El Loco, Surry Hills

Viva Los Tacos!

You can’t really go wrong with a freshly made taco from El Loco, the newest member of the Merivale family serving up Mexican food on a street corner in Surry Hills. While it’s attached to the Excelsior Hotel on Foveaux St, it’s a stand-alone place in its own right, with tacos, sandwiches and plenty of tequila to go around.

Interior

The inside of the Mexican cantina is decked out in bright colours, pictures of cacti and sombreros as well as used jalapeno cans as pot plants. It’s all things Mexican here, and while I can’t vouch for the authenticity of the food having never been to Mexico myself, it’s a far cry from the food-court nachos with fresh, crisp flavours and quite possibly the most delicious guacamole I’ve ever had.

El Loco Cocktails: Classic Margarita, Jalapeno Margarita and Pink Cuco - $13.50 each

We grab some drinks and snack on some corn chips with guacamole and salsa ($5 – which I conveniently forgot to take a photo of). You can’t go wrong with a Classic Margarita, but if that’s not your thing you can always go for the more adventurous Jalapeno Margarita (which wasn’t actually that spicy) or the sweet Pink Cuco which comes in the form of a slushie. There is also an extensive selection of tequilas on offer with varying prices depending on the quality of the tequila.

Tacos: Al Pastor (Pork), Carne Asada (Lemongrass beef), Camaron (Prawn), and Pollo (Chicken) - $5 each
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Hana Ju-Rin, Crows Nest

Keeping with the theme of exploring our new ‘hood, we decided to check out Hana-JuRin, the sister restaurant of Ju-Rin just down the road. The first thing we notice as we walk in is the chef standing behind a teppan on the side of the restaurant, preparing some okonomiyaki. While it’s a small restaurant, there is still room for a small sushi bar at the back and diners can choose to sit in front of the teppan, at the sushi bar or on regular tables around the restaurant.

Chef doing his thing at the teppan

The menu is split up into sections like sushi and sashimi, salad, grill, steamed dishes, tempura and rice and noodles as well as having some set menus. We decide to go a la carte tonight, with some items from the teppan grill section which we can see being cooked right in front of us.

Assorted grilled mushrooms - $14.50
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Moules Marinière

Now that I’m having to cook for myself, I’m certainly appreciating any meals that can be prepared in less than 30 minutes. A pot of mussels in white wine sauce is something that’s easily whipped up on a weeknight, even for someone like me who is painfully slow in the kitchen (something that Sir D will attest to).

To cut down on prep time, you can buy the pre-packed mussels which come already cleaned and debearded for you, so all you have to do is chuck some butter, garlic and sliced onions in a pan, throw in your mussels and some white wine (mmm alcomohol…) and cook them until the shells open. Finish off your sauce with some cream and parsley.

I love eating mussels with a side of piping hot chips. This was my first time making chips from scratch with a scary pot of hot oil in front of me (yes I am one of those people who has a fear of deep frying). It wasn’t easy to maintain the oil temperature with a temperamental electric stove top. These took considerably longer than the mussels to cook (probably since I’m a noob at deep frying) but they turned out alright in the end and were perfect with a dish of mayonnaise to dip into.

Add a glass of white wine or a ice cold beer, and maybe some crusty baguette for mopping up all the sauce and you have a meal on your hands!


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The Burlington Bar and Dining, Crows Nest

Oh internet how I have missed you! It’s been a bit quiet over here since I just moved and didn’t have internet access for two weeks. But everything is up and running again so it’s back to blogging and twitter and facebook and all my other dear procrastination tools.

Since I’ve moved to a new ‘hood I thought I would post about one of the local restaurants which I visited with the family. From the outside, the Burlington looks like a small, cosy restaurant but we’re led past the front room, through a narrow corridor past the kitchen to a spacious dining area at the back. While we check out the menu we’re presented with olives and fresh bread baked in a terracotta flowerpot. They’re warm, tasty and oh-so-cute and we can’t help but demolish all the bread at the risk of ruining our appetites.

Chorizo & Manchego croquettes, smoked paprika aioli - $3.50 each

We order some croquettes to start and these are filled with fluffy mashed potato, bits of chorizo and melty Manchego cheese. They’re very moreish and a great way to whet the appetite for the dishes to come.

Seafood 'Paella', Crystal Bay prawns, squid, mussel and sofrito - $17
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