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

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Six States of Beer [QLD] at The Oaks, Neutral Bay

It is no surprise that I do love a drink. Most types of drinks actually. Whether it's whisky, wine, vodka, gin and tonic or even beer depending on the occasion. While I do like to drink, I'm not much of an expert on beer so I was surprised to receive an invite to attend Six States of Beer at The Oaks in Neutral Bay. This is an ongoing series of events where it focuses on a selected range of craft beers made from the state and a themed degustation of matching dishes (previous events involved cheese, chocolate, pork and bites). This was the fifth installment of the Six States series which focused on beers from QLD and matching seafood dishes. It was hosted by the passionate beer expert, Kirrily Waldhorn with food being prepared by The Oaks' chef, Danny Russo.

Bighead - Burleigh Brewing Company

The Bighead was served to all diners on arrival. While this drink is a 100% natural, full-strength beer with loads of flavour, it also has zero carbs! With its smooth, balanced texture, this was easy to drink with any meal such as a pub lunch or dessert at a French restaurant.

Hef - Burleigh Brewing Company

Another beer from the same brewery was the Hef, an unfiltered wheat beer brewed from malted barley, malted wheat, water, hop and yeast. This was inspired by German wheat beer with its smooth, creamy texture and a slightly sweet banana and clove flavour. Out of all the beers I've tried, this was definitely my favourite of the bunch. 

Crab cake and Oaks slaw slider

The one dish I have been looking forward to the most out of this event was the crab cake slider. Been dreaming about getting my hands on crab cakes ever since watching it featured on numerous American food travel shows but been disappointed that this has been rare to find around Sydney. When it arrived packed inside a brioche bun, I was surprised that it wasn't in its crumbed form that I usually see in those aforementioned US food travel shows but was delighted at the healthier look of the shredded crab meat. These bite sized treats were fresh and delicious though also quite salty. Wouldn't mind trying more of this.  

Pale Ale - Four Hearts Brewing Company

This craft beer was an American pale ale with a passionfruit sweetness followed with a strong, deep and bitter malt flavour. You can also taste a bit of marmelade as you sip this beer. Apparently the bitterness is average for this type of drink so I didn't mind it at all. This is the first drink brewed by the Four Hearts Brewing Company, which will become an official brewery by the end of this year.

Crispy flash fried squid and school prawns served with squid ink aioli

This was accompanied by the crispy squid and school prawns with squid ink aioli. The squid was tender and juicy with a nicely crisp batter while the school prawns were crunchy and not too sharp so it was easy to pop in your mouth. This also came with a wedge of lime that gave a good flavour boost to this dish. 

Anzus Ipa - Fortitude Brewing Company

Unlike the pale ale, the Anzus Ipa had a very clean and light malt backbone by placing focus on the hops this time. By boosting the amount of hops in this beer, this gave the beer an earthy, piney and fruity aroma and flavour that is suitable for the Australian climate. It certainly helped in cooling down our tastebuds from the heat and spiciness of the following dish.

Whole baked snapper with Thai flavours, Asian greens and rice

And boy was this one intensely spicy fish!!! We were amazed at the size of the baked snapper when it arrived to our table. This was cooked with a Thai green curry to soften the fish and add a hint of creaminess to the overall dish. While the fish was well cooked and freshly made, the spiciness was close to the level that you can expect at Thai restaurants. Was so glad to have that beer to cool down that heat.  

For that extra hotness if you dare!

White chocolate and raspberry Pilsener - Bacchus Brewing

While it looked like a glass of cocktail or wine, this was actually beer! It was a strange but lovely mix of spicy Czech Pilsener with the flavour and aroma of raspberries and white chocolate. This was perfect for the final paired dish of the night.

White chocolate mousse with raspberries and sea salt snow

The night finished off with the equally matched white chocolate mousse with raspberries and sea salt snow, which had a creamy and milky taste mixed with...pureed scallops! There's even a hint of anchovy in this dish as well. Never expected seafood to show up in a dessert like this since I didn't even detect it as I tasted this dish but it was a nice surprise.


I rushed through this final drink because I had to leave pretty early (living in south west Sydney is a pain) but from what I tasted, this drink had that sweetness that I would expect from a citrus-based beverage with the added beer taste. Would like to get another one of this.  

Had a great time learning about various beers across Queensland and getting into the tasting experience where you explore your senses. As for the Oaks, there are heaps of decent quality dishes to try and lots of space to chill even on busy nights. The next and final Six States of Beer event for 2014 will focus on Beer vs Wine from SA. This will be held on Wednesday 10th December 2014. Tickets cost $60 + booking fee which is worth it for the four course plus drinks degustation experience.  

Disclaimer: The Random Foodie dined at The Oaks Hotel as a guest, courtesy of Wasamedia. Opinions are however, my own.

The Oaks Hotel
118 Military Road, Neutral Bay NSW 2089
(02) 9953 5515
Mon-Wed: 10:00am - 12:00am
Thurs-Sat: 10:00am - 1:30am
Sun: 12:00pm - 12:00am
The Oaks on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 3, 2014

Three Blue Ducks, Bronte

One restaurant that has been on our wish list for a very very long time has been Three Blue Ducks. I can still remember hearing about it the first time when it made pop-up appearances at various food festivals including Masterchef Live and Taste of Sydney. Also CC is a massive (and I mean MASSIVE) fan of co-owner and executive chef, Darren Robertson who also appeared in Masterchef and Recipes to Riches and formerly worked at Tetsuya's prior to opening Three Blue Ducks. Recently we ended up in the Bronte area for a day out walking to the beach so it was a perfect excuse to check out this cafe renowned for its commitment on delivering local, fresh and sustainable produce.

It was a Sunday so we had expectations that it would be busy considering the media hype and accolades including a one hat award by the SMH Good Food Guide Awards. However we were unlucky to show up at a time when the only table available for three people was outside...and it was horrendously windy and cold. Not long after we were seated at our table, we noticed people who came after us and got a table inside which was a bummer since we were getting cold from the wind. 

Jasmine Flower Green Tea ($4.50) 

I still wasn't feeling 100% at this point so sadly no mocha coffee for me. The waiter was very helpful in assisting with a few alternatives including their decent selection of organic tea by The Rabbit Hole. The Jasmine flower green tea had an aromatic and soothing flavour with a grainy texture later on after drinking most of the tea from the teapot.

Fresh Young Coconut ($7.00) 

CC was satisfied with the fresh young coconut juice though she did had to tackle her way through lots of coconut flesh. Looks like a mouthful to handle but CC said that it was incredibly delicious.

Flat White ($4.00)

While I didn't get to taste H's flat white, I was impressed by how beautiful the coffee art looked. Cannot get over how pretty it was. H said his flat white was alright but I am personally keen to come back to try the coffee. They use a rotating selection of coffee beans from Single Origin Roasters, which is always a good thing for me.

Squid ink fettuccine, spicy chorizo, cuttlefish, chilli, tomato and basil ($26.00) 

It took a while for us to get our food. One hour actually. While I understand that it would be very busy since it's the weekend but one hour for food can slowly drive you mad especially when you are sitting outside in the cold wind. Imagine our happiness when our three dishes finally reached our table. I really enjoyed the squid ink fettuccine especially the well-cooked pasta, the juicy chorizo and the tender, fresh cuttlefish. While it was slightly spicy from the chilli and chorizo ingredients, it was quite mild which was good for my health at the time and great for anyone who can't handle a lot of spicy food. My only minor qualm was the serving size of the pasta since it was a tad pricey at $26. However, it was filling enough to handle if you get full quite easily. 

Steamed mussels with herb, coconut sambal and chilli toast ($28.00)

CC decided to get the mussels based on the waiter's suggestion. When it arrived, we couldn't help but be in awe at the size and presentation of this plate. So much to take in but CC said it was bloody amazing! Plenty of succulent mussels to share around though there were a couple of empty shells as well. This also came with a creamy broth of coconut sambal and a side of crispy chilli toast which actually went really well with the mussels. The spicy flavours were also pretty light in this dish thanks to the use of cream for the coconut sambal.

Coffee and cumin brisket, Jerusalem artichoke, roasted kipfler potato, chimichurri, kale and fried eschallots ($29.00)  

I was also impressed with the look of H's brisket dish. Looks like a generous serving size but doable enough. The slow cooked brisket was fall-apart, tender goodness with lots of fatty parts and plenty of roasted potato to fill you up. Great comfort weather for those breezy Winter (or Spring/Summer pretending to be Winter) days.

In terms of the food and drinks, I was impressed by what we had tried on the day. They were all very delicious and the drinks got me satisfied for more, although the prices were on the expensive end. The wait for the food was a let down but CC noted that the service was quick on her last visit (also on a weekend). Hopefully this was a one-off since it was very busy. The overall atmosphere was quaint, relaxing and chilled (apart from the cold, wind gusts that day). Plus it was cool spotting the vegetable garden at the back end of the restaurant. Will make a return to try the other dishes on the menu including the ones that are only available on the breakfast and dinner menu. If only I didn't live so far in order to get to Bronte in time for the breakfast menu, which ends at 11:30am...

Three Blue Ducks
141-143 Macpherson Street, Bronte NSW 2024
(02) 9389 0010
Three Blue Ducks on Urbanspoon