Category Archives: Sydney – North Shore

Foogoo, Lane Cove

(August 2018) Lane Cove food is on the up.  There’s been a spate of new openings in the last twelve months, prompting even the likes of Terry Durack to venture to this side of the bridge.  Foogoo, a modern Chinese diner, is among them and we’re here to exchange some post Europe travel stories with some friends.  A rustic style clock with French text gives away the venue’s previous incarnation, and it’s simply but pleasantly decked out.

And as we marvel with our friends over the fact that we bumped into each other in the Vatican, where some 25,000 people set foot each day, we enjoy some very tasty Chinese.  The ingredients are very obviously fresh, the quality good, and the service quite pleasant.  And we love that it is BYO. Pricing was very reasonable, though the serves are on the smaller side and we could have ordered a couple more dishes for our bottomless pit Small People, but even then it’s a good value meal and you can eat here for $30 a head or less.

The crispy soft shell crab is exactly that and not at all oily as it often is at many restaurants.  The chilli and lemon salt give it a lovely flavour.

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And we were very happy with our soupy xialongbao.  There are plenty of dumplings on the menu if you’re in the mood for pure yum cha.

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Also on the menu:
Delicately steamed barramundi with ginger and shallot

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Kung pao chicken with a pleasant but not overpowering amount of heat

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Wok fried black pepper fillet with oyster mushrooms and blackbean – I loved this

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We all really liked the Shanghai style dry noodle with shallot oil, sweet soy and crispy shrimp

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And there was a good amount of tasty BBQ pork in the special fried rice.

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The steamed Asian greens were so fresh.

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It’s a good addition to the ‘hood, and we’ll be back to try the rest of the menu.

Foogoo, 94B Longueville Road Lane Cove, Ph (02) 7900 7081

Devon Café, North Sydney

I had heard good things about Devon in Surry Hills for the longest time, but never managed to get there.  But now I don’t have to, as they have – wisely! – crossed the bridge. North Sydney, for a long time a concrete jungle ghost town outside of 9 to 5,  is slowly but surely coming to life with the spate of new apartments, and places like Devon are well placed for this.  Unlike Surry Hills, the northern sibling is also open for dinner.

On a few visits, I’ve made my way through tasting a fair bit of the unique breakfast/brunch menu – with help from the Marito, Small People, and friends, I didn’t eat this all myself!  There are a lot of bold and gutsy flavours, not much shyness here.  And I love the generosity of their serves, none of this teensy tiny business. A breakfast here accompanied by one of their good cups of coffee and I’m full for the day,

The Marito was a big fan of the Devon Fish Cake and had it two visits in a row – the cake was salmon and potato with a nice crisp to the outside, served with a poached egg, a full bodied yuzu aioli and a watercress and cabbage slaw.

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Salmon is on show again with “Breakfast with the Sakumas” (named after the politician I’m guessing?) – salmon grilled with miso, an eel croquette, a 63 degree egg, radish and kewpi mayonnaise. Delicious but very rich.

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The Croissant St Denis is pure morning indulgence.  An omelette with lobster, prawn and caviar, served with a very punchy seafood bisque.  Soak up the bisque with the flaky, buttery croissant and you’ll have a very good day indeed.

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Get some pork on your fork with Piggy Banc –  free range pork belly,  pork + fennel sausage, hasselback potato, roast fennel and peas

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If it’s something of the more “straight up” variety you’re after, that is not an issue.  Good old scrambled and fried eggs are on offer, and they are huge – they even satisfied my bottomless pit Small People.

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Plenty to choose from on the lunch menu too.  I love the playful take on Italian in the name of “ragu alla Sichuanese” – coriander tagliolini, chilli mince pork, peanuts, burrata, slow cooked egg. Silky noodles with a good kick.

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For something lighter try the poke bowl, and again a very generous serve. Sashimi king salmon, brown rice, avocado (get your mortgage in order), salmon caviar, seaweed, edamame beans, cucumber and kale
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Devon Café North Sydney, 36 Blue St North Sydney. Ph 02 8971 0377

http://www.devoncafe.com.au

Toshiya, Cremorne

I’ve loved seeing the palate of the Small People develop over time.  With lots of exposure, and gentle encouragement, they have gotten more adventurous with their food.  While at home they usually like me to dish up the same Italian rustic favourites, when we eat out they enjoy all sorts of new flavours.  Chicken liver pate? That was interesting, mum.  Confit of duck, roast quail? Yes please.   And where a visit to Japanese once meant them ordering steamed rice and perhaps chicken karaage, now it’s miso tofu and kingfish with a ponzu dressing, and I’m lucky if they leave me a sliver of beef tataki.

So here we are at Toshiya on the busy Military Road strip, and I watch them planning to order at least half the menu; at the moment their legs seem hollow and the hunger is perpetual.   It’s a fairly standard family friendly neighbourhood Japanese, with bouts of inventiveness on the specials menu.  I watch other youngsters battling their parents for the last piece of salmon sushi.   The service is efficient, the prices reasonable and the produce fresh.  The highlight for me was the straight up sashimi, excellent quality; the lowlight duck dumplings, which didn’t taste at all like duck and were a bit meh.   The calamari was also very tasty.  A few pictures of some of what we ordered below.

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Toshiya, 283 Military Road, Cremorne, Ph 02 8969 6989
http://www.toshiya.com.au

Carriageworks Farmers Markets, Eveleigh

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A friend and I went for a wander to the Carraigeworks markets.  I’ve been wanting to get here for the longest time, but often Saturday schedules with sport and other Small People commitments make it tricky, so took the opportunity to squeeze in a visit before that all starts up again. But having visited and been very favourably surprised by the variety and quality of produce and the reasonably sized – not too big and not too small in my view – and generally well priced market, I’ll have to find a way to get there again.

There are all sorts of goodies on offer – fresh produce, cheeses, flowers, bakery items, and a few food stands such as Bar Pho and frequently (though not that day) Billy Kwong.  Sonoma was doing a roaring trade with some of the most giant loves of bread I’ve ever seen. There’s a little sign above each stall showing where each business is from.  Some were in striking distance of my house, others from far afield, but all NSW based. There were a few ingredients for recipes I’ve struggled to find in supermarkets and even specialty grocers, but they were all here!

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Flour and Stone are also a regular there. I tried one of their caneles which I adored and will find hard to resist on my next visit.

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Check out other markets I’ve visited in San Francisco, Tel Aviv, and Florence.

Carriageworks Farmers Markets, Saturdays 8am to 1pm,
245 Wilson St, Eveleigh

Shorties Bar & Dining, Lane Cove

Shorties has upped the bar ante in downtown Lane Cove.   With an experienced small bar crew behind it, the locals have breathed a sigh of relief.  Come for a drink and a snack, or settle in at a booth for a meal.   It has the pre-requisite small bar features – moody lighting, exposed brick, and cocktail names the bar man came up with while sampling too many.

So I gave their refreshing Nice Melons a whirl, though they are more than happy to mix up a classic if that’s what your after.  The staff were friendly and welcoming.shorties (10)

The menu has a good mix of dishes

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We started with the kingfish ceviche, simply done and lovely quality fish

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I also really enjoyed the scallops

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And I find it hard to go past a beef tartare

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The pork cheek was flavoursome but the octopus on the chewy side

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And the buttermilk fried chicken wings were juicy and tender, but unfortunately a little bland, they needed a little something to give them an edge

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Banana is not my thing but the girls rated the banana parfait with Nutella mousse

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The second desert, which I think was a mango ice cream and a cream, just blended, it really needed some texture and some separation to distinguish the components

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But for a venue just recently opened, they are ticking a lot of boxes.  Welcome to Lane Cove!

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Shorties Bar and Dining, 96 Longueville Rd, Lane Cove
http://www.shortieslanecove.com.au
Ph +61 2 9418 9780

Shorties Bar & Dining Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Boathouse, Shelly Beach

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The location of this light filled café – right on Shelley Beach – alone make it seductive during a Sydney Summer. Such a great spot to have a coffee, breakfast, and read the paper, alone or while the (not so) Small People busy themselves in the sand and sea.  With the plants, fresh flowers, framed prints and big lampshades, it’s a spot on beachside casual feel, and one that you wish was your own dining or living room to spend all day.

There aren’t any bookings so you do have to hover to get a table (and given the layout of the room this is ok, I found it extremely awkward at the narrow Balmoral Beach location and gave up), but on the couple of occasions I’ve been everyone is pretty chilled and happy to share on mostly larger communal tables.  It’s a counter order system, line up and pay and grab your number, so you do have to line up again each time you want another round of drinks or coffees.  The menu is very compact, so that they can turn the tables and appease the crowds, but the ingredients were fresh and what was there was well done. If it’s a bucket of prawns and some oysters you’re after, you’ll be very happy indeed with the Summer menu appropriately biased towards cold dishes and seafood.  There isn’t a specific kids menu, but they do the various dishes in smaller sizes. Staff were very friendly and quick to follow up when they noticed our meal seemed to be taking longer than usual and set about rectifying it and offering us some free drinks.

We’ll be back for breakfast.

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The Boathouse, 1 Marine Parade, Manly Ph +61 2 9974 5440 http://www.theboathousesb.com.au/

The Boathouse Shelly Beach Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Encasa, Lane Cove

Encasa in the CBD has long been a popular place for Spanish tapas and cured meats. Over the last year, owners Maria Barona and Francisco Rodriguez have expanded, opening two more city venues including an “express” takeaway in Chifley Plaza, and this cosy restaurant in their home turf of Lane Cove.  A couple of friends and I checked it out the other night, and were pleasantly surprised by the tasty, well priced food, and the added benefit of being able to BYO.  The staff were also very attentive and friendly.

There’s lots to tempt on the largely meat and seafood menu, though there are not too many options for vegetarians.  I’d love to see something like a ceviche or fresh fish dish added to the menu. Here’s what we tried

The jamon Iberico croquettes were delicious – crispy coating and gooey cheesey centre

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Scallops with a saffron cream sauce – a tasty smooth sauce and plump fresh scallops

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The tortilla de patata, a potato and onion omelette, didn’t look terribly exciting on the plate but delivered on flavour

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Sizzling prawns had a delicate hit of chilli and were also enjoyable

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I was looking forward to the beef cheek, and it was tender, but it didn’t pack the flavour punch of a similar dish I’ve had a few times at MoVida, and it could have used a bit more cauliflower puree.

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I really wanted to try the crema catalana for dessert but clearly so did everyone else as it was sold out! Next time.  I’m not big on churros as they remind me of donuts which I don’t like at all, but the girls were keen for a serve and I had a nibble – they were light and crispy.

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Banquet menus are available for groups of 8 or more priced between $42 and $55, and there’s a nice range of Spanish goodies you can buy to take home.  There’s a short kiddie menu too.

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Encasa Lane Cove, 132 Longueville Road, ph 02 9418 8577
https://encasa.com.au/landing-page/home-lane-cove-restaurant/

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