The prospect of eating at Mjolner, a Thor-inspired, Viking-themed restaurant created by the team behind the amazing Eau de Vie cocktail bar was an exciting one. Entering the basement, I was immediately transformed into another world. The site of a former tobacco factory, the space was dark and moody with exposed brick walls, various Viking themed memorabilia and of course, Thor's hammer (of which the restaurant takes its name from).
We all had a miniature viking horn shot class in front of us. Turns out they were for our Skal, a complimentary welcome drink of Mead, honey and vermouth. Sweet and smooth, it was simply delicious!
As soon as the Roasted bone marrow hit the table, I was salivating. The marrow was melt in your mouth delicious and the meat crumb on top was heavenly, packed full of umami flavour - a sprinkle of this would make the blandest food taste amazing.
The Pig's head terrine was delicious and had a crumbly texture, served with a sprinkling of crunchy pistachios.
Our waitress returned to our table with a leather pouch, unveiling a range of knives (all different designs) for us to pick our own blade of choice for the main course!
We started with the Whole Snapper, which was cooked beautifully and well seasoned, with the flesh flaking away easily.
The Lamb shank was cooked on the rotisserie for over 7 hours so it was no surprise it was incredibly tender. The smoked eggplant puree together with the macadamias also delivered in terms of flavour.
The Beef short rib was buttery and luscious, falling off the giant bone at the slightest pressure. It was simply one of the best short ribs I've ever had.
The special of the night was the Pork loin with house made BBQ sauce and it tasted as delicious as it looked. Our carving knives came in handy with this dish and biting into the crispy pork crackling was oh so satisfying. Who knew the Vikings had it so good?
The sides of the Green beans with a hazelnut and sourdough crumb and Carrots were very tasty on their own right, perfect complements to the meaty dishes.
Onto desserts, and the combination of Fennel, rhubarb and rice pudding seems strange on paper, but actually worked well together. The rhubarb sorbet was smooth and velvety, offering some sourness to counteract the sweetness of the rice pudding.
The Mascarpone parfait was very creamy but lacked flavour and was the only miss of the night.
Themed restaurants can be gimmicky, but Mojlner has absolutely smashed it out of the park. Everything from the fitout to the food was very impressive. It's a unique dining experience but to get the most out of it, I'd recommend coming with a group so you can try out several of the meaty mains.
On a sunny Winter's day, my friends and I ventured to try out Anason, serving Turkish cuisine on the Barangaroo waterfront promenade. The menu is designed for sharing with a mix of small and large plates. We decided to start with one of the waiter's recommendation, the Baba Ghanoush dip paired with the Saj Pide. The bread was served warm, and had a soft and fluffy texture. It was tempting to just fill up on these and the airy, creamy eggplant dip but more food beckoned.
The Cured salmon pastirma looked amazing as it hit our table. The saltiness of the cured salmon is balanced by the acidity of the pickled chillies and fennel, and the freshness of the mini tomatoes.
The Scallops were cooked beautifully, paired with a creamy artichoke puree and sprinkled with wild rice. However, for the price of the dish, I was expecting a little bit more.
Onto the larger plates and we opted for the Hanger steak. The beef slices were ultra tender but what made the dish so impressive was the Muhammara (a red capsicum and walnut dip) that is jam packed with flavour.
The Duck breast was served with silverbeet dolmas. I enjoyed the filling of the dolma and it soaked in all the flavours from the taharna sauce.
Overall, the food definitely delivers on flavours, though some dishes were a little overpriced. I loved the blue and white decor (especially that blue tiled table!) and the al fresco dining option.
The two-hatted Sixpenny had been on my go-to list for a while and it certainly delivered in terms of flavour, texture and service. We were seated in the private dining room, where we had a full view of the kitchen watching the chefs weave their magic.
Our 8 course degustation started with a trio of snacks. Side note: each dish is brought out by the chefs and they take great care to explain the dish to you. The Green tomatoes, grown in the Blue Mountains, looked like tomatoes but tasted like sour grapes. The Pumpkin Scallop is a tasty morsel of confit pumpkin deep fried and topped with some pumpkin seed salt. My favourite of the snacks though were the Cheese gougeres. They were delightfully fluffy, covered with a layer of cheddar shavings. The filling of cheese combined with the green tomato jam was simply delicious.
The Spanner Crab with Clam Butter and Trout Roe was a very delicate dish, with quite a strong hit of saltiness.
The Venison Tartare looked striking as it hit the table, though the tartare itself was actually hidden under a layer of hazelnut shavings. The combination of the earthy beetroot with the sweet hazelnut and the gamey-ness of the venison is genius.
Potatoes are often just a side accompaniment but here at Sixpenny, they take centre stage. The mini cylinders of potatoes are cooked in an oyster butter emulsion and paired with slices of raw mushrooms and mushroom powder. It's amazing how so much umami flavour can be generated from such a simple selection of ingredients.
The Spanish Mackarel with Radicchio was another highlight. The mackerel was beautifully cooked but the star of the dish for me was the tomato and fermented cucumber essence. It provided a lovely sweetness and contrast to the bitterness of the radicchio.
Onto the last savoury course of the meal, the Lamb rump with roasted leek and caramelised pumpkin juice was another good dish, but lacked the wow factor of its predecessors.
The pre-dessert was another deceptive simple yet spectacular dish. The Mead Vinegar Custard was silky smooth and together with the frozen beads of raspberry and the intense flavour of the strawberry consomme definitely made my tastebuds sing.
The Feijoa Granita with the white chocolate cream and white chocolate disc was slightly on the sweet side for me.
Our final dish was the Cocoa Ice Cream with Wattleseed Caramel and Toasted Farro. The ice cream was super smooth and the addition of the toasted, salty farro added a really interesting dimension to the dessert.
In the unassuming suburb of Stanmore, Sixpenny lives up to its numerous accolades and deliver a great fine dining experience.
12 Micron is an establishment situated in the new dining precinct of Barangaroo, complete with its own dessert bar helmed by Darren Purchese. First thing I noticed about 12 Micron was the enormous, modern space (able to seat more than 220 patrons) with a brilliant harbour view.
We were excited to get to the desserts but decided to have some savoury dishes first before the sugar hit. The menu is focused on Australian produce and we start with the Lobster omelette. It was a classic dish done well, with generous servings of lobster.
The Moreton Bay Bug rice paper rolls were disappointing in flavour and serving size, given the price charged.
The Goats cheese tortellini, on the other hand, was beautifully executed. The tortellinis were plump and the burnt butter sauce was spot on.
The Flinders Island lamb was beautifully cooked. I quite enjoyed the texture of the damper and the seared sweetbreads were very tasty.
The Suckling pork came with crispy crackling and the preserved riberries added a nice touch, though serving size is again a little small.
There were a number of dishes on offer from the rotisserie, visible in the open kitchen. We picked the Duck with duck fat potatoes. The duck was good, without being spectacular. By this stage, we were ready for the dessert onslaught and this is where 12 Micron really shines.
There's an option for a 3, 5 or 7 course dessert degustation but we opted to go a la carte. We started with the Pistachio, green tea and yuzu creation. The Pistachio and green tea mousse was delicate and pillowy, as was the green tea sponge. The gelato was smooth and creamy and the pops of yuzu and blackcurrant added some bold colours and flavours to the dish.
The glass of Coconut, passionfruit, ginger and mint was delicious in every way, and it was fun searching through the layers to discover all the different elements.
The deconstructed Gin & Tonic dessert had more components than I could remember. There was the lime and lemon curd, frozen cucumber and lime parfait, white chocolate mousse and marshmallows just to name a few. Somehow, all the ingredients work together and really delivered on the flavour of a G&T.
Another favourite of the night was the Smoked Vanilla ice cream with plum, Barossa Valley Wanera and Thyme Sable. It's the first time I've had ice cream with a slice of cheese, and surprised to say, it worked amazingly well together! The cheese manages to temper the sweetness of the plum sauce and the honeycomb.
Olive oil, chocolate, toast ice cream and smoked salt was another exciting combination that worked beautifully. The olive oil jelly was light and creamy at the same time, the chocolate ganache was incredibly rich with the bread ice cream providing some much needed relief.
The Rose, Apple, Strawberry and Beetroot dessert definitely caught out attention with its striking red colour and wonderful fragrance. The crystallised rose petals was a bit too sweet for my liking, but I did enjoy the apple sorbet which was very refreshing and the moist beetroot sponge cake.
Just when we thought we had conquered the desserts, a plate of complmentary petit fours (actually, threes) arrived on our table. I found the raspberry jellies much too sweet, but the mint biscuit was tasty, as well as the dark chocolate truffle.
The design of the restaurant is impressive, from the segmentation of the space down to the beautiful cutlery and crockery. The desserts are clearly the star of the show and why you should pay 12 Micron a visit. Not only do they look amazing, but the creations are playful, imaginative and full of unexpected flavour and textural combinations.
Tokyo Bird is a small laneway bar in Surry Hills, known for its extensive collection of whisky and its yakitori menu. Not being a whisky enthusiast, I decided to settle for a cocktail instead. One sip of my Matcha milk punch cocktail and I was in heaven. It was like drinking a delicious matcha latte with a hint of alcohol, and the matcha cookie on top made it all the more irresistible.
The food menu is primarily bar snacks with a Japanese twist. The Lotus root chips were expertly fried. Thin and crispy, we gobbled them up in a flash with the chilli mayo.
The Cold udon noodle is another simple yet very tasty dish, with a lovely creamy sesame dressing.
The Katsu chicken nuggets were another deep fried highlight!
Onto the yakitori and we decided to try the Chicken tsukune which are essentially meatballs. The meat was moist and flavoursome, and I enjoyed dipping it into the sweet soy sauce mixed with the cured egg.
The Nasu (eggplant) yakitori was a little small but it had great umami flavour and I loved the texture.
Tokyo Bird is definitely a bar that puts as much effort into its food as the drinks. The food is kept simple but they definitely manage to make the ingredients shine.
Tapavno is one of my favourite restaurants in Sydney so I was delighted to hear the same team had opened Born by Tapavino in Barrangaroo, with a nod to the flavours of Barcelona. One of the things I loved most about my travels in Spain was the seemingly endless supply of Serrano ham. At Born by Tapavino, they have a wide selection of jamon with different accompaniments to choose from. We opted for the Jamon with the spiced plum and goat's curd. The strong flavours of the spiced plum were balanced out by the goat's curd and the slices of jamon were simply delicious.
I love churros for dessert but I think I prefer these Manchego churros. Filled with delicious cheese, the churros was topped with a crunchy, spicy, chorizo crumb - an explosion of flavour!
The Pan-fried King prawns were tasty and beautifully seasoned, but for $28, I was expecting a bigger portion.
We also ordered one of the specials of the night, Duck breast with caper and raisin puree, chargrilled waldorf and jamon crumb. The duck was perfectly cooked, still pink on the inside. The caper and raisin puree really livened up the taste buds and I loved the jamon crumb for the added punch of flavour and for the texture.
For dessert, we shared the Mil hojas 'thousand leaves', turron parfait and sour cherry compote. The 'thousand leaves' was a crunchy caramelised wafer thin disc and went beautifully with the nougat parfait. The sour cherry sauce really tied the whole dish together.
The tapas style menu is great for sharing, allowing you to try many dishes and great with a glass or two of Spanish wine (of which they have a very extensive menu of).
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!
Bloodwood has been a feature of Newtown's dining scene for a few years now and it's easy to see why it remains as popular as ever. The restaurant has a cool vibe with both indoor and outdoor seating on the terrace.
I was told that whatever we order, don't miss out on the Polenta chips. I normally find polenta quite bland and boring, but even I was a convert after tasting this. Freshly cooked, these chips were crispy on the outside and light and fluffy on the inside, and matched so well with the creamy Gorgonzola sauce,
The Fried chicken was succulent and moist, with a hint of spice form the Szechuan pepper and sweetness from the maple syrup. Not my favourite fried chicken of all time, but definitely no complaints.
Bloodwood offers a wide array of vegetarian options, including the Socca - a chickpea pancake topped with zucchini, dukkah, kale and persian feta. The base had a lovely crunch, and the toppings were aromatic, creamy and full of flavour. It's a dish that I would definitely return for.
Continuing with the vegetarian theme, the Sesame mushrooms with seaweed, smoked eggplant and daikon was a simply, humble dish done well. It was a very textural dish and had a real depth of flavour.
The Sticky Fried Beef brisket fell apart at the slightly touch and the enoki, heirloom carrots and quinoa made for a great combination.
The food at Bloodwood is very impressive and definitely some of the best you can have in Newtown. The food is original, without being pretentious. It's a great place to come with a group, since everything is designed to be shared.
Tucked away in the basement behind George Street in Sydney's CBD is Mercado, a Spanish restaurant showcasing the talents of former Nomad chef, Nathan Sasi. From our table, we could see all the mouthwatering food leaving the open kitchen and I couldn't wait to dig in.
We started with the Ortiz Anchovy Tart with roasted bull horn peppers. The tart is made up of a crispy thin sheet of pastry, and allowed the anchovy and the soft and sweet peppers to shine. This little morsel definitely left me salivating for more.
The Zucchini flowers were fried to perfection with a crunchy batter and filled with beautiful, house made goat's curd. I enjoyed the mojo rojo sauce which gave it a little kick of heat.
Our waitress recommended the Truffle mortadella, which was velvety smooth and simply delicious. The truffle flavour was pronounced without being overpowering. It goes beautifully with the slices of sourdough baked inhouse and the sweet and slightly spicy guindillas peppers.
The next dish of Pippies in a saffron and tomato broth with garlic crutons was deliciously moreish. The pippies were sweet and plump, and the crutons were very handy to soak up the flavoursome broth.
The Turkish ravioli had a soft and silky texture, with a roasted pumpkin filling and dressed with yoghurt, burnt butter sauce and crispy sage leaves. I wasn't expecting such a top quality pasta dish at a Spanish restaurant but it was definitely one of the highlights of the night.
The Smoked lamb ribs were beautifully seasoned and had a wonderful sweetness from the peach molasses. The meat slid off the bone at the slightest touch. The salt bush provided a little relief from the richness of the ribs, not that I am complaining.
I had seen the Porchetta rotating on the spit roast in the kitchen so was eager to try this dish. The sheer size of the pork was impressive as it lands on our table, definitely one to be shared! Crispy crackling, amazingly tender meat paired with a vibrant romesco sauce - it is another must-order!
After the meat fest, we had no more room for dessert but I can't wait to return. The dishes are kept simple, with only a few ingredients on the plate, but each plays a key role in the flavour and texture of the dish. Service was attentive but not obtrusive, it made for a great dining experience.
Bodega has been a feature of the Surry Hills dining scene for many years but only recently did I finally pay this Latin inspired tapas joint a visit. Located on an alleyway near Central Station, the venue was packed on a Tuesday evening.
The Hot cross bun with corned beef, smoked oyster mayo and kimchi stood out on the menu. It was a lovely mix of sweet, salty and spicy and makes me wonder why we don't have hot cross buns more often in restaurant menus! it makes for a refreshing change from all the brioche burgers that are popping up all over the place!
Bodega's Fish Fingers are definitely not the deep fried varieties you may find in the frozen food section of a supermarket. Instead, it is beautiful slices of Kingfish on charred toast with cuttlefish ceviche and grated mojima. It had beautiful flavours and was wonderfully balanced.
Steak tartare is one of my favourite things to eat and the Bodega version had a wonderful texture. The plantain chips were super crispy and great accompaniment to the tasty tartare.
Our final dish of Corn tamale with miso eggplant and avocado is an interesting fusion of South American and Japanese influences. The corn tamale smelled delicious and was surprisingly filling. The miso eggplant is a perfect mix of salty and sweet and I loved the gooey texture.
All in all, Bodega delivered in terms of flavour and service. It's another must visit in the Surry Hills dining landscape.
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