Hello everyone! Here’s the review post I promised.
Mondays are my day off from work, which is pretty inconvenient to catch up with friends or do anything really productive with people because everyone else is at work at uni! Thankfully, my two best friends always make time for me and Monday nights have become our weekly get-together over dinner and drinks. This week, I was lucky enough to have the entire day with them and what better else to do than to eat ourselves silly? We stayed in the Sydney CBD all day, sticking to Town Hall and Chinatown. The entire day, it seemed, was full of amazing food. I’m still a bit in awe at how we managed to find exemplary food at each and every place we visited.
First was lunch at Cellini’s, located on the top level of the QVB (not including the Tea Room, which is separate). A cafe/restaurant, it’s what you’d typically find on the upper levels of the QVB. It is modern and trendy with the option to either sit inside the shop or to sit at one of the many tables outside that loop around the railings giving you an amazing view of the interior of the QVB. Typical menu items include breakfasts, salads, sandwiches, pasta, full meals, and sweets. I chose the mutton and couscous special, whilst my friend ordered the smoked salmon on rye, with chips on the side. And boy was that old lamb amazing. In Australia, people love their lamb but not so much mutton. Mutton has a stronger taste and smell and many people I know don’t like it as it can be almost gamey depending on the animal and how it is cooked. I’m a big fan of gamey meats and this mutton was perfect. Strong in flavour but not overpowering. The couscous was fluffy, buttery and mixed with pickled gherkins and onions. The only bad thing about it was the sun-dried tomato. I like them in small amounts when they are finely sliced, but most places you go to in Sydney serve them in big chunks, making the dish they’re served in sour, salty and overpowered. Aside from that, I highly recommend this cafe as it is consistent and of great quality (however, this does not include their risotto).
I am assured by my best friend that the smoked salmon sanger was delicious.
Towards late afternoon, my friends and I ended up in Westfield in the CBD and found a quaint and truly amazing cafe bakery, Le Pain Quotidien. The baked goods were made on premises, which is uncommon for most cafés in Sydney. The food is focused on a more rustic French style, with an emphasis on wholemeals. I ordered a strong coffee with a wholemeal scone with jam and ricotta. I admit, whilst absolutely delicious, this scone is best suited for breakfast rather than afternoon tea. Being wholemeal, it is quite dense and resembles more of a biscuit than a traditional English scone. Something else i noticed that deviates from the traditional scone was the slight, almost unnoticeable taste of salt that comes through, giving it a more bready feel. The ricotta is unseasoned and cuts through the heaviness quite nicely. However, the next time I have this scone it’ll be for breakkie instead of afternoon tea.
Next was dinner. Completely convinced that I didn’t have enough red meat in my diet and that more lamb was the only way to remedy that, we went for Uighur on Dixon St, Chinatown (Kiroran Silk Road Uighur Restaurant). Dinner was a lamb stew, spicy lamb skewers, and naan. The stew was divine, heaped with fatty lamb bones and big chunks of meat. You’d be hard pressed to find a decent amount of marrow that hasn’t melted into the soup, but it is well worth it. We decided to forgo rice and have naan instead, which was dipped into the hearty broth. Unlike Indian naan, this one was more bready-sort of like a thick pizza base- and cut into slices. It’s a little dry and lacks the yoghurt taste found in Indian naan, but it soaks up flavours and seasons very easily. The highlight of the dinner had to be the skewers. Barbecued on long metal skewers, the lamb was coated in liberal amounts of spices and seasonings that left an almost crust-like crispiness to the outside. The ones we ordered were with chilli and it sure does pack a punch. The heat is intense and immediate, but slowly fades to a slight tingle the more you eat it. I had been looking everywhere in Sydney for skewers that resembled those of the roadside carts in Beijing and I finally found it at Kiroran. Unlike lunch and afternoon tea, dinner wasn’t a trendy affair. The decor is simple and so it the food. But that doesn’t affect the quality and sheer enjoyment we had. More than half the dining room was full (mind you, this was a Monday night) with a diverse range of clientele. If you are looking for a cheap eat but heaps of flavour, you must try Kiroran out.
And finally, we have reached the most important part of this post: dessert. I don’t go out of my way for ice cream, but N2Gelato on Dixon St, Chinatown certainly gets me motivated. N2 is relatively new, open for not quite 2 years, and sells made-to-order gelato using liquid nitrogen. Every week features a new themed menu and each flavour has it’s own unique and often cheeky name. However, popular flavours often come back every so often such as buttered popcorn, made with real popcorn which you can chew on. The whole point of N2 is about new and creative ways to play up ice cream, mixed with equal parts science and tongue-in-cheek humour, you’ll see lab coats, flasks and a whole heap of smokey liquid nitrogen floating about. The flavours we bought were the buttered popcorn, creme brûlée, and “Honey, where’s the pumpkin and almond cheesecake?”. No joke, that’s what it was called. It was a popular flavour they created for Halloween which I just had to try. And true to its name, it really did taste like all the mentioned flavours, and even included crushed biscuits dusted on the top. The only bad thing was that it seemed to get sweeter and sweeter with every bite. If you ever do check it out, look for N2′s flavour wall with a list of all the flavours ever sold. It gives an insight into the hard work that goes into creating new flavours, and also how childish they can be when in the naming processes.
“Honey, where’s the pumpkin and almond cheesecake?” Pssst, go check out their Facebook page.
For all you Sydneysiders wanting something different, go for an adventure in the city and explore every shopping centre, arcade and alley for something new and exciting. And for those overseas, when you do visit our shores make sure you try all these places out! Happy eating!