Tag Archives: Modern Australian

Bennelong, Sydney

When I found out that Guillaume by Bennelong was closing, I was sad that I never managed to eat there before it closed, even though it was definitely on my wishlist. There was a lot of back and forth about who exactly was going to take over the iconic Opera House space, so when The Fink Group re-opened Bennelong under the helm of Peter Gilmore, I was so ready to book a table.

This proved more difficult than it sounded, because even though it’s been six months since it first opened, Bennelong shows no signs of slowing down. We had to book a couple of months in advance just to find a Saturday night booking that was at a reasonable time (i.e. not a 9.30pm booking), and so it wasn’t until late last year that we managed to finally sit down and enjoy our meal there.

There’s a choice of dining in the Cured and Cultured area or in the Restaurant. We chose to go down the Restaurant route, which meant that we were seated on the lower level of the dining area underneath the soaring glass windows that give you unparalleled views of the Bridge and Sydney harbour. The three course a la carte menu will set you back $130pp with about 6 different dishes to choose from per course.

Grilled Lady Elliot Island bug, organic turnips, radishes, XO sauce

The first thing that strikes me with each dish is that it is impeccably plated. Every dish is styled to perfection, so that your eyes can feast on the food before your stomach does. The grilled Lady Elliot Island bug is no exception, with a golden piece of the bug meat draped over turnips, pink baby radishes and micro herbs. The XO sauce really accentuates the seafood flavours of the dish, and complements the sweet, juicy bug meat nicely.

Smoked Blackmore Wagyu tartare, fermented chilli paste, cultured cream & grains, mushrooms, seaweed, egg
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nel. restaurant, Sydney

I’m far from what people would call a decisive person, and these days we are so spoiled for choice that even deciding what to eat for lunch can turn into a lengthy process of elimination to figure out exactly what I want.

It was a pleasant surprise then, to walk into nel. to find that there was no choice to make. Nel serves an 8 course tasting menu for $88, and we were more than happy to leave our meal in the capable hands of chef Nelly Robinson.

Menu

We were ushered to our table in the small, underground space where the restaurant was situated. The 8 course menu for the night was already placed on the table when we sat down, and aside from asking whether there were any food allergies or intolerances, there were no more questions and we were ready to get started on the food!

Vinegar, parmesan

Our first course was a series of snacks which came out in quick succession. The first snack was a cloud-like vinegar marshmallow rolled in airy pieces of grated parmesan. It dissolved in the mouth so quickly it just left an impression of sour vinegar and cheesy parmesan on the tongue.

Goma hollandaise, ham

The next snack was a black, gnarly-looking cigar, which actually turned out to be a beef cheek and ox tongue croquette with charcoal. Each cigar was dipped in the goma (sesame) hollandaise topped with bits of ham, which had a nice salty and nutty flavour.

Truffle, rabbit

The last snack consisted of two parts – a truffle and rabbit pastry and a rabbit consomme. These were surprisingly light in flavour, but a good warm up for the dishes to come.

Bread and butter

I usually don’t bother taking photos of the bread and butter, but here at nel it was pretty exceptional. First of all, the bread was a dark black colour, and the waitstaff explained that this was black pudding and onion bread. To be honest I couldn’t taste a definitive black pudding flavour, but it was delicious nonetheless and I could have eaten a whole basket of it!

Crab, “taste of pimms”, cucumber, strawberry, mint
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Monopole, Potts Point

When our group of girlfriends started treating the birthday girl to dinner in lieu of birthday presents, I realised what a good opportunity this was to finally check off some restaurants which have been on my go-to list for a long time…

Monopole was FeFiFoFum’s choice for her birthday dinner, and I was secretly pleased because it was a place that I had been wanting to visit for a while. The outside of the restaurant was so dark and inconspicuous that we nearly walked right past it, but when we finally opened the door, we saw that the dark exterior was matched by the “mood lighting” on the inside.

Luckily we had phones to light up the menu, which was split into cured meats, shared dishes, cheese and desserts. Instead of choosing a la carte dishes though, we went with the Monopole menu, which gave us 7 courses for $65pp.

Cured duck breast, cured pork neck, cured Rangers Valley tri tip

We started with three cured meats arranged on a wooden platter with some pickled vegetables. We had the cured duck breast (foreground), cured pork neck (background left) and cured Rangers Valley tri tip. The duck breast was probably the chewiest out of the three, with a slightly more gamey flavour. While others preferred the tri tip bresaola, I relished the silky fatty texture of the cured pork neck.

Cured trevally, pickled cucumber, smoked yoghurt and sea greens

We continued on with a cold course of cured trevally, which was served with discs of pickled cucumber, blobs of smoked yoghurt and sea greens. It was a light and cooling dish, with the slight acidity of the pickles tempered by the smokey yoghurt.

Rangers Valley beef tartare, egg yolk, mushroom and crisp potato skin
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Manta Restaurant, Woolloomooloo

The weather is finally warming up which means that it’s time to go out and enjoy the sunshine! And what better way to enjoy the sunshine than a nice meal by the water where you can hear the waves lapping up against the pier and feel the warmth of the sun on your back.

Dining room at Manta Restaurant

The Finger Wharf at Woolloomooloo is a great place to do this, as well as do a little bit of people watching while you dine. We visited Manta for lunch on a gloriously sunny day to celebrate The Cat’s birthday. We’d scored ourselves a voucher for 6 people for $259 – which came to less than $45pp for three courses. The set menu had a choice of three options per course, and also included a glass of house red or house white. Since we had a table of 6, we were able to order every item off the menu and I can safely say that all the dishes were delicious!

Freshly shucked Sydney rock and pacific oysters, spring onion, apple, pepper and white balsamic dressing

I started with freshly shucked oysters which included both the Pacific and Sydney Rock variety. The oysters came with a fresh lemon cheek, a sweet spring onion and apple dressing, and a tangy balsamic and pepper dressing. The oysters were deliciously briny and really didn’t need much more than a squeeze of lemon juice, but the spring onion and apple dressing also went quite well with the oysters.

Fried calamari, chilli salt, lemon zest, parsley, pickled fennel and roasted black garlic aioli
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Swine & Co, Sydney

It’s been a bit quiet on here but with good reason. Those of you who follow me on Instagram will know that I’ve been eating myself silly in Japan for the past 2 weeks! Now that I’m back, we’ll be returning to regular broadcasting but keep an eye out for some Japan posts coming soon!

But first, let’s talk about pig. With a name like Swine & Co, you’d expect this restaurant to serve pork, pork and more pork – and you’d be right. Set in the space of what used to be Bavarian Bier Cafe on O’Connell St, the area has been revamped to a bar on the ground floor, and a dark, cavernous restaurant below ground, complete with swine decor and punny welcoming signs.

While we wait for our food, we’re treated to a bread basket which has slices of white and rye bread, paper thin flatbread and the best grissini I’ve ever eaten! They’re all swaddled with a small dish of butter in a cloth basket.

Complimentary bread basket
Complimentary amuse bouche

We’re also surprised with a complimentary amuse bouche to start the night which was a small piece of seared tuna on a cucumber jelly with creme fraiche and dill.

Crisp pigs tail – $19

It wouldn’t be right to not have a pork starter at a place called Swine & Co, so we chose the crispy pigs tail to kick off our porcine journey. The pigs tail was flattened and crisped up on one side, and paired with some pine puree, pickled mushrooms, grapes and pistachio.

Tuna crudo – $17
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