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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

Clove Lane Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Categories
Café Middle Eastern

Silly Tart Kitchen – Potts Point NSW Cafe Review

My partner had a hankering for mimoas last week and it was my duty and pleasure to fill the role of designated driver on our trip to Silly Tart. She had the bottomless drinks, a choice of any four cocktails for $35 per person for 1.5 hours, and we both shared the “feed me” tasting menu, also $35 per person. While the menu lists the “feed me” as being only for a minimum party of 4 people, they were happy to accommodate our indecisiveness as a couple.

We sat in the outside “garden” portion, open to air but with a translucent roof covering which provided a degree of shade. There was a nice breeze and some grapes on the tree outside. Semi-fit for COVID-19 dining.

Hummus with lemon sauce and warm flatbread.

Our first dish of our tasting menu was the hummus with lemon sauce and warm flatbread. This was a good dish to start on. The hummus was mild but flavourful, and as you can see quite well plated with its garnish of shallott, tiny radishes, and cut up cherry tomato. The warm flatbread was indeed warm and served in two forms. There was more than enough flatbread to mop up all of the hummus and even enough left over to eat with the next dish.

grilled asparagus, apple, pecorino with lemon sauce

The grilled asparagus, apple, pecorino with lemon sauce was quite good. The asparagus was drenched in olive oil which I think is pretty much unavoidable for grilled asparagus. The lemon sauce was the same as the previous dish, and I wish they had mixed it up a little. The green sauce was I think a pesto but not too pesto-y.

Hash of pumpkin, salt and vinegar potato, herbs and shallot

This is a hash of pumpkin from the chef’s father’s garden in Goulburn NSW with salt and vinegar potato and herbs and shallot from the herb garden that we were sitting in. I’m not particularly sure why the provenance of the pumpkin was so important to point out, as if the unnamed chef’s father was some kind of famous pumpkin king (if so, why not tell us his name?). We liked this dish overall. Salt and vinegar is one of my partner’s favourite seasonings on her favourite legume. There was a lot of shallot, as with the previous two dishes, which was not all finished.

The house specialty, corn fritters and tomato relish with their house-smoked 2 week crispy bacon was the fourth and final course. The house-smoked 2 crispy bacon was indeed extremely crispy, thin, and delicious. It was just packed with umami and flavour, and we were sad that there was so little of it – especially as this was the only meat we got all meal. The corn fritters themselves were quite bad, with a poor internal texture that was more bready than corny. The tomato relish was nice and just the tiniest bit spicy.

As mentioned, my partner enjoyed three different cocktails while I indulged in a delicious glass of water.

The water was filtered and chilled, served in a glass bottle and drunk from quite a large and heavy glass. I did have the opportunity to sneak a sip of each of the cocktails – Bloody Mary, Mimosa, Grapefruit Gin Spritzer, however take it from my partner that they were all quite good. My partner’s favourite cocktail was the bloody mary, which she thought was bloody delicious.

VERDICT

While ultimately a good time, I would have liked it more if there was more meat. The dishes were all quite repetitive, with an overreliance on shallot a recurring motif. It would even be a very reasonable place to come as a vegetarian, if you’re happy to miss out on a few pieces of bacon. Silly Tart Kitchen otherwise provides good value as a $35 pp tasting menu, as well as a $35 pp bottomless drinks service. They also offer 700mL premixes of their cocktails at a very low price ($15-ish).

4/5 but give me more meats

Silly Tart Kitchen
1 Kellett St, Potts Point NSW 2011, Australia
+61 2 9331 1048

The Silly Tart Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Categories
Asian Fusion Korean

Tokki – Surry Hills NSW Restaurant Review

Tokki is the second Korean restaurant we’ve eaten at in Surry Hills recently and older sister to Redfern’s generally disappointing Vietnamese eatery Kinhboy.

The vibe at Tokki is quite similar to that at Kinhboy. The interior design is more upclass asnd modern than your regular Asian restaurant, with pink lights providing a neon glow, wide tables, and high ceilings. We are greeted by an Asian woman at front of house, a welcome change from the predominantly Western front of house staff at our recent forays into Asian Fusion dining.

Menbosha

The Menbosha ($15) – DIY prawn yuzu sriracha mayo on brioche – is a fun deep friend entree. The dish consists of deep fried prawn, sriracha mayo, and deep fried pieces of brioche toast. The limited DIY component of the dish description consists mainly of putting the first two components onto the third – less involved than putting together an IKEA flatpack but more involved than if they had just served the toppings on top of the toast, I guess. The prawns were lovely and warm, and the sriracha mayonnaise nice and creamy. The deep fried brioche toast bits had a light taste but you could tell that they are obviously very oily. It’s a rare food that makes me feel actively guilty about my cardiovascular risk with each bite. Delicious though.

Roasted cauliflower

I did my mum, dad, and one of my gastroenterology colleagues proud by having the roasted cauliflower ($14) with miso butter glaze and furikake. The cauliflower was perfectly roasted – cooked but still juicy on the inside. The miso butter and furikake added a nice dimension of sweet umami to this share plate. Don’t let this dish’s categorisation under “SMALLS” fool you – this is something that can definitely be shared between three or four people.

Tokki BBQ Tray

The Tokki BBQ Tray ($36) is an assorted mix tray of beef short rib, pork belly, baby pork galbi, and grilled gochujang chicken. It is unfortunately much more expensive than $29 noted in some early reviews of the restaurant and even the $32 listed on Tokki’s own website, however we did not argue this point at the time. The pork ribs were nice, tender and flavourful. The pork belly, similar to what you get in bossam, was light and melted easily in the mouth. The griled gochujang chicken was surprisingly tender and delicious, so much so that my partner enjoyed it much more than she expected. The beef short rib was disappointing and nothing to write home about. Overall a good dish with lots of variety, but a shame about the continual price hikes.

Korean fried chicken – chilli gochu

The chilli gochujang korean fried chicken ($26) was a small mountain in size, quite good for the price, especially keeping in mind the location and general vibe of the place. The chicken was good when fresh, however a bit too tasty for my liking. I enjoyed the sides of radish and red cabbage and thought that they provided a good foil to the oversauced chicken, however was disappointed when they weren’t packed into the takeaway box.

Like Kinhboy, Tokki provides an extensive beverage list. My partner enjoyed this sake sake cocktail ($18), and so did I.

VERDICT

It is extremely loud inside Tokki and the venue is not really fit for a first date or any other activity that requires some actual conversation. Aside from this, the food is good and the service from their adequately multicultural cast is as well. I can recommend Tokki but not for your next business lunch.

4/5

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

Categories
Asian Fusion Vietnamese

Kinhboy – Redfern NSW Restaurant Review

We’ve been on a bit of a Vietnamese food journey recently, and when Kinhboy popped up on my radar last week with good preliminary reviews online we knew we had to try. Unfortunately they did not quite live up to their hype.

Banh Xeo Taco with crackling pork belly

The banh xeo tacos with crackling pork belly (2 for $16) were pretty unextraordinary. While the filling of crackling pork, vietnamese slaw and sauce was tasty, juicy and fresh, the “banh xeo” exterior shell was a letdown. Taking our experience at Banh Xeo Bar as a baseline we would characterise this banh xeo taco shell as too hard (but not crispy) and a bit stale tasting.

Short Rib Pho

Kinhboy’s beef short rib pho ($18) was actually very good. The meat was very juicy and tender, cut into bit sized pieces and rearranged on the bone. The broth was rich and tasty. My one complaint would be that this dish was served with the bean sprouts within the soup, meaning that we did not have the opportunity to add our own at our own pace. This meant that they got quite soft and cooked by the end of our meal, while we like them a bit more crunchy and less cooked.

Crispy Chicken Supreme ($21), Jasmine Rice ($4)

I had very high expectations for the Crispy Chicken Supreme ($21), cooked in the French style in nuoc cham buerre blanc. Unfortunately my expectations were not met. The chicken itself was dry, and the skin hard but not crispy – a significant downgrade from the chicken I recently had at Khoi’s in Surry Hills. The sauce, while tangy and creamy, didn’t really go well with the chicken. Even when dipped the chicken had difficulty holding onto the sauce, and my partner felt like the flavours did not match well ( I don’t feel as strongly about this.) While the Jasmine Rice ($4) was a good suggestion from our waitress (like at Banh Xeo Bar, all of Kinhboy’s waitresses were White while all the Asians were kept in the kitchen) to soak up the sauce, it ultimately just didn’t cross the line into P+ territory for us.

Cherry Bomb

My partner wanted me to leave some good vibes about this Cherry Bomb ($18) cocktail.

VERDICT

While the beef short rib pho was a hit, our other two dishes were a disappointment – sad because I really wanted to like it. Despite a pretty average time at Kinhboy we did dine at sister restaurant Tokki a couple of days later – keep your eyes and noses peeled for that review soon.

3.5/5 racially segregated staff pools

Kinhboy
Shop E/66 Regent St, Redfern NSW 2016
(02) 8399 0535

Kinhboy Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Categories
Asian Fusion French Japanese

Auvers Dining – Darling Square Haymarket NSW Restaurant Review

When my partner was a wee lass working in Concord she would always try and drag me to Auvers Cafe in Rhodes for brunch. “Why?” I ‘d ask her. “Why do you keep wanting me to go with you, even though you can go by yourself for breakfast after a night shift?” Her answer was always that she wanted to share this delicious food with me.

A few of nights ago we happened upon Auvers Dining in Darling Square. It was amazing for my partner to see her favourite local cafe all grown up into a legitimate French-Asian fusion restaurant in the big smoke. It also happened to be part of Auvers’ 1st birthday celebrations, and as such we got to have a free cocktail each.

Starry 75 – Good. Bubbly. Not too sweet

Death in the Afternoon – Quite sweet. Also good

Lobster on Souffle

I had the Lobster On Souffle ($38) with caviar, bonito creamy sauce, and black garlic. It was a dish of a few firsts for me – first caviar and first souffle. I enjoyed how light and bouncy the souffle was, and we both really liked the creamy sauce. The fact that it was bonito based was not immediately clear, as it didn’t taste fishy at all, just umami. There was a reasonable quantity of lobster for the price, as well as a sneaky serving of scallop which wasn’t listed in the menu. I don’t normally care much for black garlic, however my girlfriend liked it. I also enjoyed the kumquat – it was the first time in a very long time I had tasted it.

Piggy Roulade

My partner chose the Piggy Roulade ($28) with poached saffron pear, celeriac remoulade, apple yuzu puree, Tonkotsu sauce. You will see that the word “pork” is not listed in the menu, and my partner was kind enough to double check with our waiter to make sure there was some meat involved. The meat that was involved was juicy and well cooked, however felt a bit stagnant towards the end. There was probably just too much of it in the same style for one dish, something that was apparent even as each of us was eating only half of it. The apple puree and the poached pears stood strongly on their own, but I felt like they did not pear well with the flavour of the pork. My partner disagreed with me on this and she liked that they brought some acidity into the mix.

Overall I had a really good time at Auvers Dining. There are still quite a few items on the menu that I’d like to try, and I’d ideally like to try them this month to take advantage of their free drink offer.

UPDATE 28/9/2020 – We went back

Whiskey sour – enjoyed more

Spring special sour – enjoyed less. Bit too sweet.

Ox Tongue Soba Cabonara

The Ox Tongue Soba Cabonara ($22) was quite good, and well priced. I liked the creaminess of the cabonara, but thought that the ox tongue was a bit tough. My partner didn’t mind this however and happily ate the ox tongue pieces in one bite. I did like the addition of reticulum, which I thought provided a fun texture and taste. (My partner, though Chinese, does not like weird animal parts).

Wagyu Beef Skewers

I really enjoyed the Wagyu Beef Skewers (2 for $18), although I thought the price was a bit steep. The beef was tender and juicy, and I liked that shallots and mushrooms skewered between the pieces of meat. While it was quite a price to pay for merely two skewers the taste of these skewers really sets them apart from the competition. I’m still yet to find a nice, quality but cheap yakitori place in Sydney (let me know if you have a line on one!)

Szechuan Calamari with salted egg mayo

The Szechuan Calamari with salted egg mayo ($15) were a reasonably priced starter with good taste. I liked that they weren’t too salty, and I think that this is actually one of my favourite salted egg dishes I’ve had recently (and boy have I had a few – I think it must be in vogue.). I also liked the half lime that they gave us to drizzle over the calamari, although I can’t figure out why they decided to blacken it.

Dragon Well Tea Creme Brulee

The Dragon Well Tea Creme Brulee ($15) I could’ve lived without. I thought it was quite sweet, and I couldn’t really appreciate the green tea flavour. My partner liked it quite a bit. More power to her.

Auvers Dining – Darling Square
Shop 4/12 Nicolle Walk, Haymarket NSW 2000
(02) 9188 2392

Auvers Dining Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato