Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Rockpool @ The Rocks

This visit to Rockpool definitely has to be the highlight of my food journeys so far. For our anniversary, the Man took me to this much famed restaurant - beautiful decor, beautiful food, beautiful wine. I actually didn't believe him when he told me where we were going. 

The weather was quite wet and dreary as it always seems to be during the Vivid festival but once we were inside, we instantly forgot about the rain and snugly waited for our yummies to come. 

It' been a while since this visit took place so sadly, I don't remember what we actually had. 

I have a thing for pretty lights.

There were only a few tables when we came in but then again, this was just the downstairs.

Always love a clean table, set up and ready.

Oh this bread! I know you're not supposed to pig out on the bread before the meal but this bread was so chewy and rustic that we couldn't help but finish it.


Creamy and savoury, this little appetizer was small but just enough to satisfy.

First course.

The blue swimmer crab and corn congee. Soft, creamy texture with familiar Asian flavours. 

This was the braised pork cheeks, I think. The Man didn't like the texture of the jelly-like meat but if you're used to it, then go for it.

Second course.

This was slightly sweet but oh so lovely!

Another oriental dish for the Man. 

Third course.

Date tart. The tart was very light and soft with a creamy filling and underlined with sweet dates. 

I remember I was vocally expressing my delight as I ate this dish, "Mmm! Wow! I like this."

Vacherin of pandan custard, coconut parfait, jasmine sorbet and lime granita. After all these courses, the lime granita was certainly a shock of contrasting flavours. 

The Man, being a fan of the sour and savoury, demolished this while I was happily lost in my date tart. 

Their service is also something to note. As of today, the service has definitely been the best I've experienced.

 I don't doubt all these new, themed restaurants have great food but it's a must to try out these classic fine dining restaurants. The complexity of flavours, textures, and presentation is what differentiates Rockpool from other fine dining restaurants. Each dish is beautiful and fun. Gratitude to the Man for such a fantastic night (from 'Spartacus' just in case you know it!) :) 

Rockpool on George on Urbanspoon

The Grounds of Alexandria @ Alexandria

Second stop of the day! The Grounds of Alexandria.

Alexandria was a rather random place to have a cafe on the Talk of the Town list because by what I remember, it was an industrial area full of warehouses and offices. I thought it was understandable that this place does well because there aren't any nice places to go to around the area, if there are any at all. It wasn't until I visited The Grounds that I finally understood what the hype was about.

This place was huge! They have a separate take away counter in the middle. 


The carrot and orange juice. How eco-friendly and pretty is this glass?!

We were told not to judge a book by its cover.. so let's dig in and see if the important parts impress us. 

We ordered the beef burger with chips and an extra serving of chili mayo on the side. 

The burger was tiny! I don't know about the rest of you but on a normal day, I can not be satisfied with just this. The tiny meatball of a patty was hardly sufficient for all that bread but it was quite juicy and tender. They could have been more generous with the tomato sauce as the mayo it also comes with wasn't enough to flavour the entire burger, especially all that bread. I did like the slightly seasoned chips and the chili mayo. 

Buffalo mozzarella salad with heirloom tomatoes. Where are the heirloom tomatoes?! Such a deceptive name. The huge mozzarella pieces almost made up for it....

...until the salt hit me. It was like I was swallowing chunks of the Pacific Ocean. 

The chunk of sea salt. I was thirsty the entire day because of this. 

Overall, the food was alright but not fantastic in my opinion. Everything looks beautiful and you can't help but have high expectations as you watch busy chefs carefully assembling their dishes like artwork. They seem a bit lost on the flavours but I think that's an area that doesn't need too much improvement. 

This was around 2-3 o'clock on a weekday but it's still fairly crowded with a long line of people waiting for takeaway coffee. I heard it gets quite busy during the weekends so make sure you come a bit earlier if you want to be in time for lunch. Parking is also a bit of a drama so prepare your battle gear!

I wouldn't mind getting take away and sitting out here in the garden.

The wishing well.

 The Grounds of Alexandria on Urbanspoon

Reuben Hills @ Surry Hills

The days have been so beautiful these days and I'm on a semi-break at the moment so it's even better. I've been wanting to try a few places but didn't have the time which is why I couldn't blog for so long. Now that uni is getting busier and I'm spending more days at the hospital, it's getting harder to organise an outing, day or night. It was also my mom's day off so we couldn't waste this opportunity!

First stop, Reuben Hills! I've passed by this place many times while on the 891 and have stared at it longingly each time. I was quite excited. I like how the cafes and restaurants nowadays exude so much character. Even things like water bottles and cups make the visit a little bit more exciting!

The neon X at the entrance. It was around lunch time on a weekday and the cafe was already quite full. We had to choose to either wait for a table or sit at the counter. Mom wanted to check out the cafe so we put our name on the waiting list while sipping our coffee and juice at the counter.

They have the coffee roaster upstairs. The cafe itself is like a long warehouse with a painted garage door that opens up at the back. 

Another little thing that makes me happy.

Grapefruit juice! Deliciously sweet and sour, the juice was refreshing and perfect for this warm day. 

The smoked salmon ceviche. I forgot to take a photo of the menu (which was different to the online one) so I'm not exactly sure what goes in the dish. There's corn, cucumber, blood orange and a generous sprinkle of some sort of ground seed (mom said it was fennel seed?) that reminded me of a dish I had in Thailand. Mom wasn't used to the flavour and she found the dish bland but I thought it was clean and nice, although a bit small. 

Now the famous NOT reuben with wagyu salt brisket, pickled slaw, melted manchego & horseradish cream. I loved this dish. The pickled slaw was tangy against the creamy horseradish cream and the drizzle of oil made this little sandwich the clear winner of my food adventures for the day. I'm craving this even now as I write this and I'll be returning very soon, I hope, to try it again!  

Reuben Hills on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Kazbah @ Balmain/Top Ryde

I'm crazy for brunch at Kazbah thesedays. Especially with spring coming along, I can't help but feel like brunch with sunshine and yummies! I've compiled the three trips into this one page and yes, I got the french toast twice but can't you blame me?! 

The Kazbah in Balmain is a beautiful place. From the yellow walls to the exotic lanterns, everything about this place makes it a relaxing mini resort in the middle of Sydney. 

Breakfast is available until 3pm! 

Their very interesting water jug. I hope they don't keep the mint in there for too long because I have seen them pouring water from a half empty jug into another jug to make it full. 

Freshly squeezed orange juice. 

Turkish coffee for the Man. He's grown a liking to black coffee these days so he decided to be adventurous today and try this out. 

Neither of us have seen this contraption before so we were both giggly like kids as he poured the coffee into his cup. The cup was so cute and pretty!

French toast, bacon, glazed baby figs, double cream, apple cinnamon syrup. A delicious concoction of sheer happiness. The brioche was thick and buttery, the perfect type of bread for this sweet dish. The syrup does get overpowering halfway through the meal but that's where the savoury bacon helps. The plump figs made me feel like I was somewhere on the Mediterranean, enjoying the warmth rather than having layers upon layers of clothing.

A closer look.

Thick and buttery. Yum!

 The breakfast tagine - lamb mince, sucuk, spinach, roast capsicum, roast tomato, caramelized onion, feta, eggs. The Man really loves this dish. Every visit to Kazbah, he orders this without a doubt.

 It's a bit too spicy for me to have as breakfast or brunch but it is a delicious dish nonetheless. The lamb and the spices highlight the Mediterranean/North African theme of Kazbah.

Watermelon and rose juice. I really love their juices at Kazbah. Every day, they have a different blend of juice available which are all lovely despite their sometimes strange combinations. 

Warm rice pudding, saffron poached pear, hazelnuts. I've been craving this one the next day. This milky smooth pudding would make the perfect dessert to have on a cold winter's night (or breakfast for all the sweet tooths). The rice is plump and chewy, and the saffron poached pear adds that exotic mix to this homey dish.

The breakfast tagine again.

Third visit - I got the french toast again. The presentation isn't as good as the Balmain branch and the bread had a lot of crust on it but it was still good.

Chickpea fritters, pork belly shish kebab, creme fraiche, baby spinach, roast tomato, poached egg, capsicum sauce. I wonder if people actually have this as breakfast.

I didn't get to try this but I thought it was quite small. An extra fritter or two would have upgraded the dish to a true main sized meal. 

Although I wouldn't normally eat pork belly for breakfast or brunch, I have to admit that the pork belly was crispy and delicious. 

Spicy Moroccan lamb mince, hummus, pine nuts, pita bread. Again, this was more of a snack than a meal. It tasted similar to the lamb tagine but without the grease. Turkish bread would have made both the dish and the person fuller and happier.

The Top Ryde branch definitely falls behind on the quality of the dishes, presentation, and most importantly, the flavour. However, on days when Balmain is a little too far, it will have to do.

Kazbah on Urbanspoon

Kazbah Top Ryde on Urbanspoon