Sunday, February 24, 2013

Mejico: Sydney (22 February 2013)

A late-comer in the wave of new Mexican restaurant openings in Sydney, Mejico appears to be making an impact with it's open-plan preparations using freshly harvested vegetables within simple well-made dishes. Despite having been open for only a day when we went for dinner last Friday, the restaurant was already packing in a full load of customers (although we were guessing that some may have just been disgruntled Jamie Oliver's clients who had given up on the mind-numbingly long wait as Mejico is located just a few steps away). 

Prepping the corn

Market Fresh Guacamole ($9)
   A made-to-order guacamole that consists of avocado mashed with spanish onion, coriander, lime juice, wasabi, walnuts and serrano chilli, all served with a side of golden plantain chips. The dish comes to the table with all the ingredients in separate plates and bowls, before the waiter promptly mixes everything within a molcajete. Definitely one to order just for the theatrics, and as a plus it is delicious and a great starter. 

Smoked Pork Belly Tacos ($16)
   For mains we decided to split the pork belly tacos and ribs. The smoked pork belly tacos consisted of cubed pieces of smoked pork belly served with black bean hummus, tomatillo salsa sand soft shell tacos. Whilst I enjoyed the smokiness of the dish, the flavours still seemed relatively bland in comparison to El Loco's tacos.

Glazed Pork Ribs ($34)
  In comparison to the pork belly tacos, the glazed pork ribs were packing in a deliciously smoky chilli flavour. Each rib was generously marinaded with the chipotle chilli marinade and the meat on each rib were mouth-wateringly tender. The polenta chips were also a nice touch, though the 3-piece serving seemed to be leaning on the small serving side.

Locally-grown fruit hat ($10)
  Basically a fruit salad consisting of pomegranate, kiwi, mint leaves, pineapple, watermelon balls and hibiscus flowers, served with a scoop of coconut ice cream. It was a refreshing combination of fresh fruit, and a light finish to the meal.

105 Pitt St
Sydney NSW 2000
02 9230 0119
Méjico on Urbanspoon

Black by Ezard: Pyrmont (November 2012)

Brioche, butter, black salt
One of the best complimentary "breads" I have eaten in Sydney. The brioche was warm and buttery, and complimented well with the smokiness from the thin flakes of black salt. 
Beef tartare
Beef tartare wrapped within thinly sliced heirloom beets and topped with spiced herb mayonnaise, mustard ice cream and puffed wild rice. An interesting twist to the traditional beef tartare consisting of thinly sliced rare beef pieces, as the beef was more of a minced beef texture that was enhanced by the sweet beets and the other toppings. 

Large juicy shelled prawns are topped with a roasted chilli dressing, avocado and salad of young coconut, mango, pomelo, thai basil and crispy shallots. Our favourite out of the two entrees, as it was was bursting of fresh flavours that provided us with a wonderfully light start before the heavier mains came out. 

Beautifully lit open-spaced seating

Filet, green beans
Perfectly cooked to a medium rare - the grass fed angus steak was slightly charred on the outside, and tender and juicy on the inside. The natural flavours of the beef was brought out from their usage of the wood burning grill cooking technique, and so the mushroom sauce was hardly needed (though delicious nonetheless!). 
Mushroom sauce

Snapper, chimichurri, fennel salad

Overall Black was a perfect venue for a leisurely drawn-out lunch - the views are amazing, service is attentive and the food was consistent. Will definitely be back to try out more of their steak options. 

Black by Ezard
Star 80 Pyrmont St
Pyrmont NSW 2009
02 9657 9109
BLACK by ezard on Urbanspoon

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Ms G's: Potts Point (November 2012)

Sometime in November last year, I went with a group of girlfriends to Ms G's for drinks and dinner. From memory it was a Friday night, so we decided to try and get there early to avoid having to wait too long for a table. Below is a few snapshots from our night's feasting!

G'n & T'd slushee ($14)
A cute concept and twist on the whole asian bubble tea packaging - consisting of beefeater, green apple and peach liqueurs, pink grapefruit juice, jasmine and pearls. A perfect fun drink to get any weekend started with the girls!

Mini banh mi ($6 each)
Bite sized goodness of either crisp pork belly or chicken katsu. Both were delicious (albeit quite pricey at $6 a pop), but the chicken katsu was the favourite for me - a tender succulent piece of chicken that's been breaded and deep fried to a golden crispiness. 

Kingfish Sashimi ($16)
Thinly sliced pieces of fresh kingfish, topped with buttermilk, compressed rhubarb, sliced jalapenos and quinoa. Really liked the creamy texture and taste of the buttermilk dressing over the kingfish. 

Crispy pork, calamari and pineapple salad ($16)
We were slightly disappointed with the calamari salad - not because it wasn't good, but in comparison to the other dishes it was relatively tasteless and the calamari was quite chewy and tough to eat. 

Stirred egg noodles ($18)
Seriously try this if you haven't had it already! I'm not usually a huge fan of ordering noodles and rice dishes at restaurants, but the stirred egg noodles were so addictively delicious! Stir fried through with edamame, shitake, soft poached egg and XO sauce, each noodle strand was generously covered with the glutinous XO sauce. 

Roasted barramundi ($26)
Topped with sambal matah and cubed watermelon pieces, the roasted barramundi was slightly different from the traditional plating options for barramundi.

Prawn toast, yuzu aioli, herbs ($14)
At $14 we were thinking that it was quite pricey for a prawn toast, but after one mouthful of the crispy goodness that the prawn toast was we decided that every dollar was worth it! While there wasn't much in terms of presentation, each mouthful was a rich burst of prawn, yuzu and sesame seed flavour... my mouth is watering just thinking about it. 

Breakfast ($12)
Consisting of a bottom layer of crunchy cereal and sticky rice, topped with burnt honey ice cream, cranberries and mango. Quite filling for a dessert, but delicious nonetheless - especially the sticky rice!

Stoner's Delight 2.0 ($12)
Quite a random mix of doughtnut ice cream, peanut butter, raspberry jam, candied bacon, potato chips, mars bar slice and banana fritter. Perhaps we were just past the point of fullness or we just didn't get it, but we ended up just picking out the parts that we liked (doughnut ice cream and banana fritter) and leaving the other parts. 

Service was really good from start to beginning, and there was no point in which we felt we were being rushed to get out. 

Return visit: February 2013

After being inspired by the innovative dishes served up by Ms G's at the March into Merivale launch party, we decided to go back to Ms G's to try out a few more dishes. Our definite highlight from our revisit would be Jow's sweet and sour lamb ribs. While it's a big call considering how much I love ribs, but I would say that this was one of the best ribs I have ever eaten! It had the perfect proportion of meat to sauce to rib bone. The meat on each rib were mouth-meltingly tender, whilst still managing to have a slight crunchiness along the edges. I could have probably demolished this dish by myself, but alas we shared it so I guess it just means I have to go back for more!

Jow's Sweet and Sour Lamb Ribs ($23)

Ms. G's 
155 Victoria St
Potts Point NSW 
02 9313 1000
Ms.G's on Urbanspoon

Monday, February 18, 2013

Phamish: Darlinghurst (November 2012)

Really can't ever go wrong at Phamish with their duck and prawn pancakes. Definitely our go-to place for reasonably priced Vietnamese food around Darlinghurst/Surry Hills area. While $7 for a rice paper roll wrap may sound expensive, one or two of the wraps would probably be enough to fill most people up. And they're delicious! Filled with juicy duck pieces and fresh vegetables, wrapped around by a pancake before being wrapped again by the rice paper roll, these rolls make all the parking and line-up craziness seem worth it. 

Duck and Prawn Pancakes ($7 each)

Scallops and Asparagus stir fry

Shredded Coconut fried rice
The coconut fried rice also deserves a special mention! It's different from the normal plain fried rice since there are egg yolk pieces tossed throughout it, and is topped with a generous amount of shaved coconut pieces. Really delicious, and again a generous serving portion by Phamish. 

248 Palmer St
Darlinghurst NSW 2010
02 9357 2688
Phamish on Urbanspoon

Saturday, February 9, 2013

March into Merivale Launch Party: Sydney CBD (05 February 2013)

Having missed out on the March into Merivale launch party numerous years in a row now due to various reasons (mostly due to my forgetfulness in registering), I was beyond excited to have finally made it this year. The night is definitely one not to be missed by anyone who is a fan of Merivale's restaurants as it gives you a chance to sample them all within the span of one night. In addition, you get to see all the head chefs in action including the likes of Dan Hong (Mr Wong, Ms G's, El Loco) and Peter Doyle (Est). Whilst I thoroughly enjoyed everything (except for the whole being squashed thing whilst juggling holding a camera, food dish and drink), below is a few snapshots of our favourites from the night. 

$30 token ticket
This year it costed $30 to enter the Merivale Launch party, which included 8 food tokens and one complimentary drink from the newly opened Palmer's bar. Most of the food dishes only involved one food token, whilst some involved two. 

Trout on potato salad from the Fish Shop

Mr Wong's

Raw fish summer roll and hot dog from Ms G's

Peter Doyle in action from Est!

Spanner crab salad from Est
In terms of value, this was probably the most "valuable" item one could get from the Launch into Merivale party. For only one token, you could get a small taster of Est's salad of spanner crab, fresh corn, avocado and lettuce, flavoured with mint and lime. 

Salt and pepper lamb chops from Mr Wong

Suckling pig from Bistrode CBD
Lorraine's Patisserie

We each tried a piece of the delicious looking brownies from Lorraine's Patisserie after our 2 hour-long feasting across the different stores. The brownie consisted of macadamia nuts spread throughout it, as well as dark and milk chocolate pieces. It wasn't as rich as I usually like my brownies to be, but it was still delicious in that the texture of the crunchy top and bottom contrasted with the lighter brownie centre well. 


Overall it was a lovely night out that gave us a taste of what to expect with the remaining March into Merivale events! Definitely looking forward to the $33 deals they have running across their numerous restaurants and pubs in the upcoming weeks. 

Lorraine's Patisserie on Urbanspoon

Osteria Balla: Pyrmont (November 2012)

Having walked past the beautiful exteriors of balla on numerous occasions, we decided to book one of our pre-Christmas gatherings at Balla last year. Headed by chef Stefano Manfredi, Balla sets out to introduce their customers to a modern interpretation of the classic Osteria Milanese cuisine (where chef Manfredi comes from). The interiors are definitely modern (emphasised even more so with the provision of wine menus on iPads), and the space is open and expansive. 

Modern interiors

Complimentary bread basket
The night starts of well with a complimentary bread basket filled with crusty white sourdough bread slices and rolls, and fluffy focaccia slices. 

Strozzapreti with prawns
All pasta at Balla is made in-house and daily so we knew we had to at least try some of the pasta dishes. We decided to choose both the strozzapreti and papperdelle pasta dishes. I found the texture of the strozzapreti overly chewy in comparison to the usual silky-smooth texture it has, but the subtly creamy prawn sauce was delicious. 

Trenette al sugo di dentice
Curly papperdelle pasta with tomato and snapper sauce, garlic and chilli. Definitely our favourite dish of the night. The snapper infused tomato based sauce was deliciously addictive, and the curly pasta with it's increased surface to volume ratio, was the perfect accompaniment to cling onto as much sauce as possible.

La tagliata Fiorentina
The final dish we ordered for the night was the traditional wood-grilled 800g Florentine T-bone. The steak was cooked precisely to the medium-rare we ordered, with it being relatively crispy and charred on the outside whilst still pink on the inside. The steak was juicy and flavoursome, and goes well with the much needed side of sauteed seasonal greens. 

Whilst the dessert menu looked tempting, we decided that we were too full to try anything substantial so we rolled ourselves to the nearby gelato messina. 

Osteria Balla
Level G, Harbour Side
The Star, 80 Pyrmont St
Pyrmont NSW 2009
02 9567 9129
Osteria Balla on Urbanspoon