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The Cut Bar & Grill, Sydney

It’s easy enough to make a decent steak at home, but there’s something about the dark furnishings and luxury of being able to pick and choose lots of sides to go with your steak that make it a bit of a treat. I decided to treat Sir D on his birthday with a visit to The Cut Bar & Grill for some tasty meat.

As you walk downstairs into the restaurant, it’s almost like you’re walking into a secret underground cavern. The restaurant itself is dark and moody with plush leather banquette seating as well as individual tables.

Scallops, peas, mushroom, bone marrow – $25

We’re here for the beef but we decide to start with a few entrees to whet our palates. The words ‘scallops’ and ‘bone marrow’ catch my eye so we order the scallop entree which has three juicy seared scallops sitting on some crumbled blood pudding, with peas, mushrooms and little blobs of bone marrow. The earthy flavours of the blood pudding and mushrooms pair quite well with the sweet scallops which are perfectly cooked.

Beef tartare, quail egg, truffle mustard, traditional garnishes, lavosh – $35
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Night Noodle Markets 2014

Life has been crazyy! So October (aka Good Food Month) started and it barely registered on my radar until I started hearing and reading stuff about the Night Noodle Markets. Somehow I managed to get my act together and make it out to the first night of the markets, which looked a little something like this around 6pm.

Night Noodle Markets opening night

It was crazy-town and after a quick scout of all the stalls it seemed like there were barely any without queues. I did notice that there are more food stalls than last year which is always a good sign. There are also more seating areas and bars scattered around Hyde Park – but don’t let that trick you into thinking that it’s easy to find a seat!

Bar area

After our recon mission, I’d picked out a handful of stalls that I was keen on getting food from. Hoy Pinoy drew me in with the billowing smoke and smell of grilled meat.

Basting the meat

This Melbourne-based Filipino BBQ food stall had huge skewers of chicken and pork belly cooking away on several grills, all the while being basted with sauce.

Skewers at Hoy Pinoy
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Flavours of Malaysia 2014 at The Grace Hotel

I’ve never been to Malaysia before but judging from Malaysians’ passionate relationship with food, I think I’d fit right in. Malaysia’s love of food was clearly evident at the launch of the Flavours of Malaysia buffet at The Grace Hotel, where there was an incredible spread of Malaysian food created by three Malaysian chefs who were specially flown in for the event.

Here’s a taste of what was on offer:

Cold salads
DIY Rojak and Pasembor salads

The cold section held a number of salads, including a DIY Rojak (mixed fruit salad with a prawn paste sauce) and Pasembor (mixed vegetable salad with peanut sauce). There were also a few salads that I’d never seen before, like a glass noodle salad with coconut and prawn, and a tripe salad.

Beef and chicken satay skewers
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Manta Restaurant, Sydney

The weather is finally warming up which means that it’s time to go out and enjoy the sunshine! And what better way to enjoy the sunshine than a nice meal by the water where you can hear the waves lapping up against the pier and feel the warmth of the sun on your back.

Dining room at Manta Restaurant

The Finger Wharf at Woolloomooloo is a great place to do this, as well as do a little bit of people watching while you dine. We visited Manta for lunch on a gloriously sunny day to celebrate The Cat’s birthday. We’d scored ourselves a voucher for 6 people for $259 – which came to less than $45pp for three courses. The set menu had a choice of three options per course, and also included a glass of house red or house white. Since we had a table of 6, we were able to order every item off the menu and I can safely say that all the dishes were delicious!

Freshly shucked Sydney rock and pacific oysters, spring onion, apple, pepper and white balsamic dressing

I started with freshly shucked oysters which included both the Pacific and Sydney Rock variety. The oysters came with a fresh lemon cheek, a sweet spring onion and apple dressing, and a tangy balsamic and pepper dressing. The oysters were deliciously briny and really didn’t need much more than a squeeze of lemon juice, but the spring onion and apple dressing also went quite well with the oysters.

Fried calamari, chilli salt, lemon zest, parsley, pickled fennel and roasted black garlic aioli
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Black Betty BBQ at The Oxford Tavern, Petersham

You’d be forgiven for thinking that the Oxford Tavern is a seedy pub, seeing as up until last year, the main drawcards were the topless waitresses, jelly wrestling and the “live hot girls”. But since the Drink ‘n’ Dine group’s revamp of the inner west pub, the pokies area has been changed to a beer garden, “jelly wrestling” now refers to a dessert on the menu, and instead of girls, you can now get “live hot BBQ”!

Beer garden at The Oxford Tavern

Live hot BBQ sounds like something right up my alley, so we went to check out The Oxford Tavern’s new Black Betty BBQ. It’s an impressive beast of an outdoor smoker that has been operating for the past couple of months, churning out smoked meats cooked low and slow on the weekends until sold out.

Black Betty menu

There’s a range of smoked goodies on the menu, generally sold by weight. You can also see the prepared meats in the glass cabinet at the counter, and they all look amazing. Executive Chef of the Drink ‘n’ Dine group, Jamie Thomas, is there to serve up the meat himself, and he slices up a little bit of everything for us to try.

Platter full of meat!

We end up with a huge platter of meaty goodness featuring all the menu items on the standard Black Betty BBQ menu, as well as the specials for the day.

Smoked chicken – $8 per 1/4 chicken

The smoked chicken is the only poultry item on the Black Betty menu, and it has an amazingly smoky flavour and is succulent and juicy.

Beef brisket – $8 per 100g
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A Sydney food blog