Archive for April, 2010

April 26, 2010

A Grazing Place

by minibites

I’m beginning to appreciate the beauty of brunch – but weighing up the need to wake up early on Sundays after messy Saturday nights and holding in the hunger until brunch time is sometimes a very, difficult task. Living in the western suburbs makes it even more difficult to find the motivation to trek to the city and its surrounds to find the perfect coffee grind and scrambled eggs.

My first Sunday brunch in a long time is A Grazing Place, a little cafe hidden amongst the bushes shaded by a beautiful tall bark tree. Under the facade of a brunch time cafe, this cafe is a retail butcher – so it’s no brainer that many of the dishes on the menu filled with meaty goodness.

A Grazing Place Big Butchers Block Breakfast

Bacon and egg roll with house-made tomato relish

My companion opts for the heart stopping Big Butchers Block filled with scrambled free range eggs, chorizo, pork & fennel and angus sausages, Boks bacon, Snowy Mountain lamb chop, herbed mushrooms and potato roti. The dish had an amazing array of flavours which showcased the butchery side of the cafe. Definitely thumbs up with the chorizo sausage and potato roti.

My egg and bacon roll was simple and immensely generous with greasy, crispy bacon, a runny poached egg and house-made tomato relish tucked within a crunchy toasted bread roll.

My only disappointment is the lack of enthusiasm of the wait staff, which passes this cafe with the label of being just another cafe. Although, very generous proportions which left us readjusting our belt to another notch.

A Grazing Place
1/9 Danks St
Waterloo, Sydney

April 20, 2010

Verde Restaurant & Bar

by minibites

From the outside, this little restaurant that sits on the corner looks like another plain, old Italian restaurant. Although, enter and open your eyes to beautiful homely accents and modern and clean decor. The food is a reflection of its decor – simple, classic Italian cuisine with a their Verde twist.

We wine and dine in a naturally lit private room dressed with framed paintings, glass vase light fixtures and an elegant, long wooden dining table. But scattered throughout the restaurant are little cosy corners and intimate booths to share a drink, or two.

Chilli dusted calamari

Zucchini flowers filled with ricotta & spinach

Antipasto platter; prosciutto, salami, olives, roasted vegetables, pecorino

For entrees, we choose a few to share. Being a new convert to zucchini flowers, these hit the spot perfectly – wonderfully crunchy on the outside and hidden inside the flower bud are a burst of spinach and ricotta flavours. The chili dusted calamari is another one of the favourites; tender, with just the right kick of chili and spice.

Roasted veal cutlet served with rosemary potatoes, prosciutto bone marrow involtini

Tagliatelle with braised pork shank ragu

Slow cooked duck leg served with herb gnocchi and caramelised balsamic pears

The mains on the menu is a mixture of the traditional; perfect comfort food for a chilly day, and modern dishes with a twist of sophistication.

For my main, I opt for a chunky steak served on a bed of rosemary seasoned potatoes, dressed with wilted spinach and basil with a drizzle of veal jus. I’m game enough to try the bone marrow involtini wrapped in prosciutto but the saltiness and usual textures sadly didn’t leave my taste buds going for more.

The tagliatelle is another hot favourite around the table. It’s a simple dish, but it works. The fresh homemade thick pasta is served with a pork shank ragu, and it tastes as though it has been given much love and care from the chef.

But my jealous eyes linger over my colleague’s slow cooked duck leg. It’s so tender that it falls apart from the bone wonderfully, and it’s served with perfectly caramelised balsamic pears and herb gnocchi. Each component on its own may be bland, but together in one wholesome bite, it’s quite bliss…

Traditional tiramisu with shaved perugino chocolate

Warm bitter chocolate fondente with strawberry marsala

Buffalo milk gelato with berries and yellow gum honey

Caramel & Chocolate liqueur panna cotta with nutella semifreddo

Affogato, coffee and vanilla gelato with Frangelico liqueur

I’ve always been a sweet tooth and fond of desserts, so I giggled with glee when we ordered almost every dessert on the menu. Sometimes it’s a shame that many restaurants are let down by their desserts, and for sweet tooth foodies like myself, I’m thinking about the dessert before I choose my main meal. Fortunately for Verde, each and every one of these desserts were divine in their own nature. A few things I could probably nitpick here and there, but overall, delicious. Definitely would recommend the warm chocolate fondente.

Cnr Stanley St & 115 Riley St
East Sydney

Verde on Urbanspoon

April 19, 2010

The Restaurant, Art Gallery of NSW

by minibites

For my annual review, my boss takes me to visit one of his favourite rooms in Sydney, The Restaurant at the Art Gallery of NSW. It boasts beautiful views with roof to floor windows overlooking the harbour while the boats dock in and out. Clean lines, white linen, sparkling white crockery and shiny silverware.

Brioche crumbed duck sausage served with green lentil, raspberry vinaigrette

Opting to share an entree, we sample the brioche crumbed duck sausage. Definitely an intriguing dish, with a crispy brioche crumb with minced duck neatly tucked inside. The components were interesting on its own but when eaten with a mouthful of duck sausage, it was delicious.

Confit pork cheek served with pickled cabbage, apple, calvados sauce

Sirloin served with braised mushroom, white polenta, calvo nero and cherry tomatoes

For our mains, I opt for the meaty sirloin. Sadly, my sirloin is overcooked for medium, but the other components served on the dish were delicious. Wonderfully flavoured mushrooms, creamy white polenta and very juicy cherry tomatoes. Not as fancy as I imagined, but it was a simple dish cooked very well.

My boss opts for a cheekier dish on the menu; the confit pork cheek. The confit of meat was definitely gave a burst of flavour, and the meat was wonderfully lean and tender; but as much as I enjoy crispy pork crackling, the cheek skin was too crispy – I could have chipped a tooth! The calvados sauce, however, did absolutely wonders with this dish.

Chocolate & chestnut mousse cake and pistachio ice cream

To top off our lunch, we share a dessert. A beautiful chocolate mousse that melted in my mouth with a surprise nutty chestnut base. Not a crazed fan of pistachio flavoured foods, but this ice cream hit all the right notes. Subtle and perfectly sitting on a crunchy bed of crushed pistachio and brittle.

Lovely lunch for a day out at the art gallery.

The Restaurant
Art Gallery of NSW
Art Gallery Rd

The Restaurant - Art Gallery of New South Wales on Urbanspoon

April 11, 2010

Berlin Bar, Melbourne

by minibites

Another quirky bar in Melbourne’s alleyways, Berlin Bar is divided just as how the war divided the country. Another well concealed bar from the public, but when found, the Berlin theme throughout are worth the trouble. Enter West Berlin, and there are leather couches, dim lighting, private booths and warm accents – perfect for an intimate night. Hop over to East Berlin, and enter dirty graffitied walls, bunkers, bathtubs and wooden ammunition boxes – perfect for loud and laughter.

Enjoyable delicious cocktails, definitely worth the find.

Berlin Bar
16 Corrs Lane

April 10, 2010

The Croft Institute, Melbourne

by minibites

Armed with an iPhone GPS and many eager sets of eyes and after a previous failed attempt, we finally found The Croft Institute – one of Melbourne’s wonderful little hidden bars. Look for the graffiti covered lanes, dirty bins and keep an eye out for a red light at the end of the alleyway. It’s one of the best bars to kick start the night off here since it’s ridiculously difficult to find, but once found, it serves up amazing cocktail concoctions – both delicious and deadly.

The mad science lab themed bar is downstairs filled with bunsen burners, conical flasks and all things related to a highschool science lab, and hospital themed waiting and  “hygiene rooms” upstairs are creepy yet quirky. Kicked off two nights of fun here with well mixed long island ice teas and delicious cocktails. No cover charge until 10pm on most nights.

And don’t forgot to check out the toilets, even if you don’t have to go.

The Croft Institute
Croft Alley

The Croft Institute on Urbanspoon