Tag Archives: Review

Restaurant Hubert, Sydney

Push open the heavy door. The sound of Jazz music comes up the spiral staircase.  Descend said stairs past thousands and thousands of mini-bar style bottles.  To my right is a queue of people waiting for a spot at a cosy bar with its own bar menu.  To my left is the restaurant, full of relaxed, post work chatter.   A grand piano sits on a small stage, red curtains behind it.   It is waiting for someone to belt out some Gershwin or Piaf.  Welcome to Hubert, dripping in atmosphere and conviviality.

Hubert was one of the hottest openings of 2016, it was near impossible to get a spot unless you were willing to get there for a Nursery Hour dinner or, at the other end of the spectrum,  at the time you’d usually be lining up at Golden Century for post drinking salt and pepper squid.  The website had people cursing in frustration – in the first few months there was no menu to peruse, no bookings except for 6 or more and only allowed within a certain number of days in advance, no phone number if you needed to make a change, dinner only, lunch mas non, and truly suboptimal lighting for ‘Grammers.  Other than the booking policy and the lighting, the other things have thankfully changed.

On my first visit I thought that the place was perhaps a wee bit overhyped.  On my second visit though, coinciding with their one year anniversary, I bought into the dream. There’s some pretty fine French fare going on here so take a bunch of your friends so you can work your way through it, some of the plates are too big for two to share.  There was a wonderful sounding whole duck special that night, but designed for 3-4. No surprise that the place got a two hats debut.

The very long wine menu makes for some entertaining reading, peppered with a staff Q&A. There are several pages just of whisky, so my friend thought that no pinot gris by the glass was a little black cross.

hubert (2)

The bread bought to the table is just excellent, and so is the butter; it would be easy to gorge on it.  But I’m surprised that it is what goes with the smooth and delicious duck pate, I would have preferred some thin crisps instead.

hubert (5)hubert (4)

Love the wagyu tartare (what’s left of it, I forgot to take a photo); unusual combo with the French fries, which are smattered in herbs and finger licking good

hubert (14)

The Clams Normande come in a light buttery fish stock, I dip the bread in so as to soak it all up.

hubert (15)

The pickled octopus with kipfler is a bit too acidic for me, but that’s my fault for not reading the word pickled on the menu.

hubert (3)

I’m also not that big a fan of the much talked about Malakoff, a deep fried gruyere.  One mouthful does the job, it is quite rich.

hubert (7)hubert (8)

But I love the lobster spaghetti, done in a lobster sauce with cherry tomatoes and chives.

hubert (6)

The John Dory provencal is simply done, poached with a topping of tomato, olive oil and basil.

hubert (16)

The crew put their own spin on Pommes Anna, taking the potatoes vertical instead of the typical French horizontal.  Ah that beurre blanc.

hubert (17)

On my second visit though the four dishes my friend and I had ordered were bought to the table all in extremely quick succession and we ran out of room, perching one precariously on a wooden divider. Gotta turn those tables folks. Long and leisurely is not the name of the game if you eat before 8.30pm.

I did love both the desserts I tried.  They are very generously sized, and easily shared between two.

The Santa Claus melon with finger lime, sorrel jelly and young coconut sorbet is wonderfully refreshing.

hubert (18)

Having had a few enjoyable vacherin desserts in my time – typically layers of meringue and cream – I decide to try theirs.  It makes me chuckle, it looks like it should have a barbie doll sticking out of the top of it – remember those barbie toilet roll holders? Lurking behind the cream is the meringue, which when smashed though reveals a delicious combination of sauternes ice cream, honeycomb, lemon and mandarin.

hubert (9)hubert (10)

There’s a private dining area available and also a banquet menu for groups.

hubert (1)hubert (11)hubert (12)hubert (13)

Restaurant Hubert, Basement, 15 Bligh St, Sydney
Ph 9232 9881
http://www.restauranthubert.com/

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

Flour Eggs Water, Tramsheds Harold Park

floureggswater (17)

The folk from A Tavola know their pasta and do it well, and they’ve expanded the family with the opening of Flour Eggs Water at the recently redeveloped Tramsheds precinct.  It’s a long narrow space where you can sit at a bench or on a communal table, and where you’ll be warmly welcomed by the staff, as I was on both my visits.   It isn’t an overly long menu, but one that changes regularly depending on what’s seasonal, and you’ll recognise a few favourites from the original A Tavola in Darlinghurst.  The menu is a little bit of a meander through Italy, as you’ll see a bit of Sicily, a bit of Sardinia, and some Calabria and Piedmonte thrown in for good measure.

floureggswater (6)

Start off with some beautiful San Daniele prosciutto and a hunk of buffalo mozzarella. It was gone in seconds.   They also give you some house focaccia which is so light and airy, but we ate it too quickly to take a picture of it!

floureggswater (9)

We tried the cuttlefish with fregola and pane carasau (there’s your Sardinia) with watermelon and mint. The latter ingredients added beautiful freshness and the cuttlefish was well cooked, but I did find the dish a little dry, it needed more of a dressing.

floureggswater (2)

On the other hand the beef tartare is a bit too saucy and acidic and the beef is a bit lost.  Excellent crunchy slivers of bread served with it though.

floureggswater (7)

But then the pasta arrives and shines.  Even Mamma Rosa gives it a tick of approval, so it must be good.

The malloreddus with pork and porcini is fragrant and rich and just gorgeous.  It’s a very generous serve too.

floureggswater (3)

Vegetarians will be absolutely delighted with the agnolotti dal plin (there’s your Piedmonte), with eggplant, scamorza, ricotta, salata.  The problem is it is so delicious the non vegetarians will want to steal it.

floureggswater (13)

Crab fans will enjoy the mezzelune with crab, ricotta and asparagus.  They come in a bit of a bisque.  One of my sorelle finds it a bit too fishy but I enjoy it.

floureggswater (10)

I also rate the chittara al nero di sepia with prawns, basil and pistachio (hello Sicily).  Chittara means “guitar”, the pasta being so named as it is traditionally made using a tool with strings, like a guitar. Lovely flavour combination, must try and make this at home.

floureggswater (4)

The pappardelle with lamb is one of their signatures.  The pasta is silky smooth. I do like lamb, but not in ragu form, so this wasn’t a favourite for me.

floureggswater (12)

Accompany your pasta with a refreshing salad.  Loved the red cabbage salad with raisins and walnuts.

floureggswater (1)

Otherwise there’s radicchio with witlof with fennel, orange mint and lemon.

floureggswater (11)

If you have room for dessert, there’s a few A Tavola favourites.

There’s the tiramisu, which in taste reminds me very much of my version.

floureggswater (14)

Or the cremino al cioccolato (from the original Darlinghurst venue), which looks like a cappuccino but isn’t.

floureggswater (15)floureggswater (16)

If you’re too full but just want a little sweet, try a cannolo.  It’s pretty good with a crunchy casing, but there are others that I prefer.

floureggswater (5)

Overall, its a lovely spot for a casual Italian meal, one you can easily drift to regularly.  Tutti a tavola!

Flour, Eggs, Water, Tramsheds Harold Park
Ph (02) 9188 7438
http://www.tramshedsharoldpark.com.au

Flour Eggs Water By A Tavola Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Queen Chow, Enmore

queenchow (1)

The Merivale winds, having blown North, South and East, have found their way to the Inner West, this time transforming Enmore’s Queen Victoria Hotel. Gone are the Indiana Jones pinball machine, the pool table and the pokies.  Instead you’ll find a variety of taxidermy (!), a baby elephant figure,  a Roman statue, and some mighty fine Chinese.

queenchow (18)queenchow (4)

Downstairs, while flanked by a long bar, is a bit more sombre and restaurant-y. Upstairs is The Smelly Goat bar, with some cool and cosy little nooks, and a lovely light filled enclosed outdoor dining verandah.  The staff are on top of it all and very welcoming.

queenchow (17)queenchow (16)queenchow (3)queenchow (2)

We start of course with dumplings (Eric Koh is in da house) which are all delicious. The Marito and Small People particularly rate the prawn har gau, and the casing is definitely more delicate than elsewhere.   I had my eye on the lobster and asparagus dumplings for my second visit but they had disappeared from the menu!

The duck spring rolls remind me very much of Mr Wong, which is not a bad thing at all.  There’s a reason why Mr Wong is still packing them in every night 5 years on.

queenchow (5)

There’s a twist on the classic cheung fun – here the cuttlefish is wrapped it a fried bread crumb then the rice noodle.   The Marito gives this a big thumbs up.

queenchow (14)

I love the salt and pepper squid, silken tofu and prawns with chilli bean mayo.  Done with such a light hand.

queenchow (9)

I also really like the “slightly fires the emperor” of cuttlefish, macadamia and garlic chive (though there isn’t much cuttlefish). Its fresh and the macadamia and crunch of baby corn add some good texture.

queenchow (15)

But I’m a little disappointed with the angus beef, served with baby king oyster mushrooms and potato.  Its a little dry, the beef is chewy and the potatoes are bland.

queenchow (20)

The barbecue duck though, is juicy and tasty

queenchow (11)

Back onto seafood, we’re winning.  The steamed market fish (that day barramundi) with ginger, shallot, and white soy, is a deftly executed Chinese classic.

queenchow (10)

The Moreton Bay bugs with kombu butter and asparagus are dressed to impress.

queenchow (21)queenchow (22)

And make sure you leave room for the fried rice.

queenchow (19)

There are desserts on the menu, but its pretty hard to resist the lure of Cow and Moon right next door, where we bump into fellow diners.  However you will get fortune cookies with your bill.

queenchow (12)

On behalf of Italian Mammas, I do have a bone to pick with you Queen Chow – shall we take it outside?

queenchow (13)

Queen Chow, 167 Enmore Road, Enmore
Ph 02 9240 3000
http://merivale.com.au/queenchow

Queen Chow Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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

encasa-1

Scallops with a saffron cream sauce – a tasty smooth sauce and plump fresh scallops

encasa-3

The tortilla de patata, a potato and onion omelette, didn’t look terribly exciting on the plate but delivered on flavour

encasa-4

Sizzling prawns had a delicate hit of chilli and were also enjoyable

encasa-6

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.

encasa-5

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.

encasa-7

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.

encasa-8

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.

burntorange-1burntorange-2burntorange-3burntorange-4

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.

burntorange-7burntorange-8burntorange-9burntorange-10burntorange-12

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.

burntorange-11

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.

burntorange-5burntorange-6

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

Osaka Trading Co, Tramsheds

Saturday night, booking in hand, the Marito and some friends and I headed to the recently opened Tramsheds re-development.  It’s well designed with a good variety of venues at various price points, where you could easily find yourself going regularly. There’s also a large supermarket, a nail bar, a barber and a bottle shop.  Some of the restaurants such as Fish & Co do takeaway, so you can sit in the casual eating area if you prefer this, as well as an area with pop ups that changes very frequently.

We headed for the modern Japanese eatery Osaka Trading Co which we all really enjoyed and would happily go to back to.  Service was friendly, if a little distracted given how busy they were, and we were pretty impressed with how a teeny kitchen churned out the food.

A refreshing cocktail and some edamame to start, and we were off.

osaka-10osaka-11

Our first dish was a special that night, prawn katsu, rather than the traditional pork katsu. Made with minced prawn, this was so delicious with crispy fresh lettuce and a mayonnaise.  We were tempted to order another round of it but we knew we had a lot more food coming.

osaka-12

Loved the grilled Hokkaido scallops, served with sweet soy onion butter, a beautiful velvety sauce.

osaka-13

The tempura zucchini flowers were the right amount of crispy but I wasn’t a big fan of the fish mousse inside

osaka-14

The octopus, while tasty, was unfortunately a little chewy. The little cubes crisp potato were very morish.

osaka-15

Also on the specials board that night was Hapuka fillet with buckwheat, shio koji (salted rice malt) and sorrel.  This was lovely, the fish was so delicate, and it would make a great individual main if you preferred that to sharing.

osaka-17

The heirloom tomato salad came with yuzu kosho which is like a citrus chilli pepper and gave it a good kick.

osaka-16

Last was wagyu tri-tip with Japone sauce which was so tender and so juicy. Beautifully cooked.

osaka-18

The dessert menu was short, three desserts or so, but we opted to head over to Messina for a gelato, which was doing a roaring trade.

Osaka also have a banquet menu available for $50 per person.

We will certainly be back at Tramsheds (in fact we have already since this first visit, and the Small People have their eye on The Butcher and The Farmer for their birthday dinner), the thoughtful mix of venues and regularly changing pop ups ensures there is likely something to tempt everyone.

osaka-2osaka-3osaka-4osaka-5osaka-6osaka-7osaka-8osaka-9

Osaka Trading Co, Ph +61 2 8880 0717
http://www.osakatrading.com.au/

Osaka Trading Co. 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.

1821-3

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.

1821-4

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

1821-5

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”.

1821-6

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

1821-7

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.

1821-8

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.

1821-9

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.

1821-10

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.

1821-11

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