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Helm Bar, Darling Harbour

Helm Bar

Happy Friday everyone! With only a few hours left until the weekend, what better way to celebrate than a post full of cocktails?

Helm Bar's new cocktail list

I’m definitely more of a cocktail/spirits kind of girl rather than beer or wine, and with Sir D being a true cocktail enthusiast I’ve tried and made my fair share of cocktails in the past. But like food, it’s always refreshing to come across new flavour combinations and twists on old classics in cocktails, and the new cocktail list at Helm Bar offers exactly that.

Matt, Helm Bar bartender

Meet Matt. He was our bartender for the morning at Helm Bar, and he mixed up a range of cocktails for us to try. Even though I consider myself to be reasonably well-versed in the world of spirits, he was very knowledgeable and I managed to try a few different spirits that I’d never tasted before and sample some unlikely flavour combinations.

Espresso martini - $17

Bleary-eyed from the previous nights shenanigans, an espresso martini was a welcome pick-me-up/hangover cure to start the morning. Made with Smirnoff vodka, Tuaca (a vanilla and citrus flavoured brandy) and of course, real coffee, the espresso martini was shook up over ice and poured into a martini glass. The foam at the top is actually created purely by the shaking of the liquids rather than from the addition of any milk. Some extra roasted coffee beans were added on top for an extra caffeine hit.

Senorita margarita - $16
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Japan City, Chatswood

Japan City dining area

I love it when a new restaurant opens up in Chatswood since I frequent the area so often that the dining options become a little boring after a while. Taking over the old Borders site is a brand new and spacious Japan City. In addition to all the Japanese homewares sold in the store, the larger shop area means that they have also opened a new “Eat Street” featuring a number of stations selling different types of Japanese food. It’s like a Japanese food court which got me all kinds of excited so Sir D and I planned to visit there late on a Thursday night.

One of the entrances to the dining area

Having been barely open for a week when we visited, it was clear that they were still finding their feet as the first waiter I came across looked at me blankly when I said I had made a booking. After a short wait, we were seated and the system was explained to us. There are separate menus for each station and you have to go to each separate station to place your order. You pay the counter and then are handed a buzzer which tells you when your meal is ready to pick up.

Menus

We selected the items that we wanted by looking at the menus on our table. There are about five different menus for the sushi bar, noodle bar, teppanyaki station, tempura station and the dessert bar. After selecting our items, Sir D and I make our way to the separate stations to place our orders. We end up ordering from three different stations which means we end up with three buzzers on our table. I think they could probably do with one counter for ordering and picking up, which also expedites the orders to the separate stations, but it worked out ok in the end because the buzzers were labelled with which station it was from.

Scallop aburi (2 pcs) - $5.90 and Scallop fantasy (2 pcs) - $5.50
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Chicken and Bacon Sausage Rolls

Sausage rolls are an old favourite of mine, harking back to the days of single-digit year old parties and after-school snacks. I’d like to think these ones are just a touch more classy than your typical plastic-wrapped sausage rolls that you get at the petrol station with the questionable meat inside them. These sausage rolls have chicken mince and bacon (score!) as the filling and are awesomely tasty, if I do say so myself :)

The recipe comes from my much beloved Bourke Street Bakery cookbook. The cookbook includes their much-loved pork & fennel and lamb & harissa sausage rolls as well, but I was surprised to find a recipe for these chicken and bacon sausage rolls because I’d never actually seen them in the shop. Seeing that it was “the sausage roll of choice” for the Bourke Street Bakery staff was enough to make want to bake them, ASAP!

I took the easy route out and used store-bought puff pastry instead of making my own, and the amounts in the recipe for the filling got me through about 5 sheets of puff pastry. I’ve made these sausage rolls multiple times now and every time they turn out perfectly. They are also pretty easy to make compared to some of the other recipes in the Bourke Street Bakery cookbook, especially if you cheat like me and use the store bought puff.

The recipe makes a heck of a lot of sausage rolls, which is great if you’re entertaining lots of people, but it also means that you’ll probably end up with leftovers. But not to worry, leftovers just means that you get to eat more of them! Simply reheat them in a slow oven and they’ll still taste great.

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The White Hart, Neutral Bay

Sorry about the lack of posts lately, guys! Life has thrown multiple curveballs at me and since this year I am to be plagued by yet another thesis that means more reading of journal articles and less blogging. I will try my best to post at least every week but a girl needs to keep her sanity somehow, and sometimes the best way to do that is to veg out in front of the TV.

Anyway – onto the food! Those of you who have seen Sir D’s extensive liquor collection will know that while I keep an eye out for tasty eats, he keeps an eye out for tasty drinks. As a long time appreciator of the cocktails at the Hilton’s Zeta Bar, Sir D decides to follow Zeta Bar consultant Grant Collins to his latest venture at The White Hart in Neutral Bay.

“But does it have good food?” I ask. A quick squiz of the online menu has me sold and before we know it, we’re sitting in a cosy space with a dining area and a lounge area, and decor that is a modern twist on the old English tavern. With a cocktail list that reads as long as a chapter book, we’re spoilt for choice in the drinks department but soon we’re happily sipping on cocktails.

Smokin' tiki punch - $18

The smokin’ tiki punch catches my eye – mainly the novelty of having my drink served in a “smoking tiki mug” – but the rum-based drink is fruity and well-balanced with flavours of apricot and passionfruit. How the mug is actually smoking is beyond me but give me a novelty mug and a cocktail umbrella and I’m happy hehe.

Devonshire cider apple sour - $17.50

Sir D opts for the devonshire cider apple sour which is definitely a drink for the apple lovers. With homemade apple cider that is frozen into a giant sphere that chills and flavours the drink at the same time, this drink is a take on the classic sour with apple-infused vodka and bitters. I actually end up liking this drink more than my own!

WHFC with creamy aioli - $15
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American Diner Degustation at Mad Cow (March into Merivale)

Yes boys and girls, it’s that time of year again! March into Merivale kicked off a couple of weeks ago, offering a variety of food and booze events (including the $33 meal deals) in the ever-expanding Merivale empire. With so many to choose from, it was hard to decide and these events were selling out like hotcakes! I was lucky enough to snag a spot at the American Diner Degustation with some other awesome peeps and we eagerly awaited a meal full of American diner classics in a room decked our with US flags and ketchup and mustard squeeze bottles.

Corn and cheese quesadillas

We start things off in southern USA with the Amuse Bouche of corn and cheese quesadillas. It’s not just corn and cheese in there though – there’s also some red peppers and guacamole – and with only one piece each it’s gone before we know it. Bring on the next course!

Mad Cow chopped salad with Spencer Gulf prawns
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