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Everything posted by oesophagus

  1. Barbecue King has been king in name only for many, many years. In Chinatown Emperor's Garden Barbecue and Noodles (the one on Thomas Street next door to a butchery) has been the favourite for char siu and roast pork for at least a decade.
  2. I'm biased, but I thought it was really good, especially for a bigger event. The wagyu sirloin pie with bits of seared wagyu steak, pumpkin puree and 'slaw from the Circa stand rocked, as did the vine leaf-wrapped quail leg from Three, One, Two (as seen at Cumulus Inc., too), the souvlaki with chips from The Press Club, the Muslim-style chicken curry with cucumber and the tapioca pudding from Longrain (not to mention the Thai-spiced Bloody Marys), the slow-poached egg in bacon broth with puffed rice from Interlude ... there was lots of great stuff there. The wagyu burger from The Bot was totally caning it. I was especially pleased to see all the chefs themselves turning up not just to strut their stuff at the chef's table and Gourmet Traveller demo kitchen, but actually manning their stands, doing the hard-yards cooking and talking to all the punters. Nice to see how much trouble they'd taken over their stands, too - Three, One, Two, Longrain, and the Stokehouse got my vote, though Jacques Reymond's stand was very classy too, and the Press Club guys went all out with musicians - the works. Looking forward to the Sydney event. Hopefully we'll be seeing a bit of an exchange program with some of the Melbourne chefs coming up and vice-versa.
  3. Quay was named the number one restaurant in Australia in the new Gourmet Traveller awards. Bistro Guillaume took out best new restaurant, The Royal Mail got regional restaurant of the year, and the guys at Bogega got best new talent. The rest are in the September issue of the mag and online here: http://www.gourmettraveller.com.au/austral...uide_awards.htm
  4. Gourmet Traveller magazine has announced the nominations for this year's national restaurant awards: New Restaurant of the Year Giuseppe, Arnaldo and Sons, Melbourne, Vic Sassi at Balé, Port Douglas, Qld Bistro Guillaume, Melbourne, Vic Universal, Darlinghurst, NSW Berowra Waters Inn, Berowra, NSW Sommelier of the Year Lok Thornton, The Royal Mail Hotel, Dunkeld, Vic Emma Sputore, Must Winebar, Highgate, WA Lara Caraturo, Pilu at Freshwater, Harbord, NSW James Erskine, Auge, Adelaide, SA Nicole Reimers, Rockpool, Sydney, NSW Regional Restaurant of the Year Pacific Dining Room, Byron Bay, NSW Appellation, Barossa Valley, SA The Royal Mail Hotel, Dunkeld, Vic The Tea Rooms of Yarck, Yarck, Vic Sassi at Balé, Port Douglas, Qld Maitre d' of the Year Peter Marchant, Restaurant II, Brisbane, Qld Terry Soukoulis, Auge, Adelaide, SA Enrico Carnevali, Zafferano, Crawley, WA Liz Carey and Paul Guiney, Universal, Darlinghurst, NSW Simon Denton, Verge, Melbourne, Vic Best New Talent Adam Liston, The Melting Pot, Hyde Park, SA Dan Hunter, The Royal Mail Hotel, Dunkeld, Vic Ben Milgate and Elvis Abrahanowicz, Bodega, Surry Hills, NSW Hadleigh Troy, Restaurant Amusé, Perth, WA Pierre Roelofs, Interlude, Vic Bar of the Year The Lark, Paddington, Qld 1907, Perth, WA The Bayswater Brasserie, Kings Cross, NSW The Bowery, Fortitude Valley, Qld Gerald’s Bar, Carlton North, Vic Wine List of the Year The Royal Mail Hotel, Vic Balthazar, Perth, WA Pilu at Freshwater, Sydney, NSW Appellation, SA Belle Epoque, Brisbane, QLD The details are here: http://www.gourmettraveller.com.au/gourmet...rd_nominees.htm What do you reckon?
  5. Your best bet for a combination of recipes and up-to-date national restaurant reviews is probably Gourmet Traveller: http://gourmettraveller.com.au/
  6. AC Butchery in Leichhardt have it, and you should be able to order it from Vic's Meats and Pino's in Kogarah. The best I've seen lately is from Tony Sgro at Quattro Stelle - he's on the web and his salumi and sausages are generally of a very high standard.
  7. Gourmet Traveller has an excerpt from Turquoise and a round-up of the year's best books in their new Christmas issue. They've also just re-launched their website, and it has quite a lot of recipe content: http://www.gourmettraveller.com.au
  8. The bar has been raised: the NSW government has announced its intention to reform the Liquor Licensing Act to make it easier to open small bars and for restaurants to serve alcohol without food. See The Sydney Morning Herald http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/cautio...4329224837.html and The Daily Telegraph for details: http://www.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/stor...5001021,00.html And watch www.raisethebar.org.au for further details.
  9. I ate at The Bulldog for the first time at the end of April, and I can confirm that it lived up to the sky-high expectations that must plague such a restaurant. The things that impressed me particularly, beyond many of the dishes already described (the spherical olives, beetroot meringue, yuzu sponge cake, haricot bean puree in Iberico, the raisins of PX accompanying, in our case, the anchovy with cardamom brioche, the wool and the butterfly were standouts among an almost flawless meal) were those moments when the kitchen pulled back from the technique a bit. The snail's eggs ("snails 'a la llauna'") and the asparagus in different cooking times were among those moments (I loved the tiny balls of frozen yolk with the asparagus) but "The Sea" was my favourite. It was really just eight or nine types of seaweed, presented very simply around a little waft of what I like to think was sea foam. No liquid nitro, not calcium chloride (as far as I know), just a brilliant idea resulting in an inspired, startling, thoroughly absorbing dish. Has anyone else had it since or can anyone shed more light on its composition? I think I can identify maybe three of the weeds/sea vegetables on the plate, tops.
  10. And where else do we eat while we're in Girona?
  11. Thanks for those recommendations - they're great, and I didn't realise elBulli opened Sundays. I've been sifting through the boards and various friends' recommendations, and I'm thinking this is my hit-list, weighted for a balance between local flavour and more out-there stuff: - Cal Pep (the tapas icon) - Mondo (the seafood kings) - Bar Mut (upmarket tapas) - Comerc 24 (and Tapac 24, Abellan's new place - breakfast?) - Bar Pinotxo (old-school Boqueria favourite; again, breakfast?) - Inopia (Albert Adria's tapas joint) - Alkimia (kooky, complex, Michelin-starred) - Cinc Sentits (Canadian Catalan) - Quim (another Boqueria favourite) - Ca L'Isidre (contemporary Catalan) - Abac (cool room, avante-garde food) - Lasarte (Martín Berasategui's BCN restaurant) and - Cacao Sampaka (for chocolates) - Jamonisimo (for jamon Iberico)
  12. I'm in Barcelona for a week at the end of April, trying to make the most of my time and kick the no Bulli-reservation blues. I've gleaned some great suggestions from the board here and elsewhere, but I still don't know where I'm going to eat on the Sunday of my stay, as it appears that everywhere will be closed. Does anyone have any bright ideas?
  13. Just what are these world-class restaurants in Sydney that are escaping the attention of the various guides?
  14. I saw the Fast Food Nation movie at a preview screening a couple of weeks ago, and I have to say that as a fan of the book and Mr Schlosser's writing in general, I was very disappointed. The tone is all wrong. The rationality, the freshness and the (relatively) unbiased voice, the things that made the argument in the book so strong are largely missing from the film. There are a couple of okay performances in there (Bruce Willis in a particularly good cameo), but they're generally playing clangingly to type. Ethan Hawke as a slacker with a heart of gold? Greg Kinnear as Mr Middle America? Hold the front page! (And Avril Lavigne? Let's not go there.) It doesn't work as a piece of entertainment (think after-school special with snacks) and it doesn't work as "factional" documentary. The preachiness and the thudding, predictable manner in which the director pushes his message reminded me of Michael Moore at his hamfisted worst, doing more harm than good in the eyes of an audience that likes a well reasoned argument, though, like some of Moore's films, it might be the sledgehammer-to-crack-a-walnut approach needed to get through to some of the dumber, more burger addled-masses.
  15. (And yes, the one in the Hunter Arcade - Malaysia Food House, I think - is definitely on my list. Has anyone tried any of their daily specials? I can't ever bring myself to order anything but the lemak.)
  16. I agree that Sydney does better daytime Chinese than Melbourne (and I think the Flower Drum is pretty overrated, for all that). Speaking of overrated: BBQ King. What's up with that? It hasn't been good for years. If you want good barbecue, check out the little places on Campbell between George and Pitt or, better still, Emperor's Garden Barbecue on Thomas. They've got a pork butchery attached to the restaurant, and they do the best Chinese roast, suckling and barbecue pork in town. Still in Chinatown, I think the vaunted Chinese Noodle Restaurant has been a bit blah lately, but I'm really digging China Noodle King, on George just down towards the city from Railway Square. What it lacks in atmos (ie everything; no plastic grapes hanging from the ceiling here) it makes up for with interesting Northwestern Chinese. The Xi'an noodles are good, as are the dumplings. Red Chilli continues to rock my world, too. It's my favourite Sichuan in Sydney. Definitely have the "Deep Fired Chicken Dice with Very Hot and Spicy Dried Chilli"; not real hot, but certainly moreish. I'm yet to see better Ma Po tofu in Australia, the beef hotpot is suitably cauldronish, while the vegetable dishes are mostly outstanding. The preserved egg salad with green chilli is pretty as hell, there's a great steamed eggplant dish, and the pumpkin in salted duck egg yolk makes this vegetable worth eating. For once. Still digging late-night pork and preserved egg congee at Golden Century, and still hitting the Marigold, East Ocean and Zilver (nee Silver Spring) for yum cha. Beyond Chinatown is another post (or thread) entirely. What I'd really like to see in Sydney, though, is something like T-Chow or Ying Chow in Adelaide. There's a real paucity of non-Cantonese in this city, and if you're thinking Chiu Chow, forget it.
  17. I think the best nasi lemak (or "nasty" as my peeps like to call it) in the country is almost a thread in itself. I'm a little bit obsessed. I like the one at Kopi Tiam on Harris Street in Ultimo (they're also big on daily specials - fish head curry and the like - even if the regular menu isn't super-strong), and there used to be a good one (heavy on the pickled vegetables) in the hotel on the corner of Campbell and Pitt in Chinatown. My current favourite is in the Asian food hall in the basement next to Woolies Metro in the city (enter off Pitt near the corner of Park); they do a good lemak and also a passable chicken rice. Can't say I think much of Jimmy's original (either location) though I was surprised to find a version (quite good from memory) at that strange Christmas/Cocos Islander halal place near the corner of Castlereagh and Campell, not far from Spice I Am. That said, the best one I've had in Australia still has to on Mindil Beach at the night markets in Darwin, with really good rice and nice crisp ikan bilis, but that just could be the setting and the fact that there's nowhere else to eat in that city clouding my judgement. (The same stall pops up elsewhere, too, doing a sort of Malaysian breakfast burrito/kebab - curry rolled up in roti with sambal, boiled egg, cucumber and ikan bilis - roti canai to go, if you will.)
  18. By and large, I reckon Melbourne does better bars (and many more of them; it's the licensing laws) and Sydney does better drinks (people here seem willing to pay more, and have a thing for the classics). There are exceptions, obviously, but I think it comes down to what you're looking for. Sydney really doesn't do the boho-chic thing well in bars, that's for sure. Great drinks: - Lotus, Sydney - Der Raum, Melbourne - Icebergs Bar, Sydney - Bentley, Sydney - Aperitif, Sydney - Longrain, Sydney - Hugo's Bar Pizza (if you can stand the crowd), Sydney - Gertrude Street Enoteca Great bars: - Melbourne Supper Club - The Croft Institute, Melbourne - Ilk Bar, Melbourne - Meyers Place, Melbourne - St Jerome's, Melbourne - Melt, Sydney - Transit, Melbourne - Misty, Melbourne - Double Happiness, Melbourne - De Nom, Sydney - Bayswater Brasserie, Sydney There's a lot to be said, too, for encouraging your local bartender in the right direction by leaning towards the great old drinks in the Old Fashioned, Negroni and Manhattan vein and never ordering anything with vodka or Coke in it (outside bBloody Marys and Cuba, respectively), avoiding lychees wherever you can and eschewing any bar where they put more than two olives in any given martini. On the dining front, Melbourne is yet to offer really great snacks at most of its better bars - something the better Sydney watering holes (Longrain, Icebergs, Lotus, Bentley, Aperitif) have really nailed. Sydney also has some very good gastropubs - I'm thinking Bistro Moncur, The Four in Hand, The Northbridge Bistro, Three Weeds, Grand National, the Palisade - all of which have excellent wine lists to boot.
  19. Offal may be down, but it's certainly not out, and I think meat's recent renaissance in restaurants (driven, in part, by chefs' and diners' interest in the likes of wagyu beef and Berkshire pork) has put it back on the agenda. That and the fact that, as a rule, it's interesting to eat, fun to cook and pretty inexpensive. Janni Kyritsis, the former MG Garage chef and high priest of Australian offal cooking (he once made a tablecloth of tripe for an Australian Symposium of Gastronomy), came out of retirement a couple of months ago to give a private cooking class solely concerned with offal for a small group of Sydney chefs and enthusiasts. You can read all about it here: http://www.classic.com.au/wizard/Cookingwithfriends.htm (Fergus Henderson received a copy of the recipes from the session with gracious thanks.) And Australian Gourmet Traveller's July French issue contains a really nicely photographed recipe feature on offal which includes recipes for stuffed pig's ears, braised tripe, sweetbreads, tongue and more.
  20. Interesting to note, too, that the full Interlude degustation is dubbed "The Tour". Maybe they could just mention the whistlestops of each course.
  21. Fascinating topic, this. I'm not going to weigh in heavily on the ethics question, though surely something like "Alinea's pickled lark's tongues in Madeira aspic" or "sautee of hen's teeth and pigs' combs inspired by WD-50" serves to create interest on a menu, and is at least no more irritating to the diner than the 12 or so pairs of inverted commas gracing any given French Laundry menu. It certainly can't hurt. I would, though, like to share two observations I've made in leading Melbourne restaurants in the last couple of years. One is the menu at Pearl, which has seen some desserts prefixed with "Stephanie's", presumably to reflect the dishes' origins either with chef Stephanie Alexander or in the time Pearl chef Geoff Lindsay spent working at her eponymous restaurant. The other is the degustation menu at Fenix, which you can see here - http://www.fenix.com.au/rest/rest.html - which offers a detailed description of an amuse gueule which will seem very familiar to anyone who has dined at The Fat Duck. I've had the nitro green tea custard thing at both restaurants, and I have to say that I was very surprised not to see anything by way of a reference to The Fat Duck or Heston Blumenthal on the Fenix menu. (I should mention, too, that I've also been served liquorice-poached salmon in both restaurants, again with no suggestion of the dish's provenance on the Fenix menu. For all the casual diner knows, it may well have been something Fenix's chefs came up with when they were at The Fat Duck.)
  22. Canberra is a constant source of disappointment. The only places really resembling serious restaurants are Artespresso, the Ginger Room and the Ottoman. The food at Artespresso is brilliant, but the chef there hides the light of his culinary brilliance under the bushel of an unlovely and loud restaurant, plain menu descriptions and the world's least appropriate menu typeface. If you can ignore all that, the payoff from the food is consistently high. The Ottoman is a little overhyped and in desperate need of more turnover in its dishes. Skip the mains and ask your waiter to do you a tasting or mezze menu of lots of small dishes. That's where the good stuff lies. I can only hope rumours that they're upping sticks for Sydney are inaccurate - Canberra restaurants have a history of being eaten alive when they migrate. The Ginger Room is a very attractive, grown-up sort of place. The wine list is impressive, as can be the service. Janet Jeffs writes great menu, but the kitchen's execution of same seems to fall short of the mark with saddening frequency. Actually, the Chairman and Yip is also pretty good - interesting mod Chinese, great wine - and easily the best thing in the city itself. Silo is the best cafe and has a cheese room, the Julep Lounge is the only really serious bar that isn't packed with 18 year olds, there's a decent pho to be had at Huong Viet, Rama's does worthy Indian and the takeaway Turkish at Kismet is pretty good.
  23. The best three in Chinatown are Zilver (used to be Silver Spring, recently refurbed, does Peking duck by the pancake and has lots of variety), East Ocean (also kinda glossy; excellent charcuterie, cheong fun, beans with pork, har gau, and they also do night yum cha) and the Marigold (the most reliable - a real stayer, but a bit of a bun fight (sorry) getting a table at times). If you're willing to run further afield, I can recommend Ocean King House in Kogarah (great chilli crab with vermicelli), Shun Tak in Parramatta (again, great chilli crab), Forest Court in Hurstville, Ying's and Sea Treasure in Crows Nest (the latter has the finest seafood dumplings in town) and Chequers and the Kam Fook in Chatswood. I've heard good things about the Kam Fook at Bondi Junction but am yet to try it for myself.
  24. Hey ECR, I can tell you straight off the bat that if you're looking for good markets, you won't find anything of the calibre of, say, the markets in Melbourne or Adelaide, or anything as lively as those in Darwin. Chatswood, as the others have said, is way off and far from central, and the others (much as I detest King Street Wharf - think Melbourne's Docklands) are all much of a muchness. The "tapas" bars on Liverpool Street are all equally dreadful, though the Torres deli and bottle shop sells the kind of bits and pieces you can make a great lunch with. You need to go and check out Fratelli Fresh in Waterloo. It's not in the middle of town, but it's not hella far either and has some of the best produce you're likely to see under one roof in this country. Better still, the cafe upstairs, Sopra, hits the nail on the head if you like good food cooked simply and well. Your restaurant choices are winners, particularly Sean's and Icebergs, though Pier is a bit stuffy (amazing fish) and Claude's is pretty seriously baroque. Both are also overpriced. For bang-for-your-buck, check out Jeremy Strode's new place, Bistrode. It's super stripped-back, but never cold, and does a nice line in St John-esque simple bistro food at the right price. Be sure to book ahead. Make sure, too, you stop in for a cocktail at the back bar of Lotus in Potts Point and be sure to have lunch at Yellow and get some of Lorraine Godsmark's pastries to take home. And don't miss Spice I Am on Wentworth Avenue for the best Thai food in Australia.
  25. I really don't like couching things in terms of one restaurant "versus" another, because when you're talking about art, that sort of thing doesn't really make sense. That said, I've been visiting both restaurants regularly for the past several years, and where Marque is really on fire at the moment, presenting progressive, intelligent and dazzling food and wine (emphasis on Nick Hildebrandt's wine and service), recent visits to Tetsuya's, while smooth as silk and unquestionably pleasurable, just haven't caused anything like the same sort of stimulation or excitement. Tetsuya's is still great, but I think if dining is what you do for fun, Marque really is right up there at the very top in Australia at this moment.
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