Archive for February, 2010

The Beresford… again…Sunday Lunch

February 27, 2010

354 Bourke Street, Darlinghurst.

There are few things more pleasurable than a decent Sunday Lunch. Being British, I’m a tad biased. It’s the ability to laze over a long lunch with friends and slowly eat & drink yourself into a stupor… The fact that this can now happen in the Sydney sunshine is a bit of a bonus.

The Beresford is a pretty fine drinking establishment with a good restaurant attached and they do a Sunday feast which is just on the right side of affordability without having to think about it. It’s a fixed menu that changes weekly. It handily does away with the ordeal of ordering which for addled minds from the night before is no bad thing.

There are four of us and we start with Antipasto:

It’s a good selection with some decent proscuitto, marinated mushrooms, manchego (I think) and deep fried courgette flowers. The only thing that lets the side down is cream cheese stuffed pepper which you find in most delis and are just too acidic to be pleasant in my humble opinion. However,  an additional plate of carpaccio with walnuts and gorganzola helps end this part of the meal on  a high:

The pasta course follows and it’s a rather unusual dish of smoked salmon and spaghetti:

It’s not a combination I’ve given much though to and expect a coagulated mess, but it’s a winner of a dish. With plenty of cooking liquor it’s light, pleasantly salty with a good chilli hit. They serve the pasta in a big bowl to the whole table. It’s at this point you realise you’ve still got the main course to come….Discipline becomes the order of the day. We purposefully don’t finish the pasta and get a doggy bag to take away. We feel cheap, but it was too nice to throw away or send it back to the kitchen.

The main course is Spatchcock chicken with gratin dauphinoise:

It’s an OK bird, well cooked & coupled with a decent jus & potatoes. There are veggies (not pictured). By this stage we’re thinking about how we’re going to finish this meal, as opposed to the quality of the food in front of us. Chicken like this is hard to critique, but we’re satisfied at the end.

Although stuffed we do manage to share one tiramisu amongst four of us, just to round off the meal:

It’s creamy, boozy and has a good cocoa hit. Many tiramisus are bland messes, but this is fine. We polish it off, having moved outside and wait with trepidation for the drag-queen show to begin….. 4pm on a sunday afternoon…

It does look as though this venue is sort of geared towards an afternoon drinking session, with the feast an excuse to get people into the bar for the rest of the day, but it’s no bad thing. The service as a result is a little chaotic & uncertain, but it’s done with charm so it’s hard to complain.

Overall it’s a very good value meal. You just need a group of friends and a willingness to put 2 fingers up in the direction of monday morning. Most sundays should be like this. We’ll be back.


Fish Face

February 23, 2010

132 Darlinghurst Rd, Darlinghurst

Bizarrely it seems there’s a complete absence of fishmongers in Sydney. If you want fresh fish one has to venture to a fish & chip shop, where coming from the UK, the quality of produce in these kind of premises are mostly suspect.

Anyway, in restaurants the quality of fish is great. And Fish Face has a good reputation. so finally we made our way there.

It’s a tiny place with a nice relaxed atmosphere. You can’t reserve after a certain time, so you get to have a cheeky beer in the bar next door. Your number is called and you pick up your wine and bring it over.

It’s a good broad menu with lots of interesting fish and preparations. My meal started with what was possibly one of the best appetizers I’ve eaten – a Japanese ‘Sashimi’ dish:

OK, there wasn’t a lot of cooking going on, but the fish (prawns, eel, salmon, tuna & kingfish) was beautifully fresh, well prepared and served in a luscious light vinegar dressing.  One of those dishes I wish I could eat every day.

It didn’t even make me feel too jealous that my dining partners had gone for the special of lobster curried soup:

It was subtle and well spiced. I would not have been disappointed.

My main course however was a travesty of ordering:

Deciding to order an omlette for dinner was perhaps an odd choice, one that I regretted almost instantly. It was thai prawn omlette with pak choi & oyster sauce. It was extremely well cooked. The omlette itself was fluffy and moist. It would have been a great lunch dish.

I could only look on with envy as my dining partners had bass grouper with sweet potato and ceps:

A good tranche of fish served medium rare, so that the residual heat continued to cook the fish all the way through. Clearly the kitchen know its onions, so to speak. The sweet potato kind of paled in comparison, but the mushroom was a woody treat. I was unable to pillage the plate for any morsels.

This is clearly a good restaurant with very competent cooking, It’s not cheap with most main courses over $40, but you can’t begrudge paying for food of such clear quality. We will endeavour to return and this time I’ll order a bit better.

Crocodile Senior Thai, Sydney

February 14, 2010

768 George Street, Haymarket

This is one of those places which gets talked about in the same breath of Spice I Am and others – authentic, good value Thai food.

I’ve been here once before with fellow food bloggers and but decided to come again with a friend who’s thinking of moving to Sydney, to give him a taste of what the food is like here. Yeah, the first place I take him to is a Thai restaurant.

Just a quick meal followed, to get a taster for what might be in store culinary wise in the city.

The first dish we order is Som Tum:

It seems to be a staple in Sydney, but difficult to find in the UK. It’s an alright example delivering the normal chilli, sour and salty hit, but it’s a little underwhelming, with the flavours a little soft & watery. But my friend got the picture. I sense he could easily be converted.

A competent pad thai follows with pork. It’s a fine dish. Good contrast of flavours. no problems

The standout dish was a Larb, which you don’t come across in many Thai places. A kind of minced chicken with citrus, herbs and plenty of kick. It was most enjoyable, but needed the salad to help with the heat.

This may not be the finest Thai in Sydney, but the food is real, pretty tasty and pretty good value. In the culinary wasteland around Central Station, you could do far worse.

Likhit Kai Yaang, Bangkok

February 9, 2010

74/1 Thanon Ratchadamnoen Klang

This was a memorable meal. An absolute pain to get to, in an interesting part of town and as simple a dinner you can ask for, but it all translates to the important ‘memory value’ when you look back.

We were staying in a great hotel (The Metropolitan) who like many others cater for a discerning clientele who want the best of everything. We asked a few of the staff to provide directions to the Likhit Kai Yaang. They all knew it, seemingly from childhood, but couldn’t understand why with all the dining options in Bangkok we wanted to go there. Puzzlingly they all agreed it had the best grilled chicken. Yet, they were keen to direct us to closer, flasher restaurants.

Also working against us were taxi drivers who didn’t want to take us anyway. First of all they said they didn’t know where it was and when pushed, didn’t want to go for traffic reasons. It took three taxis. We perservered and ended up here:

It was boxing night at the stadium next door and we arrived to a buoyant place. Service was good – the staff laughing at the foreigners who demanded grilled chicken.

Clearly with all this build-up we couldn’t just order the chicken. So we opted for the Som Tum. It was as good an example I’ve had. a perfect combination of sweetness, heat, sourness and crunch with the fresh vegetables. So good we eventually had a second plate.

The chicken arrived. It did not disappointed. Grilled on a charcoal fire with a peppery sauce it was succulent and crispy. The owner made a note of coming round and checking we approved. All good fun.

Going off-piste I ordered grilled pork liver. I’m partial to a bit of offal, but this was pretty rich/full flavoured dish. I could only eat half of it. Yet it did nothing to take the shine of an extremely enjoyable meal.

The bill was small, but the laughs were many. We departed to explore a few more bars of Bangkok. Great city.

Chote Chitr, Bangkok

February 6, 2010

146 Th Phraeng Phuton, Banglamphu, Bangkok

We spent a few days in Bangkok over the Xmas period.  When I was here about six years ago, I was more interested in the night-life and experiencing (from a safe distance) the sights & sounds of this most manic of cities. Coming back with my wife, good bars & restaurants were on the agenda.

One of our first stops was Chote Chitr, a tiny restaurant which has received much attention from the international media, such as the New York Times.

The English sign shows this place is firmly on the tourist trail. No locals were sat at any of the six tables. But it didn’t really matter. The rest of the experience was pretty authentic, including the super cramped kitchen and an elderly woman being looked after in the middle of it all.

We stuck to the famed dishes and had a superb meal.

We started with a Mee Krob, a dish I hadn’t come across before – crispy fried noodles with a citrus glaze. It was sweet, crunchy with a clean heat. The accompanying greens & beansprouts offered a soft textural contrast, dulling the chilli build up. I’m not generally a fan of sweet food, but it was pretty fine and a dish you want to keep grazing on throughout the meal.

Next up was the standout dish:

Aubergine Salad. I’m going through a big of an aubergine phase at the moment, so I was already looking forward to it, but the depth of flavour extracted from the humble vegetable was brilliant. It had evidently been cooked on the smokiest of grills and then served luke warm. the only downer was the mass of chilli, which masked some of the flavour, but it was pretty fine and memorable.

Our next dish was a prawn red curry. This wasn’t exactly the most inspiring of orders; you can find this dish pretty much anywhere. It was a good and the prawns were fat, fresh & sweet. the sauce was hot. Nuff said really.

Another house special salad followed:

A banana flower salad. Again it was a perfect combination of sweetness & heat. Prawns & dried chilli provided the occasional surprise.

As much as I enjoy thai food, I think it’s easy to become a little overwhelmed by the constant heat of most dishes. Yet eating at Chote Chitr the spicing seems to work without it becoming too much of a chore to finish the dish. There are so many flavours & textures to take your mind of it. It’s clearly a place which is worthy of its profile in the travel press. Do not miss