Categories
Chinese

Mr Stonebowl – Burwood NSW Restaurant Review

My first experience with Mr Stonebowl was at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, when I ordered some dinner from their Hurstville restaurant that took around two hours to deliver and ended up being quite disappointing. My second experience, on the first day of reopening in October 2021, was much better, though not without its faults.

Our ordering was largely guided by my esteemed colleague JZHW, a Burwood local and Mr Stonebowl evangelist.

The garlic prawn with stir fried rice in squid ink ($19.80), a “must-order” per both JZHW and the staff at Mr Stonebowl, was a pretty reasonable dish. It was a large pot of dark-coloured rice covered in a creamy sauce and topped with some battered and deep fried garlic prawns. This configuration of white sauce atop rice was fusion in a sense reminiscent of Hong Kong cafe style cuisine, though no cultural inspirations have been explicity mentioned by the restaurant. Overall a large, economical, and good (if heavy) dish.

The chicken feet and bean silk in homemade sauce ($8.60) wasn’t really very good. This dish was the first indication that steamed yum cha style dishes aren’t really this restaurant’s specialty. While feng zhua (鳯爪) is typically steamed to the point where the meat and skin is falling off the bone and easily eaten off, these little chicken feet still had all of the connective tissues clinging to the bone. Unfortunately this made for a difficult to eat and less flavourful dish. A few extra minutes in the steamer would’ve made a lot of difference, and honestly this is an amateur mistake to make. I wouldn’t order this again.

The stew beef tendon with crispy quail eggs ($17.80) was alright. I wasn’t a huge fan of the flavour, but I do like myself a bit of beef tendon in pho, in instant noodles, and just in general. The decision to slightly fry the quail eggs to make them crispy and dry on the outside was a strange one.

The special soup with fish fillet, prawn, razor clam, and quail eggs ($18.20) was surprisingly spicy, but had quite a good flavour. The nature of the fish fillets wasn’t clear but our JZHW’s Vietnamese partner thinks it was basa.

The pork ribs in Beijing style sweet and sour sauce ($17.80) were not, as I thought they would have been, Zhenjiang pork ribs. Instead they were your pretty standard sweet and sour sauce pork ribs with cubed pineapple in tow. They were pretty good to be honest, but not really traditional Chinese food. This would all be much easier if I could read Chinese.

The pork and chive dumplings ($8.80) were a standout. Very good, very authentic, and very cheap. I could recommend these to anyone.

The shumai ($8.50), conversely, were quite bad. They were very loose inside, packed with vegetables rather than the classic pork or prawn meat. Thematically they were more similar to the Australian “dim sim”, a fried mess of minced cabbage and mystery meat. I wouldn’t recommend these.

The prawn dumplings (xia jiao) ($8.50) were alright. They were plump and tasty, though I felt like again they could’ve been steamed for longer. The wrappers were just a bit too chewy in my opinion.

The Singapore style barramundi ($20.80) was, in my opinion, better than that at related restaurant Mr Stonepot in Eastwood. While I think the fish was probably leaner or smaller and the dish a dollar more expensive, I thought the sauce tasted better here.

OVERALL THOUGHTS
I think that Mr Stonebowl does live up to its reputation for providing reasonable quality Chinese food at an attractive price. The four of us had initially set out for hotpot, but after finding we looking at paying around $80 pp for the only hot pot available in Burwood on the first night of eased COVID-19 restrictions we chose to dine here instead at the relative bargain basement price of $33 per person. There are certainly things I’d avoid at Mr Stonebowl, which generally includes anything steamed, but the rest of the food seems pretty reasonable.

Mr Stonebowl Burwood
GF 122, 122-126 Burwood Rd, Burwood NSW 2134
(02) 9745 1388

Diners – WKS, JW, JZHW +1

Categories
Café

Georgie Boy – Parramatta NSW Restaurant Review

Parramatta’s much-loved Circa has popped out a new baby, and it’s a boy. Located at Parramatta Park’s George St gatehouse, this pop up of indeterminate longevity serves Circa coffee along with a completely unique menu of mostly quick eats made from familiar Circa ingredients, served in takeaway containers.

On my first visit to Georgie Boy I had the Barramundi Quesadilla ($15). These quesadilla were quite good, with the tortilla crispy and almost layered, with a roti-like quality. The filling of chilli marinated barramundi was cheesy and tangy and spicy, but not so much that the flavour of the fish was drowned out. Indeed the flavour of the barramundi was very clear, and brought me back instantly to the last time I had barramundi at Circa (which was not actually good, but this time it was good). The freshness and generosity of smashed avocado as well as the rest of the salad and garlic labne was a welcome foil to the slightly oily slightly rich quesadilla. Ultimately a good dish.

On a subsequent visit, I found that the Eggplant Wrap ($14) with an added egg ($3) is certainly no replacement for Circa’s famous Ottoman Eggs. It was actually quite disappointing, especially after the high expectations set by the quesadilla.

COMMENTS
It’s too early to write a verdict, and I plan on bringing my partner back once she’s back from her interstate locum.

Georgie Boy
O’Connell St, Parramatta NSW 2150

Categories
Modern Australian

Clove Lane – Randwick NSW Restaurant Review

My partner and I had a late post-work dinner at Clove Lane recently after a difficult and scary medical procedure. While we were tempted to order their $99 per head tasting menu, we ended up choosing more granular control and picked some of our favourites from the a la carte menu. Any savings we might have gleaned by skipping dishes we weren’t interested in were immediately negated by the Clove Lane’s expensive but delicious Clovemopolitan cocktails.

Very small pancake with baba ghanoush and capsicum

The amuse-bouche, a very small pancake with baba ghanoush and capsicum, was an unexpected treat, though not very good. It was a soft and floppy pancake with very mild flavours that didn’t amuse the mouth but rather disappoint it. Luckily this amuse-bouche was not indicative of the quality of the rest of the meal.

Iggy’s warm sourdough, whipped burnt butter

The warm sourdough with whipped burnt butter ($8) was a wholesome start to the meal. Whilst not in-house, the bread was good quality, soft and warm, having being sourced from Iggy’s. The whipped burnt butter had a caramel-like aftertaste which I wasn’t a fan of but my partner enjoyed.

I enjoyed the stracciatella, confit cherry truss tomato ($18), especially eaten with the aforementioned bread. The stracciatella was nice, light, milky. While I was drawn in by the concept of confit tomatoes, it was difficult, when eating them, to differentiate these tomatoes from other tomatoes cooked in more traditional methods. The stracciatella was ultimately good, but I don’t think the confit process added anything special to the dish.

Seared scallops, almond, golden raisin, cauliflower

The seared scallops, almond, golden raisin, cauliflower ($37) was excellent. The base dish comes with three scallops for $28 though we added an extra scallop for $9. The scallops were huge, full and plump, though I thought their flavour was a bit mild on the seafood side. The sauce of chopped almonds, golden raisin and cauliflower was salty and sweet with a lot of umami. Though $37 for just four scallops the taste and presentation excelled and ultimately justified the price. I can recommend getting this dish.

Kipfler potato, capers, shallot, truffle cured egg yolk

My partner – a huge potato fan as readers of this blog will know – couldn’t walk past the roast kipfler potato with capers, shallot, truffle cured egg yolk ($12). I personally didn’t really like them. I thought they were too potatoey and not flavourful enough, however she thought that the capers provided enough variety and flavour to the dish and ultimately enjoyed five out of seven potatoes.

Roast pasture fed sirloin, green beans, butternut pumpkin in red wine sauce

The roast pasture fed sirloin, green beans, butternut pumpkin in red wine sauce ($45) was another star of the night. The beef was soft, juicy, and tender, rested for 45 minutes prior to serving but still warm inside. There was very generous amount of the beautifully savoury red wine sauce, enough for the steak as well as the pumpkin and greens. I would strong advise against leaving Clove Lane without having had a serve of this sirloin.

Saltwater barramundi, du puy lentil, green apple, kohlrabi

The saltwater barramundi, du puy lentil, green apple, kohlrabi ($42) was the weaker of the two mains, with its light and subtle flavours. The fish was a little dry and had a very light taste only. It was only when combined with the lentil and kohrabi cake that the meal had any real taste to it. While more suitable for pescaratians I’d definitely pick a different main over the barramundi were I to go again.

My partner enjoyed the clovemoplitan ($20) so much that she got two. It was a bit tangy and not too sweet.

One negative aspect of our meal was that we did feel a bit conned into donating $4 towards DineSmart. The $4 donation came directly onto our bill without us being asked, and it was framed in a way where we would’ve had to ask them to produce a new invoice to remove it. While I have a no problem donating to social enterprises like DineSmart it did feel like our hand was forced in this, and that wasn’t really OK.

VERDICT

We had a good meal with good service and good food. While a 2% donation on our bill was definitely a very small amount of money, the way it was sought left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth.

4/5, points lost for opt-out donation.

Clove Lane
19 Clovelly Rd, Randwick NSW 2031
(02) 9326 3573