.

I start with the chicken liver pate and it’s a winner. Great texture and flavour. I didn’t appreciate pate till I was an adult, and I encourage the Small People to try some. They don’t mind it. It’s served with some great big chunks of delicious sourdough rye.

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The Marito doesn’t miss out, he starts with an Applewood smoked ocean trout, served with crème fraiche and capers. We are both pleasantly surprised by the generosity of the serve, and it has a lovely delicate flavour.

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He also has an eggplant parmigiana with burrata. It’s not done traditionally but with crumbed slices of eggplant and stacked, which give it some nice texture. The burrata is gorgeous and creamy. The non meat specials change regularly; I notice a week later they have a crab with squid ink and spaghettini and would have loved to try it.

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The Small People start with the sausage of the day, a cotechino. It has a good amount of spice and is really tasty though very rich and good to share.

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Then comes out the 1kg t-bone steak. Beautifully cooked, they demolish it, though they do let me try a little bit.

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On the side we try the potato gratin. The potato is sliced in paper thin slivers, and it’s creamy and buttery and delicious. We also have a green bean and radish salad; when we comment that someone has been a bit too heavy handed with the salt, they replace it with no fuss at all, a very good sign.

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There is no capacity for dessert after that meat-fest; the Small People are happy and on their birthday that’s all that matters.

LP’s Quality Meats, 16/12 Chippen St, Chippendale Ph 02 8399 0929
http://www.lpsqualitymeats.com

LP's Quality Meats Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Firedoor, Surry Hills

You’re in a bit of trouble at Firedoor if you don’t like a hint (or a whack) of smokiness in your food. In the electricity-less kitchen, everything is cooked on fire, and the taste is distinct.   One of the hot openings of 2015, in the early days it was near impossible to score a table, and we’re glad we finally get to road test it and see if it is worthy of its one hat. Our friendly waitress gives us the menus and suggests an appropriate number of dishes to order between four – the menu is designed to share – and leaves us to ponder.

We start off with some bread. Big, thick slabs of bread with butter. Sprinkled on top of the butter is smoked salt – the smoke journey begins – and I love it. They should sell jars of that salt. The bread also comes in handy for mopping up some of the lovely sauces and juices that come with subsequent dishes.

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The first handful of dishes arrive quickly, almost too quickly, and the table gets crowded.

A simple dish of asparagus comes with a delicious accompaniment of mussel sauce

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It’s followed by one of the table favourites, these little school prawns, done with a nice hint of chilli and garlic shoots. Loved this dish and would gladly have it again

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The ricotta is pretty to look at and yes, the smoke is there, but I think I’d rather have my regular serve of Paesanella.

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We move onto the strawberry clams. It’s a pretty small serve for $48, and I also find them a little overcooked and chewy

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The squid with ink and macadamia doesn’t blow me away either, but the celery is refreshing

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We’re back on track with this whiting with some chargrilled zucchini. Beautifully cooked, juicy fish with delicate vegetables.

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So too does the Jurassic quail get a big tick, served with toasted spelt with caper raisin.

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We have to wait a very long time for the lamb, and the waitress is apologetic, but it turns out to be worth the wait. This photo is of a half eaten dish, oops.   Like the whiting, it is expertly cooked and a definite crowd pleaser.

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But the one thing about Firedoor is that you will get sticker shock, the bill does add up very quickly, especially when drinks come into the equation. Steer clear of the steak – the 500g wagyu rib comes in at $89 and the 500g dray aged rib at $139. Now given how well they cooked our other meat dishes, I’m sure that these would be nicely done, but the prices seem a little excessive, even though they are designed to share. The chef’s menu $85 banquet may be the best way to go.

Firedoor, 1a/23-33 Mary St, Surry Hills, Ph (02) 8204 0800
http://www.firedoor.com.au

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

ACME, Rushcutters Bay

When I heard there was a new restaurant called ACME, I thought that maybe the owner was a fan of  the Road Runner and Wile E Coyote cartoons I used to watch when I was little with its ACME brand explosives that never worked. But no, the name was born from the four initials of the four partners, with M being the head chef, Mitch Orr. I met him at the Young Gun’s dinner series, and he seems like quite a character, which is reflected in some of the left of centre food coming over the pass. Yes there is pasta made in beautiful Italian tradition – which has no doubt been a big contributor to the hat earned in the recent awards – but it may be paired with a little Filippino, Korean or Japanese flavours.

At first glance the pricing seems reasonable – snacks and entrees go from $5 to $24, and the pasta dishes from $12 to $24, but be warned the serves are small. If you’re hungry you may need entrée, main, dessert and then some, so it is not as good value as you would think, or may require the Macca’s pitstop on the way home. Service though, is top notch and the staff are warm and friendly. Out for a team dinner, we had a group banquet for $60 (not including dessert) in the lovely space downstairs which can be used for private dining, which meant we got to try quite a few dishes.

We start off with the baloney sandwich. It isn’t something I would have automatically ordered, and I’m very glad they chose it for us. A soft fluffy roll, delicious mortadella, and some tangy relishACME (1)

The pippis too are nicely done and not tampered with too much, a little bit of lime and pepper, lovelyACME (4)

The following two vegetable courses though leave me a little uninspired. Fried parsnip is just ok though the mayo has a bit of a kickACME (2)

The pencil leeks are chewy, but the seaweed butter is decadent, would have been nice to have some crusty bread to spread it onACME (3)

In between as a bit of a cleanser is a combination of blood orange, pomelo and mascarpone. Its not a combination that works for me.ACME (8)

But we get a comeback with the pasta dishes which shine. The wonderfully thin linguine and given flavour and texture with burnt chilli and black garlic, and it’s a table favourite.ACME (5)

So too is the maltagliati (that’s “badly cut” for the non Italians) with rabbit and pistachio, silky pasta and nicely braised rabbitACME (7)

The only pasta dish I’m ambivalent about is calamari with Korean Bolognese, it falls in the “interesting” category and I’m not quite sure if I like it.ACME (6)

But the macaroni with pigs head and egg yolk proves another winner.ACME (9)

ACME, 60 Bayswater Road, Rushcutters Bay, Ph (02) 8068 0932
http://weareacme.com.au/
ACME Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Felix Bistro and Bar, Sydney CBD

It was the birthday of our small fry, and their request for a meal out – some steak and pomme frites like they’d eaten in Paris.  Felix immediately sprung to mind.  I hadn’t been for at least a couple of years, and thought it would be good to return.  The décor is classic French bistro and the menu full of Gallic favourites.

I must comment on the service – it was really really impressive – great attention to detail, prompt, thoughtful – we felt so well looked after, compliments to the team on the floor that day.

The last time I went I regretted not ordering seafood – I saw plates of it being delivered to neighbouring tables and it looked great.  This time I would not miss out and started with half a dozen oysters. The oysters were fantastically fresh with a tangy red wine vinegar and shallot dressing.

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As it was a warm day I then opted for a salad – king crab, prawn, eggplant, quinoa  and pickled beetroot  – an unusual combination that worked, but I really would have liked some crisp baby cos to take it up another notch

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Perfectly cooked salmon with sauce soubise (an onion sauce), peas and broadbeans

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And the steak and pomme frites? I didn’t get to take a photo of it, it was devoured so quickly, but I did get a nibble and the steak had a fabulous flavour to it – not sure if it was cooked over some kind of wood?

We also tried the tarte tatin – its meant for two and is quite huge.  Oh, the pastry, the pastry!

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I’ve got my eye on the seafood platter for next time.

Felix Bistro and Bar, 2 Ash Street, Sydney, Ph (02) 9240 3000
Felix Bistro and Bar on Urbanspoon

Cho Cho San, Potts Point

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Cho Cho San – it’s hip, hot, and on the blossoming Potts Point food strip. The name comes from Puccini’s opera Madama Butterfly, the butterfly being CioCio-san. Like many operas it is a tragedy, but there is no tragedy to be found in this relatively new, neutrally coloured izakaya, started by the team behind Apollo. Already heaving when we arrive at 6.20pm on a Tuesday night – a Nursery Hour first sitting allows them to turn the tables – we hope we won’t be too rushed to get through all the dishes we want to try.

Having picked up a Hat in the 2015 Good Food Guide Awards, the hot-factor has been turned up another notch, and it’s not easy to get a table, and fortunately we’d booked several weeks before. As you enter you see a long communal table, circumferenced by smaller ones, but we, being a group of 6, are ushered to a great semi private annexe.

My photos aren’t the best, but I do think that has something to do with the Ginger Ninja and Nippy Rockshop I downed before the food (do check out the cocktails).  You might need my dictionary for some of the ingredients. We ordered a la carte, but there is also a $65 banquet menu.

We begin with the fried eggplant miso. First of all, its deep friend. Second its got miso. Third, there’s eggplant in there somewhere. What’s not to love?

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We then try a few dishes from the raw section, beginning with the hiramasa kingfish with daikon and soy. Simple and fresh.

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Next the hokkaido ccallops with the pureed corn and house-cured katsuboshi. Don’t know if it was the last ingredient, but this dish didn’t do it for me.

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Then what I thought was the star of the raws we tried, beef tataki with wild rice and ginger dressing.

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Onto the hot food – udon noodles with pork and chilli. These were $15 and I thought it was a pretty freekin’ awesome, you can sometimes pay that for not so great noodles in a food court. If they had a little food truck in the CBD that sold these takeaway…….just putting that out there.

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Our next hot dish was the king crab omelette with Japanese curry. It’s a mild curry, not spicy, and this also got a big tick.

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Soy glazed wagyu beef – tender and a balanced soy, with some green beans to make us feel like we were being good and eating our vegetables.

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The next two dishes were the lamb cutlets with chilli and Sancho, and prawns with kombu. I got overruled, did not want to order the lamb, but I did choose the prawns; both of these I thought classified as “get anywhere” sort of dishes – the lamb cutlets were just, well, lamb cutlets and prawns had a bit of seasoning but I didn’t think either of these had anything unique on the flavour stakes.

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For desert, we tried the Cho Cho Snow – shaved ice with custard and the ginger syrup – which has seemed to polarise people. Me, I was a fan of the flavour combination and the texture. The birthday girl I was with tried the Banana Soft Serve which she declared was better than a birthday cake (maybe ‘cause we didn’t buy her one, sorry).

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If there was one complaint, it was from the blokes, who said the beer-to-glass-ratio was out of whack. You don’t give someone a 650ml beer can and a small glass, apparently.

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So the clever team have done Greek, done Japanese, what’s next?

Cho Cho San, 73 Macleay Street, Potts Point, ph 02 9331 6601
http://www.chochosan.com.au

Cho Cho San on Urbanspoon

Toque Time (Sydney) – The SMH Good Food Guide 2015 Awards

2015awardsHot on the heels of the Melbourne Awards  last week comes the Sydney session.  The Good Food Guide turns 30 this year. It is quite extraordinary to think that 30 years ago, there was no such thing as “Modern Australian” food – instead it was called “Anglo Saxon” cuisine; and a meal at a three hatter would set you back $29.  Over the years the GFG has gotten bigger, more powerful (some would say that’s a bad thing), and the toques are always a cause for debate amongst restaurant goers like me….especially for places like Marque (sorry I had to throw that in, but really?) So who were the casualties of war in the last 12 months? Well Guillaume at Bennelong closed, refusing to become a more casual, 7 day a week, breakfast-lunch-dinner bistro as requested by the Opera House Trust, and re-opened his fine dinner just a few weeks ago in Paddington, merci beaucoup.  Claudes shut down, with Chui Lee Luk opting for the more casual Chow Bar & Eating House, serving modern Chinese.  Xanthi went into liquidation, succumbing to the Fine-Dining-In-A-Shopping-Centre-in-Australia-Doesn’t-Work curse; Buzo is now Pinbone, though they recently taunted diners with a pop up serving THAT lasagne and the cabbage salad (when will you open that whispered CBD site?), and Foveuax and Tomislav are no more.   That’s a total of nine hats. In all, 40 of the restaurants that were in the 2014 guide closed. As we hear all the time, it is a tough gig in the hospitality game.  Having said that, 80 new restaurants have appeared in the Guide this year.

Drumroll please…..and the winners are

Restaurant of the Year – Sepia

Best New Restaurant – Ester

Legend Award – Peter Doyle (Est)

Chef of the Year – Brent Savage (well deserved in my view, loving Bentley at the moment)

The Hatters – City

Three Hats

Momofuku Seiobo, Quay, Rockpool, Sepia

Two Hats

ARIA Restaurant, Bentley Restaurant & Bar (re-entry), Berowra Waters Inn (up a hat), The Bridge Room, est., Ester (new hatter), Gastro Park, Icebergs Dining Room & Bar, Lucio’s Italian Restaurant (up a hat), Marque, Mr. Wong, Ormeggio at the Spit, Pilu at Freshwater, Porteño (up a hat), Rockpool Bar & Grill, sixpenny (up a hat), Spice Temple, Tetsuya’s

One Hat

4Fourteen (up a hat), Aki’s Indian Restaurant, Alpha (new hatter), The Apollo, Arras, Bar H Dining (re-entry), The Bathers’ Pavilion, Billy Kwong, Bistro Moncur, Bistrode CBD, BLACK by Ezard (up a hat), The Boathouse on Blackwattle Bay, Bodega, Buon Ricordo (down a hat), Cafe Paci (new hatter), Cafe Sopra, Catalina, China Doll, Cho Cho San (new hatter), Clareville Kiosk, Cottage Point Inn (new hatter), the devonshire, Farmhouse (new hatter), Felix (new hatter), Fish Face (new hatter), Flying Fish Restaurant & Bar, Four in Hand Dining Room (down a hat), glass brasserie, Hartsyard, Jonah’s Restaurant, Kepos Street Kitchen, Longrain (down a hat), Lox Stock & Barrel (new hatter), Monopole, Moon Park (new hatter), MoVida (down a hat), Ms.G’s, Nomad (new hatter), Oscillate Wildly, Osteria Balla (new hatter), Osteria di Russo & Russo (new hatter), Otto Ristorante (re-entry), The Restaurant Pendolino, Saké Restaurant & Bar, Sean’s Panaroma, Sokyo, sushi e (new hatter), Three Blue Ducks, Uccello, Ume Restaurant, Vincent (new hatter), Vini (new hatter), Yellow (new hatter)

Lost hatsAnanas, Popolo, Gowings Bar & Grill

Regional Hats

Two Hats

Biota Dining (Bowral), Muse Restaurant (Pokolbin, up a hat), Subo (Newcastle West)

One Hat

Bistro Molines (Mount View), Caveau (Wollongong), Cupitt’s Kitchen (Ulla-dulla, new hatter), Darley’s Restaurant (Katoomba), Eschalot (Berrima), Fins Restaurant (Kingscliff), Harvest Cafe (Newrybar, new hatter), Lolli Redini (Orange), Manfredi at Bells (Killcare Heights), Muse Kitchen (Pokolbin, new hatter), Restaurant Como (Blaxland), Restaurant Mason (Newcastle), The Stunned Mullet (Port Macquarie), Tomah Gardens (Mt Tomah, new hatter), Tonic (Millthorpe), Town Restaurant & Cafe (Bangalow), Wharf Rd Restaurant & Bar (Nowra), Zanzibar Cafe (Merimbula)

Toque Time (Melbourne) – The Age Good Food Guide 2015 Awards

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And yes, here we are again at Award time. Restaurant “Award Season” is in full swing, with Gourmet Traveller releasing its 2015 Restaurant Awards last week, and The Australian coming out with its Hot 50 list.

 

Lest you think these awards don’t actually matter, this is what happened to Saint Crispin in the Melbourne suburb of Collingwood last year after it won New Restaurant of the Year:

‘Scott Pickett, the chef and co-owner,…….arrived at the restaurant on Tuesday (the day it’s closed) at noon to find 198 voicemails and 78 emails inquiring about bookings. ”By the time we got through them all at 3pm, we had another 138 messages to address,” he says. By Wednesday, Pickett had employed a second staff member ”to manage calls and bookings”. Other winners on the night also saw a peak in phone and email activity when they arrived for work on Tuesday’ (Good Food, 3 September 2013). 

Extraordinary, no?  But at the end of the day for everyone who lovesloveslovesloves restaurant x, there will be someone who can’t stand it, because that is what makes the world go round. One can’t help but wonder though, if The Age has struck a deal with Tourism Victoria – most of the new hats are to regional restaurants, which will see foodies (did I mention I hate that word?) around the country piling into their cars driving around the state and throwing around superlatives.

And the winners are…..

Restaurant of the Year – Brae, Birregurra (watch the population of this town go up in coming months. Does anyone actually know where it is?)

New Restaurant of the YearSupernormal (really?)

City

Three Hats
Attica, Flower Drum, Vue de Monde
Two Hats
Cafe Di Stasio, Cutler & Co, Ezard, Grossi Florentino, Matteo’s, MoVida, Rockpool Bar & Grill, Rosetta, Saint Crispin (up a hat), Spice Temple
One Hat
Bacash, Becco, Bistro Guillaume, Bistro Vue, Cecconi’s Flinders Lane, Centonove, Circa, Coda, Cumulus Inc, Da Noi, Dandelion, Donovans, Easy Tiger, Epocha, Estelle, The European, The Grand, Hare & Grace, Huxtable, Il Bacaro, Kenzan, Longrain, Maha, Merricote, Moon Under Water, MoVida Aqui, No. 8 by John Lawson (new hatter), Noir (new hatter), 
Pei Modern, The Point Albert Park, The Press Club, Pure South, Sarti, Shoya (new hatter), Stokehouse City, Supernormal (new hatter), Tempura Hajime, Tonka, Town Hall Hotel, The Town Mouse (new hatter), Union Dining (new hatter), 
Woodland House (new hatter), Yu-u
Regional

Three Hats
Brae (new hatter)
Two Hats
Gladioli (up a hat), Jim McDougall in Stefano’s Cellar, Lake House, Provenance, Royal Mail Hotel, 
Ten Minutes by Tractor
One Hat
A La Grecque, Annie Smithers Bistrot (new hatter), The Argus Dining Room (new hatter), Chris’s Beacon Point, Du Fermier (new hatter), Eleonore’s, Healesville Hotel, Kazuki’s, Montalto, Paringa Estate, Port Phillip Estate (new hatter), Simone’s Restaurant, Tani Eat & Drink (new hatter), Terminus at Flinders Hotel, Terrace Restaurant, Tulip (new hatter)
Lost Hats
Albert St Food & Win, Bella Vedere, Brooks, Grossi Florentino Grill, Nellsons