Looks like an old-skool Coca Cola vending machine right? But looks can be deceiving – this is actually the door to The Soda Factory, a bar in Surry Hills which serves an array of cocktails, floats and hot dogs. Pull on the Coca Cola bottle on the right hand side and you’ll be able to enter the dimly lit bar which is pretty packed on a Tuesday night.
The reason for it being packed is most likely because it’s Dollar Dogs day! Every Tuesday, the Soda Factory puts on 4 different hot dogs from their menu for you to purchase for a gold coin. The other hot dogs and menu items are also available to order, but we dive straight into the dollar dogs by ordering one of each.
The Mob Dog
The Mob Dog is probably most classic of the four, with a pork and fennel sausage, oven roasted capsicum, and jalapenos (though the menu says ‘hot fresh chili’). The roasted capsicum gives this hot dog quite a sweet flavour, and the jalapenos some heat. I think a saucy element would not go astray on this hotdog as it’s a little dry compared to some of the others.
The Texas Redneck
Ok, so I don’t usually take photos of the bread basket, but how could I resist when 4 warmed slices of sourdough were swaddled up in a white napkin? This is how we began our dinner at Pei Modern, sister restaurant of Mark Best’s Marque in Sydney’s Surry Hills where I’ve had some great meals. Just before our trip to Melbourne, Pei Modern was also named Best New Restaurant of 2013 in The Age Good Food Guide so that definitely sealed the deal and we promptly made a booking.
Brandade croquettes – $8 for four
To start, there was a choice of selecting a few bar snacks or proper entree dishes. The brandade croquettes was one of the bar snacks – 4 perfect quenelles of salt cod brandade shaped and deep fried to a crisp and served with a creamy mayo-like dipping sauce.
Wood grilled prawn with pork salt – $6.50 each
There’s something about finding a fantastic restaurant that’s in a hidden, unsuspecting location that makes it so satisfying. It might be to do with the fact that it feels like you’ve stumbled across someone’s secret, which is definitely the case with Toriciya, a restaurant that’s tucked away in an almost-residential area of Cammeray. There were plenty of Japanese people enjoying bottles of sake and yakitori in this izakaya, so we got a table and joined in the fun.
Sake was the first order of the night, and it was hard to choose with such an extensive selection available. We eventually chose a sake on the sweeter side to go with our food.
Kingfish and jalapeno carpaccio
Moving out of home has its perks, but it also means that there are fewer people in the household to eat the products of my baking. Sure, Sir D and I could (and would!) eat a whole chocolate cake to ourselves but in the interests of our blood sugar levels and waistlines, I’ve been baking less than I used to.
So I do love it when there’s an occasion to bake for and I can make a giant cake or 30-odd cupcakes for people to enjoy. It was L’s birthday and a while back I had received one of the Magnolia Bakery cookbooks as a gift from L, but a year later still hadn’t baked anything from it! It seemed only fitting to bake some Magnolia Bakery Red Velvet cake for his birthday.
The recipe in the cookbook is for a tiered 9-inch cake, but I decided to make cupcakes instead. Instead of the Creamy Vanilla icing that was recommended with the cake, I decided to go with Magnolia Bakery’s cream cheese frosting. I tried to do the iconic Magnolia Bakery frosting swirl, but the frosting was a bit too soft and it was getting late so I kinda just did what I could with it. Not that it really mattered anyway because the cupcakes went down a treat!
Here piggeh piggeh piggeh!
You know you’ve chosen the right restaurant when you walk in and there’s a roasted suckling pig just sitting casually on the counter! This is what we’re greeted with as we enter 4Fourteen for Mum’s birthday lunch. The menu is designed for sharing, starting with nibbles and moving on to small plates and then onto large plates. We choose a selection of small plates to share, and we can’t resist ordering the suckling pig as a large plate which is a special for the day.
Crispy pigs tail with roasted corn – $17
4Fourteen is big on the nose to tail approach so don’t be surprised to see some lesser-used cuts of the animal on the menu. I’m all for the crispy pigs tail dish which has the meat from the tail encased in a crispy shell. The tail meat is served with roasted corn kernels, corn puree and some greens.
Chargrilled ox tongue with celeriac remoulade – $17
The chargrilled ox tongue comes as two slabs of thick cut ox tongue with visible grill marks on them. The fattiness of the tongue is perfectly balanced against the celeriac remoulade, the crunchy radish slices and greens on top. If you haven’t tried tongue before I urge you to do so – it’s one of my favourite cuts of meat as its so tender and flavoursome!
Beef and bone – $22