Tag Archives: Bar

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
Ph +61 2 9418 9780

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

J&M, Sydney

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Friday night. J&Friends head to J&M, a recently opened bar on level 2 of Angel Hotel. Head up some serious stairs, open a small door, and find yourself in Merivale’s suave new whisky themed bar. There’s an extensive list of whiskys to try neat, but the girlies and I head straight for the whisky cocktail list, all made with Chivas 18.

We start with a Rosetta Sour (Chivas 18, mandarin liqueur, honey syrup, preserved orange, lemon, egg white, fennel pollen), Highland Island Cooler (Chivas 18, pineapple and rhubarb shrub, fresh pineapple, young coconut water, citric solution) and a Modern Gentleman (Chivas 18, Antica Formula, burnt oak and apricot infused Campari, and a giant ice sphere of coffee). In the cocktails, the whisky flavour is notable but doesn’t overpower so the other flavours come through. The freshness of the pineapple with the whisky works well and this turns into a popular choice – “it contains coconut water, that means its healthy, right?” asks one of the group.

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From the food menu we nibble on some creamy chicken liver pâté, which I can never go past on a menu

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I have to try A Life Less Ordinary, a tribute to the late Mr John as the staff respectfully call him (Chivas 18, Aperol, apricot and saffron syrup, bitters, Pernod Absinthe, and atomised peated whisky, the last bit coming in this cool old fashioned perfume bottle and sprayed on). Each of these comes with a note from Mr John’s tribute page.   We obviously didn’t know him, but there’s no disagreement with what is written.

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This is accompanied by some smoked oysters, cutely presented in the tin, with crackers and cream cheese

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From the classic cocktail list we try the Moscow Mule (Absolut Elyx, ginger juice, lime, ginger ale) and this one is also a crowd favourite. We love love love the metal straws (I have gotta get me some of those) and the fine crystal glasses.

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We also share a cheese plate which comes with a tasty fig and walnut log. Meanwhile, a great selection of cool tunes has been playing in the background, the volume just right so that we can actually talk, and the room is full of a relaxed crowd enjoying this new intimate nightspot.

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J&M, 1 Angel Place, Sydney, Ph 02 9254 8088

Napoli Restaurant Alert was a guest of Merivale

J&M Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Gardels Bar, Surry Hills


One Saturday night, a group of Cool Chicks descended on a bar in Surry Hills. (For the purposes of this review, I will temporarily be classified as a Cool Chick). Nestled above Porteno and run by the same crew, Gardels Bar – named after tango king Carlos Gardel – is a grown up bar. Sophisticated, moody and dimly lit, it is about more than just the looks, being a bar that also serves some clever food, earning it Best Bar For Good Food in this year’s 2015 Good Food Guide Awards. There is some great house made charcuterie on offer, among other things.


The Cool Chicks opt for one of the “bar banquet” menus, by the end of which we are totally stuffed. But of course we also want some drinks to go with it, and at 8.30pm on a Saturday night, they have “run out of glasses”. Say again? “ummm, yes, your drinks will be here as soon as we clean some glasses”. And, half of the (quite compact and not overly complicated) cocktail menu is “not available”. Well, they did win Best Bar for their food, not for their drinks. Oops. They were very apologetic though, and did send over some free champagne later in the evening (once glassware supplies were restored).

So what did we have? There certainly was some interesting food going on, and is a good one for those on the 5:2 diet where you can throw caution (and hopefully cholesterol) to the wind.

Oysters Sangrita – wonderfully fresh – and a Broccoli & Ricotta Empanada, a delicious little mouthful.

Piquillo Pepper filled with Rice, Pine Nuts, Currants & Marinated Fetta; and house cured salmon (yum) on a little brioche toast

Crumbed ricotta and spinach balls and stuffed zucchini flowers – both delicious

Beef empanada – wasn’t keen, there was too much of a spice, was it cumin?

Next, house made Mortadella & Fontina Cheese Sandwich (the Italians at the table like their mortadella cut paper thin, and this was a bit thick); and Chorizo Porteño with Romesco Sauce BBQ. It was a big chunk of chorizo, would have been good if it was grilled or rendered in some fashion.

The Brussel sprouts with sweet lentils we weren’t keen on either, the sprouts were quite tough.

But then came the lamb Ribs with Chimichurri; yes they were fatty, but oh, they were good.

And then in probably the biggest surprise of the evening – a knock out desert! This is what they call their “pavlova cake” – there is a layer of biscuit, dulce du leche, poached strawberries, a meringue, a cream layer then honeycomb and pistachios on the top. Wow!

Gardels Bar, 358 Cleveland St, Surry Hills, Ph (02) 8399 1440

Gardel's Bar at Porteño on Urbanspoon

The Botanist, Kirribilli

Run by the team behind SoCal and Bondi Hardware, the Botanist is a relaxed watering hole, combining a little history (Botanist Fothergill once occupied the space) with a contemporary feel. And while its more bar than restaurant, you can easily find plenty to eat with some unexpectedly good small bites, and a few larger sharing dishes.  Once upon a time, and for many years, fine diner Milsons occupied the space.  It now feels bigger, warmer, and more inviting, with plenty of botanistical (ok that is a made up word) touches in the décor.  There are some clever cocktails and also ‘shared cocktail jugs’ if you’re with a group.

First up we try crab and prosciutto croquettes – delicious little balls


Next up some sliders – classic beef and cheese with gherkin and relish, & southern fried chicken with aioli and sweetcorn.  I heard someone say recently that sliders are “so yesterday” but hey, who is listening to them, sliders are still great bar food


Then some filo parcels.  I don’t remember what was in these, but even though it is a couple of months since my visit, I still remember how incredibly light and flaky that filo was.


Then some kingfish tartare with avocado, jalapeno, and marjoram. This one had too much acidity which overpowered the kingfish


Next some grilled haloumi with pomegranate & bulgur wheat tabouleh – nice salty haloumi, with freshness from the pomegranate, though would have like a bit more of it.


And finally some spiced lamb skewers – this one missed the mark with overcooked lamb and a little bland


There are also some very well priced group banquet menus.

A pleasant little spot to have a nice relaxed catch up with friends.

The Botanist, 17 Willoughby St Kirribilli, Ph 02 9954 4057

The Botanist Kirribilli on Urbanspoon

SoCal, Neutral Bay


From the team behind The Botanist in Kirribilli and Bondi Hardware comes SoCal, short for “So California”. So it should be no surprise that the menu is a mixture of Mexican and American classics like Mac & Cheese. There’s also a very tempting cocktail menu and we succumbed.


Its a pleasant bar space, but there is also a fun outdoor beachy white balcony, which would be great to cordon off for a party.  How would I describe our night here? Relaxed, and casual, a place where you can have a few drinks, chill with friends, and snack have or a full meal. The food is overall enjoyable, but not necessarily of the innovative/blow your mind variety.  Sharing with a few friends, you can eat more than your fair share for $30-$40 per head, and I think that is about the right price point for the standard. The staff were really warm and enthusiastic, and keen to get our feedback on dishes.

We start off with some guacamole and salsa, and a side of Tater Tots.  The guac I’d say is just standard, but combined with the corn and salsa  and a crispy corn chip becomes lively. The TT’s on the other hand, just don’t do it for me and feel like they’ve come from a frozen McCains bag labelled kids snacks – although maybe nostalgia is the intention here.


The kingfish is beautifully fresh, though the passionfruit doesn’t add enough of the intended acidity, a wedge of lime would have helped.


One of my favourites of the night are the pulled pork quesiladas with eggplant.  I wouldn’t necessarily have thought to combine pork and eggplant, and its a combination which works well. I could eat a heap of these (and I think I did). If you were meeting a few friends for a drink, and just wanted a plate of something to munch on, this would be the perfect choice.


We do see a bit of creativity with the cauliflower salad, combined with currants, pistachio, oregano and cumin yoghurt.


The seared salmon is nicely cooked but the zucchini and walnut salad underneath is too salty.


And our last shared dish of the night is stuffed squid, clams and kale (yes of course kale, no respectable Sydney restaurant dare be without it these days, I think they’d be blacklisted).  The squid are a little overstuffed and get a little lost, but it’s a decent dish, and the clams are delicious.


We finish on a high note with a lime panacotta. Pretty to look at, and even better to eat.


SoCal, 1 Young St, Neutral Bay, Ph (02) 9904 5691

SoCal on Urbanspoon

Ananas Bar and Brasserie, The Rocks, Sydney

029French food – I’m thinking foie gras, confit, tarte tatin. Pineapples – I’m thinking Hawaii, cocktails, Summer. So where the name Ananas, the French word for pineapple, fits in, I’m not quite sure. I ask the question and apparently in France in the 1700’s, pineapple was considered a luxury item. This provided the inspiration for this upmarket French brasserie in the Argyle building in The Rocks, with an attractive bar space which you walk through to get to the restaurant. The atmosphere is great, and the music pitched at the right volume, so you can actually talk to people and hear them. Ananas recently scored a Hat in the Good Food Guide awards.

As I arrive there is no one at the door, and I’m left waiting for quite a while before I begin to wander to find a staff member. It’s a small oops in an otherwise great evening – through our meal our waitstaff that evening are attentive, polite, and well informed, and the restaurant manager comes by later in the evening to check we were happy.

It is difficult to decide on entrees because they all sound appealing, so we decide to try more of those and only one main course. We start with duck liver & armagnac parfait and rabbit rillettes, accompanied by toasted brioche. The parfait has great texture and I love the rillettes, fantastic flavour.


We follow on with a brandade of house salted cod, baby fennel, softly poached quails egg, which has a nice hit of citrus and is pleasant to eat.


The lobster ravioli with the tomato is an almost perfect dish, and I mop up the delicious bisque with my bread, not wanting to leave it on the plate. What stops it from being perfect is the unexpectedly cold topping, I would have prefered it all to be hot.


The only let down of the entrees was the wild mushroom pappardelle with hen’s egg and truffle – way underseasoned and bland, needed a punch of something. You could smell the truffle when it was set down on the table, but couldn’t really taste it while eating it.


For our main course we debate between the lamb and the snapper, and the waiter strongly encourages the latter. The snapper comes with a blue swimmer crab and squid risotto – it’s a stand out dish, with perfectly done fish. (Hey, I rhymed!)


When it comes to dessert, the waiter does point out the eclairs – “we want to do for eclairs what Zumbo has done for the macaron”, but we aren’t feeling eclair-ish that night. I have my eye on the Ananas four ways (chip, sorbet, consomme, caramelised) with the coconut mousse, and I love it, it is fresh and unique.


We also opt for the Snickers Revolution, a chocolate and peanut dish. Beautifully presented; chocolate desserts aren’t really my thing, but if you like chocolate, you will love this.


I forgot to order the truffle pomme puree which a friend said was the Best. Ever. Truffle. Mash. Oh well, next time, and I’m pretty sure there will be one.

018035Ananas Bar & Brasserie, 18 Argle St, The Rocks, ph (02) 9259 5668

Ananas Bar & Brasserie on Urbanspoon