Bacco Osteria e Espresso, Sydney

Bacco Osteria e Espresso is the latest addition to the Angel Place laneway dining district. A cafe/espresso bar in the morning, morphing into a full on restaurant by midday, its small menu is inspired by seasonal ingredients, house-made everything and regional Italian dishes. The food here is simple, delicious and allows the ingredients to shine. Case in point: the artichoke hearts draped over a bed of creamy stracciatella cheese, drizzled with olive oil and served with crostini. Keep an eye out for the specials, like the hand-dived wild Port Phillip scallops which were superbly sweet, and served grilled on the shell with garlic and butter. We ordered all the pastas which were incredible. I thought the standout dish would be the spaghetti alla chitarra with sea urchin (don’t get me wrong, it tasted amazing and reminded me of Chinese ginger and shallot crab, in a good way!), but my favourite was the gnocchi with pistachio and pecorino – a recipe straight from executive chef Andrew Cibej’s nonna. I guess there really is nothing that compares to an Italian nonna’s food!

TL;DR: Italian osteria that prides itself on showcasing local, seasonal produce with amazing house-made pastas.
Favourite dish: Gnocchi, pistachio and pecorino
Would I return?: Yes, most likely for the pastas!

Bacco Osteria e Espresso
2–12/1 Angel Pl
Sydney NSW 2000
Ph: + 61 2 9235 3383
Open Monday to Friday, noon to late; Saturday, 5:30pm to midnight

Artichokes, straciatella – $18
Wild Port Phillip scallops – $24
Spaghetti alla chitarra, sea urchin, beach banana – $28
Bucatini, pippies, nduja – $26
Strozzapreti, goat and guanciale ragu – $26
Gnocchi, pistachio, pecorino – $24
Roasted broccoli, house-cured bottarga and chilli – $12

Izakaya Yebisu, Sydney

If you’re attracted by bright lights, Japanese food, and alcoholic drinks, then you’ll gravitate towards Izakaya Yebisu like a moth to the flame. Settle down with a Japanese chu hai (shochu cocktail) or a drink from the sake trolley, and go nuts with the huge touchscreen menu. There’s a mix of classics like sushi, uzusukuri (thinly sliced sashimi) and gyoza, or go for something a bit more adventurous like the deep fried takoyaki balls, served with a mini skillet of beef curry and melted cheese! While you’re at it, take advantage of the charcoal grill in the kitchen and order all the yakitori, the yaki onigiri (grilled rice ball) and toasted mochi rice cakes wrapped in crisp nori seaweed. Don’t forget about dessert either – the daifuku ice cream is the bomb and if you’re a Washoku Lovers member, you can also get freshly fried tempura ice cream for only $2! Bargain.

TL;DR: Japanese izakaya in the heart of the CBD with a huge menu
Favourite dish: Green tea daifuku ice cream – green tea ice cream wrapped in a chewy mochi ‘pastry’
Would I return?: Maybe for drinks and a few bar snacks

Penguin says Feed Me dined at Izakaya Yebizu as a guest of Washoku Lovers.

Izakaya Yebisu
Shop 7-10, 501 George Street
Sydney NSW 2000
Ph: + 61 2 9266 0301
Open 7 days, 12pm – 11pm

A Japanese alleyway?
Inside Izakaya Yebisu
Sake trolley!
Kachiwari lemon chuhai – $7.80 (front) and Iichiko Yuzu on the rocks – $7 (back)
Kingfish usuzukuri – $18.80
Toasted rice cake – $5.80
Tsukune (chicken meat ball) with poached egg – $5.80
Yaki onigiri – $5.80
Takoyaki with beef curry and cheese – $9.80
Pan fried pork gyoza with ponzu sauce – $8.80
Green tea daifuku ice cream – $5.80
Tempura ice cream – $2 (with Washoku Lovers offer)
Totoro!

Fika Swedish Kitchen, Manly

There’s heaps of cafes to choose from on any given weekend in Manly, but there’s only one with cute Swedish decor, sunny yellow coffee cups and legit Swedish food! Fika Swedish Kitchen in Manly is one of the few places serving Swedish food in Sydney. And yes, that does in include Swedish meatballs – but they’re a definitely a step up from the ones at Ikea! If you’re not feeling adventurous, they do have standard bacon and eggs and the like on the menu, but I’d recommend channelling your inner Swede and going for the open sandwiches (smörgåsen) and seafood dishes like salmon gravlax, pickled herring and caviar. There’s also a range of desserts and pastries to choose from including warm cinnamon buns and apple pies if you’re just after a sweet treat to go with your Swedish tea or filtered coffee.

TL;DR: Swedish food in a cute cafe setting
Favourite dish: Toast Skagen – prawn, dill & lemon mayo mix with avocado, stacked on sourdough
Would I return?: Yes, if I’m in the area

Fika Swedish Kitchen
5b Market Lane
Manly NSW 2095
Ph: + 61 2 9976 5099
Open 7 days, 7am – 5pm

Coffee – $3.50
Swedish meatballs & mash with creamy gravy, lingonberry jam & pickled cucumber – $20
Salmon lover: House-cured salmon with smashed avocado & free range poached egg on pumpernickel – $19
The Gothenburg hotdog: Grass fed beef & organic pork frankfurter with mash, roasted onion, house gherkin mayo & tomato sauce in a bread roll – $16
Toast Skagen: Our famous prawn, dill & lemon mayo mix with avocado, stacked on sourdough – $18

Cirrus Dining, Barangaroo

I’m back! Yes – I’m well aware that every time I say I’m “back”, I end up disappearing for another 6 months before the next blog post. So I’m going to try something different and change up the format a little bit. There will still be the same food photos but less of my ranting. Enjoy!

Make sure to pick a beautiful sunny day to go to Cirrus as you’ll be rewarded with a gorgeous harbourfront views and the natural light streaming through the windows. There’s a focus on sustainable seafood on the menu, with oysters, crustaceans, fish, and caviar for those who are feeling baller! We try a little bit of everything with the Cirrus Platter, with the staff more than happy to adjust the platter to accommodate the number of diners. Cirrus’ fancier take on fish and chips with the whole flathead and chips is also stunning, with a whole deboned flathead fried to a crisp so that you can even eat the tail and fins. But the standout for me was really the marron with its sweet flesh punctuated with yuzu, tomato and pops of finger lime. Totally worth the splurge!

TL;DR: Waterfront fine dining with a focus on sustainable seafood
Favourite dish: Grilled WA marron with yuzukosho, tomato oil and finger lime
Would I return?: Yes, for a special occasion

Cirrus Dining
23 Barangaroo Avenue
Barangaroo NSW 2000
Ph: +61 2 9220 0111
Open 7 days
Lunch from 12pm, Dinner from 6pm

Smoked Ocean Trout Parfait + Fennel Pollen + Pickled Onions – $24
Cirrus Platter: Oysters + Tiger Prawns + Kingfish + Scallop Tartare + Pickled Mussels + Accompaniments – $150 (for 5 people, normally $120 for 4)
So much seafood!
Grilled WA Marron + Yuzukosho + Tomato Oil + Finger Lime – $42
Whole Flathead + Chips – $38
Coal Roasted Hapuka + Native Spice + Aromatic Broth – $48

Ester, Chippendale

Back when I was studying at Sydney Uni, I remembered Chippendale as the suburb with the dated, slightly run-down pubs (Purple Sneakers at the Abercrombie anyone?) and the huge old Carlton brewery site. How times have changed – there’s now a new fancy hotel, a shopping precinct complete with high rise apartments and heaps of restaurants to eat at.

Ester is one of those restaurants and it definitely fits in with Chippendale’s new hipster vibe with the polished concrete, the mismatched chairs and the industrial decor. We’re seated underneath an arched window that looks directly into the kitchen, so we have a great view of the pass and all the awesome food that gets sent out to hungry diners.

Deep fried chickpeas

Already on the table is a small dish of deep fried chickpeas, which make for a surprisingly addictive snack as you browse through the menu. The menu is designed for sharing, with the dishes getting progressively larger and heavier as you go down the menu. There’s not much description on the menu beyond the key ingredients in the dish so it’s a bit of a lucky dip as to what the dish will actually be!

Crispy squid dumplings – $4 each

Queen Chu recommends ordering the squid dumplings from her previous visit to Ester, so we follow her orders and do exactly that. They come out as black football shaped pieces, coloured from the use of squid ink. It’s quite an unexpected and almost intimidating presentation, but we dig in regardless. The dumplings remind me of the chewy football shaped “ham sui gok” from yum cha, with the same chewy texture and a filling of pork and squid.

Pyengana cheddar pie – $15
Continue reading Ester, Chippendale

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