Asian Fusion Café Chinese

STIX – Marrickville NSW Restaurant Review

My partner and I have been eating a lot of good food recently, much to the disappointment of my healthcare team and our mortgage deposit. This morning’s late start for my partner found us at STIX, a farm to table café with a much appreciated all-day menu.

We started with the potato hash ($8). I couldn’t stop her. For what it’s worth, these were great. These were extremely buttery and luscious, multi-layered with a thin crispy of an exterior and a soft interior. Pretty tasty.

The smoked trout rillettes ($24) with fennel and kohlrabi remoulade, celery, pickled eschallot, apricot jam and sourdough toast was next. I enjoyed the taste and texture of this dish, as something I could not dream of making myself. The base of sourdough bread was nice and crusty, with good structural integrity and able to carry the weight of its toppings with ease. The brightness, freshness and crunchiness of the celery was excellent with the more creamy textures of the remoulade and trout rillette. The taste and texture of the rillette, something difficult to make or find outside of a restaurant, were both good, and a reasonable volume was provided with our order.

The poached egg was comically small, though we do understand that when you’re raising the hens yourself there is a spectrum of eggs produced, and it’s not possible to only have 58 gram eggs. Unfortunately the small size of our poached egg may have contributed to its overcooking – I have no photos but it was 0% runny compared to what a normal poached egg is.

The last thing to mention would be the apricot jam, which was just a little bit sweet but added so much to the overall flavour of the dish, complimenting the saltiness and savouriness of the rest of the meal. My partner particularly liked that it was dolloped on in discrete bits, so that some mouthfuls would have some sweetness and others would not.

The very good chicken and sweetcorn congee ($21) was a dish that I felt I could probably make at home, and am in fact probably ethnically and genetically obliged to make at home at some point. It was a really tasty and hot bowl of congee, with a bit of spiciness from some tamari chilli relish, some sweetness from the corn, some ginger, and some saltiness from what I presume is just plain salt. The texture of the rice was very nice and soft, and has prompted me to freeze a bit of washed and soaked rice in my freezer just now so that I can make something similar soon. The chicken was not particularly plentiful, with a shredded grocery store rotisserie chicken kind of quality (though I do not mean to defame – I’m sure it was much fancier than this), but enough for enjoyment. This was ultimately a simple but very well executed dish, one that will inspire me to be a better Asian this week.

I made my partner wait a full twelve minutes after the end of our meal to decide if she still wanted this tea and toast croissant ($9.50). $9.50 is a lot to pay for a croissant. I thought that the earl grey tea cream filling of the croissant was plentiful in volume, but sadly not so in taste. It felt highly calorie dense, fatty and thick, but without the taste payoff that such expenditure should entail. I would’ve much preferred a stronger earl grey taste in this situation, preferably also without as much volume of cream. Filling aside, the marmalade glaze on this croissant was enjoyable, although in my imaginations of Beverly and Betty tea and toast diets (I am, for these six months, a geriatric medicine advanced trainee after all) I had always assumed it was plain toast straight out of the toaster that they were eating. I doubt you would get too malnourished if this croissant were your staple meal.

I don’t know how I feel about a place that only takes card, with a mandatory card surcharge for all payments. It feels like any mandatory, unavoidable surcharge should be built into the menu price from the start, but I guess the gods of the ACCC disagree with me. Pretty good food. Worth a visit.

20 Chapel St, Marrickville NSW 2204
(02) 9550 2772

Café Italian Middle Eastern

Bar Biscotti – North Strathfield NSW Restaurant Review

The main take-home message from this review is really that the food was good, but we spent 40 minutes waiting.

This mango smoothie ($9) was $9 expensive, but pretty good, and came soon after ordering, which was more than we could say about the rest of our meal.

The Mediterranean Potato & Eggs ($21) featuring spiced (mostly vinegary) potato, egg, and zaatar was pretty good. The potatoes were a bit more sour than my partner would’ve liked, and though she wasn’t particularly keen on them I felt the eggs were quite good, as was the surprise zaatar which I think was just mentioned in the menu as “coriander… and a side of pita bread”.

The Italian Meatballs ($22) were pretty good. The Turkish bread was probably the best part – light and airy, a bit oily, a bit crispy, and nice and warm. The beef meatball was a bit weird, a brown exterior with an unexpectedly pink interior displaying a gobstopper like quality that the waiter PROMISED was normal and intentional (but why?) We did eat it and did not get sick. The Napoletana sauce was fine, and the rocket was plenty, but I do feel like a bit of extra bread to soak up all that extra sauce wouldn’t have gone astray. I don’t know why there’s a separate option on the menu for a meatball sub which seems essentially the same dish with different bread and cheese but vaguely the same deal. It was a difficult choice, but I think with this delicious Turkish bread we probably made the right one.

OTHER THOUGHTS We didn’t really complain about our meal taking an extremely long time to come, but the couple next to us who ordered after us and got their food fractionally before us did, and I think they were offered something free out of it. The food was reasonably good, but I’m just glad we had nowhere else to be that morning, because 40 minutes is too much.

Bar Biscotti
24 George St, North Strathfield NSW 2137
0424 195 732

Fine Dining Modern Australian

Gimlet – Melbourne VIC Restaurant Review

Every so often I try and have a meal out and my body just won’t let me. It happened at Moxhe, and it happened again at Gimlet. This particular episode of bad food bolus obstruction sensation was precipitated by my downing of a large volume of psyllium husk and probably not enough water just prior to the meal. My gastroenterologist friend CJP thinks it might be eosinophilic oesophagitis, but my actual gastroenterologist hasn’t had a chance to weigh in yet.

Let me therefore treat you to a description of our meal at Gimlet at Cavendish House, mostly through the eyes of someone watching my girlfriend eat.

We started with some raw albacore tuna with compressed cucumber, sorrel, and vinaigrette ($36). The menu lists a similar dish with bonito instead of albacore, and I wonder if this was an on-the-day substitution to suit whatever was available at the fish market. In general the compression of fruits and vegetables is foreign to me, though I did not believe this particular version of cucumber to have been compressed as completely as it could have been by, for example, the hydraulic press channel. Overall I didn’t have the best impression of this dish, I think because as humans my partner and I prefer bluefin and yellowfin tuna greatly over albacore, which has a bit more of a floury texture than we would like. Rather than being the star of the show, the albacore tuna here was more of a vessel for the good flavours of the vinaigrette.

My enjoyment of the Half Southern Rock Lobster, wood-roasted in saffron rice with bisque sauce ($150) was greatly diminished by my weakened physical state. My impression of this, from what little I had, was that it was absolutely quite delicious, surprisingly big (though it was a solid $150), with beautiful rice that had a bit of crispiness around the edges, a little similar to claypot rice but I’m sure more similar to other rices from other cultures that I’ve not yet experienced. The capsicum dip was not really necessary with such a wonderful intrinsic flavour of the seafood and rice. My partner absolutely demolished this, almost exclusively on her own.

I did not have a single bite of these kestrel potatoes with buttermilk and caper dressing ($16), but my potatolord partner did not like them, so that I think is quite telling.

We enjoyed this gelato ($17), with rhubarb, jasmine rice and candied ginger. The flavours were interesting, and in a different lifetime could’ve been served in a chicken-rice themed degustation as a palate cleanser.

OVERALL THOUGHTS: We had not a cheap meal at Gimlet at Cavendish House, with the only true standout dish being the wood-roasted lobster. That said, that expensive-ass lobster was actually extremely delicious, and I wouldn’t hesitate recommending it to someone with the money to burn. I would suggest that you call ahead to ensure there is lobster availability, and also avoid the other things we ordered so that you may happen on some other smaller dishes that are better than what we had.

Extremely comfy booth seating.

Gimlet at Cavendish House
33 Russell St, Melbourne VIC 3000
(03) 9277 9777


BlackBear BBQ – Wetherill Park & Blacktown NSW Restaurant Review

I’ve enjoyed Black Bear BBQ ever since my first visit during internship; back whilst I was living and working in the Deep West. Their little restaurant in Blacktown’s industrial district was my first introduction to Texas-style BBQ, and even though it took a few attempts to try and go (their opening hours were very strange at the time) I finally managed.

My first bearlesque adventure in 2018 was with their Hungry Bear Breakfast Box, featuring big slabs of their beef brisket, pork belly, a hot link, two sunny side up eggs, and some baked beans. My memory fails me (it’s been three years), so enjoy the pretty picture instead. This item is no longer available on their menu.

I recently had the opportunity to enjoy a quick takeaway meal just as the Delta variant of COVID-19 struck Sydney, which is almost funny looking back at it and writing this in the early days of the Omicron strain.

These tater tots ($6) started off pretty strongly. Freshly fried and seasoned with parmesan and rosemary salt, each little tot came with a nice crunch and a warm centre. Unfortunately, as is often the case with deep fried starchy and cheesy foods, as these tots cooled down they started to taste a little bitter. Unavoidable.

The O.G Burger ($14), not to be confused with an O&G Burger, was pretty good. The beef brisket patty was moist with a good mouthfeel, while the salad added a good degree of freshness to balance out the fatty patty and associated cheese. It’s a good thing that this burger is essentially the same as the cheeseburger but with extra salad, as any other differences would have meant us ordering both.

The Hungry Bear Box ($32) is designed to satisfy not only a hungry, but also a peckish* black bear. While you can order Black Bear BBQ’s boxes with a choice of either beef brisket or pork belly for a slightly lower price, truly hungry bears are able to experience a tasting of both, along with a jalapeno and cheese hot link (sausage), some potato crsps, pickles, and coleslaw. Both the pork and beef were tender and juicy, though both my partner and I preferred the brisket over the pork. The hot link is quite tasty and nice, and at $4 a pop are great as a stand-alone or add-on order.

Black Bear BBQ is a true friend to bearkind. I’d recommend every (non-vegetarian) bear that every there was to gather here.

I have been informed that the word peckish does not describe a bear who wants a little bit of everything, merely a bear who is a little hungry but not fully hungry. I refuse to look this up, and what I don’t know can’t hurt me.

Black Bear BBQ Blacktown
11/27 Forge St, Blacktown NSW 2148
(02) 9672 3353

Black Bear BBQ Wetherill Park
93-97 Newton Rd, Wetherill Park NSW 2164
(02) 9756 1117


MoVida Next Door – Melbourne VIC Restaurant Review

I quite like NGV Melbourne, but as the ever giving partner I chose to order at Movida Next Door whilst my partner got to spend some additional time at the gallery before our flight (which, little did we know at the time, was to be delayed – thanks Rex.)

My partner has no interest, generally, in anchovy, so we ordered a single Anchoa ($6), described quite accurately in the menu as “hand-filleted Cantabrian Artisan Anchovy with Smoked Tomato Sorbet on Crouton”. It was as salty as you’d expect from anchovy, though the tomato did help to temper that. The crouton was quite long, and I probably would’ve described it more as a biscuit. I wouldn’t get it again, but I’m not sad that I did.

We had two of the Pez Real ($15.50 each), which were actually quite good. They are parcels of kingfish wrapped in Jamon Serrano, grilled and served on mojo verde (yet another green sauce I have to learn about). It was probably the highlight of the meal, with such a good texture of fish that I rarely see in cooked kingfish, and excellent smokiness imparted by the serrano.

The Bomba ($8), a choux pastry filled with duck liver parfait and persimmon was a pretty decadent affair. I don’t think it was particularly worse than the $18 Chicken liver Paris-Brest at Cafe Paci in Newtown NSW, but it did come in a pretty manageable portion size and therefore price, which I appreciated. I don’t really need to eat an entire meal of liver, and Movida understands this.

Our complimentary bread and oil finally came. Weird that the woman next to us got hers essentially upon sitting down. I’m not going to read into it. The salt is quite salty.

The anchova was not for my partner, but this Croqueta ($5.50) certainly was. She can’t walk away from a big deep fried ball of stuff, in this case manchego and zucchini, and though it’s not mentioned I feel like there has to be some potato in it as the base of it all. Not bad. Surprisingly oblong for a croquette.

The Bistec ($34) was actually very impressive. I’m not usually one to order steak from restaurants, as it’s something that I can cook reasonably well myself (thanks Breville Polyscience) but this grilled Sher Wagyu beef rump was really quite well done (that is to say, not well done), and the Jerusalem artichoke chips were extremely tasty. And to top it all off, it didn’t break the bank.

I quite enjoyed eating things that I don’t normally eat at MoVida Next Door. I like the extremely small portion sizes, which made it quite easy to share a meal with my partner after having eaten a large number of other meals together that day on our last day in Melbourne.

I also liked that the our waiter/bartender didn’t really try to talk to us, instead lavishing his attention on the middle-aged woman sitting next to us. He had a good sense of what we wanted (to be fed) and what she wanted (to have a general discussion about things, I guess) and I feel like this skill will take him far. Possibly as far as his colleague who was wearing a Rolex Submariner at work?

MoVida Next Door
164 Flinders St, Melbourne VIC 3000
(03) 9663 3038