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

La Latina, Chatswood

Excluding Salsa's in the Chatswood Chase food court, La Latina is probably the only Latin American eatery around the area. It's a welcome change, with its focus on crunchy corn pockets (arepas) and Colombian coffee. It also sells a variety of South American products, including pepper pastes, chilli sauces, grains (e.g. Bolivian quinoa) and frozen pre-mix smoothies in exotic flavours like lulo, a citrus fruit, and feijoa (also referred to as 'pineapple guava').

Sauces and salsas for sale

The coffee's not bad - Colombian coffee beans, not too milky, not too watery :)

Flat white

I also liked the mango smoothie, but it came with a normal straw, which wasn't practical for this particular drink. It was so thick that I had to drink straight from the glass.

Mango smoothie ($5.00)

The arepas have an addictive light crunch, but they're also quite dense, heavy and a tad overpowering. This is easily overcome by adding hot sauce (see below). It's actually quite magical as the spiciness somehow draws out the flavours of each ingredient and takes the emphasis away from the starchy corn bread. The fillings range from pork and beef to vegetarian. The Boy and I picked similar fillings - chorizo and the "Monster" (containing the whole works - beef, shredded pork, chorizo, sour cream and cheese).

It wasn't love at first bite, but these corn pockets really grew on me. Keen to return to taste the lulo and feijoa smoothies!

"Monster" Arepas ($10.00)
Hot sauce
Chorizo Arepas ($9.00) + Guacamole ($1.00)

La Latina on Urbanspoon