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…