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
Asian Fusion Café Chinese Latin American

Three Williams – Redfern NSW Cafe Review

While the name of Paddington’s Ten William cafe indicates its address, Three Williams in Redfern is not so straightforward. Situated in a dimly-lit semi-basement space on Elizabeth St in Redfern, Three Williams is named not after something with any contemporary relevance, but rather after three dead white men who already have plenty of things named after them – including entire suburbs.

The ceviche ($25) was a tangy bowl of tiger prawns, sashimi kingfish, pickled red onions, roast tomato, coriander, charred corn, lime & avocado, baby cos served with blue corn tortillas. I first heard of the term ceviche back in 2009, during the season six premiere of Grey’s Anatomy. Ceviche was the nickname lovingly bestowed upon a trauma patient with multiple water-sport related traumatic amputations, and while I learned nothing of medicine from this show it gave me a step up in being able to pronounce the name of this dish when ordering it (something my partner could not). Having never had ceviche I didn’t really know what to expect from this dish. It was certainly quite tangy and citrusy, however I didn’t quite like how soupy it was – and I wasn’t sure if I was meant to drink the soup or just use it as sauce. The blue corn tortillas (though more visually brown) were actually quite nice, and maintained their structural integrity well despite being semi-soaked in this juice. It was probably a fine dish but not one I’d order again.

Peking Duck Pasta

I thought Three Williams’ Peking Duck Pasta ($28) with angel hair pasta, chilli, coriander, onion crumb and shallots was really special. Every strand of pasta was perfectly coated in delicious sauce, and every mouthful full of umami flavours. I was initially quite skeptical about ordering a peking duck based dish from a restaurant that’s not expressly Chinese, but my partner wanted to try it and we were handsomely rewarded. I can definitely recommend this. It was delicious.

Chicken Katsu

This piece of chicken katsu ($6.50) was quite bad. The chicken meat was very thin and dry. The product was more batter than chicken, and probably some of the worst chicken katsu I’ve had the displeasure of eating.

The coffee was from Single O. The strawberry mimosa was cheap at $11 but not great.

VERDICT
It’s not everywhere that you can get hearty, complex meals for breakfast, and I really appreciate a cafe with a substantial all-day menu. Ample parking outside the restaurant makes Three Williams a pain free dining experience.

Four Williams out of five

Three Williams
613A Elizabeth St, Redfern NSW 2016
(02) 9698 1111

Categories
European

Continental Deli – Newtown NSW Restaurant Review

Continental Deli first popped upon my radar in early 2020, when I saw an Instagram photo of a distant acquaintance of mine munching down on one of their signature meatball rolls in a socially distanced park

Flash forward to early 2021, and I finally had the opportunity to give Continental Deli’s food a try. While Continental Deli offers a $65 per person feed me tasting menu, we opted to pick and choose a few choice dishes from the a la carte menu – a vain attempt to add focus and value to our meal, as it ended up being $130 for two anyway.

Continental Deli’s steak tartare with gaufrette potato chips ($26) came widely recommended as a must-have, and so indeed we had. The tartare itself had quite a strong salty, and slightly sour and spicy flavour afforded to it by the addition of capers. The Parmigiano-Reggiano atop the tartare gave it a further level of saltiness, while the gaufrette potato chips (read: waffle-cut crisps) provided the third layer of salt. I found it quite an odd decision to pair the already quite tasty tartare and cheese with a potato crisp whose only flavour was salt, and thought that this salt on salt on salt combination tipped the see-saw too far in the hypertensive direction. Despite this, in my opinion the steak tartare was the first and strongest dish of a pretty middling expensive meal.

The plate of cheese & charcuterie ($39) was up next. No attempt at explaining the dish or its components were made, however our waitress did walk an adjacent table through the selection of cheese included (so why not us?). You will see in this photo the addition of a single gilda, which will be delved into separately. This was my first time eating a charcuterie plate in a restaurant, and I must admit I was at a bit of a loss as to how to approach it. Most of the elements of the cheese and charcuterie plate were very salty, and I found myself ranking them in order of pleasantness, inversely proportional to saltiness. My favourite salumi was LP’s mortadella, which I find makes most dishes from most restaurants great in and of itself. The salami (? literally no one bothered to name any of the components for us) was also alright, but came with its casing which needed to be removed separately. The prosciutto? jamon? who knows, was pretty salty.

Taking a step into cheese land, I enjoyed the unnamed soft cheese over the unnamed hard goaty/sheepy cheese and the other unnamed cheese. Again, the diners on the other table had the distinct pleasure of being told what they were eating, which remained a mystery to us.

After writing this review I contacted the Continental Deli team via Instagram, asking what each of the components were. It’s been three months and I’ve received no reply. How unfriendly. All I can tell you is that the good soft cheese was Berry Charlton’s Berry’s Creek Buffalo Brie from Sunrise Plains East Gippsland.

This salty little morsel is the gilda ($3.50). It consists of a guindilla pepper sandwiched within an olive above a ortiz anchovy on a stick. I ordered one for myself as I’m still trying to teach myself how to enjoy anchovy, and none for my partner who I knew would hate it. Continental Deli’s gilda was, as expected, a salty, slightly spicy stick. I didn’t like it.

Continental Deli’s pasta – mafalda corta, charcuterie xo & egg yolk ($28) – was good but not great. It’s the second best and in a way I guess the first worst XO pasta I’ve had in Newtown recently, with Cafe Paci’s absolutely divine XO gnocci taking the crown. Continental Deli’s spin on XO sauce was made from cured meats rather than the classical scallop, which in my opinion did not lend it enough the requisite umami flavour to be successful. I enjoyed the al dente pasta and the egg yolk I’m sure saved the dish from total disaster. Again, good, not great.

The roasted chicken, togarashi, green beans & tarama sauce ($35) was one of the weakest dishes of a generally quite weak bunch. Props need to be given to the perfectly tender cooked chicken, however points deducted from the taste and flavouring, which again was quite salty. My partner absolutely hated this, but couldn’t figure out why until we discovered the tarama sauce which we had skipped on the initial read of the menu. She just doesn’t really like fishy tastes.

VERDICT

I think Continental Deli’s strengths stand on its use of smallgoods from other specialty vendors, like LP’s Quality Meats. The meal we had was just fine, however taking into account the $130-for-two price tag its score drops to a 3/5. I’d only come back to try their meatball and super deli subs, but not for their bistro offerings.

Continental Deli Newtown
210 Australia St, Newtown NSW 2042
(02) 8624 3131

Categories
European

Cafe Paci – Newtown NSW Restaurant Review

My partner and I have been having a lot of Japanese food recently, so the decision was made to change it up a bit. We took inspiration from some instagram foodies and decided to hit up Cafe Paci in Newtown for a rainy day lunch.

rye taco with ox tongue and sauerkraut ($10 ea)

First of all, we were totally upsold on this rye taco with ox tongue and sauerkraut ($10 ea). We had originally decided on sharing the one taco between the two of us, however with some nudging from our waitress I caved and we ended up spending $20 for 2. I really loved the warmth and soft texture of the sourdough tortilla, which was completely unexpected. The thinly sliced ox tongue mixed well with the sauerkraut flavour and cream, and overall the taco made a nice and warm and wholesome morsel. My partner however didn’t agree, didn’t like it very much, and thought that we could’ve done with only half each. She therefore lied when the waitress came back and was like, “see! I told you one wouldn’t have been enough!”

Chicken liver Paris-Brest, almond, w’ onion jam ($18)

This Chicken liver Paris-Brest, almond, w’ onion jam ($18) is probably the most photographed sandwich I’ve seen over the past weekend. It is basically a sandwich made of a huge volume of pate, and an overwhelming quantity of onion jam. The bread I enjoyed, and I also enjoyed the thick cut almonds atop it. The pate had a smooth mouthfeel and a strong flavour, however I felt the overall balance of the dish was upset as the quantity of the rich pate was far too great for the quantity of the bread. The Paris-Brest seems to be quite well received, so perhaps this is an issue of personal taste rather than of objective fact. I would’ve liked more bread.

Potato dumpling with XO trout ($26)

Next was the Potato dumpling with XO trout ($26). I am actually offended by this dish. In my language when someone says dumpling this generally involves a bit of pastry wrapped around a filling. Knowing this, I fully expected some kind of potato-based dumpling wrapper with an XO trout filling. What I got instead were GNOCCI. Why not use the word gnocci? How is the term “potato dumpling” more descriptive than “gnocci”? What’s worse, the XO trout was actually just XO sauce MADE FROM trout. Again I fully expected a substantial quantity of fish.

To be honest though, getting past the initially disappointment of not really getting what was described and what I expected, the dish was not bad. My partner certainly enjoyed it a lot – she is a big fan of potato after all. The gnocci was soft, sweet, sticky, and had a delicate and mild flavour. The XO sauce, seemingly made of trout but not containing much trout was quite good, tangy, and not as spicy as most XO sauces are. If I were to name this dish with a bit more integrity I would have called it “Gnocci in XO sauce made with trout.”

This Mortadella ravioli with fermented chili butter ($26) was so delicious that it deserved two photos. The ravioli pasta itself was very al dente, something odd for me to enjoy as I usually prefer my pasta softer. The physical strength of the pasta was of course to protect the stronghold of flavour within. The ravioli, once bitten, releases a burst of chilli cheesiness that overwhelms the palate with umami. This was a truly delicious dish, and I wanted to mop up every last drop of the chili sauce. I did manage to stop myself from licking the plate.

Pain Perdue with cardamom caramel & vanilla ($15)

The Pain Perdue with cardamom caramel & vanilla ($15) is a piece of bread coated in a crispy caramelised outer surface, served with vanilla ice cream. It was quite sweet, but we enjoyed the contrast in flavour, warmth, and texture betwen the ice cream and the bread. It had a nice cardamom taste to it, however I probably wouldn’t get it again for $15.

Overall I had a pretty good time at Cafe Paci. The ravioli with fermented chilli butter and the ox tongue tortillas were definitely the standouts, the others were forgettable, and I would even go so far as to recommend avoiding the chicken liver Paris-Brest. They also had a $60 roasted whole duck which looked amazing on the table next to us. Perhaps we’d come back just for that.

3.5/5 (too many misses).

Cafe Paci
131 King St, Newtown NSW 2042
(02) 9550 6196

Cafe Paci Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Categories
European

Contact Bar & Kitchen – Woolloomooloo NSW Restaurant Review

My partner and I recently had the chance to eat at Contact Bar & Kitchen in Woolloomooloo for a weekday lunch.

To our surprise, there was plentiful street parking, however limited to only two hours per section. It was a very wet day, and it was nice to get out of the rain and into the warm restaurant. Service was absolutely impeccable. I believe our waiter was Diego (but it may have been Stefano – he had the less hair of the two, but an amazing eye for service.)

We settled in for a long lunch, and on the advice of our waiter had our dishes staggered.

Amuse-bouche: spinach, zucchini, and celery soup

We were started with this Amuse-bouche – a spinach, zucchini, and celery soup served in a small beaker with single crouton. I enjoyed this thick and flavourful soup, and the crunchy texture of the crouton. This amuse-bouche came as a complete surprise to us, and if we had known we were going to get we may have not ordered the next dish.

Half portion of pea, spinach, white pepper, herb croutons, goat’s cheese

Our first dish was the pea, spinach, white pepper, herb croutons, goat’s cheese soup ($16). As we were sharing all of our dishes, our waiter made the thoughtful suggestion of splitting the soup into two separate bowls for each of us. Pictured above is half a serve. I enjoyed the thick pea texture of the soup, and thought that the addition of goat’s cheese in some mouthfuls made it basically two soups for the price of one – the goat’s cheese being transformative whenever it entered the mouth. A special mention to the herb croutons which sacrificed themselves to suck up the soup flavour to a high degree. Very absorbent.

Squid ink Spaghetti with seafood

Next came our Squid ink spaghetti with sea mullet, salmon, mussels, clams, octopus, bonito, furikake, cherry tomatoes ($33), and probably the start of our downfall. I had convinced my partner that based on available information online that the dishes would be small, and that we would have plenty of room to fit two pastas, two mains, and a soup. How wrong I was. The pastas at Contact Woolloomooloo are actually quite huge. The fact is that the utensils provided to serve the pasta (photographed) are actually huge themselves, as is the massive prawn centrepiece. It is therefore difficult to get a good perspective of the size of this pasta dish visually from a photo.

I actually really enjoyed this squid ink spaghetti with seafood. I liked that the sauce was creamy but not heavy, and translucent rather than opaque. I liked that it was thick enough to coat the spaghetti, but not so thick that the sauce felt like a meal in and of itself. I absolutely loved the interplay between the tomato and the sauce base, and enjoyed the fresh seafood as well. The octopi were my favourite element of this pasta, and I’d probably get one just with octopi by itself if I could – they were just so delicious. I can whole heartedly recommend this dish – just don’t go in thinking that it’s small – it’s either a full meal for one, or half a meal for two.

Truffle Coxetti (Spaghetti)

Next on our culinary journey was the truffle spaghetti (usually a coxetti) with forest mushrooms, roma tomato, brie, garlic, white wine, truffle oil ($28). This pasta was a very creamy celebration of truffle and mushroom flavours. My partner really enjoyed this pasta, however again it was an absolutely huge serving. We saw the writing on the wall, and after each sampling a serving we asked for it to be packed for takeaway, a nonstandard request which the staff thoughtfully obliged. Our waiter commented that chef was very generous with his servings, and we agreed.

Poached Yellowtail Kingfish

Next was the Poached Yellowtail Kingfish with broccoli, soy, pearl cous cous, ginger, viola ($36). Two confounding factors make my review of this dish less reliable. The first is that after two soups and two pastas I was already reaching my limit of abdominal distension. The second is that we had just about reached our 2-hour parking limit for Zone 28, so I had to venture out into rain and move my car around the corner into a new parking zone. The fish was served whilst I was away, although our very helpful waiter did offer to keep it under heat until I returned. My partner, who had the opportunity to eat this dish from hot, thoroughly enjoyed it. She isn’t usually the biggest fan of fish, and the last time she had cooked whitefish that wasn’t toothfish she hated the texture. This was the first time that either of us had had kingfish that wasn’t at least a little bit Japanese – we mostly have kingfish either raw or aburi as sashimi or sushi. I personally found the kingfish a bit tough this time – a texture that was accentuated by the thick cut of the portion that we got. Perhaps I wouldn’t felt differently if the fish had been cut into thinner steaks, but we will never know. My partner enjoyed the soy bath, pearl and cous cous, and ultimately the dish as a whole more than me. While I understand that this kingfish wasn’t given all of the opportunities in life that it could’ve, I wouldn’t order it again.

Black Angus sirloin

Our final dish was the Black Angus sirloin with portobello mushrooms, thyme, pumpkin-potato, horseradish, rosemary, black mustard seeds ($35). I find it very hard to judge this dish fairly. On one hand, I was absolutely stuffed from the preceding five courses. On the other hand, it is true that I didn’t enjoy this as much as I had expected from reading the other online reviews. What I can tell you was that the pumpkin-potato mash was absolutely divine, very creamy and not overmashed. The portobello mushrooms were grilled to perfection and remained juicy enough to provide umami bombs with every mouthful. The beef itself we had medium-rare, and while I did enjoy it I didn’t feel like it was anything to write home about. We did appreciate the plating, of course, and my partner actually did like the beef a lot more than me.

All things considered we had a very nice and luxurious two and a half hour lunch at Contact Bar & Kitchen in Woollomoolloo. The servings were very generous and the service was second to none, so much so that we actually ended up tipping more than we ever have for any meal – including $500+ degustations. I would definitely recommend paying Contact a visit, especially if you can book a 30% or 50% off slot, but even if you can’t , their lunch specials ($25 for wine and a meal) are a good deal.

4.5/5

Contact Bar & Kitchen
88 Crown St, Woolloomooloo NSW 2011
(02) 9281 2114