Categories
North American

Kickin’ Inn – Petersham NSW Restaurant Review

In February 2020, before the world knew just how bad the COVID-19 pandemic would be, a Kiwi friend of ours suggested HOUSE OF CRAB. Unfortunately we never made it there – it closed in March due to the pandemic – but we did manage to eat at Kickin’ Inn, a restaurant with a very similar concept.

Kickin’ Inn offers a wide array of seafood which is boiled in sauce and delivered to the table in a plastic bag.. Aside from seafood, Kickin’ Inn also offers a small range of vegetable and chicken based sides. While Kickin’ Inn officially bills itself as halal, I’ve recently come to discover that there are varying types of halal and when my Egyptian colleague called the Lebanese owner to ask he found that it was insufficiently halal for his needs. We will need to catch up with him later at a venue of his choosing.

The service experience was generally fine but a bit odd to start. I was the first to arrive at the restaurant, and not 2 minutes into having taken a seat and been given the menu I was asked if I was ready to order. They knew that I was waiting for 5 others but continued to ask us three times throughout the next fifteen minutes our party slowly filtered in.

It was only when we told them that yes, we were ready to order, that they offered to explain the menu to us. I’ve read similar accounts of this extremely strange experience elsewhere online – it certainly makes more sense to me to explain the menu choices before asking if we were ready to order.

L: Whole lobster, R: Moreton Bay Bugs

While the majority of customers ask for the plastic bag to be emptied directly onto the table (covered in a single-use paper sheet), my colleagues shied away from this and ate directly from their plastic bags in black BDSM style gloves.

I had the Moreton Bay Bugs (8 small halves for $39.95) in Sha-Bang sauce (a mixture of Kajun, Garlic Kajun, Garlic Butter and Lemon Pepper sauces) with a mild spice. The bugs were quite small and not very meaty, but the taste and experience of eating food off a table in gloves and a bib was quite a novel one. While each individual bug was not meaty, the combination of 4 bugs did end up being sufficient for an adult meal.

One thing I will mention is that each time our bugs were served (we had 3 servings for the table) we were told that they were scampi. Because of this, as well as the offer to explain the menu once we were ready to order, I didn’t really get the feeling that the guys who worked at Kickin’ Inn really knew or understood what was going on. Especially as we were told that there would be no scampi available that evening.

My colleagues who had the whole lobster with corn and potato ($49.95), served on the elusive “plate” enjoyed their meals too.

I didn’t realise just how huge the Kickin’ Shrimp Martini ($34.95) would be. It is a giant glass bowl of 15 crumbed and fried prawns in Kickin’s special sauce (read: sweet chilli) atop a bed of hot chips and garden salad. I regret getting this. The prawns didn’t taste like they were great quality, and were a bit bitter as they cooled down. The sauce all collected at the bottom of the glass, which meant that the chips and salad at the bottom got very soggy and tasty. I’m lucky I was able to share this with my colleagues, and I would not get it again.

VERDICT
Quirks of service aside, Kickin’ Inn was OK. The serving sizes of the seafood boil was a bit ambiguous and I think that having minimum weights and prices per kg would’ve gone a long way. It just felt too risky to order a “cluster” of snow crab for $54.95 without any indication of how much that could be.

I’m still undecided as to if I will ever go back to Kickin’ Inn. It was an expensive seafoody meal, and I doubt my girlfriend would eve go with me.

4/5 – offers a special experience not found elsewhere

Kickin’ Inn Petersham
82-86 New Canterbury Rd, Petersham NSW 2049
(02) 8668 5857

Categories
Café Middle Eastern

Kepos Street Kitchen – Redfern NSW Cafe Review

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.

Overall

Pretty much everything we had hit the spot. I can recommend.

5/5

Kepos Street Kitchen
96 Kepos St, Redfern NSW 2016
(02) 9319 3919

Categories
Modern Australian

Nick & Nora’s – Parramatta NSW Restaurant Review

We recently had a late dinner after a run of days at Nick & Nora’s, a rooftop bar on level 26 of the SKYE Suites building in Parramatta. Nick & Nora’s is beautifully decorated inside, with a wide bar backed by an extensive collection of liquor and beautiful amber lighting throughout. The view of the (limited) Western Sydney skyline is equally lavish, and on taking everything in we felt immediately underdressed in our scrubs. Perhaps noticing this, our waitress did her best to make us feel welcome with a couple of flirtatious comments directed at my junior colleague DTC.

A side effect of waiting ten days to write this review is that most items that didn’t stand out at the time are merely forgotten. This baller board ($100) of the chef’s selection of cheese and charcuterie was memorable mostly for the pricing. Whilst in fairness the board is quite large and extensive in its selection and it’s difficult to please everyone, nothing on this board really wowed me.

We ordered three servings of the feed me menu ($55 each) to go along with our giant cheese and charcuterie board. Whilst I normally like to go through each item in detail, most of the elements of this tasting menu were simply not that memorable, though special mentions go to the:

  • Moreton Bay Bug Sliders with cellariac rémoulade and rhubarb sambol in toasted brioche , which were really creamy with an excellent bug to bread ratio. These were a standout of the meal, and probably better than any other lobster or crustacean roll I’ve ever had, not the least owing to the fact that the bug was actually intact and not some minced monstrosity (cf. 101kissa)
  • Crispy Prawns with lime aioli and finger lime, which were large and juicy, and enjoyed so much by my prawn-averse girlfriend that she actually had 2 instead of her customary 0.
  • Tequila Compressed Watermelon, which was just a fun new concept that I hadn’t experienced before.

VERDICT
I think that while we visited Nick & Nora’s as a restaurant, it’s more of a rooftop bar with food as an afterthought rather than a focus. The Moreton Bay Bug Sliders were great though, and at $11 I would not hesitate to get them as takeaway in the future.

Diners: JW, PX, DTC, MC, NAVH,

Categories
French

Artistry Garden – Sydney CBD NSW Restaurant Review

This is a sad story.

Artistry Garden opened in early 2020 to critical acclaim for its Japanese-French fusion cuisine.

They came onto my radar several months ago, but I had put off dining at Artistry Garden until now as they open only for breakfast and lunch, and only during weekdays – any visitor from outside the CBD would therefore need to contend with driving and more importantly parking in the Sydney CBD.

My partner and I finally scrounged up the courage to venture into the CBD during our annual leave, on 11/11 of all days. We were able to find a 2 hour park 1.3km away in Woolloomooloo (near Contact Bar & Kitchen), and made the journey through the park to the restaurant.

Once we arrived it became apparent that the Japanese-French menu I had been salivating over for the past months had been recently replaced by something much less exciting and much more just plain French. It turns out Artistry Garden’s original Michelin starred chef Masahiko Yomoda had recently (in the past week) returned to Japan to be with his family during the coronavirus pandemic, and a new chef had started and brought his own, decidedly more average menu.

Jasper Grilled King Prawns (half serve pictured)

The Jasper Grilled King Prawns (4 for $23) were served butterflied, shell on. They had a strong prawn flavour, which my partner did not like but I did not mind. I found that the butterflied presentation of the prawns with their shell on did make them a bit more difficult to eat than they could have been. The light sauce of miso butter was quite nice, however the majority of it remained on the plate, as opposed to drizzled on the prawns. Not good, not bad.

I have mixed feelings about the Petuna ocean trout with spinach, brown butter, hazelnuts, and mandarin ($36). The trout had a nice and cripsy scored skin, and the meat of the fish was cooked well, not overcooked. The mandarin pieces were an absolute treat – warm on the inside with a burst of warm juice when bitten into. Apart from these two positive elements, however, there was a bit to complain about. We didn’t like that the meal was served in basically a puddle of brown butter sauce. It made every bite, especially of the spinach and nuts which were fully submerged in the sauce very oily.

Feather and bone rump steak

The Feather and bone rump steak in red wine sauce, parsley, garlic butter ($40) was the most expensive item on the menu, and replaces the wagyu from the previous menu. We had it cooked medium-rare, and thought that doneness aside the meat was quite lukewarm when we received it, and rapidly lost its warmth in the wind tunnel that is One Farrer Place. The fries were fresh and delicious with the red wine sauce. The steak was fine but nothing to write home about. The garlic butter and red wine sauce were good but again not a revelation. This dish lacked the X factor in that nothing was particularly special about it.

We had a glass of sangria ($9), a soy latte, and a cappuccino to go.

The sangria was nice and fresh, large, juicy.

The coffees were good! Though the small coffee really was small.

Ultimately I was quite disappointed by Artistry Garden. I had hyped up the place so much in my mind, and it was all shattered when they lost their original chef and the menu changed.

Give me a call when he’s back from Japan. Until then, I woudn’t come back

$120 for 2 including drinks
3 feathers/5 bones

Artistry Garden
One Farrer Pl, Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9241 7101