Paramount Coffee Project, Surry Hills – SMH’s Good Food Guide’s 2017 Cafe of the Year

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Never missing an opportunity to try a Good Food Guide hot tip, we braced the rain to try the Paramount Coffee Project, an easy walk from Central Station, on Commonwealth Street, for breakfast.

Wanting to try some of the innovative dishes we shared the very delicious Creole Jambalaya with chorizo, smoked barramundi, charred squash smothered cabbage and caramelised lemon $19.50

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….. and the Key lime pie waffle with coconut lime and pepper slice, macerated berries, salted Nutella ganache and green apple $19.50, very moorish, but definitely best shared.

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The open spaces are very welcome and while very popular, it’s not too hard to grab a table.

The Paramount Coffee Project Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Automata, Chippendale – the Good Food Guide’s two hatted award winner

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It was to be a very special Christmas lunch, so I chose for us Automata, as one of the SMH Good Food Guide’s 2016 best new restaurants  – awarded two hats in its first 12 months.

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Bookings are easy on line for groups of 1-6 and while there’s a more private mezzanine level, the bar downstairs is more fun.

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From here diners can watch the well oiled team that works so well together – like an automatron perhaps?

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Certainly the wait staff who looked after our table knew their dishes and wines very well, were thoughtful, highly professional and and full of interesting details about this new venture.

For example did you know that the Good Food Guide features team member Yuri’s forearms with one of Automata’s own dishes?

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Or that Automata is the dream of Chef Clayton Wells who restores motorcycles- hence the Ducati caps on the ceiling, and the decor that reflects the mechanically themed spaces – the internal workings of a great machine!

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Particularly well deserving of his award of the Champagne Taittinger Sommelier of the Year was Tim Watkins who guided us through our menu and helped us match our wines perfectly.

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Automata offers a constantly changing five course menu for $88 available at dinner and Friday – Saturday lunch. The menu seeks to showcase the best of local, seasonal produce.

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Wine pairing is also available, as is a parred down three course express lunch menu for $55. However I don’t suggest the three course option if you are planning a leisurely, relaxed affair- it’s a very much a quicker experience.

In addition to the five courses there is some lovely wholemeal and malt bread with whipped butter with chicken and anchovy …

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…and Chefs Starters – today of cherry tomato in salted plum marinade  – wrapped in a sesame leaf and marinated enoki mushrooms with pork jewel fat and rosemary.

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First course was a fresh dish of asparagus, fermented pumpkin, shiso.

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Second came the amaebi, parsley, fennel & ink – my favourite course.

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Next was the john dory, eggplant, burnt carrot, olive herb – also a gorgeous dish.

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Fourth dish was smoked duck, red cabbage, caramelised lemon & long pepper.

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Finally the yoghurt sorbet, grapes, raspberries & yuzu was a perfect end to the meal.

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Automata is a very easy walk from Central, tucked in amongst the elegant terraces of street food Spice Alley ( much like visiting Malacca) and Kensington Street Social.

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Automata Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Poacher’s Pantry – a perfect Country Lunch for a very special day out!

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Poacher’s Pantry, just out of Canberra, on the Nanima Road is looking very beautiful after her recent makeover.

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With extended opening hours for the Christmas season and a special tasting menu, I was very impressed by how well they have created a very relaxed and gorgeous lunch experience.

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Whether you choose to go for one of the shared platters, or the full $59 four course menu I’d really recommend taking the lovely opportunity to meet Sarah, Cellar Door Manager, who will help you choose your Wily Trout Vineyard Wine.

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We were very impressed with the locally grown (as in just down the road) wines and bagged several to take home.

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Wily Trout Premium Pinot Chardonnay 2013 $35 , Blanc de Blanc NV, Wily Trout Sauvignon Blanc 2016 $25, Wily Trout Chardonnay 2014 $25, Wily Trout Rosé 2016 $24, Wily Trout Sauvignon Blanc 2016 $25, Wily Trout Pinot Noir 2015 $28, Wily Trout Shiraz 2014 $27

Our absolute favourites were the vintage pinot chardonnay, rose and pinot noir.

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However, the rose was the perfect match for our Christmas Tasting Menu…

$59 per person

Carrot & ginger gazpacho, seared yellow fin tuna, passionfruit

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Pissaladière bread, green asparagus, wild rocket leaves, tallegio cheese, Poachers classic prosciutto

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Ocean trout, tomato chilli jam, smoked garlic aioli, eggplant, oven dried tomatoes

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OR

Poachers smoked chicken breast, cos, pear, cottage cheese

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Baked chocolate mousse, strawberries, coriander, cream, cherry sorbet

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All amazing dishes!

Wine pairing is also available at $25per person

Trading Hours

Smokehouse Restaurant

Brunch Sat & Sun 9:30 – 11:30am

Lunch Fri – Sun 12:00 – 3:00pm

Christmas season only

Lunch Monday 19th – Thursday 22nd 12:00 – 3:00pm

Lunch Monday 27th – Thursday 29th 12:00 – 3:00pm

Closed

Boxing Day, 1st – 3rd January 2017

Poachers Pantry Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Gerard’s Bistro – a top Brisbane pick!

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As Queensland’s best restaurant in the 2016 Australia’s Top 100 Restaurants, Gerard’s Bistro has been on my wishlist all year.

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Tucked away off Little James Street in Fortitude Valley, there’s a mix of indoor and outdoor seating.

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The menu is filled with interesting and innovative dishes based on Syrian, Jordanian and Lebanese cuisines.

Before my visit, I’d trawled the reviews and Instagram and come up with a fine short list.

Smaller Plates

Laham nayyeh, harissa, preserved lime, shallot, pickled cucumber, egg yolk $24

Grilled octopus, carrots cooked in black garlic, coal oil, almonds $26

Bekaa wings, kishk yoghurt, rose $18

Larger Plates

Confit southern squid, mussels, hazelnut milk, warrigal greens, kishk $32

Fried cauliflower, tahini, ras el hanout, pomegranate, almond $16

Slow-roasted wagyu brisket for two with seasonal accompaniments $62

Desserts

Sheep’s yoghurt sorbet, honeycomb, milk and orange blossom $16

Charred eggplant sorbet, tahini crumb, cacao and Arabic coffee $16

Valrhona chocolate ice cream, candied chilli, Aleppo pepper ganache $18

Plant and non-plant dishes are separated and the menu is perfectly designed for sharing.

So I knew I would be challenged because I was dining alone! What to do??

I was immensely jealous of those around me who were choosing from my short list too, but had fellow diners to share with. But I was just glad to finally be here and was determined not to waste this precious opportunity.

Being a great sweet tooth, I toyed with the idea of just maxing out the desserts, but landed on the signature dish Fried cauliflower, tahini, ras el hanout, pomegranate, almond…

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…and the intriguing Charred eggplant sorbet, tahini crumb, cacao and Arabic coffee crisp.

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The cauliflower was wonderful and great value for just $16. Only lightly fried the cauliflower was fresh and still had a little crunch. The tahini sauce was a perfect match and the pomegranate was a tart burst contrast. But having said that, it is best shared as a full plate for one is not ideal. I think maybe I should have gone with the confit squid, octopus or laham neyyah or indulged that thought to try the Fried lambs brains, quail blood morcilla, warm tahini, dried yoghurt $26 or the Smoked lamb sweetbreads, mushroom and white garlic, almond, buttermilk $23.

The eggplant sorbet did indeed have a charred flavour, as promised and was a little less sweet that I’d expected. But the generous sweet tahini crumb, like a halva, was a lovely accompaniment. The cacao and coffee crisp was also a wonderful addition. Not for everyone I’m sure, but I still remember enjoying it with great fondness and would absolutely need to order it again next time.

And next time – I need to take lots of friends with me!

Breakfast on the weekend would also be awesome – again – next time!

But perhaps the most impressive aspect, besides the food, is the service. It’s impeccable! Dining alone is never easy, but the staff made me feel special and incredibly welcome even though I could only order so little. From the eye contact and smile when I arrived, to the timey attention and concern about my enjoyment and satisfaction. I was immensely impressed by the staff.

PS if you need somewhere great to stay with a pool nearby that you’d feel comfortable walking to Gerard’s Bistro alone, try M&A apartments. 

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Open for dinner – Mon: 6:00pm – Late
Open Tues – Sun: 12:00 pm – Late
Open for breakfast – Sat & Sun: 8am – 11am

Gerard's Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Harbour View Hotel, The Rocks 

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Down at the rocks in Sydney is the Harbour View Hotel, a laid back, unpretentious place for a friendly, casual and good value meal with a heritage feel.

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Parking is not too hard and it’s easy to book a table.

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Wine by the glass starts at $7.50 and the Harvey River Shiraz is a generous pour and a good choice.

The kangaroo salad is one of the best picks.

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Kangaroo salad-  $22 with zucchini, pumpkin, red onion, macadamia, coriander & mint in a dukkah lemon dressing

The fish and chips are excellent too.

Beer battered market fresh fish & chips $20 with mesclun & tartare sauce

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Other choices include the club sandwich…

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Chicken, bacon, avocado, tomato, baby cos lettuce & aoili, with fries $16…

..Lamb shanks braised in red wine & mirepoix vegetables $26 Served with green beans, roasted tomato & creamy mash potato ( quite good)

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The hamburger was voted by our group as the least of the options $16 – 100% wagyu beef patty, pickles, cheese, lettuce, tomato relish, onion ring and fries

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A good choice would also be the Mezze dips and breads for two $24.

It’s close walking down to the Sydney Theatre Company at Walsh Bay, but there’s also Fratelli Fresh down there for an equally good experience.

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The Harbour View Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

 

 

 

 

Hartsyard, Enmore Road, Newtown

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Hartsyard is just one of the hatted restaurants on Enmore Road (and very helpfully just across the road from the Urban Hotel).

Focusing on American style dishes, it’s famous for it’s fried chicken and biscuit and the soft serve desssert of the week!

Especially good choices for sharing were the….

Smoked Trout with onion dip, golden beet, trout roe, bagel chips $29

….the signature dish Fried Chicken with  buttermilk biscuit, low country sausage gravy $33

A generous serve with four pieces to share and two delicious pieces of soft buttery biscuit.

Perfect with the hot sauce.

Hartsyard soft serve of the day- this time banana with rich caramel sauce, chocolate sauce, shaved chocolate and whipped cream – must be shared! $20

But other excellent choices are the cauliflower dish and the mushroom dish, next time!

Hartsyard Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Hawker Lane, Westfield Chatswood – a first look

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The Good Food Guide to Sydney calls out Hawker Lane as one of Chatswood’s good cheap eats.

And very good it is!

While still a food court by nature, it does have more ambiance and is clearly popular.

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Excellent choices were the steamed pork dumplings with soup $8.80 for 8…

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…the cumin lamb bun $5.80…

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…and my favourite was the Saffron Roast Chicken Kathi Roll $7.90 from Chachu’s Street Style Kathi Rolls.

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The perfect finale was a sea salt and purple yam soft serve from Aqua S.

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ChaChu's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato