Expectations were high when I was heading to Mr Liquor's Dirty Italian Disco - a six month pop-up from the creators of the famed Pinbone and Merivale. The eatery is located in an old drive through liquor shop in Mascot, not where you normally expect to have a top-notch dining experience.
Upon entering, I was struck by the disco balls, the music videos being projected onto the wall, the hand drawn cartoon drawings and the neon lights. There's a walk in fridge for you to pick your own alcohol or you can also order at the table. The menu is concise but everything on it sounds delicious.
I opted for the Beef tongue, porcini and tomato as a starter. The thin slices of beef tongue was simply divine, perfectly seasoned and just melted in my mouth. The porcini topping was packed full of flavour and I couldn't help but have a smile on my face as I demolished the dish.
For mains, I chose the Spatchcock with lemon and tarragon butter. Little did I know I would get an entire spatchcock - a very generous serving. The spatchcock was perfectly cooked with crispy skin, soaking up the lemony and buttery sauce. Next time, I would probably get a side to go with it as I felt it needed some vegies to complete the meal.
Sadly I was too full for dessert but all the more reason to come back before this pop up closes. Mr Liquor's Dirty Italian Disco has a fun vibe and offers a great dining experience.
LOT.1 is a three-level restaurant/ bar in the heart of Sydney's CBD. The decor is modern and striking, and the service was warm and inviting. The menu is heavily Italian inspired, though our first dish featured a take on the French classic of steak tartare. The Wagyu tartare, anchovy mousse, buckwheat crisp and pickled hazelnuts was simply delicious, with the anchovy mousse adding the creamy component normally provided by an egg yolk.
The Chicken liver pate with choux pastry and mostarda was equally impressive. The choux bun was soft and fluffy, the sweetness of the mostarda complemented the liver pate well.
A pasta dish for $42 is hard to justify, but Lot.1's Spaghettini with spanner crab, chilli, garlic and wakame was one of the best I've had in Sydney. The pasta was silky and cooked to perfection, and the wakame really added an umami boost to the dish.
For the final saoury course of the night, we had the Duck breast with witlof, persimmon, coffee and a cured yolk. A curious combination but one that worked. The persimmon was finely sliced and provided the sweetness to contrast the slight bitterness of the witlof. The coffee component was neither here nor there, but the cured yolk was a nice touch to go with the duck.
You can't go wrong with Tiramisu for dessert - the coffee flavour was intense and it was not overly sweet. A few more Savoiardi biscuits to mop up the mascarpone would have made it perfect.
Impressive food, with superb service from start to finish, it's definitely worth a visit.
I had tried ACME's amazing brunch dish of Fried chicken, ube waffle and maple syrup a little while ago, so was keen to check out their restaurant in Rushcutters Bay. All the dishes are made for sharing and my friends and I opted for the Crush Me menu at $65 per person.
First dish was the Baloney sandwich. A beautiful potato milk bun, paired with a house made tomato relish and delicious slices of mortadella - a very satisfying snack.
The Grilled shitake were perfectly tender and dressed with a bone marrow vinaigrette which provided some robust, punchy flavours.
ACME's version of the Japanese miso Roasted eggplant dish was delicious, with some added crunch provided by the puffed rice.
The Lamb tartare was tasty but didn't reach the heights of some other dishes. It was missing a creamy element for me, although I did enjoy the freshness provided by the artichoke and mint.
Then onto the pasta and it's clear that this is where ACME shines. We started with one of the vegetarian options: Fusilli with jicama, chestnuts and sage. The pasta was al dente firm and the chestnut puree worked well with the crunchiness of the jicama (Mexican turnips) chestnuts and sage.
The Fettucine with the octopus puttanesca was equally delicious. The puttanesca sauce with capers, olives and tomatoes was very aromatic and the octopus was beautifully tender.
I normally associate macaroni with mac 'n' cheese. ACME's Macaroni with pig's head and egg yolk has definitely taken it to another level. The meat from the pig's head is crispy, gelatinous and juicy, with a great intensity of flavour. There's a hint of sourness to the dish, which stops it from being overly rich. The egg yolk is an inspired addition and there's a hit of chilli just to give it an extra kick. It's clear to see why this is ACME's signature pasta dish.
It was time for dessert. The Parsnip ice cream was silky smooth but it was hard to pick out the parsnip flavour. The pear granita, on the other hand, was delightfully fresh and I discovered cajeta for the first time, the Mexican version of Dulce de leche.
The final dessert of Marshmallow, buttermilk sorbet and passionfruit was a great balance of flavours and texture. The combination of toasted marshmallow and sorbet is not one I've had before, and it works brilliantly.
Definitely not your ordinary pasta and wine bar, ACME offers top quality pasta dishes with a few Asian inspired twists. The Crush Me menu was good value and allow you to try all of their signature dishes.
In the newly refurbished Gateway building in Circular Quay lies Popina, a collaboration between Salt Meats Cheese and Shuk. The meeting of Italian and Middle Eastern influences results in some exciting dishes.
We started off with the Stracciatella with figs, smoked almonds and apricot vinaigrette. Stracciatella is a soft, creamy cheese that's at the centre of burrata and is a perfect match for the slices of the sweet, ripe figs. The almonds added a crunchy texture and it was all tied together by the zingy apricot vinaigrette. This dish definitely put a smile on my face.
For a taste of South America, we had the Beef Empanadas which were served piping hot, straight from the oven. I enjoyed the crispy pastry and the juicy filling, but the sauce could have done with a little more oomph.
The next dish of Yellow fin tuna with Kibbeh nayyeh looked striking thanks to the wafer thin slices of watermelon. I wasn't sure about the flavour combination on paper but was convinced once I had a taste.
From the mains section, we opted for the Raviolidi ricotta with lamb backstrap and pistachio crumb. The ravioli with the creamy ricotta filling was delicious and the lamb was cooked perfectly to medium rare, but I did wish there was a bit more of it!
For dessert, I couldn't go past the Aljafor, a Dulce de leche mousse sandwiched between the buttery, crumbly shortbread and accompanied by a scoop of coconut ice cream. Both the mousse and ice cream were silky smooth and it was a great way to finish off the meal.
Popina brings together a great melting pot of flavours from around the globe and offers great service too. Definitely a great addition to the dining scene in Circular Quay!
Northern Italian smokehouse? I was immediately intrigued and decided to pay Grolla in Neutral Bay a visit. Nearly all the items on the menu have a smoked element, from appetisers to desserts.
My friend and I started with the Smoked duck breast. The smoked duck was beautifully prepared, paired with ricotta and a caramelised fig sauce. You can't go wrong with this combination.
The Smoked kingfish carpaccio is one of their signature dishes. The smokiness was subtle but noticeable. It presented beautifully with a drizzle of olive oil, flying fish roe and a sprinkling of beetroot powder.
Onto the mains and we went with the owner's recommendation and ordered the Smoked beef rib. The beef rib was incredibly juicy and melted in my mouth. The Mojo Verde packed a punch of flavour and really freshened up the dish.
Similarly, the Smoked pork jowl and cheek was infused with great flavour from the smoking process. Each mouthful, with the smooth, creamy cauliflower puree was a joy to eat.
Onto dessert and the food continued to impressive, both in taste and aesthetic appeal. A beautiful glass ornament landed at our table. Lifting the lid, we were greeted by our first dessert: Macadamia nut Lemon myrtle Coconut ice cream, corn puff, pistachio, smoked salted caramel. The ice cream was creamy and refreshing, and I loved the crunchy texture of the corn puffs. The smoked salted caramel tied the whole dish together.
The Mascarpone semifreddo looked equally stunning. The mango and lime curd center was simply divine. The semifreddo was topped with a sprinkling of the strawberry dust, and of course the smoked caramel sauce. I was impressed Grolla has been able to incorporate smokiness into desserts and actually elevate the dish, rather than being a distraction.
Grolla is definitely worth a visit, offering beautifully presented, fusion cuisine with unique flavours and personable service.
Why worry about Monday when you can have a Stressless Sunday? That's the premise at Ormeggio at the Spit, where you can have a six course dinner for $79. Amazing value for a two hatted restaurant. The beautiful view of Mosman Bay is not bad either.
The menu changes each week, depending on what seasonal produce is on offer. We started with some Sourdough and whipped ricotta with a sprinkling of chives. It's good quality sourdough, served warm and the whipped ricotta was a great alternative to butter.
We started with the Eggplant and tomato consomme, a very delicate and fresh dish. The eggplant was incredibly soft and the consomme, whilst there wasn't a lot of it, packed a punch of flavour.
Next was the Pan fried kingfish with puffed rice, broccolini powder and mussel water. The fish was cooked remarkably well and the puffed rice gave it a nice crunch. Although I didn't get much of a mussel flavour, it was still a very delicious dish to eat.
The Tagliolini was also cooked to perfection. Whilst the serving looked small, the mascarpone made it an incredibly creamy and decadent dish. I loved the hit of umami from the bottarga (fish roe) too.
The single meat dish of the night was the Lamb with coffee crumble. The lamb was braised, formed into thin sheets then fried, giving it a crispy crust on the outside. The coffee flavour was strong but not overpowering and worked in harmony with the sour cream emulsion and the black garlic puree.
Dessert was simply titled Textures of lemon and almond. It consisted a lemon and almond sponge, with almond ice cream lemon and almond puree, vanilla crumble and lemon granita. It was light and refreshing, but felt a little bit more like a palate cleanser/ pre-dessert than a full dessert.
All in all, Ormeggio is a great showcase of modern Italian cuisine. With friendly and professional service, water views, it's not a bad place to spend a Sunday evening.
Via Alta means High Street in Italian, so it made perfect sense that this restaurant was located on High Street in Willoughby. From the same group that brought us the fine dining Ormeggio, Via Alta is a more casual Italian trattoria serving some great seasonal fare.
We started with the Crab meat bruschetta. The crab meat was beautifully cooked and had a lovely flavour from the burnt butter sauce, complemented by the crunchy macadamias. It was a great teaser to whet our appetite.
Next was the Bresaola, a form of air dried beef, served with some caper berries. I love cured meats, and this had a nice saltiness to it without being overpowering.
Risotto, as we've all seen on Masterchef, can be easy to get wrong. This Saffron risotto had a great aroma as it hit our table. It was cooked al dente and was paired with the luscious, red wine braised beef cheeks. A simple dish executed to perfection.
The Grilled flank steak was another highlight of the night. The beef was just simply stunning, cooked to a perfect medium rare. The roasted beetroot puree added a great depth of flavour and I also particularly enjoyed the potato gratin. Often, it can be too creamy and heavy, but they got the potato, cream and butter ratio just right. The dish just tied together so beautifully.
For dessert, we opted for the Tiramisu. Again, it was beautifully executed. Not too sweet, not too much alcohol - the balance of the dish was just perfect and it was surprisingly light.
Via Alta is a great Italian eatery serving some beautiful dishes. It's worth the drive to Sydney's north even if you are not a local.
For Valentine's Day this year, my boyfriend and I decided to dine at Popolo, a restaurant focusing on southern Italian food in Rushcutters Bay. The restaurant had a special San Valentine five course menu. We both picked a different dish to try for each of the courses, so really it was more like a ten course degustation!
We started with the Seaweed fritters, offered as an apertivo. It looked like something from outer space - airy, green puffs on skewers. There was a subtle flavour of seaweeds and reminded me of eating prawn crackers, only in a spherical shape.
For Antipasti, we started with the Veal carpaccio. The thin slices of veal were succulent and went well with the gooey-ness of the yolk and crunchiness of the puffed rice. However, I was missing a little sprinkle of salt on this dish to really bring out the flavour of the dish.
The Spatchcock on the other hand, I had absolutely no complaints about. The char grilled flavour really came through and the accompaniment with the salsa verde gave it an extra kick of flavour. The roasted baby capsicums were some of the sweetest I have ever tasted. I could have definitely eaten this as a main.
For Primi, we opted for the Fregola and the House made spaghetti. The Fregola (a type of pasta from Sardinia) took on a stunning red colour thanks to the beetroot juice. Even though the truffle pecorino isn't visible on the plate, it definitely was the hero of the dish. The creaminess of the pecorino and the aromaics of the truffle really permeated through. We scraped the plate clean, it was that delicious!
The House made spaghetti with scallops, zucchini flowers and tomato was also one of the best pasta dishes I have had in Sydney. Again, it was simple with only a few ingredients but it was all cooked to perfection and brought together with generous lashings of olive oil.
Onto the Secondi... by this stage, we were already getting rather full! The Lamb backstrap was beautifully cooked but it did not have the wow factor of the preceding dishes. I did enjoy how the flavours all worked together with the sweetness of the confit cherry tomato and the smokiness of the eggplant.
The Duck breast was also very enjoyable to eat and I especially liked the roasted eschallots, which had an intense sweetness to them.
For dessert, we tried the White chocolate mousse with chocolate sand and balsamic macerated strawberries. The mousse was velvety smooth and well balanced with the chocolate crumbs and the strawberries (some of them macerated, others had a freeze dried like texture). It was a beautiful way to finish off the meal...
...together with our second dessert - the Cheese selection with house made fig jam.
For $95 pp, it was good value for the amount of food we ate. The service was efficient, but not as friendly as I was expecting, given the name Popolo means people in Italian. Overall, I was very impressed by the quality of the food and especially the two pasta dishes, which are some of the best I've had in Sydney.
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!
Chiosco by Ormeggio is the casual offshoot of the two hatted Ormeggio at Spit Bridge. After a morning kayaking, we were in need of sustenance. Perched on the jetty with a nautical theme, metres away from the luxury boats and the glistening waters, it makes for a very relaxing setting.
The menu at Chiosco (Italian for kiosk) contains a selection of Italian street food as well as three pasta dishes. We opted for the burrata with basil oil, beetroot and sourdough crumbs first-up. Burrata is a fresh cheese made from mozzarella and cream, and is one of my favourite cheeses. Cutting into the burrata, the cream oozes out and we had fun mixing it with the other ingredients on the plate. The flavours were spot on and the sourdough crumbs gave great texture to the dish.
The lamb skewers were perfectly cooked and the yoghurt and mint oil gave the dish a refreshing hit.
The Fregola with prawns and cherry tomatoes was a simple but tasty dish. The Fregola, which is similar to Israeli cous cous was very well cooked, moist without being gluggy. Though at $22, I was expecting a bigger serve.
Top quality food and friendly service, my only wish were that the servings were a little bigger. It's a great place for a long, relaxing lunch.
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