Bay Tinh Vietnamese Restaurant, Crows Nest

The newest in a restaurant chain, Bay Tinh is a gem of a restaurant, located on busy Falcon street in Crows Nest. The food served is Traditional Vietnamese with a modern twist. Worried we might not get in on a Saturday night, we made a booking. Probably wise as although it’s a large restaurant, it was very busy with only a few free tables. It’s made up of three dining areas: a small front section, an upstairs area for large groups, and past the kitchen is a third dining area which is where we found our table. White brick walls have been lined with a bamboo style mat covering. Wall arches around the room contain inset silk cushions or frescos of Vietnamese landscapes giving the room a plush and colorful vibe. Red lanterns dangling from the ceiling, and the real potted palms lining the back wall finish off the look and transport you overseas to Saigon.

The number of patrons here for a Saturday night feed suggests that a delicious dinner is coming. The only negative being so many people means a lot of noise, making conversation a touch difficult.

the great preamble

The menu has a ridiculous number of options. It is a multiple paged booklet, and I love the preamble on the first couple of pages describing the restaurant’s origins, and the instructions on how guests should order. Individual dishes are a no no. Sharing Is a must. It’s a good thing too, because I want to try everything, and this way I get to taste few of the taste buds tempting options.

inside the bonfire, a house specialty.

With so many unique items on the menu, this is not a place to play it safe. Items like pork stuffed whole calamari and caramelised, claypot salmon are tempting; but we decided to order the seafood and vegetable soup $30, bonfire prawns and beef $28 and the quarter (Also served as a half) of deboned chicken stuffed with prawn mince, served with plum sauce $18.50.

the big communal soup pot

The service was excellent. Courteous, efficient and friendly. Napkins were placed on laps, water poured, and dishes served so fast there was no time to think ‘I’m hungry.’ The first course, seafood soup was placed on the table in a large communal pot and then served for us in to our individual bowls. It didn’t disappoint. This dish is hot, full of flavour, with the right amount of salt and chock full of seafood and fresh veggies. Perfect to warm you up on a drizzly night.

Bonfire beef and prawn

The second course was a house specialty, beef and prawn bonfire, one of the four meat options available. A pot of meat was placed on the table next to a large plate of stir-fry cut vegetables, and then the pot was set on fire. The waitress told us to wait a few minutes, and then departed with the promise to return to show us what to do. Thankfully, 10 minutes later she did. First came the rice paper disk. On it the fresh vegetables were placed, and then a small pile of the beef and prawn mixture before a drizzle of spicy peanut sauce. The whole concoction was then rolled. The trick, not to put too much filling in. It was delicious. Light, fresh and enough spice to leave a tingle in the mouth.

the assembly process

 

Our final dish, the boneless chicken quarter was also a house specialty, and it was a great way to end the meal. The chicken was sweet and tender, and was presented as a delectable fan drizzled in a silky sauce. Beautiful.

the delicious fan of meat

Using the restaurant’s entertainment book voucher, it was a delicious and excellent value meal. Can’t wait to return to try more.

a Vietnamese dinner is not complete without a pot of green tea

Rating: 9/10

Where: 16 Falcon street Crows Nest NSW
Why: great, unique Vietnamese food.
Cost: around $35 per person
When: Lunch Friday to Sunday. Dinner Tuesday to Sunday.

Good for kids: Yes, there is room for a pram but it is loud.
Take away: Yes, through menu log.

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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

Kingston and Co, Chatswood

The newest in a chain of coffee cafés, Kingston & Co, Chatswood opened up in the Lower North Shore’s favourite shopping centre, adding a classy and cosy option for shoppers looking for a cup of coffee or decent meal.

Part of Chatswood Westfield’s transformation into a cornucopia of food, Kingston & Co brings with them their trademark modern Australian fare and one month in, It’s proving to be popular.

Toasty and warm inside the box

Toasty and warm inside the box

Having organised a local coffee catch up one Saturday afternoon, a friend and I decided to give it a go. What was really appealing was the fact that there was seating in a glass enclosed courtyard, all decked out with timber bench seating and gas flame heaters. It was the ability to sit in a deliciously warm, protected space while still experiencing the beautiful winters’ day that got me. I could see this working just as well in summer but in reverse.

Peppermint tea

Peppermint tea

 

From the moment we arrived to the paying of the bill, the service was just incredible. It was by far the best part of the experience. They were attentive without being overbearing, friendly but not fake, and gave us great beverage recommendations.

King's French Toast

King’s French Toast

As there is nothing better than second breakfast at 2pm, we decided to share the King’s French toast ($15) also available with bacon on request. It looked delicious and the portion was absolutely massive -a thick piece of eggy brioche bread slathered in jam served with a tea cup sized side of whipped cream. Unfortunately it was a classic case of looks being deceiving. The flavours were all good but the bread was too soggy with no caramelised  crunchy surface that makes biting into a good piece of French toast worth it.

Hibiscus Tea

Hibiscus Tea

Our drinks on the other hand were lovely. We ordered a large long black ($5.50) which was the perfect strength and bitterness, a peppermint tea ($4) and the recommended hibiscus tea ($5) which was poured hot over a glass of ice – interesting and refreshing and something I definitely recommend for lovers of iced tea. For those who like their tea piping hot, it’s probably not your cup.

Long black

Long black

All in all it was a lovely afternoon and the look of the food being delivered to others indulging in a late lunch suggest that Kingston & Co might be worth another go.

Rating: 7/10

Where: Westfield, Anderson Street, Chatswood
Why: A classy and cosy place for a catch up
Cost:  $5-$25
When:  Sunday to Wednesday 7.30am-5.30pm, Thursday to Saturday 7.30am-9.00pm

Good for kids:yes
Take away: yes