Brickfields, 2013 SMH Good Cafe Guide Best Small Cafe

Congratulations to Brickfields, 2013 SMH Good Cafe Guide Best Small Cafe!

On the way to the city one Sunday morning, a small crowd caught my eye outside a tiny bakery and we decided to spontaneously make a stop. The cafe was Brickfields (206 Cleveland St, Chippendale) which in fact is a half a bakery by Luxe head baker, supplying bread to the likes of Cornersmith and half espresso bar by Mecca Espresso – with a collaboration like that you know it’s going to be great.

Though Brickfields appears to be in a very small space, they definitely make great use of it, making the cafe feel open and airy with hanging plants, large windows and a peek into the working bakery behind the counters. Even smarter use of the space are the industrial looking swivel stools which can be hidden under the counters. There are several large tables outside however, luckily for us it wasn’t too busy this particular morning and we grabbed a couple of counter seats by the large sacks of flour and grains.

You would expect great coffee by Mecca Espresso and Brickfields did not disappoint, the coffee was smooth and one of the creamiest I’ve had. Just a note ladies, they don’t offer skim milk, but they do have Bon Soy! They also serve carafes of homemade mint sodas and lemon sodas which most tables were enjoying. Bill likes to judge eateries based on how well their bacon roll is, and he didn’t have any complaints, bacon, lettuce, mayo sandwiched between a freshly baked roll. I opted for the Breakfast Plate which was as satisfying as it sounds, a piece of sourdough toast beneath layers of fried eggplant, tahini, a halved boiled egg perched on top with zhoug (a green paste made with spices and coriander) served with a wedge of lemon. The entire dish as a whole was so delicious from the zhoug to the zing of the lemon, I forsee many breakfast stopovers here just for the Breakfast Plate.

Brickfields

Breakfast Plate

Bacon Sandwich

Brickfields is located on Cleveland Street but it’s best to find parking around Balfour Street. The menu is quite limited but you won’t be disappointed by their freshly baked goods and if you don’t happen to grab a table just sit by the wooden planters under the trees with a take away croissant and coffee.

Brickfields on Urbanspoon

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MoVida Sydney

My my how fast 2013 has already flown by, cannot believe it's already mid March! If you follow me on twitter or instagram you'll know that I've been in and out of Sydney in recent months for work and though it may be two nights here and there, it starts to accumulate and I always feel really far away from the boy. So when I returned from a back to back Malaysia and Perth trip, he suprised me with a lunch date at MoVida Sydney (50 Holt St, Surry Hills).
We've been wanting to go to Movida Sydney since it opened in Sydney as we loved Movida in Melbourne and Bill wanted another taste of the anchoa! However it's always been booked out, but yay they're now open for late Saturday lunches and take bookings.

We were seated on the high tables lined by the windows – and yes they have bag hooks under the table – and we were served crusty bread sprinkled with salt with olive oil for dipping. Now Movida has always served complimentary bread however some months they participate in Bread for Change where diners can pay an optional $1 for the bread which is donated towards a charity – our donation went towards the Salvation Army's Bushfire Disaster Relief Appeal and it's  great initiative by restaurants participating, and imho the bread is definitely worth the extra $1. The Sherry Cobbler with Fino Sherry, Orange and Lemon was a delicious way to kick off lunch while Bill went for the Sangria.
It was pretty easy ordering this time around, knowing how big the portions were for each type of dish, if you haven't been to Movida the waiters are very helpful in ordering enough for your party ranging from small tapas plates to larger share plates. Bill's only request was he definitely wanted the Anchoa again, the single salty piece of Cantabrian anchovy with a quenelle of smoky tomato sorbet on a perfectly thin crisp was just as good as the one we first ate in Melbourne. The Bocata de Buey was a sight to see! A hollow air baguette wrapped with a thin rost biff wagyu topped with Tocino de Cielo and altogether paired so well with the sweet pickled and black garlic – this was going to be a new favourite along with the Anchoa. We only ordered one serving of the Pintxo de Pulpo Gallega but I wishe we ordered one for each, it was perfectly cooked, my knife cutting the octopus pincho like butter which was melt in your mouth and seasoned with paprika served on top a potato mash. Of the larger plates we ordered the Mojama, perfect blocks of watermelon topped with slices of air cured tuna with beetroot, marcona almonds and goats cheese. We also could not go past the Cecina which we missed on our previous visit in Melbourne, thin slices of air cured wagyu beef with the creamy, gooey poached egg and truffle foam was decadent and amazing, our favourite dish from our lunch. I was tempted by the churros for dessert, but I wanted to taste the Flan which blew my mind last visit and did not disappoint in Sydney, we indulged in the creme caramel which wobbled on the plate, velvety smooth we finished it within minutes.

MoVida Sydney


Sherry Cobbler and Sangria

Bread for Change

Anchoa
Artisan Cantabrian Anchovy with Smoked Tomato Sorbet 4.5 each

Pintxo de pulp gallega
Octopus Pincho served with Potato and Paprika 6.8 each

Bocata de buey
Air Baguette, Rost Biff Wagyu, Tocino de Cielo, Pickled & Black Garlic 8.5 each

Mojama
Air Cured Tuna with Beetroot, Watermelon and Marcona Almonds 19

Cecina
Air cured Wagyu Beef with Truffle Foam & a Poached Egg 21.5

Cecina

Flan
Crème Caramel served with Pestinos 14

Movida Sydney is an aboslutely great addition to Surry Hills with a great vibe, fantastic service and the food just as great as the Melbourne Institution. Now there's no need to jump on a plane, just make your way down to Surry Hills, be sure book ahead as it's so popular we were unable to book even a weekday dinner for my birthday last year, however they do have few spaces for walk ins by the bar also. As they change their menu items often, I can't wait to go back and try the other dishes.

MoVida Sydney on Urbanspoon

Four in Hand

My mum becomes some what of a foodie fan-girl whenever Colin Fassnidge makes an appearance on television, so when the time came around to book a restaurant for her birthday lunch, her first choice was naturally, Four in Hand (105 Sutherland St, Paddington). Four in Hand is nestled in the residential street of Paddington and the dining room is further hidden through the pub. We were seated in an intimate dining room with elegant dark wood floors, beneath the giant squid painting. I was excited to dine here as Four in Hand makes the most of their produce through the nose to tail cooking philosophy.

To start, complimentary Iggy's sourdough bread is served, airy and delicious, followed by an amuse bouche of basil, paprika and citrus served in a tiny cup to whet the appetite. Though their menu is on the smaller side, it was hard to decide between the dishes. Luckily between the four of us we managed to cover the most of the menu.
I could not go past the lightly seared bonito with apple and cucumber jelly with a combination of textures, flavours which was all very prettily plated, while the others ordered the beautifully presented sashimi of trout hidden beneath ribbons of radish. I continued with the white meat theme and had the roasted jewfish with deliciously smoky vegetables for a main but was envious of mum's gorgeous piece of beef, bone marrow and delicate onion rings in the most amazing cast iron plate and a side serving of green beans with hazelnut dressing. A combination which I wasn't too sure of was the spanish mackeral with prosciutto and squid gnocchi which was perfect together in an amazing seafood mussel broth while you cannot go wrong with the suckling pig served with a side of the absolutely smoothest and creamiest colcannon, an Irish mashed potato dish with kale. Dessert was an easy decision, the chocolate snickers presented much like a garden of soil of scoops of chocolate mousse ad peanuts dusted with cocoa and sprinkled with micro herbs popping out. For the brother with a peanut allergy, a caramlised ad stewed apple with a refreshing yoghurt popsicle.

Four In Hand
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Four in Hand is definitely deserving of the GFG two hats, surprising flavour combinations which worked perfectly and an experience topped off with attentive and warm service. Definitely a place I would love to take Bill for a carnivorous hit and I am sure he would enjoy the braised tender meats and head to tail cooking philosophy. Loved it so much I'll also have to make our way to Four Fourteen soon.

Four in Hand on Urbanspoon

Cowbell 808

Oops, apologies for my absence…it has been a while since I've been back from Canada…but I'm back with the new kid on the Surry Hills block.

Cowbell 808 (616 Bourke St Surry Hills) is a retro inspired cafe complete with hip hop graffiti feature wall, indoor basketball hoop, a counter behind a row of old school vinyl records and lego knick knacks…I think my 80's McDonald's happy meal toys will fit right in here. The kitchen is small but they make mostly everything on the premises, even smoking their bacon and the house blend Toby's Estate made for a delicious coffee. It took a while however our food eventually arrived on our vinyl table burnt with an iron. I had the Pork 'n' beans on toast, a mountain of white beans and hearty saucy pork with a nice kick of tabasco topped with grated provolone made for a perfect brunch on this winter's day. Bill naturally wanted to try the Cowbell 808 burger a ground beef pattie, lettuce, cheese, pickles and a side of onion rings. I loved the onion rings and wished we could have ordered a side of these to share! My friend had the Grilled Eggplant roll which we agreed was the tastiest dish of the day fried cauliflower, eggplant, hommus and mint on grilled flatbread.

If you're feeling adventurous and in the need of some comfort food you can't go past the Fat Stacked Hotcakes with marscapone, bacon ice cream and espresso syrup, which we're saving for next time!

Cowbell 808
 
 
Lismore spoon
 
turn around Mr Legohead
 
Cowbell 808 Burger
 
Pork 'n' Beans on Toast
 

With our bellies full, it was off to the 18th Biennale of Sydney to check out the exhibitions on Cockatoo Island. My favourites were the Hylozic Series: Sibyl and the Dune lights in the Dog Leg Tunnel while Bill enjoyed the Living Chasm a pure water fog.

Biennale of Sydney ends 16 Sept
 
The River
 
 
 
Domesticated Turf

Domesticated Turf
Industrial doillies made of sand

Cowbell 808 on Urbanspoon

Tetsuya’s

Just a little over a month ago I celebrated my birthday…and I'm still getting used to the number 24. We celebrated my birthday (for yes a second time) at Tetsuya's (529 Kent St, Sydney). Tetsuya's one of S.Pellegrino's World 100 Best Restaurants, once the Best Restaurant in Australasia has always been on my wishlist since forever and has held the Good Food Guide's three hat status for just as long, but as I'm waiting for my booked date to arrive, in 2011 Tetsuya's lost one hat – perhaps he is concentrating on his Singapore restaurant Waku Ghin, but none the less I was still as excited!
Having walked past Tetsuya's countless times, once you step past the gate on Kent Street, you're transported out of Sydney city and into a quiet and serene Japanese town and reminds me much of our stay at a ryokan in Arima Onsen, Kyoto. The restaurant is a maze, the dining rooms are large and decorated with artworks, we're seated by the window and the Japanese zen garden.

I'm sure you have heard all the amazing things about Tetsuya's Unsalted Butter with Ricotta and Truffles and it's true, it's light, airy and simply delicious. Bill was sensible, not wanting to fill up on bread and stopped at one bread roll, I on the other hand could not resist slathering it on my warm crusty roll white bread with fluffy inards…and then order another roll of rye bread…I just love great butter with good bread.
To whet our appetite we started with Chilled Pea Soup with Mint. The next dish was a supplementary item which we nodded our heads furiously to when offered by the waiter, Pacific Oysters with Rice Vinegar and Ginger. I love the acidity from the rice vinegar which complemented the fresh creamy oyster well and was well worth the additional $18 for four oysters.
I'm always super excited when chawanmushi is served and it was no different this time when the Savoury Custard with Sea Urchin arrived, the silky smooth custard in my favourite dashi broth melted in my mouth but I much prefer the texture of raw sea urchin than steamed. Sashimi of Kingfish with Blackbean and Orange was the perfect harmony of flavours, the tartness from the mirin and blackbean drizzled on the firm Kingfish sashimi. Next, a beautiful piece of Grilled Scampi with Chicken Liver Parfait brought together with a light walnut dressing.
The next dish is Tetsuya's signature dish and remains the only constant on his menu throughout the years. Now admittedly I was afraid of this dish just in case I couldn't finish it, you see I don't enjoy salmon and ocean trout sashimi. Despite this though, I absolutely loved the Confit of Petuna Ocean Trout with Shaved Fennel with Unpasteurised Ocean Trout Caviar. Being Japanese, kombu is a staple in our diet, but for Bill it's unfamiliar and strange. Kombu is a seaweed or kelp and is used to make dashi broth, you can also have it dried and eaten as a condiment to the humble bowl of rice. The confit of the ocean trout created an interesting texture, the fish was flaky but firm as you cut into it, a melting mouthful against the crisp kombu crust adding sea saltiness to the freshness of the fish. And of course the fish roe added popping fun and deliciousness. It's no wonder this is Tetsuya's signature dish and if I'm to eat ocean trout again it'll have to be Tetsuya's.
Our last of the seafood dishes was the Steamed Queensland Spanner Crab with Bean Curd, Foie Gras and Junsai, a delicate and sweet terrine of spanner crab and silken tofu with subtle foie gras and hints of junsai a sprout covered with a jelly like texture.
Onto the meat courses a pink and crispy skin covered Duck Breast with Pickled Beetroot. Much to Bill's delight we're served a substantial piece of Grass Fed Angus Beef and Tendon with Wasabi and Mustard Seeds, rare, tender and soft, one of the best pieces of steak we have had in a while and perfect with the mustard seeds.
Our refreshing pre dessert of Ginger Ice Cream with Lychee Granita served as a palate cleanser. Tetsuya's Bread and Butter Pudding similar to a creme brulee, a sweet concoction of creamy vanilla custard and cinnamon. My birthday warranted a special dessert a Chocolate Fondant with Hazelnut and Praline, a gorgeous warm centered fondant oozing warm chocolate flecked with salt pieces paired with a quinelle of creme fraiche ice cream and candied hazelnuts. While the Mister has a Chocolate Pave with Cream Cheese Ice Cream and Cinnamon Twigs, a dense rich mousse, dark and bitter chocolate balanced by the tanginess of the cream cheese ice cream. I was too busy immersed in my chocolate fondant that I didn't get to try any of the cinnamon twigs ๐Ÿ˜ฆ
And just in case we weren't full enough we're served petit fours of hazelnut chocolate to finish our night.

Tetsuya's
 
Warm crusty white roll with fluffy innards
 
Rye bread roll
 
Unsalted butter with Truffles and Ricotta – absolutely heavenly
 
Chilled Pea Soup with Mint
 
Pacific Oysters with Rice Vinegar and Ginger
 
Savoury Custard with Sea Urchin
 
Sashimi of Kingfish with Blackbean and Orange
 
Grilled Scampi with Chicken Liver Parfait
 
Steamed Queensland Spanner Crab with Bean Curd, Foie Gras and Junsai
 
Confit of Petuna Ocean Trout with Shaved Fennel with Unpasteurised Ocean Trout Caviar
 
Breast of Duck with Pickled Beetroot
 
Grass Fed Angus Beef and Tendon with Wasabi and Mustard Seeds
 
Ginger Ice Cream with Lychee Granita
Tetsuya's Bread and Butter Pudding

 
Warm Centred Chocolate Fondant with Candied Hazelnut and Cream Fraiche Ice Cream
 
Chocolate Pave with Cream Cheese Ice Cream and Cinnamon Twigs
 
Mr. Wakuda and I
Our Tetsuya's experience was heightened even more when Tetsuya himself came by our table and had a chat with us which I thought very charming and nice of him. The degustation was simple using fresh produce from around Australia, I hear Tetsuya has a trout farm and buys his Japanese vegetables from one Sydney farm, each dish cooked perfectly and presentation was outstanding. We could not fault the dishes nor the service which was impeccable.
Dear SMH GFG…Surely the exceptional and delicate, melt in your mouth confit of Petuna Ocean Trout alone is equivalent to the third hat …no?

Tetsuya's on Urbanspoon

La Bodeguita del Medio

Have you ever had Cuban food before? I've walked past La Bodeguita del Medio (125 York Street) plenty of times as it stands in a heritage building opposite the Queen Victoria Building but I've never stopped to take a look inside or peruse their menu until last week. Who knew that in the heart of the CBD there would be a lively Cuban restaurant, vibrant on a Thursday night, atmosphere a buzz with crowds gahtering for the $10 Mojitos. As soon as you step into the grand restaurant fitted with dark furnishings it is as if you've been transported to Havana, Cuba with the lively music, photographs on the walls and hospitable welcoming service.

Ordering cocktails was easy – LBDM is the "home of the mojito" and Hemingway coined the term "mojito in La Bodeguita" so mojito it was! The mojito was very refreshing and had a great balance of mint and limes. While Bill of course went for a girly pink drink the Quaker which was absolutely delicious. It took us a while to decide on what dishes to order, our friendly waitress was very helpful in this department interpreting the menu from Comestibles (size between tapas and entrees), Entradas (entrees), Fondo (mains), Carnes (meat) and Para Acompanar (side dishes). In the end we took our waitresses suggestion on board and had the Ceviche del dia, a Peruvian style ceviche which was lively and  had a great kick to it. I especially loved the vinaigrette and was tempted to sip out of the bowl! We also ordered the best sandwich ever the Pan Con Lechon (pan means bread – same in Japan) with a generous piece of kurobuta pork, melty cheese and onion salsa had us salivating. All this eating did make us thirsty so it was time for another drink and I went for another rum based cocktail the Nacional which was delightfully fruity that Bill also wanted one ๐Ÿ˜› For the mains I could not go past the Pato con Chocolate beautifully pink tender slices of duck breast on top of a sweet potato croquants with chocolate sauce. The skin on the duck breast was crisp and the chocolate sauce was subtle and sweet – a delicious combination. Bill had to have the porterhouse steak Lomo de res served with rosemary and garlic roasted potatos. The steak was so wonderfully charred and grilled and had a smokey aroma that Bill obviously hasn't been able to get off his mind as he has been talking about it all week. We also wanted to order something "Cuban" as the menu has alot of South American influences so we had the Tostones of fried plantains (green bananas) with Cuban aioli which was like savoury banana fritter and almost resembled a potato… The portion here are very generous but we still had room for dessert ๐Ÿ˜‰ I was curious about the La Lechera  described as "a class…LBDM style" and as soon as the waitress said "condensed milk bubbles" I was sold, yes I do need that much calcium.Though presented more simply than Bill's dessert there was a chocolate caramel condensed milk semi freddo in condensed milk bubbles topped off with a banana and chocolate swirl. Surprisingly the dish wasn't overly sweet and I loved the difference of playful textures between the airy bubbles and smooth semi freddo and the chocolate, banana and milky flavours.Bill opted for the special that night which was Dulce de Leche (a caramel from Latin America) inspired special with vanilla sponge soaked in pineapple juice with pineapple jelly, custard vanilla and a strawberry and mint sorbet. It was presented very prettily and the thin sheets of pineapple jelly were intriguing but best of all was the custard and caramel which we would happily lick the plate for.

I loved how the restaurant has committed to transporting you to Cuba with the menu, mojitos! music, atmosphere and furnishings such as portraits and hanging signs. I even spied a rum locker as I walked to the unisex bathrooms. I can definitely say that we've both has a taste of Latin American food and can't wait to try a few more items on the menus as sadly we didn't order any of the entradas. They also have a fully serviced bar downstairs with live music which could possibly become my colleagues and I next local watering hole with the happy hour $10 Mojitos.

La Bodeguita del Medio


Mojito
Havana Club Rum, Fresh Mint & Lime, Soda & Sugar 14

Ceviche del día
Peruvian style ceviche 15

Pan con Lechón
Kurabuta pork, sweet potato crisps, onion salsa 18


Nacional
Club Havana Rum, Apricot liquer and a couple of splashes of Pineapple Juice. 15
Quaker
Havana Blanco Rum & Cognac shaken with raspberry syrup & fresh lemon juice 17

Tostones
Fried plantains with Cuban aioli 8

Pato con chocolate
Duck breast, sweet potato & spinach croquants & chocolate sauce 36

Lomo de res 300g
O'Connor premium pasteurised porterhouse steak 42 All steaks are served
with Rosemary & Garlic roasted potato & house made condiments

Dulce de Leche (a caramel from Latin America) inspired
special with vanilla sponge soaked in pineapple juice with pineapple
jelly, custard vanilla and a strawberry and mint sorbet

La Lechera
a class…LBDM style. 15
(chocolate caramel condensed milk semi freddo in condensed milk bubbles topped off with a banana and chocolate swirl)


you can even leave your mark with scribbles on the wall

Ayana dined as a guest of La Bodeguita del Medio

La Bodeguita del Medio on Urbanspoon

Nok Nok Thai Eating House

Back in my day it was called Tumbalong park and opposite it was Sega World, now the area has been newly finished and is known as Darling Quarter featuring lines of cafes (most with al fresco dining – perfect for the upcoming summer months) overlooking the huge funky playground.  Nok Nok Thai Eating House (Shop 9 Darling Walk, Darling Quarter) is one of these new establishments.

The decor and beautiful presentation  of the space of Nok Nok really excited me with sky high ceilings and mirrors making it look even more light and airy, the pale marble-like walls  provided a lovely contrast to the elements of greenery of hanging potted plants and trees sprouting from the banquet table – it reminded me of  British India.On Saturday night the restaurant was a buzz and most of the booths were reserved so we were seated on the communal banquet table (just make sure your group is not separated by the tree in the table).

As an appetizer our friends ordered the Guay Teaw Lord ($8.90) a wide rice  noodle roll wrapping pieces of chicken, tofu, egg and dried shrimp (?) similarly to the rice noodle rolls served at yum cha. Tonight most of us  ordered noodles Gauy Teaw Kua ($13.90) a soy based stir fried flat rice noodles, chicken Pad Thai ($12.90) thin rice noodles fried with tofu, egg, garlic, chives,  bean sprout and crushed peanuts and I had the Kee Mao ($13.90) a wide rice noodle with holy basil, chilli in a dark soy base. It had a good spicy  kick to it which was easily offset by the light and refreshing lychee frappe ($4.00) I ordered earlier. Instead of noodles Bill had the Duck Red Curry ($18.90) which came in a very generous portion, eggplants, bamboo shoots, basil and green beans swimming in a light curry. As we were finishing our dishes we realise our order of Pla Meuk Yang ($15.90) a grilled whole squid had not yet arrived so we opted to cancel  this dish…boo because I was  really looking forward to this dish as I love the grilled calamari from Chat Thai. The front "kitchen" is an open plan and I spied a massive bowl of mangoes and I knew exactly what I was having for dessert. The Keo Neow Ma Moung ($8.90) mango was fresh and meaty and the sweet sticky  rice seemed lighter than that of other Thai restaurants, needless to say we easily polished dessert off.

Nok Nok Thai Eating House

 
Communal banquet table

Booth dining

Chicken Pad Thai

Chicken Ki Mao

Duck Red Curry

Keo Neow Ma Moung Sweet sticky rice with fresh mango

The atmosphere at Nok Nok is nice and the menu quite extensive featuring some dishes such as the wide noodle rice not commonly featured at other Thai restaurants. The food was great and 'll head back again and hope to be able to try the grilled whole squid soon, the outdoor dining area also seems nice for those balmy summer evenings…there was even a jazz band playing outside on Saturday night.

Nok Nok on Urbanspoon