“But you’ve already been to Kurtosh!”, you say. “You didn’t even like it!”
While both statements are true, my partner dragged me along to a Kurtosh franchise in Surry Hills after dinner at Khoi’s, and I didn’t want to waste a mediocre time by not writing about it.
I have discovered, since my last visit to Kurtosh in Randwick in August 2020, that kürtőskalác is a type of baked dessert of Hungarian origin. Unlike the delicious cherry strudel from Randwick Hungarian Restaurant Corner 75, however, I have never really had a kürtőskalác that I have thought to be special.
Before we get to the food, a special mention needs to be made for the consistently poor service at Kurtosh – something that seems to span their multiple distant sites. Before ordering I joked to my partner that our attendant would need to ask for our orders three times, as a callback to our poor experience in their Randwick store. To my surprise and horror, this did indeed happen – it was just very difficult for the Kurtosh employee (who was not the same as last time) to remember the three things that we wanted. She did indeed ask us three separate times.
The palmier was fine.
The chocolate peanut butter cookie was actively good. The cookie was gooey and chewy, with a dark chocolate flavour. I didn’t enjoy the peanut butter filling quite as much, but I did not hate it either.
The vanilla and nut kurtosh was not to my taste. Always a disappointment, but it’s very hard to convince my partner. For what it’s worth, she did enjoy this, and she specifically remarked that she enjoyed this more than the cinnamon one that she had previously tried.
We had a really special meal last night at Corner 75, a local Randwick restaurant that has been open for over 40 years.
I had made a reservation earlier in the evening, and on arrival we were greeted by name by Paul Varga, owner and host, and led through the dimly lit but bustling restaurant to our table. Before I get to the food, the service and atmosphere at Corner 75 must be commended. The restaurant had a real family feel – after all it is a family venture. We dined among both younger groups and older couples, many of whom seem to be regulars of the restaurant and know the staff very well. Throughout our meal Paul continued to address me by name, which impressed me so much as remembering names is something I have a lot of difficulty with.
The hortobayi crepe of shredded chicken and paprika sauce ($15) was special. The chicken filling was tender and juicy, and the paprika sauce added a umami flavour that I had never experienced before. This entree really set the scene for a truly memorable meal of new Hungarian flavours.
The Veal Goulash with nokedli ($29) was not what we thought it was. Our last experience with goulash was probably at Stock Market on the UNSW campus around 7 years ago. This goulash was much less of a soup and more of a main meal. There were many large chunks of tender veal, and my partner commented it was much more tender and delicious than any meat I have ever tried to stew or slow cook. The nokedli, a kind of formless pasta dumpling, were a bit underflavoured for me, even when used to mop up the sauce. My partner liked it however, and liked how springy it was too. I would’ve liked this dish to have around twice as much sauce, as we did end up wanting for more with nokedli left over.
We were upsold on the Fresh Cucumber Salad ($6.50) to pair with our goulash. We hadn’t originally intended to have it, but the proprietor recommended it, citing the ability of the sour cucumber to cut the rich taste of the goulash. It was actually pretty good. The cucumbers had been long marinated in a mixture of salt, pepper, garlic, and sugar, and topped with paprika. Paul later came back and admitted to the upsell, but we had to admit that we liked it.
While the Corner 75 house specialty, Crispy Roast Duckling with mashed potato & red cabbage ($37.50) is sold without it, it really needs to be eaten paired with their delicious cherry sauce ($3.50). I was initially a bit hesitant about eating duckling, until my learned colleague reminded me that it was the birthright of my people to eat every animal that walks, swims, flies or squawks. This was a really good dish. The duck was soft and tender, with a nice crispy skin. The red cabbage was sweet and delicious, and was a good foil for the rich duck. The potato mash was buttery. The cherry sauce was an absolute treat, with a sour and sweet flavour that added a really special touch.
The Cherry Strudel with vanilla ice cream ($12.50) was yum, the cherry being more tart than in the cherry sauce served with the duckling. The sourness of t he strudel’s filling worked well with the pastry’s sweetness. The vanilla ice cream was good, if standard. It was thoughtful of them to split our one serving into two to share.
I can really recommend Corner 75 in Randwick. Somewhere over the last forty years the restaurant has found and managed to keep something truly special. I can’t wait to come back, and maybe over the next four years of my partner working in Randwick we will become regulars too.
$110 for 2 including one glass of red 5 little roasted ducklings
Continental Deli first popped upon my radar in early 2020, when I saw an Instagram photo of a distant acquaintance of mine munching down on one of their signature meatball rolls in a socially distanced park
Flash forward to early 2021, and I finally had the opportunity to give Continental Deli’s food a try. While Continental Deli offers a $65 per person feed me tasting menu, we opted to pick and choose a few choice dishes from the a la carte menu – a vain attempt to add focus and value to our meal, as it ended up being $130 for two anyway.
Continental Deli’s steak tartare with gaufrette potato chips ($26) came widely recommended as a must-have, and so indeed we had. The tartare itself had quite a strong salty, and slightly sour and spicy flavour afforded to it by the addition of capers. The Parmigiano-Reggiano atop the tartare gave it a further level of saltiness, while the gaufrette potato chips (read: waffle-cut crisps) provided the third layer of salt. I found it quite an odd decision to pair the already quite tasty tartare and cheese with a potato crisp whose only flavour was salt, and thought that this salt on salt on salt combination tipped the see-saw too far in the hypertensive direction. Despite this, in my opinion the steak tartare was the first and strongest dish of a pretty middling expensive meal.
The plate of cheese & charcuterie ($39) was up next. No attempt at explaining the dish or its components were made, however our waitress did walk an adjacent table through the selection of cheese included (so why not us?). You will see in this photo the addition of a single gilda, which will be delved into separately. This was my first time eating a charcuterie plate in a restaurant, and I must admit I was at a bit of a loss as to how to approach it. Most of the elements of the cheese and charcuterie plate were very salty, and I found myself ranking them in order of pleasantness, inversely proportional to saltiness. My favourite salumi was LP’s mortadella, which I find makes most dishes from most restaurants great in and of itself. The salami (? literally no one bothered to name any of the components for us) was also alright, but came with its casing which needed to be removed separately. The prosciutto? jamon? who knows, was pretty salty.
Taking a step into cheese land, I enjoyed the unnamed soft cheese over the unnamed hard goaty/sheepy cheese and the other unnamed cheese. Again, the diners on the other table had the distinct pleasure of being told what they were eating, which remained a mystery to us.
After writing this review I contacted the Continental Deli team via Instagram, asking what each of the components were. It’s been three months and I’ve received no reply. How unfriendly. All I can tell you is that the good soft cheese was Berry Charlton’s Berry’s Creek Buffalo Brie from Sunrise Plains East Gippsland.
This salty little morsel isthe gilda ($3.50). It consists of a guindilla pepper sandwiched within an olive above a ortiz anchovy on a stick. I ordered one for myself as I’m still trying to teach myself how to enjoy anchovy, and none for my partner who I knew would hate it. Continental Deli’s gilda was, as expected, a salty, slightly spicy stick. I didn’t like it.
Continental Deli’s pasta – mafalda corta, charcuterie xo & egg yolk ($28) – was good but not great. It’s the second best and in a way I guess the first worst XO pasta I’ve had in Newtown recently, with Cafe Paci’s absolutely divine XO gnocci taking the crown. Continental Deli’s spin on XO sauce was made from cured meats rather than the classical scallop, which in my opinion did not lend it enough the requisite umami flavour to be successful. I enjoyed the al dente pasta and the egg yolk I’m sure saved the dish from total disaster. Again, good, not great.
The roasted chicken, togarashi, green beans & tarama sauce ($35) was one of the weakest dishes of a generally quite weak bunch. Props need to be given to the perfectly tender cooked chicken, however points deducted from the taste and flavouring, which again was quite salty. My partner absolutely hated this, but couldn’t figure out why until we discovered the tarama sauce which we had skipped on the initial read of the menu. She just doesn’t really like fishy tastes.
I think Continental Deli’s strengths stand on its use of smallgoods from other specialty vendors, like LP’s Quality Meats. The meal we had was just fine, however taking into account the $130-for-two price tag its score drops to a 3/5. I’d only come back to try their meatball and super deli subs, but not for their bistro offerings.
My partner and I have been having a lot of Japanese food recently, so the decision was made to change it up a bit. We took inspiration from some instagram foodies and decided to hit up Cafe Paci in Newtown for a rainy day lunch.
First of all, we were totally upsold on this rye taco with ox tongue and sauerkraut ($10 ea). We had originally decided on sharing the one taco between the two of us, however with some nudging from our waitress I caved and we ended up spending $20 for 2. I really loved the warmth and soft texture of the sourdough tortilla, which was completely unexpected. The thinly sliced ox tongue mixed well with the sauerkraut flavour and cream, and overall the taco made a nice and warm and wholesome morsel. My partner however didn’t agree, didn’t like it very much, and thought that we could’ve done with only half each. She therefore lied when the waitress came back and was like, “see! I told you one wouldn’t have been enough!”
This Chicken liver Paris-Brest, almond, w’ onion jam ($18) is probably the most photographed sandwich I’ve seen over the past weekend. It is basically a sandwich made of a huge volume of pate, and an overwhelming quantity of onion jam. The bread I enjoyed, and I also enjoyed the thick cut almonds atop it. The pate had a smooth mouthfeel and a strong flavour, however I felt the overall balance of the dish was upset as the quantity of the rich pate was far too great for the quantity of the bread. The Paris-Brest seems to be quite well received, so perhaps this is an issue of personal taste rather than of objective fact. I would’ve liked more bread.
Next was the Potato dumpling with XO trout ($26). I am actually offended by this dish. In my language when someone says dumpling this generally involves a bit of pastry wrapped around a filling. Knowing this, I fully expected some kind of potato-based dumpling wrapper with an XO trout filling. What I got instead were GNOCCI. Why not use the word gnocci? How is the term “potato dumpling” more descriptive than “gnocci”? What’s worse, the XO trout was actually just XO sauce MADE FROM trout. Again I fully expected a substantial quantity of fish.
To be honest though, getting past the initially disappointment of not really getting what was described and what I expected, the dish was not bad. My partner certainly enjoyed it a lot – she is a big fan of potato after all. The gnocci was soft, sweet, sticky, and had a delicate and mild flavour. The XO sauce, seemingly made of trout but not containing much trout was quite good, tangy, and not as spicy as most XO sauces are. If I were to name this dish with a bit more integrity I would have called it “Gnocci in XO sauce made with trout.”
This Mortadella ravioli with fermented chili butter ($26) was so delicious that it deserved two photos. The ravioli pasta itself was very al dente, something odd for me to enjoy as I usually prefer my pasta softer. The physical strength of the pasta was of course to protect the stronghold of flavour within. The ravioli, once bitten, releases a burst of chilli cheesiness that overwhelms the palate with umami. This was a truly delicious dish, and I wanted to mop up every last drop of the chili sauce. I did manage to stop myself from licking the plate.
The Pain Perdue with cardamom caramel & vanilla ($15) is a piece of bread coated in a crispy caramelised outer surface, served with vanilla ice cream. It was quite sweet, but we enjoyed the contrast in flavour, warmth, and texture betwen the ice cream and the bread. It had a nice cardamom taste to it, however I probably wouldn’t get it again for $15.
Overall I had a pretty good time at Cafe Paci. The ravioli with fermented chilli butter and the ox tongue tortillas were definitely the standouts, the others were forgettable, and I would even go so far as to recommend avoiding the chicken liver Paris-Brest. They also had a $60 roasted whole duck which looked amazing on the table next to us. Perhaps we’d come back just for that.
My partner and I recently had the chance to eat at Contact Bar & Kitchen in Woolloomooloo for a weekday lunch.
To our surprise, there was plentiful street parking, however limited to only two hours per section. It was a very wet day, and it was nice to get out of the rain and into the warm restaurant. Service was absolutely impeccable. I believe our waiter was Diego (but it may have been Stefano – he had the less hair of the two, but an amazing eye for service.)
We settled in for a long lunch, and on the advice of our waiter had our dishes staggered.
We were started with this Amuse-bouche – a spinach, zucchini, and celery soup served in a small beaker with single crouton. I enjoyed this thick and flavourful soup, and the crunchy texture of the crouton. This amuse-bouche came as a complete surprise to us, and if we had known we were going to get we may have not ordered the next dish.
Our first dish was the pea, spinach, white pepper, herb croutons, goat’s cheese soup ($16). As we were sharing all of our dishes, our waiter made the thoughtful suggestion of splitting the soup into two separate bowls for each of us. Pictured above is half a serve. I enjoyed the thick pea texture of the soup, and thought that the addition of goat’s cheese in some mouthfuls made it basically two soups for the price of one – the goat’s cheese being transformative whenever it entered the mouth. A special mention to the herb croutons which sacrificed themselves to suck up the soup flavour to a high degree. Very absorbent.
Next came our Squid ink spaghetti with sea mullet, salmon, mussels, clams, octopus, bonito, furikake, cherry tomatoes ($33), and probably the start of our downfall. I had convinced my partner that based on available information online that the dishes would be small, and that we would have plenty of room to fit two pastas, two mains, and a soup. How wrong I was. The pastas at Contact Woolloomooloo are actually quite huge. The fact is that the utensils provided to serve the pasta (photographed) are actually huge themselves, as is the massive prawn centrepiece. It is therefore difficult to get a good perspective of the size of this pasta dish visually from a photo.
I actually really enjoyed this squid ink spaghetti with seafood. I liked that the sauce was creamy but not heavy, and translucent rather than opaque. I liked that it was thick enough to coat the spaghetti, but not so thick that the sauce felt like a meal in and of itself. I absolutely loved the interplay between the tomato and the sauce base, and enjoyed the fresh seafood as well. The octopi were my favourite element of this pasta, and I’d probably get one just with octopi by itself if I could – they were just so delicious. I can whole heartedly recommend this dish – just don’t go in thinking that it’s small – it’s either a full meal for one, or half a meal for two.
Next on our culinary journey was the truffle spaghetti (usually a coxetti) with forest mushrooms, roma tomato, brie, garlic, white wine, truffle oil ($28). This pasta was a very creamy celebration of truffle and mushroom flavours. My partner really enjoyed this pasta, however again it was an absolutely huge serving. We saw the writing on the wall, and after each sampling a serving we asked for it to be packed for takeaway, a nonstandard request which the staff thoughtfully obliged. Our waiter commented that chef was very generous with his servings, and we agreed.
Next was the Poached Yellowtail Kingfish with broccoli, soy, pearl cous cous, ginger, viola ($36). Two confounding factors make my review of this dish less reliable. The first is that after two soups and two pastas I was already reaching my limit of abdominal distension. The second is that we had just about reached our 2-hour parking limit for Zone 28, so I had to venture out into rain and move my car around the corner into a new parking zone. The fish was served whilst I was away, although our very helpful waiter did offer to keep it under heat until I returned. My partner, who had the opportunity to eat this dish from hot, thoroughly enjoyed it. She isn’t usually the biggest fan of fish, and the last time she had cooked whitefish that wasn’t toothfish she hated the texture. This was the first time that either of us had had kingfish that wasn’t at least a little bit Japanese – we mostly have kingfish either raw or aburi as sashimi or sushi. I personally found the kingfish a bit tough this time – a texture that was accentuated by the thick cut of the portion that we got. Perhaps I wouldn’t felt differently if the fish had been cut into thinner steaks, but we will never know. My partner enjoyed the soy bath, pearl and cous cous, and ultimately the dish as a whole more than me. While I understand that this kingfish wasn’t given all of the opportunities in life that it could’ve, I wouldn’t order it again.
Our final dish was the Black Angus sirloin with portobello mushrooms, thyme, pumpkin-potato, horseradish, rosemary, black mustard seeds ($35). I find it very hard to judge this dish fairly. On one hand, I was absolutely stuffed from the preceding five courses. On the other hand, it is true that I didn’t enjoy this as much as I had expected from reading the other online reviews. What I can tell you was that the pumpkin-potato mash was absolutely divine, very creamy and not overmashed. The portobello mushrooms were grilled to perfection and remained juicy enough to provide umami bombs with every mouthful. The beef itself we had medium-rare, and while I did enjoy it I didn’t feel like it was anything to write home about. We did appreciate the plating, of course, and my partner actually did like the beef a lot more than me.
All things considered we had a very nice and luxurious two and a half hour lunch at Contact Bar & Kitchen in Woollomoolloo. The servings were very generous and the service was second to none, so much so that we actually ended up tipping more than we ever have for any meal – including $500+ degustations. I would definitely recommend paying Contact a visit, especially if you can book a 30% or 50% off slot, but even if you can’t , their lunch specials ($25 for wine and a meal) are a good deal.