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

Alder Inn Wentworth Point

Alder Inn – Wentworth Point

Sydney

Where: Alder Inn, Shop 6/9 Waterways St, Wentworth Point NSW 2127

When: March 2020

Meal: Lunch

Cost: Approx $50 each, including cocktails

I love trying lots of different dishes when I eat out, so dining with someone that is happy to share is great, but it’s even better when a menu has small dishes that are designed for sharing. Alder Inn’s Asian Fusion menu has Bites, Bao, Salads, Mains, Rice and Desserts with a wide variety of flavours.

My favourite dish of the meal was the American Style Fried Chicken Bao ($7) which was super crispy, with good flavour in the batter and came doused in maple sriracha mayo. We also tried the Sweet & Sour Pulled Pork Bao ($7) which was nice to eat, but didn’t have any particularly strong flavours, despite coming with a wasabi lime mayo. The bao buns were light and fluffy and thankfully didn’t have the sticky texture that I’ve often encountered with bao.

We also tried the Popcorn Prawns ($12) which had a tasty crispy crumb topped with a honey glaze & sesame seeds. I liked that they were served on a little lettuce and red onion salad that cut the sweetness of the honey on the prawns.

The main dish we tried was the Wok Fried Wagyu Beef ($22) which came with tender beef cubes, capsicums, fried shallots, sesame seeds and an amazing black pepper sauce that was quite addictive. The sauce helped to jazz up the Spicy Chicken Fried Rice ($11) which we couldn’t detect any spice in at all. We also ordered the Fries ($5) which came with a spicy Szechwan Pepper Mayo, but we struggled to eat many chips as we already had so much food between two people!

Dessert was the Deep Fried Vanilla Ice Cream ($14). The coating was crispy and tasty and it was covered in salted caramel sauce with butterscotch popcorn. After a big meal it was nice to share this and it would likely be too big a serve for one person anyway.

For drinks we tried the Mojito ($12) with vodka, mint, lavender & lemon. The mint was really refreshing, however we struggled to detect the fresh lavender, but that may be a blessing that it wasn’t overpowering with having such a strong scent. The Tequila Rocks ($15) was tequila and strawberry juice on ice and was definitely sweet, but not too intense.

All dishes were generously sized and incredibly good value to share. Service was really friendly and quick and the restaurant was nicely decorated, just a little hard to find as the doorway is slightly hidden from the road.

Would I go back? Yes, I loved the food and thought it was really well priced for the amount of food we received. Alder Inn is a recent rebrand moving from traditional Chinese food to Asian Fusion, so I’d be keen to see how the menu develops.

Would I recommend it to you? Yes, you can’t beat the value and variety on the menu.

Show me the food…

Zomato Review: 4/5

Archies Cafe Co Dover Heights Coffee

Archies Cafe Co – Dover Heights

Sydney

Where: Archies Cafe Co, 218 Military Rd, Dover Heights NSW 2030

When: February 2020

Meal: Lunch

Cost: Approx $35 for one

One night I was scrolling Instagram and came across a thing of absolute beauty. No, it wasn’t an ‘lifestyle influencer’ with super white teeth, it was a sky high burger with potato gems in it AND a cute little potato gem on top!

I love burgs and I really love potato gems, so I was mad keen to try it, however when I got there I could not see that glorious burger on the menu. There was a Wagyu Beef Burger and a Hangover Burger which was a bacon and egg roll style burger, but not the combination that I was looking for. I showed the Instagram post to the waitress and she said there must have been a mix up on Instagram with their other cafe in Liverpool, but not to worry as they can make me what my heart desired.

So we decided on starting with the Hangover Burger ($13) which had fried Egg, black forest smokehouse bacon, American cheddar, potato gems, smokey bbq sauce & aioli on a milk bun and added a wagyu beef patty and pickles. The burger was huge and really lived up to my expectations with a juicy thick patty, but it was a little difficult to eat and I made a total mess of myself with the soft yolk of the fried egg. No regrets though! I think it ended up costing about $20 in the end, which is what the Wagyu Burger with Chips is priced at.

I also added a side of Crispy Potato Gems ($3), because one can never have enough gems. The gems were possibly the best gems I’ve ever had! They were so crunchy and it looked like they may have had a little Mexican seasoning on them, but when I asked what it was the kitchen said it was ‘the classic Australian seasoning, Chicken Salt’.

Despite my massive meal, I couldn’t read Nutella Smoothie ($8) on the menu and not order it, that’s just not possible! The smoothie came with lots of Nutella to scrape down the side of the glass and I ended up eating the last of it from the bottom of the glass with a spoon.

Coffee was good ($4 reg) and the cafe is really beautiful inside and out, with a view down the hill of the Harbour Bridge.  The team were all friendly and I appreciated that they were so accomodating to deliver the meal that I was after, especially after I’d driven 30 minutes across town for it!

Would I go back? Yes, they have a massive all day menu that had lots of things I’d love for brunch. Plus I really enjoyed my visit and it got a rare 5/5 rating from me in my Zomato & Google reviews, which on my scale, definitely requires a yes to that question.

Would I recommend it to you? Yes, please go and order the potato gems. Even if you don’t think potato gems are that special, or you haven’t had them since you were a kid, they are worth it. Trust me.

Show me the food…

Corbette & Claude Rhodes

Corbett & Claude – Rhodes

Sydney

Where: Corbett & Claude, 83/1 Rider Blvd, Rhodes NSW 2138

When: February 2020

Meal: Lunch

Cost: $10 each due to $10 lunch special

Oh how I love a good deal on dining out, but I can be quite cynical that a cheap meal will actually be good. With that in mind, I approached Corbette & Claude’s new $10 lunch deals (Mon-Thur) with some trepidation, but my concerns disappeared as soon as the dishes landed on the table.

Of the three options, the Goddess Salad ($10) was my absolute favourite! It had the creamiest Persian feta with lots of dried cranberries and crunchy pepitas on top of mixed greens and quinoa with a tangy lemon, lime and olive oil dressing. It was fresh and delicious, the perfect healthy lunch option.

The Mushroom Linguine ($10) came packed with plenty of mushrooms, which if they are your thing (yes please), you’ll love it. I was expecting a rich and creamy mushroom sauce but the sauce was fairly light and initially a little bland. However after mentioning this to the waiter, he brought over the salt & pepper grinders and with a little seasoning the flavours lifted and I really enjoyed the dish.

The Margherita Pizza ($10) is an old school classic that also feels sort of healthy for pizza. Maybe I’m fooling myself, but I’m happy to live my life with that lie. It’s huge for a $10 pizza and had an amazingly light and crisp crust. I was told the dough is imported from Italy as they have not been able to perfect the recipe locally and it is authentically hand stretched.

The normal price for these dishes is around $16-$17, so our lunch was extremely good value for good quality food.

Service was fast with the pizza coming out of the wood fired oven within 10 minutes after ordering. There was seating inside the restaurant which was away from the hustle and bustle of Rhodes Waterside Shopping Centre, but they also had overflow seating outside which is made easier with the addition of Me&u app ordering.

Would I go back? Yes, there were a number of things that caught my eye on the menu such as the Mozzarella Sticks, the spicy Fireman pizza and the rolled cigar pizzas which seems similar to a calzone.

Would I recommend it to you? Yes, the food was good quality and they have a big menu of starters, pizzas, pastas and salads that I think would appeal to all. Oh and the dessert and cocktail menu also looks pretty enticing!

Show me the food…

Georgies Paper Mill Liverpool

The Paper Mill – Liverpool

Sydney

Where: The Paper Mill, 20 Shepherd St, Liverpool NSW 2170

When: February 2020

Meal: Lunch

Cost: Approx $40 each with a glass of wine

I was quite excited about visiting the Paper Mill in Liverpool as the décor looked amazing on Instagram and it looked like a beautiful place for a meal. I also thought it seemed like an interesting concept to have various cuisines available in the one place with the Fire Pit restaurant serving flame grilled meats, Georgie’s Pizzeria & Bar serving pizza of course, Charcoal Joe’s with Lebanese charcoal chicken and the cafe Shepherd’s Lane. It’s quite rare that I’m disappointed with a dining experience these days as I do so much research on the places I decide to visit, but on this occasion the food and service didn’t seem to match the beautiful environment and I was left disappointed.

I decided on ordering from Georgie’s Pizzeria & Bar for the Espanol Pizza ($24) with a glass of Italian Pinot Noir ($9). The pizza was a generous size and looked good when it arrived, however upon trying to lift a slice from the plate I realised the base was super soggy, but the crust was really hard. I had to eat the pizza with a knife and fork and although the flavour combination of the Espanol with tomato, for di latte, chorizo, roast capsicum, avocado, lime and coriander was good, the pizza overall was very disappointing. I’ve also just noticed that my pizza was missing the jalapeños mentioned on the menu! The wine was also very bland, so I was 0 for 2 by this stage.

I finished my meal at the Paper Mill with gelato from the Shepherd’s Lane cafe. After trying a few flavours, I settled on a scoop of Peanut Brittle and a scoop of Caramel ($6.50). It was an enormous serve for the price, but impossible to finish so it was a bit of a waste really. The gelato was really creamy, but the flavours were quite mild.

The other frustrating part of the dining experience was that there were a lot of flies hanging around the tables. Sure, the space has a grand open doorway so flies are bound to get in, but despite it being a weekday and very quiet with staff just standing around, our dirty lunch plates remained where we had moved them over to the table next to us for an hour for the flies to enjoy, which was very off putting.

Would I go back? No, the only thing I liked about my visit was the décor.

Would I recommend it to you? No, perhaps I visited on a bad day for them, but I can only base my review on my experience on the day, which was terrible.

Show me the food…

Left of Field Rhodes Interior

Left of Field – Rhodes

Sydney

Where: Left of Field, 3/7 Gauthorpe St, Rhodes NSW 2138

When: February 2020

Meal: Lunch

Cost: Approx $32 for one, but then I received a 15% discount by using my Zomato Gold membership

I went to Left of Field with something healthy in mind, and from seeing the way the Summer Falafel Salad ($19) was presented, I knew it would fit the bill. With falafel, rocket, kale, carrots, cabbage, onion, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, beetroot hummus, pomegranate dressing, tahini and candied walnuts it was full of all the good stuff, but also plenty of flavour and texture.

I’m always a little hesitant about falafels due to ordering them in the past and they end up being hard little tasteless bricks. These were served warm though and were really soft and fluffy on the inside with a light, crisp edge. Perfect.

I added avocado ($5) to the dish because I was super hungry and I felt the added fat would fill me up more. I expected it would have been sliced avocado, but smashed avocado arrived separately in small dish. Paying $5 for avocado seems a little excessive to me and I estimated it to be about a 1/4 of an avocado so I felt slightly ripped off, but it really added to the dish.

I also ordered the Tropi Cool Juice ($7.50) with pineapple, apple, lemon, orange and mint. This was a good sized serve and wasn’t too sweet and I felt the mint really gave it a refreshing quality that made it nice to have with lunch on a warm day.

Would I go back? Yes, this is my second visit to Left of Field and it has improved even further from the first time where they left an item listed on the menu off my dish when serving. Next visit, I think I need to try the Pavlova Hotcakes.

Would I recommend it to you? Definitely, plenty of variety on the menu with All Day Breakfast and All Day Lunch, so you’ll find something no matter what you’re in the mood for.

Show me the food…

Cafe-Ventotto-Surry-Hills

Cafe Ventotto – Surry Hills

Sydney

Where: Cafe Ventotto, 510 Elizabeth St, Surry Hills NSW 2010

When: February 2020

Meal: Late Lunch

Cost: Approx $30 each

Café Ventotto is a beautiful little café where you can escape the bustle of Elizabeth Street.  It has the usual tables and chairs format in the front of the cafe, but up just a few stairs is a lounge area with velvet couches and low coffee table style dining.

We visited for a late lunch on a Friday and ordered a few dishes to share between two. The timeslot perhaps worked against us as a few items we picked off the menu were unavailable. This was particularly disappointing in the case of the La Vita Bella which is a sweet ricotta, strawberry and croissant dish that I had been lusting after on Instagam and I was definitely intending on getting it.

The standout for us of the dishes we did get was the Moo-Moo burger which had beautifully tender slow-braised beef brisket and lots of flavour from the housemade tomato eggplant relish, aioli and pickles. The Farmer Salad we choose to add grilled halloumi to, which was a plentiful serve. The Prince’s Feast also had tender lamb and worked well with the pearl cous cous and housemade hummus.

Drinks-wise we didn’t have much luck. My friend was interested in the Kombucha which listed four varieties on the menu, but the waitress looked at us like she didn’t know they existed and said they were out. We then diverted our attention to the smoothies, only to be told they had just two of the four options. We picked the Purple Bliss with blueberries, banana, dates and boysenberries, but found it lacked flavour. We added a strawberry shake too, but that was just a standard syrup shake, nothing special. Neither I would order again.

Would I go back? I really enjoyed the Moo-Moo burger and found the meals generous in portion size, but based on my experience with the lack of availability of dishes that I wanted, no I wouldn’t go back.

Would I recommend it to you? If you’re in the area, I would say sure pop in for a burger and try your luck with the La Vita Bella (make sure you tell me what it’s like), but I wouldn’t suggest you make a special trip to visit.

Show me the food…

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.

Happy Ending Burgers – Concord

Sydney

Where: Happy Ending Burgers, 55 Majors Bay Rd, Concord NSW 2137

When: September 2019

Meal: Lunch

Cost: Approx $20 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!

Main meal of Linguine at Saltshaker Restaurant in Swansea, Tasmania

Saltshaker Swansea – Tasmania

Elsewhere

Where: Saltshaker Restaurant, Swansea, Tasmania.

When: September 2018

Meal: Lunch

Cost: Approx $50 for one (including alcohol)

On my journey up the East Coast of Tasmania I stopped in the cute little town of Swansea for lunch. There looked to be a few old school pubs in the area, but Saltshaker looked out over the water and it was a beautiful sunny day, so I headed inside.

Being still pretty much the off season, there were very few people inside and I was able to take my pic of tables with water views. The waitress was very attentive and when I selected the Prawn & Scallop Linguini – pan fried scallops and prawns with lemon chilli garlic butter ($29.90) as my main, she said it was their most popular dish. I understand why. It was plentiful and the garlic butter was decadent, but not too heavy, especially considering it was only lunchtime.

I also had the Shaker Bread – ciabatta bread with garlic butter and caramelised balsamic oil ($6.50) for entree (4 pieces) which was good, but not a must have, and enjoyed a Pagan’s Pear Cider on ice (approx $10).

Would I go back? Definitely. That pasta was beautiful.

Would I recommend it to you? Yes, the view is spectacular and the pasta worth stopping in for.

Show me the food…