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.

IMG_5205

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.

IMG_5204

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.

Advertisements

Eathouse Diner, Redfern

I think it was Shakespeare who said “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”. I wonder if food by any other name would be as tasty? Well for Sunday breakky with my awesome cousins (one of whom used to be a professional chef) I wasn’t going to risk it. I picked Eathouse Diner as the scene of our catch up – it’s purpose is all in the name!

IMG_0777.JPG

Located in East Redfern on Chalmers street, this charming venue with stuffed koalas, mint green walls and fairy lights has been open for lunch and dinner for a while now but has only recently opened its doors for breakfast. It’s so new I don’t even know the locals know about it! Getting a table just after 10am was dead easy – we were one of only two groups sitting but as the time crept towards lunch, the place filled up.

The menu is succinct, very well priced and boy is it tasty!! The random box of rubber, bloodied, severed hands that happened to be just lying around couldn’t even put us off.

IMG_0780.JPG

One cousin when classic and got scrambled eggs on toast with tomato relish and baby rocket ($12). I’m not a big scramble fan but these looked creamy and were apparently delicious. I also have it on good authority that the relish was top notch. Two others at the table ordered the huevos rancheros ($16) – a spicy concoction of beans, onion and tomato, hidden beneath two large fried eggs and topped with guacamole, coriander and sliced jalapeño. This hotty pattoty was warming and filling and the tortilla it was served with made it fun to eat. Not for the spice allergic!

IMG_0779.JPG

I went with the ricotta fritters served in tomato, red pepper salsa, topped with Parmesan ($14). This was quite a surprise. I expected hotcakes – Bill Granger style and ended up with little arancini looking balls of cheesy goodness. I loved that they felt the need to top this dish with more cheese. It was definitely an awesome pick, especially as I’d been considering the Bircher muesli. Golden and crunchy on the outside, smooth an creamy inside, all these needed was a bit of salt.

IMG_0778.JPG

In addition to the food, another highlight, and I really don’t say this often (if ever) are the toilets! The decor is just too awesome! Who doesn’t want to pull their hand towel off a French waiter roll holder?

Add some really nice and friendly staff into the mix and the place is a winner

Xage Vietnamese Restaurant, Surry Hills

There’s nothing better than a girly catch up over a healthy meal, and Xage on Crown street provides the perfect setting. When a girlfriend suggested Xage for a mid-week dinner, I was excited. I’d heard such good things about this Vietnamese restaurant, and I wasn’t disappointed.

Sister restaurants with Madam Nhu, located just down the hill on Campbell street, are both very popular, and bookings are recommended. Packed to the brim and buzzing on a random Tuesday night, we joined our fellow diners for a 7.30pm dinner.

a healthy and delicious feast

If you want privacy and a quiet conversation, this place is not for you. With seating arranged sardine style along long wooden benches and members of the same party situated across from one another; it is as easy to participate in someone else’s conversation as your own.

Don’t bring your grandmother here. She won’t like the stool seating or the mood lighting, but if you’re young and you’re fun, you’ll fit right in.

Unlimited green tea

Beginning with a pot of green tea which is charged per person ($2.50 each), not per pot (yay for endless refills), we mulled over the menu. We decided to order just one main each, but if you’d like to sample more of the menu; ordering several entrees and a couple of items from the rice paper roll section of the menu is the way to go. On this, remember to share these tasty morsels with your friends. Some of the options we saw served to the people around us included the salad of mixed pickles ($6); the Red chicken nem nướng skewers ($8.90), and the Tofu rice paper rolls ($11.50), identifiable from the signature hot green chilli sauce that accompanied it.

Grilled chicken, cashew nut, herbs salad in lemongrass dressing.

We decided on the Grilled chicken, cashew nut, herbs salad in lemongrass dressing ($17.90), and the Black tiger prawn stir fry with okra and lemongrass chilli sauce ($19.50). Other tempting options included the Slow-cooked beef curry bò kho with lotus root ($19.50), Grilled Tasmanian ocean trout chả cá in herbs and spices ($22.90), or the Hội An papaya salad of five-spice duck fillet with basil, peanut and chilli ($20.90). The dishes, although not cheap, are substantial enough to justify the cost.

Black tiger prawn stir fry with okra and lemongrass chilli sauce.

At the end of the night, once we’ve had our fill of great food and conversations, there were plenty of gelato places nearby to indulge in some not so healthy dessert.

Rating: 8/10

Where: 333 Crown Street Surry Hills NSW.
Why: Tasty and healthy food.
Cost: Mains from $13.90 – $22.90
When: 7 days, 6-10pm.

Good for kids: No
Take away: Yes, phone to order.

Hurricaines Express, Darlinghurst

Did someone say steak?

Meat lovers in the inner west rejoice. Hurricanes has opened up one of their signature restaurants in Waterloo, and they’ve brought with them all their well known, meaty goodies.

Junior Beef Ribs: an example of meaty goodness

Located on Bourke street at the MacEvoy Street “T” junction, this Hurricanes Express has been serving sit down and take away meals to the many Meriton apartment locals for around three weeks. Cue the communal drooling.

The delicious menu which prompted drooling

 

Excited, we no longer had to trek to Bondi Beach for great ribs. Right here a group of friends decided to go for an impromptu dinner.

Half a chicken with sides

The space is large and airy with a variety of seating available from high stools to tables, each branded with the signature “H” logo. Without a booking, we nabbed a comfortable booth, and we were very happy.

A friendly and casual dining area

On arrival, there was some confusion over what express meant. There are tables and the full menu is available, so what is different to the norm? Express equals counter ordering and buzzers we discovered. Sauces, cutlery and bottles of water are all self serve, but the food is delivered to the table (so why the buzzer?)

Did someone say steak?

All the meals ordered were great. We filled up on a flavorsome pulled beef burger ($14.90) with a side of corn ($4); half a chicken ($16); a grilled chicken salad ($20.50) which required a larger bowl it was so massive; 200g sirloin steak with sides ($19.90) and two juniors meals – the lamb ribs ($12) and the beef ribs ($12).

Pulled beef burger

We couldn’t believe the portion sizes, and they came with a side each. An answer to Australia’s obesity crisis perhaps? Not that we were complaining. They were delicious!

Junior lamb ribs and side: not for kids alone

In terms of drinks, a full range of soft drinks is on offer, but alcohol is also available which was great. There is nothing like a nice glass of white or red on a Sunday night, but why is it served in a water glass? Licensing? The beer came in glass bottles.

Water or wine?

All in all it was a fun and relaxed night, filled with great food and great friends. I went to bed thinking Mmmm steak…

Grilled chicken salad

Rating: 7/10

Where: Cnr Bourke Street and McEvoy Street, Waterloo NSW.
Why: Meat
Cost: $4- $25
When: Lunch and Dinner, 7 Days

Good for kids: Yes
Take away: Yes

White Carrots, Darlinghurst

Meeting a girlfriend for a late lunch one Saturday on Crown Street, I found the place I had intended to go to closed for good.

White Carrots on Crown

That’s how I found myself one day at White Carrots, a small, whole in the wall industrial style cafe in Darlinghurst. Not such a bad way for things to turn out. I had walked by this nook of a place a few times during work hours, and it is always well frequented. Today though, it was just us.

Minimalistic interior

Apart from the cute name and the cute cookies being sold in little cellophane bags on the counter top; there is nothing really substantial separating this cafe from a hundred others in the area. It’s pretty stick standard. Not to say it’s not good of course. The combined breakfast and lunch menu has plenty of solid options to quench your appetite, from sandwiches and salads (which change daily) to eggs and muesli, all at reasonable prices.

Poached eggs with extra sides

Despite it being lunch, I was in the mood for a second breakfast and ordered two poached eggs on toast ($10) with a side of roasted tomatoes ($3.50) and stir fried mushrooms ($4). The bread was lightly honeyed which was very nice, and the egg yokes were cooked to a deep yellow and the perfect kind of runny. Both sides were quite large, well seasoned and not overly greasy.

long black and latte

I particularly enjoyed my long black ($3.50), and my friend liked her latte ($3) which was tasty but not that strong. I wouldn’t cross the city for it, but if you are in the area, White Carrots is a good option for a no fuss, no frills meal. You get what you pay for and you won’t be disappointed.

Rating: 7/10

Where: 216 Crown Street Darlinghurst NSW
Why: Solid food and decent prices.
Cost: $5-$14
When: Monday to Friday, 7am till 3pm. Saturday 8am till 3pm

Good for kids: no. A lot of stairs.
Take away: Yes

Boon Chocolate Cafe, Darlinghurst

It was such a cold day that I had the most massive craving for something comforting like tea and chocolate. Good thing I organised an after work catch up at Boon – The Chocolate Experience in Darlinghurst.

Just down the road from the Victoria Street dessert Mecca Messina and Strawberry Cream, Boon is the perfect place to treat yourself to something delicious and chocolatey. Owned by a brother and sister team, the range of constantly changing gourmet chocolates are made in house and feature quality ingredients. An additional bonus, they’re kosher and halal certified too.

You can choose a selection to take away with you, or to gift to a very special friend. Alternatively, you can do as we did today and venture to the upper level of the shop, set up as an intimate lounge style cafe, and order something to have in house.

There are four different types of drinking sets. Each comes with a hot beverage as well as your choice of Boon praline, and a chocolate mousse shot. They are the Connoisseur hot chocolate drink set; the Belgian Style hot chocolate drink set; the Coffee set, and the Boon tea set. Soy milk is available for those who need or prefer, and all hot chocolates have a minimum of 65% cocoa. There are a couple of cold drinks listed too.

My friend ordered the Belgian style milk hot chocolate ($8.50), while I went for the pot of peppermint tea ($9); a tame option but a good one. Since they were out of chocolate mousse, we got the choice of two chocolates each. My friend chose the peppermint and ginger, while I picked the peppermint and the coffee chocolates.

Everything was delicious. Finally, for the first time that day I was warm and cosy. I can’t wait to try more of their range. I just need to find someone to buy me a box, or a reason to buy them for myself!

Rating: 9/10

Where: 251 Victoria Street Darlinghurst NSW.
Why: A great gourmet chocolate experience in a friendly and intimate environment.
Cost: $7.50-$10
When: Tuesday to Friday, 10am-7pm; Saturday, 10am-8pm; Sunday, 11am-6pm.

Good for kids: Yes
Take away: Yes

4Fourteen, Surry Hills

I’ve walked past this place for ages, and finally one evening, a group of friends and I decided to go to Surry Hill’s Mecca of meat, 4Fourteen. Located on the corner of Fitzroy and Bourke streets, this restaurant is large and popular, attracting diners who respond to head chef Colin Fassnidge’s nose to tail philosophy on food.

beef brisket, worth stopping for.

4Fourteen is a spacious restaurant. The bar is its centrepiece, and dark timber tables of varying sizes are scattered around it. As you walk in, you immediately face the open plan kitchen. I love it when the kitchen is on display. It means diners are treated to a behind the scenes look, removing the mystery that surrounds the cooking of great food and making it more accessible. This kitchen is fascinating to see. It’s fast, efficient, clean and professional. It perfectly matches the great quality of the food being delivered on the plates.

corned silverside, pretty and delicious. The dish of the night.

The only negative about our chosen venue, is it’s very noisy. 4Fourteen features high ceilings causing the conversation of all diners to echo. It was so loud that no more than four people in our group could be part of the same conversation at one time. The people on the ends had to lean in to be heard. They are obviously aware of the problem though, and have tried to fix it by installing roof panels. Unfortunately they’ve been unsuccessful.

the small dish, chicken bread.

 

Once we were all seated, our very helpful waitress came over to help decipher the menu. She translated some of the more unfamiliar ingredients, and explained that the menu was broken into three main sections: nibbles; small dishes which could be considered entree size, and larger dishes designed to share between two or three people. Some of these came in an even larger size, enabling you to share between five or more. This meant that although the prices seem quite steep at first, they were actually quite reasonable when viewed as a meal for two or more with sides.

the menu which required translation

With this in mind, we ordered one small dish; one large dish; one extra-large dish, and three sides. Between the six of us, this was definitely enough to leave us all feeling satisfied rather than uncomfortably stuffed.

Marty’s Farm veg

I began with the corned silver side beef ($34 for two), and I actually muttered oh my god several times as I was eating it. It is a sweet and unctuous dish, and so moist it melts in your mouth. The beef brisket ($64 for four) was also a great choice. It was smoky, soft and full of flavour. The tomato salad ($14) was fresh and light, and included a very generous amount of mozzarella. The sweet potato ($12) was creamy, and the carrots with mint yoghurt dressing, tonight’s Marty’s Farm Veg dish ($14) was a solid option. For the small dishes we ordered chicken bread ($14), of which was a delicious concoction of chicken stock soaked bread, baked and topped with liver pate. So yum.

sweet roast potato

 

All the sides were good, but the meats were the stars of the show. Half way through our meal we were distracted. Dessert had been delivered to the table next door and it looked fabulous. We literally all turned and stared.

tomato salad

When our time came, choosing a dessert was a negotiation just as complex as a Middle East peace treaty. It required debate, compromise, and the final decision to order three and share.

roasted pineapple

The roast pineapple ($16), my personal favourite, was light and fresh with interesting flavours and textures. And as a friend said, a sophisticated dessert. The white chocolate sandwich ($14), their signature was also a fantastic dessert. More indulgent, the rich caramel was complimented by the smooth and cool white chocolate mousse. The last choice, the honeycomb peanut butter block ($14) was good but comparative to the others. A bit one note and not as exciting.

white chocolate sandwich

 

honeycomb peanut butter block

Happy to be out with great friends and full of great food. It was an excellent weeknight dinner out. One that I hope to repeat soon.

Rating: 9/10

Where: 72a Fitzroy Street Surry Hills NSW.
Why: For the love of meat
Cost: Approx. $40 per person
When: Monday – Saturday for dinner from 6pm.
Tuesday – Sunday Lunch from 12noon

Good for kids: No
Take away: No

Categories:

# Surry Hills
# Australian Restaurants
# Meat