Posts tagged ‘duck’

April 29, 2012

El Capo

by minibites

El Capo

If you want a place with attitude, this is your place. Straight up. Welcome to El Capo, “a good place for bad people”, dishing up Latin American soul food from grits, ceviche to pork belly and donuts.

El Capo
Pine tables, mismatching school chairs, a nasty portrait of an angry chicken sprawled on the wall and stacks of dollar bills as stools. You can’t get any more “I’m top boss” than that.

El Capo

The menu’s great for sharing or if you’re selfish enough to devour whole dishes to yourself. There’s a mix of entrees, mains and a handful of desserts to get you on your merry way. It is Latin American food, so if you’re not a spice fan, I’d order a round of old school Coca Colas right up.

El Capo

First up is the guacamole, and at first you’ll be like “yeah, okay” but once you dip their huge corn chips with the biggest scoop of guac you can get, you’ll realise your mouth is raving with flavours. I can easily say hands down that this is the best guacamole I’ve ever had.

El CapoColombian Empandadas

El Capo
Sticky Pork Belly

Another round of entrees circulate the table with everyone biting into the empandadas, pipping hot beef parcels with a side of salsa. The pork belly fans at the table suddenly have a sparkle in their eye when the strips of sticky pork belly arrive – they’re tender with a slight glaze of chipotle and cola sticky sauce. Sharing is the way to go with this cheeky fella.

El Capo
Arroz Con Pollo

The mains are of a more substantial size for sharing. I smell an amazing aroma of spices, and I turn to see the spicy caribbean chicken rice. Subtle flavours, but absolutely amazing with the guac, so save a bit to have with this one. It’s like devouring a naked burrito.

El CapoTwice Cooked Duck with Pasilla Sauce

The duck had the troops divided; some loved and some weren’t so impressed. I enjoyed the flavours of the duck carnitas (little meats) and duck leg but the duck breast didn’t hit the mark with me, as well as the tortillas, which were too thick and dry to roll up.

El Capo
Encocado De Pescado

On the contrary, the fish curry was delicious. With a neutral slice of fish, the curry was perfect as it was a good balance of spicy, sweet and sour exploring a mix of flavours which I’m not usually familiar with together.

El Capo
Chocolate Tart

It’s lunch, but you still have to end of a sweet note… The chocolate tart is deceiving. Albeit looking like just chocolate ganache tart, the guilty tart has subtle hints of passionfruit and a super crumbly base which everyone loves.

El CapoDoughnuts w/ Cream and Rum Syrup

Doughnuts seemed like an incredibly naughty choice but none of us could say no. We all turned into Homer Simpson drooling over the plate of pipping hot, house made doughnuts soaking in a rum syrup. Super fluffy inside with the perfect cinnamon crust on the outside. A definite must!

El Capo

Winter’s coming and the comfort of El Capo’s style is worth a drive by.

El Capo is now closed.

El Capo
52 Waterloo St
Surry Hills, Sydney

El Capo on Urbanspoon

May 9, 2011

The Villager Hotel, Brisbane

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The Villager

The Villager

In my 36 hour visit to Brisbane, I experienced their highs; gorgeous sunny and blue skies, a warm balmy Autumn night through to their lows; flash flooding and severe thunderstorms. It was all work and little play, but we did manage to sneak a delicious dinner at The Villager Hotel dishing up gastropub styled food. Gastropub food is simply a term coined from England where two pub owners decided to up the playing field of pub food.

The streets of Brisbane were empty (it was Labour Day so it was assumed everyone had already drank the day away) and we were struggling to find something, anything open! The gorgeous high ceiling, dim lighting, exposed brick walls and wooden floors lured us inside.

The Villager

The Villager
“Bacon and Egg”

The Villager
Confit Pork Belly

The chefs at The Villager Hotel haven’t held back and it shows on their menu. For shared entrees, we try their twist on Bacon & Egg and a confit pork belly. An oozing sous vide egg hugs a long piece of jamon, a Spanish type of cured ham – all topped with crispy bread crumbs and truffle mayo. Amazing, amazing textures. The confit pork belly was a little on the tougher side, but crispy indeed – each topped with an sweet orange gel.

The Villager
Duck Breast

Our shared main is a sous vide duck breast on a bed of potato mash and creamed corn. Duck was never my protein of choice, mainly because as a child, I had too many roast ducks that hung from the BBQ shops of Chinatown; that were overcooked, oily and intensely fatty. This was cooked perfectly – succulent and tender with the crispy skin. Mmmm… not to mention, the simplicity of the jus, silky potato mash and sweet creamed corn. Double mmm…

The Villager
Passionfruit Creme Brulee

The Villager
Eton’s Mess

To end, we devour a double dessert delight; my foodie companion’s choice, a passionfruit creme brulee with brandy snap to match her sour preference, and for me, Eton’s Mess. We glee at delight when the creme brulee has a strong solid crack. It’s a mix of sweet and sour with a warm, sugary brandy snap.

Eton’s Mess is an interesting twist, traditionally a mess of meringue, cream and berries. This dish was more of a sophiscated mess; with sour strawberry jellies, sweet strawberries and jam, vanilla bean cream and all topped with meringue sticks. Delish!

The Villager

It’s a double win when you’re able to sit in a chilled out bar with the option of sous vide duck breast, creme brulee and cocktails instead of wedges with sweet chilli sauce.

The Villager Hotel
185 George St, Brisbane

The Villager on Urbanspoon

April 14, 2011

Cumulus Inc, Melbourne

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Cumulus Inc

It’s the only time that I have appreciated a no bookings policy, meaning that we could rock up nice and early to grab a seat along the marble bar to watch young chefs in action. Andrew McConnell’s slightly more casual diner, Cumulus Inc. Cumulus Inc brings fresh dishes which are a little less experimental than Cutler & Co, but still keeping it sexy and interesting. It’s an open room with high ceilings, gorgeous windows looking out to the alleyway and most importantly, an open kitchen and beautiful white marble bar.

Cumulus Inc

Cumulus IncMoonlight en surface rock oysters

Cumulus Inc Slow cooked octopus with aioli, dehydrated olive

Cumulus Inc

There’s delicious warm bread that arrives in a small pan to keep us occupied. The work station of the chef who prepares our dishes happens to be right in front of us, and casually serve our entrees; freshly shucked rock oysters and an intriguing and vibrant dish of slow cooked octopus. The oysters were oysters, but the octopus were amazingly interesting with the unexpected firey pow wow! A definite try to kick start the taste buds.

Cumulus Inc Seared scallops, fresh bacon, pearl barley & sorrel

Next along the agenda was a gorgeous dish of seared scallops and generous tender confit duck leg. The scallops are slightly seared on a bed of pearl barley and bright green pureed sorrel with cubes of fatty bacon.  One of the most ingenious marriage ever: bacon and scallops, and my favourite dish of the night.

Cumulus Inc Aylesbury duck, confit leg, roast breast, plum sauce and spiced turnips

The confit duck is tender and falls off the bone and well balanced with sweet plum sauce and slightly spiced baby turnips. If no one was looking, I would have picked up the duck leg and nibbled through…

Cumulus IncChoc-chip and black olive semifreddo with strawberries

Cumulus Inc

Lemon curd madeleine

The dessert menu is of the obscure kind, but if you’re thinking of dining at Cumulus Inc, your mindset should already be out of the box. Our first sweet delight is a choc-chip and black olive semifreddo; a slather of black olive tapande added a touch of bold flavour to a seemingly simple and stone cold semifreddo. And to finish off the meal and to cleanse the palate; a piping hot, light lemon curd madeleine. Delish!

Cumulus Inc
45 Flinders Lane

Cumulus Inc. on Urbanspoon

January 15, 2011

Cutler & Co Dining Room & Bar, Melbourne

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As a disclaimer to this post, the photos really don’t do it any justice. If you love food that is aesthetically pleasing and technical, this is the place to be, each plate was like a piece of art.

The front of house is amazing. Embarrassingly, we were over 40 minutes late to our last-minute, only-happened-because-someone-pulled-out and I’m-from-Sydney plea over the phone. Running to the glass doors, a glamorous looking Nanny McPhee like character  slid across the floor and opened the door to allow us in. She wore crescent moon glasses on her nose, hair tied in a bun and wore a floor length black trench coat. Without evening mentioning my name, she knew who I was and guided (while she elegantly glided) across to our table.

Cured kingfish, smoked onion, seaweed vinegar, beetroot & rye

We kick start with a trio of entrees. First is a beautiful plate encasing a delicate piece of kingfish and all sorts, it was like inspecting and picking apart a garden with some beetroot here, onion there, crispy rye sticks there…. but it was delicious! Simple, with enormous amounts of flavour, textures which lead to interesting table conversations of trying to figure it all out.

Mandarin duck – crisp leg, smoked fillet, foie gras cigar

Next on the menu is the mandarin duck deconstructed, and my favourite dish for the night. The meat is smoked and pulled off the bone, so there is a continous linger of smoke amongst the table and hints of orange and citrus. Some of the components on the plate, we still did not figure what they were…

Carrot cooked three ways salad, walnut cream & skanklish

Carrot cooked three ways seems to be quite bland on paper, but funnily enough the hardest ingredients to be flavour inventive with are the ordinary staples. There were raw, cooked by sous vide and picked carrot arranged like a little garden on the plate. Mixed in are walnuts and skanklish, which is a type of cheese, fresh and crumbled, so the flavour was mild and subtle.

Roast suckling pig, mustard fruits, braised greens & pearl barley

Our main is a little less artistic, but flavour didn’t disappoint. A slice of roast suckling pig that perfectly cooked. What more can you ask for?

Cutler & Co is a beautiful high-end restaurant but keeps its the quirkiness of Melbourne. Definitely coming back here to indulge in the degustation (and no kidding about the maitre d’ who we still think has superpowers).

Cutler & Co Dining Room & Bar
55-57 Gertrude St
Fitzroy, Melbourne

Cutler & Co on Urbanspoon