Categories
Bakery Café Chinese

Bengong Black – Darling Square Haymarket NSW Bubble Tea and Bakery Review

Let me tell you about a vibe.

Back when my partner worked in Concord, she would often come home with milk tea from Bengong. We always enjoyed their milk tea, imbued with a stronger tea flavour than most outfits. We were therefore suitably surprised and a little bit proud when we found that they had opened up a branch in Darling Square. The Concord Hospital boba tea shop had finally made it.

I really enjoyed this Tea Cube Milk Tea when I first had it. I was confused when they asked me to choose a flavour, and I chose lychee. I thought it was so cool that they had somehow created this drink where they put concentrated tea into jellies. I went back a couple of days later and asked for one but without fruit flavouring, and the staff member looked at me as if I were crazy but was ultimately happy to oblige. What I got was a simple milk tea with a lot of ice. I was an idiot. The tea cubes weren’t actually tea cubes, merely fruit cubes.

The Wuwu Oreo Sundae was pretty good! Just a soft serve over hot brown sugar and boba syrup, with an oreo on top. It melts quickly so be sure to eat it just as fast.

Bread is bread. This particular strawberry flavoured bread was not that good.

Bengong Black Haymarket
91 Harbour St, Haymarket NSW 2000

Bengong Black Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Categories
Fine Dining Italian Middle Eastern

Bart Jr. – Redfern NSW Restaurant Review

Our recently dog-positive Redfern based friend took us to one of Redfern’s many dog-positive night time venues. We had the $65 per person feed me tasting menu, with the addition of a round of raw beef toast for the table.

I’m not very well versed in olive culture, but these green Sicilian olives were pleasantly crisp and only lightly salted. Not bad, but not something I’d willingly order from the a la carte menu for $5.

The ricotta, potato & leek fritter with smoked tomato sago and aioli was the first non-olive dish of the night, and also the start of what was essentially an abuse of shaved pecorino. Whilst I’m usually quite anti-fritter, these frittery balls were coated in a nice tomato sauce, with good internal texture and flavour. Not bad.

This visually interesting dish is Bart Jr’s kingfish & scallop crudo with yuzu kosho, buttermilk, cucumber, poppy seeds, and dill. I’m pretty sure there’s some salmon and pomegranate snuck in as well. This was a fresh tasting sashimi based dish, and whilst many of the ingredients – for example buttermilk and poppy seed didn’t make a huge difference in flavour, the dill really shone through. Dill generally pairs quite well with seafood, and this was no exception. Well liked around the table. Pretty good.

The raw beef toast with duck dripping, chives, pecorino di fossa, and crispy onion atop grilled garlicky sourdough ($9 supplement each) was not included in our tasting menu but probably the best morsel of the night, and a must get. Each bite of these juicy, thickly topped slices of sourdough was extremely decadent, with the cheeses, sauces, and raw meat all melting together in the mouth. A nice hit of umami that I wish there were more of. A really elevated snack.

The sheep’s halloumi in rosemary butter with burnt honey, verjuice, currants and hazelnuts is the rare sweet halloumi dish. Despite the multiple sources of sweetness and the contrasting innate saltiness of the halloumi this dish was able to avoid being over-flavoured. It was pretty nice, but I think a bit of bread served with it would’ve gone a long way.

Speaking of bread, the next dish on the menu was the rosemary and garlic focaccia with fermented chilli butter and olive oil. My feelings towards this bread dish are not as fond as some of our friends. I think that the fermented chilli butter, whilst good, was wasted on the focaccia which was already quite adequately flavoured and salted on its own. I would’ve preferred to have the chilli butter (as well as the preceding halloumi) with some more plain bread so that it could’ve been enjoyed more on its own merit. The combination of bread and chilli butter was, in my opinion, the combination of two strong and non-complimentary flavours.

The pasta formosa with lamb shoulder ragu, green peas, pecorino and pangrattato was the third appearance of Bart Jr’s overreliance on pecorino. The pasta was quite al dente, moreso than I normally like, but still pretty good. The serving of beef was generous, and while the ragu flavours were good, they were no more special than any other ragu at any other restaurant we’ve been to recently.

The salad dish was made of baby gem leaves, eschallot vinaigrette, pecorino, and fennel seed pangrattato. Are you starting to see a trend? Maybe pecorino was on sale at the supplier.

Whilst I didn’t really enjoy the roasted hasselback potatoes with creme fraiche and aleppo pepper, thinking to be a bit too dry even with the sauce, my potato-positive partner thought that it was “a fine potato”

The charred ocean trout skewer with caramelised fennel, harissa, yoghurt, and mint was NYL’s least favourite dish, and in my opinion probably the weaker of the two options for mains. It is a 200 gram skewer of trout cooked in a Middle Eastern style. The fish is well cooked, to a safe degree whilst still retaining a semi-rare moist inside. I wasn’t a big fan of the fennel, however, and I thought the harrisa-heavy flavour, though not bad on its own, was a bit incongruous with the tone set by the rest of the meal.

I get highly anxious about driving after any quantity of alcohol, so this Heiwa Shuzo ‘Tsuruume’ Yuzushu was perfect as an inclusion on Bart Jr’s tasting menu. It was pretty tasty and refreshing (tart, not too sweet), but takes this somewhat disordered journey from Italy, to the Middle East, and now Japan.

VERDICT
Bart Jr’s was generally pretty good, with the major standout being the raw beef toast. They have a minimum spend of $60 per head, so you might have to get some other food and drinks unless you want 7 pieces.

Bart Jr.
92 Pitt St, Redfern NSW 2016
0401 899 845

Dog tax, mid-corkscrew vs giraffe toy

Diners: JW, PX, NYL and dog, LH

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

Categories
Asian Fusion Italian Japanese

Casoni – Darlinghurst NSW Restaurant Review

Casoni is one of the nicest meals I’ve had in some time. The menu was described to us as “Modern Italian”, with a selection of Italian staples fused with some Japanese inspiration.

We started with the Wattle Seed Flatbread ($6). Originally our choice of topping was going to be the salmon roe, however as they were out of stock we had to improvise. After the reassurance of our host that the serving of bread would be “quite generous” and suited to having two sides/toppings, I chose the ortiz anchovies ($6) and green garlic burrata ($10). While the bread was warm, soft, fragrant and delicious, it turns out that “quite generous” was a straight out lie. I would not characterise the bread as being suited to having two toppings. One was more than enough, so much so that we weighed up whether or not we should order a second serving of flatbread to mop up voluminous sides.

The ortiz anchovies ($6) were salty. I think they always are. I’m yet to develop a taste for them. My partner straight up refused to try it (she’s a bit of a fish-o-phobe).

The garlic green burrata ($10) was quite delicious. The inside of the burrata was very wet. It was a great dish to spread on the bread.

Black garlic bread

The Black Garlic Bread ($8) is a must try. It is more of a dessert than a garlic bread, with a sweet glaze and sauce. The topping of miso butter was divine. It is a house specialty for a reason and I would recommend no one leave this restaurant without trying it (cats and other people who can’t have garlic aside).

Tuna Carpaccio

The yellowfin tuna carpaccio with wasabi cream and burnt mandarin dressing ($18) was quite good but straddled the line towards being too tasty. I thought that the wasabi cream and burnt mandarin dressing overpowered the fish to the extent where I couldn’t really taste the star ingredient. While the flavours were good I wonder if a bit of tweaking is in order to highlight the tuna a bit better. Wasabi-phobes need not worry, the wasabi itself isn’t too strong.

Sausage and pecorino pappardelle

The sausage and pecorino pappardelle ($?26) was delicious. The serving size was large enough to share between two. The pappardelle was fresh and soft and tasty – not too al dente for me. The serving of sausage was extremely and unexpectedly generous, there was enough for each bite, and the pecorino added a great sharp flavour to the dish. While I’ve read from other reviews that pasta isn’t Casoni’s strong point, my experience with this pasta would lead me to disagree. It was just fantastic.

Comfortable seats

VERDICT

As I’m sure you can tell by now we really enjoyed our meal at Casoni. We can’t wait to go back.

5 stars.

Casoni
371-373 Bourke St, Darlinghurst NSW 2010
0449 516 798

Casoni Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Categories
Fine Dining Modern Australian

Moxhe – Bronte NSW Degustation Review

Last night was one of the worst nights I’ve ever spent a lot of money on. It was not one of worst nights of my life.

On the strong recommendation of one of my partner’s gaseous friends we dined at Moxhe, a Modern Australian Seafood restaurant. Moxhe offers a four-course and an eight-course tasting menu for dinner, based on whatever the guy finds at the fish market that day.

We settled down nicely in a suburb we can’t afford to live in for a nice meal and a completely missable glass of $25 chardonnay each (oops! check the price before you order next time!).

Moxhe – Héritage flour sourdough, cultured butter

This is the bread. It has the noteable distinction of being one of the only things I got to eat last night. I found the bread to be quite middling. It was a sourdough of “heritage flour”, whatever that means. There were some black dots in it but I don’t think it made it as premium as black dots normally make vanilla ice cream. In all seriousness, the bread was non-special, and paled in comparison to other breads we’ve had – for example at Ester and Lumi – in the past. The cultured butter this bread was served with was limited and not refilled, though my partner continually edged the sad, empty butter dish further and further away in the hopes that someone would notice.

MOXHE – Pickled mussels tartelette

These are the Pickled Mussels Tartelettes, of which we had one each. The tartelettes were a fun and strange mouthful of zesty weirdness. I did enjoy them, although it was not clear at the time what I was eating.

MOXHE – Petite Claire and Label Rouge Oysters

Before we started dining we were treated to an extensive list of oysters to choose from. Words like “rustiness” and “mineralness” were used to describe what was essentially an list of Bateman’s Bay oysters that increased in size and price. We had the two petite claire oysters (one each) that came with our tasting menu, and supplemented them with two label rouge oysters ($6 each), of which I ate both. While initially scoffing at the varied descriptions of differently sized but identically sourced oysters, I do think I enjoyed the flavour of the smaller Petite Claire oysters more. I wasn’t able to gain a consensus however as my partner doesn’t really enjoy seafood and didn’t want to eat a second oyster.

MOXHE – Unknown Nigri

This is some unknown nigri. Unknown because the published menu for the night said that we would be getting an octopus skewer and instead we were given this. It was entirely missable, not at all better than any $3.50 nigri from Sushi Rio or $3.80 nigri from Sushi Hotaru.

I really enjoyed this Smoked & Aged Ocean Trout Blini. I thought the blini was really well toasted, and had nice crispiness to it. The ocean trout had a delicate flavour, and we both appreciated that it was not too heavily smoked. My partner was particularly excited that it came served on a warm bowl. “Wow,” she said, “this bowl is hot”. This was one of the stars of the meal for me, and you will soon find out why.

MOXHE – RAW (snapper, bight red fish, alfonsino, trevally, royal red prawn, scallop, salmon roe, bonito paste, curry leaf, smoked and regular soy sauces) 

This beautifully presented raw sashimi platter was where everything fell apart for me. We were served a plate of snapper, bight red fish, alfonsino, trevally, royal red prawn, scallop, and ikura ikura with bonito paste and curry leaf garnish, as well as a smoked and unsmoked soy sauce.

I dutifully made my way through the dish, eating my allotted fishies in the order that was prescribed. Unfortunately I encourted three scales in three of the fishes, which didn’t reflect the care or the skill of the chef and hurt the experience. We both enjoyed the red scarlet prawn’s delicate sweet taste, as well as the very small but quite enjoyable scallops.

Whilst having this dish however I felt a sad and scary tingle at the back of my throat. I know that I am kind of allergic to scampi, however there is no scampi here and I thought I would be safe. I was wrong. I can’t really pinpoint which of these sea animals was the culprit, however I suspect it was the deliciously sweet scarlet prawn, which has a close relationship to the scampi. I managed to finish my portion of this dish, and the tingling in my throat settled, howver this was quickly replaced by spasmodic retrosternal and epigastric pain, lasting for up to 20 seconds at a time, and coming in minutely intervals. As you can imagine, this was a very bad time for me. I sought the opinion of my gastroenterology colleagues, who were really not that concerned, however it felt very bad. I suspect it was the continuation of the allergic reaction that I had, but of course have no proof. It felt like how a corkscrew oesophagus looks on chest X-Ray.

MOXHE Capellini, pesto, ricotta, olives

This is the Capellini pasta, Pesto, Ricotta, Olives. I wish I could tell you about this dish, however the severe abdominal and retrosternal pain I was in meant that I only had a small bite of it before I decided it was safest not to tempt fate. I felt really bad! This is where my partner will have to take over the review, as I have no idea what anything after and including this dish tastes like. The restaurant was gracious enough to charge me only $65 for the entrees as I just could not continue. A point of humour for the waitress was that just the previous night a husband sitting in the same chair that I was also felt very unwell during his meal and had to leave for fresh air many times whilst his wife enjoyed wining and dining. This was basically me, however I remained seated and watched longingly at all of the seafood that my seafood-phobic girlfriend got to eat alone.

My partner actually enjoyed this pasta, which was surprising as it mixed several of her least favourite ingredients – being pesto and olives. She is someone who will readily rip out the olives from any given pizza, but she tells me that the finely minced nature of the olives made it less offensive to her.

MOXHE Large Clarence River Prawn, Prawn head sauce, Tomato, Burnt eggplant 

I actually laughed to myself when they described this dish to us. My partner hates prawn, and Large Clarence River Prawn, Prawn head sauce, Tomato, Burnt Eggplant , sounded like her worst nightmare. Little did I know that she would be having the last laugh.

I was really sad to miss out on eating this giant prawn. The photo doesn’t really capture the largeness of the prawn, but just trust that it is. I have been seeing people on Instagram chowing down on their giant scarlet prawns for some time, and I longed for a large prawn myself. While I didn’t get to eat this dish, I did get to watch my partner slowly eat her prawn with her knife and fork, unsure whether to like it or not. They actually served me a prawn too, but I didn’t eat it. My partner must not have liked the prawn that much as my prawn was returned to the kitchen uneaten.

MOXHE – Murray Cod with rosemary and spring vegetables

This is the Murry Cod with rosemary, broccolini, asparagus. Again this is a deviation from the printed menu. Whilst I didn’t get to taste this dish, my partner thought that the fish is a bit tough. Perhaps she has been spoiled by all the toothfish we’ve been having.

MOXHE – Marigold and yoghurt

This is the Marigold and yoghurt sorbet. My partner enjoyed it but she thinks it was just a palate cleanser, not a proper dish. The yoghurt paired well with the marigold, and I’m told it was fresh. I secretly nommed on a leaf and it was quite leafy. As an aside, I’d really like to get a pacojet one day but I think that day will be far far far into the future.

MOXHE – Aged gruyère tart

This aged gruyere tart looked absolutely delicious. Watching my partner eat it gave me strong FOMO feels. She told me it was just a normal cheese tart but I think she was trying to make me not feel sad. She had some cheese today in a different setting and let slip that it paled in comparison to this here pictured cheese tart.

MOXHE – Strawberry & rhubarb pavlova, black pepper ice-cream

Making good use of the pacojet or whatever sorbet machine they have going on in the back, the Strawberry & rhubarb pavlova, black pepper ice-cream was the next dessert offered. The pavlova I’m told was light and fluffy. I did sneak a taste of black pepper ice-cream as I was feeling a little better by this time, however I decided not to tempt fate as not only was I having a gastroenterological problem but I am also lactose intolerant.

MOXHE – Mignardises

The last dish which I didn’t get to enjoy were the Mignardises. This consisted of four desserts, at least two of which was chocolate or chocolate t ruffle, and one of which was a cookie. I cannot identify the third item in the photo, but I think they were probably good as I was sending a quick message to a group chat and by the time I looked up all four elements were gone.

Overall I had a pretty bad time at MOXHE. It was not their fault, but it was also not my fault. I don’t know how to avoid this in the future. I’m very sad that I didn’t get to eat all of these yummy foods but I don’t think we will go back. What a shame.

Moxhe
65b Macpherson St, Bronte NSW 2024
(02) 8937 0886