Archive for March, 2011

Brunch at Bitton Gourmet Cafe, Alexandria

I was catching up with the lovely A for brunch and her gorgeous son, B. It was a warm weekday and A suggested Bitton Gourmet café and grocer which is situated in the heart of Alexandria. I heard they serve all day breakfast and lunch – LOVE cafés that serves all day breakfast.

The coffee here is excellent, skim flatwhite – strong, aromatic and absolutely wonderful.

Everything on the menu sounded wonderful. I was tempted to get the French crepes with strawberry and vanilla jam but I’m not usualy a sweet breakfast kind of girl. So instead, opted for the creamy scrambled eggs with taleggio, asparagus, with organic wood-fired bread ($16.20) and a side of spicy baked beans ($6.00).

It was a HUGE serving of scrambled eggs – I didn’t dare ask how many eggs were used. However, it was incredibly creamy and absolutely fluffy. It was an endless supply of eggs and at the end, I really couldn’t finish it all. It was just too much but it was definitely one of the nicest and fluffiest eggs I have had. I have taken a liking into beans, and the Spicy Beans were excellent. Beans with tomato based sauce which had a nice spicy kick at the end. It really complemented the eggs well.

A opted for the poached eggs on an english muffin served with spinach, smoked salmon and hollandaise sauce ($18.70). This looks absolutey superb. Perfectly poached eggs which oozed with yolk on a geneours serving of smoked salmon, and spinach. A demolished this, so I can safely say she enjoyed it. I know at one stage, she was on the hunt for the best eggs benedict in Sydney. Not sure if she has found it yet.

I love the wall of fresh produce upon entering the café.

The shelves that display Bitton’s own range of products – jams, dressings, oils ad chutneys – YUM! They also sell fresh produce, bread and have a freezer at the back of the café for icecream and pastas. A bought a couple of sauces – I have yet to ask her whether or not she has used them.

The café is very child friendly, apparently there is a section at the back of the café for kids – play area full of toys and blackboards.

I love the friendly atmosphere and love the food, which is fresh with a lovely Australian / French twist. The lunch menu also looked superb – spaghettini pasta with crab meat, cherry tomato and chili and garlic masala – will have to try that next time! Bitton also has their own cooking book and apparently offers cooking class which I am keen to attend.

It was so lovely to catch up with A and Benji – he was SO well behaved!

GA’s ratings: 7.5 / 10

Bitton Goumet Café

36/7a Copeland Street

Alexandria 2015

Ph: +61 2 9519 5111

Bitton Gourmet Cafe on Urbanspoon

1945, Pyrmont… revisit

I had the pleasure of dining at 1945, Indonesian dutch restaurant with the photographer (who is also known as Uncle) and his lovely wife E. I also had the pleasure of meeting the owners of the 1945 – owned by three lovely ladies who are all friends and Indonesian.

This is not the first time I have been to 1945, my first visit was a while back now. We left all the ordering to L, who is co-owner of 1945. She dined with us, and I got to hear about how they all met and the story behind it. The three owners all have different personalities but have such great dynamics. I wish I could could cook just as good as the head chef and co-owner Natasha Roesli but we all know that I am definitely better at eating than cooking!

Whilst waiting, we started with the emping (butternut crackers) and krupuk (prawn crackers). The emping was good, crispy and a little plain for my liking. I usually eat emping manis, which is a lot sweeter and spicier.

The krupuk were also good, especially if its dipped in kecap manis (sweet soy sauce) and chili!

Started with es tjintao ($5) – grass jelly drink with pandan flavoured, fresh milk and palm sugar. I asked for it to be less sweet and it was refreshingly good. It did feel me up though, I made the mistake of drinking half of it prior to the meal.

We started with the sate babi ($3) – grilled pork skewer spiced with cumin and coriander basted with spiced sweet sauce. The pork was tender and succulent and I love the spicy sweet sauce.

The sajoer asem ($6) – refreshing sweet and sour tamarind soup cooked with groundnuts and a selection of vegetable is a childhood favourite of mind. Served in a clay pot on top of a bunsen burner, I probably should have let it stew for a bit longer before having some, as it was a little luke warm. I love the combination of sweet and sour.

Next the babi ketjap ($6) – stewed pork belly in sweet star anise and cinnamon sauce. This is very different to how my Mum makes it. The pork belly was tender, the sauce was sweet, it had a subtle cinnamon flavour and was delicious.

This next dish is one of my favourites, terong belado ($5) – deep fried eggplant tomato-based prawn chili sauce. The eggplant was so tender and moist that it required no chewing at all and the the tomato-based prawn chili sauce was slightly spicy but not enough for me.

Goelai daoen kale teri ($6) – silverbeet and mini whitebaits stewed in creamy and rich lemongrass-infused coconut milk was a favourite amongst the diners. The sauce was rich and creamy, the silverbeet cooked to perfection and I didn’t even realise there were mini whitebaits until I had a closer look at the photo. The coconut milk was subtle and the chili gave it that nice kick. It was wonderful but I don’t think I could eat a whole plate of it.

Ajam goreng kremes ($5) – deep fried tender spice-braised chicken served with crunchy crumbs was Uncle’s favourites. It was extremely tender and I love the crunchy crumbs but thought it was a little exy for a small drumstick.

Rendang daging ($6) – tender beef braised in aromatic spices and rich coconut cream was another favourite amongst the diners. However, it wasn’t as tender as we had hoped. E had a rather hard tendon part which she couldn’t eat. I think she was just unlucky, as Uncle and I had a relatively tender meat – it wasn’t as tender as I have hoped though.

I have never had this before so was looking forward to it. Nasi bakar wangi ($5) – mini whitebait coconut rice grilled in banana leaf. I am not a huge coconut fan, especially in rice, but this was delicious and very aromatic! The coconut was subtle, and the whitebait which you can’t see in the photo really complemented it. It was surprisingly good!

Telor Belado ($3) – lightly fried boiled egg served with lemongrass chili sauce is always a favourite of mine. I love the lemongrass chili sauce, the egg was wonderful but at $3 I thought it was a little pricey.

I grew up eating Sambal goreng kentan boentjis ($5) – french beans and deep fried potatoes cooked in galangal, lemongrass and chili, hence is a favourite of mine. Unfortunately for me, I thought the dish was a little lukewarm, I think it would be better if it was slightly warmer. Regardless, the tender bite size potatoes and french beans were wonderful. I love the combination of the flavours.

We also had the perkedel djagoeng ($3) – crunchy corn fritter spiced with corriander. I love perkedel djagoeng. Unfortunately I didn’t take a photo of this, but the corn fritter was excellent, crunchy and sweet from the corn and really brought me back to my childhood. I thought for its size (size of my palm) it was a little steep.

I love the sambal trassi ($3) – traditional shrimp paste chili sauce – it really does hit the spot and the flavours are fantastic. I didn’t get a chance to eat their ‘street foods’ – karedok, shredded vegetable salad served with galingale-infused peanut sauce. Will definitely have to try it next time.

We were stuffed, however, there is always a different stomach for dessert

E couldn’t go pass the es tjendol with extra palm sugar. I love tjendol – a worm-like jelly made from rice flour with green food colouring. It was moist and not chewy and went down so well with palm sugar and coconut milk. E, however, prefers her tjendol a little chewy, she finished all the coconut milk and palm sugar!

Uncle, L and I thought we would share the next dessert – Indonesian version of profiteroles which looks like mini pancakes. They were the fluffiest and moistest lemon mini pancakes I have ever had. Drizzled with icing sugar and served with vanilla bean ice cream and cream these mini pancakes were to die for! It was just too easy to pop one in your mouth and continue popping them! I LOVE!

I didn’t realise until later on that they had roti bakar – grilled bread which is served with banana and chocolate – don’t knock it until you try it. It is GOOD! Next time.

I definitely enjoyed my second visit more than the first. We got to try more dishes which I loved. 1945 is not your typical Indonesian restaurant. For one it is not in the ‘Indonesian area’ of Kensington, Kingsford and Randwick. It’s in Pyrmont and dishes are tapas like and to be shared, they are smaller which means you can try more. Some of the prices for the dishes I thought was a little exy but the flavours and taste were delightful and some were quite similar to what I grew up with which I love!

Service was definitely warm and friendly. I love the outfits that one of the co-owners were wearing – it was custom made, so I doubt I would be able to get it anywhere. I will definitely be back, currently they have a special an ‘All ou can eat rijsttafel’ which started on the 21st March – available on Mondays and Tuesdays for a limited time only. From memory it costs about $39, definitely worth it and will definitely check it out.

My wonderful Uncle paid for dinner but I will return the favour next time round.

GA’s rating: 7.5 / 10

1945 Dutch East

Shop 2 / 42 Harris Street

Pyrmont 2009

Ph: +61 2 9660 9699

1945 Dutch East Indies Cuisine on Urbanspoon

[TOYS] Collective #5: Ballz Deep at Ms G, Potts Point

I have wanted to go to [TOYS] collective event for a while now. I missed their previous events for various reasons, but I was determined to go to the next one. It was held at Ms G’s, the theme was ‘Ballz Deep’ which as Dan described ‘something the chefs can all relate too’. It’s a degustation showcasing the talents of four of the upcoming hot young chefs in Sydney. It costs $120 per head which includes matching alcohol with each course.

I went with the gym enthusiast, S. My dear friend, M was also there with her friends. Unfortunately we didn’t get to sit together. Once seated, we were presented with a cocktail each, created by Charlie Anisbury – he made 100 individual cocktails – I don’t think I even know 100 cocktails! Mine was the ‘Harvey Wallbanger’ – vodka, orange juice galliano and it was refreshingly delicious and light that it went down quickly and nicely.

S on the other hand had ‘Planter’s Punch’ – dark rum, lemon, sugar, angostura bitters. I wasn’t a huge fan of this one unfortunately, only because I don’t like rum!

We started with four different canapes, the first being deep-fried prawn balls, yuzu mayo by Dan Hong himself. This was absolutely delicious – pop in your mouth size, the prawn balls were crunchy on the outside and soft moist on the inside and the yuzu mayo was deliciously creamy and wonderful. I could have easily eaten half a dozen of this.

Next, banh mi of tete de porc, kim chi by Jowett Yu. Similar to the banh mi at Ms G, this was probably my favourite amongst the canapes. Served on a soft fluffy bun, the pork was crunchy and moist and the kimchi was subtle but wonderful. It was scrumptiously good!

Lamb’s balls, shiso pistou by Thomas Lim was nice but probably my least favourite. It was bite size thankfully, and I popped it in my mouth. I didn’t realise at the time, but upon biting, the lamb-y flavour burst into my mouth. It didn’t last long, as it was tiny but the shio pistou was a wonderful complement.

Lastly, steamed pork bun, miso, apple by Nic Wong reminded me so much of the Chinese dish that I love – pork with man tao. Tender, succulent shredded pork served with ‘soft bun, the apple inside was a nice crunchy surprise’. It was magnificient. Each bite was better than the next and the next thing I knew, I was eye-ing S’s pork bun!

Now the shared mains, first course was by Dan Hong entitled deep sea balls – sashimi salad of scallop, fish, tapioca, trout roe, crispy rice and finger lime matched with bishonen junmai ginjo shu sake. This was the dish of the night for me. Fresh sashimi, octobus, scallop, fish with different types of ‘balls’ – ocean trout, tapioca, and crispy rice. I love the subtle spiciness and the crunchy crispy rice balls and as M said ‘such perfect combination of flavours and textures. AMAZEBALLS’.

Jowett Yu combination balls soup – ‘balls’ of scallop, prawn, fish, pork broth served with ramen was probably my least favourite. The flavours didn’t work at all and the ‘balls’ were nice and moist but it really didn’t appeal to me. It was served with 2008 Dveri Pax ‘sivi pinot’ which I didn’t have as I am alergic to white wine (yes weird I know!).

110% Woman by Thomas Lim – chicken breast, oyster and seaweed. The inspiration came from his girlfriend. I know a couple of people didn’t enjoy this dish, they thought the chicken was tasteless and undercooked. The people around M’s table had to use Sriracha sauce to give it some taste. She could see what he was trying to do but it just didn’t work. I thought the chicken was soft and succulent, I enjoyed it and I love the combination of the red cabbage, mushroom and white fungus. Served with 2010 Foster e Roco Sangiovese Rose, Heath cote – Victoria – not my favourite but it did complement the dish.

Lastly, beam’n bone by Nic Wong – smoked pork ribs, chili, bourbon, pickled green tomato. The ribs were tender and had a strong smokey flavour which I loved. I noticed no one used cutlery – they were ‘seriously yummy and the smokiness and stickiness worked perfectly with the watermelon balls’. Two small ribs were defintiely not enough! I wanted more but was getting full by this stage.

The salad I loved. Pickled green tomatoes which was wonderful along with sweet ‘ball’ size watermelon. It was served with macs ‘Sassy Red’ Bitter, Nelson New Zealand.

Before our desserts came, we were presented with iced coffee. Even the iced coffee had a ‘ballz’ theme – PEARLS!!!! It was ridicolously sweet – so sweet that I had to pour water in it and even then it was still too sweet! The pearls were a nice surprise though – bit chewy and hard but a pleasant surprise.

To end, Great balls of fire (and ice) by Bernard Chu and Yen Yee – fried chestnut ice cream, salted egg yolk, liquorice and sour plum was one of the nicest deep fried ice cream I have had. I love good fried ice cream and this exceeded expectation.

The thin crunchy exterior oozed with ice cream and in the middle, a wonderful delight – salted egg yolk and WOW! EPIC! I loved it! I think this was a winner and the perfect way to end the delicious meal.

I am not sure if I liked the liquorice though, it reminded me too much of pi pa gao(Chinese cough medicine)! It seemed as though they have just poured it into a bowl – I was definitely not a fan! But the sour plum was incredibly sour and absolutely wonderful. M on the other hand though LOVED the liquoirce but then again, she loves the cough medicine!

Overall, it was a fun evening, S and I sat together but M who sat on the communial table got to meet new people. It was fun talking to the chefs and meeting their girlfriends, wives and others invovled in [TOYS] collective.

M thought it was a bit weird that they didn’t or couldn’t do anything about her prawn allergy – even if its an extra serving of something else to make for it, given it’s a set menu. She couldn’t eat any of the deep fried prawn ball – which was a shame, and the combination balls soup but don’t think she was missing out there.

I found out later on that each course had its respective music selected by the chef. I did enjoy the music – lots of different types of genre, some I even swayed and dance too!

Overall, it was a wonderful evening, though the delay between the dishes was a tad long. Especailly between the canapes and the shared main. It was still a fun night though and looks forward to the next one. Thanks to the chef and to Mel for a wonderful evening!

GA’s ratings: 7.5 / 10

[TOYS] Collective

Ms G’s

155 Victoria Street,

Potts Point, Sydney NSW

Garden Brasserie, Neutral Bay

I can’t remember the last time I went to Neutral Bay. So long that I didn’t recognise any of the restaurants on Grosvenor Street, including this one Garden Brasserie. We were meeting the traveler, M, for dinner as it was her last week here in Sydney before she ventured around the world again (jealous!). The broker, A, suggested this place and since the traveler lives nearby we thought we would give it ago.

Garden Brasserie has been opened for a year or so now. The restaurant inside has been decorated like a ‘garden’ – plants on one side, white garden tables and chairs and birdcages hanging from the ceiling. It really worked, I really did feel like I was sitting in a garden or a friends backyard. It was definitely quite lovely.

The food is tapas like, to be shared and everything on the menu sounded wonderful. There were five of us that evening, and we all picked a dish that we wanted to try.

We started with the dusted calamari with chili and lime aioli ($15) – hmhmh lime aioli. The calamari was lightly battered, and crunchy. The chili really gave it that extra flavouring and dipped in lime aioli it was just delicious.

The char-grilled chorizo with romesco sauce and caramelised vinegar ($15) was excellent. The chorizo was spicy, the romesco sauce which was made from almonds, pine nuts, garlic, tomatoes and beans were sweet and complemented the chorizo. This was a favourite amongst the diners.

I didn’t have any of the char-grilled lamb cutlets with sobrasada, salsa verde and balsamic ($19), however, A, claimed that I was missing out as it was magnificent. It was cooked medium rare, and the salsa verde was full of flavour and the balsamic gave it that extra sweetness. I had a taste of the sauce and it was good.

I love buffalo mozzarella, especially served with ripened tomato, basil and balsamic ($13). Big chunks of buffalo mozzarella – I love the not so consistent ratio of tomato vs mozzarella – YUM!

The kinkawooka mussels tomato provencal with chili, bacon and shallots served with wood fired bread ($24) was wonderfully cooked. I love the sauce, albeit a little salty for my liking but the chili really gave it that extra kick. It was a generous serving of mussels and they were deliciously juicy and plump.

I couldn’t go pass the grilled baby back pork ribs with garlic, chili and pedro ximenez ($16) – of course! The baby pork ribs were good but not the best I have had. I thought the pork meat could be more tender but I did love the sauce, it was sweet from the grapes, and the chili was really subtle, I think more of it would give it more flavour.

I love good polenta chips with gorgonzola cream ($9). The chips were crispy on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside. The gorgonzola cream was creamy and subtle. However, I did prefer my polenta chips with lime aioli!

I loved the pork belly skewers with sweet cherry and quince aioli ($15). Soft, tender pork belly, the sauce was sweet and creamy and absolutely wonderful. This was probably the dish for me!

We were stuffed, however, S couldn’t go pass the churros with dulce de leche ($12). LOVE dulce de leche and churros. The churros were sprinkled with icing sugar, it was ridiculously excellent! It was so crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. S claimed it was the best churros she has had in Sydney – better than San Churros. The sauce was THICK and sweet caramel like, not your typical milk or dark chocolate sauce. I do prefer my churros with dulce de leche! It was the perfect way to end the wonderful meal.

The service at Garden Brasserie was warm and friendly. I thought the restaurant was a little too dark for my liking, but it certainly did give that ‘garden’ vibe. They also had a wide range of cocktails and an extensive range of wine. On the dessert menu, they had espresso martini – belvedere vodka, coffee liqueur and espresso ($14), which the traveler had and loved!

To my dear friend, M, hope you have a wonderful and safe trip! I do look forward to seeing you again, it has been awesome hanging out with you! Stay safe!

GA’s rating: 7.5 / 10

Glass Brasserie

Grosvenor Street

Neutral Bay, 2089

Ph: +61 2 8969 6900

Garden Brasserie on Urbanspoon

Revolver, Annandale

‘The Mother’ used to live in Annandale with his friends. Planet B was what they called the house of shenanighans and I used to ‘crash’ quite often. I love Annandale, and I would have happily stayed at Planet B, however, the owners were coming back from their travels and wanted to move back in. The corner store was where we would get some of our ingredients if we couldn’t be bothered driving to coles and local paper on the weekends. It has certainly been a while since we moved away from Planet B, that I didn’t even realise the corner store has been converted to a café – Revolver.

Apparently, the building was bought in 2006 by Rodney Jones who renovated the terrace by hand. I love the décor of the café, especially the feature wall with antique shelving complete with trundling library ladder. Café Niki in SurryHills was his earlier successor which I used to visit regularly but think has closed now.

I was here with B one weekday and for a weekday it was surprisingly busy! We rocked up at midday and there was a mini queue but thankfully we didn’t have to wait long to be seated.

We started with coffee and it came fast and was excellent.

I was undecided between the revolver vegie big breakfast and the tasmanian smoked trout on sweetcorn rosti so asked our lovely waiter for his suggestions. He suggested I get the big breakfast as ‘it is different and you won’t get it like this anywhere else’.

So with that, I opted for the Revolver vegie big breakfast ($16) which consisted of two baked eggs, in housemade beans, buttered mushrooms, roast tomato, avocado, danish fetta, hummus and toast served in a cast iron pan. The food was amazingly good – the housemade beans and buttered mushrooms topped with fetta and eaten with hummus and bread was outstanding! I demolished it and probably would have licked the cast iron pan if it wasn’t so hot and considered not classy! B couldn’t believe I demolished the whole thing. I have to say, it is one of the best ‘baked eggs’ I have had in Sydney.

B opted for something ‘healthier’. She had the granola with berries and poached peaches served with yogurt ($10). I felt bad eating something so fullfiling but it was good! Besides, B is on the hunt for the best muesli in Sydney – don’t think she has found it yet tough!

Their lunch option is supposed to be even better than breakfast, but it was my first meal of the day and couldn’t really stomach a cheeseburger. I have heard their cheeseburger is fantastic and saw a couple of people eating it. It looked incredibly delicious. The pepper beef sambo with aioli, rocket and sweet onion is supposed to be a hit also. Will definitely have to come back for their lunch.

The food is all organic and I love how its served on mismatching old school china and crockery. The service was quick and friendly. They also sell cakes, muffins and other sweets which are displayed on the counter. Check out this cute hello kitty sandwich – from memory its nutella? I didn’t buy any but remember regretting it as it would have been nice to have for an afternoon snack.

There are so many wonderful cafes in Annandale. I have missed living there and thankfully Revolver is not too far away, so it can still be a ‘local’. This won’t be the last time I visit, will take ‘The Mother’ here and I am sure he will want to walk pass Planet B!

GA’s ratings: 8 / 10


291 Annandale Street

Sydney 2038

Ph: +61 2 9555 4727

Revolver on Urbanspoon