Archive for June, 2011

Sur Bourke, Darlinghurst

This cute little café can be found on the other side of Bourke Street, which is on the other side of Oxford Street in Darlinghurst. I don’t usually venture out to that side often, but when I heard about this place I couldn’t help but ‘check it out’ and I am so glad that I did!

It’s a small and cozy café. I love the mis-match crockery, the beret hanging on the wall and the friendly atmosphere.

The menu is written on the blackboard which is hung on the wall and attached on mini clipboards which are placed on every single table. They serve breakfast all day, bircher, toasts, croissants and muffins, for lunch, sandwiches, soup or salad.

B started with the coffee, Toby Estate, it was strong, aromatic and wonderful.

I couldn’t go past the chai latte – something I have enjoyed the past couple of months and the chai latte (loose leaf) was excellent. I loved the chinese teapot, I felt nostalgic and remembered drinking tea with my grandma over cookies and cakes.

I knew exactly what B was going to have. I had come previously and had the fab bircher muesli ($6.00) – told her that the bircher was excellent, so she had high expectation. It didn’t disappoint, the bircher was excellent. Oats, coconut and mixed dried fruit soaked in milk and then topped with nuts and fresh-cut apple. A small shot glass of delicious creamy vanilla yogurt is served on the side. The bircher is made daily, so its fresh and excellent.

I opted for the rocket, spinach salad with parmesan, walnut and pear ($6.00) and add poached chicken for an extra $3.00, and served with a couple of slices of Sonoma bread – YUM! It was served in one of the largest bowl I have ever seen! Generous serving of large chunks of chicken, which were tender and the salad with parmesan, walnut, pear with vinaigrette dressing was fantastic. An endless pit of salad, it was exactly what I needed that day!

I love the bikes hanging on one side of the wall (whoops I have forgotten to take a photo of it!). I heard that the wooden benches and crockery rack were made by Yan’s (owner) father. Yan is uber friendly, and will take a little time out to have a chat with you which is really nice.

A little gem, drop by for a coffee or even toasted brioche with jam or even the daily muffins and immerse yourself in French Tintin Tibet comic books, or magazines or news paper. There’s really not a shortage of café in Surry Hills and Darlinghurst, this is definitely a keeper! No doubt I will be back for coffee and something sweet.

GA’s ratings: 7.5 / 10

Sur Bourke

266 Bourke street

Darlinghurst, 2010

Ph: +61 2 8084 9376

Sur Bourke Espresso Bar on Urbanspoon

Bells, Killcare

My favourite ‘uncle’ really requires no introduction, he wanted to share his thoughts on Bells, Killcare. I had a really awesome experience at Bells, and would love to go back again and pershaps stay overnight. Here is what he has to say…

I’ve been wanting to visit Bells at Killcare for the longest time. I’ve seen the website, read reviews and of course heard from Gastronomous Anonymous herself about her dining experience there! All positive of course! So when Lala mentioned having an offsite near Terrigal, the first thing I said to her was, “Hey, I can fly you up there!” – that’s the same offer I made to her last year when she was going to the Hunter Valley…. her response to both offers were as follows and without hesitation, “Erm, I am not getting into that little plane!” – nothing I could say could change her mind… not even the fact that she could carry more than 100ml in liquids or that she could carry more than 30kgs of luggage could change her mind. Oh well, maybe next year huh! So how did we end up going to Bells? Well, in planning the offsite, Lala’s had to made a few (boring) driving trips to Terrigal. On her last visit, she actually said that Bells was only 20mins away from Terrigal! Awesome!

So here we are. REWIND to the weekend that just passed. Just an hour out of Sydney, we found ourselves in the heart of Gosford, going through some nicely windy roads and eventually reached Killcare! Timecheck: 12.40pm – only 10mins late for my 12:30 booking. I hate being late. I did a shoot in the morning and stupidly left a tad too little time for brekkie or a pre-drive snack! To say I was famished when we reached the front door of the restaurant is an UNDERSTATEMENT.

We were greeted by a lady in dark jeans and a white jacket. Trendy. I noticed that they spelt my name wrong on the reservations book. “Minor detail!” – my stomach tells my brain. We get asked if we wanted to sit inside or on the terrace, a quick glance over to Lala, who points towards the terrace. “Great idea!” – my brain tells my stomach. As we sit down and look around, a lady promptly offers us a choice of beverages. Sparkling water is what we asked for…and it quickly lands on our table, in goblets etched with Bells’ trademark star(fish). Against the lovely winter sunlight, the water glistens… at this point, I sit back and well, have words with my flat and non-existent bum that it’s been quite the drive, but also oh-so-worth it.

The waitress brings us the menu. There is an a la carte menu and a sunday tasting and roast option. My brain didn’t hesitate and said “tasting menu!” Lala agreed. We looked at the a la carte and there was a great selection! Too much choice confuses poor me. I usually end up ordering everything. Oh yeah. It’s scary, the amount I can eat. We also ordered an entrée size of the suckling pig gnocchi. Lala loves gnocchi. And I was hungry, so there was no issue with not being able to finish it.

Before our order is taken, we also get served some really tasty Sicilian and Ligurian olives and a nicely baked parmesan and caper biscottini.

The house bread soon arrives, served with olive oil. As the waitress poured the olive oil into the serving plate, again, it caught the sunlight and it looked like she was pouring liquid gold. I put it down to being hungry and just seeing things…..

So here’s what we had. What I had too much of: the house bread. SO GOOD. Stefano kept asking me if I wanted more. I didn’t want to be rude, so I said “YES PLEASE!” Everything was cooked to perfection. I cannot fault any of the dishes we had.

The potatoes and salad. subtle flavours, nicely dressed and finished.

We also saw Stefano Manfredi serving his dishes to customers. It is very refreshing to owners / head chefs walking the floors these days. Dan Hong, does it, Josh Nicholls, and Stefano as well. It’s just nice seeing the interaction between diners and the owner / chef.

Fig and hazelnut after meal delight.

The ambiance of the establishment is faultless. It’s got a seaside charm. And even though it’s not located on the water, it is near water and the nautical theme of vertical lines repeated in the cushions and upholstery through out was very tastefully done. A log fire in winter always seals the deal! Very charming inside and out.

It’s certainly a place to visit on a day like we had – sunny winter’s day. Clear blue skies, crisp fresh air … with laughter of young children running around the gardens punctuating muffled conversations.

So was my stomach happy? You bet! Ambience, location, service, food and a kind of warmth that you don’t get from many restaurants these days!

It’s another YUM from me or in Gastronomous Anonymous’s term: 8 / 10

Bells Killcare

107 The Scenic Road

Box Head 2257

Ph: +61 2 4360 2411

Manfredi at Bells on Urbanspoon

13b, Darlinghurst

Previously called the Safe House, 13b has been voted as the best bar / café by the SMH Good Café guide 2011. You are probably wondering if I am going to try all the café listed… well you wondered correctly! I am going to try majority of it, I love coffee, café and well it’s a good excuse to catch up with friends!

13b is a café by day and a bar by night. I have yet to come here for drinks at night, however, came here for brunch one weekend and absolutely loved it! The coffee, fantastic! They use Gravity Espresso coffee and it’s absolutely superb! I love the aroma, the smoothness and was just too good not to have another one.

The truffle scrambled eggs with chunks of large chunks of goat curd, prosciutto, avocado and served on grainy sourdough ($16.50) were oh so truffle-y and delicious!

The scrambled eggs were a little too firm and the chunks of goats curd was a little too much for my liking but still wonderful. It was a good hangover breakfast!

I came back on my own about 2 weeks later, a lazy Sunday morning brunch with a book and good food – and indeed it was!

I couldn’t go past the little salsa eggs which consists of thinly sliced sour dough with creamy goats curd soft poached eggs all complimented with custom-made salsa which consists of tomato, cucumber, spanish onion, coriander and fresh chilli ($13.90).

WOW – the ingredients of all the salsa was cut into bite size pieces, fresh and excellent. I loved the oozy egg, I only wished that I got the normal salsa eggs which consists of two of everything instead of just one! It was undoubtedly one of the nicest breakfast I have for a while!

The lunch menu also looked superb. It’s a small funky bar, and definitely lovely place to hang out. Some might say that the marble tabletops is over the top but I like it! The handle reminds me a little bit of Versace Hotel in Gold Coast! A little tacky but quite ‘funky’.

There’s not a shortage of bars in that area…. The Commons Local Eating House is right opposite and 13b is between Doctor Pong and Pocket Bar. I am looking forward to checking out 13b at night soon.

GA’s ratings: 7.5 / 10


13b Burton St

Darlinghurst 2010

Ph: +61 2 9356 8718

13b on Urbanspoon

Sea Treasure, Crows Nest

Sea Treasure in Crows Nest has been around for a very long time now. I remember coming here for dinner with friends about ten years ago and frankly, can’t remember what it was like! The man behind Sea Treasure is Tong Lau, who opened Golden Century in the city in 1986 and ran East Ocean in Chinatown from 1981 to 1991.

Crows Nest is not a place I venture out frequently, however, a catch up with a couple of in laws led us to this place. My cousin-in-law, N, suggested this place, as she wanted to try but knew that just by going with her partner they wouldn’t be able to eat much.

Upon approaching Sea Treasure, my eyes wandered to the many fish tanks that are at the front of the restaurant. The tanks boast ‘thousands of dollars of seafood caught in South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania and New South Wales’. I read that ordering the best seafood from around the nation and maintaining the tanks (which are emptied, cleaned and refilled every two weeks) is a big job in itself! The restaurant looks tiny from the front, however, it seats 126 downstairs and 100 upstairs (not that I remember seeing an upstairs).

The Father-in-Law asked all of us if we would mind having king crab – are you for real? Of course not! Who can say no to king crab! When the waiter came over to show us the king crab I almost fell of my chair. SIX KILOS of king crab the size of my body, ok maybe not that big, it’s head was twice the size of my head! It was humongous!

We started with steamed prawns, cooked in brandy, and shallots. I didn’t realise at the time, he was cooking our prawns, it really did smell divine!

They were deliciously aromatic and plump. I love the hint of alcohol and dipped in the soy sauce, ginger, shallots sauce it was absolutely fantastic.

I am not usually a fan of peeling prawns outside the comfort of my own home and would sometimes just eat the skin, however, considering how we were eating crab, I might as well just peel them and get the hands dirty. I can’t believe ‘The Mother’ ate the skins, sans head of course!

Now the moment we have all been waiting for. SIX KILOS of king crab cooked in three different ways. First course – ginger and shallots. The crab was excellent, juicy, fatty with lots and lots of meat! The only downside was that I didn’t think it was ginger-y enough, it was a little bland.

Second course – probably my favourite one of all – cooked in xo sauce with lots of chili! I am a sucker for xo sauce, which is a spicy seafood sauce made from dried scallops and dried shrimp. Apparently created in Hong Kong in the 80s and named after the XO cognac, the alcohol signifying wealth and status that rich Chinese like to order. The crab deliciously moreish and the xo sauce full of flavours! I couldn’t help but lick all the shell clean!

Third course – probably my least favourite of all. Crab egg noodle stir fry which was served in the crab head – wow – it was huge!

The waiter said to N’s boy friend, who was not Asian ‘If you finish this, then you are truly Asian’. I didn’t even finish it! Does that make me non-asian? It was too creamy, too eggy and too rich for me, even with chili, it was strong and something I didn’t enjoy. The noodles itself was good, just the flavours were just too much. The rest of the family seemed to have enjoyed it though.

Choy Sum served with oyster sauce – simple but delicious!

We don’t usually order desserts at Chinese restaurants, usually, complimentary desserts are given, like fruit platter – oranges, grapes and pomelo.

And of course, these deep-fried dough biscuits which are then topped with sesame.

However, we did order a couple serves of mango pancakes, mango pancakes stuffed with whipped cream and chopped fresh mango. They were excellent and one of the nicest I have had.

Large chunks of mango and generous serving of whipped cream! It was hard to eat just half, we were all fighting for a second serve. Here is a close up of it…

Mango pudding, which also had large chunks of mango and was deliciously creamy and rich.

‘The Mother’ couldn’t go past the coconut jelly. It had a delicious smooth flavour and texture. N thought it was a little bland but ‘The Mother’ loved it.

Deliciously full, we sat and chatted for a while before heading home. I definitely loved the xo sauce king crab, it was excellent.

Sea Treasure is opened for lunch, however, I have had mix reviews about yum cha here – some loves it, some hates it. I have yet to try. They have a wide range of alcohol, however, the boys only wanted tsing tao beer, and service was good. Cost of king crab was around $125kgs, it’s not cheap, thanks Father-in-Law for the delicious meal!

GA’s ratings: 7 / 10

Sea Treasure

46 Willoughby Rd

Crows Nest 2065

Ph: +61 2 9906 6388

Sea Treasure on Urbanspoon

The French House, Waterloo

I was catching up with the lovely Volleyball enthusiast, A, for lunch. It certainly has been a while since we last caught up! We had originally planned to go to Café Sopra, but it was soooo busy that she suggested the French House which is located on the corner of Danks and Young Street.

It’s a cute place, I love the Parisian fit out, the oversized prints and mirrors, and the large communal wooden table in the middle of the balcony. I love the rustic feel, and on a gorgeous day with sun streaming in, it was hard not to sit on the balcony and just chill.

It’s a very relaxing café, you order at the counter and whilst waiting, lust over all the wonderful cakes and pastries, get a number and food will be delivered to your table.

I have been drinking so much coffee (if there is such a thing) that I ordered tea – lemon and green tea ($4). Thought it was going to be warm, but alas no. It was alright but for $4 it was a little pricey.

A opted for the large soy latte, which was served in a huge bowl ($4.50) – how I love drinking coffee out of a bowl.

The spinach Quiche ($6.50) was served warm, I loved the flaky pastry, a heavenly mixture of eggs with spinach and was absolutely delicious!

A had the Quiche Lorraine ($6.50) and judging from how she devoured the Quiche, I can safely say it was probably just as good as mine!

I love how it was served with elegant yet simple crockery, and the food was wonderful and coffee excellent. I noticed someone having soup, pumpkin soup and it smelt divine! Would have definitely enjoyed that too I think.

I love the relax ambience, we sat there chatting and people watching! Will definitely come back and have one of their pre-made baguette sandwich or even a naughty but yet delicious pastries.

There’s really not a shortage of cafes in Waterloo, and this one is definitely a keeper! Jealous that A just lives around the corner from this place.The pre-made baguette sandwiches looked fantastic and check out this gigantic brioche! YUM!

GA’s ratings: 7 / 10

The French House

1 Danks Street

Waterloo 2017

Ph: +61 2 8399 2770

The French House on Urbanspoon