Sunday, October 31, 2010

Rosebud Restaurant & Bar, Rozelle

Today I meet up for brunch at Rosebud Restaurant & Bar in Rozelle with my lovely friend, SusieQ and her two kiddlewinks…let’s call them Lady Gaga (aged 5…ish) and Prince William (about 2…ish).

As we walk into the restaurant we are greeted by a lovely waitress who advises us that “things” have recently changed at Rosebud.  The menu can now be found on a HUGE chalkboard that covers an entire wall of the café.  When we’re ready to order we can go up to the register and “Rebecca” will take our order.

This sounds simple enough.  However the chalkboard is SO far from our table, and obscured by a wall, that we have to go over to the board to check out what’s on offer.

This isn’t a problem for me as I have no kids to look after.  SusieQ (and nearly every second diner) is travelling with kids so this set up is a bit of pain.

As I look around the café, I realise what a logistical nightmare this type of ordering system is for parents (and there are many many people here with their small children).  This place is bedlam with parents running between the table and menu board advising their kids/spouse/friend of what’s on offer and asking what they want to order. Urgh.

Having a menu that we could have perused at our table would have made things so much easier!  When I go to the counter to place our orders I notice that there are stack of printed menus, but no one has one on their table. WTF?

SusieQ takes Lady Gaga up to the Great Wall of Menu to decide what they’ll be having. I’m left alone with Prince William.  I ask him what he’d like to talk about and he looks at me like I’m from outer space and promptly wanders off to befriend a small child who’s been left at nearby table with his father.  I am obviously mother material…not.

The Great Wall of Menu
SusieQ decides on the Spicy Lamb Burger ($17.50) after spying it on someone else’s table and thinking it looks tasty. 

Lady Gaga and Prince William will share a serve of pancakes with honey ($11.00).

It’s my turn to stalk the menu board.  The cooked breakfast seems to be a “build your own” situation with each item adding to the cost.  I quickly work out this could end up very expensive and I’m on a budget.  I settle on a $9 bowl of Homemade Granola (translation for us Aussie folks, Muesli).  

SusieQ and I both order a large skinny cappuccino ($4.50) to help calm our nerves after the ordering saga.

The coffee arrives before I’ve even made it back to the table – now that is fast service.  The coffee comes in an enorumous cup and is just what the doctor ordered!

Much need caffeine injection
My Homemade Granola arrives hot on the heels of the coffee, but we wait for about 15 minutes for the rest of our order.  

Homemade Granola aka Muesli
The Granola is toasted and topped with a generous dollop of yoghurt, stewed berries, fresh strawberries and chopped dates. It is exactly what I feel like after having eaten SOOOO must food over the last few weeks.

When the rest of our order finally arrives I know better than to try and take a snap of the kiddlewinks pancakes.  I’m a bit surprised that for $11 there are only two small pancakes on the plate.  The kids seem happy enough though, but I know it wouldn’t be enough to satisfy me.

The Lamb Burger looks delicious and SusieQ tells me it’s very tasty.  The burger is piled high with a spicy lamb pattie, caramelised onion, a fat wedge of feta, tomato, rocket and a side serve of salad greens.

Little hands coming in for some food
I have food envy.

After brunch we head over to the Rozelle Markets for a quick peak.  The sunny weather means that the markets are PACKED with stalls and shoppers.  Has summer finally arrived?

To market we go
Rosebud Restaurant & Bar is at 654 Darling Street, Rozelle.

Rosebud Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 29, 2010

Victoria Street, Darlinghurst – back to the old ‘hood

Last night I ventured back to my old ‘hood in Darlinghurst to have dinner with an old work colleague, Miss J. 

Not that Miss J is old. We’re the same age. And, I’m not old either. I just mean that we used to work together a long time ago…in our younger days.  Before we were oldER. Whatever.

We do a quick tour up Victoria Street and I start to feel a bit nostalgic when we settle on S. Thada Thai Cuisine.  This place used to be my local for Thai takeaway. I’ve had a few eat in meals with family and friends as well.  It’s never disappointed and it didn't last night.

We arrived fairly early (6.30pm) and managed to get a seat in a booth.  We’ve both got dodgy backs at the moment so our one stipulation on restaurant choice is that the chairs MUST have backs. Gee…that does make us sound a bit old and rickety doesn’t it?

In my defence I hurt my back packing to move house (actually, whilst trying on a pair of jeans to see if they should come to the new house). Miss J tells me she slipped a disc doing ‘dead lifts’…whatever they are?

Even though we’re eating early by trendy inner city standards the place is full within 15 minutes of our arrival (the locals must’ve heard I was back in town). 

Miss J and I decide to order two mains and some rice to share. 

I opt for the Yum Neu ($10.80) which is a Thai Beef Salad and one of my all time favourite Thai meals. Although when I was in Thailand I couldn’t handle the amount of chilli they put into their salads.  Even when I asked for no chilli it was still atomic to my tastebuds.

Yum Neu = Yum Yum
I am pleased to report that tonight’s salad had a little hit of chilli amongst the lettuce, tomato, cucumber, shallots and lemon grass – but nothing my mouth couldn’t handle.  The combination of flavours and ingredients is fresh and zesty, and the beef is tender and not overcooked.

Miss J chooses the Goong Choo Chee ($14.80), a classic curry with King Prawns, Kafir Lime Leaves, Peas, Sweet Basil and vegetables.  

Goong Choo Chee
I think this is pretty similar to a Red Curry and obviously has coconut milk/cream in the sauce which makes it cooling after the little chilli hit we’ve just had. S. Thada is generous with the prawns and they are plump and juicy.

I’m very excited when dinner is over as Miss J declares that she is going next door to Gelato Messina for some gelato.  I know I’d be a bad friend if I didn’t go and keep her company.

Wow! The gelatos in this place are SO colourful. It’s hilarious seeing grown adults with their faces pressed against the glass like kids in a candy shop.

What should I have?
I really want to try every flavour but have to stick to the milk free section as milky ice creams and my tummy are not friends (damn you tummy)!  Miss J’s tummy betrays her in a similar way.

I’m intrigued by a flavour I spot called Ricky Bobby – ha! What a funny name for a gelato. I ask for a sample and as it’s handed over I’m told it’s a pumpkin pie homage to the USA’s upcoming Thanksgiving.  It tastes a lot like pumpkin pie – but better.  I actually think pumpkin pie is a bit of an odd dessert and I don’t really like it, but this is good.   It even has little pieces of pie crust amongst the orange hued gelato.  Nice work Messina.

A little bit of a cup
I opt for a tiny scoop of Passionfruit ($3).  Miss J means business and gets a two scoop cup ($4.90) with Coconut Pandan and Mango.  Miss J insists I try both her flavours and I, as a good friend should, allow my little cup to receive her offerings.

The Coconut Pendang is good…so good that Miss J goes back and buys herself one last scoop ($3.90) for the walk back to the car.

S. Thada Thai Cuisine is at 245 Victoria Street, Darlinghurst

Gelato Messina is at 241 Victoria St, Darlinghurst

S. Thada Thai on Urbanspoon

Gelato Messina Darlinghurst on Urbanspoon   

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Rowda Ya Habibi, Newtown

Another appointment with the Optometrist has me racing down King Street at lunchtime. 

This eye infection is pesky, rendering my eyes so bad I’ve had to stop driving for the time being, but it also has its benefits. Firstly, so many power walking trips down King Street has to count as exercise. And secondly, I get to try somewhere new to eat after each visit to the eyeball lady.  Thanks eyeballs – you’re a real friend!

Unfortunately I get my Optometrist chatting about eyeball related stuff that is way over my head and my time for eating lunch slowly runs out.  Now, I’ve really only got enough time to grab something to hurriedly eat on my way back to the office.  Not what I had planned…

As I’m hauling butt back up King Street I’m totally stumped about what to get for lunch.  I spot Sababba, but I’ve already been there and it’s too messy to eat on the run anyway.  There’s a girl out the front pimping their falafel so I grab one and keep on motoring.   It’s tasty, and crunchy on the outside…a little dry, but still nice.

This is when my plan falls into place. I’m going to do a falafel comparison between Sababba and Rowda Ya Habibi – genius idea! 

I’ve been walking past Rowda Ya Habibi for years and years but I’ve never ever eaten there.  It looks a little dodgy if I’m honest, harsh lighting and your standard laminate tables and big clunky chairs from your nanna's house.  The food is all displayed in bain-maries.  But as we all now know, dodginess is not necessarily a bad thing.


When I walk in a couple has just put in a big order and the lady behind the counter (Ms Rowda Ya Habibi perhaps) is busy chatting away to them as she scoops all the yumminess into take away containers.  

I spend some time drooling over the wall of Turkish Delight and Lebanese sweeties whilst I wait for my turn.
So hard to resist
Ms Rowda Ya Habibi is so friendly…and so happy. You can tell straight away that she loves her customers, she loves her shop and she loves the food that she serves. She makes the couple taste a vine leaf … for free … just so they can experience how good it is.

We all engage in a chat about how many pieces of Lebanese bread the couple will need for 7 people. The couple think a piece each is enough – I look at them like they’re crazy and advise that this would be not only disastrous, but cruel…get two bags of bread. At least!

I get offered a falafel with a dollop of babaganoush plopped on top.  It is THE BEST FALEFAL I’VE NEVER HAD!  It’s so moist and fresh and is really far superior to the one I just tried from Sabbaba (sorry Sabbaba).

Now that I’ve done my falafel comparison, I can try something non-falafel related for my lunch. I opt for a meat roll with shish ($6.50), although I’ll be going back soon to try the kibbeh roll.

Kibbeh and/or shish - tough decision
The roll is filled with shish, hommous, red cabbage,  lettuce, tabbouli and onion. We decide that it’s probably not a good idea to have garlic sauce – seeing as I’m going back to work and may have to breathe near my colleagues. 

Ms Rowda Ya Habibi brings the roll out from behind the counter so I can take a happy snap before it’s rolled away for my eating pleasure. 

I eat the roll on my way back to the office. It’s so full of flavour, but a bit messy.  I end up with juice on my scarf, top and some running down the back of my calf???  

Action shot
Rowda Ya Habibi is at 101 King St, Newtown.  They have a "cushion room" upstairs if you want a more fancy and fun eating experience.

Rowda Ya Habibi on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Maki Maki, Ultimo

I'm very excited when I receive an email from Miss Chicken asking me for a lunch date today.  She's just gotten back from an all-you-can-eat holiday to Japan with Mr Shawn so I'm keen to catch up on their adventures.

I'm a little surprised when Miss Chicken suggests Maki Maki on Broadway. I thought she'd be all Japanese fooded out after her eight day trip.  The japanese lunch is an attempt to abate the pain at being back at work and relive the holiday glory - I know how that feels.

Maki Maki

The last time we ate at Maki Maki I had the most amazing Soft Shell Crab Udon Noodle Soup and was all set to go for this again today.

Miss Chicken alerts me to the new lunch time special where we can order a rice (or noodle) bowl AND a sushi roll for $10!  Seems too good to be true.

Lunchtime dreams can come true
I go for the Chicken Teriyaki Rice Bowl with a Dragon Roll on the side. Miss Chicken chooses the Spicy Pork Rice Bowl as she is chilli fiend and an Alaska Roll.

The sushi arrives almost seconds after we order it.  We both whip out our cameras and I try to make my photos look as good as I know Miss Chickens will.

The sushi is freshly made, tasty and is just the right amount. My Dragon Roll comes topped with eel and an avacado and shredded crab filling (or seafood extender - who can really tell).  I've only ever had Dragon Roll with cream cheese in the middle so this is an interesting change.

Dragon Roll
The Alaska Roll also comes with an avacado and shredded crab/seafood extender filling and is topped with a mixture of salmon and avocado.

Alaska Roll
Whilst we're still snapping away at our sushi the rice bowls arrive. OMG - there is so much food on our table and the rice bowls are ENORMOUS!  I don't know how I'm going to fit everything into my stomach.

The Chicken Teriyaki has a lovely crisp skin surrounding a succulent chicken breast and comes with cabbage, something red that I cannot identify and rice.  There is also some bright red pickled lotus root which I'm fascinated with as it's so pretty.  I can't get the camera thing happening well enough to take a picture of it which makes me sad.

Chicken Teriyaki
I try Miss Chicken's spicy pork which is...spicy, so lives up to its name.

Spicy, but not too spicy, pork
The food is as good as I remember from last time, however the service has changed a bit.

We have to order and pay for our meal at the cash register - which is no big deal.

I am upset though that I find my self forkless and trying to eat rice with chopsticks.  I cannot for the life of me catch anyone's attention to ask about getting a fork.  Oh well, this dress was getting a bit tight anyway so I shouldn't be eating carbs at lunch.

Maki Maki is at 169 Broadway, Ultimo.

Maki Maki on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 25, 2010

Tingha Palace Yum Cha, Parramatta

As I move further and further west in pursuit of an apartment I can actually afford to buy I think my family's aversion "the suburbs" increases.  It's like some sort of mathematical equation whereby the further I move from the CBD the more horror they feel.

When I lived in Darlinghurst, in a teeny tiny little studio surrounded by great bars and places to eat it felt like I had non-stop family dinners. I'd just sit in my flat and people would come to me - like I was some sort of guru.  It was great!

How things have changed.

Needless I was a bit scared of rejection when I suggested the family should come out to see our new flat on Saturday.  My brother was already opening his mouth to say "No way Jose" when I threw in my trump card.

Come to Parramatta, see the flat, and then we can all go to Parramatta Leagues Club's Tingha Palace for Yum Cha (the hook is Yum Cha, not the leagues club - just so we're clear).  

The sure fire way to get my family together is over Yum Cha.  We're all addicts. Some more than others.

Needless to say everyone turned up, did a quick tour of the flat and we then headed off to Yum Cha (afterall that is what they were here for).

As we stand in the lobby of the club, the boy seams a bit uneasy.  As an avid Tigers fan for his entire life he had to shove aside feelings of betraying his beloved NRL team by going to a rival leagues club. Whatever...! Yum Cha beats NRL teams any day of the week if you ask me.

There's a bit of confusion about our table when we first arrive as my sister gives the maître d' the wrong name.  Why my sister doesn't know my name is a whole other blog post I think.

The minute our bums hit the seat it's all systems go.  We're immediately presented with steaming prawn dumplings.  We quickly grab two serves so no-one has to miss out.

Prawn Dumplings
The dumplings are quickly followed by a serving of peppery beef ribs which are delicious and glistening with sauce.  The sauce is peppery, but not overpowering at all.  I make a mental note to self to ensure I get this dish again the next time I visit. 

Peppery beef rib type things - yum!
Next up is the BBQ Duck, one of my all time favourite Yum Cha dishes.  It's not as hot as I'd like, but it's BBQ Duck so I'm not complaining. We really should have gotten two serves of this as well. 

BBQ Duck
The next trolley rolls around and delivers tofu sheets wrapped around...something.  They look wobbly and squishy, but are really nice. Niecy-poo tells me the tofu is wrapped around beef. If you say so.

Tofu with....something

The men folk at the table start to get restless and demand chicken feet.  The peer into each trolley that trundles past asking forlornly "do you have chicken feet"?  The woman folk sigh and feel sad for all those feetless chickens that have gone into making the men folk happy.

Poor footless chooks

Things get a bit crazy after this.  About four or five bamboo baskets of various dumplings are dropped on our table all at once. I quickly grab a quick photo so the dumplings can be hurriedly scoffed!  I have no idea what we're eating, but the dumplings are all seafood with various other fillings like spinach or chives.  They're great!

Many random dumplings
Yummy random dumpling insides

One of the family favourites rolls around next - BBQ Pork Buns.  I love the soft squishy dough and the sweet pork meat inside.  I often buy these frozen from the Asian Supermarket and steam them myself at home.

The last of our savoury dishes arrive next - fried squid tentacles!  I ordered two serves of these the minute we sat down to make sure they arrived hot and fresh, but somehow they went M.I.A. I never gave up on my dream though and after asking every second trolley lady if they had our squid it finally turned up. It was worth waiting for!

Best squid. EVER!

Most of the family at the table have a sweet tooth, so desserts are next on the menu. The boy opts for Egg Tarts and is thrilled he gets to eat two as I don't want one.  Big Sister and her BF go for the Mango Pancakes - their dessert drug of choice, whilst Big Brother orderd Deep Fried Icecream with extra chocolate topping.

This is the first time Big Brother has really gotten into the whole food blogging thing. He's so proud of his deep fried icecream that I'm encouraged to take photos and try some.  It's so good that it's hard to stop at one spoonful.

The family are VERY happy with the Parramatta Yum Cha adventure and declare the squid is one of the best they've EVER had.  EVER!  Way to go Parramatta! Big Sister is willing to come to the 'burbs for a food adventure every time she visits Sydney.

Tingha Palace is located on the 1st floor of Parramatta Leagues Club (13-15 O'Connell Street, Parramatta). Bookings are recommended.

Tingha Palace (Parramatta Leagues Club) on Urbanspoon

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