Saint Marks on Clovelly Road is just one of two unrelated establishments with the same name in Randwick. The one we’re interested in today is a cafe – the other, a hotel on Rae St, will not be mentioned again in this post.
The sweet corn fritter stack was quite well plated and visually appealing. My partner, who as you may know by now is a big fan of corn fritters really enjoyed it. She liked the sweetness of the fritter, which helped this dish stand out from the rest. A further point of distinction was the texture of these fritters, which were quite loose and corny, in a good way. Unfortunately the poached eggs that were added on for an additional fee were not good. As you can see from the photo one of them was very well cooked. No good.
The Saint Marks Burger (with extra patty and cheese – $20) was a tall but very expensive burger. The patties were slightly underseasoned but otherwise had good texture with a very meaty mouthfeel. The pickles were tangy and I appreciated that there were both internal pickles as well as external pickles. At the $20 price tag I would have expected this burger to at least have come with some chips.
DISCUSSION Despite the good internal airflow supplied by large ceiling fans we chose to dine in Saint Marks’ outdoor seating due to extra risk-averse nature (and in view of recent new COVID-19 cases in the area). Towards the end of our meal, whilst all internal customers had left we started to hear the staff inside make a series of seal noises. This was quite odd.
To their credit, Paramount Coffee Project is situated near some pretty adequate and convenient 2-hour ticketed street parking.
I’m not usually one to complain about poor service but Paramount Coffee Project takes the concept of not trying to a new level.
After a brief wait for a table (they don’t take reservations) my partner and I were led to a very small table, given a menu, and essentially left to our own devices. During the next fifteen minutes we exchanged anxious glances with the middle aged couple at the table next to us, wondering when or if our waiter would reappear to take our orders. There was a moment of slight absurdity and an empathetic look from the gentleman on the adjacent table when our waiter took their order, didn’t look at us, and returned leisurely to the mothership to process it before returning to us.
A further point of friction occurred as we ordered our meal. I asked our waiter if we could add an additional side to one of our dishes, and he told us he’d check. He never got back to us, leaving us in suspense until our food arrived. The aforementioned size of the tables became problematic not for us, but for our comrades in the PCP experience next door. Their very normal sized order of two mains were unable to fit on their very-small table. The waiter helpfully suggested that they lay their water jug and glasses on the floor as they ate.
I was initially not convinced by the Maple Iced Coffee with almond milk ($6.50) but it grew on me. It started off a bit too sour as almond coffees often do, but then the sweetness of the maple came in midway and add an interesting and nice dimension.
The Vanilla Malt Shake ($8.50) was expensive but quite tasty. The flavour was not too sweet, and the shake was really well aerated, as you can see in the photo. I would recommend this.
Pictured here is the Ginseng congee ($25) with kale, fried enoki, soy egg, pickled ginger, furikake , with chilli ground pork, and brisket. The congee itself at its basest vegetarian state is $15, and an additional $4 was added for chilli ground pork and a further $6 for brisket. The brisket is originally on the menu as an add-on to Paramount Coffee Project’s bibimbap, but given we weren’t going to order both the congee and the bibimbap we thought it would be worthwhile to see if we could get the beef as an addon to this dish instead. When asked our waiter told us he wasn’t sure if this was possible but would check – something that he literally never closed the loop on. It wasn’t until the food physically arrived at our table that we knew what we would be getting.
I actually quite enjoyed the ginseng congee all loaded up. It had a nice heartwarming feel to it, and the flavours were not too strong (avoiding having too much of the pickled ginger). I quite enjoyed the strange addition of deep fried enoki, which is not something I’ve had before. The soy egg was yummy with the congee but I wish there had been more than half an egg for this $25 bowl. The chilli ground pork was a good accompaniment for the meal, while the wagyu brisket which did not really feel like wagyu disappointed. While a bit pricey I can definitely recommend this dish, perhaps with just the chilli pork mince. My partner didn’t really like this dish as she felt like she had to eat the pickled ginger.
My partner’s (much weaker) choice was the baked eggs in habanero salsa, topped with blanched kale and garlic toast with LP’s pork sausage and housemade labneh ($23). It was a very sour dish thanks to both the salsa and the labneh that we ultimately didn’t finish. The only redeeming feature of this dish was LP’s reliably good smallgood. I wouldn’t recommend this one.
CONCLUSION I didn’t really have a great time at Paramount Coffee Project, and I wouldn’t recommend you spending your hard earned money and free time there either. While the congee is good, Sydney is full of good congees to try. Add PCP’s to the end of your list if you must.
I first visited Cafe Oratnek in May 2020, before this blog existed. The height of the COVID-19 pandemic back in May meant that Oratnek was open for takeaway only at that time, and it was not until very recently that I had an opportunity to have an eat-in meal.
The main stars of the Oratnek menu are basically the same as that at its sister store Kentaro, a mere 1.2km away. The wisdom of opening two of essentially the same cafe within a 15 minute walk of each is, in my opinion, questionable, however both establishments seem to have a healthy amount of patronage. If I were in their shoes I would have rather done a North-South thing like Cool Mac and Kurumac (though there’s a lot of competition for Japanese food North of the bridge), or even have opened up the second store in an affluent, Asian-centric area like Eastwood or Strathfield.
There is plenty of outdoor seating for the COVID-paranoid, but the lack of cover over the courtyard of this terrace-style house means that the sun is very much blaring and angry. Something to be aware of – you might want to wear sunscreen.
Oratnek’s pork katsu sandwich($16) is essentially the same as Kentaro’s – a thick pork cutlet, lightly battered and deep fried for a juicy, tender outcome sandwiched between Japanese bread, cabbage, and mustard. Compared to Kentaro’s I think that Oratnek’s is not as oversauced and has more cabbage, but I’m not sure which one I prefer more. Both are delicious.
On my second visit to Oratnek I recommended the pork katsu sandwich, a known quantity, to my senior intensive care colleague and ordered myself the Salmon Rillettes & Legumes On Toast ($16.50). Unfortunately for me I didn’t really realise just how much legume would be involved. There was really only a smattering of salmon rillette, which in my opinion wasn’t quite enough for the thick toast. The sheer greenery and legumery was overpowering, and I found it a marathon to finish all of the crisp legumes provided to me. While some Japanese chefs may have earned the title “Legume Magician”, I would hesitate to offer this title to Oratnek based on what was presented here. Given the weighted composition of the dish I would more readily recommend it to a vegan rather than someone with no dietary restrictions.
The matcha brownie is yum. A little bit bitter, sweet but not too sweet.
The mentaiko linguine ($22) I had back in May was the first time I had had mentaiko anything in Australia. The mentaiko topping was creamy, and enough to coat all the strands of pasta. I really enjoyed this dish, however after the past six months of tastemaker development I now consider this to be a bit overpriced. Cod roe is readily found at Asian grocery stores and isn’t that expensive.
The Kobe Hayashi Rice ($23) I didn’t really enjoy. It may very well have been the travel time, though the lukewarm onion beefiness was quite disappointing to me. Reasonable to try again fresh.
My partner enjoyed the Classic Omurice ($20 – no pictures) but hilariously told me that she didn’t think it was quite a classic, authentic omurice (not knowing the name of the dish).
VERDICT Oratnek and Kentaro have the best pork katsu sandwiches I’ve ever had in Australia. In that sense they offer something special and are worth paying a visit to. A few of their other dishes are a bit hit and miss, but it’s likely that you will find something else you like in Oratnek’s diverse Japanese menu.
Though there are many meats that I have tasted and loved in my lifetime, I had not, until today, ever had Brazilian barbeque. I found my way to Flame Brazilian BBQ after picking up a cake from nearby Black Star, and having read some quite good reviews on google.com decided why not.
Brazilian Flame offers five types of meat in various formats – on chips, on salad, in a roll, with some rice. The meats available are as follows: – Pork – Beef – Lamb – Chicken – Chorizo I had read great reviews about the chips from some chip fanatic on Google (he called them dangerous) and decided stupidly that it would be safer to get two lots with chips than to get some with salad (mostly as I did not know how to order the salad).
I had the BBQ meat snack packs of chicken and lamb on chips and beef and pork on chips. I can rate the order of meat enjoyment in the order of :
All meats but the lamb were quite moist and juicy. The chicken was the best. The pork was fully cooked through, but the fat and skin content were still there. The beef was in between medium and well done. The lamb was a bit dry. I had to give chorizo a pass but would risk it over the known quantity of lamb or beef next time.
Eating at peak period for Sunday lunch meant that the meat was always freshly roasted and constantly turned over. Wait time was a mere five minutes.
The quality of the chips were overstated. Admittedly they were eaten following a ten minute commute, but really good chips can usually withstand such a short amount of time. These did not.
The smoked sauce on top was just fine, there could have been more of it.
We only managed to finish around half the chips and meat between, so for $16 there’s a lot of food packed into these boxes.
Not bad not good, should’ve had salad. Very cheap though.
Kepos Street Kitchen came highly recommended by a vegetarian colleague of ours. Naturally we went without him to share a meat-heavy meal before a swing at nearby Moore Park.
The Charred broccolini salad, shredded chicken, coarse burghul, herbs ($18) was delicious. As a group we are not the biggest fans of salad, but all members of our party ended up enjoying it. There is a surprisingly generous amount of chicken tucked in with all the greens and grains.
The Burrata cheese, Persian eggplant, pine nuts, volcanic salt ($22) was pretty good. The cheese was firm on the outside and less firm on the inside, as expected. The real star of this dish was the crusty, freshly toasted bread. Delicious.
The Grilled prawns, chermoula, grilled lemon ($27) came with five prawns. The prawns were quite large and tasty, and the lemon was too (though I was tricked by a colleague into an entire quarter of the lemon pictured in one mouthful by itself). I’m still trying to come to terms with paying $5.40 per prawn though.
Kepos meatball sub, coriander paste, grated haloumi, ciabatta ($18) was very good. Plenty of meat and red sauce on crusty warm bread. Very yum and a good serving of meat. A strong recommendation for this one.
The Arayes pita of wagyu mince seasoned with parsley, onion, olive oil, cumin and paprika, chili tomato salad, tahini, pita ($18) started off good, however quickly we found it to be too flavourful and too saucy. You will recognise this complaint of “too tasty” from many of my reviews, and in this case you can rest assured that this was a view that was held by the majority of our group. I would not recommend Kepos Street Kitchen’s Arayes pita.
Pictured here is a half serve of chips, which were provided complimentary as they had forgotten to make our chips. Even this half serving was quite a lot of chips. The chips were fresh and fluffy on the inside, with a cripsy exterior. They may just be the best hot chips I’ve had in a long long time. There’s definitely something special going on, owing perhaps to a proprietary cooking method. At $7 (for twice the chips listed) I would give them a go.
Pretty much everything we had hit the spot. I can recommend.