Category Archives: Uncategorized

More than your average pub, The Forresters

According to Michael Delany-Korabelnikova, the man who has recreated iconic Sydney pubs such as The Abercrombie, Flinders Hotel, The Norfolk on Cleveland and The Carrington, there is, in fact, a specific formula that can be applied to ensure the success of a pub.

This formula comes in the form of a new type of hybrid venue. Pub Disco Diner. Not generally three words used to describe the same place but, it is these three elements that, once combined, will create pub magic.

The former Forresters was tired and run-down but positioned in a cool enough location to warrant a steady weekend crowd. After Michael’s touch, The Forresters is now trendy and glamorous, with just the right amount of “I don’t give a sh*t” attitude that 20-something hipsters tend to like.

The elegant upstairs dining room

In the “about us” section of The Forresters website, five things are listed: cold beer, hot pizza, rotisserie meats, wine and pasta. For a pub that has just spent a substantial sum in renovations, surely there has got to be more than that. And thank goodness there is – from the 1950s American-style diner, complete with leather booths and a smoking room with candy striped banquettes, to its sort-of beer garden out back – The Forresters offers a bit of everything and somehow it all seems to work.

According to Michael’s pub wisdom, food is the key ingredient and The Forrester’s menu doesn’t disappoint, especially the weekday $10 specials lunch menu. Think pappardelle Bolognese, smoked mozzarella aracini or duck, fig and pecorino salad. Or you can really bust the budget and for $12 order a generous piece of crispy skinned barramundi served on a bed of saffron and mint fregola.

Standout dish: crisp skinned barramundi served on a bed of saffron and mint fregola

Great food, a lively atmosphere and a prime location, The Forresters is worth a visit.

Anna Lisle

Read more about The Forresters here

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Serious coffee-drinking territory: Coffee Alchemy

Coffee Alchemy is a little café tucked away in the backstreets of Marrickville. Winning the title of “Best Coffee” in the 2011 SMH Good Cafe Guide, Coffee Alchemy is serious coffee-drinking territory. The first thing that you notice about Alchemy is that the mood is sombre. There is no music blaring overhead and there are no waitresses dizzily trotting around. The focus here is on one thing only: coffee.

There are only coffee magazines in this cafe

A group of people twitch nervously outside, having ordered a takeaway, these caffeine addicts are in no mood for patience as they wait to get their first hit of the morning. Inside, the atmosphere is just as stiff, as those who prefer to sip their liquid gold out of porcelain eye off the limited seating as they wait to order their coffee. With only two long benches, customers sit like sardines, tightly pressed next to each other. Awkwardly, customers attempt to take tentative sips, accidently elbowing the person next to them in the process. If you happen to score a seat, don’t plan a long lazy morning of newspaper reading, the unspoken rule is to drink your coffee and then get out. Once your coffee has arrived, all the sterility and hostility instantly dissolves. That first sip makes everything worthwhile. Coffee Alchemy certainly does serve one of the best coffees in town.

Anna Lisle

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Read more about Coffee Alchemy here

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Restaurant Review: Mondo Organics

Tucked away in Brisbane’s West End, Mondo Organics is Australia’s first licensed organic restaurant. Opening in 2000 as a restaurant, cooking school and catering company, Mondo Organics is a stalwart in the Brisbane dining scene.

Co-owner’s Brenda Fawdon and Sonja Drexler have created an unpretentious dining space with timber slated window shutters, blue feature walls and wooden chairs. Guests can choose to seat inside in the bistro-style dining room or alfresco, in the street entrance courtyard area.

The superb presentation at Mondo Organics

On a balmy Friday night, we opt for the courtyard where the lighting is dimmed and seductive, slow music plays overhead. Accustomed to the more upbeat Sydney dining scene, the atmosphere here is relaxed and tranquil. Expecting things like alfafa, tofu and bean sprouts to feature on the menu, Mondo Organics abandons the traditional expectations of what diners expect from organic restaurants. Each dish on the menu is presently elegantly and simply. An entree of cured ocean trout is rustically served on a wooden chopping board with a cauliflower puree and sprinkled with micro herbs. The mushroom consommé arrives with a grey ceramic cup – storing the broth – to be poured over the poached quail egg. The result is a subtle combination of flavours and textures – and as you eat it, you feel nourished. The gnocci is served with chorizo and a rich, piquant sauce while the Mulloway is simply pan-friend and served with grilled parsnips, puffed kamut and spinach. The chefs at Mondo Organics don’t push culinary boundaries but, rather, they simply work with quality ingredients. The result is a delicious and healthy dining experience, where guests leave feeling neither too-full nor too-hungry.

As for the wine list, organic and bio-dynamic drops sit beside hand-picked grapes and international big-time names. The diversity in both the wine list and the menu allows each guest to forage their own dining experience. Whether you are gluten free, wheat free, dairy free, vegetarian, vegan or a meat-loving maniac – Mondo caters for all. In a society where fussiness appears to be a God-given right, places like Mondo Organics are a blessing.

Anna Lisle

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Read more about Mondo Organics here

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Filed under Mondo Organics, Reviews, Uncategorized, West End

Restaurant Review: North Bondi Italian

Perched on the edge of North Bondi, overlooking the esplanade and iconic Bondi Beach, North Bondi Italian is the brainchild of restaurateurs’ Maurice Terzini and Robert Marchetti. While the duo may have gone their separate ways in business, this Eastern Suburbs institution continues as a favourite in the Sydney dining scene.

Arriving just before 8pm, our party of four expected to wait for a table. With a no-bookings policy, guests are encouraged to arrive early and be ready to enjoy a drink at the bar before their meal. But, as we walked in the restaurant’s entrance, a few of the tables were actually empty. Enquiring as to why this might be the case (or perhaps noticing the look , the maître d quickly informed us: “It’s fashion week – it’s literally the only week in the year when we aren’t crazy busy”. Despite not asking for a window seat, the convivial maître d suggested we perch at the bar until a window seat became available. After a Campari cocktail and a handful of shelled peanuts, we were taken to one of the most beautiful tables in the room.

The interior at North Bondi Italian is anything but minimalistic. Exuding with character and life, the roof is scribbled with jumbled phrases and words and the bare timber tables contain help-yourself sunken cutlery tins. Energetic waiters bounce around wearing denim Tsubi overalls and white t-shirts and the music is lively and hip. But despite the fun and jovial atmosphere, the menu screams: “I’m Serious About Food.” Divided into classic Italian categories such as verdure and dolci, there is also one section of the menu titled, “for those in training” – listing a handful of low GI, low carb and gluten-free options. North Bondi Italian clearly knows its target audience. In saying that, the “no variations to the menu” policy might cause a few hiccups.

Even with high expectations, the food doesn’t disappoint. The spinach arancini balls reinforce why Italian food can be so superior while the parmesan-crumbed lamb brains don’t have that chewy, stringy texture that could turn you off offal for life. The white fish carpaccio with roasted fennel seeds and dried chilli is a contrast of flavours and textures and simple sides such as garlic steamed broccoli and rosemary crispy potatoes refuse to play second fiddle, becoming standouts in the dish.

It’s the view, the rustic home-style menu and the contemporary design – North Bondi Italian embraces everything we know and love about Sydney dining.

Anna Lisle

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Read more about North Bondi Italian here

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Spirit House Cooking School

The Spirit House is a Sunshine Coast institution and their cooking school is the highlight of many visitors’ trips to Queensland. Situated near a small town called Yandina, The Spirit House is about 20 minutes by car from Noosa, Coolum and Maroochydore. The restaurant, recently awarded a Regional Chef Hat in the Queensland Good Food Guide 2012, is renowned across Australia for its contemporary Asian menu and lush tropical setting.

The kitchen is ready for the class

The cooking school offers a range of specialist classes focussing on Thai and Asian cooking styles and techniques, many of which are led by Head Chef Annette Fear. For our class, former Spirit House Head Chef Kelly Lord is the man in charge. Having just returned from overseas, where he spent time with Thai-guru David Thompson, Kelly imparts a passionate energy that makes the 4.5 hour class fly by.

Frying the fish with Kelly on hand to make sure there are no disasters

We arrive with just a few moments to dash over to the restaurant to check it out before we get our aprons on and our hands dirty. The class we have chosen, Essential Thai 2, is designed as a sequel to Essential Thai 1, however, it is not a requirement to have completed this first class. Mixing basic cutting techniques with more complicated skills – such as balancing Thai flavours of sweetness, sourness, saltiness and heat – the classes are suited to both amateur and proficient cooks.

I’m a little nervous scoring the fish!

We learn to make caramel (for our luscious sticky sweet pork salad) and how to create the perfect green curry paste. The Tom Yum Goong soup includes a prawn de-veining session while a deep-frying session gives us the skills to recreate the crispy whole fish with tamarind sauce at home. At 8pm, we sit down for a well-deserved glass of wine (included in the class) and a Thai banquet that we can proudly say we created ourselves.

For about the same price as a three-course dinner at Spirit House, you can enjoy some contemporary Thai dishes in the same stunning surrounds and, you get to take home all the recipes to impress your friends and family.

For the more adventurous, Spirit House also offers food tours to Thailand, Vietnam and Laos. These tours are limited to 3-4 days and itineraries do not include flights or accommodation.

Spirit House

Anna Lisle

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Read more about The Spirit House here

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Filed under The Spirit House, Uncategorized, Yandina

Noma crowned the World’s Best Restaurant for third consecutive year

This week we celebrated the 10th anniversary of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna.

Aussie highlights:

·         Quay was announced for the third consecutive year as the Best Restaurant in Australasia

·         Australian chef David Thompson’s restaurant Nahm at The Metropolitan Bangkok is a New Entry at 50

Top 10 of Restaurant magazine’s 50 Best Restaurants 2012:
1. Noma – Copenhagen, Denmark
2. El Celler de Can Roca, Girona, Spain
3. Mugaritz, San Sebastian, Spain
4. D.O.M., Sao Paolo, Brazil
5. Osteria Francescana, Modena, Italy
6. Per Se, New York
7. Alinea, Chicago
8. Arzak, San Sebastian, Spain
9. Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, London
10. Eleven Madison Park, New York

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What we’re hanging out for… Sydney’s soon-to-open restaurants

Mr Wong

Another piece of Merivale magic, Mr Wong is a Cantonese restaurant, located in the old Tank nightclub. With celebrity Chef Dan Hong managing the restaurant, the menu will include barbecued duck and pork and the prices will be reasonable.


Opening on Thursday this week (3rd May). With Four in Hand and Paddington Arms to his name, Colin Fassnidge is tripling his workload with 4Fourteen in Surry Hills. The ever-expanding Surry Hills location will add another big name to its restaurant list.

Red Lantern on Riley

Due to the popular demand of Red Lantern on Crown Street, Celebrity chef Luke Nguyen is opening Red Lantern on Riley. The menu will be similar however, the restaurant will also open during the day for fresh Vietnamese baguettes and a bar will be built at the back of the restaurant.

The Italian

The North Shore’s restaurant scene is starting to build momentum with the addition of some big restaurant names. Set to open in the new Willoughby High Street precinct is The Italian, from the owners of Firefly.

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