Tag Archives: Neutral Bay

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

Bourke Street Bakery, Neutral Bay

011 No, it is not a typo, Bourke St Bakery has finally come Over The Bridge and added another little post in Neutral Bay. They make sensational baguettes and chocolate tarts, but there are times when, frankly, you just can’t be bothered driving to Surry Hills and standing in line to pick them up (yeh yeh yeh sacreligious for a “foodie” – did I mention I detest that word – but there are other things to do as well besides driving around to get things to eat, such as read food magazines and cook books). Though we did have trouble finding the place – a quick phone call (“look for the wheelbarrow”, pictured above) soon led us to a nondescript little corner. It’s a teeny little place with ten or so seats inside and the same again outside, so don’t come with hoards of your friends to sit down. The menu has pies, sausage rolls, sandwiches, even pizza, and there is also a daily soup. 003 002We had to try one of each of the sausage rolls – a vegetarian (chickpea, fetta, eggplant and spinach), the lamb and harissa, and the pork and fennel. The pork and fennel was the crowd favourite, the lamb second, and the vegetarian got thumbs down all round – it was dry, and there was way too much spice (cumin?) which meant you couldn’t taste much else. A tip for the staff – don’t put the paper napkins underneath the sausage rolls – they stick and then you have to peel them off! 004 007Then onto the beef and brisket pie. Phoar, look at that inside – good pie, proper chunks of meat and nice gravy. There isn’t any elegant way to cut or eat it. 006 008The non-diet continued and we moved onto the tarts – rhubarb, ginger brulee, and milk chocolate. 009 The rhubarb surprised me in a good way, it was much better than I expected with a nice balance of sweet and rhubarb acidity, and a lovely pastry. The ginger brulee lives up to the hype – incredibly luscious custard with a perfect amount of ginger, I’ll be back for another. Its a perfect size given the richness. And the milk chocolate which is smooth and a always a good chocolate hit. After pretending that we were just thinking about it, we admitted we really wanted to try the carrot cake and got that as well. 010 It was good, but as my friend aptly commented, its “just another carrot cake”, and not one you’d travel for. The tarts, now they are worth some miles, and now that they are in Neutral Bay, I’ll need to do less of them.

Bourke Street Bakery, Grovenor St, Neutral Bay
Bourke Street Bakery on Urbanspoon

Tapioca, Cremorne

There’s a big divide in the world of Asian desserts – people seem to either love them or hate them, there’s no in between.  Me, I’m in the love camp, so bring on the sago, the black sticky rice and the pandan ice cream.  I’d expect some pretty good tapioca at a restaurant so named. The difference between tapioca and sago, by the way, those silky little pearls – file this away for the next pub trivia night – is that sago comes from the sago palm, and tapioca comes from the root of a plant called the cassava. But you’d be forgiven for mixing them up.

I’d been to Tapioca a couple of years ago, and remembered it being a good meal, so thought I’d give it a whirl with some girlfriends.  Its run by an all Thai team of good pedigree, though their main star, a woman named Air, has been busy at Sailor’s Thai, and is now returning.

The staff are subtle and friendly, a nice combination of attentive without being in your face, and happy to make suggestions to flesh out our chosen menu.  The entrees arrive and are a little disappointing with the flavour balance not quite right – too much ginger on the betel leaves overpowering the trout; heavy handed fish sauce on the cupcakes of prawn and chicken, and a little too much chilli on the scallop such that it is lost.

The winner is without a doubt the deep fried quail egg, crispy noodles surrounding a sweet little egg, with a nice bodied tamarind sauce to drizzle over the top.

We fair much better with our mains.  The jungle curry looks beautiful and has a nice depth of flavour – though blue eyed cod is probably not the best fish for it.  The pad thai is devoured by the table and the side of vegetables is outstanding. The papaya salad is fresh and vibrant.

We’re pretty full by this stage but dessert must be done.  And the tapioca is the star of the night, smooth, not too sweet, silky little balls as they should be. Its a generous serve and we really could have shared, but oh well.

Some dishes in my view need adjusting, which Air’s return may settle, but this is well above your standard neighbourhood Thai. Order well and you’ll have a nice evening indeed. Another plus is that they are BYO and a bottle shop is not far away. They also have banquets available for groups.

Tapioca, 318 Military Road, Cremorne ph (02) 9908 1588

Grilled scallops with mint, coriander, chilli powder-lime dressingtapioca1

Rice cupcakes with chicken and mince prawn (special)tapioca2

Deep fried quail eggs with minced prawns wrapped in eggs noodle with tamarind saucetapioca3

Smoked trout on betel leaves with roasted coconut, peanuts, chilli, lime, ginger and caramel saucetapioca4

Chicken Pad thai with bean sprout, tofu, egg and ground peanuttapioca5

Jungle curry fish of the day with oyster mushroom, corn, snake bean, wild ginger, roasted rice powder

Green papaya salad with sweet and salty pork, cherry tomatoes, snake bean and chilli-lime dressingtapioca8

Pandanus tapioca pudding with young coconut and coconut creamtapioca7

Tapioca on Urbanspoon