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!

 

 

 

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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…

A birthday breakky 

It was my big sissy’s birthday recently and I love my big sister. She looks out for me, problem solves away my seemingly insurmountable life challenges and tells people no for me when I unwittingly say yes. 

  
To me, nothing says ‘I love you’ better than food and the best food is that which has been made specially for you. With that in mind, say hello to her big birthday Breakky – toasted bagel with avocado, eggs over easy, mushrooms and spinach all topped off with some fresh parsley and accompanied by a large hot chocolate (which I bought because I can’t make one to save myself). Not bad for a Wednesday morning pre work fry up. I won’t tell you what time it was when I started but trust me, only real live could have motivated me to get started at that time.  

  

Devon cafes, Surry Hills and Waterloo

One of my best friends has spent the last year travelling the world with her boyfriend. As much as I was excited for her to go, I was also sad because I knew I’d miss her so badly. When she returned for a brief visit before jetting off again, I found out that despite enjoying her epic adventure, there were things she was missing, ME of course, and …. Brunch!!

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It’s for that reason that when we got our chance to catch up, I chose the most epic, imaginative and truly unique place I could think of – Devon cafe.

Named after the street on which it’s found – Devonshire street, Devon cafe is one very popular place. It’s the only cafe I’ve even been to that on enquiring how long a wait for a table was, I was told not to bother by the wait staff. But for those who like to eat adventurously, the place lives up to the hype.

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Serving food which is a fusion of Australian and Asian, typical brunch options include soft shell crab and Nashi pear salad, green eggs and ham, sakuma’s eggs and Cronuts in many different magical flavours.

My beautiful friend – who is both gluten and dairy intolerant- went for a slightly more traditional meal (as far as these things go at Devon) and picked the smoked eggplant on toast (gluten free bread) with mushroom purée, hazelnuts, crunchy chickpeas and parsley. I’ll admit, It looked a little small to me but she took a long time eating it and, once she was done, she was a very happy Chappy. Her boyfriend – who is also gluten intolerant (a match made in digestive heaven) was so excited by the range of gluten-less breads available that he went no further than the toast with three sides – jam, butter and Vegemite ($7.50). I guess for him bread is an adventure.

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I on the other went a little bit ‘wild’and had the eggs blini ($20)- two 63 degree eggs on a thin bed of pancake deliciousness, topped with thick slices of smoked salmon, asparagus and caviar, smothered in a creamy hollandaise sauce. Despite all the elements it was actually quite light – I didn’t feel stuffed and they all balanced each other out perfectly. It was a great meal with great friends and I couldn’t wait to repeat it.

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I got the chance a few weeks later when I went to visit the sister cafe, Devon on Danks with another friend for a Saturday morning catchup. This time I opted for the naked bruschetta – another light looking meal that was anything but. Three pieces of toasted brioche with roasted pumpkin, egg and Asian mushrooms – all sitting in a swirl of pea and goats curd mash ($14.50). Brought in as part of the summer menu it’s like sunshine on a plate. My friend was feeling a little Sam I Am and had the dr Seuss’s green eggs and ham ($20). She just loved every bite.

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Because I couldn’t go past those yummy Cronuts a second time we decided to order one of those and the daily Muffin (choc banana) to share. The muffin was good- the cronut was out of this world!! We got the raspberry one ($6.50), not usually my favourite flavour being a chocoholic but man, it was life changing. We literally sat there saying oh my g-d for five minutes while we ate this thing. Epic!!!

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All in all this has to be one of my favourite places to eat in Sydney. It’s quirky, it’s delicious and with he menu constantly changing, there is no risk of getting bored. If you’re up for the adventure, dive on in…. I dare you!

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Raffi’s Cafe, Chatswood

On a beautiful, sunny, autumn Saturday morning, I was in the mood for a girly catch up and a great brekky. I found both at Raffi’s. Down the quiet end of Victoria street in Chatswood and serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, Raffi’s seems to be an undiscovered gem in the Lower North Shore food scene. With great and unique food options and awesome interior style; located anywhere else, the place would be packed.

I have to say though, it’s not cheap with some of the larger dishes coming in at over $20. Maybe that explains it. The menu is fabulous though. A culinary exploration through the Middle East from the owner’s family perspective, and a lot of the dishes reflect that home cooking, traditional flair that comes from recipes having been in a family for many years, modified so many times that their original form has been forgotten.

The decor also transports you to another place and time. Wrought iron chairs are covered with plush cushions, and their exposed brick walls contain candle nooks from which plumes of smoke stain the walls. Arabian night style light fixtures hang from the ceiling; and an array of glass and copper vessels in all different shapes, colours and sizes hold a riot of plant life. The overall effect is eclectic; it’s a cross between Middle Eastern and Mediterranean – your grandmother’s kitchen and a funky art studio. Basically it’s just a lot of fun.

The staff were lovely. Our waitress was friendly and bubbly, and gave us plenty of time to decide what we wanted. After debating between freshly squeezed juices in giant jars and interesting sounding dishes containing ingredients like homemade labne or figs, we settled on something halfway between the traditional and the unusual.

vegetarian breakfast

We chose the vegetarian breakfast ($21), poached eggs served on a feta and spinach fritter, and the corn fritters with bacon and eggs ($19.50). To drink we had a skim cappuccino ($3.50) and a mint tea ($4.50).

corn fritters with eggs and bacon

The vegetarian breakfast was a great choice. Accompanied by roasted tomatoes, mushrooms, eggplant and a hint of babaganush, it was a filling and substantial dish. Although one of my poached eggs had a solid egg yolk (over cooked for me), the other was perfectly runny, and the spinach and feta fritter was particularly tasty. I just loved how different it was to my standard breakfast fare.

My friend liked her corn fritters too. The completely barren state of our plates at the end of our meal, a testament to the quality of the food.

In terms of the drinks, the cappuccino was great. The mint tea on the other hand was nice, but a standard bag tea was a bit disappointing. Given the ethnic flair of the food, I was expecting fresh mint leaves (which they had in stock) or at least loose leaf.

 

All in all it was a great meal. There was a bit of a hitch at the end when we found out that the EFTPOS machine wasn’t working, requiring a trip to an ATM, but the staff were very apologetic about it. Would love to go back for lunch or dinner. Nothing like a delicious feast to pep up the spirits!

Rating: 8/10

Where: 104 Victoria Avenue Chatswood NSW
Why: A real culinary adventure
Cost: $11-$23
When: Brunch – weekends

Good for kids: Ok – not for outdoor seating as this establishment is on a main road.
Take away: Yes