The Merrywell, Southbank

Late last year, I travelled to Melbourne for a week. It’s only a one and a half hour plane trip from Sydney, but I love going there and exploring the city, since there’s always new things to see and places to visit. One of these new finds (for me, anyway) was The Merrywell, located in the Crown Casino complex in Southbank.

Some tough decisions had to be made once we got there. First of all, upstairs or downstairs? Downstairs offered a casual burger and sandwich bar (hello duck burgers, fried chicken sandwiches and floats!), while upstairs had enticing snacks, mains and desserts in jars on the menu. We decide to head up to the restaurant, mainly because the snacks/share plates were too hard to resist.

Lollipop buffalo wings – $19

The lollipop buffalo wings were the first to arrive, and I have to say I was a little disappointed that these were little drumettes rather than the wing itself. These were pretty spicy and hot enough so that my mouth was burning after eating one (yes, pathetic, I know). A blue cheese sauce and celery sticks accompanied the bowl of buffalo wings, which provided some much needed cooling action for the fire.

New England lobster rolls – $22
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Lamington Bites

Lamingtons are an iconic Australian dessert, so I thought it was only fitting to make these for Australia Day coming up. It’s a simple dessert of sponge cake, dipped in chocolate and rolled in dessicated coconut, and was named after Lord Lamington who was the Governor of Queensland in the 1890s. Funnily enough, Lord Lamington was reported to have disliked lamingtons, which is quite ironic!

I was never a big fan of lamingtons either. Maybe because the only lamingtons I had ever eaten were the ones out of a packet that you buy from the supermarket. As a kid, I would eat off the chocolate and coconut layer, leaving the spongecake innards behind, but even the chocolate layer wasn’t that satisfying and soon I stopped eating them altogether.

Trying home made lamingtons for the first time was a revelation. There was none of that artificial taste, only a rich chocolate icing encasing a light airy sponge. It’s fair to say that after making these, I ate a few several in one go… for quality control of course :)

Although lamingtons are usually large, I made these ones bite-sized so you could pop the whole thing in your mouth at once for one delicious, chocolatey mouthful of cake!

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Rise Restaurant, Darlinghurst

I’ve blogged about Rise Restaurant twice previously, and so I was sad when I heard that it had closed down at the end of 2010. Thankfully, it was re-opened by Kevin Seo, who was worked previously as a sous chef at Yoshii. Rise has always been a great value restaurant and despite the change in ownership, it has stayed that way, with a 7 course tasting menu being offered for $65pp.

Gratin oyster

Tonight we’re dining on a Groupon voucher, which is $69 for two including the 7 course tasting menu and a glass of bubbles. The first course is a gratin oyster, and I’m pleasantly surprised to find out that we get two oysters each! The oysters are quite large and blanketed in a miso-flavoured, cheesy and creamy gratin. It’s a delicious start to the meal and has me waiting in anticipation of what is to come next.

Today’s carpaccio
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Orto Trading Co, Surry Hills

Catching up with friends is always done best over delicious food. It doesn’t hurt to have a nice ambience and pretty decor either, and thankfully Orto Trading Co delivers on all three. I’m one of the first in our group to arrive, but feel quite at home on the large wooden table in amongst all the fresh flowers and breakfasty aromas wafting from the kitchen.

Freshly squeezed juices – $6.50

It’s a little early for alcohol so we forego the breakfast cocktails and stick to the freshly squeezed juices. My pineapple, passionfruit, apple and lime juice is a tangy concoction with passionfruit seeds lurking at the bottom. The mixed berry juice is a little sweeter, with plenty of pulpy berry bits. Continue reading Orto Trading Co, Surry Hills

Tenkomori Ramen House, Sydney

Tenkomori how-to

I was sad to hear that Ton Ton in Regent Place was closing since I had eaten lots of tasty karaage there. However, I was also pleased to hear that it would be replaced by another ramen place from the same people who run Menya Mappen and Oiden. For those of your unfamiliar with these places, they are cheap and cheerful self-service udon and rice bowl eateries respectively, where you choose a main dish and supplement it with all sorts of add-ons, including salads, drinks, side dishes and deep fried goodies.

Clockwise from top: Tenkomori menu; The production line; Karaage – one of the many toppings available

Tenkomori Ramen House is no different. You can choose from a range of ramen dishes with a shoyu, miso, or tonkotsu soup base, such as corn butter ramen, pork kakuni ramen, or karaage ramen – to name a few. Place your order and then move along the production line to select toppings ranging from a tub of sweetcorn (80c) to pieces of karaage ($2.20). The cashier will add up all your items at the end and you pay while you wait for your bowl of ramen to be made up.

Pork katsu ramen with shoyu base – $6.50 (regular size)
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