Tag Archives: Sami-Jo Adelman

Très bien to Trippas White

Since when did the Art Gallery of NSW suddenly become a dining destination? I’ll tell you –  since Art After Hours became ‘a thing’ and Trippas White Group put The Restaurant on the hospitality map.

The impressive exterior of the NSW Art Gallery

The Restaurant’s design is as minimalist as its name. An excitable blush of cherry carpet marks the only trace of colour, whilst dramatic floor-to-ceiling windows take in a view of Woolloomooloo Wharf and the tall terraces at Potts Point. As part of Crave Sydney, English bred chef Marc Cartwright created a four-course Modern French menu, inspired by the latest photographic exhibition by Eugene Atget.

Head chef Marc Cartwright with our food writer, Sami Jo.

To begin – an amuse of seared oysters, with foamy artichoke cream, pickled cucumbers and parsley. Now oysters and I haven’t had the most favourable relationship. They leave me feeling as though I have been French kissed by an old fisherman with salt-stained lips from years at sea. So you can imagine my hesitancy when the dish arrived. Let’s just say I think our Facebook status would now read “it’s complicated”. The second course was a deconstructed nicoise salad with raw kingfish that was wistful and eloquent. A classic main of perfectly pink filet mignon was generous and robust, but it was dessert that left the biggest impression. An ‘assiette de chocolat’, dolled up in fairy floss was a sinful trio that left my palate on edge. Sensual and seductive, our table could only say four words of our experience: ‘très bien Trippas White’.

Sami-Jo Adelman

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Filed under Events, Reviews, Sydney CBD, The Restaurant

Luke Mangan at Thomas Dux – a Crave showstopper

It’s not every day that you find yourself slightly intoxicated walking around a grocery store, running your hands over artisan (read slightly overpriced) products and pondering the use of Fluff Marshmallow Spread. And it’s not every day that you get an 8-course feast cooked for you by chef, restaurateur and providore Luke Mangan.

But as good food month rolls on, Crave continues to pull out all the stops. Last night at Thomas Dux Grocer in Crows Nest, the handsome grocery space was transformed into a pop-up restaurant for 60-odd diners, all wanting to rub shoulders with the celebrity chef.

Mangan took us on a global tasting experience from Morocco to Mexico via a tapas-style feast showcasing dishes from his restaurants and using oils and spices from his providores (product placement overload, but all in good fun). We started with what was perhaps the best dish of the evening – Moroccan spiced steak tartare, which arrived on large wooden planks with a sea of tiny quail eggs perched atop the meaty nest. Roasted garlic flat bread accompanied the dish and was the perfect vehicle to mop up their golden yellow entrails.  Feta, tarragon, mint and sumac stuffed zucchini flowers followed on a pillow of creamy corn puree and was a definite crowd-pleaser.

By the end of the night everyone was best friends (plentiful food and wine always seems to make this happen), so facebook details were exchanged, wedding dates were swapped (who knew pop-up dinners attracted such a large posse of newlyweds?) and someone even offered to host a falafel party for the table. The night culminated in a sweet crescendo of warm chocolate filled doughnuts with vanilla bean ice-cream and anglaise and Luke Mangan goodie bags for everyone.

Sami-Jo Adelman

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Filed under Crows Nest, Events, Reviews, Thomas Dux Grocer

Balmain’s new darling, Corner Bar

What used to be a chicken shop is now the intimate and atmospheric Corner Bar. Trendy brunch café by day and community drinking den by night, Corner Bar is the masterwork of two young Brisbane brothers – Ryan and Daniel Singer (of Two Brothers Hospitality)— and local Balmain boy, Lindsay Egan.

Corner Bar embraces a quirky, community-focused vibe. Water arrives in old rum bottles, an old tram scroll lines the roof, a silent film plays on the brick wall behind the bar and a sortie of pop-funk music hum overhead. There is a bar to one side that transitions into a lilliputian kitchen, its exterior flanked by original timber planks from the old Double Bay jetty. Across from the bar, diners can sit on tall red and silver stools at the window bench and embrace the Darling Street fishbowl effect.

Corner Bar embraces a quirky, community-focused vibe

The boys are not fond of fine dining, and accordingly, the menu is a reflection of their culinary tastes, spanning from street sambos and pizza slabs to tapa bites and a hearty antipasti share board. We begin with the antipasti of chilli salami, pan fried chorizo, warm haloumi, mixed olives, arancini, hummus, aioli and toasted bread. The chorizo is juicy and drizzled with melted cheese and the arancini are refreshingly light and herby.

A large vat of wine sits impressively on the bar counter, which reads ‘Blind Corner Winery, Margret River’. Made by vintner Ben Gould (recently named one of Gourmet Travellers 10 most exciting new producers), this biodynamic Shiraz is made via traditional hand (and foot) techniques with the aim of best reflecting the vine and soil origins in the wine. It’s definitely a winner. But a glass of 2011 Uco Valley Malbec from Mendoza steals my heart and the Eldferflower Martini gets a big thumbs up.

For a largely boyish menu, it is interesting that about 70% of the clientele are women. Looking around, the narrow passage is bursting with groups of girls chatting away and the bar is “couple’s territory”. Lindsay informs us the crowd ascends towards the weekend, especially on Sundays when a DJ is set up behind the coffee counter and the bar transforms into street party mode.

With its reliable, good-natured staff and friendly atmosphere, it seems Corner Bar is solidifying its place as a cool community hang out, and with a chalkboard inside the lavatory that reads “this is the bathroom chalkboard, now get back out there and have fun”, it’s easy to see why.

Sami-Jo Adelman

Read more about Corner Bar here

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Filed under Balmain, Corner Bar, Reviews

Spencer Guthrie pushes the green envelope

Holding an unassuming position beside an overwhelming collection of cheap Asian eateries and eclectic cafes, Spencer Guthrie is an intimate restaurant that pushes the green envelope without pretension.

What was once an old Thai takeaway is now a 30-seater fine diner with a polished bar and kitchen up the front and a long narrow stretch of floor space opening into a small dining area up the back. From the table-tops to the floorboards, all the furnishings at Spencer Guthrie are recycled, with much of it sourced from iconic wharves across Sydney. There are also visual reminders of the restaurant’s eco-friendly credentials including a wall of fern green foliage and weathered plaster walls featuring textural canvasses of countryside settings.

The Spencer Guthrie team hard at work in the open kitchen

The vibe emanating from the open kitchen is focused and assured with seasoned chefs and close mates Troy Spencer (ex L’Etoile) and Oliver Guthrie (ex Lucio’s) at the helm. The Modern Australian menu is a reflection of the quite confidence of the duo with prettily plated dishes that offer a serious experience with textures and flavours. There are five entrees and five main courses which all reflect the sustainable, locavore philosophy of Spencer Guthrie. Meat is sourced from Feather and Bone and the Urban Food Market while fish such as Red Gurnard and Ocean Mullet is caught in Australian waters.

There are five entrees and five main courses that change weekly

We are immediately won over by the two meat mains featuring Milly Hill lamb and Wagyu 5+ oyster blade. A glass of light biodynamic ‘Kalleske Grenache Shiraz Mataro’ from the Barossa Valley is the perfect match to the perfectly-pink and buttery texture of both meat dishes. The wine list is concise but over priced by the glass, so go for for a bottle instead. Alternatively, Tuesday and Wednesday nights are BYO, with $15 corkage per bottle.

The highlight of the evening is the ‘all things chocolate’ dessert, which in itself is a feat of textural ingenuity. A base of salted dark chocolate crumbs is topped with three cornels of white, milk and dark chocolate mousse and buttoned with cubes of dark chocolate jelly and cacao rich chocolate pieces. The only part of the evening that can rival the resplendence of dessert is the service – personalised, passionate and well-informed.

Portion sizes are petite, so don’t come expecting to satiate a ravenous appetite. But if you’re after a meal where quality is of the essence, then Spencer Guthrie gets the green thumb of approval.

Sami-Jo Adelman

Read more about Spencer Guthrie here

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Filed under Newtown, Reviews, Spencer Guthrie

For the love of cheese, Buffalo Dining Club

First Sticky Bar, then Table for 20 and now Buffalo Dining Club in Surrey Street, Darlinghurst. It seems Michael Fantuz and partners Marcelo Garrao and Peter Kypreos are making quite a mark on Sydney’s dining scene.

Giving new meaning to the word “small bar”, the twin-levelled Buffalo Dining Club is crammed with tiny tables and stools, and this is without any customers. No bookings are taken and it is a requirement that the entire dining party is present before being seated. First to arrive, I was greeted at the door by the handsome Mantus (his real name is a secret) and ushered to the so-called ‘bar’ (a tiny two-seater counter overlooking a liliputian kitchen with a little bench where the boys prepare drinks).

Small and intimate, expect to wait for a seat at Buffalo Dining Club

What it lacks in size, Buffalo Dining Club makes up in aesthetic – from the waitstaff to the décor. A legendary wine wall, designed by Michael’s wife features vertical rows of evenly spaced wine bottles, laid out horizontally on hooks, with space for the trio to jot down memorable sayings in white chalk.

There are expressions like ‘Viva Chile’ (an ode to a stalwart Carmenere), ‘Pocket Rocket’ (a feisty Italian waitress) and ‘Crash’ (a girl who sent two wine bottles crashing to the floor after a night of drinking and merriment) that represent various occasions and people that have influenced the Buffalo team. After asking the boys about this wall – it turns out that customers from far and wide send email upon email requesting to get their “tag” on the wall.

jamon and mozzarella – the perfect pair

Naturally, the menu is dedicated to cheese. Mozzarella di Bufala Campana is flown in three times a week from Fattorie Garofalo, just north of Naples. There is a set strategy to ordering, which requires the guest to select a cheese – mozzarella, burrata (cow’s milk cheese) or caprino (100% organic goats cheese) – which is served with two small sides from a list spanning from honeyed carrots to braised lentils. We start with the silky mozzarella, served with grilled aubergine and salty white anchovies. The cheese is undoubtedly the hero, but the sides wield a power of their own. Our second choice is goats cheese, served with grilled broccolinni and polenta chips doused in gorgonzola. Again, it is all about the cheese. The polenta chips lack body and flavour, the gorganzola completely absent on the plate, and the grilled broccolini is, well, grilled brocollini.

Beyond cheese, a variety of salumi is offered in 30-gram, 60-gram and 90-gram weights, sliced to order and served on waxed paper. We order the Jamon Iberico and it is a great move. Spanish ham is incontestably the best; boasting a flavour and texture that cannot be rivaled. Crunchy taralli (savoury biscuit rings made from olive oil and boiled before baking) and bibanesi (crispy wheat biscuits in the shape of mini baguettes) accompany all the dishes and while they are good for nibbling with the meat, their presence on the other plates is overwhelming….trying to make up for the shortfalls of the sides? Pasta also features on the menu, their signature dish being buffalo-milk ricotta gnocchi, paired with a rich tomato sugo and basil. Spaghetti is served with a side of theatrics, brought to the table in a hollowed-out wheel of buffalo-milk pecorino. A full-bodied Argentinian Malbec from the wine wall is the perfect accompaniment.

Sami-Jo Adelman

Read more about Buffalo Dining Club here

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Filed under Buffalo Dining Club, Darlinghurst, Reviews

A secret trip to the Middle East

I write this, still full from last night’s eight-course Middle Eastern degustation, a Secret Foodie event hosted by Ms Darlinghurst. At 5pm, I got the text “Tonight’s Secret Foodies dinner is in Darlinghurst. At 6pm you will be sent the final address.” An hour later a second text: “52 Oxford Street. See you at 7pm”. As curiosity reared its sprightly head, Google was my first point of call. Embers Mezze Bar? What’s that? I thought for sure it would be Almond Bar. I have never heard of this place.

At 6.55pm I tentatively walked up to the commanding sandstone edifice, not realising that my perceptions of Lebanese cuisine were about to be turned upside down.  As the earthy flavours and rich textures of Chef Simon Zalloua’s modern Middle Eastern fare were put on display, all pre-conceived ideas of tabouli laden meat skewer feasts were swept away.

Simon Zalloua busy in the kitchen preparing for our Middle Eastern feast

Greeted at the door by Ms Darlinghurst herself and friendly owner Henri Azzi, thirty odd foodies were ushered into a spacious dining room lined with tall arched windows, bold artwork and plush banquette seating.

With a glass of Lebanese wine in one hand and a crispy feta, lemon and herb pasty in the other, we mingled under a soft golden glow, emanating from lanterns strung high on the ceiling above.

Hummus with Afghani and sesame bread was first on show and the perfect way to begin before diving head first into a sweet mess of dukkah-spiced honeyed carrots with a goats curd cream. More Lebanese wine, and a colourful herb salad buttoned with chickpeas and cauliflower florets arrived at the table, dappled with pomegranate jewels and a zesty dressing. It was a hot favourite of the evening, along with other dishes such as scallop nayeh (a kind of ceviche with thinly sliced raw scallops), char grilled quail and melt-in-your-mouth lamb accompanied by pita bread to create a DIY shawarma.

Our mouthwatering desserts – rose jelly, sahleb cream and sumac strawberries and tahini and dried persian fig brulee

The night was full of lively banter, fine food and wine, culminating in a Q&A with Chef Simon Zalloua. His Hercules-like stature was a bit too much for some of my dining cohorts, putting them into a tizzy (or perhaps that was just too much Lebanese wine?). Having worked in the kitchens of Rockpool and Alira, it’s easy to see why the food was so good. A sexy chef putting sexy back into Arabic food. Now who doesn’t want a piece of that?

Sami-Jo Adelman

Read more about Embers Mezze Bar here

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Filed under Darlinghurst, Embers Mezze Bar, Reviews

Modern British delights at Orto Trading Co.

When the winter sets in and it’s cold outside, nothing beats a cosy nook and comfort food. Orto Trading Co. on the Waterloo strip of Surry Hills may not be tiny but it sure is warm and friendly– both indoors and out. The fit out alone is worth a visit: the main dining room is light and airy with tall glasshouse walls and bare Scandinavian tables that are paired with two-tone wooden chairs. An exposed brick wall features at the back of the bar and an innovative installation of recycled glass bottles and flowers dangle over the wooden counter.

Glass jars filled with tea-light candles adorn the outdoor marquee which is well-heated however blankets are readily available for those who can still feel the winter chill. But, we can assure you, as soon as the restaurant fills up, which is very quickly, body warmth is all you’ll require.

The beautiful interior dining room and bar of Orto Trading Co.

The menu follows the rhythm of the seasons and dishes often change to accommodate the new bounty. However there are a few regular fixtures that steel the limelight. We start with one of the house specialties – a scotch duck egg is encased in a crusty shell of house-made pork sausage and served on a wooden plank. The British home-style undertones extend through to main course with a hearty slow-braised beef and ale stew with corn meal dumplings and winter vegetables. The market fish, a crispy skin snapper, arrives atop a mound of creamy cauliflower puree that is silky and smooth. The plate is scattered with watercress, crunchy macadamia nuts and crispy pancetta strips that lend textural complexity to a well-balanced dish.

The food is made for sharing and accordingly portions are incredibly generous. If you have a ravenous appetite, be sure to order the house bread, which comes toasted with a smattering of oregano and fresh roasted garlic (my absolute favourite) for you to smear across the surface.

Sami- Jo Adelman

Read more about Orto Trading Co. here

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Filed under Orto Trading Co., Reviews, Surry Hills