Category Archives: Sydney – North Shore

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

Burnt Orange, Mosman

You’ll find Burnt Orange in a pretty cottage amongst the trees at Middle Head in Mosman looking out over the water, so it is understandably very popular for breakfast and brunch.

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They have four morning sittings on a weekend for breakfast at staggered half our intervals starting from 8.30am with an hour and a half per sitting. We and our friends opted for the first one. The breakfast menu is pretty standard – eggs, bacon, pancakes and the like, and all quite well executed. The sourdough bread is delicious. Though we do ask for a fried egg for one of our Small People and are told “ah no, we can’t do that, it requires a different griddle and it’s too difficult”. Um, didn’t think a small fry pan would be all that hard really, or maybe fried eggs are taboo in Mosman, not sure which. And although we are the first sitting and it is not busy we need to chase our drinks, which arrive after our meals.

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I go for the breakfast board, which has a very nicely done confit of trout. But I find the Avoca brown bread extremely dry and dense so don’t eat it, and pinch some sourdough instead.

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Attached to the café is a retail shop with a variety of treasures. I raise my camera to take some snaps. “Oh, no, you’re not allowed to take photos here”. Ok. I’ll take them in the Louvre or the Vatican instead, they don’t seem to mind.

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Burnt Orange, 1109 Middle Head Road, Mosman, Ph 02 9969 1020
http://www.burntorange.com.au

Burnt Orange Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mama’s Buoi, Crows Nest

Most cultures have a word or a phrase that means “mummy’s boy”.  In Italian it is mammone, in Greek mamakias.  And while “buoi” is actually the Vietnamese word for a type of grapefruit, the name of this traditional Vietnamese eatery is in fact a play on words by founder Bao Hoang, and a reflection of love and admiration for his mother, and recipes he learnt from her along the way.

I had often walked past its little corner in Crows Nest, seeing heads bent over steaming pho or munching on rice paper rolls.  The place doesn’t take bookings, but on a cold and wet Sunday night we are in luck and seats are free in the small indoor area, as most of the seating is outside.  I’m having a long overdue catch up with a lovely friend; like the Marito, she is a vegacquarian, so we stick to vegetables and a fish dish.  Everything that comes out is tasty, light and fragrant, and I would happily come back to try some of the meat dishes. The staff are friendly and attentive too.

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We start with some fresh rice paper rolls with mushroom and tofu

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Followed by this delicious dish of smoky eggplant with a slight hint of chilli. My friend, who has an ambivalent relationship with eggplant, loves it.

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Mushroom and snow pea stir fry, simple and tasty

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The barramundi, marinated in lemongrass and kaffir lime comes with a decent chill hit and is very fragrant, though the fish is a little overcooked

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It is a pleasant and unfussy meal in a relaxed environment, just what we needed to cram in a few months worth of conversation.

For groups, there is a $49 banquet menu

Mama’s Buoi, 77 Willoughby Road, Crows Nest, Ph 02 9438 5005
http://www.mamasbuoi.com.au

Mama's Buoi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Il Girarrosto, Hunters Hill

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Il Girarrosto is the latest venture of Luigi Esposito, the founder of Via Napoli.  But where Via Napoli is all about the carbs, Girarrosto – the Italian word for rotisserie – is all about the protein.  In fact, other than a few bruschetta type entrees, you’ll find very little in the way of carbs on the menu.  Vegacquarians like my Marito are catered for, with a nice offering of seafood, but pure vegetarians might struggle a little.

There is also a nice offering of cheeses and charcuterie.

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The rotisseries themselves are impressive, slowly roasting beef, chicken, lamb and quail.

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Large cuts of meat and the various seafood are cooked on grill plates at the fire.

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I was a fan of the king prawns, on a bed of cherry tomatoes and some fresh chopped chilli.

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The Marito preferred the baby octopus.

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Whole snapper was nicely done, though the stuffing inside was a touch too salty.

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Our little carnivores on the other hand, polished off a 1kg rib eye which was a special on offer that night.  It was medium rare, smoky, and tasty.  I also liked the rosemary potatoes.

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The salad dressing needs some refining, I found it a bit oily and lacking flavour.

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Given meat and seafood, don’t expect the same cheap and cheerful pricing you’ll get at Via Napoli – and that’s the point as Luigi does want to bring something different to the table.

Il Girarrosto, 60 Gladesville Road Hunters Hill
http://www.ilgirarrosto.com.au

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Il Girarrosto Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Annata, Crows Nest

The original thinking behind recently opened Annata was that it would be a wine and cocktail bar that served a bit of food. But you could also look at it as a place with great food, that serves some good wine. With some heavily hatted experience behind the bar and in the kitchen – its a meeting of minds with skills gained from Rockpool, Bridge Room, and Café Paci – Annata lifts the bar on the lower north shore. The staff who looked after us that night were friendly, enthusiastic and knew their stuff – it seemed like they were really happy to be there.

The well thought out wine list is good fun, with sections like The Funky Bunch, The Big Boys, and CBA (Chardonnay Back Again). There are also some clever cocktails. I tried the Heather & Stone (Jasmine Jamieson, Pistachio, Suze, Lime, Whites) which had a delicious almost biscuit of pistachio in it (petit four in a cocktail, yeh!); and the Dipolmat (Havana 3, Apricot Jam, Orgeat, Cardamom, Bitters).

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There are four of us and the staff recommend we share, kindly suggesting which dishes we double up on. We start with some superbly fresh Sydney Rock oysters served with pickled black fungus

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We spot zucchini flowers on the menu – with broccolini, goats milk custard, black garlic and fennel salt – and know it’s a given they’ll be ordered. In our minds we’d pictured them in typical stuffed format, but it’s a ‘deconstructed’ version. The broccolini add texture and the custard is silky smooth.

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Next is a dish almost too pretty to eat – plums with heirloom tomatoes, smoked avocado (oh so good, smoked with beechwood), basil and roquette oil. The girls love it, but I find the plums a too sweet; a bowl of that avocado with some bread instead please!

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We all adore the scallops. The sliver of guanciale is delicious, and lurking underneath is like a hazelnut and mushroom paste (a hint of porcini methinks?) which we love.

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Our next dish is also seafood. This time some prawns with a devine miso corn butter, tasty chargrilled corn and curry oil. We all agree though, that the prawns are just a little underdone.

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The pork neck comes with a roasted apricot butter and pickled shitake. Its tender meat and here the fruit works well.

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The side of greens is fresh and crisp and comes with a smooth butter sauce.

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We finish with the flathead done wrapped in seaweed and kataifi pastry, served with peas, pomelo and oyster mayonnaise. I’ve had fish done like this before, but this one is not quite right and needs a little finessing.

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Annata is the kind of place you’ll linger either a little or a lot, and overall I’d happily do the latter again.

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Annata Menu

Annata, 69 Willoughby Rd, Crows Nest, Ph (02) 9437 3700
http://annatasydney.com

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

Fourth Fish, Lane Cove

We’d had a manic day and no cooking was going to go on in the Napoli household that night.  So we headed up to Lane Cove to check out a recently opened seafood café in the plaza.   It’s got cute nautical theming (I like the blue chairs outside) and the staff were friendly and efficient.

There’s some good value, straight forward food going on in a casual setting.  The grilled fish and chips – take your pick of barramundi, salmon or swordfish – is a good choice at $18 and comes with a refreshing crisp salad.

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So too is the fisherman’s basket, for $26 which has a tasty fish fillet, crumbed prawn, calamari, chips, a couple of oysters and some olives.

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The chargrilled octopus was a little disappointing, a little chewy, and it was cold (I asked if was meant to be, the waiter wasn’t sure) but I did like the salad underneath.

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On the off chance you’re going to a seafood restaurant but don’t actually want seafood, there’s a steak option as well. In addition to the normal menu, there’s a selection of specials.  The lunch menu varies slightly and has a fish burger.
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Fourth Fish Café & Restaurant, 12-16 Burns Bay Road Lane Cove, ph 02 9427 4896

Fourth Fish Cafe and Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Salt Meats Cheese, Mosman

Since its humble beginnings in 2012 as a warehouse in Alexandria with pallets of European food goods to buy, Salt Meats Cheese has morphed into so much more.  You can still buy the goodies, but now you can sit and eat, and cook up a storm.  SMC has now opened a small outpost on the northside in Mosman.  Plenty to buy to prepare your own meals at home but you can also sit in the cosy dining area and eat and enjoy a glass of Italian wine.  There are pre-prepared items like pizza, calzone, various rolls that they will heat up, and others made fresh. But I think the thing to do is go up to the counter with one of the knowledgeable staff, get a selection of cold meats, a plate of cheese (also get the onion jam with it, its delicious and they sell it to take home too), a glass of red and take a seat and relax.

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Add to that some of the house made mozzarella with fresh tomato….smc mosman (4)

…some very good truffle chips, and some dear friends for company, and you have the makings of a pleasant and relaxed meal.smc mosman (5)

There are also plenty of sweet treats on offer, including Papa’s ricotta cake, to enjoy with a well made cup of coffee.

Salt Meats Cheese Mosman, 803 Military Road, Mosman
http://www.saltmeatscheese.com.au

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Salt Meats Cheese Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato