La Lune Market – North Strathfield NSW Restaurant Review

La Lune Market in North Strathfield is a sunny Korean-run but not Korean-themed cafe, located under a gym a little bit away from the hustle and bustle of the old Arnott’s factory precinct. Their house specialty is their basque cheesecake, though on my first visit to La Lune it was some of their other offerings that caught my eye.

The ham and cheese croissant ($7) is a little more than just ham and cheese in a croissant. La Lune Market employs the use of a sticky honey mustard glaze atop the croissant for an extra depth of flavour. While this is an innovative touch, it unfortunately doesn’t distract from the actual croissant and its filling itself, which I found a little lacking. Review of the cross-sectional images will reveal a somewhat denser pastry, with inadequately melted cheese. While I don’t profess myself to be a croissant expert, I do think that it would’ve been a stronger showing with a warmer and meltier slice of cheese inside.

Contrastingly, the house sandwich ($14) may just be one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever eaten. This sandwich’s bulging contents include ripe avocado, tomato, lettuce, chicken in mustard mayonnaise, cabbage, and a slice of cheese. It is in fact so bulging, that wrapping paper is needed to keep it together in one part. The creaminess of the mustard mayonnaise and soft chicken synergised perfectly with the ripe avocado and tomato, while the crisp, fresh lettuce provided the perfect foil for those rich tastes. A sandwich generally has no right to be this good, but to be fair, a sandwich generally has no right to be $14 either. A big recommend if the budget is willing.

The iced matcha latte ($7) was a little sweet but still quite refreshing and nice. It is extremely unfortunate however that they saw fit to load the cup up with such a vast quantity of ice, leaving little room to put the actual drink. Really poor value, in my opinion.

A couple of things rubbed me the wrong way, but one thing that I can’t look past is the sheer quality of their house chicken sandwich. It’s so good, and so wholesome, that I would be happy if there were a shop that sold just that.

Not my dog.

La Lune Market
Shop 1/13 George St, North Strathfield NSW 2137

North American

Belle’s Hot Chicken – Darling Square Haymarket NSW Restaurant Review

Masterful inactivity is a skill to be lauded in the intensive care setting. When you’re in a mixed HDU/ICU environment surrounded by both sick patients and not-so-sick patients it’s important to know when to do the invasive, expensive investigations and treatments and when to just sit back and watch.

The same is not true for deciding where to eat for dinner. I was paralysed with indecision last night, presented with three choices of which I could only choose one. It was my partner who took the reins and decided Belle’s Hot Chicken, the restaurant that we had originally set out for at the start of the night but had baulked at when the notion of having to wait in a queue for a table was raised.

We parked in Wilson Parking (Darling Square – Zollner Circuit), which is only $5 for weeknights and weekends. It’s a bit cramped, especially on a weekend, compared to the nearby Darling Quarter parking, however is very close to Darling Square with no walk required. Discovering pre-booked paid parking in the city actually changed my outlook to dining in the city completely. For the longest time I had completely avoided going into the CBD, afraid of having to navigate one way roads and find difficult parking. Now with Wilson Parking I don’t have to worry. I know I may sound like a paid shill for Wilson (and I wish I were – I have introduced a number of colleagues to them) but I really am not. I am also very against Wilson Security’s alleged role in spying on Senator Sarah Hanon-Young in Nauru back in 2015, but a cheap park is a cheap park.

We had the 3 wings with fries ($16), medium heat to cater for my girlfriend’s tastebuds. I thought that the fries were fresh and tasty, however the large wings were a bit difficult to eat. The wings, for reference, consisted of both a small drumstick, the normal wing piece, and the wing tip. The chicken itself was quite moist and tasty, however medium is definitely not spicy enough for me – if you look at it it’s really the 2nd weakest rating out of 6 or 7 different spice levels. I also thought that this combo was a bit steep in price. The wings also came with plenty of pickles.

To satisfy our curiosity for what other parts of the chicken tasted like, we also ordered a single drumstick for $4 – flavoured in hot. This also came with some pickles and white bread. I enjoyed the drumstick more than the wing, which is somewhat of an anomaly for me. I found the drumstick moist and juicy, and the hot spice setting was better than the medium setting. My partner didn’t like the drumstick as much – she found it drier than the wings – but I respectfully disagree.

The Belle’s Wild Wings (3 for $5 or 8 for $11) were stars of the show. They come in Southern, Maple Butter, or “Fuck COVID” seasoning levels, and we had Southern. The “Fuck COVID” spice level is apparently very high, a choice which I must question given the propensity for very spicy foods to induce coughing and other aerosol generating reflexes. The wings themselves were excellent, similar to the other pieces of chicken. I find that the mid-wing is my favourite type of wing, and think that 8 for $11 is just excellent value.

The Sauces (3 for $5) were nothing to write home about. The hot sauce was very similar to Frank’s Red Hot sauce. The Mississippi comeback was good, the blue cheese was fine. I am a bit sad t hat there was no free sauce offered, however I didn’t really think that sauce was required, come to think of it.

The Belle’s Chicken Sandwich ($13) was moist and juicy. The mayo-style sauce, lettuce, pickles and cheese really added a fresh taste to the moist thigh chicken . This was my partner’s top pick of the meal and I can also recommend it. It’s not very spicy and I don’t know if you could for it to be made spicier if you wanted it to be that way.

The Belles Spritz ($13) is a mix of aperol and pet nat. It’s fine.

Overall I did enjoy Belle’s Hot Chicken. My partner still thinks that Thirsty Bird is better, but I really liked the spiciness of Belle’s. I’d like to come back, and get everything with at least the fourth level of spiciness.

One other slight digression I will make is a complaint about the lack of sink-space. Fried chicken is a very hands-on meal, and I think that, especially in the current COVID-19 environment, that it would not just be handy but even compulsory to have some kind of handwashing station available. I understand that there are not toilets available inside – there are some available elsewhere in the Darling Square complex – but a lack of handwashing facilities is in my opinion unacceptable. While 3 wet wipes were available for the table, I think that a sink would have gone a long way – both in the pre and the post consumption phases.

4/5. 4.5/5 if sink available.


Rolling Penny – Newton NSW Cafe Review

Tempted by the positive reviews on Google Maps, we rolled into Newtown for a very sunny 8AM breakfast at Rolling Penny. Our waiter cheerfully let us know that there was a whole new menu starting today, which disappointed me very deeply as I had already had my mind set on what I wanted. Luckily what I wanted was still on the menu, albeit renamed and with a small price increase.

Rolling Penny Twice Cooked Roast Chicken

The Twice Cooked Roast Chicken ($18) with burnt butter sauce, mixed greens, roast garlic, beer pickles, garlic sprouts on brickfields ciabatta roll is the latest reincarnation of Rolling Penny’s famous chicken baguette. The sandwich had a mild and balanced flavour, with the creamy white sauce accentuating the umami of the moist chicken. The bread was soft on the inside yet crispy on the outside. My partner didn’t like that the pickles interrupted the otherwise warm and smooth taste of the chicken roll, but I enjoyed that they were there to punctuate the blissful smoothness with a bit of sharp tang. Overall the chicken roll is comparable to the chicken baguette at Cafe Mckenzie, and if you like one then I recommend you try the other. I can recommend this expensive sandwich.

Rolling Penny Portabello Mushroom

Excuse the awful photo, but the Portabello Mushroom ($17) with mushroom jerky, braised leeks, smoked mozzarella, radicchio & truffle aioli on a brickfields ciabatta roll looked as good as it tasted. We made the decision to add pancetta ($5), which turned out to be absolutely the right choice. The mushroom roll was incredibly juicy and rich, with lots of cheese and umami flavours. This got old quickly, however, and I found that the pancetta really did a great job at adding some variety in terms of texture and flavour. I would even go so far as to recommending the pancetta as an essential add on to this roll, which unfortunately takes the total to $22, a thoroughly expensive sandwich. I did not like the mushroom roll as much as the chicken roll.

The lighting and our positioning was unable to suitably capture the visual appeal of Rolling Penny’s Divorced Eggs ($18.50) – 2 poached eggs, salsa verde, romesco sauce, toasted pistachios, Meredith farm feta served on brickfields rye and caraway. The Divorced Eggs was visually arresting, a celebration of bright and contrasting colours with its salsa verde and romesco sauce. We did not, however, enjoy this dish as much as we did the two rolls. The two sauces were good, but too tasty, and the overall ratio of sauce to bread and other less tasty components hung on the too tasty side of the scales. Each mouthful, especially towards the end of the meal, was so drowned in flavour and saltiness that it was difficult to enjoy. The eggs were well poached, and I did peek a giant pot of eggs with an Anova sous vide cooker on the counter. The toasted pistachios were my favourite ingredient of the dish, and added some variety to the otherwise mushy texture of the sauce and eggs. I wouldn’t get this again.

Last of all, the coffee was very good. My partner liked that they gave me a red cup and an orange saucer, and her an orange cup with a red saucer. I didn’t notice.

Overall verdict: I enjoyed the chicken and mushroom rolls thoroughly, although both were quite expensive. I would recommend coming here but it has to lose a point for 1. price and 2. the divorced eggs.

Rolling Penny
583A King St, Newtown NSW 2042
(02) 8056 8897