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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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

May Kwai Chinese Restaurant, Rose Bay

There is nothing more Australian than a BBQ on a public holiday – unless it’s a Chinese dinner. Finding ourselves hungry on a public holiday night and with limited dining out options, we decided to take the opportunity to check out May Kwai, a popular Chinese restaurant in Rose Bay. I’d heard a lot about this little gem, and had been wanting to check it out for a while. The slightly inattentive service notwithstanding, I wasn’t disappointed.

In comparison to many other restaurants serving traditional Chinese food, May Kwai is small in terms of space, but the portion sizes and options available are anything but. The menu is divided up into sections according to the protein used, or to the style of dish. If you like your scallops five different ways, or something different for dinner like an omelette; this is the place for you.

As we settled in, I could see that the San Choy Bow was a very popular menu. A vast number of lettuce cups sailed past our table, and I have to say, they looked very tempting; but after family negotiations, we decided on something else.

For starters, we ordered the Gow Gee ($11). Perfectly steamed they were very tasty – not at all rubbery, and each contained a substantial amount of prawn meat.

We then moved on to the mixed king prawn stir fry ($25.80) – a combination of delicious, plump prawns and scallops stir fried with mushrooms and shallots served on a sizzling serving dish. This was my favourite main. I felt like the whole ocean was sitting in front of me on a plate.

Back on land, our next dish was the the half duck served with plum sauce ($20.80). Again there was lots of meat in this dish. The skin was golden and crispy, and the sauce plentiful.

Our third main was the fillet of honey pepper chicken which was sweet and tasty, but did have a an after kick which required a glass of water on standby.

All of these were accompanied by a large serve of the vegetarian fried rice ($10), which was the only dish that fell flat for me. I found it too salty but my family liked it.

It was a great family night out. May Kwai could become our new public holiday tradition.

Rating: 7/10

Where: 710 New South Head Road Rose Bay NSW
Why: Lots of options and big portions.
Cost: $10-$30
When: 7 days, lunch and dinner.

Good for kids: Yes
Take away: Yes

Burnt Orange, Mosman

love getting spoilt, and on my birthday this year, two of my besties spoilt me rotten by taking me to Burnt Orange cafe in Mosman.

Located in the back of Mosman, as far away from Military road as you can get while still on land, making your way down the bush path; intuitively you know something special is waiting at the end.

How people first found out about Burnt Orange and then located it on a map I have no clue, but they definitely did. Looking around at my fellow diners, they’re young, they’re gorgeous, and there are a lot of them. Coming here on this particular Saturday morning; the sun is shining; the view is spectacular, and it’s a full house.

Formerly a residence, the beautiful plantation style house has been transformed into a restaurant/cafe serving breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea to its hungry guests. A multitude of white washed wooden tables are situated along the large, wrap around, wooden balcony; and the vine patterned cream and green wall paper emphasises the country manor feel. We could be ladies brunching in a bygone era.

We were lucky to secure a table In the sun and with a light breeze. It’s bliss.

All being self-proclaimed foodies, we had all studied the menu online, so ordering with the courteous waiter was a quick affair.

The pancakes with ricotta and strawberries ($16) were a delectable dish. Also coming with a bacon option, they were stacked three fluffy disks high, and they were very generous in size.

The fetta, tomato and mushroom toast ($15) was also delicious. A deceptively simple dish, the mushrooms were perfectly grilled and not at all greasy; and the herb infused feta was it’s star. Served with two massive pieces of sourdough, I was in heaven.

The only disappointment was the breakfast board ($19) – a very small dish, particularly in comparison to the size of the board on which it was served. The majority of the elements present were nice, but they just didn’t seem to go together. Most of this dish was left behind.

After eating, I discovered the fun wasn’t over. The entire two story house interior has been transformed into a boutique shop where one can purchase anything from handmade jewellery, clothing and blankets to decorative items and home wares. Expensive but gorgeous.

It was a great start to the weekend, and an even better start to a new year. Makes me it excited for what’s yet to come!

Rating: 9/10

Where: 1108/1109 Middle Head Road Mosman NSW.
Why: great location, food and shopping.
Cost: $15-$21
When: 7 days from 8.30am

Good for kids: Yes
Take away: No

Eden Cafe, Zetland

On a sunny Sunday morning, the first sunny Sunday in a very long time, I was going out for breakfast and I wanted to go somewhere nice. I found just the thing in Eden café. Located in Zetland, it is a little slice of paradise.

I was introduced to this café by a couple of friends with whom I’d organised a long overdue catch up. These friends have recently moved to the neighbourhood, renting one of the many many apartments in the Meriton complex. I have to say Mr Meriton has done very well and Eden, which is just a hop, skip and a jump away, is perfectly positioned to cater to his millions (ok maybe not millions) of residents. That’s a lot of guaranteed regulars!

Eve's Breakfast

Eve’s Breakfast

The café is open and airy. Two walls of the café are made up of floor to ceiling windows so the light just streams in, warming up the wooden tables and giving the place a friendly glow. In addition to some outdoor seating around the café’s entrance and perimeter, there is a variety of seating options available inside from low slung couches and coffee tables to large share tables and smaller rounds perfect for an intimate group like us to sit and chat.

The menu is not extensive but it is comprehensive. From granola to eggs, all your favourites are covered and if you want something a little different, there is always the specials board.

Smoked Salmon Omelette

Smoked Salmon Omelette

Service is quick and friendly if not overly warm and affectionate and we quickly found ourselves with big plates of delicious looking food sitting in front of us. The verdict: plentiful, tasty and good quality. It’s not something you’d cross town for but it’s a solid and satisfying feed. Our group was in an eggy mood. From the menu we chose the three egg smoked salmon omelette, the smashed avocado on toast with poached eggs, the three seed bacon and egg Panini and Eve’s breakfast which is a vegetarian’s delight coming with two eggs of you choosing, sourdough, baked beans, mushrooms, roasted tomatoes, kale and haloumi. The coffee was good too.

The Panini

The Panini

I have to say, the best bit of the whole experience was that we were allowed to commandeer our table for as long as we wanted. There was absolutely no pressure to keep ordering or to leave which was just wonderful.

It was a lovely morning – a great way to experience a little Sunday bliss and there wasn’t a single snake (or apple) in sight.

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Avocado smash that was being carefully guarded

Rating: 8/10

Where: 781-785 Elisabeth St Zetland Why: A relaxed and sunny place to get a big and wholesome breakky/brunch/lunch Cost:  $10-$20 approx When:  Seven days, 7.00am-4.00pm

Good for kids: yes Take away: yes