Little Evie 

Sometimes my reason for taking myself out for a meal is sheer laziness. I want some extravagant concoction but I’m too bone tired to construct it myself. So, what do I do? I do what everyone else in my generation does – outsource it. while I am capable of creating the gourmet (when things go to plan), I’m also capable of extreme lethargy!

Towards the end of last year I achieved an extreme physical feat. I and a team of my friends completed tough mudder. An 18km obstacle course filled with – you guessed it – mud! Although I was proud, by Sunday morning I was also exhausted and incapable of the feat of feeding myself. As a girl has gotta eat, that morning I took myself off to a cafe that I’ve walked passed many times but never ventured in – little Evie.


Located on Bourke street a block back from Cleveland street, Little Evie is an open, minimalist style cafe which has taken up residence in a location previously occupied by a cafe that can only be described as average. The teal, grey and golden timber tones give off a feeling of calm – a total contrast to the lightening fast speed of service. I’ve been here three times now and on each occasion the time between ordering and food arrival has been around 10 minutes. 

And the dishes….. delicious! Tasty and fresh ingredients, well cooked and piled generously on to large plates. On my first visit, I created my own one of a kind meal, using the optional sides to turn poached eggs on toast into a protein feast – adding roast chicken and mushrooms. And the roast chook isn’t the only unusual breakfast side available – they offer lamb too for those who like a meaty start to their morning. 


The next two occasions I ordered the same thing- the breakfast salad with a side of the chicken (#chickenforbreakfastisntwierd). This vege salad is exactly the kind of dish you want on a morning that promises a hot summer day ahead. Cool, refreshing and wholesome. It’s a massive plate but chock full of greens- you know it must be good for you!

I’ve spoken to the owxzner a few times now – he’s generally behind the cash register – in he always cares if I have enjoyed my meal. This place has become a staple in my cafe collection and I can’t wait for it to become a favourite of all my friends too! 

Pablo & Rusty’s, Sydney CBD

I have often worried that as I have gotten older, I have become less social. I have no scheduled dinner parties, no nights out clubbing – in fact very few evening activities at all. As someone who thrives off social activity, it makes me wonder – am I spending too much time alone? Then I realised, no – I’m still a social butterfly, it’s just that the time that I like to socialise has changed. The new prime real estate in my calendar is now the week day breakfast and working in the city as I have for the pass year gives me easy access to some great week day only breakfast spots.

One such place is Pablo & Rusty’s. Located on Castlereagh Street, this place is a little oasis of strong coffee, delicious pastries and friendly service. When the rest of the world appears to still be asleep, this place is buzzing.

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I’ve hit up Pablo’s twice in the last six weeks and both times have been wonderful. Although I was in the door before 7.30am on both occasions, I found myself still having to wait for a table.  It wasn’t terrible though. The staff are on the ball and with the quick breakfast service, within five minutes I was seated and ready to order. While you are at a table, they don’t rush you which is so nice. They seem to have hit that perfect balance between efficiency and courtesy – something that is really hard to do.

And the food is beautiful, pretty as a picture – and I did take a picture. If you can tear yourself away from the drool worth display case of muffins, tarts, croissants and danishes, the menu items are so worth it. From toast piled high with eggs, greens, mushrooms and other goodies to creamy porridge and muesli chock full of nuts and fruit, there is not a disappointing item on the menu.  You won’t experience FOMO no matter what you order – something I often suffer from.

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If you’re in a rush, or feeling greedy, most items are available take away. That way you can have your eggs, and your cake… and eat it too. I’ve never been for lunch but I’ve heard it’s pretty spectacular. If the breakfasts are anything to go by, I can well believe it.

After several happy catch ups here, my friend and I have decided the Pablo’s is now our special place and there is nothing better than basking in the glow of an awesome friendship while filling your tummy with awesome food.

The Wolf Wine Bar, Sydney

As I’m sure I have mentioned before, I love a bargain. I have registered to all the local deal sites and I happen to own a copy of the Entertainment Book. Some people might assume that the restaurants, cafes and experiences featured in these sorts of things must be terrible– why otherwise would they have to promote themselves like this? I’m here to tell you that this is not so! Some of them are gems.

I went to one such gem for an early morning, pre-work breakky in the city with a friend who was up from Melbourne. Given that she comes from the land of awesome cafes, I wanted something special and The Wolf Wine Bar on Hunter Street fit the bill. She also happens to love a discount so was instantly sold on sighting my entertainment book voucher.

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It was a lovely experience! On a freezing cold morning, everything was warm – from the cafe atmosphere to the welcome we received. It was enough to thaw my fingers and toes, body parts I haven’t been able to feel since the middle of June.

To top it all off, when I asked for a giant long black, I got a giant long black – served by a lovely lady who sympathised with the state of my extremities and exclaimed that she was also ‘not a penguin’.

This place has everything I love – a feeling of cosiness and warmth, sweet and friendly staff and an extensive menu. It even features an avocado section where you can have your avo on toast in five different ways on a choice of six different types of bread.

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My friend, a smashed avo lover, immediately picked one of the avocado options – goats cheese, harrisa and avocado on Turkish toast which she proclaimed to be spicy and lovely.

My sister, who was suffering from a head cold, went for the quinoa porridge with coconut milk, banana and dates. She found it to be tasty, warming and comforting.

Since I have been craving corn fritters of late, I jumped at the chance to order them and my wait was worth it. They were crispy, sweet, chock full of corn kernels, and super tasty – even without the bacon that they were meant to come with (I wasn’t in the mood).  The side of roast tomatoes were also awesome – smoky and delicious.

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I always love breakfast but on a chilly, work filled Wednesday, it was the highlight of my day! I can’t wait to give The Wolf a go at lunchtime or dinner – and snag another awesome deal!

 

 

 

Foodcraft Espresso & Bakery

Like everyone I suppose I go through phases where I try and follow a specific type of diet. This makes eating out hard. I therefore find great joy when I discover a place serving a variety of dishes with a least one that fits my needs. Most recently, that place has been Foodcraft Espresso and Bakery in Erskineville.

Although much has been written about their tella balls – they have achieved widespread fame for these, not much has been said about their regular breakfast and lunch dishes which I personally feel are even more noteworthy.
When the tella balls first became famous, photos surfaced online of queues wrapping around the block. Though I think this craziness has now passed, these images have scarred me and I have since been convinced that the only way to get into try this place was to go midweek or super early.

That’s why one Sunday, when my sister and I were up at 6.30am and both shaking our heads at our stupid body clocks for getting us out of our nice warm beds ridiculously early, I suggested we hit up foodcraft for breakky. See everything has a silver lining!
The place was practically deserted and after snagging a prime parking spot, we settled ourselves at a lovely window-side table and took a gander at the menu.


As I was on a health kick, I was immediately drawn to the egg white scramble with poached chicken, mushroom, avocado, spinach and toast ($21). To my surprise, my sister who never orders muesli out (it’s her weekday staple) went for the granola with berry compote and coconut yoghurt ($12).
Sometimes when you choose the healthy option you feel like you’re missing out. Not in this case. All I can say is yum yum yum YUM!!!! This had to be one of the best breakfasts we’ve both had in ages. We were talking about if for days and we’ve been discussing going back ever since.


What made it so great? The scramble was light and fluffy and the juices from the mushrooms and chicken soaked into the bread making it the tastiest thing ever. The granola was well balanced in flavour, not too sweet and my sister was super impressed that it came with a small jug of milk and not just the yoghurt – she’s a big believer of milky muesli and hates it when she is forced into a yoghurt “mush” situation. Plus the staff were both efficient and friendly. It was all round an awesome experience.


Though neither of us are keen for another super early wake up, especially in the dead of winter, we can’t wait to return. Maybe next time we’ll do lunch. I hear a 12 hour, slow cooked lamb sandwich calling my name…

UE Noodle Restaurant, Cabramatta 

I love adventuring around Sydney for good food. A few friends and I wanted to check out the fabric shops in Cabramatta to help inspire some ongoing craft projects so we decided to kill two birds with one stone and grab a delicious Vietnamese lunch too. 

Based off the recommendation of a friend, we ended up at UE Noodle Restaurant. Just off of John street, it’s known for its tasty duck noodle soup….and tasty it was! 


With a menu consisting of only five items – pork mince noodle soup, pork slice noodle soup, duck leg noodle soup, chicken breast noodle soup and beef brisket noodle soup…. You are pretty much guaranteed to be eating noodle soup but with all your protein bases covered, you really can’t go wrong. Plus if you knew the place, you seemed to be able to request different types of noodles and free extra broth. 


The cherry on the cake – or in this case the fried shallot on my soup – was that upon ordering, we were served unlimited pots of green tea to drink and two plates fresh greens and bean sprouts to sprinkle liberally into our soups of choice. Boy do I love it when a meal comes with free stuff.

 
And what did we choose? I hear you ask. Well, given its reputation, it was a no brainer to order the duck leg soup. Light and fragrant, the duck was succulent and the hand made noodles full of flavor and a very pleasing texture. We also got a serve of the brisket for comparison and it was just as fabulous if different. The beef broth was more full bodied and packed a curried punch while the beef itself was melt in your mouth with a great meat to fat ratio. Served with the same hand made noodles it was super comforting as well as filling


And talk about value for money! With both dishes costing $15 or less, our stomaches were pleasantly full but our wallets were still full too – always a happy feeling. 

Yes it was a 45 minute drive but it was totally worth it! For an awesome meal and a fun day out, I’d go back to Cabramatta! 

House of Crabs, Redfern

I don’t like to eat messy food in public. It is very hard to maintain your dignity and your charm when you are elbow deep in sauce and have organic matter hanging from your teeth. There is also the small matter for needing an industrial strength bath straight after. No matter how much I’d like to think that I’m a lady, there is no escaping the fact that I am a messy eater.

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Seafood Toastie for starters

As with everything in life, there are exceptions to this rule. House of Crabs was my exception.

Taking over the first floor of the Norfolk Hotel, I have wanted to visit this mystical place ever since I’d heard that it opened. Not a den of sexually transmitted disease as its name may suggest, House of Crabs is actually a purveyor of some of the best quality shellfish in Sydney (and very recently, Melbourne too). My main delay in booking a table was that none of my friends will eat crustaceans, either for religious reasons or from personal preference so finding a partner in crime was difficult. The perfect opportunity arose when it came to celebrating a family member’s birthday and a seafood restaurant was required.

We booked in for a Tuesday night at 7pm and though I had worried about the noise level (having heard that it could get rowdy) the place was deserted. This actually suited us just fine as certain family members hate noise and the Caribbean style decor and retro American punk rock music provided enough of an atmosphere. I particularly loved the Forrest Gump quotes.

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The disappointing fish dish

Despite this being a special occasion, I know myself so I dressed for the venue rather than the event. I wore my gym clothes. I sweat in these things so I thought what harm would a little tomato sauce and prawn juice do to them? For those of you who have never heard of House of Crabs, I’m sure you’re thinking to yourself “is this girl a wild animal? Why can’t she keep her food on her plate?” Well let me explain, there is no plate.

Although there are other dishes on the menu like pork ribs and buttermilk fried chicken, the main event is the seafood – a choice of six different types from mussels to prawns to king crab, sold in 500g quantities and served in a plastic bag after being boiled with your choice of sauce. The idea is that you empty your bag of protein goodness out onto the plastic table cloth, don a pair of gloves and the apron suppled and hoe on in.

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The bag of deliciousness

And hoe we did and let me tell you, it was delicious!!! My choice was the QLD prawns in the Spicy Malay sauce and it was just glorious. I ripped off their heads, sucked out the delicious meat, pulled off their little armour, devoured their succulent bodies and then finished off by licking the remains to get that rich tomato and oniony sauce. Are you disgusted? I’m sorry but it was so so worth it.

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Crab in a bag

One of my other family members also picked the prawns and was equally satisfied. The birthday boy got the snow crab in garlic butter and enjoyed himself immensely! He couldn’t stop exclaiming how large the legs were and how much meat was inside them. The only person who was disappointed got one of the main dishes – a crumbed and fried fish dish that turned out to be a rather flat and dry schnitzel style of dish. It was a strategic error made in the attempt to keep clean and one which was bitterly regretted.

By the end of the night I was covered! We didn’t linger at the end of the meal. After quick exclamations of ‘Happy Birthday’ we made for our car and spirited on home in search of a shower and a tooth pick. A great night worth getting messy for!

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The state of the table

Bill’s, Bondi Beach

Sometimes we Aussies do it best. When it comes to brunch, this is definitely the case. 
Last Sunday my friends and I were down at Bondi Beach, an iconic Aussie location and we landed ourselves a table at one of the most iconic modern Australian cafes of all time – Bill’s.  

The brainchild of Australian chef Bill Granger, Bill’s is super popular, so much so that there are four of them, all serving delicious, shining, ginormous examples of the classic dishes we’ve come to expect from our cafe brunch. No where else in the world does it like we do it and personally I think they are missing out! 


Bill’s Bondi Beach is the newest cafe in the group and despite probably being the largest, it’s wise to get there prior to 9.30am on a weekend if you’d like to avoid the queues. It’s a light and airy open space filled with blond timber tables in several shapes and sizes including some intimate booths – one of which we were lucky to get. 

This visit had been a long time coming. I’d been to the one in Darlinghurst many years before and had been dreaming about their ricotta hotcakes ever since. It was safe to say that I was seriously excited. My expectations were high. Despite this I was still blown away! Though the menu hasn’t significantly changed, it doesn’t need to.


Like a Jackie Chan action comedy, what they do, they do so well that they are famous for it and with relatively simple dishes and classic ingredients, all the focus is on freshness and flavour – which are delivered in spades.

Now I don’t normally talk about a place’s toilets but I felt they were worth noting given that their large sliding doors were a conundrum to my pre-caffeinated brain and it took me about 5 minutes and a questioning of staff to figure out how to open the door to use one. But maybe that wasn’t their fault… Maybe that’s was just me…


Now I know I said I wanted the hotcakes but a girl is allowed to change her mind and when I saw corn fritters I just could resist. 

One of my friends got the hotcakes with banana and she was nice enough to share. The other got the scrambled eggs and they were creamy perfection. 

A classic is a classic for a reason and I hope to never live in a place that doesn’t not have easy access to a Bill’s. 

Doraji, Waterloo

Does there exist in this world, any marriage of food and drink better than greasy, crunchy fried chicken and cold, bubbly beer? Not in my dad’s book! That’s why one Sunday night, despite having plans to go for a quick Vietnamese dinner at our local, we found ourselves at Doraji, Waterloo.

Located in Crown Plaza, just off of (Harry!) Potter Street, Doraji is a Korean restaurant with an unassuming facade that hides a whole lot of chicken crazy inside. I knew we had entered somewhere special as soon as my gaze alighted on the giant mural featuring dancing beer mugs and a drumstick wielding little boy. He looked very happy. I hoped we would soon be too.

IMG_4787Not a large place, the seating has been set up a little differently. You can choose from one of two share tables, some open booth seating or one of three private enclosures along the left hand wall which have been separated from the main area by thin timber barriers and feature a call button to get staff’s attention. As all other tables were occupied, we chose one of the private areas and found the whole experience to be pleasant and unique. We had a private family dinner while still experiencing the buzz and atmosphere of public dining.

IMG_4791The staff were quite attentive. Within moments of sitting down we were presented with giant menus and the tap water we requested arrived just a short time after, although there was some confusion as to whether the glasses it came with were for the water or beer. Beer could be ordered by the glass or by the 1L jug so while my mum, dad and sister shared, I went for a hot green rice tea.

Surprisingly, the choice of food was not just limited to chicken. Although it was there … in all its forms … there was a plethora of other options too from hotpots to rice dishes and sizzling plates. When it came down to it, my dad realised with a substantial amount of beer and complimentary ‘tapas’ already inside him, there was no way he was going to finish an entire fried chicken – whole chickens being the main portion size available. Instead, we chose three other dishes to share which though all very different, were each tasty in their own right.

IMG_4790The sliced smoked duck breast with shallot salad and mustard sauce ($25) was probably the most unique of the three. Served cold, it was cooked medium and the thin slices allowed you to really taste and appreciate the subtle flavours. I must admit though I wasn’t a fan of the fat/skin that rimmed each piece and tended to pull that off.

The Spicy chicken with potato and glass noodles in hotpot ($35) was our one ode to poultry and it was massive! It was served in the size of pot I imagine manna would have been presented to the Israelites in while they were fleeing Egypt – never ending. Though containing bones, the chicken was juicy, the broth flavoursome and the dish had a homely feel owing to the fact that it was chock full of hearty veges like potato and carrot. It was perfect for an autumn night and very very tasty.

IMG_4789Our final dish was the Grilled eel in teriyaki sauce on sizzling plate ($18) and was probably my favourite. A sucker for teriyaki, this dish was very attractive with a gorgeous golden sheen. The sweetness of the succulent eel pieces were perfectly offset by the crunch of the bed of onions on which they rested. I probably could have polished off this one on my own if I hadn’t eaten so much already.  We made sure to order a couple of serves of steamed rice to take full advantage of all the yummy juices and sauces.

I have a feeling we’ll be back. Winter is coming and what better way to build a protective layer of internal insulation (sounds better than fat right?) that through some golden, crispy, chicken.

Yaks Barbecue Festival, Sydney CBD

I know it’s not pc to say but I think g-d intended for us to eat everything. Grain to grass, sea creatures and land creatures, roots, stalks, nuts and fruit. Now I love my vegetables – right now I’m having a super intense relationship with capsicum (it’s the crunch!), but I also love my meat which is why the moment I heard there was a bbq festival in Sydney I jumped online to book a ticket. 
 

An example of the monster

 
I think there is something magical about American barbecue. You put raw, beautiful cuts of meat in to a monster of a machine, add some coals for heat, wood chips for a smokey flavour and lashings of bourbon/ chilli/ maple syrup concocted marinade and 6-18 hours later, out pops the most unctuous, delicious, fall off the bone, juicy meat you’ve ever wrapped your tongue around. There is some serious technique to this process, but the key is to go low and slow and from dirty dancing to squats – that’s my favourite way to do things! 😜

 

Hoy Pinoy’s chicken & pork skewers

 
American diner food and more recently barbecue is one of the biggest food trends to hit our shores in the last year and the Yak Ale Barbecue Festival was heralded as a celebrate of all things meat. 

Held for the first time in Sydney at the Domain, the event was centered around local Aussie teams competing for a place at the Texas barbecue competition – a place where barbecuing is a serious sport. In all honestly, this was the most boring part of the day. Given the nature of the cooking, there was actually nothing to see for at least the first three hours besides smoke coming out of medieval looking cooking contraptions and some of the teams were not interested in having a chat. 

 

Porteno’s meaty wares

 
Scheduled from 10am to 10pm, we rocked up pretty much as gates opened and boy was everything slow to start. Several vender stalls were still setting up, there was no entertainment despite being listed on the schedule and all the food available for purchase was still being cooked – this last though not such a problem as we weren’t quite ready to sweat just yet. 

 

I ain’t no chicken!

 
We begun the day with a ride on the Yak’s mechanical bull (90 seconds my personal best) then made our way clockwise around the venue parameter, checking out the vendors and there were definitely barbecues galore – as in the brand as well as the variety. 

 

Big tub of potato salad- not big enough apparently!!

 
By about 11.20am we’d seen all there was to see and tasted all the spice rubs and sauces there were to taste -we even bought a bag of wood chips to do some home smoking. We saw the queues forming and decided hunger or no hunger, It was time to line up for food. All I can say is it was a ‘good thinking 99’ moment. 

 

My prize for waiting 20 minutes

 
We were super strategic. One of us lined up at Melbourne’s Blue Bonnet in order to get a serving of lamb ribs and beef brisket, another at Hoy Pinoy to get a couple of chicken skewers and the third went to snag seats. I was delegated the chicken skewer mission and while there was a 15 minute wait, I got lucky – Surly’s were passing around a limited number of free pork ribs right next to where I was standing and I got to nab one of those too. 

 

Winner winner lamb & brisket dinner!

 
The verdict? The skewers ($12 for two) were sweet and tasty bites of juicy white meat, the pork rib (free) was soft and well seasoned. The brisket ($10 per 100g) oozed with rich fat and just melted in your mouth but the hands down winner was the lamb ($10 per 100g). I’ve never tasted meat like this in my life!! The perfect balance between sweet and savory, soft center with a crunchy outer, fatty and zingy – it was well worth the 8 hour cooking time and 30 minute queuing time.  

Despite being a poorly run event (they ran out of food at 1pm!!), there is no question the festival has inspired me to check out some of our local American diners in Sydney and try my hand at a little barbecuing of my own. 

I can’t wait till once again I can get my meat on y’all’. Yeeha, Ridin cowboy!!

Yeeeehaaaa

Eucumbene Trout Farm, ACT

You know the saying ‘like shooting fish in a barrel’? That phrase does not apply to me and the sport of fishing. For me to catch a fish, it literally has to be swimming in a barrel. 

My family are not fisher persons. That doesn’t stop us booking a fishing trip every time we are somewhere known for their sea chicken – The Bay of Islands in New Zealand, the Northern Territory, even Kalbarri in WA. We always come home, tired, salty and carrying someone else’s hard caught fish. 

  
The problem is, we are a seafood loving family so we keep on trying inspite of our failures. This time, on a weekend away to Canberra, we decided to visit the Eucumbene Trout Farm and we were finally onto a winner. There is a $5 entry charge and a two fish per person maximum but with three 3 by 4 meter fish ponds and their specially designed sparkly fish bait, you are guaranteed to catch. Winner winner chicken fish dinner! 

  
It’s a bit of a drive – 2 hours south of Canberra – but they supply you with everything that you need to catch the perfect meal. They even kill, clean, season and wrap your fish in foil, all ready to be cooked on their super hot bbqs and eaten at their outdoor picnic tables – Accompanied by a large order of green salad and crunchy chips. 

The grounds are also absolutely magnificent and you can go and wander around the large lake that houses the larger trout for people looking for a more challenging and competitive experience (we weren’t). 

  
Once you added the costs of the entry fee, the fish (charged by weight) and the sides, it all came to around $40 – a price I found very reasonable for one of the freshest, most delicious meals I’ve had in forever!

I’m so happy my luck has changed – it might be time to try the open ocean once again ….. Then again … It might not.