Thursday, April 30, 2015

Cuckoo Callay, Newtown

Bacon! Bacon! Bacon! It was no surprise that I jumped for joy when I first heard about Cuckoo Callay holding a Bacon Festival back in February. Was even happier when I realised this will be going on for 12 weeks. Fast forward many weeks and multiple visits later. Well I haven't managed to try the whole menu but for what I did try, I was really satisfied. By now, this post is probably a bit too late since it will be ending pretty soon but hey better late than never? 

Conveniently located right next to Newtown station, there is so much to love about Cuckoo Callay when it comes down to their fun and down to earth approach. Even on the menu with lots of cute names such as "Birdy Nom Nom", "Cinderella's Breakfast", "Georgeous George and #HashTag Browns 3.0 (heh). According to the take-away menu on the front, they give out free hugs but I haven't had the guts to ask. I probably need one though sighs.

Skim Mocha ($4.00)

Skim Latte ($3.50)

Cuckoo Callay uses Single Origin Roasters house blend. So far, I've been really impressed by the coffee here. The mocha was slightly sweet but not in an overwhelming way and the coffee art was always a highlight. Been starting to drink lattes as well and the one I've had was smooth and not too bitter.

Drizzle Sticks ($10.00)

Bacon dipped in chocolate may not sound as appealing at first but it got quite addictive after a few bites. Loved biting into the sweet chocolate while getting mesmerised by the meaty bacon strips. Great to have when the weather was warmer.

What a Croque of Bacon ($19.00)

As a lover of croquettes (if it's done right), I couldn't go past this dish. It looked slightly similar to the #HashTag browns 3.0 dish on the regular menu except without the avocado and replacing the bacon steak/salmon/haloumi with long Bourbon bacon strips. The thick-sized vintage cheddar croquettes were chunky and creamy on the inside whilst crispy and crumbly on the outside. Enjoyed mixing the bacon and croquettes with the pea puree and the gooey egg yolk (more on that later). With its reasonable serving size, it was definitely one of my fave dishes that I would order again if I get the chance. Just the colourful appearance of this dish alone will bring a smile to your face.

Bacon All the Rules ($24.00)

If you really LOVE your bacon then get this dish. There's 5 (YES FIVE!) different types of bacon in this one dish alone. This consisted of Black Forest Smokehouse maple bacon, bourbon bacon, bacon steak, bacon sausage and (*gasp*) bacon-crumbed poached eggs served on sourdough toast. Man I'm getting meat sweats just writing that last sentence. Yup this was certainly not one for the faint hearted but I couldn't look away. Just that experiencing so many different forms and textures of bacon was a culinary journey that I was gladly happy to explore whether it was the tiny specks of crumbed bacon or the salty yet juicy bacon sausage or that thick slab of bacon steak.

Oh yeahhh

That yolk porn...

Also the poached eggs NEVER EVER fail to disappoint me. So many gooey times here.

Ya Bacon Me Crazy ($20.00)

While it may be a dish that you would likely to get for dessert after a savoury meal, it was surprisingly filling enough on its own to satisfy your hunger. Thanks to the maple bacon and the waffles, there was still a bit of that warm, savoury and slightly salty flavour as you sink your teeth into this towering plate of cinnamon ice cream and choc-coated bourbon bacon indulgence.

Best. Chips. Ever ($9.00)

While I can't comment on whether these chips were the best ever, they would certainly rank high on my list. So thick and crispy on the outside and incredibly fluffy on the inside. Great to share with a group of friends though it can be very addictive.

While the food may be on the pricier side of the spectrum, the service has been welcoming and accommodating. The portions were quite generous so that made up for the price. Sadly the Bacon Festival is ending very soon after its 12-week run (around early-mid May which is just around the corner!) so if you love your bacon, hurry to Cuckoo Callay before the pigs fly away!

Disclaimer: I paid for every single meal mentioned in this post.

Cuckoo Callay
324a King Street, Newtown NSW 2042
Mon-Fri: 6:00am - 4:00pm
Sat: 8:00am - 4:00pm
Sun: 8:00am - 3:00pm
Cuckoo Callay on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 20, 2015

Work in Progress, Sydney CBD

I do love a good pop-up but sometimes you forget about it and then it's gone. It's even harder trying to go through the entire menu before the pop up close its doors. So imagine my relief when I heard that Patrick Friesen's (Papi Chulo) pop-up restaurant at Work in Progress has extended beyond the initial duration of March into Merivale. While it's still temporary for the time being, who knows what would happen in the long term. Just look at Cafe Paci (and I STILL haven't been there!).

Pork and Prawn Wontons, strange flavour, Sichuan pepper ($12.00, 4pc) 

The cuisine served at Work in Progress has a fusion of various Asian cuisines with a modern twist with a strong emphasis on their signature Korean fried chicken (more on that later). It also operates as a noodle bar with a small selection of Modern Chinese dishes. One of these was the Pork and Prawn wontons, which was offered as a snack. It was slightly spicy thanks to the Sichuan pepper and the "strange flavour" sauce which seems to have a bit of soya sauce, spices and peanuts among its many ingredients. While the silky wontons were slippery to handle, they were plump, firm and juicy to demolish before the main dishes arrive. The only downside was that the price for $12 for 4 pieces seemed quite steep especially when you can get double the amount for cheaper at other dumpling establishments. 

Shallot Pancake ($6.00)

While the shallot pancake was half the price of the dumplings, it was actually much more filling so the value for money in this dish was pretty damn good. You can easily get full on this dish if you order it for yourself. While it was nice to dig into the crispy thin layers of pastry, it was too salty than how I preferred. 

Curried Wagyu Brisket Lo Mien ($16.00)

Initially a limited time only dish, the Curried wagyu brisket lo mien noodles was upgraded to permanent menu status due to popular demand especially in the foodie scene (sadly the snow crab tobiko lo mien noodles had to be removed as well. Why not keep both? :p). Gotta say that I'm really glad that this dish is now on the menu. The egg noodles were a tad thicker, which was how I liked my egg noodles even though it's harder to find compared to the thinner variation. Plus the wagyu beef was amazingly soft, tender and the broth was rich, creamy and flavoursome. Would definitely order this again.

Sichuan Duck and Tofu Lo Mein ($16.00)

Speaking of thin noodles, this popular variation can be found on the other noodle bar dishes in this limited menu. It was quite spicy but still bearable enough especially if you want a bit of heat from this crazy weather lately (urghhh). Generous serving size too.

Combo #88 - Half n Half Fried Chicken: ginger nuoc cham, and chilli with peanuts ($18.00)

And now for that crispy fried chicken! At 8 pieces, this was surprisingly easy to devour if you are super hungry and this was the only dish you order for yourself on the night. It also came with a side dish of pickled daikon and kim chi, which ended up being handy once you need more than just fried chicken in your mouth. The chilli chicken with peanuts was sticky, sweet and slightly spicy, though it was easier to manage and also milder than the one I had at NaruOne. While the ginger nuoc cham fried chicken looked insatiably crispy, there wasn't too much of that earth shattering crunch that I was hoping to expect in the batter after looking at countless photos. Despite that, the chicken was well cooked, juicy and still crispy enough to devour the entire plate.

This is a restaurant that I would often find myself after work, whether it's for the food or a drink from their extensive cocktails and wine menu. Since it is a Merivale venture, it's no surprise that the prices were on the more expensive side. With its limited range of food options on the menu, it's an ideal place to get a large group of friends or colleagues together to share and try the entire menu in one sitting. 

Work in Progress
50 King Street, Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9240 3000
Mon-Fri: 12:00pm - 3:00pm, 6:00pm - 10:00pm (Bar: 12:00pm - late)
Work in Progress on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 13, 2015

Mary's City, Sydney CBD

Damn Sydney you are so obsessed about burgers right now! It's seriously hurting my weight loss these days but it's so hard to avoid especially if they look so damn good. With all the burger joints opening left, right and centre in Sydney, it was no wonder that Mary's has taken advantage of the situation and opened its second branch for the hungry people in the CBD. It's just takeaway with no seating and a limited menu with burgers only. Although there's no fried chicken or mash on the permanent menu, Mary's CBD offers up a one-off special menu item popping up every now and then, which you can find out through their social media pages or through other foodies in the know.

Mary's Burger ($10.00) 

In my Mary's Newtown review, I initially thought that the burgers were similar to Maccas but pricier. Of course, that didn't stop me from going back again...and again. Sure they are the pricier Maccas but the bun was soft and glossy, burger is bigger and the beef patty was juicy. I prefer the Mary's burger over the cheeseburger that I had on my first visit because of the addition of the lettuce and the tomato. So greasy but hey when are damn good burgers not? If one patty is still too small for you, I would suggest getting a double (or triple!!!) beef patty with trash-can bacon. Went to Mary's CBD for my birthday last year and got so full on the double patty burger.

Fried Chicken Burger ($12.00)

While the fried chicken may not be available (unless it pops up as a special...more on that later), you can still find it in the form of a fried chicken burger. So messy to handle but the crispness coated with Mary's tangy sauce and sloppy tasty cheese was worth getting your hands dirty.

Fried Chicken and Waffles - Easter Special item ($15.00)

As I have mentioned earlier, special one off items pop up for a very limited time only at the CBD store. This can be available for one week or even one day only (usually from 3pm on the day with a super quick announcement on their Instagram page). So it's no surprise when you literally blink and miss out on them like myself countless times. One thing that I didn't miss out was their recent Easter special menu item. Thankfully it was available for a whole week since I only found out on the first day on my way home and you know how much I love my fried chicken! While you don't end up getting any cutlery (unless you ask), the fried chicken was crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside. Combined with the sweet and crispy waffle and the crispier bacon (omg bacon!!!), this dish was a total guilty pleasure. Hope to see it making a comeback in the near future.

While there's no seats and the food will definitely not help you lose any weight, it has its charms that wooed most of the mates who have tried it with me in the past. The burgers at the CBD store are also cheaper than the original Newtown restaurant. If you aren't keen on waiting in the weekday lunchtime queues, dinner service and weekends have been less busy from what I've noticed. Whether you like or hate Mary's you can't deny that it has played a role in kick starting the intense burger craze that is happening in Sydney right now.

Mary's City
154 Castlereagh Street, Sydney NSW 2000
Mon-Sun: 10:00am - 10:00pm
Mary's City on Urbanspoon

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Bowery Lane, Sydney CBD

Apologies again for being absent on the blog lately. Aside from work, lots of personal commitments including farewells, birthdays, housewarmings and an anniversary has happened over the last few weeks. Even long weekend was busy! Of course, that hasn't stopped me from exploring loads of foodie places that I will hopefully update on the blog when I get the chance. One of the places I've been over the last 2 weeks was the ever-popular Bowery Lane. Not only is this restaurant about 5 minutes from my workplace, it's one of those restaurants that is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner!

Recently we were there for CC's birthday where we got to sample a wide range of dishes on the $55 set menu due to our large group. Sadly there was no epic soft shell crab action since it wasn't included on the set menu. The price didn't include drinks but that didn't stop us from ordering lots of beverages. I couldn't remember the actual name of the first drink but it reminded me of an 'old fashioned' whisky beverage that KT always ordered whenever we're out for drinks. Strong stuff but does the stuff when life gets you down.

Another cocktail I liked was the Charlie Chaplin, which had a sweeter taste that was less stronger than the first drink.

Artisan sourdough with butter

Because a couple of friends were running late, we had to wait for the bread to show up at our able even though CC said that we're all happy to be served. So by the time the bread and butter arrived, we were grabbing it to satisfy our hunger cravings. My fave was definitely the soy and lineseed bread which was most likely sourced from Sonoma Bakery.

Marinated Sicilian olives, orange, rosemary, chilli, garlic lemon ($7.00)

I'm quite pleased with the olives here. Some were quite firm, some were on the softer side. Very tasty if you like your olives though it was a tad salty. A couple of friends weren't big fan so I was happy to make the most of my addiction.

Black pepper and lime salt calamari with coriander aioli ($16.00)

I'm guessing it's because there was a large group of us, and because it was a Friday night, the food took a long time to show up. Because of this, everyone got very impatient when I wanted to take photos of food so sorry in advance for the quality of some of the photos. Nevertheless the quality of the dishes made up for all that waiting. Such as the black pepper and lime salt calamari. The calamari was nicely crumbled, which went well with the smooth aioli sauce.

San danielle prosciutto, buffalo mozzarella, fresh fig, witlof, quinoa, rocket, walnut and vincotto ($19.00)

For the health conscious, there was the slightly healthier prosciutto salad. There's even quinoa! Definitely a refreshing combination even with the creamy buffalo mozzarella.

La stella burrata, confit heirloom tomato, radish, lemon, basil, candied olive ($17.00/$26.00)

While burrata isn't one of my fave cheeses (way too creamy for my liking), it looked very pleasing to the eye. The others really enjoyed sharing this dish while I made the most of the veggies on the side.

Braised wagyu short rib, charred onion, roasted garlic, dijon ($62.00 to share)

Since the party consists of two full tables, the main dishes were served alternatively so I missed out on a couple of dishes including the king prawn pappardelle and the whole roasted field mushrooms. We did, however, ended up with a lot of meat. Such as this epic wagyu short rob. Luckily it was made to share and none of us were vegetarian. The short rib was tender and succulent while the sides were well matched in terms of the balance of flavours. Especially once we get too overwhelmed by the meat.

Slow cooked lamb shoulder, smoked eggplant, lemon garlic dressing, watercress ($57.00 to share)

By this point everyone was so hungry from all the waiting that they didn't bother eating for the camera to eat first heh. Despite the less than appealing shot below, the lamb was incredibly delicious. The game taste was not too strong so this will please those who were more wary of this fatty meat, although the side ingredients also helped a bit. 

Burnt carrot, smoked yoghurt, toasted sesame seed

Shoestring fries, chilli salt

Baby cos, green peas, beans, mint, aioli

We also got a decent range of sides to share whether you are keen for greens or up for crunch fries. The burnt carrot with yoghurt and sesame seeds seemed like an unusual combination which surprisingly went well with the table. French fries were a reminder of Maccas fries but with a bit of spice (and was rather addictive). But damn those greens. Girl's gotta have some greens and CC LOVES her greens heh.

Jar of cookies and cream - honeycomb, vanilla, dark chocolate

Now this was the dessert I've been looking forward to all night after spotting it in countless reviews in the past. While we all sadly had to share this dessert (seriously...), CC got her very own cookies and cream jar along with a candle. It looked so adorable and it was full of lots of sweet goodies. The ingredients tasted so good together that I seriously didn't want to share it with anyone. I'm sure the others will agree with me on that.

Strawberry shortcake - vanilla bean ice cream, macerated berries 

I didn't think this would top the last dessert but it also exceeded my expectation despite its simpler presentation. Was sweeter and fruitier in comparison to the cookies and cream jar, which is equally pleasing.

Despite the lengthy wait to get our food (most likely because of our large group), it was a delicious experience. It is located in the heart of the CBD so it is a convenient spot if you want to have a work outing with your colleagues or a catch up with friends at night. Will definitely return again to get the desserts and their famous burgers and even try their breakfast dishes if I wake up early enough.

Bowery Lane
1 O'Connell Street, Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9252 8017
Mon-Wed: 7:00am - 10:00pm
Thurs-Fri: 7:00am - Late
Sat:5:00pm - Late
Bowery Lane on Urbanspoon