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

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Kitchen By Mike

The new warehouse canteen Kitchen by Mike (85 Dunnings Ave, Roseberry) was the light at the end of my working week – quite literally with it's high celiings and airy open space. It also provided the happiest moment of my Sunday when I snagged the last order of sourdough pancakes with lemon curd, it was just the dish to brighten my day.

The food at Kitchen by Mike is simple and unpretentious using the freshest produce sourced by Mike each morning, thus the menu changes daily and can be found at their Facebook page. We didn't know this when we headed there for brunch but were pleasantly surprised as we peered into the open kitchen and walked past the display of vibrant salads, rustic pizzas and freshly made juices and smoothies. We made our way through the queue and sat with our enamel tin plates at a communal table, grabbed our cutlery from an old can of tomatoes, taking in the rawness of the warehouse. Satisfied with our selection of a slice of Mike's freshly woodfired sourdough bread, fluffy and was delicious with a slather of PepeSaya butter and had us going back for a second serving. I let Bill enjoy his roasted pork belly with chutney which he found so good he would happily eat here each weekend, while I had a selection of a few of the salads on offer which were packed with flavour and well balanced.

I was keen to try the breakfasts here and I absolutely had to share Kitchen by Mike with someone else so brought the mother the following weekend, knowing she would also appreciate Koskela more than Bill did. It was noticeably more busy and my heart raced as I neared the register to order my breakfast, as I ordered the last sourdough pancakes and they crossed it off the specials board – sorry to anyone who was queueing behind me, I know my heart would sink. Mum had the baked chickpeas, chorizo with a egg which was perfection wobbly and gooey from being poached slowly for 30mins while we watched the open kitchen change from breakfast to lunch.

Kitchen By Mike
 
 
 
Freshly squeezed orange juice
 
 
Mike's woodfired sourdough bread with Pepesaya butter
 
Roast pork belly $12
 
Plum, walnut & blue cheese
Tomato, watermelon mint salad
Corn, lime & chilli salt
 
Sourdough pancakes with lemon curd
 
Baked chorizo, chickpeas with poached egg

Next door is Koskela which sells the enamel tin plates used a Kitchen by Mike and other Australian goods – we picked up some lovely smelling hand wash used in the bathrooms too as gifts for our relatives overseas. The staff are friendly and passionate, we both loved the open space, the simplicity of it all and the concept of using fresh and seasonal produce daily and we're trying to enjoy it as much as we can before the inevitable influx and appearance of beautiful people and hispters XP The food here can be a little pricey especially when you try and order a bit of each, but it is reflected in the freshness of ingredients and the quality of the dishes produced.

Kitchen By Mike on Urbanspoon

Reuben Hills

One thing I've learnt from full time work is that your weekends are sacred and to be celebrated. So last weekend we indulged in a very decadent late lunch at Reuben Hills (61 Albion Street, Surry Hills). Reuben Hills is a newly opened warehouse turned cafe and coffee roastry upstairs and a menu with a Latin American influence.

The menu looks deceivingly simple with a handful of items to choose from, but we've both never heard of many of the items! In the end I was swayed by the little blurb in the 'About' section of the menu and had a baleada – one of the most popular foods originating in Honduras. A warm, soft and thick wheat flour tortilla arrives generously filled with delicious black beans, free range eggs and a beautiful creamy, crumbly and soft queso fresco cheese. It's a little messy to eat but so friggin tasty it didn't matter. Unfortunately by the time we had lunch the Reuben, which Bill was so keen on, was sold out so instead he had the 99 Breakfast at Tiffany's. It was absolutely delicious, a tall burger with a brioche bun, chorizo and crispy onion, Bill proclaiming "all chorizo should be cooked like this". I was dying to try the Doggs Breakfast and it did not disappoint – an ice cream sandwich with a dollop of salted caramel (great balance of salty and sweet!!) which had me scraping the plate really hit the spot, while Bill got his fix from a creamy smooth and sweet Salted Caramel Milkshake.

The service was really friendly and everyone is genuinely nice! Reuben Hills also hold public coffee cuppings on Friday's each week for free and everyone is welcome. Unfortunately for us we probably won't make it to the coffee cuppings upstairs but Bill's eager to try their Reuben sandwich and I'm looking forward to trying their Black Sesame milkshake next time. Anyhoo it was definitely a great way to end our weekend!

Reuben Hills
 
 
Love love love the quirky bottles of water!
 
 
Free range eggs, queso fresco, black beans baleada
 
99 Breakfast at Tiffany's – Chorizo inside brioche bun w ranchero sauce & crispy onion
 
Salted Caramel Milkshake
 
Doggs Breakfast – Ice Cream Sandwich with salted caramel

Reuben Hills on Urbanspoon

Bread & Circus

I'm a girl who loves her veges and grew terribly jealous at the sight of my friends posting on instagram, delicious wholesome looking salads, so much so I had to get down to the new "wholefoods canteen" in Alexandria last weekend.
Bread & Circus (21 Fountain Street, Alexandria) is hidden behind Don Campos in the corner nook of a large warehouse, a beautiful and relaxed space and airy, getting plenty of sunshine. The atmosphere here is casual and natural where an assortment of stools and chairs surround communal wooden tables adorned with pieces of fruit as still life, recycled jars, baskets of serving ware and pretty bowls contained unrefined brown sugar. Just as the name suggests, it is quite the quirky canteen and I completely fell in love with the decor from the warm pastel plates, brightly coloured potted plants to the rustic buckets contained serviettes.

Each visit to Bread & Circus is made exciting with the menu changing daily. Bill and I decided to share a regular salad plate where you can choose all or one of the salads on offer. The salad combinations are different to your plain old caesar salads or garden salads and use market fresh produce:
Baked golden maple peaches with champagne puy lentils, blue cheese and chive
Smoky flamed eggplant with a light fragrant sort-of salsa verde
Slow roasted sweet balsamic tomato, torn basil and olive oil farro

(Our salad consisted of the top three)
Olive oil couscous with steamed broccoli and two kinds of beans in orange minted yoghurt
Cinnamon sea salt baked golden sweet potato with garlic olive oil and agave
Caramelised apple-cider fennel and orange in black quinoa coriander and champagne vinegar

The plate is a very generous serving size, each salad packed with flavour exploding in your mouth and absolutely scrumptious. I especially loved the juicy chunks of smoky eggplant and the combination of blue cheese with the peaches and lentils.

Thinking that sharing a regular salad plate wouldn't be enough for the both of us we also ordered a Circus soup served with wedges of sourdough and organic butter. The regular bowl of Super-green soup with creamy smooth broccoli kale & almond which was creamy smooth, hearty and absolutely delicious and great for dunking our wedges of bread into. We also received a complimentary side bowl of Balsamic roasted three tomato & banana chilli with swirl of biodynamic basil yoghurt since they accidentally forgot to bring out the soup we ordered until Bill reminded them. It was spicy and had a good kick to it which was balanced by the sour yoghurt, but we both agreed we the super-green soup had won over our hearts.

Bread & Circus
 
 
Daily Plate Salad
 
Balsamic roasted three tomato & banana chilli with a swirl of biodynamic basil yoghurt
 
Sourdough and organic butter
 
Super-green soup with creamy smooth broccoli kale & almond
  

Though quite busy multitasking (they mentioned they were understaffed that day) the staff were really quite sweet. As we were leaving they apologized again for the mix up of the soup being missed and gave us a complimentary organic orange and bran muffin to take away which we happily accepted and enjoyed with a coffee from Don Campos as we left feeling full, nurtured, super healthy and hearty. We can't wait to revisit and try more salads! And perhaps adding delicious extras such as char grilled haloumi or a boiled biodynamic egg.

Bread & Circus 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

Bloodwood

So within the very hectic last month and a half, I also finally have settled into a new office in the CBD (woo moving on up in the world!) from my previous location in Newtown. However this also means missing out on a lot of great (and cheap!) lunch time eats such as Luxe Bakery, Atom Thai, Kammadhenu and Ramen Bar. I also no longer have a weekend parking spot in Newtown so I miss out on brunch spots as well, such as Bloodwood.

Bloodwood (416 King Street, Newtown) is a particular favourite of mine for brunch not because of their courtyard which is delightful to laze about in with a cider on warmer days but because I have found the perfect version of my idea of a summer salad. The interior is a mix of industrial and retro and even sport a few inverted doors hanging from the ceilings. On this occasion I left it to the bar to create a Bloodwood mocktail for myself which was refreshing mix of apple, lime and mint while Bill had a cider. A dish I spotted at almost every table was the polenta chips with gorgonzola sauce which were incredibly light and fluffy and the gorgonzola sauce very rich and creamy. Funnily enough the gorgonzola sauce was all a bit too rich for me but Bill easily polished these off. The perfect aforementioned summer salad is the grilled cuttlefish salad with a cucumber and herb salad drizzled with mustard cream. The cuttlefish was cooked perfectly and the fresh cucumber gave the salad a beautiful crunch and the mustard cream was just made for my palate. We ended our brunch with the Bloodwood trifle a cup of passionfruit, pound cake, port wine jelly, honeycomb anglaise and vanilla bean pannacotta which though looked quite simple, it was to die for and absolutely fan-friggin-tasty with the combination of textures and flavours…we were each fighting spoonfuls of this trifle…next time we'll just order one each for ourselves ๐Ÿ™‚

Bloodwood


Bloodwood Mocktail $8

Polenta chips and gorgonzola sauce $9

Grilled cuttlefish salad $19

Bloodwood trifle $14

Though Newtown isn't as easily accessible as it was before, it won't stop me from revisiting Bloodwood for my favourite salad and trifle…just make sure to arrive early as they have a no bookings policy and the restaurant filled up pretty fast while we were there ๐Ÿ˜‰

Bloodwood 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