Tag Archives: Kings Cross

Kings Cross has a new sweetheart

Rooftop bars are the cool thing right now. They’re up there with pulled pork sliders and boutique beer labels. But, I have to say, Sweethearts Rooftop BBQ has a few endearing qualities that make it stand out among Sydney’s other slick, sexy rooftop offerings.

 

Shrimps on the barbie with garlic butter & Paul Hogan

Shrimps on the barbie with garlic butter & Paul Hogan

Sweethearts is brought to us by the team behind hipster hangouts, The Winery, Gazebo, Cargo Bar and Bungalow 8. Knowing this, I dressed the part, complete with a silk top and my highest heels. I arrive at Kings Cross, before the doors of Sugarmill, at an hour when no one should ever really be found here (which, for the record, is anytime before 10.00pm). Eager to leave the Darlinghurst Road sidewalk and find a seat to rest my already-sore feet, I start up the stairs. One level, two levels, three levels. Am I in the right place? “Keep walking,” say the signs. “Stop walking” says my now-clinging, slightly wet silk top… Aha! Finally, 20 floors up, I emerge from the dingy, airless, winding stairwell, and the urban oasis that is Sweethearts is revealed before me, complete with a pretty vista of the city skyline. Why is Sweethearts unique? Well, because it really is on the roof. It’s so on the roof that I would suggest wearing your Kathmandu hiking boots to get there.

 

Crispy lamb short ribs with honey, chilli, caramel and lime

Crispy lamb short ribs with honey, chilli, caramel and lime

After such a trek, you really deserve a drink. A range of Australian and New Zealand wines are offered on tap. Then there’s some fancy drinks such as Little Creatures Pale Ale shandies, wine spritzers, pitchers of sweet lolly-water and spiked cider slushies. Due to dehydration, brought on by the stair-climb, drinks disappear quickly. Responsible drinkers know that lining the stomach is the right thing to do (particularly if your friends are more likely to pitch you off the roof than carry you back down the stairs) so the food menu is a welcome distraction. For us, a pile of salmon belly, chicken and beef skewers are the first to go down the hatch. A shot of chilli caramel or harissa aioli (one condiment per skewer included in cost) adds excitement to the otherwise simple grilled meat skewers. I’m sure the salmon isn’t belly but the skin is crispy enough to see me withhold my complaints. A dish of grilled watermelon, fetta, mint and pita croutons hardly tastes like rabbit food (the heading under which this dish appears on the menu) while a simple side of steamed green beans is just that – steamed green beans. The food doesn’t reinvent the wheel or attempt to push any culinary boundaries but the staff at Sweethearts are friendly, the music is upbeat and there’s just something cool about sitting on top of a building as the calamity of Kings Cross plays itself out below.

Anna Lisle

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Filed under Kings Cross, Reviews, Sweethearts Rooftop BBQ

The latest from the Bentley boys, Monopole

Taking over the former Sailor’s Thai space, Monopole is right at home in this trendy part of town. Dark, sleek and sexy, Monopole is located just down the road from hospitality heavy weights The Apollo and Gastro Park. The idea, according to Savage and Hildebrandt, was to open a wine bar and eatery where they could experiment with a “more casual concept”.

Monopole has been designed by Melbourne architect Pascal Gomes-McNabb

Monopole has been designed by Melbourne architect Pascal Gomes-McNabb

Monopole isn’t casual – it’s actually quite intimidating. Designed by Melbourne architect Pascal Gomes-McNabb, the dark and moody interior is dominated by a long bar that borders the open kitchen. Perch at the bar and get amongst the action as the bartenders sip, squeeze and shake their liquid concoctions before you. Order a charcuterie platter and watch as the cured meat is freshly sliced right before your eyes.

Salt cod, green peas, mint vinaigrette and pea shoots

Salt cod, green peas, mint vinaigrette and pea shoots

Despite the credentials of its owners and its terribly trendy location, Monopole is surprisingly unpretentious. There’s a liveliness about the restaurant that demands attention. And perhaps, gives the restaurant some leeway when it comes to the overpriced menu. The quality of the produce is all there – from the grilled scampi and roasted suckling pig to the Iggy’s bread and shaved heirloom vegetables –  but quantity, as well as robust flavours, are lacking.  However, the house cured and smoked duck breast and cured venison on the charcuterie platter are exceptional and make a visit to Monopole worth your while.

Anna Lisle

Read more about Monopole here

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Filed under Monopole, Potts Point, Reviews

Everyone loves Santa

When you think of badass Sydney, in all its beer-goggle glory, you’re probably bowing in the direction of Kings Cross. So what better place to open a grungy restaurant and bar than beneath the Cross’ infamous Coca Cola sign? Santa Barbara comes to us, complete with neon-lit signage, from the Drink n Dine team, who can rattle off The Norfolk, The Abercrombie, The Carrington, The Forresters and Queenie’s, as part of their impressive hospitality portfolio.

At first we were confused. Sydney is a town where you don’t just go out for Chinese, Thai or Italian food: You go out expressly for Sichuan, Laotian or Tuscan. But how about Santa Barbarian food? We hear you – we had no idea either. Basically, the menu heads down the American diner grub path, then gets crossed with flashes of Asian inspiration, before taking a quick trip to the trendy ‘burbs of Aussie dude food. But like the rest of the Drink n Dine portfolio – the Santa Barbara experience is about much more than just the food. Obscure portrait photos line the restaurant’s polished teak walls, while tacky plastic national flags hang from the low ceiling. There’s colourful Chinese-style paper lanterns and random bits and bobs of American paraphernalia. It really does sound hideous but that’s part of the charm of this dishevelled space. It’s fashionably mixed up but too cool to care.

BBQ prawn ssam

BBQ prawn ssam

The surprisingly large dining room fills up quickly on a Friday night – but it’s not so full that you can’t walk around without rubbing up against every other sweaty body in the joint. There’s no table service, so you place your food order at the bar and it’s served pretty quickly. After being handed a plastic number on a metal stand, I half-expect to hear “number 54” screeched RSL-style over an intercom…No, it’s not that bad, but yes, if you’re more accustomed to fine dining, then Santa Barbara won’t be your cup of tea.

 

The food is great value for money and perfect for drink snacking. The BBQ prawn ssam is a surprisingly elegant dish – crusted with quinoa and served with mango and a seriously good dose of chilli. The salt n pepa sweet potato fries aren’t so deep-fried that the flavour of the sweet orange kumara is lost. Rather than having chip-guilt, you actually feel vaguely wholesome eating them. The chicken dishes are the standouts; the jerk chicken wings are served with a ranch sauce that’s great for sweet potato chip dipping and the coke can chicken requires total body commitment; sleeves rolled up, elbows on the table and gnawing the meat off the bone. Don’t bother looking for a “healthy” option – the jerk prawn and papaya salad is so salty that you’ll wake up in the middle of the night gagging for a glass of water but I doubt the calorie-conscious will be particularly charmed by the brown booth seating and cocktail jugs, anyway.

Anna Lisle

Read more about Santa Barbara here

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A matter of taste… Bayswater Diner

Sloppy joes, hickory smoked pork ribs and shrimp gumbo. It’s the cool thing right now. American diner food, that is. And while Bayswater Road may be haunted by a dark past of failed restaurants, the team behind Fei Jai and Barrio Chino are breathing new life into Kings Cross with their latest venture – Bayswater Diner.

For Americans, the diner concept is as familiar as malted milkshake and pecan pie. In Australia, however, the Jerk-chicken-wing concept is somewhat foreign.  Perhaps this is why owners Peter Lew and Nicole Galloway have held back with their disappointingly conservative reincarnation of a classic American diner? There are the token white paper placemats, plastic bottles of ketchup and mustard and leather booth seating but there is something missing. Maybe it’s just too elegant to be the real deal?

Beef Short Ribs with grilled corn, potato salad and slaw $28

The menu, on the other hand, features all your favourites with cheeseburgers, corn dogs and cobb salads dominating. A clumsy dish of beef short ribs is served with grilled corn that is simply begging for a dollop of mayonnaise, a sprinkling of parmesan and a dusting of chilli. I mean, really – if you wanted to be healthy – you would have ordered the pan fried barramundi, not ribs. While on the barramundi-topic, the skin is crisp and the flesh is moist. Not only aesthetically beautiful, the fish is served with salsa crudo and steamed broccolini – both of which work well together. The haagie roll beef brisket sloppy joe gives Bayswater Diner street-food-cred however it is the pecan pie served with Jack Daniels cream that is a taste of the true America. For those not convinced by the diner-effect, there are plenty of non-grease options such as heirloom tomato salad with house smoked goat’s curd and house made pasta with ricotta and basil.

Bayswater Diner will happily satisfy, just as long as you have a wallet that can cope with a little beating.

Anna Lisle

Read more about Bayswater Diner here

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Filed under Bayswater Diner, Kings Cross, Reviews