Tag Archives: CBD

Toque Time: the 2018 Good Food Guide Awards

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This year, the Good Food Guide Awards was a national affair, rather than a shindig in each city. Why? Apparently “frankly, it was the right time”.  (This may be corporate speak for “we needed to cut costs, it’s tough in newspaper land right now”.)  So inner city and regional were all combined, and Northern Territory even got  a look in! Must have been a very long night.

There were specific gongs for certain categories, and the full list of hats below. Vale Jeremy Strode, how very very sad.

Restaurant of the Year: Attica, Victoria
New Restaurant of the Year: Saint Peter, New South Wales
Chef of the Year: Daniel Puskas, Sixpenny, New South Wales
Santa Vittoria Regional Restaurant of the Year: The Agrarian Kitchen Eatery & Store, Tasmania Vittoria Coffee Legend Award: Jeremy Strode 1964-2017
Josephine Pignolet Young Chef of the Year: Kylie Millar, Attica, Victoria
Food For Good Award: Orana Foundation, South Australia
Bar of the Year: Arlechin, Victoria
Sommelier of the Year: Raul Moreno Yague, Osteria Ilaria, Victoria
Wine list of the Year: Aria Brisbane, Queensland

Three Hats

NEW SOUTH WALES VICTORIA QUEENSLAND
Quay Attica Urbane
Sepia Brae
Minamishima

Two Hats

NEW SOUTH WALES VICTORIA QUEENSLAND
Aria Cutler & Co. Aria Brisbane
Automata Dinner by Heston Blumenthal Esquire (down a hat)
Bennelong Estelle by Scott Pickett Gerard’s Bistro
Bentley Restaurant & Bar Ezard GOMA Restaurant
Biota Dining Fen (new entry) Stokehouse Q
Cirrus (new entry) Flower Drum Wasabi
Est. Grossi Florentino Upstairs
Ester Igni (new entry) SOUTH AUSTRALIA
Firedoor (up a hat) Kuro Kisume (new entry) Hentley Farm
Fleet Lake House Magill Estate Restaurant
Fred’s (new entry) Lume Restaurant Orana
Icebergs Dining  & Bar O.My (up a hat)
Lucio’s Provenance WESTERN AUSTRALIA
LuMi Dining Rockpool Bar & Grill Cullen Wines
Momofuku Seiobo Rosetta (up a hat) Vasse Felix
Monopole Saint Crispin
Mr. Wong Spice Temple TASMANIA
Muse Restaurant Ten Minutes by Tractor The Agrarian Kitchen Eatery & Store
Ormeggio at The Spit Vue de Monde (down a hat)
Oscillate Wildly Woodland House ACT
Pilu at Freshwater Aubergine
Porteno (re-entry) Ottoman Cuisine
Restaurant Hubert
Rockpool Bar & Grill
Saint Peter (new entry)
Sixpenny
Tetsuya’s
The Bridge Room (down a hat)

One hat

NEW SOUTH WALES VICTORIA QUEENSLAND
10 William St A La Grecque 1889 Enoteca
4Fourteen (new entry) Amaru ​Blackbird Bar & Grill
Acme Anchovy E’cco Bistro
Aki’s Atlas Dining (new hatter) Gauge
Bacco (new entry) Bacash Harrisons by Spencer Patrick
Baccomatto Osteria Bar Lourinha Homage
​Banksii (new entry) Bistro Guillaume Kiyomi
Beach Byron Bay (new entry) Cafe Di Stasio Madame Rouge (new entry)
Bellevue Captain Moonlite (new hatter) Mamasan Kitchen & Bar
Billy Kwong Catfish Moda
​Bistro Molines Cecconi’s Flinders Lane ​Montrachet
Bistro Officina (new entry) Centonove Noosa Waterfront Restaurant
​Bistro Rex (new entry) Coda Nu Nu
Bodega Copper Pot Seddon (new hatter) Otto
Buon Ricordo Cumulus Inc. Rick Shores (new entry)
Catalina Da Noi Rickys River Bar & Restaurant
Caveau Donovans Sake Restaurant & Bar
​China Doll Doot Doot Doot (new hatter) Social Eating House
Cho Cho San ​Elyros Spirit House
Clementine (new entry) Embla Tartufo
Continental Deli Bar Bistro ​Epocha The Euro
Cottage Point Inn French Saloon The Fish House (down a hat)
Da Orazio Pizza & Porchetta Highline at the Railway Hotel The Hats
​Darley’s Ides ​The Long Apron (down a hat)
Eschalot Il Bacaro The Peak (down a hat)
Felix ​Kakizaki (new hatter) The Survey Co.
Fratelli Paradiso ​Kappo The Tamarind
Glass Brasserie Kazuki’s The Wolfe
Hartsyard ​Lee Ho Fook
​Harvest (new entry) ​Ma Cave at Midnight Starling (new hatter) WESTERN AUSTRALIA
Izakaya Fujiyama Maha Billie H
Jade Temple (new entry) Marion Il Lido
Jonah’s Masons of Bendigo Lalla Rookh
Kepos Street Kitchen Matteo’s Liberte
Lolli Redini ​Montalto Long Chim
​Long Chim (new entry) MoVida, Lulu La Delizia
​LP’s Quality Meats Noir Rockpool Bar & Grill Perth
Margan Restaurant, Nora The Shorehouse
Ms. G’s Oakridge (new hatter) Voyager Estate
Muse Kitchen (down a hat) Osteria Ilaria (new hatter) Wildflower
Nomad Oter
Otto Paringa Estate SOUTH AUSTRALIA
Paper Bird (new entry) Philippe (new hatter) Africola
Paper Daisy (down a hat) Port Phillip Estate ​Appellation
Pearls on the Beach Public Inn Botanic Gardens Restaurant
Pendolino Ramblr (new hatter) FermentAsian
Queen Chow (new entry) San Telmo (new hatter) ​Osteria Oggi
Restaurant Mason ​Source Dining Press Food & Wine
​Rocker (new entry) Stefano’s (down a hat) Shobosho
Rosetta (new entry) Stokehouse (re-entry) The Currant Shed
Sagra ​Supernormal The Pot by Emma McCaskill
​Sake (Double Bay) (new entry) TarraWarra Estate (new hatter) ​The Summertown Aristologist
Sean’s Panaroma Tempura Hajime (new hatter)
Sokyo ​Terrace Restaurant TASMANIA
​Sotto Sopra (new entry) The Point Albert Park Aloft
​Spice Temple (down a hat) The Press Club (down a hat) Dier Makr
St. Isidore (new entry) ​The Recreation (new hatter) Fico
​Stanbuli ​The Town Mouse Franklin
Subo Tipo 00 Stillwater
​Sushi e Tonka Templo
The Antipodean (new entry) Trattoria Emilia (new entry)
The Apollo Tulip NORTHERN TERRITORY
The Bathers’ Pavilion Wilson & Market (new entry) Hanuman
The Dolphin Hotel
The Gantry ACT
The Paddington Chairman & Yip
The Restaurant Eightysix
The Stunned Mullet Italian & Sons
The Zin House Lilotang
Three Blue Ducks (re-entry) Monster Kitchen & Bar
Tonic Otis Dining Hall
Town Pulp Kitchen
Uccello Temporada
​Yellow

Jade Temple, Sydney

Neil and his new backers have swapped Australian fine dining for an attempt at high end Chinese speckled with (and I quote) “more contemporary interpretations”.  It is not very jade-y, nor very temple-y, and a few Rockpool bits still linger, covered up with some lanterns and windows of duck ready to be roasted.

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When word got out that this was opening, many commented how close in location it was to Mr Wong, and would it have any impact on that insanely popular venue, but really they are very different in atmosphere and style.  Mr Wong for me has more vibe.

I visited twice, once at lunch and once at dinner. The verdict – a mixed bag.  Great cocktail menu though, very reminiscent of Spice Temple which is a good thing.

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The oysters with ginger and black bean were delicious; loved the big green bowl even more.

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But were they kidding themselves with these chicken wings? Three little chicken wings for $19 (and some ordinary sweet and sour sauce), with a very sub par batter.

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Likewise these pork short ribs (I think that’s what it was, I tried to put it out of my mind) were rather ordinary.

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The pork and prawn shumai (3 for $12, same as Mr Wongs) were at standard.

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Liked the texture in these crystal dumplings with truffled mushroom but I found them a bit dry.

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The “pineapple” bbq pork bun was very good indeed, tasty pastry, flavoured meat, but really didn’t look anything like a pineapple that the menu description implied.

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I did love the XO pippies though, a great XO.  We tried them with the crunch noodles for something different but steamed would be better for absorbing the sauce.

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On the second visit I tried the XO with steamed scallops.

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The Madarin style bass grouper has unusual flavour, but in a good way, I can’t quite pick it.

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I recommend the rusty razor blades, had it on both visits, pork with caramel and chilli.  I was worried it would be too sweet but the balance of the sweet and the spice is spot on.

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Beautiful steamed noodles, so silky,  but the shrimp floss was too salty for me.

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So while the savoury was a mixed bag, the desserts shone.

The flavours of Phil’s vacherin must be a shout out to the Rockpool vacherin, and delightfully refreshing.  The lemongrass spoke Thai to me rather than Chinese, but that didn’t stop the enjoyment.

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I love sago, it’s one of those things people love or hate, so I really enjoyed the sago and mango pudding.

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And we all just adored the fried vanilla and date ice cream, splashed with maple sauce. So good.

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For groups, there are banquet menus for $75 and $95.

Jade Temple, 11 Bridge Street, Sydney
http://www.jadetemple.com.au

Jade Temple Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bacco Osteria e Espresso, Sydney

A cobbled laneway.  An Italian osteria.  Chefs who know Italian food.  It’s all looking positive for Bacco, recently opened in Ash Street.  Since Fratelli Fresh fell into the hands of a large dining conglomerate and Andy Bunn left the scene, it isn’t quite the same, so was good to see a new casual Italian diner around this end of town.  It’s a handy spot to catch up with a friend for a chat, who is about to make me jealous with her itinerary of three months of travel.

The interior is unfussy, true to an osteria style.  And the menu is compact but broadly appealing, other than some specific offal dish which doesn’t tempt us.  Be prepared to get to know your neighbours, the tables along the side wall are so close to each other that they may as well have been joined.  Not the place if you’re looking for privacy.

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The dishes we try are tasty and the flavours good. What lets them down that night is the service. Drinks have to be chased, attention is hard to come by, and when my credit card payment doesn’t get processed properly there’s more waiting because the waitress disappears so fast that I can’t catch anyone’s eye to fix it. A runner would have been easy. So there’s a bit of work to be done but it’s early days. Anyway here is what we try

A couple of simple potato and prosciutto croquettes. I’m partial the odd croquette, especially when they have a good crunchy coating.

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The artichokes with straciatella is Italian simplicity done well. The straciatella is gorgeous

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Grilled quail with witlof and pine nuts.  Simple, nicely cooked quail but the dressing is a little tart for my liking.

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The pasta dishes are very nicely executed. Though at $24 and $26 they don’t have the portion generosity of a Flour Eggs Water. CBD rents and all that.

Gnocchi with pistachio – petite little pillows combine with nutty crunch

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Strozzapretti with a pork and guanciale ragu – very nice indeed.

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Bacco Osteria e Espresso, 1 Angel Place, Sydney Ph 02 9235 3383
http://www.bacco.com.au

Bacco Osteria e Espresso Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

1821, Sydney

I’m not going to talk about the significance of 1821 in Greek history, sorry.  It’s on a plaque on a wall in the restaurant if you want to read it.  I am going to talk about the great food David Tsirekas and his team are producing in the kitchen.

Some of the menu at 1821 has carried through from his days many years ago at rustic Perama in Petersham (which I visited quite a few times), where getting a table became difficult once the world spread; it then appeared at fine-dining-doesn’t-work-in-Australian-shopping-centres Xanthi.  He’s had various pop ups and gigs after that, but is now hopefully permanently housed in the somewhat in your face on Pitt St frontage at 1821.   Do take some friends because there is a lot you’ll want to try and the larger plate sizes are quite generous, and so are the desserts.

There was for me just one miss on the menu, which was the Greek San Choy Bow we started with – smashed roasted tomato with herb and vegetable rice in iceberg lettuce.  It was a bit messy and sloppy to eat, missing that distinctive SCB lettuce crunch.  All I could think of was the  Katering Show’s “hot wet rice” (if you haven’t seen this, you must, its bloody hilarious).  But it was onwards and upwards from here.

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The wild greens and leek pie  in filo pastry on a bed  eggplant purée reminded me of his Perama triangle but even better – the lightest, flakiest filo and a delicious greens filing.

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In my view the Greeks are the kings of cooking octopus, and this bbq octopus dish was no exception.  Beautifully tender and served with pickled cucumber & cauliflower and some taramasalata

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I absolutely adored the prawn manti (egg pasta dumplings, carrot purée, feta, candied  walnuts, burnt butter currant dressing, fried mint  leaves) and would gladly eat a dish or two of these on my own.  So much flavour!  As my Greek friend with us said, “I have no idea what is Greek about this dish, but it’s damn good”.

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The sweet and savoury combination in the pork belly baklava is pulled off, and the crackling is extra crunchy

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As well as octopus, lamb is another protein where Greeks show culinary skill.  The bbq lamb shoulder is tender and tasty; it is generous enough for four to share if you are trying a few other dishes.

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The baklava ice cream I remembered well from Xanthi and we had to order it. Yum.  It is not as sweet as actual baklava and I love the crunch of the pistachio.

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The garden of aphrodite – a sheep yoghurt panna cotta with seasonal fruit – is pretty but I don’t love it.  It is served with pieces of walnut cake which I find a little dry.

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The real surprise comes with the custard filo pie.  It is to die for, I would love the recipe for this. I gather its a take on the Greek bougatsa.  Once again, incredible flaky filo and filled with a luscious creamy vanilla semolina.

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There is also a banquet menu available for groups.

1821, 122 Pitt St, Sydney, Ph +61 2 8080 7070
http://www.universalhotels.com.au/1821restaurant/

1821 Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bouche on Bridge, Sydney

Bouche is the latest venue to join the blossoming line up on Bridge St, but one that is easy to miss with a discreet and slightly set back door.  Chef Harry Stockdale-Powell presides in the kitchen, hailing from Rockpool and Marque.  The influence of the latter is evident in particular, with some decidedly Marque-esque plating and little, but not too much, trickery.   The vision is a “new take on fine dining” and you can see where they are going – no tablecloths, an attractive bar, and quality produce on the menu, sparsely worded as seems to have become the norm. But the staff, as I found on my couple of visits, are truly excellent and more than happy to fill in the blanks and aid your decision making, or not.   The food itself was mixed – some excellent dishes, some good, and some a miss; I’m sure a kitchen team of this pedigree will iron out the kinks over time.  It was the smaller dishes overall that didn’t hit the mark for me.

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We start with oysters with a blood orange granita and wakame.  Great oysters, but too much blood orange and they were a little drowned and lost.

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The combination of kingfish, beetroot and pomelo is a good one but it was a little dry and needed some dressing.

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It was the duck neck sausage with marsala prunes that disappointed most, we were looking forward to it but it just lacked flavour and tasted very fatty, nor did I enjoy the marsala prunes. It was also a cold dish which was unexpected.

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However I loved the Jerusalem artichoke, an underrated vegetable, done sous vide and then grilled, served with a parsley root oil and sheep’s milk.

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The eschallot tarte tatine with parmesan ice cream is a clever dish.  Generously sized, it could be shared as an entrée between four trying a few plates or make a main course for a vegetarian. A little more seasoning wouldn’t have gone astray, and the ice cream is silky but the parmesan flavour too subtle.

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The main course proteins though, rock it.  The short rib with horseradish and sorrel is butter meltingly tender and just delicious.

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So too is the Wessex saddlebag suckling pig.

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And then oh! The baked mash! Don’t miss it whatever you do.

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If you do feel like dessert but not something overly sweet go for goats cheese with beetroot and liquorice sponge.  I’m not a fan of the sponge but I adore the texture and freshness of the beetroot sorbet.

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The caramelised nectarines with a fine honeycomb disk and a frozen sorrel also wins me over.

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The hazelnut and chocolate ball with malt is huge and easily shared (in fact, all the desserts are generous) and a bit too rich for me, but any chocolate lover would be very happy indeed.

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Bouche on Bridge, 6 Bridge St Sydney, ph +61 2 8278 9400
http://www.boucheonbridge.com

Bouche on Bridge Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bistro Guillaume, Sydney

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The Small People are not so small any more.  I blinked and another birthday had arrived. As has become custom, the four of us go out to dinner.  With the Marito being a vegacquarian and our home meals centring around that, our identical little carnivores like to go out for a good steak.  I knew that recently opened Bistro Guillaume’s steak frites would deliver, so off we went.  Guillaume is presiding that evening, in a kitchen that seems to be a remarkable oasis of calm.  He spots us playing a game of Uno at the table – a special birthday request of the Small People – and has a chuckle; I doubt its something he sees too often at his restaurants.

The restaurant itself is classic and spacious; dark floors, comfortable chairs, a smattering of banquettes. The staff are excellent, attentive and knowledgeable and we are very well looked after that evening.

We have our eyes on dessert so skip entrees that night and go straight to mains, though I do want to go back and try a few, in particular the steak tartare and the chicken liver parfait.  They also seemed to be doing a roaring trade in the charcuterie plate.

But first some lovely Iggy’s sourdough arrives at the table with some house butter. I also start with a refreshing Guillaume Spritzer.

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The boys get their desired Steak Frites, which they pronounce to be up to standard.  The Bernaise, which we request on the side, is creamy with the right amount of vinegary tartness.

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My confit of duck is on the small side compared to other mains but rich and delicious. The Small People, whose eyes tend to be bigger than their stomach, like it too.

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The star is the whiting Colbert, Colbert being a French presentation technique. It is completely deboned, and there is some serious chef flair on display here. Totally delicious and the Marito generously hides his reluctance in letting us all try a bit.

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Never ask Guillaume how much butter is in his Paris mash, he won’t tell you, just enjoy it.  And the beans come with a tasty pistachio pesto, though I did not expect them to be cold.

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There are a few individual desserts on offer like the apple tart and the profiteroles, which one of the Small People opts for. The waiter goes to drizzle chocolate sauce on top but the boys have their own idea and hold onto it for later. The vanilla bean ice cream is fantastically vanillery (yes that is a made up word).

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The rest of us only have eyes for the Dessert Trolley, which attracts saucer type eyes from surrounding guests when the waiter wheels it over.  For $25, you can try a bit of each, or as few or as many as you want. I say to our waiter, “So if I just want Paris brest and nothing else, would you just give me half of that wheel?”. “Pretty much”, he replies.

We opt for the lemon tart (the Marito says One.Of.The.Best.Ever), the Paris brest (gorgeously rich and with pronounced hazelnut cream, as it should be), Mille Feuille (wonderful pastry, but overall not as good as the one I had at Jacques Genin in Paris, but I’m being picky), and chocolate mousse (devoured by Small People, not my kind of thing).

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No sweet tooth? Choose from the cheese trolley instead.

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If you don’t want a sit down meal, on the side you can grab takeaway coffee, sandwiches, quiches, and tarts. There was also a rumour floating around that he is planning to air freight in croissants from Melbourne’s famed Lune – hope so, I’m lining up for the almond.

You wanted it to be a Taste of Paris, Guillaume? I think you’ve done better than that.

Bistro Guillaume Sydney, 259 George St, Sydney Ph 02 8622 9555
http://www.bistroguillaumesydney.com.au

Bistro Guillaume Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

No 1 Bent St by Mike, Sydney

Mike McEnearney, like a few other chefs, has migrated to the CBD.  There’s been a flurry of openings this year down this end of town – Mercado, Huberts and Indu spring to mind – with 1821 and Balcon soon to follow.  He’s taken over the short lived Acqua Pazza site, though it now looks much bigger with its polished concrete floors and a variety of tables, including some communal.

The first visit, some three weeks into opening, left me a little gobsmacked when our server said that it was $2 per person for tap water because of “our awesome filtration system”.  They couldn’t be serious, but yes they were, our group paid $12 for Special Sydney Tap.  By my second visit a few weeks later, I was waiting for a repeat of that line, but by then they had cottoned on to the fact that this wasn’t a such a good idea and the awesome filtration water was given free.  The service too was smoother by then, but my dining friend thought it lacked a little warmth and sincerity.

And of course the food, the main event? Well that I think was better on my second visit too, though a mixed bag. But while the food is designed to share, the portions are on the small side.

I will say that overall I think the vegetables overall outshine the protein.  For instance the beetroot, rhubarb and edamame salad was a lovely fresh start.

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So too was a simple watermelon, tomato, mint and haloumi salad

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The chicken liver pate was tasty, but the bread was a little miserly.  We had to ask for more, which was readily provided, but its such an easy thing to be generous with upfront.

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I was a fan of these sweet and sour sardines, ship those in.

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But another seafood based entrée – orange cured mackerel with fennel, endive and pistachio – I found a bit odd.

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The slivers of grilled squid I could find in this dish with beans and chorizo were tender, but the dish needed a bit of salt.

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The beef cheek and bone marrow pot pie had absolutely gorgeous pastry.  A rich and satisfying dish, but $37 is also a rich price for a relatively small pie meant to be shared

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The cabbage was delicious, but the pork stuffing a little bland.

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The whole flathead is a little confronting when it comes out.  It is served on the terracotta tile on which it is cooked, so was a little dry.

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Spit roast chicken – delicious and juicy.  Again for a main with a $39 price tag, its pretty small for a dish designed to share.

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Tender lamb, complemented nicely with sweet pear

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Brussel sprouts with black cabbage and chestnuts – yum.

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No 1 Bent St By Mike, 1 Bent St, Sydney Ph 02 9252 5550
http://www.onebentstreet.com.au

No. 1 Bent St by Mike Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato