Noodle Hut, Sydney

Sunday was a bit of a disaster for Lex and I. We’d heard about these Figure 8 pools in the Royal National Park and thought we’d spend Valentine’s Day checking them out. We had been told it was about a 45 minute walk from the car to the pools so I came prepared with my Nikes and my swimwear underneath ready to jump in when we got there! It was a scorcher of a day in Sydney with temperatures reaching 37degrees – thankfully I packed a bottle of water. Our walk started off hopeful and like any other city dweller who finally finds themselves in touch with nature, we set off happily through the bush. I started reciting Robert Frost’s poem The Road Not Taken when we came to a fork in the road. Of course Lex and I started heading to the left as we had a hunch the pools would be that way. Half an hour later we made it to the bottom of the cliff with no pools in sight. I saw a lifeguard tent along the sand (I was becoming delirious at this point and was convinced it was a mirage). Luckily the lifeguard was a real person, unluckily he told us the pools were in the opposite direction. I wish I was exaggerating when I say this but two and a half hours later and at 37degrees (my hair was wet with sweat), Lex and I still had not found the Figure 8 pools – we were literally lost in the bush! Absolute disaster. By the time we realised where they were we were so exhausted that we headed back up the cliff to the car. I’m sure I muttered lines like “I think I’m dying”, and “Lex I can’t do it anymore” along the way. The icing on the cake when we finally reached the car? A parking fine. Yep, we paid to get lost in the bush!

With all that exhaustion I insisted on eating the biggest lunch I could find and so we stopped in to Westfield Miranda and went to a cool place in the dining precinct called ‘Noodle Hut’. It felt so nice to just sit there in a chair, with a glass of water and a cool breeze. It’s funny how our perceptions of ‘heaven’ can change so easily based on our circumstances…

What we ordered:

Our waitress was lovely, she sat us down served us some water and even let us tweak the menu! We decided to order the Mixed Entree – two satay chicken skewers, two vegetarian spring rolls and two fish cakes. If you’ve read previous posts you’ll know that Lex is not a seafood fan so we asked the waitress if we could take out the fish cakes and add a couple of chicken skewers – she was more than happy to do this for us. The Mixed Entree was just $10.90 and quite a big serving so I thought this was incredibly reasonable. For mains Lex and I both decided to go with the ‘Make your own’ Noodles. We both chose the chicken with Thai Chilli Basil sauce. The only difference was that lex went with the Flat Noodles and I chose the Thin Egg Noodles. Normally I order Hokkien but I think I’ll go with the Thin Egg now. The meal was delicious. It was packed with freshly steamed veggies and the sauce had the perfect amount of spice. They also do takeaway – if I was a local this would be my go-to noodle joint. At just $42 I thought there was a great deal of value for our money and I would go back to Noodle Hut again.

Lis x

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Baccomatto Osteria, Sydney

For Valentine’s Day this year (well technically the night before Valentine’s Day), Lex and I decided to try out Baccomatto Osteria in Surry Hills. I had been looking forward to visiting all week as I had spent some time on their website and the photos were drool-worthy. We were happily greeted by the personable host and ushered to our table. The set up of Baccomatto is unique, elegant and modern. It serves upmarket Italian cuisine in a trendy, modern restaurant with a marble bar (gorgeous!) and a bustling vibe.

The great thing about the restaurant is that they have weekday specials, making it a perfect spot for locals to grab a bite to eat during the hustle and craziness of the working week. On Monday you can get a pasta and a glass of vino for only $20, and on Tuesdays they offer Fish and a glass of house wine for just $25! For more specials check out their website: http://www.baccomattoosteria.com.au/#!whatson/c1c9t

What we ordered:

I find it difficult to look past olives when they’re featured on the menu. In saying that though, they need to be fresh olives, not cooked. I asked the waitress who informed me the olives were “freshly marinated in garlic and herbs”. This statement alone was enough for me to make my decision for entree. The olives came in a small bowl on a wooden chopping board with a few pieces of lightly toasted bread – delicious! Of course Lex and I had been craving this meal for a whole week and a serving of olives just couldn’t possibly do! So we ordered the Meatballs with Tomato and Basil, as well as a side of the Zucchini Flowers stuffed with ricotta and basil. The meatballs were soooooo good, they were fresh, tasty and fell apart as soon as you stuck your fork in! The tomato sauce was also a winner – the waitress could tell we liked it, she offered to bring us more bread to scoop it up. As for the Zucchini Flowers, Lex is more of a fan and can’t resist them when he sees them on the menu – I don’t dislike them but they’re not my first choice. Lex and I agree that these Zucchini Flowers were too dry. They had breadcrumbs on the outside and they were a little difficult to eat because they were so dry. I would have liked a little more tomato sauce drizzled on top. Overall though, a good start to our dining experience at Baccomatto.

For mains I ordered the Pappardelle with Duck Ragu. Admittedly I’ve never had duck ragu, normally I have my pappardelle with beef. Even though I’m not sure duck is my meat of choice, the pasta was still delicious. Lex also had a few spoonfuls and thought it was great. I actually pointed out to him afterwards that I didn’t even think of adding salt or chilli – a sign that the pasta was beautiful as it was. Lex decided to order the special – porchetta, pork belly with cracking. He also got the sautéed greens as a side. I had a bite and it was almost too good to be true. Although Lex did say he would have liked some sauce to go with the pork belly – apple sauce maybe? I should mention as well that we ordered 500ml of the house red to go with our meals. We always order the house red at Fratelli’s so thought it was worth a try. However in Lex’s words, “it’s not the best house wine we’ve had”.

Baccomatto Osteria is a trendy restuarant, there’s no denying that. I loved being there. I loved the service. The crowd. The decor. The food. I really couldn’t have asked for more. It’s finding little neighbourhood gems like this that make me realise how much is out there. We’re so lucky to live in a city like Sydney that offers us such an extensive variety of food at our fingertips.

Lis x

Frangos, Sydney

When I mentioned to Lex that I hadn’t written a blog post about ‘Frangos’, he was really shocked and I think a little disappointed…Lex loves Frangos. We’ve actually been together a few times and Lex has also been with friends from work. My first official taste of Frangos was with Jade – we had to stay back late for work and Jade suggested we get some takeaway – it was delicious! Since then Lex and I have been a few times to the Smithfield and Petersham locations.

Locations:

  • Smithfield
  • Petersham
  • Bella Vista

Frangos is an incredibly popular Portuguese charcoal chicken restaurant. So popular is it that when it closed temporarily over Christmas, there were lines down the street on the reopening of the Petersham store! They serve skewers, whole chicken, lamb, burgers, and an extensive range of sides including seasonal salads and their famous fries! The fires are flat potatoes that are crispy and light. Frangos also has a pretty impressive reputation and has featured in the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide, as well as in Sydney’s Top 10 Burgers. However, what earns them a loyal (and growing) customer base, is their dedication to food and cooking, as well as their age-old techniques and family recipes.

OUR RECIPES HAVE BEEN PASSED DOWN THROUGH GENERATIONS, BLENDING THE SPICES OF OUR ANCESTORS IN ANGOLA AND THE TRADITIONAL CHARCOAL TECHNIQUES FROM PORTUGAL. OPENED IN 1992, IN THE HEART OF THE PORTUGUESE CAPITAL OF SYDNEY (PETERSHAM), THE FERNANDES FAMILY CONTINUE TO OWN AND OPERATE THEIR RESTAURANTS WITH THE SAME PRIDE AND PASSION FOR FOOD.

What we ordered:

Lex and I have had two distinctly memorable experiences at Frangos. Ordinarily we ordered separate meals (usually chicken and salad), however the best two times we’ve been was when we ordered the Espetada skewered meats to share. The first time we ordered the Chicken – this was the best chicken I think I might have ever tasted (that was until I went to Locanda Verde!). It had the perfect amount of salt and seasoning. Absolutely delicious. The second time we ordered the skewers was when we went to the Petersham restaurant (this has more of a dine-in section than Smithfield and the service is better). Here we ordered the Beef – I don’t even know if I can describe it apart from telling you that it’s virtually indescribable and you just need to get yourself to Frangos NOW (after you finish reading my blog…). All the skewered meats are marinated in Frangos special sauce – kind of like their secret recipe sauce that none knows exactly what it is and therefore can’t make it themselves! I wish I knew exactly what they marinate their meat in and how, it would change family BBQs forever. The skewers are cooked to order so you do have to wait a while, but the wait is worth it to get fresh meat. One skewer is enough for two (from memory Lex and I had four pieces each), and there is a piece of bread underneath the skewer soaking up all the sauce. We also ordered a Greek salad to go with it – unfortunately the Greek salad differs between restaurants and the Smithfield one is a lot better than Petersham.

Unfortunately due to our new rule of not visiting the same place more than once, Lex and I won’t be visiting Frangos again in the near future…although, we’ve never been to the Bella Vista location…?

Lis x

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Good Food. Frango at Bella Vista.                Photo: Edwina Pickles.

 

The Italian Kitchen, Sydney

I visited ‘The Italian Kitchen’ in Miranda with family after coming home from NY. Mum and I were wandering around the new dining precinct at Westfield’s Miranda having no idea what we should eat. It was lunch time so we thought something light and healthy might be a good idea. All that changed when we laid eyes on ‘The Italian Kitchen’. It was a beautifully presented airy restaurant, with hints of timeless Italian decor (such as the serving plates!). It is also opened for lunch and dinner 7 days a week, with takeaway now available! As we sat down for lunch after some intense shopping, we were in awe of the surroundings. They really have made this friendly on the eye. The restaurant was also buzzing and had a great, happy energy about it.

What we ordered:

I caught a glimpse of the bruschetta passing by our table and told my Mum and cousin that we were getting a serving, no excuses! To our delight the bruschetta was absolutely delicious. It was almost as if they had bought their tomatoes from Italy – they were full of flavour and they were all over the plate so you could scoop up a few extra spoonfuls! Unfortunately our mains were underwhelming. Mum and I chose the Ravioli which was stuffed with four cheeses, spinach and parmesan, with fresh basil on the top. It wasn’t the worst Ravioli I’ve ever had, but it was just a little bland and unexciting. After the bruschetta I think we had such high hopes for the mains and they didn’t eventuate. My cousin chose the Gnocchi with pumpkin, sage, parmesan and amaretti. I was actually going to order the gnocchi but changed my mind at the last minute. My cousin was underwhelmed also. She was a little bored with the dish and said the pumpkin flavours were not strong enough.

With all that said though, ‘The Italian Kitchen’ is a fun and casual place for a meal and great for groups. Would I go back? Probably not. In saying that though I would love to go to more restaurants with such beautiful decor and friendly vibes.

Lis x

Valentine’s Day Dinner

I’ve found that Valentine’s Day divides most people. Some call it a ‘Hallmark Holiday’ and others will take any opportunity they can for a bit of romance. I fall into the latter category. I LOVE Valentine’s Day and with the holiday approaching (this weekend!), I thought I’d come up with a list of restaurants in Sydney you can take your special someone to. Lex and I are trying out a restaurant we’ve never been to before in Surry Hills – here’s hoping the gamble pays off! Yelp have just released their Top 100 places in Australia to eat for 2016 so some of the suggestions below are from that list, although I found I wasn’t overly impressed with the list so I’ve added in some of my own 🙂 Let me know what your plans for the big day are in the comments 🙂

  • Din Tai Fung – Two words: Asian dumplings
  • Mary’s – Craft beer and burgers in a rustic bar with timber decor, a mezzanine and a rock ‘n’ roll vibe – perfect for that couple who only just started dating but feel obliged to celebrate Valentine’s Day
  • The Governors Table – Sleek eatery with cosy banquettes, serving gourmet bar bites and creative Modern Australian mains
  • Via Napoli – Has won an award for best pizza in Sydney!
  • Glasshouse Brasserie – Upscale Modern Australian menu by chef Luke Mangan, served in a grand dining space – a sure way to impress your Valentine!
  • Quay – Innovative Modern Australian menu in a chic room overlooking the Opera House. If location is important then Quay is a must
  • Sud – Southern Italian street food turned out in a cool, industrial-chic diner with a scooter wall mural
  • Rockpool – Fine Modern Australian cuisine with decor that screams elegance
  • The Bridge Room – Set in a cool 1930s building with an open kitchen
  • Aria restaurant – Aussies love chef Matt Moran and his glass-walled establishment will be a winner with your love
  • Tetsuya’s – French-Asian cuisine, interesting!
  • Cafe Sydney – A rooftop restaurant with sweeping views of our beautiful Sydney
  • Est. – Take your Valentine to the closest place to the city of love as possible in Sydney. Est. is an upscale French fusion restaurant by renowned chef Peter Doyle

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Lis x

P.S these restaurants are totally perfect to go on non-dates as well. Celebrate you! 🙂

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Gelato Messina, Sydney

If you ever walk down Crown Street, Surry Hills on a Friday night or Saturday night or any night really you’ll notice an excessively long line reaching down from Gelato Messina. If you can face the wait (it goes relatively quick, trust me), you’ll be rewarded with some of the most delicious gelato in Sydney. The thing I love about waiting in the queue is that everyone seems genuinely happy – gelato makes the soul happy I guess.

The folks at Messina’s have built an impressive reputation which has seen them feature on popular Aussie cooking shows, most notably Masterchef Australia. They’ve also become known for the way they make gelato and the fine line they successful tread between what is considered authentic Italian gelato and what is considered a modern, sophisticated take on that authenticity.

Since opening in Darlinghurst in 2002 we’ve had one clear goal: to set the benchmark for gelato in Australia. To do that, we do not compromise on quality and our product is made fresh on the premises daily, offering a diverse range of over 40 flavours at any one time and a select number of bespoke gelato cakes and single serve pieces.

NSW Locations:

  • Surry Hills
  • Darlinghurst
  • The Star Casino
  • Parramatta
  • Bondi
  • Miranda

What we ordered:

It’s hard to say what we order because it differs every time! (Well for Lex anyway…). I can never go past the Chocolate Chip which is a light cocoa gelato with chocolate chips. I actually find the dark chocolate in the Chocolate Fondant flavour is a little too rich for me, so the Chocolate Chip works perfectly. If I’m feeling more of a sorbet then I go for the Blood Orange or the Raspberry – both delicious choices, but be warned, both incredibly moorish. Lex always chooses something a little more fancy when he gets his gelato fix. He loves their Hazelnut gelato made with fresh roasted hazelnuts from Cortemilia in Italy, and the Coconut and Lychee which is a coconut milk gelato mixed with fresh lychee fruit.

Messina mixes up their flavours weekly, however they do have a wide range of permanent flavours including (but not limited to):

  • Dulce De Leche – an Argentinean caramel made by reducing milk until it becomes a sweet jam.
  • White Choc Hazelnut – white chocolate and hazelnut gelato with hazelnut praline
  • Italian Nougat– honey based gelato with roasted nuts, egg whites and Italian nougat
  • Pear and Rhubarb – fresh pear gelato with poached spiced rhubarb
  • Pistachio – need I say more?

Lis x

P.S Take a look at some of their mouth-watering creations from their gallery

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The Bucket List, Bondi Sydney

After spending New Years Eve in New York City, Lex and I were desperate to catch a bit of the Aussie summer and head down to Bondi Beach on the weekend. It was a perfect Sydney day with temperatures reaching about 28degrees, and Lex and I found a nice spot to relax and swim in North Bondi. I have an obsession/phobia with bluebottles and asked the lifeguard if he had seen any – instead of just easing my nerves and telling me there were none in sight, he actually told me the bluebottles had grown to 20cm and if they stung they would go all up my arm. That was enough for me to not go in the water, but Lex the brave man he is still made sure to go in. While he swam I read the paper on the sand – such a relaxing way to spend my Sunday after a really busy week at work.

Lex and I had been to The Bucket List on the famous Bondi Beach before. It’s a cool, vibrant place with outdoor seating right on the beach! You can get tacos, burgers, seafood and some great cocktails. We were lucky enough to get a spot outside on the benches under a shady umbrella. I say lucky because it was a really busy day in Bondi and so many times you walk past The Bucket List and find it bursting with people. Although there weren’t any today, there are often live bands performing some laid back tunes while you sip cocktails, eat some food and people watch. It really is an amazing place and like Lex and I said today, it’s all about location, location, location.

What we ordered:

The food at The Bucket List is pretty good – it’s by no means a hatted restaurant, but it’s enough to justify the slightly high prices. Lex ordered the Poblano Pork Burger – Slow roast bbq pork, avocado, mayo, cheese, pickled chilli, and coriander, all served on a generous bed of chips. He was actually surprised with how nice the burger was. See the photo below for a sneaky pic I took before it was demolished! I decided to go for a side of the Marinated Australian Olives and the Split Grilled QLD Tiger Prawns. The olives were served in a miniature bucket and had lemon, garlic and herbs mixed through with olive oil. They were delicious. There were actual cloves of garlic and Lex took a bite – although it was raw and too potent to eat, shame 😦 The Tiger Prawns were cooked with chilli, paprika, garlic and herbs, they were really moorish and quite tasty. There were four on the plate, so if you’re hungry maybe order a more substantial side. See the photo below for a peek at them!

Of course my new drink of choice (vodka + cranberry) makes a feature in the photos below too! It was $9.50 so it better have been good! The Bucket List does have some quirky and fun cocktails, some of which include ‘Jam out with Jimmy Hendrix’ and ‘Chase the endless summer’.

Lis x

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Bavarian Bier Cafe, Sydney

I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with Bavarian Bier Cafe. I love it because I love German food. And I hate it because I come from a German family where my grandma makes delicious German food. There are definitely better German restaurants to visit in Sydney, however this place is quite convenient for us. Lex and I tend to go to Bavarian Bier Cafe on game-day as it is near the home of our favourite football team. I will admit that it also has a great atmosphere and is a good spot for a few drinks.

It seems like the popular German cafe is popping up everywhere, so I’ll include a list of locations:

  • Parramatta
  • Entertainment Quarter
  • Miranda
  • Manly Wharf
  • Bondi Beach
  • Crows Nest
  • Chatswood
  • York Street

What we ordered:

More often than not I’ll order the Goulash. Their version is called Klaus’ Gulaschsuppe and is a spicy beef goulash. It’s actually served as an entree, but with a side of mash potato to mix through it’s definitely enough for a main. It also comes with two pieces of grilled rye so you can scoop and soak up the goulash! It’s nowhere near as good as my grandma’s, but it would be unrealistic to expect homemade cooking in a super-busy restaurant. The Wiener Schnitzel (veal) is my go-to schnitzel of choice, and comes with a genres serving of fries and your choice of sauce (gravy all the way). They also have pork and chicken schnitzel too. If you do go for the schnitzel I’d suggest ordering a side of Sauerkraut – a famous German side of thinly sliced cabbage, delicious!

The great thing about Bavarian Bier Cafe is their new menu of ‘Modern Favourites’ for those who want to sample traditional German flavours without the heaviness of German food. Some of my picks from the menu include ‘Grandma’s Famous Meatballs’ with tomato sauce, parmesan and a piece of rustic  grilled sourdough, and the ‘BBQ Smoked Ribs’ – smoked pork belly, fries and cucumber Kimchi, yum!

Of course no visit to any German restaurant would be complete without a beer or two! And for the women, they even serve ‘ladies beer’. Prost!

Lis x

Check out some of the photos from their gallery below:

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Bungalow 8, Sydney

Bungalow 8 is in an amazing location right on the water in Darling Harbour, Sydney. It’s also a stylish spot to have a few drinks or cocktails of an afternoon and/or night. Admittedly, you don’t go to Bungalow 8 expecting the meal of your life, I get that. At the same time though, you’d hope to go to Bungalow 8 and have a decent meal while people watching and sipping on a Cosmo. I must say that Mum and I were bitterly disappointed when we did just that. But lets talk about the set up first…

Bungalow 8 is a stylish hangout and perfect for late nights. There is a club upstairs which is always ridiculously popular on a Friday and Saturday night. It’s also a great place to come with a group of friends as they have lounges to laze on and a youthful, trendy vibe. They also have an extensive drinks menu with some pretty impressive cocktails.

Mum and I went to Bungalow 8 just after I had come back from NY. We had scouted venues for her work function during the day and were knackered and hungry by the time 3 o’clock rolled around. We found a nice table outside and made our orders at the bar. I also did something out of the ordinary and didn’t ave a glass of water – instead I had one of the best lemon, lime and bitters I’d had in a long time! For food, I ordered the Thai Beef Salad which is served rare with Pickled Shitake, Wombok and Chilli. I should mention it was a stinking hot day in Sydney so I really felt like something cool and refreshing. I’m a big fan of a Thai beef Salad, however the Bungalow 8 salad didn’t do the popular Thai dish any favours. It was bland, the beef was chewy, and as much as I love my chilli it just felt like it was an afterthought and thrown in there last minute (in thick slices too). Mum went with the Spice potato and shallot tart that was served with mushroom, sweet chilli and vege crisps. The crisps were great (I stole a few!), however Mum was underwhelmed with the tart and it was a bit too spiced for her liking. While it seemed like a dish that had potential, it didn’t really equate to much on the plate, and there was a distinct lack of care with the presentation. The tart was reasonable though at $22, however $20 for my Thai beef salad was overpriced especially for what it was.

Would I recommend Bungalow 8? Yes and no. It’s a great spot in Sydney to have a few drinks and relax with friends and family. Just don’t plan to eat there…

Check out the photos below from the Bungalow 8 website. It truly is in a great spot and the decor is trendy and relaxed.

Lis x

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