Tag Archives: Review

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.

jadetemple (1)

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.

jadetemple (2)

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

jadetemple (3)

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.

jadetemple (4)

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

jadetemple (15)

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

jadetemple (12)

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

jadetemple (13)

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.

jadetemple (14)

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.

jadetemple (5)

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

jadetemple(16)

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

jadetemple (7)

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.

jadetemple (6)

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

jadetemple (8)

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.

jadetemple (9)

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

jadetemple (10)

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

jadetemple (11)

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.

bacco-osteria (1)

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.

bacco-osteria (2)

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

bacco-osteria (3)

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

bacco-osteria (4)

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

bacco-osteria

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

bacco-osteria (5)

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

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