Goobne – Darling Square

Sydney

Where: Goobne, Darling Square Shop, 16e Tumbalong Bvd, Haymarket NSW 2000

When: May 2020

Meal: Pre-Dinner Drink & Snack

Cost: $100 for two including a bottle of wine

My visit to Goobne was just as Covid-19 isolation restrictions were starting to lift. Restaurants could have up to 10 people dining in, which was a very strange experience! Because of the low capacity available, restaurants were only taking 90min seatings, so I decided I’d book two places for dinner whilst catching up with a friend.

First stop was Goobne for our entree and some drinks. I had seen the UFO Fondue Chicken ($38) on Instagram which looked good, but I had low expectations as it was oven roasted chicken, not the Korean Fried Chicken that I love. I also wasn’t sure about cheese on chicken, but as we all know, cheese makes EVERYTHING infinitely better, and especially when fondue style it seems! 

You get a choice of two seasonings on the chicken and we picked the Volcano (hot) and Galbi (soy) and both worked really well with the cheese. The chicken was tender and delicious and the cheese was plentiful, which was good as at $38 the UFO Fondue was a little pricey. It is a really good dish to share with your (well sanitised) friends though.

We were offered the Sharknado Cocktail ($18) for free as a bonus for booking during Covid-19 restrictions, but we both found it too sweet. It is visually spectacular and described as ‘a tornado of tropical flavours with a tequila bite and a hidden surprise (spoiler alert, its a thick red syrupy mixture designed to look like blood). I would have been very disappointed with it had I paid for it.

We preferred the bottle of St Huberts The Stage Rosé, which at $56 was also up there in price for the style of restaurant as it has more of a cheap funky bar vibe. Overall I loved our visit, but I think prices are a tad too high for a 5 star review.

Would I go back? Yes, I think I’d do the same type of thing with a pre-dinner snack and drinks. I didn’t get the feel from the menu that it would make for a complete meal, but perfect for share snacking.

Would I recommend it to you? Yes, the chicken was surprisingly good and the cheese fondue was a fun way to eat with a bit of theatre at the table.

Show me the food…

My Zomato Rating: 4/5

Down n' Out Sydney Meal

Down n’ Out – Sydney CBD

Sydney

Where: Down n’ Out, 77/A Liverpool St, Sydney NSW 2000

When: May 2020

Meal: Lunch

Cost: $22 for one, no drinks

During Covid-19 lockdown I was craving a big, juicy, dirty burger. Sure, you can get burgers takeaway or delivered, but I find they’re a food that doesn’t travel well and need to be eaten promptly to avoid a soggy mess. So when restrictions were eased to allow up to 10 people to dine in at restaurants on May 15th, I was keen to scratch the dine in burger itch.

However, it turns out lots of other people were having the same yearning, as the Down n’ Out restaurant was already full with people waiting when I arrived. Reluctantly, especially since it was raining outside, I ordered takeaway and stood aside to wait for my meal trying to avoid the stream of people that continued to arrive minute by minute.

I ordered the Single Beef Burger ($12) which had a wagyu beef patty, American cheese, lettuce, tomato, raw onion, pickles and secret sauce. I also added bacon ($3). This was a classic American style burger with a slightly pink patty, which I would have preferred pinker, but it was juicy and tasty still. The secret sauce was nice, but non-distinct. I enjoyed the burger, but there was nothing stand out about it and it’s not a burger I’d rush back to have again.

Whenever I see onion rings on a menu I need to order them, it’s my side of choice! Down n’ Out’s version are Angry Onion Rings ($7) and they are like nothing I’ve ever had before. Nor want to again unfortunately. They had a real onion ring inside (which is a big tick as I’ve found some places strangely give you minced onion and batter formed into a ring shape), but it was coated in about 2cm of batter/dough that was dense and tasteless. It reminded of a deep fried onion doughnut more than an onion ring. The red seasoning it had been topped with, which I assume is where the ‘Angry’ is meant to come in, was also fairly bland not the punchy chilli flavour I expected. I ate one onion ring and threw the rest out.

Before my visit to Down n’ Out, I had read a few reviews that referenced the entry way looked a bit dodgy and you have to go up a set of ‘sketchy looking stairs’. I was glad to have read this as otherwise I may not have ventured inside alone, but inside it was fine and just a traditional grungy looking bar with old school pinball machines and video games.

Would I go back? Maybe, but it would have to be a stellar looking burger special (which they do a lot of) to lure me back in. The standard menu won’t cut it for a repeat visit.

Would I recommend it to you? No, it’s not a must do burger joint in my mind. If you’re in the city looking for a burger, I’d suggest Bar Luca on Phillip St instead and definitely get the Blame Canada burger!

Show me the food…

My Zomato Rating: 3/5

Darlings Bistro – Rozelle

Sydney

Where: Darlings Bistro, 612 Darling St Rozelle NSW 2039

When: October 2019

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 – Jannali

Sydney

Where: Union Place Hotel, 34 Railway Cres, Jannali NSW 2226

When: September 2019

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 – Padstow

Sydney

Where: The W, Padstow RSL, 24-28 Howard Rd, Padstow NSW 2211

When: September 2019 (NOW PERMANENTLY CLOSED)

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.