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Modern Australian

Arthur – Surry Hills NSW Tasting Menu Review

Arthur is one of the few – if not the only – Sydney fine dining establishments to be named after an animated aardvark. Located within what looks to be a converted house on a street corner Surry Hills, Arthur offers an ever changing and reasonably priced tasting menu with a focus on fresh domestic produce.

We dined in mid-December 2020 and took the liberty of adding on a few of the essential options to make a full menu at around $138 per head.

Sydney Rock oyster, grape granita

Arthur’s Sydney Rock Oysters with grape granita ($5.50 supplement) are on the pricier side for the Sydney restaurant scene. They were fresh, delicate, and of good quality, but we would usually not expect to pay more than $4 per oyster of this size. The grape granita added a new sweet and sour taste that I’ve not had with oysters elsewhere.

Arthur’s sourdough and cultured butter (pictured serve for 2)

Both the bread and butter in Arthur’s sourdough and cultured butter are made in house. The bread had a nice solid crust but was light and fluffy on the inside. The cultured butter was a bit saltier than I expected, but still nice. One of my friends in particular was very keen on this butter, though in general I am more partial to unsalted or more lightly salted butters.

Kangaroo, tendon, and bush tomato tartare (pictured serve for 2)

This kangaroo, tendon, and bush tomato tartare was quite good. I enjoyed the strong tomato flavours, and while one of my colleagues had initial misgivings about the gaminess of the kangaroo he too grew to like it. Kangaroo, for those not familiar, is quite a lean and somewhat gamey meat that can be had at very low prices. While the produce itself is not considered gourmet in Australia, it is certainly rare to have it served as a tartare.

Zucchini Flower, Scallop, Shallot (pictured serve for 3)

The zucchini flower, scallop, shallot was a delicate dish of scallop and shallot stuffed inside a steamed zucchini flower. The flavours were very subtle, so much so that one of my colleagues did not realise there was scallop within his zucchini flower, even after he had eaten it. I think this was quite wholesome and healthy, though agree that the scallop was a bit hard to find.

Calamari, Macadamia, Daikon (pictured serve for 2)

I didn’t really like the calamari, macadamia, and daikon radish. The calamari was raw, fresh, and creamy, and all of the flavours worked well, except for the fact that certain mouthfuls had an unexplained bitterness that I could not reconcile. I don’t know what the bitter elements of the dish were, but they really hurt its quality for me. My partner who ate from a separate serving did not taste any bitterness at all. I wonder if it was an intentionally included flavour or rather a problem with quality.

Moreton Bay Bug (pictured $32 supplement)

The Moreton Bay Bug in carrot and saffron ($32 supplement per bug) is one of Arthur’s house specialties – a dish that persists throughout multiple iterations of the menu. The bug was large and generous, with all non-edible arms and other bits picked off and the cavity opened for convenience of eating. Another slight complaint with Arthur’s QA again here – the quality of meat was a little inconsistent, with some bugs more meaty and others a bit too soft. The sauce had a delicious strong seafood taste, quite similar to the prawn head sauce at Moxhe. We fell into the trap of only ordering three bugs between five diners as suggested by our waiter, but I think we really could’ve gone for one each. They are a high value add-on.

This is a little deep fried dough ball which comes with the Moreton Bay Bug to help soak up the sauce. The dough ball is very tasty, a little bit sweet, and very fresh on its own. I wish we could have had more of these. They’re little donuts.

Grilled kingfish, nasturtium, green tomato (pictured serve for 2)

We returned to the base set menu with the Grilled kingfish, nasturtium, green tomato. The kingfish was really delicious, with a tasty crispy skin and soft flesh with a delicate internal taste and texture. The natrutium, green tomato, and green sauce I thought was a bit unnecessary but in no way offensive. My one complaint with this dish is the miniature size of the serving we got to share between two. It was around one third of the serving our other colleagues received between three. Kingfish is really not an expensive fish and I think a bit more (or even a bit more care in portioning) would’ve gone a long way.

Potato scroll, silverbeet, black garlic (serving for 1 pictured)

The third “bread” of the night was a potato scroll with silverbeet and black garlic sauce. I liked this. It had a nice savoury taste. The sauce which looked like chocolate was not.

Dry aged pork loin (serving for 3 pictured)

The dry aged borrowdale pork loin was really good. The pork had a little bit of crispy fattiness around the edges, and was otherwise tender throughout. The sauce it was served in was full of umami flavours.

Plum, cherry, cultured cream

The plum and cherry with cultured cream was a tart little side dish served with the pork. Not super memorable.

Lettuce

Lettuce was even less memorable.

Bruny island “tom”, apricot, cultured cream

The tart of bruny island “tom” (apparently a sheep’s milk), apricot, and cultured cream ($7 supplement per tart) was really good. The cheesiness and the sweet and sour flavours of the apricot really melded together well. The pastry of the tart was thin and light, yet held its structural rigidity well.

Dessert of mango, raspbery, yoghurt

The dessert of mango, raspbery, yoghurt was phenomenal. The mango and raspberry, with different crumbs dried to different degrees, provided a broad spectrum of sweet and tangy tastes to the yoghurt base. This was widely enjoyed by all colleagues around the table. Really special.

Housemade Wagon Wheel

The final course was this housemade wagon wheel. It was a bit darker and less sweet than the wagon wheels from the supermarket but apart from that not really something to write home about.

Ngeringa Uncultured Cider

We shared a bottle of Ngeringa Uncultured Cider ($50) around the table. It was pretty good, quite dry without much sweetness, but refreshing.

VERDICT
I think that reading through this blog post I’ve indicated a few hits and a few misses, but ultimately the dining experience at Arthur was very good and cohesive with all aspects taken into account. It’s probably been one of our top meals of the year. I would definitely recommend splurging for the Moreton Bay Bug as it is one of the shining stars of the meal.

We paid $138 per person including drinks and it was money well spent. The base price for the meal is $90 per person but doesn’t include oysters, the bug, or the cheese tart.

Arthur
544 Bourke St, Surry Hills NSW 2010
0468 991 088

Arthur Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Categories
Modern Australian

Ripples Chowder Bay – Mosman NSW Restaurant Review

In what was sure to be an unexpected outcome for Sydney Dining Group, the recent mention of Ripples Milsons Point amongst Sydney’s latest COVID-19 hotspots actually helped bring the Ripples brand to prominence, one of a few reasons why we chose to dine at Ripples Chowder Bay for dinner tonight. We felt that Ripples’ ability to avoid a major catastrophe with their previous COVID-19 case meant that the restaurant was likely to have good ventilation and hygiene practices. It was, after all, our friend’s first time out since we ate at Acre in June.

Of note, street parking was $18.50 for 3 hours. We overstayed (it was difficult to predict how long we’d be) but were not ticketed.

We were initially seated in a spacious dining room inside, but moved outside to attempt to find more cross ventilated pastures on the deck. Unfortunately, because of the adverse weather, the deck was covered in a thick plastic shroud – something I had experienced at one of Sydney Dining Group’s other restaurants, Aqua. This meant that the outside dining area actually put us in far closer proximity to other patrons, without an increase in air changes per hour – something that greatly worried one of my senior colleagues.

We started with a plate of Chorizo & Mozzarella Arancini (5 for $16). I enjoyed the arancini but found it difficult to spot the chorizo. My partner, a big-time arancini fan, was not impressed. This was, believe it or not, one of the best value dishes of the meal.

three king prawns with orange, fennel & chervil ($28)

These king prawns with orange, fennel & chervil ($28) were such bad value that it should have been criminal. What we got for $28 were three little cooked prawns, and a bit of citrus salad. I savoured my $9’s worth of prawn, which I found to be sweet and yummy, as well as my few allocated orange and salad bits. Our consensus opinion was that this starter was OK in taste, AWFUL in value. I think any reasonable restaurant with a sense of decency would hesitate to charge more than $15 for this tiny dish.

Confit Duck with cabbage, wild rice & red wine jus ($38)

My gastroenterology colleague’s pick of main was the Confit Duck with cabbage, wild rice & red wine jus ($38). I thought this duck was very good, however judging from the size it must have come from a very small duck, perhaps one that had just hatched not too long ago. This is the best confit duck that my partner and I have ever had, although that’s not saying much as we have tended to avoid confit duck from Western restaurants ever since our first few attempts. I enjoyed the tender and juicy nature of the meat, as well as the delicious red wine jus.

Whole Market Fish (baby snapper), Tomato, capers & zucchini ($42)

My senior colleague’s pick of main was the Whole Market Fish, Tomato, capers & zucchini ($42). The market fish of the day was baby snapper. I enjoyed this dish and had this the most as it was closest to me. I liked the generous serving of vegetables, as well as the nicely oven roasted white flesh. Quite wholesome and good value compared to the rest of the meal.

Lamb Rump with peas, zucchini, mint, yoghurt & lamb sauce ($38)

Our next main was the Lamb Rump with peas, zucchini, mint, yoghurt & lamb sauce ($38). I had only a very small corner piece so it is a bit difficult for me to describe it. I thought it was nice, however, for them to have cut it up into bite sized slices. I thought that the meat was better, more flavourful, and more tender than that at COOH, a recent comparison.

Green Beans with crispy eshallots & lemon oil

A side of Green Beans with crispy eshallots & lemon oil ($12) was shared, however my colleagues did not seem to keen for it. I was personally grateful for this high greenery dish.

Soy Panna Cotta ($16)

The Soy Panna Cotta with pineapple, coconut, sugar sauce & coconut gelato ($16) was my senior intensive care colleague’s first introduction to the concept of panna cotta, but otherwise not memorable.

White chocolate mousse ($16)

The White Chocolate Mousse with chocolate crumb, passionfruit & mango sorbet ($16) was memorable for its strong sour passionfruit taste, small size, and large price.

Lemon tart ($16)

The Lemon Tart with pistachio, meringue & pistachio gelato ($16) was not bad, however not as good as similar lemon tarts at around the $7 mark.

Ripples at Chowder Bay was an expensive but ultimately forgettable meal. Whilst I enjoyed the roasted baby snapper and confit duck, pretty much everything else could have been skipped. This is especially true for the desserts, which were all boring and expensive. We paid $291 between the four of us for the above listed foods and a $65 bottle of middling red wine, and a bit of condescension from our waiter when we asked for a recommendation for said wine.

Ripples Chowder Bay was fine only in terms of the price.

3/5, don’t recommend.


Ripples Chowder Bay
Building 7 C, Chowder Bay Rd, Mosman NSW 2088
(02) 9960 3000

Ripples at Chowder Bay Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Categories
Modern Australian

Acre Eatery – Camperdown NSW Restaurant Review

I’m told that Acre Eatery in Camperdown is one of the many cafes available to staff at the Centre of Excellence™. One of our friends and colleagues from said centre suggested we have lunch here, not knowing that lunch is a $70 per person set menu.

Acre is apparently a farm-to-bowl establishment. Some or all of the plant matter served comes straight from the tiny on-site organic farm, which I expect must be an extremely expensive piece of government subsidised real estate in the inner West.

So first of all, I love small foods in big plates. The Sweet potato fritti, spiced fruit marmallatta fits that criteria well, and also meets the additional hidden criteria of having two words I don’t know. These were basically crispy sweet potato balls that were probably fried but possibly baked. I’m scared to write definitively because I don’t want these inner city types to sue me.

I really enjoyed the Cannelini bean & almond hummus, roasted grapes, homemade lavosh, even though one of our colleagues said she could do it better.

The Local burrata with lemon oil was also great. One of my other friends was very keen on this and I think noticeably sad when they took it away unfinished. There was no explanation of whether it was the cow or the cheese that was local and I think this detracted from the experience.

The mains I didn’t get to take a photo of, but allow me to paint a poor picture in few words.

The Porchetta, celeriac puree, roasted quince was quite good. It was a large portion with a generous serving of pork, and good flavours.

The Pan-fried King trout, braised cabbage, pippies, capers was extremely disappointing. The trout itself was not faultable, however the accompanying braised cabbage and vegetables were reminiscent (in both form and taste) of the frozen cubed vegetable mix that you’d get from the supermarket.

The five of us did not stray from these two mains. There were some other choices available without animal but I guess we love animal.

I would probably not go back to Acre as it stands, but I would recommend it to a friend. There’s only so much of the exact same menu that you can eat and enjoy. Maybe they will change their menu in the post-COVID age.

Acre - Camperdown Commons Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Categories
Café Modern Australian

A1 Canteen – Chippendale NSW Restaurant Review

Pegg asked me to find somewhere for brunch today. It’s our only day off together in 11 days so the stakes were high. After much deliberation we found ourselves looking for a park in Chippendale so that we could eat at A1 Canteen.

While we had previously had easy success parking for X23 Asian Fusion Cafe around the corner, today was not our day, and we ended up spending around 25 minutes circling the Central Park complex looking for a park. We finally found a 1-hour spot 10 minutes’ walk away, leaving us 40 minutes to get seated, order, eat, and leave. A true high-anxiety challenge, but one that we succeeded in.

A1 Canteen, I’m told, is run by the man behind Automata. Apparently is difficult to run two restaurants at once and thus this needs to be mentioned in every online review of A1, especially when they’re across the road from one another.

Muffuletta

The Muffuletta ($20) is a vertical sandwich slice consisting of pressed meats, cheese, greens, artichoke, and olive salad. It is served with cutlery, and thus a dare to the patron to eat it with their hands. I enjoyed the Muffuletta as I would any other sandwich which would typically cost $7. It was meaty and cheesy, but otherwise not that special. The vertical cut of the sandwich meant that the filling to bread ratio was excellent, but the pedestrian taste did not justify its high asking price.

slow roasted lamb shoulder

The slow roasted lamb shoulder ($27) was significantly more interesting. It is served with small grilled flatbread, brocollini, cauliflower, chickpeas, and yellow chili pickles, each adding an additional dimension. The yellow chili pickles were particularly juicy and delicious, and added a nice tang to it. The price again is a bit steep for what it is. Looking at an older copy of the menu it looks like the lamb shoulder was previously $24 with a choice of two salads.

Soy latte

A special mention needs to go to the service at A1 Canteen. The kitchen was speedy and our waitress very observant to our hydration requirements. The room was spacious and decor nice. I personally felt a bit underdressed and outclassed in my T-shirt and trackpants.

Overall A1 canteen was passable but overpriced. I would not recommend the Muffuletta and would not have it again myself. One of the ladies next to us had some curried scrambled eggs which looked amazing, so I think we will probably end up going back at some point to try them. Three and a half overpriced weighted sandwiches out of Five.

NOTE: A1 Canteen is now permanently closed – Click here to read what I thought when I went back for a last hurrah.

A1 Canteen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato