Tag Archives: Merivale

Fred’s, Paddington

Unlike many of Merivale’s other venues, Fred’s, on Oxford Street, is a little more intimate, seating only sixty. But that may well be intentional, because they want it to feel like a bit of a home away from home. Walk past the bar at the front (where you can also eat the full restaurant menu)….

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…and into the warm dining room, where the kitchen is more than just an open kitchen, it’s an integral part of the room. You can sit at the kitchen bench, as you would when you are visiting a friend, or at the various tables. Head chef Danielle Alvarez, whose impressive resume includes Chez Panisse and French Laundry, is all warmth and delight.

Fred’s took a lot longer to open than planned, but it seems that this has resulted in a better end product, giving the team time to source from the farmers and suppliers they wanted to work with, and more importantly to Danielle, develop personal relationships with them.

We start with some fougasse, which is meant to be the French equivalent of focaccia. Light and airy, it comes with some delicious whipped butter, and we spread generous lashings of it on the bread.

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The Merivale group’s head sommelier, Franck Moreau is in the house that night. One of only three Master Sommeliers in Australia, and one of the top ranked of his ilk in the world, Franck oozes passion and French charm. Lucky for us, he married an Australian who dragged him over here to live. I can’t get a good shot because he is so animated talking about wine! I tell him I’m partial to pinot noir and he selects one from the New Zealand’s Marlborough region by Pyramid Valley which we all rate.

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The food comes out much quicker than you’d expect. Why? Not because anything has been pre-cooked, but because the quality ingredients, all ethically and sustainably sourced, have been tampered with so little. An entrée, main course and dessert will set you back about $90 – or you can have the 5 course “Danielle’s menu” for $95 – but you can pay for it with a  very clear conscience.

There are two pasta dishes that night, the asparagus triangoli and the casarecce with rabbit. The first is all spring freshness; and in the second the rabbit is beautifully braised. There is also a woodfired squid dish which one of our table tries and loves, and I earmark it for next time.

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We also try a simple salad of golden beets and radicchio. So pretty and so refreshing.

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For main course we try roast duck, ocean trout (which has been cooked rapped in fig leaf), and lamb (roasted over the hearth), with a side of roast potatoes. It is all brilliantly simple and enough to (temporarily) silence a group of feisty talkative women as we savour what is before us.

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We order one of each of the desserts . A chocolate mousse, the rhubarb tart, and the macadamia meringue –  or you can also opt for a cheese plate – and for me the meringue is the stand out, with strawberry and yoghurt sorbet on top.

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Underneath the restaurant is a bar, Charlie Parkers, which has its own bar food menu, and is heaving with patrons trying the inventive drinks menu one week into opening. And although we have already had dessert, I have to try the burnt salted caramel ice cream with rum. So good.

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There are cosy nooks in Charlie Parkers that you can book for groups of six or more, as well as a small private room at Fred’s.

But who exactly is Fred? That will remain a Merivale Mystery.

Freds, 380 Oxford St Paddington, Ph +61 2 9240 3000
http://www.merivale.com/freds

Charlie Parkers
http://www.merivale.com/charlieparkers

Fred's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Newport, Newport

The Newport Arms was always a great place to meet some friends on a Summer weekend and pass a few hours having a chat and a drink.  But there was no doubt it was looking a little tired.  Enter Merivale who have now taken it over (and dropped the “Arms” from the name) and are gradually refurbishing it, with the first stage opening recently. Its a similar concept to Coogee Pavilion, but on a much larger scale, more outdoor space, and that great view over the water. A grey day and coolish day doesn’t stop the crowds from descending; a live band is playing and the atmosphere is relaxed as it ever was.

You’ll need to go with some friends so you can take a divide-and-conquer approach to the food ordering, as its all at separate counters.  There’s The Shack (burgers, fish and chips, salads), Vinnie’s (Pizza), The Kiosk (rotisserie and meats), and The Seafood Market (self explanatory, and they were doing a roaring trade in buckets of fresh prawns and oyster platters).  In the children’s play area you can also grab a coffee and some treats, or a freshly made juice from The Juice Bar nearby.  Thankfully you’ll find a map on the menu to help you out

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Justin Hemme’s was in the kitchen at The Shack that day, not quite flipping burgers but busy at the pass making sure all was running smoothly and calling orders.  And if I’d spent a rumoured $50 million on a site, I’d be doing the same.  Whoever trains his staff though, is worth their weight in gold.  As it started to sprinkle, staff members immediately appeared with bunches of logo’d blue umbrellas, so people wouldn’t get wet while queuing for food.  Others appeared with squeegies, getting water off all the outdoor tables.  It was pretty slick for something that had only been open a few weeks.

The food was tasty and crowd pleasing.  The pizza and the salt and pepper squid were definitely among the highlights.  Burgers looked good but smallish for the price, add a snack of wings to the order as well if you’re going down that route.

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There is a small parking lot (I expect it will be bigger once the full site is complete), but there are also shuttle buses from Manly. Thoughtful lot, aren’t they?

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The Newport, 2 Kalinya Street, Newport
http://merivale.com.au/thenewport

Newport Arms Hotel 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
http://merivale.com.au/jandm

Napoli Restaurant Alert was a guest of Merivale

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

Coogee Pavilion, Coogee

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The Merivale group should offer marketing or business courses, or something.  Like them or loathe them, you’ve got to hand it to them – their ability to take a space, transform it, attract good chefs and instantly draw a huge crowd – and sustain it long term – is enviable.  I’ve been to plenty of their venues – sushi e, Felix, Papi Chulo, Lorraine’s, Palings, Mr Wong just to name a few, and have, for the most part, had great experiences.

Coogee Pavilion is a relatively recent addition to the family.  Like its older siblings it has been transformed into a wonderful space – this time the approach is bright and breezy, perfect for a beachside venue. There is plenty to catch your attention, various counters everywhere, and I love the fact that the tables are nice and spaced out and you don’t have to sit on top of your dining neighbour.

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And the food? Its pretty solid. There’s fresh seafood, pizza, steaks, salads, burgers. If you go all fresh seafood it can be quite expensive, but for a low key pizza and burger its not too bad at all. Its not food that is going to blow your mind, but accessible, pleasant fare for a relaxed meal. Note that it does come from each individual counter so can arrive very quickly – if you want them to space it out let them know.  Otherwise you’ll find your oysters arriving with your pizza and fish and chips.

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And the place is incredibly family friendly. There are high chairs, so cute small people like this one can be comfortable.
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Kids meals are $12.50 and under; the only annoyance of the day was that we had to chase down our kids’ steak repeatedly – it took 45 minutes – but given that the kids were thoroughly entertained they didn’t drive us mad. There is an awesome sizeable room at the back with table tennis, climbing walls, scrabble and a giant connect four among other things. The kids were very happy to run off and play while we sat and chatted and enjoyed our meal. If you want to avoid all that, head up to the rooftop bar which is over 18’s only.

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Coogee Pavilion, 169 Dolphin St, Coogee, Ph 02 9240 3000
http://merivale.com.au/coogeepavilion
Coogee Pavilion on Urbanspoon

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

Papi Chulo, Manly

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Papi Chulo apparently means “pretty boy” or similar in Spanish. Was Justin naming the venue after himself? It’s the Merivale empire’s first move to the Northern Beaches. Looking out over Manly Wharf, the vibe is laid back, the salsa and other Latin American tunes humming in the background. Woodfire, charcoal, and smoking feature heavily on the menu, which is a mixture of South American and the “deep South of the USA” (with a very sideways twist to Vietnam for a salad). Since my better half is a vegacquarian, we didn’t try any of the BBQ meats (and I have had mixed reviews on these from friends with a few disappointed) but the seafood and vegetable dishes we tried were all great.

It’s not perfect, but there is no doubt Justin Hemmes has another hit on his hands.

Summer pea guacamole with tortilla chips. A clever idea using peas instead of avocado – it was fresh, vibrant and had a good chilli kick.

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Grilled corn on the cob, smoked cheese, lime. There was also a sprinkling of paprika. Tasty combination.

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Croquettes mushroom and heidi gruyere croquettes – delicious, but awfully small for $12 – should have been a few more.

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BBQ baby octopus – grilled zucchini flowers, spring onions, soft herbs.  The octopus was wonderfully smokey and went well with the fresh herbs, probably our favourite dish.

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Jumbo king prawns, lemongrass and coconut dressing. Huuuuge prawns! And a great tangy dressing.

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As sides, we got the Curly fries (crunchy but not particularly tasty) and the refreshing Vietnamese coleslaw.

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Not so cool – there is a Papi Chulo burger with the works on the menu, we got a plain cheeseburger version for the offspring, and they charged us full freight for it – $18.

We finished with the warm chocolate chip cookie, vanilla malt ice-cream, butterscotch sauce, macadamia brittle. It’s a rich dessert so good for two to share. Particularly loved the texture and flavour of the macadamia brittle.

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Papi Chulo, 22-23 Manly Wharf,Manly ph (02) 9240 3000
http://merivale.com.au/papichulo/

Papi Chulo on Urbanspoon

Sushi e, Establishment, Sydney CBD

I’ve been to Sushi e more times than I can count over the years. It is seriously good Japanese. But it also comes with an accompanying serious price tag. If you don’t mind that, pull up a seat at the bar if you’re on your own or with a friend; or grab a table for four or six; or, if you feel like settling in for a while, take a seat on one of the plush lounges at the adjacent Hemmesphere and kick back – its quite easy to pass several hours there, with the dulcid tones of Al Green, or other great music from the Hemmesphere CD selection, in the background, cocktail in hand.

Over time, I’ve probably worked my way through most of the menu. I always order the sashimi, it is first rate, and the delicious prawn shumai with the ponzu sauce. I could eat trays of the shumai, but at a hefty $18.50 for six, one tray has to do (Shaun Presland, who started here, also does a similar version at Sake). One dish I hadn’t tried before which I really liked was the crab san choy bow – recommended.

But….I don’t know what was going on with the kitchen that day, but we had to repeatedly ask for our food – we were about to keel over with starvation. Kitchen mix up, our dishes went to other tables, we had all sorts of profuse apologies, we got there in the end but it was a dampener on an otherwise excellent meal – I hope it was just a one off.

Assorted Sashimi
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Prawn shumai
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Soft shell crab san choy bow
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Salmon belly
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Salt roasted duck breast with sansho pepper, ginger, shallots and baby broccolini
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Grilled scampi finished with a spicy lemon garlic sauce, sautéed baby spinach
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Beef tataki with soy dressing
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And a little complimentary dessert, panna cotta
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Sushi e, Level 4, Establishment, 252 George Street, Sydney ph (02) 9240 3000
http://merivale.com.au/sushie

Sushi E on Urbanspoon