Monday, 15 September 2014

Hot off the press, chef Brent Savage has just won the 2015 Good Food Guide Chef of the Year award and there are plenty of reasons to celebrate. Yellow, is Savage's newest venture in Potts Point taking a more conventional approach to Australian bistro dining. Meanwhile, his flagship restaurant, molecular gastronomy haven of Bentley Restaurant & Bar has taken a more imaginative turn jettisoning into the Radisson Blu in Sydney's CBD. The restaurant scene has been quite tumultuous lately, to say the least with fresh names popping up every second day, abrupt closures and chef's hats flying left, right and centre. Only a year ago, I was reviewing an entirely different restaurant at this exact address (a pop-up mind you, but still). How bizarre!

First thing's desserts. Talk about wow factor: an intergalactic sphere of chocolate, passionfruit curd & coconut marshmallow. A fantastic combination and the wafer thin dark chocolate was delicious. A note on the curd though, which was probably closer to a custard (with a more soupy texture) - quite different from what you'd expect from the menu

With the experience of Savage and a toque already in it's holster, Yellow sets to fill the gap between fine diners looking for a matched wine degustation and the lucky few who can secure seats at the eternally popular Monopole wine bar (also on Macleay St). This new iteration of Yellow House circa 2013 suits Potts Point locals to a tee. Open 7 days a week for dinner and brunch on weekends, there's something here for everyone.

Another extraordinarily dimly lit eatery. Energy efficiency to extremes?

The dining room is another Pascale Gomes-McNabb creation, an architect and long term collaborator who seems to be leaving her mark all over this town. With cutout mirrors and a jigsaw of shapes adorning the walls; it's a cross between an Eames aesthetic and geometry class but it gets the job done. The menu is a straight forward affair with relatively limited options compared to some of the tomes out there (first. world. problems.). The wine list however, is a different kettle of fish. Presumably on loan from Monopole a few doors down it is in a word, EPIC. I will note however that there is no dedicated vegetarian main. One would be forced to order a series of vegetable side dishes to make up for it. Shame.

For starters: char-grilled pork neck, prawn, black pudding purée & orange. This was probably my favourite dish of the evening. The pork was meltingly tender and gelled really well with the prawns which, mind you were verging on undercooked. A thoughtful and standout dish early on

Cured snapper, avocado and mullet roe (left) and roast cauliflower with mustard leaves and parmesan (right). The snapper was a deliciously tiny morsel. It's not often you see snapper cooked this way. The cauliflower was cooked in several ways but seemed to have an overpowering creaminess and richness about it. More of the roasted/shaved cauliflower might remedy this

Corn-fed chicken, charred carrot, buttermilk and cavolo nero. Sous vide chicken with a charry black carrot purée. A new 'chef-y' twist on the Sunday roast

O'Connor Scotch fillet with Jerusalem Artichoke and mustard. A very nice and well cooked piece of steak. I did find myself missing more of a sauce which was basically pan juices. Always a fan of jerusalem artichokes, the combination of roasted and shaved slices worked well. 

Mulloway with celtuce & shimeji mushroom (left) and baby kipfler potatoes, sour cream and shallot powder (right). The fish was cooked to perfection, a very simple dish at its heart, but executed well. The potatoes were instantly reminiscent of sour cream & chive crisps (but infinitely better)


Magnifique, non?! Melon sorbet, macadamia & dates. On reading the menu, a list of ingredients in each dessert gives nothing away. To see this presented, a vision draped in a veil of translucent melon was a real treat (the mandolin strikes again!). A macadamia crumb sits atop melon slices and a quenelle of sorbet on a delicate slice of date cake. A match made in heaven

Apple with green raisins & buttermilk chantilly. This dessert looks rather unimpressive on the surface but the combination is good one. A pile of crumble, may be a little stingy?

Yellow, as a new venture in a difficult climate is a laudable effort. Savage and his team function like a well-oiled machine delivering seasonal dishes designed for the individual, but you'll get away with trying a bit of everyone's. For me, there were a few highlights and no particular low-lights but that's just it. I was looking for a little bit of magic, a dish that I would return for again and again (the pork-neck was nearly there) or a new and inspired idea. In terms of fulfilling the brief, sure Yellow has it down and I can't argue with the full house night after night but I'm looking for something a little bit extra. Call me crazy.

"And it was called, Yellow..."

Thanks for reading chickens!
Yellow on Urbanspoon

Snapshot: Sydney cafés VI

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Isn't incredible that we are already approaching the start of Spring. August has ended with weeks of rain and blustery winds but today was something else. A clear blue sky day conducive to outdoor pursuits, a swim in the ocean or a long leisurely walk. Talk about weekend revival. With coffee in hand, once you take a sip everything seems right in the world - if only for a second. Today's post is another instalment of my cafe snapshot series. There's plenty more where that came from...!

Anvil Coffee Co

Holbrook Avenue, Kirribilli

Walk straight towards the ferry wharf and you'll find this place where you'd least expect. With a beat up pallet finish, Anvil pays homage to shabby chic (emphasis on shabby)

Anvil Coffee Co opened in late 2013 with little ceremony, literally inhabiting a nook of Kirribilli ferry wharf. Like a barnacle, it seems to have unwittingly found itself perched where waves lap quietly below. The whole concept of a café suspended over the water is rather magnificent.  And for the local ferry commuter, a god-send. The menu is sharp and succinct where magic words 'poached eggs!' and 'pulled pork!' lend an easy appeal. Pair that with some solid coffee and you've got a charming harbour oasis. But sssh, let's keep it our little secret.

Before I knew it, my soy cappuccino was already gone. I could have almost convinced myself to have another!

The Antonio: Spanish style baked beans, pulled pork, a fried egg with grated manchego and sourdough toast. Something I'd love to make at home but just 'never get around to', this dish was the perfect way to start the day. Hearty and healthy, well sort of

Buttered Arabian Eggs: poached eggs, Greek yogurt, garlic, chilli & lemon juice burnt butter with mint on sourdough. Simply and elegant, this dish represents everything you'd want in poached eggs. I must say though at $16, this veggo option is a bit steep

How to make the most of beautiful Sydney Harbour, getting schooled at Anvil Coffee Co
Anvil Coffee Co on Urbanspoon

Lox Stock & Barrel

140 Glenayr Avenue, Bondi Beach

Pumpkin salad with kale, quinoa, red cabbage, cucumber, carrot & spinach with sesame & miso dressing. With the addition of hot smoked ocean trout, this salad is taken to great heights. Just a really nice combination, vibrant, fresh and feel-good

Ah Bondi, how I've missed you. I always find myself waiting way too long between visits because it really is a lovely spot (and world famous with good reason). Home of barefoot surfer types, bleached hair and real-fake tans; Bondi locals take coffee and brunch rather seriously. With eyes firmly set on whole foods and promoting 'farm to table' eating, Lox Stock & Barrel is a deli with a difference. With some loose Jewish influences, LSB is cranking out some very fine sandwiches (read: bagels!) and delicious salads. And to further sweeten the deal, they're now open for dinner 4 nights a week. Why do we even bother to cook at home?! Be warned though, the weekend queues aren't to be sniffed at.

Pretty in blue: my obligatory cappuccino, a fair effort by LSB

Grilled, spiced Albacore tuna panini with jalapeños, miso dressed slaw and cucumber. The tuna was cooked well to medium-rare. The biggest challenge was actually eating the thing trying to avoid sandwich-filling spillage. First. World. Problems.

Hot smoked ocean trout salad with beetroot, freekah (I just love typing that), rocket, shaved fennel, mint, zucchini, caramelised walnuts with lemon & buttermilk dressing. This one was a masterclass in modern salad making. Gone are the days of garden salads with boring lettuce, tomato and cucumber! The caramelised walnuts basically sealed the deal, so nice

Yes, it's a bit of a squeeze but LSB does some great food and is probably worth the wait
Lox, Stock & Barrel on Urbanspoon
Thanks for reading boys & girls!

Cho Cho San

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Jonathan Barthlemess and his assembled A-team have taken Macleay St by storm, again. This time with a touch of Japanese flair, Cho Cho San has taken over the former Shogun restaurant site replacing old world Japanese with new. Potts Point has always been a delectable melting pot of restaurants and bars so a new opening like this is always looked keenly upon. Strolling towards the restaurant, CCS is lit up like a beacon, attracting hipsters like moths to a flame. The media has certainly done a great job creating a stir around this place. I was almost surprised not to see a mob at the door clamouring to get in.

Skipping straight to dessert! The rather lush steamed yuzu pudding, perfect for this cool blustery weather. The yuzu in this dish served as a little palette cleanser. Topped with cream to seal the deal

Let me just put it out there that this is a gorgeous restaurant, with minimalist hues of white, birch ply and bare concrete. Employing once again, the services of interior designer George Livissianis who has rendered one of the most photogenic restaurants in town. The backlit ceiling is punctuated with perforated beams which hide the air conditioning and audio system, also acting as sound absorbers. The soundtrack, as if straight from my own playlist (weird) features SBTRKT, Glass Animals and Lorde. So far, CCS is getting big ticks.

The geometry of the table settings; the food is certainly designed to share

Following the successes of The Apollo, Cho Cho San takes loose inspiration from Japanese cuisine which has been rejigged into something rather new and exciting. Combining the very best seafood Australia has to offer with more traditional techniques of pickling (all. the. rage.) and grilling over a hibachi; Barthelmess has created a menu that is adaptable. Be it for some casual drinks at the bar with snacks or a veritable feast, it all works. Mind you, the good stuff doesn't come cheap (but what does in Sydney these days). What's more, they open 7 days so you can maximise your chances of getting a table (so not kidding here). Failing that they're also open for lunch Fri-Sun. 

Down the barrel, communal dining at its best. The bar seats have little bag hooks so all your devices are within easy reach, haha Credit: Hayley Morgan for Two Thousand

Already, in its early days there are some crowd favourites. I had read the high praise for the fried chicken alone (done) in Gourmet Traveller and seen their soft-serve cones all over Instagram and the like. Initially a vibrant green tea version, the ice cream and the menu have had a few seasonal tweaks to change things up. The service was excellent, and staff were happy to accommodate for dietary requirements at the table. It was all good fun going through the procession of dishes we had ordered (crazies), almost like a custom degustation. Roll up!

From the raw bar: Petuna ocean trout, black pepper and wasabi (left) and Tuna, avocado and pickled eggplant (right). Both of these dishes were delicious, not only because I am a total sucker for sashimi. Sliced to order, the fish was of phenomenal freshness and quality. I probably could have polished them off myself!

Fried Chicken. Simple in name but there are some subtleties to delivering one this good.  There's a lot more finesse involved in creating a dish like this. Tender and juicy chicken, still succulent and piping hot with a familiar crispy, crunch on the outside. Be warned, the wasabi mayo is addictive

Prawn buns (left) and fried miso eggplant (right). No boa for us, these prawn buns were super tasty, I think fresh prawns and kewpie had a lot to do with that. But at $9 a piece...REALLY?! The eggplant was a nice dish but I tend to prefer the more traditional version  of nasu dengaku (miso glazed roasted eggplant)

Japanese charcoal chicken, read: spatchcock. The bird was cooked really well, with a delicious black charry crust (the best bit). Finger lickin' good

King crab omelette, Japanese curry. A very mild curry flavour allows the crab to shine through. The egg was also nice and soft, not overcooked and dense

Teriyaki T-bone, onion salad. Simply delicious, mop up the dark soy sauce and let the meat do the talking. Thank goodness it came ready carved

Miso cod, celery, ginger (left) and brown rice, shitake mushroom, egg (right). The former dish sort of faded into the background compared to some of the more tasty dishes. The cod was cooked well but none of the miso really came through over the burnt crust. And at $40, was rather meagre. The fried rice was respectable, and a good way to marry everything together

Two green lights: banana soft-serve cone, peanut, caramel. I make no apologies for the amount of food we managed to order. The ice cream was the perfect way to finish the meal. The salted caramel was perfectly balanced but still allowing the banana flavour to come through. Bringing out the inner child in each of us - a triumph!

Cho Cho snow: ginger custard topped with shaved ice, jackfruit. A nice little number but I was a bit distracted by the ice creams. Sorry

In all its bright and spangly newness, Cho Cho San is the place to be. An oasis all in white and timber, CCS represents a rather exciting venture in Potts Point. Offering a rather watered down version of Japanese cuisine, this is dining for the well-to-do masses. Ultimately, the variety of dishes and balance in flavours wins you over - it's almost all too easy. When The Apollo burst onto the scene, critics were quick to sing its praises for bringing a renewed energy and innovation to the dining scene. I think it might be time for round two! 

Cho Cho San, positively glowing Credit: Tom Ferguson for Yellow Trace

Thanks for reading!
Cho Cho San on Urbanspoon
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