Thursday, December 18, 2014

Frankie's Pizza, Sydney CBD

These days, I enjoy sipping a drink or two at a good bar whether it's in the CBD or somewhere in Surry Hills, Darlinghurst or Newtown. Frankie's Pizza has that charm where it operates as both a dive bar (with live music!) and a New-York-esque pizza lounge. And a cheap and decent one too. With the same management team who also run The Baxter Inn and Shady Pines Saloon, you know you are onto a very good thing here.

You can order a whole pizza which allows you to pick any flavours from the menu. If you want to order by the slice, you can only get a choice of four flavours (which changes regularly) which is listed on the board above the pizza oven in the diner room. On the first night we went, there was a special Halloween event so the pizzas had different horror-themed names that night such as 'Blood and Bone' (Margherita) Green Meanie (Spinach), Acid Tongue (Salami) and Sea Beast (Napoletana). While each slice was $5 on my first visit, the prices had increased to $6 when I returned a few weeks ago.

Sidra Del Verano Apple and Pear Cider ($13.00)

Usually I've found that ciders can be too sweet and rich to the point that it can be a struggle to finish up. This cider was the opposite for us. It was refreshing, light, not too sweet and very easy to finish. We were bummed when we did finish off this cider so quickly.

Salami: salami, onion, chilli, olives. tomato, cheese (Slice: $6.00, Whole: $21.00)

Since we opted for different toppings of pizza by the slice, we observed the staff putting the pizza in the oven. In less than 2 minutes, it was already out of the oven for us to eat immediately. The pizza slices were similar to a New York pizza in terms of look, taste and texture. 

The crust was super thin, crispy and light while the slices were so massive that you need to fold them up so that the toppings won't fall onto the plate. I really enjoyed the Salami pizza with the thin, juicy and slightly spicy salami slices as well as the thinly sliced onion. While the menu said there was olives, there wasn't much on the pizza and was particularly hidden on the above shot.

Margherita: tomato, cheese, basil (Slice: $6.00, Whole: $18.00)

I always enjoy a simple Margherita if it's done right. This was one of the better versions of this classic pizza. The cheese did not overload the pizza slice and it balanced well with the tomato, which was how I usually prefer when it comes to this.

Spinach: spinach, ricotto, tomato, cheese (Slice: $6.00, Whole: $19.00)

I didn't get the chance to try the Spinach pizza but CC said that she really enjoyed the toppings on this slice. Toppings were also quite balanced here. Good choice for the vegetarians.

Napoletana: anchovies, capers, oregano, tomato, cheese (S: $6.00, W: $18.00)

Because the slices were light and thin, I was still keen for another slice. While I wasn't sure if I would enjoy the anchovies because of too many negative pop culture references (heh), I was surprised that it tasted nice with this pizza. While it was salty and bursting with lots of flavour, I could imagine how good this would have tasted after a heavy drinking session.

Chorizo: chorizo sausages, mozzarella, mushrooms, jalapeno (S: $6.00, W: $21.00)

I returned again after having cravings for a quick slice of pizza after work. The order by the slice menu was similar to what I've tried on the previous visit except with the choice of a chorizo pizza slice. The Chorizo was another slice that I enjoyed from this joint. It was a tad spicy due to the jalapenos but not to the point where you need that glass of milk. There was a good share of toppings on this slice including the juicy sausages and the chopped mushrooms.

While it was understandably quiet when we got there at the grandma hour of 6pm (it's a bar after all), both rooms filled up very quickly not long afterwards. The service experience was a mixed bag since the person serving me was friendly but a different one serving my friend was a bit more abrupt. Despite that, the pizzas were delicious and addictive to make me want more. While this isn't the pizza that you would get from renowned pizza restaurants such as Pizza Mario, Gigi's, and Via Napoli, it's an accessible and affordable option in the heart of the CBD especially if you are keen for a cheap eat and drinks with your colleagues or friends after work. Bonus points that Frankie's is open till 4am which is much much later compared to most Sydney CBD bars that close at midnight or 11pm.

Frankie's Pizza
50 Hunter Street, Sydney NSW 2000
Sat-Thurs: 4:00pm - 3:00am
Fri: 12:00pm - 3:00am
Frankie's Pizza on Urbanspoon

Sunday, December 7, 2014

LL Wine and Dine, Potts Point

A long long time ago, this site once housed an illegal casino, adult bookshop and name a few! Who would have thought that a restaurant/bar would take its place at the same location given its more than colourful history. These days Llankelly Place is housed to numerous renowned dining joints including Wilbur's Place, Kim and Room 10 so it's no surprise that LL Wine and Dine is situated on this spot given the current vibe of this surprisingly foodie street. Recently, I was invited to try the new dishes on LL Wine and Dine's latest seasonal menu which showcased a variety of Modern Asian dishes ranging from Chinese to Japanese and South East Asian cuisines

LL Cool Sling ($16.00)

We both kicked off our night with a couple of cocktails, or in my case, mocktails. At the time, I was on antibiotics so I was glad to hear that the cocktails can still be made mocktail-style so you won't miss out on the experience if you are not much of a drinker. My first drink was the LL Cool Sling which was a fresh lime, pineapple and orange juice mixed with passionfruit and a dash of vanilla and orgeat. Plus Bacardi rum for that cocktail experience. Had a sweet, citrus-like taste mainly from the passionfruit, pinapple and orange juice.

Shanghai Bling ($16.00)

Also got another mocktail later that evening after seeing what it looked like when CC ordered the cocktail version. The Shanghai Bling contains Pimms and Bombay Sapphire served tall with limes, mint, strawberries and topped with ginger ale and lemonade. While my mocktail didn't contain the alcoholic elements, I liked the sweeter, fruitier flavour coming from the berries as well as the surprise lychee attached to the straw.

Atlantic Salmon Crudo ($18.00)

We were prepared to decide which dishes to order till we were informed by our friendly waiter that the we would get our own special menu of dishes served degustation style with smaller serving sizes than the actual dish so we get a taste of everything without getting too full. Given that we did not know how many dishes or even which dishes will be served to us, I looked forward to getting surprised this evening.

The first of these surprises was the Atlantic Salmon Crudo which consist of wasabi balsamic vinaigrette, fried capers and greamy garlic sauce. Light, fresh and gluten free! The garlic sauce had that tangy, zesty flavour while the tender salmon complemented well with the crunchy fried capers.

Prawn and Scallop Dim Sum ($18.00 for 4 pieces)

Because of my soft spot for dumplings, I was looking forward to trying these morsels when it landed on our table. While I did enjoy the flavour kick from the sweet and chilli XO sauce as well as the dumpling skin wrapped around the prawn and scallop filling, the dumplings didn't amaze us as much as we hoped. Especially when you look at the price.

Lightly fried cauliflower and chickpea ($11.00)

Although this dish came out at the same time as the dumplings, it was a standout dish for us. I'm usually not a huge fan of cauliflower but this fried version was crispy, salty and flavoursome. Also enjoyed the chickpeas which were fried on the outside but soft on the inside. This dish was tossed with basil, garlic and malt vinegar and is perfect for vegetarians as well as those on a soy free or gluten free diet. CC said this was her favourite dish of the night.

Pork Belly Bun with pickled mustard, chilli ginger mayo, crushed peanuts and coriander ($8.00 each)

We were so excited when we saw that pork belly bun. Definitely a messy mouthful to handle with all the fillings sandwiched together by the fluffy and slightly sticky bun (I would recommend eating this as soon as it hits your table). Gotta love the fatty slab of juicy pork belly along with the mildly spicy chilli ginger mayo.

Calamari with black fungus, carrot salad and lemon gherkin aioli ($18.00)

The calamari was a slightly more refreshing change to most of the dishes so far despite the vast amounts of aioli sauce enveloping itself onto the other ingredients. While it didn't excite us as much as some of other dishes, the calamari had a decent chewiness and it worked well especially with the lemon and the veggies.

Massaman Curry Crumbled Lamb Popcorn with pickled chilli and cucumber yoghurt dipping sauce ($24.00)

I've mentioned countless times about my love for lamb and this was no exception. The lamb filling didn't have that gamey taste that some people tend to avoid. The crumbled coating was also a bonus for me since it had a good crunch that matched with the soft lamb. It was a tad oily so I made the most of the pickled chilli as well as the creamy yoghurt sauce.

Almond Crusted Prawns tossed with chilli, garlic and shallot and Thai dipping sauce ($31.00)

I was getting quite full by this point but I couldn't help getting more than my share of the Almond crusted prawns. The almond crust was crispy and the prawn itself was juicy. Though that this dish was a nice twist on the old tempura prawn favourite. Certainly my fave dish from the night.

Crispy Pork Belly and Grilled Sea Scallops ($28.00)

We were absolutely stuffed by this point so we were actually quite pleased to hear that it was the last dish from our waiter (Sad but true. CC couldn't handle it anymore). Seeing that it was pork belly was enough for me to soldier on. The pork belly had that crisp, caramelised fatty bits on the outside and was also juicy and soft as you bite into these meaty cuts as well as the grilled scallops. This was served on a bed of baby buk choy, fried kale and crushed peanuts. Like many dishes at this restaurant, this can be made gluten free. While it was a delicious finish, we were just too full to enjoy this dish as much as we usually would.

We were at LL Wine and Dine on a Wednesday evening so it was no surprise that it was quiet when we got there however it did get busier later on when we left. I can imagine this would be busier later in the week. It had a chilled relaxing atmosphere with retro music playing in the background and friendly, down to earth service. There was the choice for indoor and outdoor seating but with the crazy stormy weather this week, I've personally been more inclined for the former. On the menu, there's a generous range of dishes that were listed as gluten free, which was a bonus for those on that diet. In terms of pricing, it seemed to be on the more expensive end but it's a good place to dine for a special occasion with friends for drinks or even on a romantic date.

Disclaimer: The Random Foodie and guest dined at LL Wine and Dine as a guest. Opinions are however, my own. The serving sizes of most of the dishes we've had were much smaller than what you will receive when ordering off the menu. Prices highlighted in this post corresponds to the full-sized dishes listed on the menu.

LL Wine and Dine
42 Llankelly Place, Potts Point NSW 2011
(02) 9356 8393
Mon-Thurs: 5:00pm - 11:00pm
Fri-Sat: 12:00pm - late
Sun: 11:00am - 10:00pm
LL Wine & Dine on Urbanspoon

Monday, December 1, 2014

Redoak Boutique Beer Cafe, Sydney CBD

Located within 5 minutes from Bavarian Bier York Street and only a couple of blocks from The Lobo Plantation, Redoak Boutique Beer Cafe is not your average beer cafe. It didn't have the German beer garden gimmick that your would expect from Lowenbrau and Bavarian Bier Cafe, but it remains a favourite for those who know and love their beer especially with food pairings. It's funny that less than 2 months ago, I have never even heard of this joint until KT suggested this when we were too indecisive on where to go for dinner.


Considering the amount of drinks we've had that night, I forgot to note down the exact beers we've got that evening. Heh. The Marzen Lager beer that KT ordered was dark, intensely flavoured and slightly bitter. KT seemed to enjoy this alot since he ordered another (smaller) glass after this. My pick was one of the fruitier Bloody Wit which did have a citrus-like flavour that is light and easier to drink up compared to the rich, malty beers.

Charcuterie ($25.00)

We decided to get a charcuterie plate to share as an entree. Our platter consisted of cured meats (including salami, prosciutto and pastrami), olives, assorted veggies, whipped feta, pickles and bread though from looking at the current menu, this changes on a regular basis. We both enjoyed the platter especially the cured meats to the point where we nearly fought on who gets the last prosciutto and the last salami (I got the salami).

Lamb Brioche Burger with Chips ($25.00)

With all the cheap burger joints opening up around Sydney these days, we were stunned to see that this burger was $25...I mean it includes chips too but still. KT likes lamb so ended up going for this option. The burger itself was juicy with a pinkish colour in the middle and the rest of the compents matched well. I didn't get to try the burger but got my hands on the chips which were a winner for me. Thick, crispy and fluffy.

Barramundi Fillet ($32.00)

I decided to go for the slightly healthier seafood option. The Barramundi had that delicate crispy skin and the fillet was well cooked for my liking. The bisque had a rich and slightly creamy flavour but it worked well altogether. I did like how the menu shows which beers matched well with certain dishes such as the Summer Lager being an ideal pairing with this dish.

Since we had the charcuterie, the two main dishes and a few beers, it was no surprise that we got full quickly. While it didn't seem busy on a Thursday night, it still had that noisy vibe that you would expect at a usual Sydney CBD bar on a Friday night. Dishes were decent servings though it's a lot more expensive than we expected. It's ideal if you would like to have after work drinks or a birthday/special occasion gathering. Especially if you love your beer.

Redoak Boutique Beer Cafe
201 Clarence Street, Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9262 3303
Mon-Sat: 11:00am - late
Redoak Boutique Beer Cafe on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 24, 2014

Movida Sydney, Surry Hills

Those who know me will know that one of the cuisines I've had a soft spot since this blog's beginnings has been Spanish food. I could go for pintxos and tapas any day now. So it's no surprise that I've been dreaming on having a lovely Spanish feast at Movida Sydney ever since I heard that owner, Frank Camorra first announced its opening in Surry Hills a few years ago. Although it has been a while since it first opened, it was still quite busy especially later in the week. Since this visit occurred on a Wednesday evening, CC and I managed to snag a table without any trouble. 

Sangria ($26.00 for small jug)

This visit happened just after I started my new job in Pyrmont so this calls for a celebration. And sangria as always. We decided to get a jug to share between the to of us. Definitely one of the better sangria drinks I've had. Wasn't too strong but certainly fresh and fruity.

Bread and Spanish olive oil

We started off with a good serving of sourdough bread. While CC didn't eat much of the bread (saving her stomach for the other dishes), I was happy enough to divulge into the fluffy bread and dip it into the olive oil. So simple yet so addictive. My waistline will hate me for this. Usually it's complimentary but at the time, they were doing the Bread for Change initiative where the bread was charged for an extra $1.00.  

Anchoa ($4.80 each)

The Artisan Cantabrian Anchovy with Smoked Tomato Sorbet was one that I've been keen to try before coming to the restaurant and is also one of Movida's signature dishes. We didn't think it would work well together but it actually did. Who would think that a dollop of chilled, savoury tomato sorbet spread across the salty anchovy and cracker would make quite a pair?

Mejillones con Esparragos ($22.50)

The Steamed Mussels with Iberico Jamon and Asparagus was one of the specials available on the night we were there. CC was especially keen on trying this from the moment she spotted this on the specials menu. The mussells were well-steamed and the jamon had a warm, juicy texture. Again this was a delicious dish that we both enjoyed. 

Pastel de Codorniz ($12.50)

While I wasn't too excited about ordering this dish at first (CC was keen though), I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. The crumbled Quail and Morcilla tasted succulent with the crispy puff pastry. Enjoyed mixing it up with the dark and tangy Agridulce sauce.

Cecina ($25.50)

Of course the dish that you MUST try has gotta be the Cecina also known as the Air cured Wagyu Beef with Truffle Foam and Poached Egg. So much cured meat and eggy goodness. The waitress told us that we needed to fold the wagyu beef and then mix it up together (or something along those lines...) so we were a bit puzzled when it came down to handling it. Was quite messy but it tasted so good with all those layers of beef and the creaminess from the truffle foam and the gooey poached egg. For a person who is generally not a fan of creamy stuff, this is too good to ignore.

Croqueta de Puchero - 2 pieces ($8.50)

At this point, we were surprisingly keen for another savoury dish so we went with the Croqueta of Pork Belly, Beef and Chicken. While I do love croquettes, I have been disappointed with my share of croquettes in the past especially those that were overly buttery and creamy. While it was still slightly creamy, there was that meaty flavour matched with the crunchy batter that got us addicted for more and more! Definitely the best croquette dish I've had in a looong time!

Churros con Chocolate ($14.50)

We were slightly getting full by this point but that didn't stop us for getting dessert. Can you believe that we nearly forgot about getting the churros?! Sure enough, we were glad to skip Messina and stick with getting dessert here because they were worth it. The churros were light, soft and fluffy while being slightly crispy even when dipped into the sweet, rich and warm chocolate. CC said she liked these churros more than El Loco, which is a big call because that has been our fave churros joint until now.

We were satisfied and full (but not to the point of food coma) from the dishes we've had that night. The waitress who served us was attentive, not to mention quirky and rrandom which gave us a good laugh. The prices are expensive though but the food was worth it and there are a good selection of larger dishes that will fill you up if you are not keen to share dishes. Would recommend this as a restaurant for special occasions due to the pricing of the dishes. Despite that, I'm still looking forward to returning to try the many other dishes especially those from the "Embutidos" or Cured meats menu whether it's in Sydney or one of the many branches back in Melbourne.

Movida Sydney
50 Holt Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010
(02) 8964 7642
Mon-Sat: 12:00pm - late
MoVida Sydney on Urbanspoon

Sunday, November 16, 2014

GoodTime Diner, Bondi Junction

The Eastern Hotel has gone through some major changes over the last few years. I could remember when there were club nights on Wednesday back when I was doing Christmas casual work in Westfields. Nowadays, the Eastern holds a few restaurants in its multi-level complex including El Topo, GoodTime Burgers and GoodTime Diner. Last month, I was invited to sample a selection of New Orleans-inspired dishes from GoodTime Diner's new The Dinner Club menu. Apart from our table, the ambiance of the restaurant wasn't too noisy and had a New Orleans/American diner feel with the lighting and the decor. 

Stoney Peak Sparkling 

Morgans Bay Semillon Sauvignon Blanc

Since it was a Friday night, I was more than keen to sample a couple of beverages. The Stoney Peak Sparkling was quite light and sweet. On the other hand, the Semillon Sauvignon Blanc was a perfect match with the Charcuterie Plate - especially the cheese.

GoodTime Charcuterie Plate ($15.00) 

We started the night off with the Charcuterie Plate consisting of smoked pork belly, smoked cheese, gherkins, smoked nuts, salami. This might be because of my love for cured meats and cheese but I'm loving the look of everything on this Chartcuterie plate. The smoky flavour from the pork belly and the cheese complemented well together, while I personally cannot get enough of the salumi. The nuts were seasoned with various spices which added a good hit to the taste buds. Would definitely order this again. 

Garlic Bread ($4.00) 

When I saw this on the menu and on the table, I didn't have high expectations. However when I took a bite of this. I was amazed at the softness of the bread compared to other joints where the bread can be too hard and crust. The garlic wasn't as strong and the butter was light, which suited my tastes.

Charred Cajun Corn ($4.00)

Another dish I enjoyed was the Cajun Corn. While it was quite spicy with all the coated paprika, the corn was so juicy, buttery and saucy as you bite into it. Worth the messiness on your lips! 

Mac N Cheese ($6.00)

The dish that was a hit for everyone that evening was the Mac N Cheese. So much cheesy goodness and you can't help but be amazed at how it was presented in the small pot. Despite all the creaminess and the gooey cheese, the pasta remained al dente enough. The coated breadcrumbs on top of the mac n cheese added a crispy texture to what was most a creamy and cheesy dish.

Southern Spiced Chicken, 12 Hour Slow Cooked Beef Short Rib

By the time that the generous main plates showed up, I was already feeling quite full but I gotta soldier on haha. I was instantly attracted to the 12 Hour Slow Cooked Beef Short Rib...which looked a lot like a chocolate brownie! While I was bummed that it wasn't a chocolate brownie, I was pleased by how tender this short rib really was. The meat melted in your mouth and the barbecue sauce added the extra tangy softness to the beef. 
The other main dish on that meat plate was the Southern Spiced Chicken, which was rubbed with loads of seasoning and various spices. While I enjoyed digging into the juicy meat, I loved the spiced Cajun rub on the chicken skin that just brings excitement as it rolls on your tongue.

Fennel, Goats Cheese, Pear and Spinach Salad ($12.00) 

Because of all that guilt from the previous dishes, it was good to see a couple of hearty and decadent salads on the table. The fennel, goats cheese, pear and spinach salad had a savoury and sweet crunch from the fennel, spinach and pear while tossed with small crumbs of cheese. Quite light and refreshing after all the dishes we've had so far.

Cous Cous, Chickpea, Pine Nuts and Roast Pumpkin Salad ($12.00) 

The cous cous, chickpea, pine nuts and roast pumpkin salad was one of the final dishes I've sampled that night. This salad was more decadent than the fennel salad because of the amount of cous cous, pumpkins and chickpeas but it was nonetheless quite tasty.

I was satisfied by the dishes I've tried at GoodTime Diner. There was a casual dining kind of vibe that I've seen at most new restaurants opening up recently but not too noisy either. While Bondi Junction isn't an area I would venture to as much these days, I would certainly come back again to try some of the other New Orleans-inspired dishes on the menu. They even serve the burgers from GoodTime Burgers at this restaurant too if you keen for the Juicy Lucy burger and more. Depending which night you go, GoodTime Diner offers a range of daily specials including $10 all you can eat wings on Wednesday and $25 family feast on Sunday. With the spacious decor, this would be a great venue for groups whether it's a party or after work drinks.

The Dinner Club set menu is $39 and is currently available on Friday and Saturday night with sittings available at 7-9pm or 8-10pm.   

Disclaimer: The Random Foodie dined at GoodTime Diner as a guest, courtesy of Carlos of CRPR. Opinions are however, my own.

GoodTime Diner
The Eastern Hotel
Level 1, 500 Oxford Street, Bondi Junction NSW 2022
(02) 9387 7828
Mon-Sun: 6:00pm - 11:00pm
GoodTime Diner on Urbanspoon