Category Archives: Uncategorized

Bib up and dig in

 Gloves. Check. Bib. Check. Scissors. Check. Crab pick. Check. Dining at House of Crabs is as surgical as it sounds, though rather than pain, you experience nothing but tastebud bliss. There’s no plates around me. Just a steaming plastic bag containing one full Snow Crab swimming in a pool of sauce.

lobster BR

Choose from Blue Swimmer, Snow and King Crab

Then comes the equipment. I’ve got to say, I’m a bit of crustacean rookie so I start delicately and slowly, dissecting each piece. A few mouthfuls in, I’ve tossed away a few empty crab shells and with that, my dining dignity. It’s too tasty to waste time on manners and etiquette. Sauce is splashed on the table and all over our clothes and I dare say, even Manu would be impressed by this amount of liquid gold.

As I come up for air midway through the bag, I look around the room – fishing and seaside paraphernalia adorn the roof and walls and the bar is in the shape of boat hull. It’s quirky and fun but there’s no time to waste, the real magic is in that plastic bag. Nurse, the crab cracker, stat.

 Anna Lisle

Singing Italy’s praises – Popolo

Experience has taught me that if a restaurant bears the title “authentic” in its name or menu, it’ll be anything but. At Popolo, there’s no mention of it anywhere but the evidence is where it counts – on the plate. The menu is influenced by seasonality, with a pesce dish that changes daily or weekly, depending on what’s been caught that morning from the fish markets.  The menu delivers regional classics without scaring off your conservative Italian dining companions (you know, those friends who won’t order anything but margherita pizza). Inspired by the heritage of co-owners Flavio Carnevale and Fabio Dore, both ex Fratelli Paradiso, there’s hints of Sardinia and Basilicata dotted throughout the menu.

Popolo is not only open for dinner. Next time I'll be trying the breakfast and lunch menu

Popolo is not only open for dinner. Next time I’ll be trying the breakfast and lunch menu

To start, the swordfish carpaccio, a fleshier and more textural fish, marries well with a dehydrated mandarin peel crumb and toasted almond flakes. If I had to find a fault, the dish could have used a squeeze of lemon that would have taken it to the next level. The squid ink tagliatelle, cooked al dente, involves just a few ingredients, as the best Italian dishes do, with hunks of spanner, king and blue swimmer crab, a handful of sun ripened cherry tomatoes and torn shreds of basil. The fish of the day is a piece of crisp-skinned snapper, served with roasted baby zucchini flowers and cherry tomatoes. Classic flavour combinations, executed perfectly – this dish was a reminder that simple is often the best.

Ceci e Tria - originally from Lecce, pasta strips cooked two ways, chick peas, pecorino mousse

Ceci e Tria – originally from Lecce, pasta strips cooked two ways, chick peas, pecorino mousse

Co-owners Flavio and Fabio explain the motivation behind Popolo: “We want our guests to be able to close their eyes and be transported to Positano, Puglia, Basilicata and Sardegna with every mouthful.” I’ve got to say, dinner at Popolo was undoubtedly an inexpensive Italian holiday, albeit a little short.

Anna Lisle

ClubsNSW Chef’s Table competition – demonstration day

As part of Club NSW’s The Chef’s Table Competition, a handful of chefs from across Sydney took part in the demonstration day, held at Game Farm in Galston. It was a huge pleasure to be asked to visit the farm, which is today the largest multi-species game bird producer in the Southern Hemisphere.

The Demonstration Day is part of The Chef's Table competition

The Demonstration Day was part of The Chef’s Table competition

After touring the Game Farm, we tucked into a delicious breakfast of teriyaki quail and burgers made with quail eggs. From Avocado Australia, Chef Lauren Murdoch from 3 Weeds Restaurant, together with Stuart White from Whiteworks Public Relations, took us through a master class, demonstrating a few quirky uses and avocado recipes.

Chef Lauren Murdoch from 3 Weeds Restaurant, together with Stuart White from Whiteworks Public Relations

Chef Lauren Murdoch from 3 Weeds Restaurant, together with Stuart White from Whiteworks Public Relations

The day was a huge success and it was great to meet some of our up-and-coming chefs, competing in The Chef’s Table. This fantastic initiative is aimed at developing and challenging the skills and knowledge of chefs and apprentices working in registered clubs in NSW. Celebrating its 10th year in 2014, The Chef’s Table competition has been fundamental to the club industry providing a channel to showcase clubs as true dining destinations.

March into Ms. G’s

The charismatic multilevel space of Ms G’s certainly plays to a moneyed crowd, luring in Potts Point socialites and Bondi hipsters who only drink coconut-water. It’s an eclectic clientele but food is their common ground.

March into Merivale $33 meal deal - 2 courses and a glass of wine @ Ms G's

March into Merivale $33 meal deal – 2 courses and a glass of wine @ Ms G’s

You can hear Ms G’s before you see it. Hip tunes and excited prattle waft along Victoria Street, luring undecided diners to join the restaurant’s queue, which there inevitably is with a no-bookings policy. The buzz of the room’s neon lights can be distracting, but the food is worth paying attention to. Spicy snow crab, sweet and salty all at once, served in a bitter sesame leaf is the perfect starter. Topped with a dollop of sour cream, together with the crunch of tiny small balls of fried something-or-others create small explosions of flavour with each mouthful. The next dish is a creative take on scallop ceviche. The plump chunks of flesh are tossed with tomato and a creamy miso dressing and served in a fried cassava cup (think south east Asian pappadum). Al dente egg noodles are doused in a fragrant XO sauce, which could have been a little punchier but, served with shreds of braised duck, it’s a forgivable oversight. The hero, however, is a still-translucent piece of crisp-skin barramundi, lathered in a fire-engine red sambal sauce.

Anna Lisle

Yolanda’s London Calling

Michael and I are both from Sydney, Australia where we were good friends for many years.  Fate brought us together in London in 2012. We both moved relocated and it wasn’t long until our friendship would take an unexpected turn, and we were engaged within a year. London is a unique and exciting place to live. We both share the same passion for food and travel and we have so much fun exploring the city we now call home!


Michael and I were good friends for many years but fate brought us together in London in 2012

Michael and I were good friends for many years but fate brought us together in London in 2012

Being close to Nottinghill and Portobello markets, we do all our shopping there on Saturdays, often riding our bikes and filling up our baskets and back-pack with food provisions. Portabello Markets is famous for antiques and clothing but it is the fresh produce and the interesting vendors that make it our favourite.  The stall holders are all very proud to explain where their produce comes from, so you are assured that everything you buy is as fresh as fresh – straight from the farm.

Every saturday we visit either Nottinghill or Portobello markets

Every saturday we visit either Nottinghill or Portobello markets

We have been fortunate to travel to Spain, Italy and Morocco this year, going to amazing restaurants and attending cooking classes. Each trip we come back home with an assortment of new goods and inspired to get in the kitchen and replicate authentic dishes like Paella at home.

Coming from Australia where there is strong emphasis on multicultural cuisines, we also like to cook Asian dishes and most of these ingredients are easily obtainable in London, all except kaffir limes leaves which only come frozen in the UK –  one of my favourite ingredients for our Thai curries.

Each trip we come back with an assortment of new goods to replicate different dishes at home!

Each trip we come back with an assortment of new goods to replicate different dishes at home

Michael and I have an interesting dynamic in the kitchen. Michael is very methodical and strictly follows recipes, measuring everything down to the 1/8 teaspoon (no exaggeration), whereas I’m more of a Jamie Oliver cook. I somehow manage to start off with a recipe but then I suddenly think, we need a bit more chilli or a tad more palm sugar – let’s just say I’m more experimental but somehow, in our different ways, we manage to create something special.

To counter balance our contrasting cooking methods, and because we are extremely competitive people, we have a running joke about who is playing head chef. This highly coveted position (which means you get to give all the cooking orders for the evening) is fought over every time we get in the kitchen. This funny battle we have, usually carried out with a glass of wine in hand, is how Michael and I unwind at the end of a busy day.

Michael and I unwind at the end of a busy day by cooking

Michael and I unwind at the end of a busy day by cooking

While London has become our home-away-from-home, there is something about the Australian dining scene that we will never be able to replace. The fresh, seafood-focussed produce and the stunning waterfront dining destinations, coupled with atmospheric laneway tapas bars and eclectic cafes, mean that Sydney will always be our real home.

Yolanda de Groot

Big Love for Love on Top

Bayswater Road has always been a difficult area to open a restaurant – you’d be lucky to go to the same restaurant twice in a year. However, I have a feeling that Love on Top, the latest bar to open, is going to buck the trend. The Chinese-inspired cocktail bar next door to Hugo’s Lounge, with a spacious outdoor area that overlooks the beautiful bay trees lining the street has a relaxed but elegant vibe. The small bar makes excellent use of the space – the outdoor garden section with lawn chairs and pretty fairy lights combines seamlessly into the timber bar area, where the open bar and kitchen stretches down one side, lending a busy warmth to the indoor area.

Garden setting at Love on Top

Garden setting at Love on Top

At the opening, we are greeted with a glass of Mumm champagne and get comfortable on one of the outdoor seats. As we shivered in the cold weather we were brought a sample of freshly made dumplings to warm us up; pork, mushroom and peanut and bbq duck, both of which were tender and fell apart in our mouths. A macao martini, with vodka, lillet, plum wine and orange bitters with a twist of lemon had a clean citrus note which allowed the delicate plum wine to come to the forefront. Next, we tried the scallop and prawn siu mai and crispy pork belly on a toasted Chinese steamed bun, with pickled radish and carrot and hoi sin glaze, the latter which was rich and tender.


Pork dumplings with mushrooms and peanuts

Pork dumplings with mushrooms and peanuts

A point of difference in the Kings Cross area, Love on Top is the perfect place to have a cocktail in the early evening while it’s light and balmy and you can people-watch on Bayswater Road. Equally good in cool weather, sit at the bar and eat your way through the Chinese-inspired tapas menu.

24 hours in… Richmond

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Richmond. An amalgamation of industrial, suburban and very cool, this inner city suburb is Melbourne’s go-to for hot brunch spots nestled between chic furniture showrooms. If you look hard enough, it’s not just breakfast haunts that you’ll find around here though. This is what 24 hours in Richmond looks like:


Breakfast: Friends of Mine

A Melbourne stalwart to the brunch-scene, you’ll want to make this bustling café a friend of yours, serving All Press coffee and its famous brunch staples within a cosy French fit-out. 506 Swan St, Richmond VIC 3121,
Coffee: Pillar of Salt

Serving an eclectic assortment of coffee ranging from 5-senses to a house-blend that is anything but ordinary, Pillar of Salt has you covered for your daily cappuccino or more unique coffee pursuits (syphon single-origin, anyone?). 541 Church Street,


Long Lunch: Top Paddock

Modern, spacious and surrounded by a lush, tropical garden, Top Paddock is the perfect choice for an innovative and tasty lunch (try the soft-shell crab slider).  658 Church Street,


Afternoon sweet Treat: La Belle Miette

Carefully hidden, macaron extraordinaire La Belle Miette’s Richmond outpost is a well-kept secret, serving these delicate confections in adorably embossed boxes and some very good French tea. 432 Church Street,


Dinner: Union Dining

Big, bold and brash, Union Dining is unapologetically pairing down Modern Australian fare and boasts a hip retro fit-out, cool outdoor terrace and worldly bar menu.

270 Swan Street,


Cocktail Hour: Bar Economico

In true Melbourne style, Bar Economico is decrepit from the outside and a colourful mirage of free-flowing rum on the inside inside. Owned by Max Baxter, patrons here buy drink tickets that can be exchanged for a crafty cocktail or chilled cerveza. Beuno.  438 Church Street,


Late night bite: Meatball and Wine Bar

Sister restaurant to the ever-popular CBD eatery, this suburban installment has you covered for meatball-y goodness day or night. Don’t miss the ice-cream sandwiches either. 105 Swan Street,


Honourable Mentions

Baby – 631 Church Street,

Royal Saxon – 545 Church Street,

Prince Alfred Hotel – 619 Church Street,

Fonda Mexican – 248 Swan Street,

Demitri’s Feast – 141 Swan Street,

Binh Minh – 40 Victoria Street

Touchwood Café – 480 Bridge Road,

Richmond Oysters – 437 Church Street,

Church Street Enoteca – 527 Church Street,

Meat Mother – 167 Swan Street,


Want to win a ticket to the hot new comedy “Are We Officially Dating?”

Want to win a ticket to the hot new comedy “Are We Officially Dating?”


All you have to do is tell us where you’d like to be taken on a first date to win a double pass!

In Cinemas February 13

Trailer link:

A smart and charming comedy starring Zac Efron and Imogen Poots, ARE WE OFFICIALLY DATING? follows three best mates who decide to make a pact to stay single in a bid to cheer up their heart-broken friend. When commitment phobe Jason finds himself in the bed of Ellie after a night out, he flees the scene only to find her to be a potential client at an important work presentation. He desperately tries to explain the reason for his vanishing act and embarks on a mission to make it up to her, and in the process wins her heart. Meanwhile, Daniel and gal pal Chelsea become more than friends, and a heartbroken Mikey, rekindles the passion with his ex-wife. As their pledge to bachelorhood turns out to be harder than they imagined, things become even more complicated as they desperately try to keep it a secret from one another.


The Corner House boys have done it again…

Perched on the edge of the water, with the Harbour Bridge looming above, the boys from Bondi’s iconic restaurant, The Corner House, have launched yet another successful concept – the Garden Bar. Last week, the de Groots team visited this lush oasis, complete with ferns, faux grass and palm trees.

Slow cooked lamb with chimmi churri

Slow cooked lamb with chimmi churri

 Starting with a glass of Veuve Clicquot and a sneaky Sydney Rock oyster (or ten!), the Garden Bar creates what can only be described as a pinch-yourself moment.  When you suddenly stop for a second and just think, wow, we live in a beautiful city. A beautiful country. And beyond all the fancy cocktails, boutique beers and Mediterranean-inspired menu, Garden Bar by The Corner House also plays host to yoga classes and music acts. All I can say is, when the Corner House boys do something, damn they do it well.

Georgia wearing the complimentary Veuve Clicquot sunnies!

Georgia wearing the complimentary Veuve Clicquot sunnies!

It’s open seven days, 9am till late. Check out their facebook for more info.

Huge thanks to Cru Media for the invite – what a great event!

Umami at Ume

Kerby Craig, head chef at Ume has achieved the difficult task of incorporating authentic, traditional Japanese flavours into a thoroughly modern and original menu, using premium Australian produce. There are no cream cheese sushi rolls in sight at this restaurant, rather ingredients rich in umami, like pickled kelp and wakame, black sesame, white miso and Sashikomi soy, paired with delicate, fresh seafood and slow-cooked, buttery soft meat.

Snapper carpaccio

Snapper carpaccio

The restaurant itself is located on a quiet stretch of Bourke Street in the site that formerly housed Bistrode; the restaurant is filled with golden afternoon light. The menu is composed of dishes between the size of an entrée and main and designed to share. Starting with the snapper carpaccio, the emphasis on aestheticism is immediately apparent. Looking like shimmering daubs of cream-pink paint topped with a comb of shiso (a herb belonging to the mint family), shredded cucumber, black sesame and drizzled with white soy; the flavour is delicate and clean and the fish so fresh it dissolves on your tongue.

Seared Hokkaido scallops

Seared Hokkaido scallops

The seared Hokkadio scallops comes out as a plate of layered rounds, their edges just blackened flaked under a layer of chewy, umami-rich dulse, a red seaweed with a nutty, salty flavour. The soy brown butter makes it a rich, indulgent dish. Instead of served as two halves sliced down the middle, the nasu dengaku is served in long, caramelised strips with a side of pickled eggplant and toasted hazelnuts, which adds to the texture of dish excellently.

For fans of lamb, don’t miss it at Ume – the dish of Riverina lamb shoulder, slow cooked for 6 hours and then lightly charred so it retains a smoky flavour – it is about the most tender shoulder I’ve ever tried, served with wasabi pea sauce and crisp sheets of yaki-nori.

Starting at Tetsuya’s then  moving on to be head chef of Koi at Woolwich, Craig’s pedigree has enable him to master high-precision, original Japanese cooking. Ume is perfect for an intimate dinner or relaxed business lunch.

Ume accepts the Best Restaurants of Australia Gift Card. Click here to buy a gift card online. 


Georgia Booth