The Butler, Potts Point
Finding a place with a gorgeous view and delicious food to match isn't always easy. The Butler in Potts Point is definitely one to add to the list. My friends and I got a great table in the terrace area surrounded by hanging plants and with an unobstructed view of the beautiful Sydney skyline. The food has strong influences from South America and is made for sharing. For stressless ordering, we went with the Banquet menu for $60.
First dish to the table was the Cured salmon, green apple, habanero, onion, citrus. The chunky slices of salmon was cured perfectly and combined with the apple and habanero had my tastebuds jumping.
Continuing the seafood theme was the Hiramasa kingfish ceviche. Again, it was a vibrant and fresh dish, with the kingfish beautifully cured in a citrus based marinade.
Next was the Sopa Seca, which I learnt was a Peruvian pasta casserole dish. It is served with Swiss chard, tomato and smoked cashew cream. The pasta has quite a bouncy texture and I enjoyed the flavour of the cashew cream.
The Pork & Chipotle empanada was packed full of flavour, seasoned well and the pastry was light and flaky.
I couldn't wait to dig into the Buttermilk fried chicken sliders when they landed on our table. The bread to chicken ratio was perfect, the chicken was crispy and moist and the peanut salsa was an inspired choice.
The final couple of dishes of Lamb Barbacoa and the Quinoa with orange, pickled red cabbage and mint was a great way to end the meal. The lamb shoulder has been slow cooked in a banana leaf with adobo, green olives & coriander - the meat was so juicy and tender, it falls apart with the lightest touch.
The Banquet menu was a great way to sample the menu at The Butler. Amazing views with the cocktails and food to match - definitely no complaints!
Encasa, Lane Cove
Encasa in Lane Cove is an outpost from the much loved original on Pitt Street in Sydney CBD. We started with the Marinated white anchovies with toasted sourdough. The anchovies were XL in size and very flavorsome, with strong hints of lemon.
One of my favourite tapas dish is croquettes and Encasa's version with jamon Iberico had the perfect crispy outside and creamy inside.
There's a whole section of the menu devoted to pickled tinned goods which I found intriguing. We ordered the Tinned razor clams, as it's not something that is easily available. The dish arrived with its packaging intact - in case you like it, you can pick it up at the small deli at the front of the restaurant. I think I prefer my razor clams freshly cooked, but the quality of the tinned version was surprisingly good.
Another interesting dish was the Octopus carpaccio with mustard ice cream, which was one of the specials of the day. The flavours of octopus and mustard surprisingly went well together, though the carpaccio was a little icy and not as tender as I would have liked.
We finished off the meal with Pork cheeks and potato puree. The puree was delightfully smooth and creamy and the pork cheeks simply dissolved in my mouth. A wonderfully moreish dish.
Encasa is always reliable for a good Spanish feed and it's great to have one north of the bridge.
Momofuku Seiobo, Pyrmont
You know a meal has been phenomenal when you still reminisce about it months later and that is exactly how I feel about Momofuku Seiobo at The Star. The 14 course Carribean-inspired tasting menu, the brainchild of Paul Carmichael, was creative and the flavours extraordinary. For something different, we opted for the non-alcoholic beverage pairing which was delicious in its own right.
We started off with the very tasty morsels of Bakes, abalone and lardo: Thin slices of tender abalone from Bateman's Bay, drizzled with pork larder and accompanied by a very light and fluffy Jamaican bread.
Sitting atop a collection of sea shells are three plantain tarts filled with finely shaved snail meat. It delivered both in presentation and in taste.
The Short rib with pickled onion was one of my favourite dishes of the night. The Rangers Valley beef rib had been cooked for 36 hours so not surprisingly, it just melted in my mouth. The olives and pickled onion was great to cut through the fattiness of the short rib.
The next dish of Pickled pumpkin, caramelised pumpkin seed, zucchini and raisins were tied together by a special hot sauce. Hot and sour, it was a great pla on textures and flavours.
The Curred rice with crab smelled divine as it hit our table. There were plenty of crab meat and the curry emulsion was strong without being overpowering. The crispy bits of rice added a nice crunch to the dish.
I didn't document all the drinks from the non alcoholic beverage pairing but have to make a special mention of this Blood orange shrub. I discovered a shrub is not just a small tree. It's also a type of preserve, sweet and vinegary - made in-house, this blood orange version is one of the best drinks I've tasted.
The Marron cooked in koji butter on the charcoal grill was another exceptional dish. The marron flesh was so succulent and there was just the right hint of smokiness from the charcoal. The coconut flesh added a nice tropical element to the dish and I could have easily eaten another one!
To accompany the marron was the most buttery and flakey roti - I would rate it even more highly than the famed ones from Mamak. The other accompaniment was an onion dip with mini apples, adding a hit of sweetness. It was not what I expecting from this fine dining restaurant, but was very pleasantly surprised.
To round off the mains was the Pork loin with crackling, served with a side of Spiced pumpkin and split peas, and a Cabbage salad. The blushing pink pork loin had been aged over four weeks and carried incredible flavours, and the crackling had the perfect crunch.
Onto desserts and we start with the palate cleanser of Yoghurt sorbet with banana leaf oil and powder. Served in a coconut bowl, the yoghurt sorbet was delightfully refreshing and I loved the addition of the pink sea salt.
The Roast coconut ice cream with cocoa nib and a cashew crumb was divine. The ice cream had a great intensity of flavour, with more nuttiness than usual, and the crumb and wafer all worked well together.
I would have been happy to end the night at this point as I found the next desserts of Rum cake, marzipan and raisin too sweet for my liking.
The last sweet was a molasses toffee with coconut, lime and ginger. The waitress told us that half the diners love this and half don't. We fell in the latter category - I found it strange that they would end with such a divisive dish but aside from this hiccup, the entire meal has been amazing.
The staff was friendly and professional and I loved being able to look into the open kitchen to see the team of chefs at work. The flavours are bold and creative, and it was one of the most memorable and exciting meals I've had, different to any degustation I've had before.
Fratelli Fresh, Crows Nest
The empire of Fratelli Fresh seems to be ever expanding, including an outpost in Crows Nest on the bustling Willoughby Road. There are a few set menus available but we decided to go for the a la carte option.
We started with the Fratelli House Salad with butter lettuce, avocado, nashi pear, radish, gorgonzola and sliced walnuts. It was a refreshing salad, perfect for a hot summer's day.
The Beef Carpaccio was nicely seasoned but I felt the wild mushrooms didn't really complement the dish, so would probably have been better without them.
From the pasta section, we went with the Linguine with Prawns, Lemon, Pangrattata, Chilli and Garlic. Beautifully cooked pasta, sweet juicy prawns and a classic flavour combination - needless to say, it was delicious.
The Tuscan Kale and Oyster Mushroom pizza come with a creamy white base and is another exhibition of simple yet delicious flavours executed well.
For dessert, we opted for the Vanilla bean panna cotta with cherry sauce and crumbed brownie. The panna cotta had a very smooth texture and I enjoyed the crunch from the crumbed brownie.
Fratelli Fresh doesn't deliver the fanciest, most adventurous food, but it is consistently good. The fit out is great and bonus points for all the booth seats they have!
Eastside Kitchen & Bar, Chippendale
Eastside Kitchen & Bar is another restaurant in the ever expanding Kensington St dining precinct in Chippendale. It serves modern cuisine with New York and Asian influences. We started with one of the small plates, Roasted baby carrot with green pea hommus, almonds and fennel pollen. Some of the carrots felt a little underdone but the pea hommus with the almonds was delicious.
The Roasted duck breast was well cooked and is beautifully paired with the pickled cherries. The shaved brussel sprouts added a touch of freshness to the dish.
The Pan seared mulloway pointed to some classic Asian flavours, with a ginger and scallion salsa creating a wonderful aroma. The crispy skinned fillet was paired with a sweet potato puree and crispy leek.
The Ranger's Valley Angus Hanger Steak had been chargrilled over Eastside Kitchen's Bichotan coal, bringing a lovely smokiness to the meat. Duck fat potatoes are...well, you can't go wrong with these!
For dessert, we got the 'Fire and Ice' dessert platter - the perfect choice when you want to try a bit of everything! There was great theatre with the smoke from the dry ice and flames over the mini creme brulee. The platter was a plethora of desserts: Matcha cheesecakes, brownie, gummies, honeycomb, shortbread, lemon tart, and so much more!
The decor is dark and mysterious, with exposed bricks and leather paneled bar that wouldn't look out of place in New York's meatpacking district. All the plates are designed for sharing, and of course, you can't go past the dessert platter.
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, Sydney CBD
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.
Yellow, Potts Point
Yellow in Potts Point manages to showcase how delicious vegetarian food can be in a fine dining setting. We tried the five course tasting menu and it was a wonderful play on flavours and textures throughout.
We started with a little appetiser to warm up our taste buds: Peruvian potato chip with black garlic sauce and Szechuan pepper salt.
The first course was Avocado, pinenut and lime served with melon segments and a kaffir lime oil. Given the sky-high popularity of avocado these days, it's not surprising to find it as the centerpiece of a dish. The kaffir lime oil was very fragrant and went brilliantly with the creaminess from the avocado.
Next was the House made cultured curd, with chargrilled cucumber wrapped in a sesame leave. It was a pleasant dish but lacked the boldness of flavour that permeated though the other dishes.
On the other hand. the Zucchini, Sunflower, Quinoa and Green Juniper delivered in terms of contrasting flavours. The zucchini was creamy and rich, and I enjoyed the toastiness of the sunflower and quinoa crumble.
The Eggplant, sweet corn and miso is a combination of some of my favourite ingredients so not surprisingly, it was my favourite savoury dish of the meal. The eggplant was topped with crispy puffs of wild rice, accompanied by a ginger, garlic and yuzu broth and served up with the most silky sweet corn puree.
Fittingly, the dessert of Mandarin, coconut and toasted almond with verjuice granita and bee pollen carried a few shades of yellow. Such a variety of flavours and textures, it tasted amazing when you took a mouthful with a bit of everything.
The food at Yellow is creative and beautifully presented. The service was not very attentive on this occasion but whether you are a Vegetarian or not, Yellow is definitely worth a visit.
ACME, Rushcutters Bay
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.
Having worked in some of the top restaurants on Sydney's north shore, Chef Tomo has now opened his own restaurant in Cremorne called Plage, serving food with Japanese and French influences. We started with a snack of Smoked cod cream with squid ink and seaweed powder. The paper thin, squid ink wafers looked striking as it hit our table. They were a good carrier for the smoked cod cream which had just the right hint of smokiness.
The next dish of Black pudding, lime powder and anchoives packed bold, punchy flavours and really livened up my tastebuds.
The Aburi salmon was delicately handled and paired well with the black garlic and white miso puree. Again, it's a plate of few ingredients but all combining superbly to create a very tasty dish.
The Wagyu carpaccio in dashi broth was one of my favourite dishes of the night. The thin slices of beef arrive rare and is cooked in front of us as the dash broth is poured at the table. The rich aroma of the broth immediately hits my senses. Bursting with umami flavour, I was tempted to pick up the whole bowl to gobble it all up. Underneath the wagyu was a cured egg yolk with mushrooms and broccolini. It's like a refined, miniature version of hot pot.
Onto the mains, and we started with the Jewfish with celeriac puree, finger lime, Gai Lan finished off with a fish and lemon sauce. The fish was cooked to perfection, matched by the smooth and velvelty puree. I also really liked the caramelised artichoke hidden underneath the Gai lan, which brought another flavour dimension to the dish. Such an underrated vegetable!
The Broccolini with Kipfler potatoes was a wonderful side, with the truffle sauce really making the dish sing.
The Roast chicken was very tender and came with a crispy skin. The caramelised carrots brought an intense sweetness which complemented well the pickled cherries. The dish would have benefited from a touch more sauce to give it even more flavour.
The Triple cooked chips comes with housemade aioli and tomato relish. It was tasty but felt a little out of place with our mains.
The dessert game at Plage is definitely strong. The Sweet sake mirin ice cream was out of this world delicious. My friend and I both had a big smile on our faces as we devoured this perfect quenelle of ice cream. It had the smoothest of textures and was a brilliant mix of salty and sweet, topped off with a miso crumb. It was so good that we unashamedly ordered a second one!
Our second dessert of White chocolate mousse with redcurrant sorbet and pepperberry meringue was just as spectacular. The dish was perfectly balanced with the tartness of the sorbet offset with the sweetness of the meringue and creaminess of the mousse.
I was impressed with the creativity and the flavour combinations, backed up by beautiful plating and friendly service. Plage is definitely a wonderful addition to the north shore dining scene. They also serve some amazing sake too!
Sashimiso dined as a guest of Plage. All opinions are my own.
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