Categories
European Fine Dining

LP’s Quality Meats – Chippendale NSW Restaurant Review

It’s been about a year since I first tasted LP’s class-defining mortadella, and about a year that I’ve been dreaming about dining at their Chippendale smokehouse and restaurant. After a couple of setbacks and false starts we finally found the opportunity to go last night, taking advantage of the tables left free by those spending Good Friday at home with family.

We chose the $65 tasting menu with the addition of a serving of smoked chicken. Whilst the serving sizes are in general fine, certain fixed serving sizes, for example for the pork loin, are not adjusted for odd numbers of diners, meaning that it is better value to go in a group of four rather than the five that we had.

The first item on our menu was the malted sourdough & butter. There was nothing really special here. The bread was crusty on the outside and a bit gooey on the inside, possibly reflecting its malted nature. The ratio of butter to bread was adequate.

The oysters with mignonette dressing were fresh and delicious, though not differentiable from any other inner city oyster. When ordered a la carte, these oysters are $5 each, which is quite expensive.

While I can’t remember the name of this off-menu metal dish of vegetables, it is probably LP’s rendition of giardiniera, a classic Italian salad. It is essentially a vinegar-marinated combinastion of cauliflower, capsicum, carrot and onion. Quite the tangy palate cleanser, paired with the salumi.

LP’s salumi plate, featuring fully in-house smoked and prepared (though not husbanded) mortadella, salami cotto, and saucisson was a treat. You’ve heard me wax lyrical about LP’s mortadella more than once now – this soft, mild smoked pork sausage is the best I’ve ever tasted. The salami cotto and sauisson were also good, both ssavoiding being too salty or overflavoured, as salumi often is. Whilst LP’s cold and cured meats are also available for sale from their in-house deli, the price of their mortadella at $77/kg was no cheaper than when I had bought it from Woollahra luxury butcher Victor Churchill, and I chose not to further indulge.

LP’s grilled beef tongue with smoked beef fat vinaigrette is one of their signature dishes, and for good reason. Unlike most renditions of beef or ox tongue, LPs slices theirs longitudinally rather than transversely, the end result being a visually arresting, tongue shaped tongue meal. The tongue is extremely tender, falling apart with minimal fork-based instrumentation, which is actually fully different to the hard and chewy mess that I get every time I try and cook it at Korean BBQ. Each mouthful is an umami bomb, thanks to the smoked beef fat, though perfectly tempered and matched by the tanginess of the salsa verde and vinaigrette components. This is a truly next level dish that I can recommend as a must try.

I’m not normally the biggest fan of mussels, but these steamed mussels in nduja were actually very good. There was none of the feared grittiness present in most low-tier mussel dishes, and the sauce was both umami and lightly spicy. This dish would’ve been even better with some bread to soak up the delicious sauce.

The pickled beetroot salad was very tangy. Not the most enjoyed dish around the table, but then again it’s LP’s Quality Meats, not LP’s Quality Beets.

The 800 gram pork chop with mustard sauce and grilled onions was pretty good, but not something I’d necessarily mention in a letter home. The meat was cooked well, the sauce was inoffensive, but apart from the size and spectacle of an entire giant pork chop cut and rearranged into shape there was nothing truly special about it. It’s sad that with 5 people we did not get a 1000 gram pork chop.

This mesclun salad, mixed herbs, palm sugar vinaigrette was pretty unexciting, and definitely not as exciting as the name.

This smoked half chicken in sauce pearà ($31 supplement) was an add on from the a la carte menu. I had heard a lot about the chicken at LP’s, and this dish certainly did not disappoint. The skin of the chicken was crispy, whilst the meat of the chicken was soft. The smoked flavour, mixed with the creamy flavour of the sauce pearà made for a mouth-watering, umami-filled dish. This chicken was well received around the table, and would be my other must-have at LP’s.

This dish of ember roasted pumpkin, chard, and anchovy did nothing for me. I thought that the flavours were too strong, with the pumpkin being particularly oversalted.

The chocolate tart with chantilly cream was made of very dark, semi-sweet chocolate. I liked it, and I think my girlfriend would have enjoyed this too, but she didn’t go so we will never know. It was a divisive dish, as a few of our friends did not like the bitterness.

The savarin au rhum, essentially wet sponge cake, was also just fine. The cream in both of the desserts was quite good, described aptly by my colleague GL as tasting of a melted vanilla ice cream.

VERDICT
Thank you for reading my pegfeed. The chicken and beef tongue were truly standout dishes that I would recommend a visit to LP’s for, whilst some of the other dishes – salads, mostly – did nothing for me. I had a good time, but would’ve had just as good a time ordering the big hitters off the a la carte menu.

4.5/5

LP’s Quality Meats
16/12 Chippen St, Chippendale NSW 2008
(02) 8399 0929

Diners: JW, HWJ, NT, GL, CJP

Categories
Bakery Café European

Kurtosh – Surry Hills NSW Restaurant Review

“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.

Nurtosh/5 – I’m allowed to not like things, OK?

EDIT, JULY 2022
I recently had a snack at the Kurtosh store in Marrickville. Rather than starting a third post for the same chain, I will just append my vague thoughts onto the end of this one.

The Nutella Babka I felt had good texturing and layering on the outside, with good crispiness that was sadly let down by the Hershey-style vomit-like chocolate taste. Though I enjoyed the crispiness of the outside, I was further disappointed when I discovered the wetness of the liquer inside. Oh no. I keep finding things I don’t like at Kurtosh, but my partner keeps taking me.

Kürtősh – Surry Hills
604-606 Crown St, Surry Hills NSW 2010
(02) 9698 6643

Categories
European

Corner 75 – Randwick NSW Hungarian Restaurant Review

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.

Veal Goulash served with nokedli

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.

Fresh Cucumber Salad

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

Corner 75
75 Frenchmans Rd, Randwick NSW 2031
(02) 9399 5712

Categories
European

Continental Deli – Newtown NSW Restaurant Review

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 is the 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.

VERDICT

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.

Continental Deli Newtown
210 Australia St, Newtown NSW 2042
(02) 8624 3131

Categories
European

Cafe Paci – Newtown NSW Restaurant Review

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.

rye taco with ox tongue and sauerkraut ($10 ea)

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!”

Chicken liver Paris-Brest, almond, w’ onion jam ($18)

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.

Potato dumpling with XO trout ($26)

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.

Pain Perdue with cardamom caramel & vanilla ($15)

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.

3.5/5 (too many misses).

Cafe Paci
131 King St, Newtown NSW 2042
(02) 9550 6196