Asian Fusion Café Chinese

STIX – Marrickville NSW Restaurant Review

My partner and I have been eating a lot of good food recently, much to the disappointment of my healthcare team and our mortgage deposit. This morning’s late start for my partner found us at STIX, a farm to table café with a much appreciated all-day menu.

We started with the potato hash ($8). I couldn’t stop her. For what it’s worth, these were great. These were extremely buttery and luscious, multi-layered with a thin crispy of an exterior and a soft interior. Pretty tasty.

The smoked trout rillettes ($24) with fennel and kohlrabi remoulade, celery, pickled eschallot, apricot jam and sourdough toast was next. I enjoyed the taste and texture of this dish, as something I could not dream of making myself. The base of sourdough bread was nice and crusty, with good structural integrity and able to carry the weight of its toppings with ease. The brightness, freshness and crunchiness of the celery was excellent with the more creamy textures of the remoulade and trout rillette. The taste and texture of the rillette, something difficult to make or find outside of a restaurant, were both good, and a reasonable volume was provided with our order.

The poached egg was comically small, though we do understand that when you’re raising the hens yourself there is a spectrum of eggs produced, and it’s not possible to only have 58 gram eggs. Unfortunately the small size of our poached egg may have contributed to its overcooking – I have no photos but it was 0% runny compared to what a normal poached egg is.

The last thing to mention would be the apricot jam, which was just a little bit sweet but added so much to the overall flavour of the dish, complimenting the saltiness and savouriness of the rest of the meal. My partner particularly liked that it was dolloped on in discrete bits, so that some mouthfuls would have some sweetness and others would not.

The very good chicken and sweetcorn congee ($21) was a dish that I felt I could probably make at home, and am in fact probably ethnically and genetically obliged to make at home at some point. It was a really tasty and hot bowl of congee, with a bit of spiciness from some tamari chilli relish, some sweetness from the corn, some ginger, and some saltiness from what I presume is just plain salt. The texture of the rice was very nice and soft, and has prompted me to freeze a bit of washed and soaked rice in my freezer just now so that I can make something similar soon. The chicken was not particularly plentiful, with a shredded grocery store rotisserie chicken kind of quality (though I do not mean to defame – I’m sure it was much fancier than this), but enough for enjoyment. This was ultimately a simple but very well executed dish, one that will inspire me to be a better Asian this week.

I made my partner wait a full twelve minutes after the end of our meal to decide if she still wanted this tea and toast croissant ($9.50). $9.50 is a lot to pay for a croissant. I thought that the earl grey tea cream filling of the croissant was plentiful in volume, but sadly not so in taste. It felt highly calorie dense, fatty and thick, but without the taste payoff that such expenditure should entail. I would’ve much preferred a stronger earl grey taste in this situation, preferably also without as much volume of cream. Filling aside, the marmalade glaze on this croissant was enjoyable, although in my imaginations of Beverly and Betty tea and toast diets (I am, for these six months, a geriatric medicine advanced trainee after all) I had always assumed it was plain toast straight out of the toaster that they were eating. I doubt you would get too malnourished if this croissant were your staple meal.

I don’t know how I feel about a place that only takes card, with a mandatory card surcharge for all payments. It feels like any mandatory, unavoidable surcharge should be built into the menu price from the start, but I guess the gods of the ACCC disagree with me. Pretty good food. Worth a visit.

20 Chapel St, Marrickville NSW 2204
(02) 9550 2772

American Bakery Café

Small Talk Coffee & Snacks – Dulwich Hill Restaurant Review

This is Small Talk’s Lox Bagel ($17.50). I don’t know the physical or legal difference between a bagel with filling and a sandwich, apart from the type of bread, but nonetheless enjoyed this bagel with filling. The bagel has a sweet and savoury flavour, with a mildly dense texture providing a perfect balance of bite and chew. The filling of smoked salmon, caper paste, pickled onion and cream cheese was deeply umami, with a good mix of different textures and flavours. My partner and I shared the one bagel, and I do not think it was inadequate. They come pre-sliced in half, so if eating with a friend or colleague they are optimal for sharing two different halves of two different bagels.

Another item pre-destined for sharing is their Raspberry Fritter ($7.50), essentially a square glazed donut with a light hint of raspberry filling. If you were to close your eyes it would be almost indistinguishable from a Krispy Kreme original glazed donut, though the grooves did make it extremely convenient to tear and share. Not the strongest dessert though, and I feel too expensive for what it was.

Please note that this venue is more takeaway oriented, with only very limited outdoor benching available.

Small Talk Dulwich Hill
Shop 2/355 New Canterbury Rd, Dulwich Hill NSW 2203

Bakery Café Indian South Asian

The Fold – Dulwich Hill NSW Restaurant Review

Though I’ve lived in Wentworthville in the heart of Sydney’s South Asian community for a total of eleven years now in two separate runs, I still don’t really have a good gauge on South Asian food. It’s hard for me, as someone who didn’t grow up in the culture, to know what’s actually good and what’s actually bad, so I must apologise in advance if my thoughts about Dulwich Hill’s The Fold are coloured by my complete lack of cultural competency.

We started our meal with this quite-good Sri Lankan Iced Coffee ($7.50), which was essentially a mixture of chai spices, coffee, and vanilla ice cream (AKA a cold dirty chai). It was quite enjoyable, though a bit expensive, and I had no qualms about recommending it to a random vegetarian who walked into the restaurant just as we were leaving.

The Appa-Appa with free range chicken curry ($24) was a plate consisting of two plain hoppers and one hopper with an egg in it, along with side pots of a mild chicken curry, lunu miris (sambal paste), and seeni sambol (a less spicy onion sambal). We enjoyed the chicken curry, though found it to be extremely mild – likely a product of the restaurant being in Dulwich Hill rather than Pendle Hill. I have literally no standard to compare these hoppers with, but can remark that I enjoyed the crispy thin edges much more than the bases, which I felt were a bit too thick and bready. Again, I have no idea if that’s how it’s meant to be. This is just how I feel.

To illustrate how out of my depth I am here, after eating it as a taco I found out via the internet that you are not meant to eat hoppers as a taco.

The Butterfruit Pann with two poached eggs ($21) was really just another name for avocado toast, but with one delicious twist. This otherwise standard avo toast came with a tiny but delicious pot of pineapple chili relish, with a fascinating sweetness that went incredibly well with the bread and avocado, and elevated each and every bite. I only wish that the pot were a bit larger as we ran out two thirds throughout our meal.

Look at this SICK cutlery.

The food at The Fold was really not bad, and even the otherwise standard avo toast had a nice little twist that elevated it to a new level. Their pastries on display also looked quite good, and though I don’t know if they’re made on site I think I will end up coming back at some point to eat them all.

On a subsequent visit to grab some pastries I learned that they are in fact all made on site. There’s an assortment of relatively standard French as well as South-Asian inspired pastries, though for this visit I erred on the side of caution.

The Plain Croissant ($5.50) was certainly, as described, a plain croissant. I took a leaf from my friend the Sydney Croissant Hunter’s book and brought a serated knife to capture a cross-section from my visit, though in doing so left quite a mess on their table. I wasn’t blown away by this croissant – it was adequately crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, but keep in mind that I’m not a croissant expert, and I got this about half an hour before closing, so it wasn’t quite fresh out of the oven.

Next up is this Salted Caramel & Macadamia Scroll ($8.50), a hefty and dense bread-like creation that was a meal in and of itself. Entire bites of this were devoid of any caramel, but this was not so much a problem as this scroll truly reminded me of my love for bread. The salted caramel swirl tasted a little bit dark-cooked (I don’t want to say burnt, I doubt it was ever on fire), and ultimately I think my craving would have been equally served by some stock standard brioche or something.

The Portuguese Tart was a bit sweeter than I usually like, but I enjoyed the flavour as well as the pastry. Even my partner, who doesn’t usually like Portuguese tarts, enjoyed this. It is a shame that she dropped it on the floor before she was finished.

I actually really enjoyed this Black Forest Cake ($8.50). I often get black forest cake thinking that I’ll like it, but it’s never really lived up to my expectation until now. The Fold’s black forest cake was absolutely lovely, with plenty of moistness, dark chocolate, and a discrete and highly tasty cherry layer sandwiched between two layers of dark sponge. Every part of this cake, including the well proportioned mousse-like icing was well executed, and this is now the best black forest cake I’ve ever had.

The Fold. Sri Lankan Inspired
402 New Canterbury Rd, Dulwich Hill NSW 2203
(02) 8068 2226

Bakery Café

Earnest Arthur – South Nowra NSW Restaurant Review

So I’ve been wanting a pie from Punch the Ploughman for weeks now, but their pie times are completely at odds with my waking-and-eating hours. Unless I purposely stay up after work for two and a half hours after I finish my night shift or unless I somehow send my resident out of the hospital to grab lunch there is just no way for me to get the pies that come out at 10:30AM and run out by 12:30PM. Earnest Arthur, one of the Shoalhaven area’s premier pie stops was a promising alternative for a couple of post nights feeds.

This Peking duck sausage roll ($6.50) did not hit the spot at all. I read on one of their Google reviews that a customer was disappointed that they had missed out on one of these rolls when they were there, a disappointment that only induced me to try it myself. Sadly I don’t really think they missed out on much, as I found that the filling was quite floury or carby, kind of like the stuffing of a supermarket rotisserie chicken, but denser and dryer. It was difficult to appreciate any duck at all, though I’m sure that it’s in there somewhere. Even assuming that there is some duck in there, I don’t know, as a guy from the Beijing region, what about this was particularly Peking. It piqued my interest but did not peak my tastebuds. I think a bit of tomato sauce could’ve gone a long way, but whilst I’m sure it is available within the store it was clearly on display or not freely offered on either of my two visits.

The surf and turf pie ($8.40) was a big improvement over the duck sausage roll, with clearly appreciable big and juicy prawns, and limited but large chunks of meat. This would begin a trend that would continue for the rest of the pies that I had at Earnest Arthur. Their pies are much gravy with limited in number but large sized chunks of protein. Not bad.

The jalapeno, beef and cheese pie ($8.40) was the strongest of the four foods that I tried at Earnest Arthur over my two visits. Making up for the meat-limited approach of this bakery was the use of jalapeno and cheese within the filling, thereby taking up room with something other than gravy. The flavours of jalapeno pepper and cheese were actually quite complimentary, with senses both of freshness and umami.

The dill and snapper pie ($8.40) was really quite pleasant, with mild flavours, creamy and not too fishy. Again, lots of (yummy) goop, with only odd chunks’o’fish.

GENERAL VIBE: I don’t know if I’m really describing what I’m trying to say adequately. It is highly possible that if they chose to use mince instead of large chunks of steak and fish and prawn, they might be able to better spread their protein throughout the pie. The fact that they probably do in fact use more expensive and larger portions of meat means that it leaves entire mouthfuls of just pastry and gravy without anything to chew on, and concentrates the pleasure of meat-eating onto other mouthfuls. I don’t know that the overall consistency of their pies are accurately conveyed on the cross-sections on their website.

The flavours are mostly good (barring the Peking duck sausage roll), but I personally would prefer balance. Otherwise if you’re going to go the chunky steak route then to put in enough steak to fill the entire pie, though $8.40 is already quite a lot to pay for a meat pie, and more steak would certainly mean even more money than that.

Two pies per breakfast is too much pie for a guy trying to not eat that much pie.

Earnest Arthur
(02) 4422 4000
171 Princes Hwy, South Nowra NSW 2541


Paper Plane Cafe – Parramatta NSW Restaurant Review

Though self-professed lovers of brunch, my partner and I tend to find ourselves looking more for lunch than breakfast. Cafes with all-day menus tend to be more our style, and we had hope that Paper Plane Cafe, next to a convenient if expensive parking lot in Parramatta would be up our alley.

This Midnight Cuban Sandwich ($18), served with bad boy fries definitely tends close to the lunch category than breakfast. The sandwich was ok – a little dry in places, but happily saved by the ample amount of mustard within. The bad boy fries I felt were too much potato, and I would’ve loved to have been able to order this sandwich on it own.

The Veggie Plate ($22) was a nice plate of vegetables, both ruined and added to by our addition of chorizo ($4). All elements of this vegetable and meat plate played well with each other. Nothing special, but a very reasonable thing to order in the absence of any other inspiration.

Coffee was fine. I liked the novelty spoon and matching mug.

I had the Truffled Eggs ($14.50) on a subsequent visit with a group of 7 colleagues after a run of night shifts. There remained an unfortunate lack of free parking in the area, and I spent an additional $6 for parking in the Parramatta Council Eat Street carpark. These eggs were pretty solid, and I think the addition of some truffle flavouring did enhance them compared to our previous experience. The sauteed portobello mushroom was good but minimal in quantity. The chorizo satisfied my salt and carcinogen craving and the intricate slicing to maximise surface area to cooking was also beneficial in portioning it out into bite sized pieces whilst eating. Overall quite a solid breakfast for under $15.

General Thoughts
Paper Plane Cafe isn’t my favourite place in Parramatta, and yet I keep finding myself back there every few years, just to see if it has improved. The food I would say is passable but not standout. I felt the service was somewhat disinterested. Overall I would call it a miss, but there’s nothing extremely wrong with it if you’ve exhausted all the other nearby options.

Paper Plane Cafe
5/2 Horwood Pl, Parramatta NSW 2150
0412 796 176