Categories
Café Italian Middle Eastern

Bar Biscotti – North Strathfield NSW Restaurant Review

The main take-home message from this review is really that the food was good, but we spent 40 minutes waiting.

This mango smoothie ($9) was $9 expensive, but pretty good, and came soon after ordering, which was more than we could say about the rest of our meal.

The Mediterranean Potato & Eggs ($21) featuring spiced (mostly vinegary) potato, egg, and zaatar was pretty good. The potatoes were a bit more sour than my partner would’ve liked, and though she wasn’t particularly keen on them I felt the eggs were quite good, as was the surprise zaatar which I think was just mentioned in the menu as “coriander… and a side of pita bread”.

The Italian Meatballs ($22) were pretty good. The Turkish bread was probably the best part – light and airy, a bit oily, a bit crispy, and nice and warm. The beef meatball was a bit weird, a brown exterior with an unexpectedly pink interior displaying a gobstopper like quality that the waiter PROMISED was normal and intentional (but why?) We did eat it and did not get sick. The Napoletana sauce was fine, and the rocket was plenty, but I do feel like a bit of extra bread to soak up all that extra sauce wouldn’t have gone astray. I don’t know why there’s a separate option on the menu for a meatball sub which seems essentially the same dish with different bread and cheese but vaguely the same deal. It was a difficult choice, but I think with this delicious Turkish bread we probably made the right one.

OTHER THOUGHTS We didn’t really complain about our meal taking an extremely long time to come, but the couple next to us who ordered after us and got their food fractionally before us did, and I think they were offered something free out of it. The food was reasonably good, but I’m just glad we had nowhere else to be that morning, because 40 minutes is too much.

Bar Biscotti
24 George St, North Strathfield NSW 2137
0424 195 732

Categories
French

Queen St Eatery – Berry NSW Restaurant Review

A recent timetabling kerfuffle gave us the opportunity to have a double date dinner at one of Berry’s nicest restaurants with my housemate and colleague DTC and our respective fiancees. The choice was between Queen St Eatery and neighbouring South on Albany, both recipients of quite positive reviews online, but only Queen St Eatery not confining the four of us to each eat exactly the same thing. Our $95 per person instead brought us a rather nice assortment of French fare.

The house made olive oil brioche with cultured butter was solid. Buttery. Soft. A hint of sweetness. Love a good bread. You just can’t go wrong with brioche.

The steak tartare with oyster mayonnaise & pomme gaufrettes was also quite good. Good flavouring and good good texture to the meat. The potato crisps were of course useless as a vessel for the meat, but I understand that’s not mandatory.

This chicken, pork & pistachio pate en croute was a nightly special entrée and the more interesting of the remaining entrée choices. A good mix of flavours and textures, though I’m not 100% sold on the texture of the shortcrust.

This snapper meuniére (baby snapper fillet with brown butter & caper sauce) was seriously amazing. So tender and full of flavour. Loved the brightness of the capers (and their abundance) and the richness of the brown butter sauce. One of the best pieces of fish I’ve had in the last two years. Really very good and shouldn’t be missed.

The steak frites (tenderloin steak with cafe de Paris butter and frites allumettes) was good, tender and flavourful, but surprisingly the lesser of the two standard menu item mains. Ideally if you have at least one friend you will get to have both.

But what about the duck frites with duck a l’orange sauce & watercress? Another seasonal special of the mains menu, we chose not to order this because our general duck a l’orange experience has been poor to date. Luckily DTC did order this, because we got to each have a bite and it was very good. Probably better than the steak, but it’s up to you if you want to fully forgo red meat in your sides, or if you’re someone who needs it to feel like a complete and satisfied human being and diner.

The banana tarte tatin with local vanilla gelato, was nice and warm and crispy yet buttery in the pastry with the melted on effect of vanilla gelato like a much-improved ice cream on waffles. Great. Not too sweet.

The blood orange crème caramel was of a similar style to the duck frites, but more forward with sweetness, with a dense and rich block of creme caramel. It was a bit sweeter, and probably the lesser of the two quite good desserts.

COMMENTS
It’s rare that you have a meal where every dish is banger after banger. This was one of those times. It was lovely, and I’m glad we went. One of the best Shoalhaven has to offer.

Queen St Eatery
1/65 Queen St, Berry NSW 2535

Categories
American

Sneaky Burger – Nowra NSW Restaurant Review

During my time in Nowra my two junior colleagues each recommended me a South Coast burger chain to try. Though I never made it to The Hungry Monkey, I did manage to go to Sneaky Burger as my last dinner in town.

I had and ruined the Pineapple Express ($14) with an additional beef patty ($3). I had been craving a bit of a pineapple burger after seeing a chicken schnitzel pineapple burger on the menu at Chooksy’s, and I must admit that the weird combination of peanut butter and pineapple on a burger drew me in. While most of the other burger options on the “Baller range” at Sneaky Burger feature two patties, the pineapple express comes as default with only one, so of course I had to ruin it with an extra.

This $17 abomination turned out to be an extremely oily and greasy mess, not to mention ergonomically difficult. It is my own fault and my own regret that I did this, as I suspect the base burger would’ve been just as good, perhaps better. Despite the greasiness and the clear presence of pineapple, the flavours of this burger didn’t quite stand out for me. I think that in particular the patty wasn’t as seasoned as I would have expected, and the use of peanut butter rather than a standard sauce again meant that the flavours were blunted. Though I could definitely appreciate the presence of chunky peanut butter, I don’t know that overall it’s a great flavour to use in a burger.

I ended up feeling extremely guilty about halfway through this burger, and started to open it up and pick at it a bit (also because two pieces of bread, no sauce, and the added textural dryness from peanut butter just kind of made it extra dry). This co-incided with my consultant’s arrival in the restaurant, and so I said hello to him and we did a bit of a clinical handover with half an open burger in my hands. He loves the place.

As an aside I really enjoyed this Google Review from Cassandra. I actually disagree with most of the content the woman serving me was likely an adult, could clearly read, and there was no problem with customer service at all. I got all the bacon that was promised to me, and any additional servings of bacon are $3 and not $3.50, so six of those could probably buy like half to three quarters of a nice pizza from nearby Pietro’s in South Nowra. I just thought the last sentence was funny.

Sneaky Burger Nowra
130 Kinghorne St, Nowra NSW 2541
0432 513 910

Categories
Asian Fusion Café

Haven Specialty Coffee – Rosebery NSW Restaurant Review

Just a stone’s throw away from Slurp! Slurp! (our favourite Eastern suburbs dumpling restaurant to date) is Haven Specialty Coffee, a coffee roaster and cafe specialising in that all important Asian fusion brunch cuisine. We paid them a visit the morning after a particularly difficult ICU night shift for my partner – her first run ever without a more senior colleague on site.

I arrived early as my partner trudged through a prolonged Monday morning handover and enjoyed myself a standard large soy latte ($5.70). The price was significant, even for coffee that is presumably roasted on site. Not being much of a coffee connoisseur I thought that perhaps the first sip had a hint of prawn flavour, but subsequent sips were pretty uncontroversial.

The jackfruit ragu toastie with bacon ($20) was an expensive but loaded sandwich. I always forget what jackfruit is, so I ordered this sandwich expecting a guava-like sweetness which I thought would match well with a bit of salty bacon. It turns out that jackfruit, despite looking kind of tropical, is nothing like guava, not really sweet at all, but with an thicker, chewier, almost mushroom like chew and texture. The majority of the flavour of this toastie was thus a result of the hummus, which also donated a degree of stickiness to the mixture, and definitely added to by the bacon, which was thick cut and unusually expensive (a $5 supplement on top of the $15 base toastie). It would’ve been too mild without it, but ultimately well balanced.

Our other choice was the grilled broccolini salad with a piece of fried chicken ($25). It was actually not that dissimilar from the jackfruit toastie, it too being quite based in hummus and chickpea. At this point I’m not really sure why they’re billed as Asian fusion, as we certainly didn’t have much hummus at my house when I was growing up. This dish was ordered as it was felt to be a bit more wholesome than some of the other options on the menu, and indeed the broccolini, chickpeas, cherry tomatoes, and random greenery were both tasty and likely relatively healthy. The $7 addition for a piece of fried chicken probably tipped the health-rating of this meal back into a state of badness, but further into the realm of goodness in terms of taste. The chicken freshly fried, juicy on the inside with a crispy batter on the outside. It was seasoned minimally but seasoned well, and really added a nice degree of substance and warmth to this otherwise vegan dish.

I begged my partner not to, but she grabbed a nutella choc chip cookie ($6) on the way out. It didn’t amaze or enthral. Not the best cookie going around, but I’ve essentially been spoiled by the S-tier cookies at Cafe Cre Asion and nothing has really done it for me since.

THOUGHTS
We had a pretty good meal at Haven, even if we did manage to ruin their only two vegan dishes through the addition of meat. I’d like to come back at some point for their mini French toast with earl grey custard, which looks great.

Haven Specialty Coffee Rosebery
7 Crewe Pl, Rosebery NSW 2018

Categories
Asian Fusion Bakery Japanese

Azuki Bakery – Newtown NSW Restaurant Review

Despite their small size and tiny amount of available seating, Azuki Bakery in Sydney’s inner west has some of my favourite pastries of recent times, incorporating mostly-Japanese but broadly East Asian flavours into a universally loved medium (bread).

We’ll start by talking about this Kimchi Pork Sausage Roll ($5.80). This Korean inspired sausage roll was the savoury highlight of our meal, with a good flaky pastry and a warm and flavourful meaty filling.

While I had great expectations for Azuki’s Beef Curry Pan ($5), this was unfortunately not quite the picture of perfection that I had hoped. I enjoyed the light and sweet bread and the crispy oily external layer, but sadly found that the internal filling was just a bit too cool for my liking. While it is true that we waited maybe five minutes for one of the three outdoor tables to free up (our prediction for which of the three Asian couples presently seated would leave first and be replaced by us, also an Asian couple, was completely wrong – the ones who had finished eating first actually ended up staying the longest to sit and chat), this bun was otherwise straight from their counter. It is a shame as I could tell that the filling would otherwise be pretty good, but was just lacking a bit of warmth to open up the flavours and aromas.

Azuki is not the first bakery to advertise its Hot Cross Bun ($4.20) as the best in Sydney, but to be honest my knowledge of hot cross buns is neither deep nor broad enough to dispute or support this claim. This particular hot cross bun was quite densely packed compared to your average supermarket variety, with a good amount of spice in the dough and a deliciously heavy load of fruit and walnuts. It was, all in all a good hot cross bun.

The Yuzu Doughnut ($5.20) was pretty good, not too sweet apart from the candied citrus slice on top. I enjoyed the soft dough and the mild but delicious yuzu custard cream within.

This Custard Puff ($4.80) came on its own in a little cake box, so you know it’s special. It had a strong Beard Papa energy, and I loved everything about this, from the sweet and buttery cookie choux pastry to the light and creamy vanilla custard filling. So good.

The Strawberry Extra Decoration Cake ($58), which I ordered for a family birthday based on our good experience with their other offerings was sadly not as exciting as the rest. It was a fairly basic sponge cake with an interior layer of strawberry, and in my personal opinion too much whipped cream. It did not stand out as a cake against competitor cakes. At least it was not too sweet.

THOUGHTS

We tried and liked a great number of things from Azuki, but the one dessert I think you can’t walk past is their excellent custard puff. We’ll definitely be going back for another, along with some other things.

Azuki Bakery
3/63-71 Enmore Rd, Newtown NSW 2042
(02) 8542 9317