Monthly Archives: September 2011

Billie Swings

From the moment we pushed open the glass door into Billie Swings, we were taken on a journey of the senses. From the smell of freshly baked bread to the fresh bunches of English daisies scattered around the room – the restaurant evokes a sense of comfort. It creates the same loving warmth that one feels when being wrapped in a big woollen rug on a chilly night.

Billie Swings

Billie Swings is so well hidden on traffic-jammed Spit Road that you have probably driven past it a hundred times without taking a side glance. But let me assure you, make that side glance, and make a booking. While the restaurant’s menu began featuring classic French bistro style meals, chef and owner Chris Rummey changed direction to appeal to his Mosmanite crowd. More “serious” dishes such as beef three-ways and pappardelle with pork and beef ragu today create his modern Mediterranean menu.

As we ponder over the chalkboard-written, blackboard menu (which changes weekly), smells of garlic and butter being cooked in the frypan seep from the kitchen, putting our taste buds on high alert. An amuse bouche of chestnut purée served in white china espresso cups is unlike anything we had tasted before – the flavour was sweet yet creamy and it had a thick, almost-chunky texture. In silent appreciation, we swirled the caramel-coloured puree around our mouths. Next arrived two perfectly poised piping-hot bread rolls. On first bite, we were taken back to Paris to reminisce about the fresh baguettes from our corner boulangerie. As we recollected our Parisian days, Chris arrived with perfectly pink earl grey smoked duck breast lying over a bed of brown rice and star-anise soaked orange. The snapper fillets with saffron cauliflower florets, roasted pine nuts and steamed squid created a unique combination that was neither Middle Eastern nor French but the flavours were all there.

Chestnut amuse bouche

Loud soulful Parisian beats filled the restaurant space and all of the week’s stresses felt like a million miles away. After we said goodnight to Chris, I stalled when opening the restaurant’s door as I hesitated leaving this little refuge to face the looming traffic and endless road rage of Sydney drivers. Sadly we had to leave but eagerly I will return.

Earl Grey Smoked Duck Breast and Snapper Fillets with Saffron Cauliflower Florets


On Spit Road in Mosman. 15 minute drive from the City Centre, outside of peak hour times.

Anna Lisle

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Two Good Eggs

On days when the weekend seems like an eternity away, it’s the small things that make life bearable. Like a friendly nod from the barista pumping out takeaways or perhaps just the familiar smile from the busy waitress as she runs dishes to a table.

They mightn’t seem like much but these are all the required trimmings that come together to create a great cafe.

Tucked on the corner of a Surry Hill’s backstreet is Two Good Eggs. It’s not quite in the city, yet close enough to lure the corporate crowd keen for a relaxed lunch in the uber-cool 2010 postcode. From the outside, the two-storey building which Two Good Eggs occupies reminds me of a Manhattan loft and on entering the cafe, my assumptions are confirmed. The high ceiling with old, exposed wooden beams looms overhead and the floor-to-ceiling sash windows create a warehouse vibe.

Smoked Salmon Salad

Scoring a table by the window, I catch glimpses of overly keen workers exercising during their lunch hour and I quickly opt for a salad instead of the wagyu beef burger I was eyeing off earlier. My dining partner chooses the baked eggs with fetta, pumpkin and pesto and I fear I’ll have food envy. The salad arrives first and I sign in relief – it’s satisfying packed with strips of smoked salmon, avocado slices and long cucumber ribbons . As I chew, tiny bursts of salty fresh capers cut through the richness of the salmon and avocado. But it’s the baked eggs that proudly arrive in a clay ramekin served on a wooden cutting board with two slices of organic sourdough on the side, that make a point. At first glance, I’m worried. Are the yolks running? As my partner cracks the surface of the dish, a runny yolk oozes out, covering the large wedges of roasted pumpkin and chunks of buttery fetta. The combination of the dish is special and I have to say, these two eggs are not just good, they’re bloody good.

Pesto, pumpkin and fetta baked eggs with toasted sourdough

Lunch hour is over and as we go to leave the cafe, I glance upwards, noticing for the first time a photograph of the Paris skyline which seductively looms over the cafe. I walk back to the office with a spring in my step feeling inspired and very satiated by my two, bloody good eggs.

Anna Lisle

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SMH Good Food Guide Awards

Forget crisp linen tablecloths and formal restaurant settings, diners demand a more casual, accessible dining experience says Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide reviewers Terry Durack and Joanna Savill.

The Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide Awards, held last night, revealed that eating out has become more relaxed and 2011 is being touted as the year dining “got real”. This year’s awards salutes a grand total of 15 newly awarded one-hat restaurants and there were quite a few surprises too.

Sepia and Bilsons rose to the three-hat ranks while Assiette and Buon Ricardo dropped from two to one hat. Newbies on the block, Gastro Park and Porteno, both snagged two hats while Est., Marque and Quay remained at the top.

Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide 2012

Anna Lisle

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Spiedo – Westfield’s Level Six

After battling with queues of people lining up at Din Tai Fung and bumping into oversized trays filled with noodle boxes and soft drinks, I finally found the stairs leading up to the brand new Level 6 dining level of Westfield. Step-by-step the noise of the downstairs crowd was drowned out and the frustration from all the pushing and shoving was promptly forgotten.

Long communal tables, bar stools or tables-for-two offer diners at Spiedo a little bit of anything you like. A quick espresso at the bar? No problem. A power lunch to discuss business in a quiet back table? Sure thing. A boozy, champagne-laden long lunch with the girls (to forget how much money they’ve just spent downstairs)? Spiedo has it all.


The fit-out is simple – high ceilings, neutral tones and black and white chequered tiling at the bar. The ‘colour’ comes in the form of the almost-360 degree open kitchen and waiters kitted out in emerald green shirts. In fact, the green-theme extended all the way to the trim of the manager’s tie. While the colour immediately screamed “Shrek” to my well-trained DreamWorks-eye, once I realised that it is in fact that colour of the flag of Lombardy, I somewhat embarrassedly put my aversion aside, expressing on several occasions my love of the green touches.

But the lure of a place like Spiedo is the unique menu. Renowned for his passion and love of Northern Italian cuisine, Alessandro Pavoni’s Spiedo menu is a tribute to the region of Lombardy. Freshwater fish, game meats and single pot dishes that include polenta and risotto set this menu apart from its competitors. Our journey began at the antipasti menu and specifically the “Sciatt”. Gooey fontina cheese was enveloped in a buckwheat batter then plunged, momentarily, into a deep fryer. The end result was a crunchy ball that oozed a viscous cream when bitten. It was the perfect beginning. Next came the organic snails that snugly sat in a beautifully butter-laden potato puree. The braising process transformed the sometimes chewy texture of the snail into a more tender consistency that, dare I say it, would convert even the most devoted of snail-haters (e.g. me= pre-Spiedo). A sprinkling of parmesan added a salty creaminess that combined the entire dish.

The secondi menu came with more revelations. Not one to usually mix several types of meat in a dish, there was no way we could ignore the four-layered ‘Bresciano’ meat skewer. It took us on a textural voyage from quail to pork scotch fillet to duck and finally, pork ribs. Each meat was sweet, succulent and tender and it was undoubtedly a testament to the practised spit-roasting skills of the chef. A sample of desserts brought the meal to a most amiable end with deconstructed ‘Spiedo’ tiramisu, a dollop of house-made strawberry gelato and a chocolate torte (made with 70% cacao) topped with milk gelato. For want of a better description, the menu can only be described as down-to-earth with every mouthful making you feel loved and nourished.

Crispy skin salmon with polenta and lentils

Spiedo draws together quite a bit of uncommon ground. We sat there in one of the most materialist and consumerist buildings in the heart of the city and yet, between the chefs chatting to one another in Italian and the wine being served in glass carafes, it oddly felt comfortable and relaxed, like home.

Further information:
Alessandro Pavoni of one hatted Ormeggio at the Spit has launched Spiedo as an informal restaurant and bar in the Sydney CBD.

Spiedo’s Restaurant menu features many of Alessandro’s famed dishes including risotto, handmade pastas and Northern Italian specialties. The Stuzzi Bar (Stuzzichini Bar and counter) offers quality antipasti, sliced meats and salads, not to mention great coffee and beer on tap, perfect for those a bit pushed for time!

Anna Lisle

Spiedo Restaurant and Bar

Read more about Spiedo here

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Filed under Reviews, Spiedo, Sydney CBD