Monday, April 30, 2012

Cafe Sopra at Fratelli Fresh: Bridge St, Sydney CBD (27 April 2012)

After dreaming about the pasta we have had at Cafe Sopra in Waterloo on one too many occasions, we decided that it was time to try out the branch at Bridge St. Tucked away underground, it is easy to miss, but once inside it seems like an entirely different world. Arriving at 12.05pm in hopes to beat the peak lunchtime crowd, we were led to two seats at the wine bar (which we gladly took) and found that the actual restaurant area was already full.

 Entrance - short 5 minutes wait to be seated when arriving at 12.05pm :)

 Daily offerings

 Happily took the available seats at the aperitivo bar

 Spaghetti Carbonara ($20) - spaghetti was cooked perfectly again, and the carbonara sauce coated each strand evenly without being too heavy. However still found this dish to be lacking in flavour, unlike the richer ragu bolognese we had last time at Waterloo. 

Cod pate served with bruschetta, poached egg and mussel vinaigrette ($20) - oh whoa, did not realise that cod could taste this good. It was a generous serving size of creamy goodness, complemented by the crispy bruschetta underneath to scoop up the cod and the runny egg. 

Definitely returning to try out more of the menu, and it's even better that it's all reasonably priced! Best to arrive around 12, since the line seemed to increase exponentially after 12.15pm.

Cafe Sopra at Fratelli Fresh
11 Bridge Street 
Sydney NSW 2000
02 8298 2701
Mon-Fri 12pm-3pm and 6pm-10pm
Breakfast 7.30-11am
Aperitivo Bar 3pm-6pm
Bar, Pizzeria, Mozzarella Bar 12-10pm
Saturday Dinner from 5pm

Café Sopra at Fratelli Fresh on Urbanspoon

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Bistro 80: Star, Pyrmont (25 April 2012)

Led by head chef Paul Gasper, Bistro 80 serves up bistro favourites at an affordable price in the newly refurbished Star. As it is a Wednesday, three of us decide to go for the $45 dinner special (available Sunday to Thursday only), which includes 2 courses and a glass of wine. The other two decided to keep it lighter, and opted for mains only.

 Complimentary warm crusty sourdough bread to start everything :) Really liked how the bread was still  warm!

 Pumpkin Veloute ($14) - pumpkin and vanilla veloute, sauteed cepes, truffle pecorino. 
Creamy and velvety pumpkin goodness that came in a generous entree size!

 Freshly shucked oysters served with lemon and an eschallot & cabernet vinegar. The set meal comes with 6 oysters, which were freshly shucked. 

Smoked salmon, capers, cornichons, truffle cream cheese - loved the presentation of this entree, but was the least memorable one of the three entrees.

 250g scotch fillet, bearnaise, red wine jus - perfectly cooked, simply presented.

 Side of green and white beans with a chardonnay vinaigrette ($8)

 Fish of the day ($29) (salmon) served with a mesculin salad and sauce gribiche - The skin was perfectly crisp, and the salmon still slightly pink on the inside. One of the best salmon fillets I've had, and was left wanting more.

Fish and chips ($26) served with a side of french peas and tartar sauce - the fish is a perfect combination of freshness and crispiness, and goes well with the mushy peas and tartar sauce. The chunky chips was a generous serving size, but I would have preferred them a bit more crunchy. 

Surprisingly Bistro 80 was really good value (gave extra discounts if you were a Star Rewards member), with well-cooked simple bistro-style dishes. 

Bistro 80
Level 2, Astral Tower
The Star
80 Pyrmont Street
1800 700 700
Lunch: Sat & Sun 12pm-3pm
Dinner: Sun, Wed & Thurs 5.30pm-10pm; Mon & Tues 6pm-10pm; Fri & Sat 5.30pm-11pm

Bistro 80 on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

New Orleans Cafe: Crows Nest (25 April 2012)

Eating at 9a.m. on Anzac Day doesn't lead us to much choices, but luckily enough New Orleans cafe was open. TItling themselves the "Heart and Soul of Crows Nest", it sure enough does seem to be an easy meeting spot as we all manage to meet up on time. The waitress that served us was friendly, and we had our coffees made and delivered to our table within 5 minutes.

The cappuccino ($3.50) was lukewarm - may be because the weather was already so cold, but I would have preferred it hotter... a lot hotter. 

 Eggs Royale ($15) - Poached eggs with smoked salmon, sauteed spinach and hollandaise sauce. 
Not to be picky, but I thought everything was just too cold. The English Muffin was hardly toasted and came out cold, and the hollandaise sauce seemed to have just come out of the fridge. Also was a little sad when I realised the eggs were not runny :(

 Granola ($10) - House mix of muesli, topped with seasonal fresh fruit, and served with a side of yoghurt mixed with honey. 
While it was a simple dish, I thought everything went well together, especially with the addition of cut up dried dates in the muesli which worked well with the honey yoghurt. I did run out of yoghurt half way through, so perhaps I need to ration a bit better next time. 

 Eggs Nouvelle Orleans ($15) - Poached eggs with slices of chorizo, sauteed baby spinach and hollandaise sauce.
M had this dish, and also reported that the muffin and sauce was cold and the eggs overcooked :(
Entrance to New Orleans Cafe

Overall it was a nice cafe in a great location in Crows Nest to catch up with friends and family. While I probably won't be going back for the coffee and breakfast menu, I would go just for the convenience of the cafe being the first and most likely last one to close in the area (especially on public holidays). They do charge a $1 surcharge per person on a public holiday which is quite reasonable.

New Orleans Cafe
6 Willoughby Rd
Crows Nest
02 9436 2596
Mon-Fri 11am-12 midnight
Sat-Sun 9am-12 midnight
Breakfast 9-11.30am

New Orleans Cafe on Urbanspoon

Etch: CBD Sydney (23 April 2012)

Etch was always one of those restaurants on my to do list, and so on a Monday night we decided to give it a try. We had the tasting menu which consisted of 6 courses plus an amuse bouche and pre dessert. However having heard from friends whom went the previous week to be ready for a 30-40 minutes wait between each course, we were slightly wary after our long days at uni/work, but everything turned out great and we were out of the restaurant by 9.30p.m. (2 hours).

Entrance - restrained and quirky

Amuse Bouche

The Amouse Bouche was a creamy soup - can't remember exactly what it was, but it was very flavoursome and settled us in for the night. 

Local figs, Woodside goat curd

The creamy goat curd complemented the sweet figs and crunchy sesame wafers. Not usually fans of figs, but everything worked well together and the figs were incredibly sweet. 

 Crispy Spencer gulf prawns, peach, wasabi
Thought both the prawns and the vegetable risotto dishes were ok, but nothing spectacular. 

 Autumnal vegetable risotto

 Caramelized pork belly, beetroot, pear puree

Pan-fried snapper with vegetables
Surprisingly this dish was quite substantial, and was the substitute dish they had for me since I requested no pork. The vegetables were crunchy and complemented the snapper well, giving everything a "fresh" taste. 

Aromatic slow braised lamb shoulder, pumpkin, garlic spinach, mint, balsamic
The flavours worked well in this dish - it was rich and tender, and a nice substantial finish to the mains. 

 Pre-dessert of rhubarb compote, wine jelly, vanilla chantilly and rhubarb jelly
I wasn't much of a fan of the rhubarb compote and jelly, but that would just be a personal dislike of rhubarb. The vanilla chantilly on the other hand was creamy and matched well with the wine jelly. 

Lemon parfait, pineapple, coconut salad, coriander
The lemon parfait was not as "citrus-ey" as I would have liked it to be, but I still really enjoyed this dessert. The coconut salad worked really well with the dessert, as did the small meringue they placed on the corner. 

Overall it was an enjoyable meal, and a good start to the week. We probably won't be going back anytime soon, though it does make me want to attempt to make lamb as tender as they had it with our slow cooker. 

62 Bridge Street
Sydney 2000
02 9247 4777
Mon-Fri 12pm-3pm; 5pm-late
Saturday 5pm-late
Etch on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 16, 2012

Bò 7 Món THANH TÂM: Vietnamese, CBD Sydney (17 April 2012)

Tucked away in the basement of Bar Hunter is one of the better options for decent Vietnamese around the financial district area. Compared to the popular Malay Chinese next door, there is a lot more seating options available, although the restaurant is becoming increasingly popular so it's probably best to avoid the peak 12.30-1.30pm lunch hour slot.

The lunch time $10 meal sets are excellent value and today we tried the Beef Noodle Soup set which comes with two fried wontons, beef noodle soup ($9 by itself) and one drink. The soup was flavoursome, clean and the perfect remedy for the cold Sydney weather.

We also ordered the steamed Chicken with Noodle which was on their monthly special menu ($9.50). The chicken is moist and tender, and comes in a generous serving size. The vermicelli noodle soup seems slightly bland compared to the beef noodle soup, but nonetheless warms you up and doesn't leave you thirsty afterwards. Overall a cheap, fast and decent meal in the city.

 Fried wontons
 Beef Noodle Soup ($9/$10 set)
 Beef noodle soup condiments
 Steamed Chicken Noodle ($9.50)

50 Hunter Street
Sydney NSW 2000
02 9223 6511
Mon-Wed 10-7pm
Thurs-Fri 10am-8pm
Sat-Sun booking only

Bò 7 Món THANH TÂM - Hunter Hotel on Urbanspoon