Friday, August 29, 2014

Adamo's Pasta: fresh-made pasta goodness

I'm a total pasta fiend and seem to be able to eat endless amounts of it. In fact, I'm thinking about smashing a bowl of orecchiette bolognese as I write this post on Adamo's Pasta in Beaconsfield/Alexandria.

Located on a busy main road in a quasi-industrial area, Adamo's first started out selling a wide range of fresh uncooked pasta. It piqued a lot more interest when the narrow store added a dining area and started selling hot pasta meals to the local workforce that's rather starved of lunch options.

Beetroot gnocchi with gorgonzola sauce from Adamo's Pasta, Botany Road, Beaconsfield
I always tend to go for more exotic pasta options when I'm out, leaving the likes of spaghetti and fusilli for at-home cooking. The generously-sized dish of beetroot gnocchi certainly fit the bill with its ruby-red hue, served with our chosen sauce of gorgonzola and peas, freshened up with plenty of fresh chopped parsley.

There wasn't much beetroot flavour to the pasta, although its appearance compensated somewhat, while the rich gorgonzola sauce with bits of pancetta was a good match to the unique gnocchi.

Porcini mushroom agnoletti with ragu
Filled pasta like agnoletti are always a delight when done well, and these filled with a smooth filling of porcini mushroom certainly were. Perfectly al dente, the pasta parcels were plentiful amid the deep red ragu, with visible bits of soft beef and vegetables enhancing the pasta.

Pumpkin gnocchi with amatriciana sauce
Another option from the exotic gnocchi range was a pumpkin variety that was softer and sweeter than the usual potato version. With our chosen amatriciana sauce of tomato, bacon and chilli, the pumpkin gnocchi was a vividly filling lunch.

It's a shame that there aren't more places like Adamo's in the CBD where a quick, fresh, reasonably priced pasta offering would really be appreciated at lunch, as well as the opportunity to buy fresh pasta, sauces and other related grocery items before the commute home. So for now, I'll have to keep heading to Beaconsfield for fresh-made pasta goodness.

Adamo's Pasta on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Dive in to Yurippi at The Cliff Dive

Remember last time you were on an underwater dance floor of a Papuan dancehall and you were peckish? It was probably at Darlinghurst nightclub The Cliff Dive which is now embracing the earlier evening crowd with a food offering in light of the recent lockout laws, introducing a street food concept that's as colourful and quirky as its fish-adorned dance floor.

Underwater themed dance floor at The Cliff Dive, Oxford Square, Darlinghurst
Called Yurippi at The Cliff Dive, it offers a short selection of grilled skewers throughout the evening till late, particularly on Friday and Saturday nights – The Cliff Dive's big nights where punters give the underwater dance floor a steamy workout.

Statue at downstairs entry
The Cliff Dive owners Alex Dowd, Jeremy Blackmore and Russell Martin (the former two who also own Surry Hills tequila and beer barn Tio's Cerveceria) had been looking for a way to improve and expand on The Cliff Dive's late night trade and perhaps pushed along with the new laws, recruited a former high school buddy to up the existing food offering.

The main bar
Yurippi chef 'Honky' threw in his full-time mechanical engineering career to focus on his Crows Nest market stall every third Saturday of the month and his new kitchen digs behind The Cliff Dive bar.

Inspired by his time in Japan visiting yakitori stalls, he's cooking up skewers with a twist to suit the island theme and rum-oriented back bar.

Yurippi kitchen window
With a bit of consultation help from chef friends at Longrain, the menu of five skewers takes cues from Thailand, Malaysia and other south east Asian regions to form an eclectic collection of sweet, sour and spicy flavours, with each skewer treated to its very own sauce.

Yurippi skewers
The Hungry Honky set basically offers the entire menu on a small board: all five skewers plus excellently tart, crunchy house-pickled vegetables and a firm-grained pandan coconut rice served in a bamboo basket.

The lemongrass chicken with peanut satay sauce was an easy favourite, as too the silken chilli tamarind tofu with som tum sauce. 

A whole baby octopus confit-ed in chilli oil and ginger makes for more an adventurous-looking skewer, while the wild ginger beef with caramelised sweet soy and the turmeric lemongrass pork with sweet tamarind sauce round out the offerings.

Royal Bermuda Yacht Club cocktail
The new tiki-influenced cocktail list by bartender Michael 'MC' Chiem (ex Bulletin Place, Sokyo, Black) goes a little further than just Hawaiian resorts, tropical juices and tiki mugs – not to say that there's not plenty of the latter two.

Rooted in the traditions of Trader Vic and original man of tiki bars and drinks, Don the Beachcomber, the cocktail menu is almost exclusively tiki-influenced and is all hand-drawn pictorial fun.

We start with the pretty-as-a-picture Royal Bermuda Yacht Club cocktail, served up with Bacardi 8, Cointreau, lime juice and a house-made falernum syrup that MC calls their "master stock" that goes into many of their signature, tropical-themed drinks.

La Florida cocktail
Next, the Jungle Bird which I'm reliably informed is Malaysia's national cocktail, created at the Kuala Lumpur Hilton Hotel's Aviary Bar in 1978.

A shaken mix of spiced rum, Campari, pineapple and lime juices, the refreshing, cinnamon-scented cocktail is served in half the woven, bamboo basket that Thai sticky rice is generally served in.

Don the Beachbomber's Zombie cocktail
The falernum also appears in the classic Don the Beachcomber's Zombie which is served in a green Easter Island statue-inspired tiki mug lidded with a cinnamon-scented orange slice.

With a mix of Bacardi and Appleton rums, Pernod liqueur and house-made grenadine with notes of cinnamon and star anise, the citrusy concoction really sets the tiki mood and isn't as boozy as some other Zombie's I've had.

Piña colada cocktail served in a pineapple
Last, but by no means least, was the classic Piña Colada served in a hollowed out pineapple with its core intact. With Bacardi 151 rum, coconut, Chinese five spice and a touch of salt to bring out the sweetness of the pineapple, the limited numbers of hollow pineapples per night make this a must-have.

Second bar
Open from 6pm Wednesdays to Saturdays, Yurippi offers a tasty precursor to the usual music and dancing at The Cliff Dive which kicks off at about 11pm and opens till late – just make sure you dive in before you get locked out at 1.30am.

Food, Booze & Shoes dined at The Cliff Dive as a guest.

The Cliff Dive on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 25, 2014

Rock out or relax at Suzie Q

Posted by Kath

If you're after a place that's slightly off the beaten track of bustling cafes on Crown Street, Surry Hills, then Suzie Q Coffee and Records awaits you a stone's throw away from the main road.

Suzie Q, Hutchinson Street, Surry Hills
Stroll down Hutchinson Lane and you'll be greeted by a cosy little space that was previously a loading dock. While its past may not have been so glamorous, the space has been transformed into a relaxed and inviting place to enjoy some good coffee, delicious food and a rare music record or two.

Entrance area and part of large scale Woodstock photo
Across one wall of this hip little joint is a large-scale photograph of Woodstock which adds to the relaxed vibe and reinforces the owners' love for the classic eras of music.

Family Affair - Roast chicken, Brussels sprouts, carrots, aioli and stuffing
with a side of roast potatoes and gravy
We kicked off brunch with a number that you wouldn't often come across at this time of day called the 'Family Affair', basically a roast chicken dinner in a roll with all the trimmings.

Family Affair - Insides
And they weren't kidding about "all the trimmings" because this was literally a delicious roast chicken dinner loaded into a roll.

The roast chicken was lovely and moist with whole oven-roasted Brussels sprouts and carrots having the right amount of char, while the stuffing was deliciously genius on a sandwich.

Aioli added another element of naughtiness to the meal as if the golden roast potatoes and gravy weren't enough, the separate gravy boat of the latter helpful for slathering liberally over the feast of a sandwich between each bite, .

Baked eggs, with chickpeas, eggplant, peppers & sourdough
A special on the menu was the baked eggs which was a lot healthier than most I've encountered. Accompanied by crispy buttered sourdough, the substantial dish was jam packed with chickpeas, eggplant, peppers and of course, Two gooey-centred baked eggs.

Front counter
So take some time to explore the road less travelled - soak in some classic tunes and enjoy some inventive takes on classic brunch at Suzie Q.

Suzie Q on Urbanspoon

Friday, August 22, 2014

Sunday lunching at Alpha Restaurant

If you've ever walked through the Sydney CBD on the weekend, you'd notice it's pretty dead outside of Pitt Street shopping mall. I always wonder what tourists think of our empty city centre; and how uneconomic non-office city rent must be.

Further in CBD south Alpha Restaurant is going against the grain and actually making the most of weekend crowds, introducing a Sunday lunch service to its all-week trading earlier this year.

Dining tables at Alpha Restaurant, Castlereagh Street, Sydney
It's been a funny year for modern Greek restaurants: while there have been a few casualties and gyros are trying to become the next big thing, Alpha appears to be going gangbusters with the corporate crowd through the week, and large families and groups around that, both drawn in by head chef Peter Conistis' generous menu of traditional and modern shared Greek dishes.

The stunning, bright, contemporary fitout helps, presenting both a traditional and modern Greece, as do the high ceilings of the ground floor Hellenic Club building and the fresh, modern approach to Greek cuisine in a part of town that doesn't have many higher-end restaurants.

Bar and seating
Having sat at the marble-topped bar for ouzo on a previous occasion, I was excited to be trying 'Yia Yia's' tasting menu to share among the table, with a few extras thrown in for good measure (denoted in the caption with an *).

Pita bread with taramosalata (back) and melitzanosalata (right, centre)
We started with some of my all-time favourites in Greek food: warm triangles of soft, fluffy pita bread with a taramosalata white cod roe dip and a chunky melitzanosalata smoked eggplant dip.

The pale taramosalata was the winner of the two with well balanced acidity against the creamy flavour of the roe, while the soft dice of eggplant in the melitzanosalata could have been smokier for my liking.

Baked kalamata olives
A large serving of kalamata olives joined the starters, baked warm with an array of spices enlivening the saltiness of the olives.

Sesame leaf dolmades*
A classic Greek dish of dolmades was next, featuring an almond and herb rice wrapped in sesame leaves rather than the more common vine leaves.

As un-photogenic as dolmades can be, Alpha ups the presentation stakes by serving the leaf-wrapped rolls in a pool of foamy preserved lemon avgolemono sauce, garnished with micro herbs.

Falafel with chickpea hommous*
I was impressed by the perfectly smooth and golden surfaces of the falafel, hiding hot and well-seasoned innards of crumbly ground chickpeas.

While they're more commonly known as Middle Eastern fare, Alpha's piping hot falafels were too tasty for argument along with the chickpea hommous with tahini sesame paste and plenty of garlic.

Haloumi saganaki, ouzo, lemon, oregano
There was a collective murmur of appreciation when the frying pan full of haloumi was put down on the table. The slices of pan fried cheese were joined by sweet grape tomatoes, lemon juice, oregano and lots of olive oil.

Any ouzo addition must have cooked down as I couldn't really taste it in the salty, trademark squeaky cheese that's some of the best in town and simply gorgeous with lemon and ripe tomatoes.

Octopus twice-cooked, spinach, white beans, red wine vinaigrette*
While octopus isn't one of my favourite seafood types, the grilled offering at Alpha may have me converted. The twice-cooked tentacles were impossibly tender, finished on a grill for colour, flavour and a touch of char crispness.

Eaten with a squeeze of lemon and soft white beans which added richness, the octopus was an absolute star dish of the lunch, even if it's not what I know as traditionally Greek.

Moussaka of eggplant, seared scallops, taramosalata*
Chef Conistis' moussaka of eggplant is something of a legend - developed as a dish in 1993 and enduring time and appearances at all of his earlier restaurants since, the eggplant tower is a stunning to look at and devour.

Two thick rounds of slow roasted eggplant sandwich taramosalata and plump scallops grilled to perfection. Topped with diced and herbed tomatoes and garnished with salmon roe pearls, it combines soft and creamy textures with perfect specimens of seafood in an absolute explosion of flavour.

I, and most at the table with me, would happily eat this as a main meal at Alpha and call it a day. Legend status maintained.

Spanakopita - spinach pie, leeks, fetta, dill
I adore most savoury pastry varieties and so was pretty chuffed to see the spanakopita spinach pie, served whole at the table.

Cut spanakopita
The delicate, golden filo pastry held a finely chopped filling of spinach, leek, fetta cheese and lots of dill; the latter which added a new and refreshing flavour to a classic vegetarian filling.

Horiatiki salad - tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, red onions, olives, fetta
As the food continued to roll in, I was glad to see a vibrant salad join the offerings. Greek salad can be found at almost every salad and sandwich shop these days, but Alpha's version was worlds away in quality.

The kitchen has clearly gone to the trouble to source the very best quality vegetables to differentiate their Horiatiki salad from the masses: perfectly ripe and flavoursome tomatoes, sweet-as red capsicum strips and then, a smartphone-sized hunk of salty fetta cheese to break over it all.

Greek spiced slow roasted lamb shoulder, roast potatoes, tzatziki
The salad was served as more of a side to the piece de resistance: a slow-roasted whole lamb shoulder with aromas of oregano and rosemary, amid other Greek spices. The lamb roast was served with roasted kipfler potatoes and my favourite condiment of tzatziki mint, garlic and cucumber yoghurt dip/sauce.

Roasted lamb shoulder being served
The lamb was ridiculously tender, falling off the bone with a mere push, and seasoned beautifully and relatively exotically with an array of spices. Traditional Sunday roasts may well have a new Greek home in Alpha.

Loukamades - Greek doughnuts, spiced honey syrup, candied walnut ice cream
The long lunch was rounded off with a shared dessert of loukamades Greek doughnut balls. Even as a non-fan of doughnuts generally, these two-to-three bite-sized balls had a lovely chewiness within their golden fried surfaces, although it was the rich candied walnut ice cream that did it for me.

Light features at Alpha
It was such a nice feeling to sit back and admire the gorgeous fittings at Alpha post meal, and perhaps escape to a Mediterranean-inspired food coma.

The restaurant offers generous food that you want to dig in to with friends and family, and a unique and classy ambience (despite the occasional fire engine departure, sirens and all). For a beautiful and thoroughly satisfying Sunday lunch in the city, Alpha has to be one of the best, if not only, choices in town.

Food, Booze & Shoes dined at Alpha Restaurant as a guest, with thanks to Wasamedia.

Alpha Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Hanging out with Mrs P's and the family

Posted by Hendy

Mrs P's is a small, family-run café just behind Burwood RSL, tucked behind the main Burwood Road corridor where a number of bigger, more established cafés reside. As the name suggests, the café family's surname begins with the letter P.

All-day menu board at Mrs P's, George Street, Burwood 
The son of Mrs P's explained how the café has now been open for almost two years, having opened on the specially selected date of 12/12/12.

Father George is the barista on the coffee line with the son working the floor and front counter. Mrs P's takes care of the bustling kitchen at the back. Given the limited number of staff on the floor, I found service to be a bit slow though the service is quite personal which was lovely to see.

George P (in red) and his son

Mrs P's interiors
The venue is small yet cosy, with a big window opening up to lots of natural light. Son of Mrs P's explained how they wanted a vintage setting and vintage feel, somewhat consistent with majority of the cafés in the inner west area.

There are photos of Mrs P's family and extended family around the café which make for interesting viewing. He also explained how with the limited initial budget, all the tables were self designed, painted and sanded.

The all-day menu is extensive. You can have breakfast in almost any combination: a choice of eggs, toast, potato cakes, mushrooms and more breakfast sides tailored to your appetite and liking.

We started with a selection of coffees, each which comes a bite-sized shortbread. Using Five Senses beans, the coffee had a nutty, subtle and mellow tone and was quite clean and smooth on the palate.

Flat white
George P is undoubtedly an excellent barista and master of the milk station, with the smooth, silky coffee a function of the quality of the milk preparation.

Blueberry muffin
Lining up at the counter to order, there were a number of homemade cakes including a rather pale blueberry muffin which was nice and soft with plenty of blueberries but sadly, no muffin top.

Gourmet ham toastie
We also ordered the gourmet ham toastie which comprised a generous serve of free-range and preservative-free, thick-sliced ham, melted Swiss cheese and Dijon mustard on toasted brown bread.

Egg & toast with the added homemade potato cake
From the breakfast options we ordered two poached eggs and organic sourdough toast with add-ons of beef sausages and a homemade potato cake. While the eggs looked superb on the plate, they were slightly overcooked with the yolk being quite firm and not as runny I would have expected, though compensated for by the scrumptious homemade potato cake and the flavourful beef sausages.

Vegetarian breakfast
The vegetarian breakfast was the most colourful dish that morning, served with poached eggs, grilled tomato halves, blanched baby spinach, a large grilled mushroom, a fan of avocado and sourdough toast.

Similarly, the poached eggs were slightly overcooked while the tomatoes and mushroom would have benefited from a bit more seasoning.

Mrs P's, George Street, Burwood
Mrs P's is a great fresh addition to the set of conventional Mediterranean style cafés in Burwood. The simplicity and homely feel of the dishes are heart-warming, complemented by the personal touch offered by Mrs P's and the family.

Mrs P's on Urbanspoon


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...