Showing posts from 2009

Bistro Ortolan

Bistro Ortolan is one of Sydney's well known "flash" restaurants. A fancy place you go when you want an upscale french dinner. We had heard mixed reviews. One friend whose opinion we respect a lot had completely panned it, but when our favorite server at Tastevin called it "the best degustation in Sydney" we decided we had to try it.
It's a single bus ride for us out to Leichardt, which is best known as one of Sydney's oldest estabished Italian neighborhoods. Leichardt is where we go for ricotta cake, wood fired pizza, and great Italian cheeses. I called early in the afternoon to get a booking, asking "could I get a booking for this evening?" "Certainly, when would you like to come in?" "When do you have open? I'm free all evening." "So are we." "In that case, I'll just wander in. See you in a bit." "Thank you, sir."
So wander in we did. After perusing the wine list, menu, and degustation…

Phở Bắc Hải Dương

Pho bac hai duong is a Vietnamese restaurant in Marrickville serving northern style beef noodle soup, which is obvious from the name - if you speak Vietnamese. "Pho" is Vietnamese beef noodle soup, "bac" means northern, and "Hai Duong" is a province in northern Vietnam. [I realize that by omitting the diacritical marks I'm mangling the Vietnamese, and I apologize for that.]
We'd ridden by this restaurant on the bus to other places, we'd heard it was one of the best pho places in the Sydney area, and we were in the mood for pho - so off we went. There are various theories about the origin of the name, and the origins of the dish. One popular version is that the name and soup come from the French "pot au feu." Others think the soup was of Chinese origin. In any case, there's general agreement that the dish started in the north in the early 1900s, and moved southward in the 1950s. There are definite regional variations, in the flavo…

Egg & Soldier

The other new place that's opened recently on Glebe Point Rd is a "milk bar" called "The Egg and Soldier." I had been under the impression that a milk bar was a kind of local store for picking up milk and eggs and newspapers. Reading up a bit more, milk bars are that but they also used to be a place where people especially young people could come and socialize, drink coffee or soft drinks and generally socialize with their friends.
The Egg and Soldier is definitely more a place to socialize than a place to pick up a newspaper. It's a cafe where you can also get coffee, desserts, or light meals. The name (and logo) refers to the childhood dish of boiled egg with toast "soldiers" and "The Egg and Soldier" recreates some of that feeling of happy nostalgia.
We visited the first day they were open and things were still a little chaotic, but the staff is very friendly and obviously anxious to make a good impression. The place was warm and full o…

Glebe Noodle House

There are two new restaurants on Glebe Point Road that just opened in the past few days. Glebe Noodle House is down at the Broadway end of Glebe Point Road, and serves western Chinese style hand pulled noodles.
I'm a huge fan of hand pulled noodles, and Chinese noodle dishes in general. Hand pulled noodles are thick and chunky wheat noodles that are either fried or put into stews or soups. They're hearty, filling and delicious.
The process of making hand pulled noodles is both time consuming and labor intensive, requiring making dough, cutting it, rolling it into fat cigar shapes, letting it rest, rolling it again into long thumb width snakes, coiling it and letting it rest, pulling it into pencil thick lengths, piling them and letting it rest, and finally making skeins of noodles between your hands and stretching them into their final shape and size then boiling them.

The same dough can be rolled out into thin rounds as wrappers for the ubiquitous dumplings, that are filled with…

Palace Chinese Restaurant

Based on recommendations from other local food bloggers, Debbie and I decided to try the Yum Cha (dim sum) at Palace Chinese Restaurant. We arrived just before closing on a weekday so the selection was a bit anemic - but that was our own fault.
We tried a selection of traditional dim sums, including har gao, glutinous rice with pork, custard buns, and BBQ duck. All of them were tasty, the duck in particular was the best prepared of any chinese BBQ duck we've had in the city - they boned it!
From our preview we were favorably impressed with the quality - we'll be back to check out the selection soon. My one concern is that the prices seemed a bit high, even by Sydney standards, but if the quality is good enough it will be worth it.

Hunter Valley

The Hunter Valley wine region is only about two hours north of Sydney. We'd never been there and various of our friends had been telling us how pretty it was, so last Thursday and Friday we headed up to see what it was like. Debbie and I had recently gotten YHA memberships and booked the tour through them. They provided transportation to and from the Hunter Valley, a half-day wine tour, dinner, and a private
room with bath at the Hunter Valley YHA all for a total of AU$368. We ended up seeing four pretty ordinary wineries and some typical tourist attractions the first day, but an interesting brewpub and some great brick kilns on the second day.
We were told to meet the bus at the corner of Pitt St and Campbell St at 7:15am. We arrived a few minutes late and had a momentary concern that maybe this time they really meant "we will leave at 7:15 sharp" rather than the more traditionally Australian "you show up sometime around 7:15, we'll show up anywhere from 15 minut…

Crocodile Senior Thai

If you ride the bus up or down George St in the Sydney CBD, you've almost certainly seen a restaurant with the odd name of "Crocodile Senior Thai" along with its bright orange sign and silly reclining yellow crocodile. It would never have occurred to us to try it, except that a number of the local food blogs recommended it very highly. So we tried it.
At least one blog warned that the menu was in thai, and we were worried we'd be reduced to pointing and pantomime, but in fact there is plenty of english on the menu. Crocodile Senior Thai specializes in "Issan" cuisine - Thai food from the northern provinces along the Mekong River near the border with Laos. Issan food is sufficiently different from the rest of Thai food that it's considered a distinct cuisine.
Debbie ordered "Kuy Jub" which is sometimes spelled "Kuay Jub" and is basically a pig intestine soup with broad rice noodles. This one had the traditional jellied pig blood, pig in…

Under Ice

Debbie and I went to see "Under Ice" at the Griffin Theater tonight. What a pretentious piece of self-indugent sophmoric crap. The good news is that it was the last night so you don't have to worry about seeing it. The bad news goes on and on.
First, let me say that the acting was great. Technically brilliant, the play is practically 90 minutes of long monologue after long monologue, intercut with intricately choreographed rapid fire dialog. I would say that it was a triumph of form over substance, except that there wasn't enough substance to triumph over.
The point of the play is that corporate culture is shallow and meaningless, values youth and energy over age and experience, and will suck your soul and throw you aside. The points are made with all the subtlety of schoolyard sarcasm, and repeated ad infinitum and ad nauseum. In case we didn't get the point by having a forty something office guy contrasted with two twenty something go getters, we are later treat…

Shanghai Tang

As part of my never ending quest for the perfect Xiao Long Bao (Shanghai style "soup dumplings"), tonight we visited Shanghai Tang at 653 George St. We had heard about it from a few friends, and when it got reviewed in TimeOut we decided we better not wait any longer.
It's a small place, at the intersection of Campbell and George up a small flight of stairs. There are black wood tables spread around a somewhat disorganized space, but it feels light and airy and clean. We sat down and quickly looked over the menus, excited by the prospect of good, inexpensive, authentic shanghai style food. We settled on some old favorites in order to judge the place. We got Xiao long bao, of course, and some dan dan mein (tan tan mian) with hot tea. Given that this is a place that bills itself as shanghai style, and that it's in Chinatown, we had high hopes.

The dan dan mein arrived first, and while Shanghai Tang apparently offers hand pulled noodles, these were not. It also seemed mor…