Archive for ‘Late nights’

August 28, 2011

The Coachmen

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The Coachmen

I have a Russian partner-in-crime that over time, I have slowly educated her in crazy feng shui superstitions, what taro and pandan is, and fed her addiction to Din Tai Fung dumplings and Easyways. I’ve also been equally as interested in her world; so after our adventures at Borsh Vodka & Tears and Food Society, it was back to ol’ school Russia at The Coachmen.

And of course, we let her take the reins of ordering…

The CoachmenHerring in a Fur Coat

The Coachmen
Olivier

Two Russian entrees rolls out, and the first isn’t a stranger despite it’s interesting name. It’s a traditional salad with layers of potato, beetroot, herring, mayonnaise and topped with finely shredded eggs. Herring might be a shriek factor for some, but surprisingly it’s all disguised in this salad and works quite wonderfully.

Olivier is another Russian salad, this time with a crunch and tang. Similar to a coleslaw; it’s made of cubes of boiled potatoes, eggs, pickles, carrots, peas and onions and dressed with mayonnaise. Would have gone lovely with a ton of meaty goodness.

The Coachmen
Potato Dumplings (Pelmeni)

The Coachmen Pancakes “Coachmen”

My request of the night are the Russian meat filled dumplings. It’s as simple as it be, served with a clear stock and a dollop of sour cream. But one of my favourites are the warm savory pancakes filled with chicken and topped off with mushroom sauce. If we didn’t have to spilt into quarters, I would have devoured the entire lot…

The Coachmen
Grilled Lamb Georgian Style (Shahshlik)

A spice and rustic aroma filled the table when the first of the mains are served. Lamb fillet, deliciously flame grilled and served with the most amazing spicy tomato sauce with reminisces of chimichurri sauce. I think even the lamb haters would be won over by this firey skewer.

The Coachmen
Veal Goulash

The Coachmen
Beef Stroganoff

Two other familiar dishes came out with the veal goulash cooked in a ceramic pot with an interesting caramelised onion toast as its lid. The beef strogonoff is served with a mountain of jasmine rice; although tasty, I prefer stroganoff with a lot more sauce.

The Coachmen

The vibe at The Coachmen is exciting with live music flowing throughout the restaurant. The clock strikes 8:30pm and three gorgeous dancers in the “modified” Russian traditional dress  (meaning hello! A no bottoms getup) rip up the dance floor in high pace, electric moves. Line dancing, high kicks, spins; these girls had the entire crowd mesmerised.

The Coachmen

And don’t forget a shot of vodka before every course. I’m sure whether it really is tradition, or if our gullibility is to blame… But bottoms up we were told, and down went the peach vodka, honeydew vodka….

A night of hearty meals, vodka shots and live entertainment that you can’t help but clap and bounce around to.

The Coachman
763 Bourke St
Surry Hills, Sydney
www.coachmen.com.au 

Coachmen Russian on Urbanspoon

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June 4, 2011

Borsh Vodka & Tears, Melbourne

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Borsh Vodka & Tears

Borsh Vodka & Tears

I have never been to a bar that has dished up an impressive and extensive cocktail list alongside a whopping vodka menu for shots straight up. Anything that can be thought of, cherry vodka, mint vodka, chili vodka, chocolate vodka… be prepared to be strapped in for some wholesome comfort food and plentiful of shots and alcohol. Inside, we’re shielded from the cold, it’s dimly lit and cosy.

My Russian counterpart is in charge of ordering tonight and begins to order the feast and shots to accompany each course…

Borsh Vodka & TearsZakuski

Zakuski is served first and it is the Russian version of hors d’œuvres with a platter of starters from gypsy ham, warm grilled kranksy, russian potato salad, roast capsicums, beetroots, polish dill cucumbers, picked mushrooms and cubes of goats cheese. All interesting flavours of savouriness and sourness all tickling our tastebuds, downed with a shot of Winter Romance; a sweet cherry vodka delight.

Borsh Vodka & TearsPanfried Uszka

Borsh Vodka & Tears Russian style Chicken Stroganoff

Borsh Vodka & TearsGoulash

Our mains roll around the corner and first are the panfried uszka; traditional Polish meat dumplings and crepes and served with (of course) picked cucumbers and sour cream. I used to think that the Asian dumplings were good, but secretly, the Polish very good at making mouthwatering, tender dumplings.

More comfort food rolls around with a traditional Russian style chicken stroganoff with fresh rye bread on the side. The stroganoff is more watery in texture than usual but don’t let it deceive as it’s flavoursome and hearty. The goulash is equally as good; a lightly spiced beef stew made from coriander and green peppercorns and served with creamy mash potato, sauteed vegetables and a capsicum relish.

This round was topped with the Pole Stiffener shot; a liqueur cherry in cherry and chocolate vodka; and probably my favourite of the night.

Borsh Vodka & Tears Russian Crepes 

For the sweet tooths around the table, there’s not doubt that the Russian crepes is the way to go; filled with warm strawberries and apples and served with cream, raspberry coulis and vanilla ice cream. It’s a nice welcome away from all the meat tonight. And of course after dessert, we topped off with the After Dinner Mint shot; a mix of Van Gogh chocolate vodka and żołądkowa mint vodka.

Borsh Vodka & TearsSomething Wicked Comes This Way & Double Rainbow

Borsh Vodka & Tears

Throughout the night there’s no holding back and we have cocktail after cocktail. The winners on the list are the Espresso Martini; quite self explainatory, Something Wicked This Way Comes, Apple Pie and Menage a Trois.

A honourable mention to the writer of the cocktail menu with wonderful cocktails named “Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries” (quote from Monty Python) and “You’re turning violet, Violet” (quote from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory).

A night here isn’t fully experienced until you’ve had the borsh (soup), plenty of vodka and hangover tears.

Borsh Vodka & Tears
173 Chapel St
Windsor, Melbourne
www.borshvodkaandtears.com.au 

Borsch, Vodka & Tears on Urbanspoon

June 1, 2010

LL Wine & Dine

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I’m so happy that I discovered this sooner than later. Hidden amongst the alleyways of Kings Cross, this restaurant bar has absolute potential, with a delicious collection of dishes, strong cocktails and a quirky interior. The restaurant captures the vibe of Hong Kong’s underground – and this space has been transformed from an once 1980s illegal casino, pornography dungeon and steel room.

From the outside, you can grab a drink in the skinny corridor-sized bar or wander inside past the pornographic wall, eccentric wall designs into a warm, Chinese influenced dining area.

Big trouble in little China

Unable to choose my cocktail, I quickly opt at the last minute for the Big trouble in little China, containing 42 below vodka, vanilla and pineapple shaken topped with fresh coriander. Surprisingly this becomes the favourite cocktail of the night and even though I’ve never had coriander in a cocktail before, it was a fantastic touch to this drink. Another recommendation would be the Red Dragon; a mixture of sweet and sour of coriander, raspberries pressed then shaken with chilli infused vodka, peach schannps and cranberry juice – unusual but hits the mark.

San choy bau of chicken

For entrees, we devour with LL’s twist on the san choy bau; instead of duck, there are pine nuts, chicken, lemongrass, mint, topped with spicy lemon dressing served in a large lettuce cup. A nice spicy kick start to the meal.

Black tea & star anise smoked duck breast pancakes

Next on the agenda are  DIY duck pancakes, served with traditional dipping soy bean sauce, cucumbers and spring onions. The duck pancakes are tender and cooked just perfect, with subtle hints of black tea and star anise flavours smoked through.

Beef eye fillet

More mains roll out on our miniscule table; beef eye fillet which are slow cooked and braised in house spices, served with chinese greens & baby carrots. Wonderfully tender meat that fell apart when served. The baby carrots also deserve a honorary mention, simple but blanched perfectly to maintain a soft yet crunchy touch.

A dish that I unfortunately forgot to capture due to the fact that I was too busy devouring and laughing the night away, is the chili & garlic crumbled soft shell crab served with wasabi mayonnaise – my favourite dish of the night. A definite must for those salt and pepper squid lovers who enjoy a great chili kick and more kapow from the wasabi dipping sauce.

Coconut cream, lychee and topioca panna cotta

Full to the brim, we share our dessert; the coconut, lychee and tapioca panna cotta, served with mango gelato and sugar pastry. Not your usual panna cotta but the flavours are refreshing and light, just perfect to top off our meal. It has a good jiggle but I was hoping for it to be a little more generous…

Great food and drinks with a fantastic atmosphere served by friendly and some pretty cute waiters too! Bookings are essential.

LL Wine & Dine
42 Llanklley Place
Kings Cross, Sydney
www.llwineanddine.com.au

LL Wine & Dine on Urbanspoon

May 21, 2010

Tokonoma

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Fuwa Fuwa Martini

Chocolate fondant & Trio of creme brulees

This little bar has been my favourite little bar around Surry Hills, and everytime I visit, it feels as though I’m being transporting away from Sydney into another city. It’s beautifully furnished with a touch of futuristic accents, dark timbers, downlighting, flickering candles and intimate booths. The bar menu is extensive and impressive of a modern Japanese fusion dishes with the influence continued through onto their cocktails. Although, tonight it’s just the sweet to delight, so we snuggle up on the lounge away from the torrential rain to some cocktails and desserts.

My favourite cocktail is the Fuwa Fuwa Martini; vodka shaken with muddled pineapple, cloudy apple juice and Chambord, topped with the sweetest, best tasting, delicate, vanilla fairy floss. Onto desserts, the dark chocolate fondant is warm and oozes like it should. It’s served with a vanilla miso ice cream which gives just the right touch of sweetness to counteract the bitterness of the dark chocolate. The flavours of the trio of creme brulee are seasonal, so it’s green tea, ginger and espresso on the menu tonight. My favourite is without a doubt the green tea, followed by the espresso – not the best in Sydney, but with its unique and dominant flavours, it still hits the mark.

With amazingly friendly and attentive staff and the best background music, this place is should really be kept a secret.

Tokonoma
490 Crown St
Surry Hills, Sydney
www.toko.com.au

April 11, 2010

Berlin Bar, Melbourne

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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
Melbourne
www.berlinbar.com.au