Friday, 18 April 2014

Globe Bar @ The Langham , Millers Point

Before the heritage building housing the Sydney branch of The Langham joined the international chain, it used to be a boutique luxury bearing the name of the Observatory Hotel. We'd been to the Observatory for high tea many years ago and had enjoyed the atmosphere, so my family decided to pay a visit post-ownership-change.

On the ground level and next to Galileo the restaurant, the Globe Bar & Brasserie offers Tiffin afternoon tea sittings that start from $49 on weekdays and $59 on weekends. Wooden bookcases, dim lighting and dark upholstery differentiate this lounge from its more formal, British counterpart. Kind of like distinguishing between the more relaxed drawing rooms from the sitting rooms a few centuries ago in England. Both elegant and formal, but with different purposes.

There's a relatively small list of teas to choose from, but there's a good mix of black, oriental and herbal teas. I opt for the sencha green tea, which tasted a little strange - sour notes and lacking the fragrance that usually makes green tea so identifiable.


Our 3-tiered stands arrived. On the savoury plate there were smoked salmon and cream cheese, beef (I think?) and egg sandwiches, as well as chicken pot pies. The finger sandwiches were pretty standard, while the pies were pretty tasty, though the pastry was more dense and soft than flaky.

Finger Sandwiches

The scones, with the double cream and homemade strawberry jam, were quite tasty. Mum wasn't the biggest fan of them because they had quite a biscuit-like texture (she prefers the soft, cakier scones), but it's hard not to find scones that have that slight crunch.

Plain and raisin scones

Due to the vast variety of sweets, we couldn't finish them all, but we were assured that we would be able to take them home in plastic boxes (except for the rhubarb crumble, as they were in those little ceramic pots). They were all really sweet - the sweetest was probably the slice of mud cake, because it was pretty much a slab of thick, fudgy chocolate ganache. The little banoffee "pie" was good - the cream, thin slice of banana and the chocolate pastry balanced against the intense sweetness of the caramel inside. I'm not the biggest fan of rhubarb because of how sour it is, but I think the rhubarb crumble was pretty standard, as were the maracrons.

Pastries and cakes

And so we left at the end of our 2 hour seating with stuffed stomachs and still had a box of goodies to take back with us!

Globe Bar (The Langham) on Urbanspoon

Parlour Burger, Sydney CBD

A few Fridays back, I ordered a burger and fries to go from Parlour Burger, an offshoot of the Morrison. The waitress mentioned that they offer a choice between medium and well-done patties. Not wanting to risk contracting salmonella, I opted for the latter. And so we waited. And waited.

20 minutes went by, and the people who had ordered before us were still waiting. They started to check on their orders, and we did the same. "Yes, it's coming" was the general response. Another 15 or so minutes later, our takeaway bags were passed to us. Nearly 40 minutes for a burger and fries.

"It's black! Why is your bun black?!" a friend exclaimed. All other reactions to the black widow burger were similarly incredulous. Thankfully the bun didn't taste like carbon, and the addition of charcoal seems to have purely enhanced the aesthetics/ novelty. The bun was quite fluffy inside, but otherwise fairly ordinary.

The burger was probably smaller than average, but I'm a small eater so it was filling to me. Chipotle mayo was creamy and lightly spicy, while the burger patty was... alright. It wasn't bad, but there were little nervy bits inside that required me to spit discreetly into the paper bag from time to time.

Was it worth waiting for? I don't really think so.

Black widow burger ($10.00)
Well done patty
The duck fat chips cost nearly as much as the burger. And there's not much. While the angle of the photo might enhance the minimalism of the chip numbers, it's actually quite an accurate portrayal. The chips were also quite limp, and being fried in duck fat as opposed to normal oil seems to have done little to the taste. Certainly not something I want to pay $8 for again.

Duck fat chips ($8.00)
I was really ticked off at the time, considering you can get a burger and chips with bigger portions from a food court almost instantly for less than $10.

Parlour Burger on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Mejico, Sydney CBD

Mejico's received a lot of hype since it first opened its doors a little over a year ago. I'd been avoiding the place because I didn't want to hyper-inflate my expectations - I've long realised that Sydney-based Mexican food has a long way to go to compete with the stuff I tasted in London (and despite sounding like the gourmet travellers on My Kitchen Rules, London has quite a few saliva-inducing Mexican-inspired restaurants).

The Boy and I had a chia concoction each (chia-based mocktails). Mine was the white nectar, which reminded me of those Asian aloe vera drinks that you buy to trick yourself into thinking you're opting for the healthy alternative to soft drink. I was similarly hooked. The menu said it also contained coconut, a subtle hint of which permeated the drink.

White nectar ($6.50)

Food came pretty slowly... It took 10 to 15 mins for the waitress to come over to make our guacamole, another 10 to 15 mins in-between the guacamole and tacos, and the ribs arrived 15 to 20 mins later.

The signature guacamole was served with plantain chips (a fruit/ herb similar to banana). Mashed with a mortar and pestle at our table, we witnessed bits of pistachio, chilli and lime juice being ground into dollops of avocado. Normally I'm crazy over guacamole, but this tasted a little bland? I think it needed something like salsa to add moisture to an otherwise creamy paste. And more chilli. Saved a bit to eat with the tacos, but as the dishes come in bits and pieces (and we were famished), we'd gobbled most of it up.

Signature Guacamole ($12.00)

When my boss heard that I was going to Mejico, he really talked up the trout tacos. Can't say he was wrong, because the trout was light and seared beautifully. The chipotle mayonnaise and jalapenos added a bout of much needed flavour. Highlight of the meal.

Trout tacos ($16.00)

The chicken tacos were alright. Came with chorizo, cumin and cucumber salsa. Not dry or tasteless, just overshadowed by its fishy sibling.

Chicken tacos ($16.00)

It took a while for the glazed pork ribs to arrive. There were maybe.. 6 ribs? It was quite a heavy dish, particularly paired with the polenta. The glaze wasn't spectacular, but tasty enough. Meat was tender and fell off the bone.

Glazed pork ribs ($38.00)

Of the 4 food items I ordered off the menu, I would probably re-order the trout tacos (delicious!) and the ribs (as a stomach filler). It's not to say the other 2 were bad, but they weren't that memorable/ can't quite justify the prices.

MĂ©jico on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 6 April 2014

York Trading & Co, Sydney CBD

I first noticed York Trading & Co (and the new nearby sushi place) looking out from my bus on weekday mornings. Although it looks like a bar, the fact never quite sunk in because the coffee and breakfast grabbers impressed me with associations of the morning.

Regardless, I've since realised they serve liquor and not-so-breakfasty food. The concept is simple - it's New York themed, fittingly on York Street and caters for both the sharers and the selfish (or more accurately, the germaphobes). Being a bar, it was too dimly lit for me to bother taking photos of the premises, which was divided into a narrow bar area and a more open restaurant section. My friend hadn't made a reservation, so a table wasn't an option. Instead, we perched ourselves precariously on the slightly wobbly bar stools.

A quick glance at the menu revealed there were no specials that day - the caption for Friday was something like "because you deserve a drink".

"Since we need a drink at the end of the week, we should be paying full prices," one person mused. My dad would certainly applaud the business sense of levying the captive market!

At the time of ordering, I was feeling ravenous, cantankerous, and certainly did not want to share. I didn't want a heavy meal, though, since one drink is enough to make me half-full. Instead, I selected the "roast pumpkin, smoked mozzarella and guacamole piadina", thinking it would be similar to a panini. Turns out it's more like a quesadilla of flatbread, or an Italian version of naan bread cum cheese melt. Sounds obscure, but it was prettttyyy good. Though the pureed pumpkin was sweet, it wasn't overly so. In any case, it was offset by the richness of the cheese and avocado. Portion-wise, it's great for sharing, but you can also eat it on your own - it certainly made me full!
Pumpkin piadina ($15.00)

Having a penchant for cocktails, I also had the "I Heart NY" and the "YT Pharmaceutical Stimulant".

"I Heart NY": Apple jack brandy, blood orange liqueur, passionfruit, orange citrate bitters. As its contents suggests, this one was heavy on the citrus. Strong lemony flavours abounded.

I Heart NY ($18.00)

"YT Pharmaceutical Stimulant": Very fun to say. Basically an espresso martini- Campos coffee, vodka, coffee liqueur and vanilla. Strong coffee taste, not that creamy - the top layer of foam isn't as thick as it looks. Halfway through and I couldn't finish as it was too sweet. Pity because it's actually quite nice.

YT Pharmaceutical Stimulant ($18.00)

York Trading & Co on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Sushi E, Sydney CBD

The Boy and I intended to pop into the Establishment Bar for quick dins, but because he has his fob moments, we ended up heading to the lift and away to the Hemmesphere level for sushi.

Nigiri whipped up right in front of you!

 I've stated a zillion times that I hate sushi with dry rice and tough seaweed. The dragon ash roll we shared was AMAZING. Strong smokey flavour in the salmon made a great companion to the fried shallots, which are so often relegated to the role of a garnish to noodle soups.

Dragon ash roll ($22.00)
That moment when people eat food while taking happy snaps >:/ How dare they?!

 Had my first beef tataki - thinly sliced seared beef fillet. Really tender - not sure if it was because it was grain fed, Angus, tenderloin, or all of the above. Could have eaten it alllll on my own.

Beef tataki ($30.00)

The grilled miso cod was flaky and light. It was hard to eat without rice, though, as the salty flavour reached a crescendo after a few bites - the same feeling you get when you eat too much lobster.

Miso cod ($34.00)
Chill atmosphere. Pricey food but well worth it.

Sushi E on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Opera Bar, Sydney Opera House

One Friday evening, I made my way to Opera Bar with a bunch of my girlfriends (hereafter called CC, Spoon, Tea and Shell) for a night of chatter and grazing. Tea was visiting us from HK, so we were keen to sit somewhere comfortable. However, as with all the other watering holes in Sydney, the after-work crowd swarmed around the outdoor tables and created a haze out of cigarettes. Indoors, was thankfully non-smoking and, since there's no good view from indoors, there were plenty of tables to choose from!

We slid into a cosy booth, dispatching Spoon on a mission to obtain a jug of Pimm's. The first attempt failed. The bartender thought she could pass for an under-18 teen. It will be a sad day when we treat that as a compliment...

Jug of Pimms (~$40)

We were pretty spoilt for choice in terms of sharing plates. CC recommended the tasting platter for the variety and large portions. She was right in saying that it could feed 4 (though the menu says it serves 2 to 3) - but I'll get to that later.

Lamb ribs were my order. Sweet, sticky and meaty, these honey-glazed morsels fulfilled my carnivorous cravings. Similar to the pickled condiments you get in Cantonese restaurants upon arrival, the accompanying pile of sliced cabbage was sour and vinegary. The others didn't like them because they weren't used to the strong flavour, but I found it enjoyable.

Lamb ribs (~$16.00)

The yam crisps were surprisingly cheap (for the place), considering yam is expensive and this was a bit of a novelty. They were good munchies, but not exactly the main attraction.

Yam Crisps ($8.00)

The tasting platter was really 2 plates, so it felt like pretty good value. The bottom level consisted of a tuna terrine with dill, thin crusty slices of bread, juicy pork belly buns (pretty much gua bao) and chunks of trout on little wooden sticks.

Opera Bar Tasting Plate - 1st tier ($48.00)

The top level was made up of sardines, potato croquettes, mini (not that mini) chicken pies, and small green pickled chillis with cured meat. Shell refused the sardines. I was about to, but figured I might as well give them ago. Really fishy, as expected, but the topping of peppers helped a little. Croquettes were as they should be - crunchy and crumbed outside, but creamy inside.

Opera Bar Tasting Plate - Tier 2 ($48.00)

Satisfying comfort-food.

As an aside, I must say that the skill of the waitstaff at carrying large numbers of glassware was admirable. It wasn't an uncommon sight that night for a man to pass by with glasses stacked from below his waistline and reaching above his head. CC swore the girls could do just as well.

Opera Bar on Urbanspoon

Monday, 10 March 2014

Le Pub, Sydney CBD

When I visited Le Pub as part of a group of 5, I was expecting a set-up with more similarities to a Parisian bistro (the menu certainly consists of bistro food), but the DJ with doof-doof music operating under dim lighting reminded me of the Square Bar instead. I guess it's more lucrative to appeal to the drinkers on Friday nights, as evident from the empty tables in the half of Le Pub reserved for diners.

Our energetic waitress highly recommended the special of the day - the organic free range country chicken, leek, mushroom and tarragon pie served with truffled mashed potato. She also good-naturedly handled the barrage of questions asking whether she would pick the lamb or the pie, the chicken or the lamb, and so forth. Most of us chose the chicken pie - we were told that pie is one of Le Pub's specialties, along with the lamb. Someone cynically remarked that perhaps they'd made too many pies that day and were trying to push them off onto us. I'd had the same suspicions, but didn't want to voice them for fear of the truth...

One of my childhood friends exclaimed, "Who would pay $24 for a pie?!" He'd imagined those little frozen pies with the nervy beef filling that school children love buying at sports carnivals. Disgusting stuff. But no, these are pot pies served in ramekin dishes, with golden puff pastry wrapped over the top and a stew of meat and vegetables inside. Ours weren't the prettiest to look at, but the pastry tasted handmade and they were generous with the chicken inside. The truffled mashed potato was smooth, silky and buttery. If it contained a few potato clumps, it'd be just the way I like it. Sadly, most people have a phobia of lumps in their mash :(

Chicken pie ($24.00)

The childhood friend ordered the chicken - chicken breast on corn puree, with semolina frites and crispy jamon. I tried a chunk of it - tasty, crunchy, but a bit dry. 

Poulet ($25.00)

The other non-pie-eating friend received her lamb neck (with eggplant fritters, tomato dust, herb pistou and shaved cauliflower salad). She cut off a piece for me. The lamb could have been served alone and it would have been delicious. As a result of the long cooking (simmering?) process, it was cooked through entirely, yet tender and juicy. Lamb Eater must have sensed my food envy, as from time to time she muttered triumphantly that she'd made the right choice.

Collet d'Agneau ($26.00)

Le Pub on Urbanspoon