So Cal, Neutral Bay
So Cal, as the name suggests, offer a little of Southern California on Sydney's north shore. The venue is buzzing with an outdoor courtyard packed with diners on a warm summer's night.
After trying out their signature cocktails, we started on the scallop ceviche. I love a good ceviche and this was no different - fresh and zesty, though the flavours were a little muted.
The Fish tacos on the other hand were perfect little morsels - the succulent pieces of fish together with the flavoursome pineapple salsa were a delight. Even though they were a little messy to eat, we finished them in a flash.
The Smoked beef brisket was another highlight of the night. Superbly smoked with a great depth of flavour, the meat was tender but still holding its shape.
The Spicy wings had a crispy coating and together with the house-made hot sauce, were finger-lickin' good.
The Jerk chicken salad had crisp, fresh flavours and the chargrilled chicken went perfectly with the citrus based dressing.
We finished with the churros and unfortunately, it was a bit of a miss for me. I found it quite doughy and too sweet for my liking. I much preferred the savoury!
So Cal is a great place for a night out with friends. The vibe is casual and the staff is friendly. And if you need another reason to visit, they have a pretty extensive cocktail list.
Chao Ba, Chatswood
Anyone familiar with Chatswood will know it has one of the best collection of Asian eateries on offer in Sydney. Chinese, Cantonese, Japanese, Korean...you name it, Chatswood has plenty of it. Chao Ba, a modern Vietnamese restaurant, is a welcome entrant to this jam packed dining scene.
I noticed this restaurant walking by the Concourse one night, and visited with a friend a couple of weeks later. The menu was quite extensive, ranging from small tapas style share dishes to more traditional mains.
We started with the Clear tapioca shrimp dumplings topped with crunchy fried shallots and chives. The dumpling skin was slippery and the right thickness to hold it together. The prawns were yummy and went well with the fried shallots and fish sauce which accompanied the dish.
The House special poached chicken salad was a little disappointing as I found the flavours a little bland. The crispy rice cracker on the side was unfortunately not very crispy.
On the other hand the Hanoi style crispy rice vermicelli spring rolls were beautiful, offering a lovely crunch as you bite into it. The pork and wood eared mushroom filling was flavoursome and even though it was fried, did not feel oily at all. I'd happily come back for these.
The Chargrilled beef wrapped in betal leaves with rice vermicelli was quite refreshing to eat. I loved the addition of the roasted peanuts and crispy shallots, and the betal leaves gave it an extra lift in aromatics.
Chao Ba is a great Vietnamese eatery with a casual vibe offering both indoor and outdoor seating. The dishes weren't all perfect but I am happy to go back to try out the rest of their vast menu.
Salt meats cheese, drummoyne
Housed in the Harris Farm complex, Salt Meats Cheese in Drummoyne offers everything from wood fired pizza to a gelato bar. The restaurant was buzzing when we arrived just prior to midday, already developing a strong following despite only being only since late last year.
We started with one of the specials of the day - Grilled peaches with proscuitto, buffalo mozzarella and a balsamic glaze. The grilled peaches had a lovely sweetness and was complemented so well by the prosciutto, the creaminess of the buffalo mozzarella and the tanginess of the balsamic glaze - I would be happy to eat this anytime!
The Slow braised octopus Tagliatelle was another standout. The pasta was perfectly cooked and the slow braised octopus were incredibly tender. The classic flavours of garlic, chilli, parsley and tomato meant you really couldn't go wrong with this dish.
The Truffle pizza had a great aroma from the splashings of truffle oil. The edges of the pizza are fluffy and there's a slight hint of smokiness that comes from the wood fired pizza oven. The fior di latte was deliciously creamy, just wished there was a little bit more of it!
Salt Meat Cheese is a welcome addition to Drummoyne. Everything feels extra fresh because you are surrounded by the beautiful produce, seafood and flowers on offer in the stores surrounding the eatery. Despite being very busy, service was friendly and the food came out quickly. Will definitely be back!
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