Wednesday, 29 February 2012
Boo in Australia - Sydney
Perhaps my best meal of all in Australia was the Italian dinner we had at A Tavola in Darlinghurst, just around the corner from our hotel. In fact, I would go so far as to say I had the best dessert of my life there.
Here it is, I'm working backwards because I can't mention this place without immediately raving about the cremino al cioccolato. Italian meringue topped chocolate mousse, with a layer of soft salted caramel. I was actually lost for words. Served in a little cup and saucer, god, I want it now!
Mains were brilliant too, I chose from the specials, parpadelle con ragu di agrello. Freshly made daily, the pasta was hanging up at the rear of the restaurant, where the kitchen is. Certainly the best pasta dish I've eaten in a restaurant, with a rich slow cooked lamb sauce, this place was such a gem and I need to find a restaurant in London which is up to this level of Italian cooking. Thomas' gnocci was, guess what? The best gnocci I've ever had, with peas and mushrooms.
We were lucky to get in without booking ahead, we were seated along the long communal table and the menu was explained to us in great detail. The wine advise was also spot on, we had a great Sicilian Nero D'avola, perfect with the ragu. Starters of burrata, with grapes and tomatoes, and carpaccio di manzo with beetroot and watercress we interesting combinations too. Served with a light and pillowy focaccia bread.
I can't rave about the place enough, Eugenio Maiale, you're a genius. Can you open a restaurant in London please? Seamlessly moving on to somebody who has....Bill Granger.
I've not been to Bill's in London yet, but I did hit up 1 of his 3 Sydney addresses. My lasting memory of the place is that it was overpriced and the service was crap. This is pretty much in the same vein as what I've read about the Notting Hill venue.
We visited on a Monday so, thankfully, didn't have to face a queue. There's a large communal table, a nice selection of magazines to read and an open kitchen. We kicked things off with lattes and stuck to the 'classic' Granger dishes, sweetcorn fritters, with an extra side of guacamole ($4.50, for that measly portion), and the ricotta hotcakes with banana and honeycomb butter.
Tbh, I'm not the biggest fan of sweet dishes for breakfast so the fritters were my preference of the 2 but I could certainly appreciate the lightness of the hotcakes. I'd love them as a seriously big dessert. The whole thing was a little soured due to the inattentive servers. We were seated by a guy who immediately left the building and about 20 minutes later, we had to go and find someone else to serve us. I'd read similar reports. This is why I've not rushed to try the London branch.
There are a multitude of appealing cafes and bars in the area where we stayed. A walk to Surrey Hills one day took us via the corner of Forbes and Burton Streets, where Forbes & Burton was abuzz. We nabbed the last available table for a lunch to fill up ahead of an afternoon of exploring.
Thomas' pulled pork sandwich with homemade brown sauce, coriander, mint, carrot and rocket was fantastic. Each ingredient detectable between the robust slices of sourdough. These are proper sandwiches.
I went for the croque monsieur with smoked leg ham, swiss gruyère and mustard béchamel. I developed a bit of a thing for a jazzed up toasted cheese while I was in Oz! We shared a side salad and a pot of earl grey and were all set for a day on our feet.
348 Victoria St
433 Liverpool St
Forbes & Burton
252 Forbes St
Other highlights included drinks with iconic views at Opera Bar and at the top of the Shangri La hotel. The latter offers brilliant cocktails and a great system which pretty much guarantees you a seat at some point, no matter how busy things get. We only had to wait for around 20 minutes which flew by as we caught up with our friend Lex and Jane. I loved Sydney, despite the constant rain during the 3 days we were there. No beaches unfortunately, but plenty of great food and drink.
Blu Horizons Bar - The Shangri La
176 Cumberland St