First Drop Cafe – Redfe

Foodie Finds

Where: First Drop Cafe, 69 Baptist St, Redfern NSW 2016

When: November 19

Meal: Brunch

Cost: Approx $30 each

I love fried chicken and to be able to bring it forward to a mid-morning meal of brunch with the Southern Style Fried Chicken Eggs Benedict ($22) was perfect. The chicken had a tasty, crunchy coating, the eggs were perfectly poached, the kale nice and crispy and the whole thing was doused with the most delicious sriracha hollandaise. The biscuit it was perched on was perhaps a little too big as I couldn’t finish it, but I’m never going to complain about having too much food!

I also had the Serious George smoothie ($9.50) which has the magic combination of banana and peanut butter with dates, chia seeds and coconut with soy milk and coffee added. You can also get it without coffee which is the Curious George ($8.50). It was super thick and really filling and I loved scraping the peanut butter off the side of the glass with my straw.

I experienced great service and the cafe has a cool vibe, particularly out in the street when the jacarandas are flowering.

Would I go back? Yes, the Fried Chicken Benedict is a special that I felt I needed to take advantage of, but there were plenty of other things on the standard menu that I would like to try, particularly the Aegean Skillet.

Would I recommend it to you? Yes, it is definitely a menu that has something for everyone.

Show me the food…

first-drop-cafe-redfern

Buttercrumbs Croissant – Five Dock

Foodie Finds

Where: Buttercrumbs Croissant, 189 Great N Rd, Five Dock NSW 2046

When: November 19

Meal: Morning Tea

Cost: Approx $10 each

I love a buttery, flaky pastry and Buttercrumbs delivered on that aspect. There were about 10 different options of croissants in the window to select between, but I couldn’t go past the Strawberry and Nutella pastry ($6).

It had a tasty vanilla custard on top with sliced fresh strawberries and inside contained a layer of Nutella. The flavours worked really well together.

My latte ($3.70 small) was ok, but on the edge of bitter and it was a coffee brand I had never heard of before, Normcore. The seating area is basic and seemed like an afterthought. I unfortunately sat between two groups of ladies that were having very spirited conversations and it was so noisy it was unpleasant. Next time I would do take away and enjoy my delicious croissant in the serenity of my home!

Would I go back? Yes, I would like to try their square croissants. They have the classics on the menu daily, but have a variety on rotation, so a few visits is definitely warranted!

Would I recommend it to you? Yes, maybe you’ll get lucky and have a better dine in experience than I did, or pick up a few and take them home.

Show me the food…

buttercrumbs-strawberry-nutella-croissant

 

Concrete Jungle – Chippendale

Foodie Finds

Where: Concrete Jungle, 15 Kensington St, Chippendale NSW 2008

When: November 19

Meal: Brunch

Cost: Approx. $27 each

I’ll admit I visited this place as I saw the Blue Majik Smoothie Bowl ($17.50) on instagram and thought it looked amazing…and it did not disappoint. So often pretty things on instagram lack flavour, but this is the exception. I loved the pineapple and banana flavour with the coconut yoghurt and the contrast between smooth and crunchy with the puffed granola. It almost messed with your mind as pineapple and banana conjure up ‘yellow’ thoughts, not blue! With the wave like swirl it was like Summer in a Bowl.

I also tried the Berry Booster Smoothie ($9)  which had mixed berries, banana, coconut yoghurt, maca powder, milk and vanilla. It was smooth and creamy and not overly sweet.

Coffee ($4 regular) was good too which is their own ‘Concrete Jungle House Blend’. Everything was presented beautifully and was clearly high quality food, plus the cafe has a nice, bright and airy vibe to it.

Would I go back? Yes, these guys are clearly quite creative with their food and flavours and there are a few other things on the menu that I’d love to try such as the Blueberry & Lemon Ricotta Hotcake and the Seared Tuna Black Bean Spaghetti.

Would I recommend it to you? Absolutely. You won’t believe how good that Blue Majik bowl tastes until you try it for yourself!

Show me the food…

Auvers Cafe – Rhodes

Foodie Finds

Where: Auvers Cafe, 2/42 Walker St, Rhodes NSW 2138

When: November 19

Meal: Brunch

Cost: Approx $25

Recently I saw an Instagram post of Auvers’ Apple Crumble French Toast. It looked amazing and it made me add Auvers to my foodie to do list. When I went though, I got distracted by their Eggs Benedict and it was a good distraction indeed!

Auvers’ Eggs Benedict ($18) is unlike any Eggs Benny I’ve had before. With pulled pork, soft onsen eggs, spinach, ponzu hollandaise and corn salsa on top of a toasted croissant with a garnish of pork floss, there are lots of interesting flavours in every bite.

I also had the Black Sesame Frappe ($7) and added a shot of coffee. When I’ve had them before they are very sweet, but this was very subtle and the coffee made it perfect.

I love the food at Auvers, but I will say that the location and cafe is lacking some ambience. On my visit there was also a lot of clutter around the counter and coffee service area that was a little off-putting, but not enough to put me off the great food!

Would I go back? The food was great, but the location is really in the centre of apartments and there isn’t much else there. Instead, next I will try their Darling Square location.

Would I recommend it to you? Yes, if Rhodes is near to you head there, otherwise Darling Square sounds like a good prospect.

Show me the food…

Auvers-Cafe-Rhodes-Eggs-Benedict

The Spot Car Wash Cafe – Punchbowl

Foodie Finds

Where: The Spot Car Wash Cafe, 69-71 Belmore Rd North, Punchbowl NSW 2196

When: October 19

Meal: Brunch

Cost: Approx $20 each

I know I may have lost you at the title of this cafe, but please forget everything you know about car wash cafes here! Usually they are places where you dread spending up to an hour waiting for your car with a terrible coffee and if you’re brave (and desperate), some pre-prepared rubbish food looking sad wrapped up in cling wrap.

But not with these guys! Everything is made fresh and is beautifully presented. The menu has many delicious options, but I can’t go past the Pancake Revolution ($16). You get three buckwheat pancakes that are thick and fluffy and the dish isn’t overly sweet like so many that you’re unable to finish because of sugar overload.

I also loved the Spot Pulled Beef Benedict ($16) which is 12 hour slow cooked beef, with spinach, poached eggs and freshly made hollandaise on top of charcoal sourdough. The beef is so tender and the eggs were perfectly poached.

The coffee is also great and is made with Pablo & Rusty beans ($4 large).

Would I go back? Yes, my car is back to being regularly washed since I’ve found these guys. Perhaps I’m slightly more skewed in that decision by the food, but my car is immaculate after a visit ($35 in and out wash for a sedan).

Would I recommend it to you? Yes, they opened only a few months ago and the decor of the cafe is a work in progress, but the quality of the food and the service makes up for any current lack of ambiance.

Show me the food…

Darlings Bistro – Rozelle

Foodie Finds

Where: Darlings Bistro, 612 Darling St Rozelle NSW 2039

When: October 19

Meal: Dinner

Cost: Approx $90 each, with wine

As soon as I read the Darlings Bistro menu I knew it would be an amazing experience. It is full of dishes that you know and love, but with unique twists such as hummus made with butter bean, barbecued scallops with preserved radish and salted chilli and chicken skewers topped with garlic emulsion and black sesame.

The dishes are designed to be shared so you can enjoy lots of different flavours in one meal and I enjoyed every single dish that we tried.

The restaurant is on bustling Darling St, but has a nice relaxed vibe. Being open all day from Breakfast through to a late night night-cap, the seating is a mix of table and bar seating and it even has a big comfy couch reminiscent of the Friends tv show couch.

The cocktails and wine list are great. We ended the night with a cheese and wine flight which had been thoughtfully paired for us to complement each other perfectly.

Would I go back? I already have! I’ve since popped in for a drink and enjoyed the Potato & Gruyere Churros as a bar snack. You must try these when you go, they are served with the most amazing Black Garlic Aioli dip.

Would I recommend it to you? Yes, I’m sure anyone could find something they love on the menu and the place just has a really great vibe.

Show me the food…

We started the night with a beautiful Turkish Delight flavoured cocktail and the Hummus which was made with butterbean which made it so much smoother than a traditional chickpea hummus and it was topped with roasted cashew dukkah ($14).

The BBQ Scallops were clearly super fresh and came served with preserved radish and salted chilli ($6 each). Some of the best scallops I’ve ever had! The BBQ Wagyu Skirt ($29) was also really tender and we enjoyed them with a side of crispy sweet potato fries ($9).

The Kombu marinated chicken and leek skewers ($24) came with smoked garlic emulsion and black sesame and we had thee with the BBQ cauliflower with kale pesto ($17).

The Wine & Cheese flight rounded out the meal.

darlings-bistro-wine-cheese-flight

Union Place Hotel – Sydney

Foodie Finds

Where: Union Place Hotel, 34 Railway Cres, Jannali

When: September 19

Meal: Lunch

Cost: Approx $35 each, with wine

I was away in Melbourne for a wedding on the weekend of Father’s Day, so when I returned I knew I had some making up to do with Dad. The best way to make up usually involves food and wine, so I took him to lunch at the recently opened Union Place Hotel in Jannali.

Investigating the website and Instagram before we went, I knew I was in for a treat. The setting is beautiful and the menu looked well designed with a mix of pub staples and some more gourmet grub.

Being a Monday afternoon, the place was fairly quiet when we arrived and we took a booth in the bistro area. After perusing the menu we made our selections and ordered at the bar with some really friendly staff.

Our food was delivered to the table and we were eager to dig in as it looked great, it was very well presented. First up we tried the House Baked Foccacia with cherry tomatoes, black olives and vincotto ($12). The bread is dense as foccacia tends to be and the salty savoury flavour is great, but the vincotto that has seeped to the bottom had made it a little soggy and a bit too sweet for me.

Next up we tried the King Prawn Linguine ($24) which came in a chilli garlic white wine and olive oil sauce. It was fresh and delicate and had five good sized prawns.

Continuing with the pasta theme we also tried the Gnocchi Romaine ($19) which was a baked semolina gnocchi. This dish confused me as I was expecting the usual little pillows of gnocchi, but instead it came in long strips. The flavours were great, but I probably would have preferred a traditional gnocchi.

We of course also had to try their pub classics with the Steak Sandwich ($22), which was huge and piled high with crispy onions. The steak was thin and on the cusp of being over cooked, but the flavours worked.

Finally, what is a pub visit without a chicken schnitzel ($19) right? This came with buttered potatoes and beans and was super crunchy, a great example of what a schnitz should be.

We finished up with a wine in the sun in the beautifully renovated courtyard. A super long freight train went past interrupting the serenity for a few minutes, but I could certainly imagine spending a lazy summer afternoon there.

Would I go back? Absolutely. The food was well priced, of good quality and I’m keen to try their pizza and cocktails!

Would I recommend it to you? Definitely. The place has a great vibe and I’m sure it will become a popular local hotspot.

The W Padstow RSL – Sydney

Foodie Finds

Where: The W, Padstow RSL, 24-28 Howard Rd, Padstow.

When: September 2019

Meal: Dinner

Cost: $25 each

I grew up in Padstow and although I don’t live local now, I was lured back to the area by Drag Bingo at the Padstow RSL Club. Currently they are running Drag Bingo once a month in the auditorium and you get a bingo book with every $5 spent at the bar and can purchase a bingo dauber for $3.

I must say, I probably wouldn’t have gone to Padstow RSL, nor the W, if it wasn’t for the bingo. But we thought we’d make a night of it and have dinner and drinks before the bingo.

The menu is quite big and includes all the usual ‘pub food’ staples such as steak, schnitzels, pizzas and burgers. We were in the mood to try a few things, so ordered from the starters, main and sides options.

From the starters we had the Salt + Pepper Squid ($14) and the Fried Pork + Prawn Gyoza ($16).

The squid was tender, but coated in a very thick crumb which is my not my preferred option and a fairly solid indicator it was just frozen food, deep fried. The gyoza were nice and crispy, tasty and well dressed with spring onion, sesame mayo and sesame seeds.

The Chilli Prawn Linguine ($24) was served in a tomato sauce and included 5 prawns, which seems to be the established standard in prawn pasta dishes. It had a great flavour, but was heavy in the tomato sauce.

Finally, the Steakhouse Chips ($6) were what you expect of a bowl of good pub chips.

Would I go back? I would go back again in the same scenario, alongside some entertainment, but I wouldn’t go just for the bistro food.

Would I recommend it to you? I absolutely would recommend going to Drag Bingo and whilst you’re there, yes, stop in to the W. Their specials often look really great on Instagram.

Happy Ending Burgers – Sydney

Foodie Finds

Where: Happy Ending Burgers, 55 Majors Bay Rd, Concord.

When: September 2019

Meal: Lunch

Cost: $16 each

Happy Ending Burgers has long been on my foodie to do list. Knowing that these guys are the same people who do the Mister Gee Burger Truck, which I loved, I was pretty excited to find out what was on offer.

After reading many reviews, the Psychedelics burger ($15) – beef patty, provolone, jalapeño-pineapple relish, maple bacon, truffle mayo – seemed to be a fave and being a mad truffle fan, I had to try it. Sadly, I think it had a bit too much going on and the truffle clashed with the pineapple relish. The patty was cooked to medium, still pink in the centre so I expected it would be quite juicy, but overall the burger was a bit dry, despite the mayo and relish.

I was also keen to try the fried chicken as aside from being a side, half the menu is fried chicken burgers so I thought it had to be good. We picked the 3 tender option ($7.50) with Korean sauce. I was disappointed that the chicken was quite gristly thigh chicken as ‘tender’ makes me think of nice white meat. The flavour was nice, but not amazing. The sauce just added red sweetness to the chicken, no real flavour.

The sides we chose were fries with liquid cheese ($5) and fried pakora onions ($5). The fries were just slightly undercooked for my liking and surprisingly the liquid cheese came in a little sauce container rather that spread over the fries. The fried onions were tasty, but are decadent and greasy as you would expect of deep fried shards of onion. These are probably not for everyone!

The place is pretty much a takeaway style burger joint, but there are a few stools along the wall on the inside and about six small tables on the footpath outside. We were lucky to visit on a weekday and could take our time, but I suspect it would be hard to get a seat on the weekend so be prepared to take away.

Would I go back? Probably not. There are so many burger places in Sydney that I would prefer to try somewhere new before a second attempt here.

Would I recommend it to you? With so many great reviews online, I’m assuming they were having a bad day, or I made poor menu choices. I’ve heard their simpler burgers are great, but I am a big fan of a big, dirty, ingredient laden burger. If you go, maybe try the Cheese 2000!

Grilled Cornbread with Summer Salsa

NOLA Smokehouse – Sydney

Foodie Finds

Where: NOLA Smokehouse, Barangaroo Sydney City

When: February 2019

Meal: Dinner

Cost: $90 each

Following some afternoon wine time at Barangaroo House, a friend and I were feeling hungry and looking for somewhere nearby to eat. I had heard good things about NOLA Smokehouse, so we thought we’d try our luck there.

We arrived about 5:45pm and asked for a table for two. After much debate by the two staff at the front, they decided we could have a table if we were out by 7:15pm as they were fully booked then. That will work we say and head on in.

The menu is typical smokehouse with a variety of meat that you can purchase in 200gm servings with sides, or there are traditional mains like Gumbo, Grits and Jambalaya to pick from.

We started with the Grilled Cornbread with Summer Salsa ($8) as an entree to share. For main we chose the Pit-Master’s Pick with 100gms of each of the meat for $49pp. This also came with a side per person and we chose the Mac ‘n’ Cheese and the Southern Slaw, as well as a trio of sauces.

Overall I found the meat a little underwhelming. It was good, but I expected it be great. There was nothing special to say about it. The brisket was the most flavoursome and tender, the lamb also good, but if I had ordered the others individually I would have been disappointed.

The Southern Slaw was also a real let down. There was something in there that gave it quite a bitter taste, not the slightly sweet traditional slaw flavour I’m used to.

The Mac ‘n’ Cheese was hands down my favourite dish of the night as it was served with maple bacon and topped with pretzels. You just can’t go wrong with that combo.

The trio of sauces were BBQ, a tomato relish and chimichurri and I must say the chimichurri was fabulous.

If you’re into your meat being extra large, NOLA also does huge Tomahawk steaks to share as a special. This one was 1.7kgs!

We had a bottle of Rosè with our meal which was approx $65.

The setting of the restaurant is gorgeous with a beautiful view over Jones Bay, but overall the visit was underwhelming.

Would I go back? I can’t say this will be going on my ‘go back’ list. Too many other places in Barangaroo to try.

Would I recommend it to you? Although this restaurant came highly recommended to me by others, I’m going to say no to recommending this as it was just ok in my opinion.