Monday, October 13, 2014

Food tour of The Rocks

If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time you’re probably aware that I LOVE a tour…especially a tour where food is involved.

When the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority (SHFA) invited me on a media “food and beverage” tour of The Rocks I quickly submitted an annual leave day from work and RSVPd YES YES YES!


Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority owns and manages some of the State's most significant assets, including The Rocks. The SHFA website tells us that their “vision is to make extraordinary places the world talks about by preserving and enhancing the inter-generational value of the State, heritage and cultural assets it manages”.

I think it must be a tricky balance to preserve the heritage of The Rocks precinct whilst at the same time making the area relevant and modern through food, beverage, shopping and events in order to attract locals and visitors alike. The SHFA are the brainchild behind the ever popular Vivid Festival which was designed to bring visitors to the area in the normally quiet (for them) month of May. I’d say that idea worked pretty well, huh?


So where did the tour take us? Read on to find out. All of these places were new to me and I’m super excited to get back to some of them to revist.

Le Pain Quotidien

Firstly, massive props to the Le Pain Quotidien website which tries to help us pronounce the name of the place. They say it sounds like “luh paN koh-ti-dyaN”. Yep…still cannot pronounce it but in English that translates to “the daily bread”.

The first stop on our food tour of The Rocks is Le Pain Quotidien...a bakery hailing from Belgium that is located in a (very) old police station on George Sreet. I cannot count the number of times I’ve walked past this building and not given it a second glance. This is a lesson in why it pays to look up from the pavement and take in the beauty surrounding us!


At the back of the café is where you’ll find the old gaol cells. The "cells" have been done up as little dining spaces and it is really really cool. If you don't like your dining buddies you could just get up from you cell and lock them in the cell behind you! If you cannot get yourself locked in a cell never fear! There is loads of seating in the front of the building and also out on George Street where you’ll have a stellar view of the MCA.


On this first pit stop we get to try a few items from the Patisserie menu and I go for the almond and cheese croissant which is delicious. The cheese is almost undetectable so don’t let that put you off.  It provides a subtle sweet and and creamy note to the pasty.  This is not like eating a slice of Kraft cheese on your sweet croissant I promise. I also sink my teeth in to the fruit bread with a good sized schmear of the creamy, luscious hazelnut spread. All of this is washed down with some tart, refreshing Homemade Lemonade.


I really like this space. I think it’s fantastic that the café is making use of one of the most interesting features of the buildings (the cells for those not keeping up with my love of THE CELLS). I’m keen to come back on the weekend to have brunch or lunch with Dave and enjoy some French goodies. And YAY for somewhere that is open for brunch in the city ALL weekend (they also open for dinner FYI).


127 George Street, The Rocks
Phone them on: 9252 3840
Trading hours: Monday - Sunday 8.00am - 9.00 pm

Le Pain Quotidien on Urbanspoon

ChocolArts

Next stop on our tour of the rocks is one for the lovers of handmade, artisan chocolate. Behold the wonder that is ChocolArts.



This place smells INCREDIBLE - rich and luscious. At ChocolArt you’ll find a HUGE range of beautiful handcrafted chocolates make from premium Belgian and French couverture chocolate. There's also some couverture on hand from North Queensland (it's grown on a banana farm)! Fantastic!  What's more is that there’s no artificial ingredients or preservatives in the ChocolArt choccies so this place is basically a health food shop if you think about it!


ChoocolArts has a range of traditional chocolates but I also like the addition of a few Australian flavours such as Lemon Myrtle (which is super yum FYI) and also the Leatherwood Honey. Whilst in store I also tried the Fleur de Sel. One word = YUM!


75 George Street, The Rocks
Trading Hours: Monday - Sunday: 10.00am - 6.00pm

Chocolarts Handcrafted Chocolates on Urbanspoon

Ananas Bar and Brasserie

Moving right along to the third stop on our food tour. We pop into the beautiful Ananas for some wine and a light lunch.


I figured out pretty quickly that Ananas is French for pineapple as there are pineapple "things" all over the joint. Pineapple lights of different shapes and sizes adorn various parts of the bar and brasserie and it REALLY is gorgeous. How have I not been here before?   Now, if you're wondering about the link between France and pineapples we are told that "way back in The Day, pineapples were a sign of wealth and great hospitality in France".  You learn something new everyday.


The bar area takes up a huge chunk of the building and is light and bright with a touch of “old world France about it”. It positively shimmers from the glow of the pineapple chandeliers. LOVE!


We move through to the brasserie, which is dark and lux, and settle at the tables for some tasty treats. First up is a glass (or two) of a smooth 2012 Château Darzac Sémillon Sauvignon Blanc from Bordeaux, France (naturally). I think I can now add another wine to my list of wines that I like…welcome to the club Sémillon Sauvignon Blanc!


On to the food… King Crab Salad with avocado and fresh green apple (from the restaurant lunch menu); Chef's celection of house charcuterie with brioche (from the bar menu); Ananas seared yellow fin tuna salade niçoise (from the restaurant menu). The dishes we are presented with are all beautiful with delicate flavours and textures that all blend perfectly together. I adored the charcuterie as it just screams Paris to me...


We finish off our light lunch with a trio of Ananas eclairs – the Chef's selection as Chef knows best after all. We had an African chocolate éclair, an Earl Grey Tea éclair (oh boy this was GOOD) and a salted caramel éclair. We cut each éclair into five pieces so we could each have “just a taste”. The perfect, guilt free way to have dessert I think.


18 Argyle Street, The Rocks
Phone them on 9259 5668 or email reservations@ananas.com.au
Trading Hours:
Lunch = Mon - Fri 12.00pm – 3.00pm
Dinner = Mon - Thu 6.00pm – 10.00pm | Fri - Sat 5:30pm – 11.00pm
Bar = Mon- Fri 12.00pm – 1.00am | Sat 4.00pm – 1.00am

Ananas Bar & Brasserie on Urbanspoon

Wine Odyssey Australia

Moving right along on our food tour of The Rocks to Wine Odyssey. This is another venue with a historical past – built in 1886 it initially operated as a hotel run by one of Australia’s first female publicans. 


The resident archaeologist from the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority, who attended the tour with us, tells us that this building also served as a morgue (pubs with cellars = cool, dry place to store the bodies) as well as a “house of ill repute”!


I've never seen a DIY "wine tasting machine" before...and now I have. This month the machine is loaded up with NSW wines...you put credit on your Wine Odyssey card...stick it in the machine and taste away. More fun than an iPad people.


As well as the DIY "wine tasting machine" Wine Odyssey also has a wine bar, wine store, wine club and can host a variety of events. On the second floor of their venue is a “theatre” which is where we head to try both a red and white wine, and to sample a few of the delectable cheeses on offer.


39/43 Argyle Street, The Rocks
Phone them on 8114 0256
Trading hours:
Monday - Closed
Tuesday to Saturday – 12.00pm to late
Sunday - 12.00pm to 10.00pm

Wine Odyssey Australia on Urbanspoon

The Push

Next stop on our food tour of The Rocks is The Push. It's the first pub you'll meet as you enter The Rocks ...a really cozy space for a cocktail (or two) and something to eat. The Push sits on the ground floor of the lovely (and again, historic) Russell Hotel building.



The Push is a bit of a funny name isn’t it? It comes from a Blues and Jazz Club that operated in the Rocks in the 70’s, known as “The Rocks Push”. The club took its name go back to the early 1800s when a group of ye olde worlde gang-bangers (also referred to as “larrikins” back in the day) formed a gang called “The Rocks Push”. They terrorized the area and sailors frequenting the Rocks.


During our brief stop at The Push we get to sample a few of the bar snacks on offer and a few cocktails. I LOVE LOVE LOVED the crumbed calamari strips that are dusted with sichuan pepper and kaffir lime. I ignored the accompanying soy dipping sauce and dunked the calamari in the aioli that accompanied the cheesy little arancini balls. Good stuff. The nachos bites were piled high with spiced beef flank, beans, rocket, cheese and avocado – not so pretty to eat (more of a shove-it-in-your-gob) but really tasty! I also loved the slider I tired - pulled lamb with mashed peas (there’s also pork rib and vegetarian sausage sliders on offer if you prefer).



We try a few cocktails here, include their signature cocktail ‘Push Over’. The drinks menu tells us this drink is “inspired by the well-dressed ladies who were dazzled by the charisma of the members of The Push in the 1800′s. This cocktail is a fruity, refreshing mix of raspberries, lime, Chambord and vodka”. I’m not sure I’m classified as a “well-dressed lady” (I err more on the casual side of things) and I don’t go ga-ga for gang members BUT I did love this cocktail. Yum.


143 George Street, The Rocks.
Phone them on 9241 2999
Trading Hours:
Monday – Thursday: 12.00pm - 11.00pm
Friday – Saturday: 12.00pm – 12.00am (nice one lock-out laws...not)!
Sunday: 12.00pm – 10.00pm

The Push on Urbanspoon

The Glenmore Hotel

The rooftop of The Glenmore Hotel is a SPECTACULAR place to end our food tour of The Rocks. Stunning views...especially in the glorious weather we’ve been experiencing lately. The rooftop has received a face lift and is the proud owner of a a retractable roof. This means the rooftop will be open rain, hail or shine. Woot.


I take a seat at the table that overlooks the Opera House...and that overlooks three giant jugs of cocktails. I’m not sure what any of there are I’m sorry (I heard mutterings of Pimms and of rum {not in the same jug of course}) – but I had a VERY good sample from each one and can confirm that they are all delish. Coupled with the stunning, warm spring weather and the million dollar view I’d say these cocktails are darn near perfect!


Quite a few plates of food came out but I didn’t get to sample (or snap) them all. I'm keen to come back and try the chicken wings which we are told are devilishly spicy and messy.


The Salt and Pepper Squid was dusted in chilli and came with a coriander and lime mayonnaise – yum. I loved the BBQ corn salsa and tartare sauce that accompanied the Fish Cakes (which reminded me of a prettier version of the tuna patties I used to try and make at home, but they would never stick together).   After a few fried dishes the Tuna Salad was fresh and refreshing. Seared Albacore Tuna is plated under a medley of avocado, cucumber ribbon, heirloom cherry tomato, crispy panache salad with spicy sesame soy dressing.


I absolutely LOVED spending time on the rooftop of the Glenmore Hotel.  It just felt like the quintessential Sydney experience - big blue skies, warm weather, sunshine and a dazzling view of the sparkling water and Opera House.


96 Cumberland Street, The Rocks.
Phone them on: 9247 4794
Trading Hours:
Mon – Thurs: 11.00am to 12.00am
Fri -- Sat: 11.00am to 1.00am
Sun: 11.00am to 12.00am

Glenmore Hotel on Urbanspoon

15 comments:

  1. Wow, Miss Piggy, what a delicious adventure! Must bear this in mind next time we visit Sydney! There's always such good news highlighted on your bloggy xo

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  2. The tour sounded like fun, such a great way to see the Rocks as well.

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  3. mmm looks like a delicious tour, i didn't even know Le Pain Quotidien had seating inside let alone the rooms used to be cells!

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  4. ananas is one of my favs at the rocks!

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  5. Very cool that they included Ananas. I haven't been there but it's in my radar.

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  6. Sara (Belly Rumbles)October 14, 2014 at 10:58 PM

    Was wondering what you guys got to see on this one. Was sorry to miss it, awesome venues visited. Love The Rocks :)

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  7. How cool are the jail cells in LPQ? I'm actually looking for places for a small birthday dinner, maybe that would be a good option?

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  8. The are SO cool! And I like your acronym of LPQ! Very smart - I won't bother trying to pronounce the name of the place anymore.

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  9. Really great tour! I found loads of new (to me) places!

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  10. It's such a fancy pants place. I really loved it! Loved the bar area especially (not for the booze, for the decor).

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  11. How did I not even know about it. I should get out more.

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  12. I had no idea either! It's really very cool....

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  13. Lots to see and do (and eat) down at The Rocks. When is your next visit?

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  14. Awesome way to see The Rocks - I agree! It was the perfect day for a tour too...

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  15. Oh, and the cells would be good for dinner - there's a very big one with a big table...generally they don't take bookings, but it doesn't hurt to ask.

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