Monday, May 26, 2014

The Victoria Room, Darlinghurst

Miss Piggy and The Boy dined as guests of The Victoria Room. The terrible photos are 100% all mine!

Dave and I had our wedding at The Victoria Room (both the ceremony and the reception) so needless to say we’re quite fond of the place. I’ve always loved its plush sofas, romantic decor and “old world” feel. This is a place where special things happen…like cocktail parties, romantic dinners, weddings, hens nights and proposals. But, if I’m to be brutally honest the place was looking a tad…tired when we got married there. Things were a bit…dusty and a bit worn. The cushions weren’t as plump as they once were…it was charming, romantic and endearing, but just “getting on a bit”.

Enter new owners who have given the place a good spring clean. They’ve shaken the dust from the cushions, reupholstered the furniture, flung open the curtains and give the whole place a lick of paint. It’s the same Victoria Rooms – but just a better, spiffier version of its old self. Grandma has a new dress!

The décor has gone from mostly reds to all blues and creams. I think this makes it a much more comfortable place for your “man friends” to hang out it, yet it retains its classy elegance and old-world charm that appeals to the ladies. There are modern touches now, like the blue and cream zebra print banquettes, but on the whole the Victoria Room is still channeling a British drawing room from the 1920s. Love it!

With new décor comes a new menu and that’s what we’re here to try tonight. The Victoria Room is fairly well known for its amazing high teas, but they also have a great dinner menu (along with a stellar cocktail list and lovely bar area if you’re not in the mood for a meal).

Whilst we’re admiring the new fit out we enjoy a few cocktails and peruse the menu. And no, the cocktail in the coconut shell was NOT mine!

We kick things off with a few tidbits for the “Snacks” section of the menu. I cannot go past the freshly shucked oysters with frozen champagne ($4.00 each). The oysters are so fresh and plump, and I love the frozen champagne – it’s very cooling in the mouth and pairs so well with the brininess of the oysters! Dave chooses a mini chili spanner crab roll ($6.00 each) and absolutely loves it. The crab is meaty and very delicious. We decide to split a crispy zucchini flower ($5.00 each). The flower is filled with a pungent taleggio that is studded with sweet raisins.

For our larger dishes we opt for the slow roast pork belly with sweet mustard glaze ($30) and the 500g char-grilled Black Angus scotch fillet ($50.00) that comes with a with a selection of sauces. The pork is so flavoursome and has some wonderfully crisp crackling. The meat is very tender and the mustard glazes had just a hint of sweetness to it (that I think must be a dash of honey). We both totally LOVED the Black Angus scotch fillet and I would order this again in a heartbeat. The beef was so tender, well-seasoned and flavoursome. Add a dollop of the accompanying horseradish cream to each mouthful and I’m in heaven.

We cannot live on meat alone of course (though I’m sure many people try) so we ordered a few sides to go with our mains. The next time we go back to the Victoria Room I am ordering a bowl of the salt baked potatoes with smoked sour cream, shallots and preserved lemon ($14.00) for myself and I WILL NOT be sharing! This was so delicious – and I’m sorry to say it’s a case of crap photo, delicious food. I especially loved the crispy potato skins served with the potatoes and that the bowl had little hidden pieces of gherkins dotted throughout. Winner!

We also order a plate of purple and orange caraway roasted carrots ($14.00) that are cooking with burnt butter and sage – a combination I’m fond of adding to my pasta at home. Now that I know it goes so well with carrots I’ll be whipping this up at home! Lastly a bowl of shaved Iceberg lettuce with buttermilk dressing and tarragon ($8.00) sees our meal come to an end.

Although we’re feeling a tad…full we’re too tempted for the selection of sweet snacks, bites and nibbles on offer to share for $22. I order a glass of sweet white wine to go with this – I do love dessert wine I have to say!

I just adore the new look of the Victoria Room and I can’t wait to come back and celebrate our wedding anniversary here with another amazing dinner!

The Victoria Room on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 19, 2014

Nomad, Surry Hills

My blogging buddies from Street Food emerge from the depths of the Chinatown food courts for just long enough to accompany me for dinner at Nomad in Surry Hills.

We'd initially been thinking of trying our luck elsewhere, but when we couldn't get a table I made a booking at Nomad.  In the randomness of the Universe, this turned out to be a massive stroke of luck as Nomad is a GREAT restaurant with terrific food (and wine).

The space is cavernous by anyone's definition and you'd think in a vast room of cement floors, high exposed ceilings, brick walls and wooden tables it would be overbearingly loud. But it's not. There's some crazily good acoustic shenanigans going on here as the space is really very quite. The music is set at just the right volume, and even when the space fills to its capacity of 150 people everything is...hushed. The restaurant has a lovely ambiance and things just hum along at a nice volume.

We start off with an order of woodfired Ssurdough with black salt butter ($2.50pp). The bread is good (fresh and airy with a great, firm crust) but the butter is OMG good. I'm wondering can I just forgo the bread and eat the salty, creamy butter with a teaspoon instead? Surely there's nothing wrong with that?

We order a few small plates to nibble on over a glass (or two) of Pinot Gris (best wine ever by the way).

First up is the Nomad pickles and olives ($15.00). The pickles are made in-house (as is just about everything else) and you can see big jars of them dotted around the restaurant. I really love pickles...I grew up eating them and I find them hard to pass by if I seem them on the menu. I love the variety of pickled "things" that Nomad give us - carrots, radishes, chillies, cauliflower, onions and some other things I can't identify (but am more than happy to eat). Beware the red chilli though - it'll blow your socks off.

The fried chickpeas dusted with a falafel spice ($6.00) are something I'd be more prone to snack on at home in front of the tele but they salty, spicy flavour does pair well with the crisp Pinot Gris we're sipping on.

A terrific selection of housemade Nomad charcuterie ($26.00) which comes with horse salami (which is delicious by the way) along with pork, ox tongue and other yummy things!

It's the first time I've ever seen horse on a menu in Australia and I'm intrigued. We're told the horse comes from a farm in WA and the salami is made in house. I know some people have objections to eating "cute or beautiful" animals such a horse, but if you eat cows, pigs, sheep (etc etc) then there really is no difference to eating any other animal. Why do our sensibilities tell us that's OK to eat some animals but not others (there's a lot of writing out there on the internet if you're interested)? For me, I am more concerned with how the animal was raised and treated during it's life rather than what it is . Anyhoo - the charcuterie was ALL amazing...really flavoursome and deliciously fatty in that unctuous kind of way.

Our small plates quickly disappear and we move onto the BIG PLATE section of the menu...dun dun dun dun.

Mr Shawn is determine to order the BBQ Carrots ($18.00) - something he's being seeing on menus (outside of Chinatown is)! There's no argument from us, and the carrots really are delicious. They come sprinkled with a nutty almond dukkah and whipped labne.

Reminiscent of the freakishly awesome  grain salad at Jimmy Grants - Nomad's tabbouleh of toasted grains and rice with sour cherries and Nomad ricotta ($21.00) - is a winner! I love the little chunks of ricotta dotted throughout the salad, the mix of textures - soft, creamy, crunchy is great fun.

And on to the main event *happy dance* - a plate filled with luscious, fatty (in just the right way) wood-roasted Pork with the most EPIC slab of crackling served with romesco aioli and lemon ($34.00).

The pork comes with a bonus pan of sweet potato gratin on the side that reminds a bit of the candied yams I've tried on Thanksgiving before.

We weren't going to have dessert but in the end we felt like we wanted something sweet to end the meal on. We choose a light, refreshing (and brain freezing) dessert of Buttermilk Cream with cherries, sangria ice and fresh figs ($14.00).

I enjoyed our meal at Nomad immensely and cannot wait to come back. I thought the menu was really great and the decor of the room was comfortable and inviting. Two hoofs up from me.

Nomad is at 16 Foster St, Surry Hills. Phone them on 9280 3395.

Nomad on Urbanspoon

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Parlour Burger, The Rocks

Miss Piggy received a $50 voucher from Parlour Burger to enjoy their food + drink.

$10 burgers? Yes please!

It's nice to see more and more restaurants and cafes opening up in the CBD, giving hungry Sydney-siders (and tourists) more city-eating options. I remember when I first started visiting Sydney (back in the 80s) and the only place to sit down and eat up towards Circular Quay was City Extra, a few dodgy pubs...or McDonalds. Blergh.

You can find Parlour Burger nestled behind the recently revamped (and very swish looking)  Morrison Hotel on the top end of George Street.

Whilst the menu (and decor) at The Morrison are a little fancy, Parlour Burger is all about the burger in a traditional looking pub setting. And, the $10 burger at that!

There are five burgers on offer here, including a fish burger, chicken burger and a vegetarian burger. The BFF and I decide to try both the beef burgers on offer, and opt for our pattie to be well cooked rather than the recommended "pink" Parlour Burger suggest.

We start with the Orignal Morrison Burger that comes with Chipotle Mayo, Lettuce, Tomato and gherkins (yay)! I really liked this burger - it had a good, classic flavour with just a tang of heat from the chipotle mayo. The bun was neither soft nor hard, and lacked the overly sweet afternote that the currently popular buttermilk buns seem to have.

The Black Widow certainly packs a visual punch with its bun coloured black by charcoal. Yes, charcoal! The charcoal doesn't change the flavour of the bun (that I could detect) so fear not traditional bun-lovers!  The guts of this bun are basically the same as The Original Morrison asides from the inclusion of fresh jalepenos that certainly pack more of a punch than their pickled counterparts.

Where there are burgers there must be chips, duck fat chips ($6.00) to be precise!  These weren't as crunchy as I thought they would be, but were still very tasty.

I had REALLY wanted to try the deep fried pickles that are on the menu, but they'd run out by the time we arrived, so we opted for the cabbage salad with parmesan slaw ($5.00).

Parlour Burger is at 225 George Street, The Rocks. Phone them on 9247 6744.

Parlour Burger on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Tuckshop, Glenhaven

Whilst numerous cafe owners continue to set up shop in places like Surry Hills and Newtown, we're beyond chuffed that the guys behind The Baron have opened their new cafe in Glenhaven. We give two thumbs up for people who can see the potential of a cafe outside of the city...

Where's Glenhaven you ask? Once you get to Castle Hill...keep going which is perfect for Western Sydney dwellers like Dave and I!

We love this little motto printed on the menu of The Tuckshop, "where it's not the city and we couldn't care less". 

There's a lot of delicious looking food on the menu but we're here to try the burgers, that have already gained quite the reputation during the few short months that The Tuckshop has been open.

In keeping with "the tuckshop" theme all of the food arrives in these little (recycled cardboard) take-a-way containers...whether you choose to eat in or not. There's a great bigpark next to The Tuckshop so on a sunny day we'd bring a blanket and go eat in the park.

There are A LOT of tasty-looking burgers to choose from but I cannot go past the classic Cheeseburger (a bargain at $12.00) that comes packed with a beef patty, cheese, onions, mustard and ketchup (aka tomato sauce for you die hard Aussies).  The burger comes with a generous serve of old bay seasoned chips.

This is a REALLY GOOD burger! The bun is brilliantly soft and the beef patty is flavoursome and also nice and juicy. The combination of pickle, mustard and ketchup is so tangy and tasty -it's everything a cheeseburger should be. As soon as I finish this burger I debate with myself I could eat another one (sadly the answer was NO)!

The Boy is also swayed by the burger menu and orders "The Lot" ($16.00) and it is a massive burger crammed with a beef patty, bacon, egg, cheese, beetroot relish, tomato, lettuce that is topped with a smokey BBQ sauce.

This a a burger that must be eaten with two hands and deft maneuvering to make sure the egg stays put! The Boy tells me it's very good and has all the components of your classic Aussie burger from a little beach-side corner store.

Of course, all good burgers must have a great milkshake to help wash it down with. It's hard to pass up a Caramel Milkshake when it's on offer ($5.00) and like "the lot" burger, it's a classic flavour reminiscent of the milkshakes of our childhood.

We really enjoyed out lunch at The Tuckshop and cannot wait to go back. The guys have created a cosy, welcoming little space, with delicious food, that is much needed in our area. I'll be back for sure...and very soon!

The Tuckshop is at Shop 1,78 Glenhaven Road, Glenhaven.

The Tuckshop on Urbanspoon 

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