Category Archives: Uncategorized

Downstairs Restaurant – Darlinghurst

From the creators of The Hazy Rose, Downstairs Restaurant is situated on the ground floor on Darlinghurst’s trendy Stanley Street. The interior is decked out with quirky British paraphernalia, including bowler hats and British band posters a la The Beatles and The Who. The curtained wooden booths are cosy and intimate, while there are long communal tables available for larger groups.

best-restaurants-downstairs-restaurant-veal

We start with chicken liver parfait accompanied with apple sauce and pickles. Liver parfait is not for everyone, but this one is delightfully smooth and flavoursome, the rich butter-like puree easily slathered onto the accompanying toast. The twice-cooked veal tongue, served with onion puree, pickled beetroot, watercress and gravy is a simple but winning dish. The veal is soft and succulent, and perfectly tempered with the sweetness of the beetroot. My carnivorous self is pleased with yet another meat dish; a 250g sirloin, accompanied with crumbed marrow, relish and mustard. We are presented with other quintessential British favourites, including cauliflower cheese, and bubble and squeak. We walked in unsure as to what to expect, however it is safe to say that the menu developed by Ben Allcock (formerly from East Village) does an excellent job delivering tasty British fare with a modern twist.

best-restaurants-downstairs-restaurant-liver-parfait

With the days getting cooler, Downstairs Restaurant offers a comforting British roast every Sunday at a penny pinching price of $20 a head. Be sure to make the most of your visit and visit The Hazy Rose for a cocktail after your meal.

Jenny Wang

Downstairs Restaurant

Tokyo Bird – Small Bar- Surry Hills – Best Restaurants

“Want to go to Birds of Tokyo?”, I ask my partner. “Hell yes”, he says, “When?”. “Tonight?” I respond, shocked that he actually knows what I’m talking about. “How can you get tickets?” Silence. I suddenly realise my mistake. Scrambling, I try to sell it to him. “Apparently it’s just like a bar in Shibuya!” “They do yakitori chicken heart and liver!” I keep rattling off every aspect that I was excited about but the damage had been done. Apparently he didn’t love Shibuya or yakitori as much as he would have loved the band, Birds of Tokyo. In an attempt not to seem overly disappointed, we head to Tokyo Bird where Birds of Tokyo were not playing.

XX

Japanese inspired cocktails are a must

Hidden away on a side street in Surry Hills, Tokyo Bird can almost be mistaken for one of Shibuya’s izakaya restaurants. If you get lost, just look for a queue of people lingering on a nondescript laneway that runs parallel to Foveaux Street, there you’ll find it. Although there were three couples waiting outside, it doesn’t take long before we get a table (which is a relief given the Birds of Tokyo incident). The place is packed with suits and hipsters sitting side by side at one communal table while groups of work mates hog the corner booths.

Mixed yakitori plate

Mixed yakitori plate

Although still early on a Friday night, it’s hard to have a conversation due to one noisy group in the corner. For first dates, this may not be ideal but for my partner and I, rather than attempt a strained conversation, with every second sentence being “what did you say?” we decide to focus on eating and drinking. Scoring a seat at the bar, we watch on as Japanese-inspired cocktails are shaken with flair by bar manager Yoshi Onishi (ex Stitch). We order a whisky highball and the snacks start arriving soon after that. The sesame salad is true to its name, creamy and sweet, with crunchy shreds of cabbage and sprinkled with toasted seeds. Crisp lotus root chips and bowls of steamed edamame are obligatory drink snacks, while the assorted pickles are a nod to more traditional cuisine. Though the menu has tonnes to sate the craving of meat lovers, birds are the preferred protein on the barbie of the rising sun. Hearts are crisped and charred outside, succulent within and for those partial to fried chicken, crunchy nuggets of katsu are the perfect way to soak up an Asahi or two.

Anna Lisle

Tokyo Bird

The Ternary – Darling Harbour – Sydney – Restaurant Review

With floor to ceiling windows, offering uninterrupted views of Sydney’s skyline and three open kitchens, the Novotel Hotel’s signature restaurant, The Ternary, is one of the most impressive restaurants in Darling Harbour. The restaurant itself spans across nearly the entire bottom floor of the hotel, making it the perfect place to view the Saturday night Darling Harbour fireworks.

Three open kitchens create an interactive dining experience

Three open kitchens create an interactive dining experience

While the city views are a draw card, what is almost more remarkable is that from almost anywhere in the restaurant, guests have a first-rate view of at least one of the open kitchens. The restaurant’s moniker comes from the Latin words ternarius and terni meaning “consisting of three things” and “three at once”, which seems fitting when taking into account the focus of the restaurant space on the open kitchens. Titled as The Wine Bar, the Asian Kitchen, and the Grill Kitchen, the open kitchens connect the chefs to the diners in a unique and memorable way.

Pulled peppered beef in crispy pastry and water chestnut salmon and betel leaf

 

Food-wise, Chef Anthony Flowers has created a menu that spans from modern Australian classics to Asian inspired curries and street-style snacks, perfect for a diverse hotel clientele. To whet our appetites, we started with naan bread served with house made mint yoghurt and onion chutney. The bread itself was warm and soft with flaky air pockets that made an excellent vehicle for the creamy yoghurt and tangy chutney. Next, Chef Flowers delivers betel leaves with two different fillings, smoked flaked salmon, salmon pearls and fried shallots as well as slow-roasted pork belly with fried shallots.  Sprinkled with lime juice, the flavours popped in your mouth with a burst of freshness. We were treated to another five savoury courses, matched with wine selection by the sommelier.  The remaining courses consisted of pulled peppered wagyu beef in crispy pastry and water chestnut with tamarind paste, king prawn with baby corn and cajun seasoning, tandoori salmon on a bed of eggplant puree, chiken tika masala with side of basmati rice, and just when we thought our stomaches might burst, a whole slow braised lamb shoulder with balsamic glaze and roast vegetables.  Dessert was a delight on the eyes and even better to taste; dark chocolate mousse with raspberry sorbet and crème brulee with champagne sorbet.

Kathryn Rehor

The Ternary

Aida Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour 2015 and Fresh Catering

On a balmy Sunday evening, as we walk past the Art Gallery of NSW, through the Botanical Gardens to Opera Australia’s Aida, I feel like a tourist who’s just seen Sydney for the first time. I can’t stop gushing about the autumn leaves, the manicured lawns, the salty air and the lush, green grass. That is all before I even glimpse the set design of Aida. Walking up to the huge structure that juts out onto the harbour, just around from Lady Macquarie’s Chair, it’s little surprise that 700 people are involved in setting up the opera, before a single note left an opera singer’s mouth.

To experience such an opera as Aida, it is only befitting to splurge with a three-course dinner at the platinum club. With the Opera House in full view and Sydney Harbour, just below, we sip glasses of champagne while Executive Chef Geoff Haviland from Fresh Catering, prepares a North African menu, inspired by the opera itself.  Geoff’s menu draws from the traditional cuisines of Morocco, Tunisia, Libya and Algeria, offering a vast range of vivid colours, tastes and textures. “When I was travelling through all these regions I was always drawn to the souks and the huge piles of bright coloured and rich smelling spices, the amazing variety of sweets, seafood and vegetables. The style of cuisine embraces sharing and enjoying the entire dining experience, with food as the champion,” says Geoff.

Fresh Catering's Chermoula rubbed salmon with moghrabieh salad at the northern and southern terrace for Aida. Photo courtesy Fresh Catering

Fresh Catering’s Chermoula rubbed salmon with moghrabieh salad at the northern and southern terrace for Aida. Photo courtesy: Fresh Catering

As we nibble on a platter of sumac spiced chickpea puree, babaganoush, Turkish bread and Sicilian olives, the city skyline slowly comes to life as the sun sets behind the Opera House. A vibrant and generous dish of 12 hour braised lamb shoulder with maple glazed carrots, date puree and pistachio dukkah seamlessly flows from the entrée while guests can choose between a cheese platter or a caramelised fig pavlova.

 

Geoff’s passion for not only his job but also Sydney is contagious and, on this particular, I think we have similar sentiments. “I have lived in many different countries around the globe and travelled to many exotic locations, but I can honestly say that this is one of the most amazing and jaw-dropping settings anywhere I have worked”, says Geoff.

“Last night, looking at the stage lit up with the Harbour Bridge and Opera House in the background was almost surreal. Sydney is a truly unique city with a wealth of showcase events and locations. I am very lucky that my role at Fresh allows me to work in such amazing venues and events.”

The 2015 Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour season for Aida runs from March 27th

Tickets and opera dining packages are on sale now, contact Opera Australia on 9318-8300 or visit http://opera.org.au/whatson/events/operaonsydneyharbour.

There are various dining options to choose from, all from Fresh Catering. See here http://www.freshcatering.com.au/our-venues/fresh-at-opera/dining-options

Discover Executive Chef Geoff Haviland’s favourite Sydney restaurants here.

Earth Hour – Planet to Plate Cookbook – Recipes to save the world

Earth Hour is one of Australia’s proudest exports, an initiative that challenges us to think about the effects of global warming on our society. This year, Earth Hour is focusing on the effect global warming has on our rural communities. As the daughter of a third generation sheep farmer, this issue has certainly struck home. How many times have we all walked into a supermarket or local green grocer and not thought twice about where it all comes from? We are all guilty of taking for granted where our fresh food comes from. We are all out of touch with what is happening with our farmers’ soil, their irrigation and how extreme temperatures affect their yield rates.

Planet to Plate: The Earth Hour Cookbook is a collection of 52 amazing recipes from Australia’s biggest culinary names.

Planet to Plate: The Earth Hour Cookbook is a collection of 52 amazing recipes from Australia’s biggest culinary names.

To change this, and as part of the Earth Hour initiative, Aussie farmers and chefs have collaborated to create Planet to Plate, a gorgeous cookbook with 52 recipes contributed by personalities such as Matt Preston, Neil Perry, Luke Mangan, Kylie Kwong, Guy Grossi, Darren Robertson, Colin Fassnidge, James Viles, Jill Dupleix, Miguel Maestre, Margaret Fulton, Dan Hong and Sarah Wilson.

Beyond recipes such as Luke Mangan’s pea and fennel risotto and Jill Dupleix’s sashimi salad and passionfruit and wasabi, Planet to Plate also incorporates first-hand stories from Australian farmers, highlighting the impact global warming is having on their farms and the nation’s supply of fresh, home-grown food.

The event to launch this cookbook was generously held in the stunning surrounds of Luke Mangan’s Mojo Wine Bar on Danks Street.

To support this cause, purchase your book online here:
https://earthhour.org.au/cookbook-purchase/

Anna Lisle

EH_cookbook_cover_flat_rgb

Sydney says yes to Sake Double Bay

Shaun Presland’s name may be behind this venture, but the star chef is not in the kitchen. Instead, he has handed the reins to talented import Min Kim, who turns out some of the most accomplished Japanese food in the city.

In Japan, you don’t go to a restaurant for ‘Japanese’, you go to a specific restaurant that serves only one type of dish; ramen, sushi, tempura, izakaya, robata, yakitori, soba, tonkatsu, shabu-shabu or teppanyaki. Rarely are any of these two dishes served in the one place, and if they are served together, I probably wouldn’t eat there. I’m on the conservative end of the foodie spectrum; almost always preferring a classic dish, as opposed to a modern interpretation and the same applies to staying true to a cuisine. In Australia, we don’t follow Japanese tradition; we start with sashimi, a cold soba salad, perhaps a few mouthfuls of sushi before venturing into crunchy morsels of tempura, followed by robata and yakitori skewers. And, I’m so happy we do and dinner at Sake reminds us why we are so lucky that this is the case.

The robata grill steals the show; baby beetroot, feta yoghurt and tomato relish

The robata grill steals the show; baby beetroot, feta yoghurt and tomato relish

Chef Min Kim delivers on all fronts; from delicate slices of sashimi from the sushi counter and simple tempura vegetables to textural salads and perfectly balanced mains, but, it is the robata grill that steals the show. Heated to 700°C, the cooking process is to steam, smoke and grill, all at once. The end result is nothing short of brilliance. Stalks of Peruvian white asparagus are charred and smoky, with just the right amount of crunch, sprinkled with flakes of bonito. The braised shortrib falls off the skewer and, I’m exaggerating (but only slightly), the meat dissolves on the tongue. Lamb chops are served with a wasabi chimichurri while corn is charred and lathered in a spiced shiso butter.

Give the chef at the sushi counter your budget and let the team design you a menu

Give the chef at the sushi counter your budget and let the team design you a menu

At any restaurant, on any day, there are a handful of dishes that I will always order. Glacier 51 Toothfish is one of them. Years of illegal fishing has meant that this gloriously oily and flavoursome fish, also known as Patagonian Toothfish, has been off the menu. Only in the past few years, after the endangered species was managed in a sustainable way, has this prized fish popped back up in kitchens, with Sake Double Bay being one of them. Min treats the toothfish with the respect that a fish, that can live up to 50 years and weigh in at over 100 kilograms, deserves.

Anna Lisle

Sake Double Bay 

Fassnidge’s Four in Hand Dining Room

Best Restaurants Senior Editor Anna Lisle visits hatted Paddington restaurant, the Four in Hand Dining Room, owned by Sydney-based Chef Colin Fassnidge.

At 9pm on a Saturday night, the Four in Hand is heaving. Clusters of well-heeled locals smoke Malboro Lights on the footpath while their mates nurse bottles of ice cold schooners of a local froth, eyes glued to the TV as they watch the Aussies sledge the poms into submission. This isn’t a particularly busy Saturday night, in fact, on any given weekend, the Four in Hand is a home away from home for many Paddington locals, myself included. It’s one of the few pubs that hasn’t been revamped; ask a Four in Hand regular what it looks like, and all you’ll get out of them is a story about the last time they were there.

The Four in Hand Dining Room received One Chef Hat in the 2015 SMH Good Food Guide

The Four in Hand Dining Room received One Chef Hat in the 2015 SMH Good Food Guide

This is the entrance to the hatted Four in Hand dining room, where Head Chef and owner Colin Fassnidge rules the roost. He’s arguably more commonly recognised for his hardline persona on My Kitchen Rules however, in the food world, he’s Australia’s answer to Fergus Henderson. The menu is dotted with pigs tails, marrow and pigs trotters but Fassnidge has finetuned each dish to ensure that each dish isn’t just appealing to the offal-friendly. In fact, the pork- and potato-heavy menu is just as appealing and exciting to lenient pescetarians.

Leave room for dessert, Fassnidge's menu is one of the best in Sydney

Leave room for dessert, Fassnidge’s menu is one of the best in Sydney

Pickled strawberries are paired with a duo of cured and raw tuna however, it’s dishes such as his DIY bone marrow that make your meal a memorable one. An Irish ‘san choy bao’, diners are encouraged to scoop spoonfuls of crab, avocado and flecks of macadamia out of a roasted bone marrow and onto raw sorrel leaves. There’s quite a knack to it, trying to get as much marrow juice into each mouthful without dripping it on the tablecloth. Don’t let this put you off because the more marrow, the better. Corned beef may have gained popularity during the World Wars, when fresh meat was rationed, but there’s nothing that reminds one of canned bully beef in this dish. Laced in bresaola, hunks of slightly salted beef fall apart with a fork, topped with grated fresh buffalo curd. It’s hard to avoid any of Colin’s pig dishes but on this occasion, we push the boundaries with a 12 hour braised lamb shoulder, and Hiramasa kingfish in a clam and tomato stock. Our decision pays off, we will venture into other four-legged and fin varieties on future visits because there are at least four mains we didn’t try and if they’re anything like we’ve had before, we will leave as very happy customers.

Anna Lisle

Four in Hand Dining Room 

The food of Italy

There is no other cuisine like it, it is served everywhere and its taste is such that it satisfies the rich and the poor; it is the food of Italy. Wherever you go, to all the four corners of the earth, you will find an Italian restaurant. It may be just a simple nook in a wall in the centre of Sicily or in a grand signature restauant in an international hotel, such as the Shangri-La in Jakarta, in Indonesia. Italian restaurants have turned the preparation of food into an art form, to romance gourmands and bonvivants. The skill to turn produce into seductive succulent dishes was a gift from God to the people of Italy…Italians were born lucky!

Most people identify Italian food with its main protagonists…pasta and pizza, with the latter being one of the best examples of food ‘on the go’. What started as a simple snack for the people on the streets of Naples has now become a culinary superstar…you can find it anywhere, you can even see Chinese people in Shanghai eating pizza with chopsticks. Italian cuisine however, owes its largest favour to Spain, as it was its Conquistadors who introduced a plant from South America to Europe. The tomato became a fundamental staple in the preparation of food in Italy. The people regarded the fruit with such esteem that they called it ‘Pomodoro’, which translates into ‘golden apple’…how appropriate to name a fruit after a famous seduction.

Italy

The preparation of food in Italy became an endeavour for the nation as a whole, starting with the Bacchanalian orgies of the Roman gentry through to the magical cuisine of Bartolomeo Scappi, the grand chef to kings and popes of the 16th century. What is perceived to be food of a whole nation is actually many different types of regional cuisines. Different climates and locations offer different produce. The dry lands of Calabria, that entertain the growth of olives and wine are very different to the rice fields that surround the river Po in the Veneto region. The hills of Tuscany are renowned for the raffia wrapped bottles of Chianti, a red wine that is synonymous with the very identity of the country.

The food of the country is as varied as the colours of the rainbow. The red hues of tomatoes, the colour of the golden corn that makes the pasta in some 80 different shapes and the rice that is grown, such as Arborio, Carnaroli or Vialone Nano, that  is fundamental to the making of risotto, makes the country’s cuisine unique. The variety of dishes are a true representation of the colourful people that inhabit the boot of Europe. The invasion of the country, through many centuries, has seen great influences in what people ate then and what is now being eaten all over the world. The Middle Eastern influence and the bountiful sea has seen the southern part of the country produce dishes of allure and temptation. Spaghettini with bottarga and the stuffed veal roasts are all enhanced by bright red little peppers…peppers that were made to rush you towards a fire extinguisher for your throat. Walking north, along the Appian way introduces you to the lands of the region of Lazio, that part of the country that has been the centre of the world…that eternal city…Rome. That city forged by pagans, then taken over by God, has it it’s own distinct cuisine. Saltainbocca Alla Romana, the artichokes of the Jewish community are all there to contribute to the daily table, to make your mouth water.

Keep travelling north to further enhance the pleasure of the palate. The food of Florence is unique, it is a response to that everlasting request to make men and women happy…to satiate their hunger…to give pleasure to the olfactory glands..The food of Tuscany is renowned…the region is in itself a cooking school of envy…it’s food is bliss! It is not a unique dish, it is not even a gastronomic mind bender…it is not just a steak! Bistecca Alla Fiorentina is a vegetarian’s nightmare! It is just a huge slab of meat! Gigantic steaks from specially bred white oxen from Chianina near Arezzo, is the fundamental beef for this famous meat dish that is synonymous with Florentine cuisine. The piece of meat, a cut that just barely fits onto a large plate, is cooked simply, so as to enhance the flavour. It is not one of those small cuts of meat that are barbecued in so many backyard gardens in the Antipodes, cooked and turned into veritable charcoal, where the only solace of flavour is found in a sauce bottle.

But let us get back to the meat of the matter. Bistecca Alla Fiorentina is as iconic as the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Pyramids of Giza and the Sydney Opera House….the main thing is that ‘La Bistecca’ is arguably more recognisable. This carnivor’s delight is cooked quickly and served very rare, with the cooking done on a steel grate above charcoal, the timing purely depending on the thickness of the meat. The cut is Porterhouse, the meat dressing a wedge of lemon, the side dish or ‘contorni’ is usually a simple salad. No other tastes are proffered with this dish…the meat is what it is all about. This dish is the star attraction of the many restaurants in Florence.

Would you line up for hours to see Michelangelo’s David at the Accademia or Bellini’s Birth Of Venus at the Uffizi, or would you really prefer to attack ‘La Bistecca’ with gusto? I will leave that decision to the reader. You may regret making the wrong decision as Bistecca Alla Fiorentina is not just a steak!

Paolo Tavuzzi, International Food Writer

Florence, 12 September 2014
Paul

 

How to Score Great Dining Deals for Less

Gone are the days when the definition of a good meal was food that simply kept people’s bellies full. Food culture is on the rise, with the huge success of food shows, foodie websites and food festivals; few people can say that a delicious meal doesn’t make their day! And of course, a good dining experience is made all the more enticing if a great discount or reduced price can be enjoyed. Here’s how to score some of the best dining deals in town.

Browse coupon and daily deals websites for dining specials
Websites such as scoupon.com.au, coupon.com.au, cudo.com.au and livingsocial.com.au are chock full of dining discounts and deals. Now and then you’ll find a real gem at a lauded local restaurant or a hot new bar or pub. For instance, you can have lunch or dinner at a great discount at Watts on Crown in Surry Hills.

The best time to scout around for deals is the lull between major holiday seasons like Christmas and Easter. Put yourself on their mailing lists if you don’t mind receiving regular promotional emails as it’s a great way to be the first to find out about the latest deals.

Take advantage of food festivals
All year round, food festivals all over Australia celebrate specific dishes, cast the spotlight on up and coming restaurants and tantalise hungry visitors with exciting degustation menus.

If you’re keen to try new cuisines and tastes and want the luxurious experience of dining at upmarket restaurants without breaking the bank, take advantage of food festivals such as Taste of Melbourne, as well as Good Food Month, which spans the entire month of October each year and is Australia’s biggest food festival.

During Good Food Month, top local and international chefs, restaurants, producers and food and wine experts descend upon the city in a four week-long culinary fiesta. If you’ve always wanted to sample the set menu at establishments such as The Star’s signature Sydney restaurants, Balla, Black and Sokyo, now it is your chance to score mouth-watering lunch menus for $38 only.

Sokyo at The Star

Sokyo at The Star

Scout out deals and packages if you’re attending a show or tour
Lots of restaurants located near major entertainment venues or in tourist precincts participate in tie-ups or offer specific deals that can save you time and money.

If you’re taking in a performance at the Sydney Opera House, enjoy a range of pre-show and dinner offers before and after the show. Likewise, catch a performance at the Sydney Lyric theatre or a concert at the Star Event Centre and enjoy fantastic pre-show dining offers.

At The Rocks, the Sydney precinct located right next to many famous attractions such as the Harbour Bridge climb, Luna Park and various museums, local hotels offer excellent packages such as the enticing Stay and Dine Package at Boutique Hotel Harbour Rocks, including accommodation, a hearty breakfast and dinner. Melbournians can enjoy a special Italian pre-show dinner package throughout the entire opera season at Tram Bar, which turns into an Italian pizzeria just for the occasion.  Australia’s major cities are home to many irresistible food and beverage establishments, and deals and offers that enable diners to enjoy discounts at all types of eateries from casual cafes to fine dining restaurants abound. So keep your eyes peeled and always be on the alert for fantastic deals and packages.

 

 

 

Best Restaurants has relaunched!!

We’ve been telling you for months “the best is yet to come” and now, it’s here with a fresh design, new features and a faster interface! The NEW Best Restaurants is not only easier to use, but it’s jam-packed with Top 10 features, the latest restaurants, hole-in-the-wall bars and quirky cafes. With our new “Where the Best Chefs Eat”, we’ve gone straight to the experts – the chefs themselves—to discover their favourite spots for everything from big breakfasts to late-night feasts.

Best Restaurants is better than ever

Best Restaurants is better than ever

Our favourite bloggers also give us their insider tips to their best kept secrets and special occasion dining. Plus, our team of foodie experts will deliver weekly top 10 articles covering all the important issues, like where do you find Sydney’s top 10 steaks or the best meals for under $20?

Our monthly newsletters will continue to bring you the latest restaurants specials and events, including private dining and Christmas function features, and of course, fab foodie competitions and giveaways. To enter our current competition to go in the draw to win a cookbook by Billy Law, click here.

Our new features include Where The Best Chefs Eat, Where the Best Bloggers Eat and Top 10

Our new features include Where The Best Chefs Eat, Where the Best Bloggers Eat and Top 10

The new website is a work in progress, so bear with us but if there’s anything you love or perhaps something you’d like to see more of, please drop us a line at anna@bestrestaurants.com.au.

Check out the new Best Restaurants here- happy browsing!