Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Glass Brasserie, Sydney CBD

My first visit to Glass occurred a couple of years ago, a little before it received a hat in 2011. It left me starry-eyed from the marvellous experience, with charming waitstaff, delicious food and generous portions. By generous, I mean that to have an entree and a main was too much to stomach, as the entree was the size of a small main, and a main was larger than average, distinguishing Glass from  other fine dining restaurants. This meant that my expectations were, unfortunately, pretty high when I decided to revisit more recently. Don't get me wrong, I had a good time, but it just wasn't the same.

  • Ambience was perfectly romantic - dimmed lighting and neutral hotel-type music to complement the easy flow of chatter.
  • Service is attentive - water glasses were kept full and the staff made sure to ask about how we found the food each time our plates were cleared.
  • Comprehensive wine list
  • Food was good, though portions were on the small side...
The detail:

It was a weeknight, so all diners were sectioned off to one half of the room. The menu contained a nice selection of red meats (lamb, venison, a number of steak dishes) and fish, but SO was appalled to find that there were no chicken mains.

View from our table

Orders were placed and the waiter returned with a dish of olive oil and raisin/ white bread - probably made on the premises as the above photo indicates. That bread is so scrumptious I would buy a whole loaf if I could.

Bread :)

I had two scallops from the tapas menu, which were seared and adorned with lemon curd, leek, crispy bacon and horseradish. That curd was really sweet and didn't mesh as well with the scallops as I thought it would. The scallops were seared indeed, but I think I prefer mine to be cooked a bit more - it didn't offer much resistance when I bit into it. That mix of vegetable topping tasted lovely, however.

Scallops ($8/ piece)

SO had an entree of chorizo, octopus, piquillo (some sort of chilli pepper) and romesco (pepper based sauce). The chorizo was one of the best I've had - pretty much a gourmet sausage which was full of flavour from the herbs. It was a pity it wasn't spicy, though the romesco sauce more than made up for it. The octopus was a little rubbery but overall tender enough. Definitely had food envy here.

Chorizo and octopus ($29.00)

My main was the dry-aged lamb rump with eggplant, spaetzle (some sort of German egg noodle), Tuscan cabbage, and Tasmanian mountain mustard. The Tuscan cabbage was crunchy and crisp (imagine seaweed snacks but more crackly) in contrast with the chewiness of the lamb. Pretty good comfort food!

Lamb rump ($46.00)

SO ordered a steak - Beef City grain-fed Black Angus eye fillet. It was kind of lonely looking, even with the asparagus alongside it. We weren't sure whether it was actually 250g looking at it, but that's probably due to the cut, since eye fillets are typically, tall, round and smaller in diameter. He seemed to enjoy it...

250g eye fillet ($49.00)

We each decided on a glass of fortified wine to sip alongside dessert. The tawny was considerably stronger and heavier than the sweet, light All Saints topaque, which I guess I should have known (though in my defence I'm not accustomed to port/ tawny). The tawny smelt like golden syrup and tasted a little bit like those red dates that the Chinese throw into soup.

Settetsfield DP90 Tawny ($15.00)

All Saints Topaque ($16.00)

For dessert, we shared the toffee souffle with pecan butter ice-cream. The toffee souffle had the texture of a moist pudding. Best eaten with the ice cream rather than separately, as the ice-cream had more flavour.

Souffle ($22.00)

It was thus that our meal was concluded.

Glass Brasserie on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Riddick - One thing that disturbed me... *minor spoiler*

Although I've been keeping this blog strictly limited to food, I just have to write away one thing that's been eating away at me ever since I watched the movie Riddick yesterday. I haven't seen Pitch Black or Chronicles, but you didn't really have to in order to follow the plot (except in understanding the background of one of the bounty hunters out to get Riddick).

So my little internal rant has not been about the plot, the cinematics, the acting or anything that a movie critic would gripe about. Rather, it's about the dog dying. Yes, there's a dog. A ferocious, predatory jackal-like alien canine, but a dog, nevertheless. And you watch Riddick raise it from a little puppy by feeding it, immunising it against the deadly mud creatures (or, less politically correct, testing a makeshift vaccine on a poor unsuspecting animal) and embracing the CGI puppy in his arms (er.. arm, since he's clearly so strong and manly he doesn't need both arms).

And, like most movies with dogs in it, you grow attached to it and then it gets killed off protecting its owner. Why is it always a dog, anyway? Why can't it be a cat? Or a killer hamster?

I try to console myself with the thought that the dog would have died anyway from the mud aliens, and it suffered an honourable death in the heat of battle. But it still reminds me of my own dog and how she's not going to live forever :(

I then started to think about similarly horrible movies/ video games...
  •  I Am Legend: Have not watched this on principle because I know the dog dies.
  • Marley & Me: Foolishly watched this when it came out in the cinemas. Marley lived a good life, but I don't want to be reminded of the probability that you will outlive your dog.
  • The Evil Dead: I don't like horrors. I now detest them after the drug addicted lady butchered the dog.
  • Fallout 3: Yes, I know Dogmeat's not fated to die via the plot. And I know Broken Steel practically makes Dogmeat immortal... BUT without that expansion pack, Dogmeat is just that. Furthermore, Original Dogmeat died a tragic death from a forcefield.
  • Fable II: Another video game, but this time the dog's death is part of the plot. Obviously I chose the 'Love' ending to resurrect it.

Throughout this whole mourning period, I came across a website that I've bookmarked for future references. The boycott starts now >:(

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Carre Noir, Chatswood

When it first opened, I wasn't sure what to make of Carre Noir. It appeared to be a cafe. With al fresco dining. And a chocolate fountain. Which serves fancy dinners. So it's a chocolate cafe in the daytime and a formal restaurant at night? And so of course I sampled neither of those facets and went there for brunch.

We entered Carre Noir via the Victoria Avenue entrance instead of the Concourse side, and were greeted by no one until we went up the flight of stairs to the Concourse level. I'm not sure if it's intentional to situate the patrons in this upper section of the cafe, but they should probably put a sign up on the bottom level to direct people there - we nearly gave this place a miss because we weren't sure if it was actually open, and a considerable amount of pedestrian traffic flows along Victoria Avenue.

Service was jovial, but the food was a little slow to arrive.

Clipboard menus like all mainstream hipster cafes ;)

When it first opened, my parents had a poor impression of Carre Noir as it displayed a sign boasting the best coffee in Chatswood. Telling said parents that the sign, like advertising in general, was mere puffery has done little to assuage their irritation upon their discovery it didn't live up to my mum's expectations... Nevertheless, as coffees go, it was neither fantastic nor repulsive. My flat white was served in one of those dainty ceramic mugs that cafes are so fond of these days.

Flat white

I had decided on the breakfast board, which was more filling than I thought it would be. The board consisted of a slab of avocado, a pesto spread, halloumi cheese, proschiutto, a couple of poached eggs, toasted sourdough and heirloom tomatoes.

Verdict? Egg yokes oozed out, heirloom tomatoes were sweet and juicy (first time I enjoyed eating tomatoes on their own), and the halloumi slices were grilled til they bore a lovely crisp exterior and a chewy interior. It made great comfort food.

Breakfast board ($15.00)

Brunch partner ordered braised chorizo with a side of prosciutto. It contained borlotti beans, dukkah (mixture of herbs and nuts), labne, spinach, fried eggs (Turkish apparently, though I'm not sure what part of the egg was Turkish), and sourdough.

Turkish spiced chorizo ($12.00) + prosciutto ($4.00)

Conclusion? Breakfast's not bad. Worth it if you're a student/ Entertainment card holder.

Carre Noir on Urbanspoon

Monday, 9 September 2013

El Loco at Slip Inn, Sydney CBD

I was ecstatic to hear that there's an El Loco around Wynyard, as the one in Surry Hills is too far for post-work catch-ups. The downside? Food at Slip Inn is a tad pricier than at its Surry Hills counterpart.

It was a Friday night and I was worried we'd have a hard time finding a table - which was true to a certain extent. The interior was about 75% full, so our group of 5 could still locate a table that would accommodate us comfortably. Venture outside to the courtyard below, however, and it's absolutely swarming with people.

In protest of the higher prices, my companions refused to order the $6 tacos. Instead, they went with a torta each and shared a plate of ribs. As a self-professed germaphobe, I don't share food unless there are serving utensils. Since there were no such contraptions, I only split food with the boy, which was a highly offensive act apparently. "Our saliva isn't good enough for you?!" they cried indignantly.

There was an interesting selection of cocktails, which my eyes kept gravitating to. Eventually I requested a passionfruit batida, consisting of tequila, apple and lime juice, dollops of passionfruit and Agave syrup. To be honest, I was really keen to try something with Agave syrup, but I couldn't taste anything distinctly different. Upon its receipt, I felt a little let down by the fact it was served in a small plastic cup, though the generous amount of liquor inside made up for it (a little bit). It was fruity, sweet, refreshing and I just wish there was a tad more...

Passionfruit Batida ($14.50)

 Despite its humble appearance, the pork torta (a Mexican/ Spanish sandwich) was really satisfying. The pork filling tasted like it had been mixed in Vietnamese lemongrass marinade, while the bun was so so soft (bread snobs stay away - it's white bread, after all). The vegetable you see there is cabbage with mayo and pico de gallo (salsa). Considering I tend towards the diet of the carnivorous, they were pretty tolerable, but made it necessary to consume the bun swiftly before it turned sloppy.

Pork torta ($12.00)

 Not a frankfurter fan, but the quantity of cheese shaved on top of the hotdog added a fluffy texture. Other than that, it was pretty ordinary.

El loco hotdog ($10.00)

The chipotle mayo and jalapenos were what made the quesadillas so outstanding. That sauce was so good I spread the excess on my hotdog. It was a little spicy, so it took a lot of restraint pacing myself.

Chorizo quesadilla ($7.00)

For those curious about the lamb, here it is:

Rack of lamb ($26.00?)

It seemed to be hard to eat - using fingers was a messy task but knives and forks were cumbersome. Nevertheless, my friends felt pretty positive about it overall.

El Loco at Slip Inn on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Coco Cubano, Crows Nest

A few weeks ago we went to the Crows Nest branch of Coco Cubano. As the name suggests, the theme is Cuban - they play Cuban music, sell Cuban cigars and make Cuban club sandwiches. The range of food on offer, however, is... well... distinctly pub-like. The ordering system is pretty pub-like too, as patrons are required to seat themselves and order/ pay at the counter. In the process, we nearly tripped over a gas canister that they just left between the counter and near the doorway (there were no more indoor tables so we sat outside).

It was our first time at the franchise, but I had fairly high hopes. Popular businesses are turned into franchises, yes? In turn, popular restaurants are popular because the food is good... right?

In this case, I think they're better known for their drinks and $9 tapas specials on weekdays. We were there on a Sunday, which meant that that particular special didn't kick in. When we saw how miserly the tapas portions are, we felt a little ticked off.

The size of the sangria jug somewhat made up for this shortcoming. Low in alcohol and full of oranges and lemonade, it was sweet and easy to down - even though there were only two of us.

Red sangria jug ($19 on Sundays)

First to be sampled was the calamari. It was a little tough, so we ended up popping each ball of calamari into our mouths rather than sawing them up into smaller pieces. The roasted garlic sauce added a little pop of zest - though it tasted more like tartar sauce.

Calamari ($12.90)

The serving of grilled chorizo with olives was the most disappointing for the boy. Firstly, it wasn't spicy. Secondly, there wasn't much of it. I ended up leaving most of it to him and eating the olives. One day I'll have to bring over a few packs of chorizos to kill off the craving for good (it's been festering for months now!!).

Grilled chorizo ($9.90)

Looking at the menu now, the mini beef tacos should have been served with salsa and guacamole. Where are my salsa and guacamole? :( They definitely needed some, as they were charred and dry.

Mini beef tacos ($10.90)

The potted prawns weren't bad, though I'm pretty sure potted prawns are meant to be served with a pudding-like, buttery spread. Here, they were slathered in romesco sauce (a pasty Spanish sauce consisting of almond and red capsicum).

Potted prawns ($13.90)

 Since 4 dishes weren't enough, we ordered a chorizo pizza. It was thin-crust with a whole heap of cheese and about one chunk of chorizo per slice. Not fantastic, but it killed off the hunger.

Chorizo pizza ($16.90)

Looking at the main meals that other patrons received, there's probably more bang for your buck (and tastebuds) there. Needless to say, I shan't return for tapas.

Coco Cubano on Urbanspoon