30 August 2010

The Commons: Local Eating House, Darlinghurst (22 May 2010)

32 Burton Street, Darlinghurst NSW 2010

Menu changes daily

In place of the highly successful pop up restaurant The Pond now sits this cosy restaurant which thankfully still cooks up some reasonably priced comfort food. The black board specials menu seems to change daily depending on what's in season and much of the sustainable seating and decor has been retained. There's mixed reviews about the food and service on Eatability giving a low score of 6.5 after 10 reviews but my experience has been fairly good. A reasonably priced 2007 Chain of ponds Sangiovese Blend 'Novello' ($36/bottle) is easy to drink followed by a Seasonal produce plate ($20) which has a selection of organic looking carrots, battered zucchini flowers and a vegetarian tart. They're all quite tasty although I've enjoyed the zucchini flowers more at MUMU Grill.

There were no complaints with the Lasagne of Biodynamic veal and free range pork ($18) which seems to tick all the guilt free meat eating boxes and the side of green beans ($5) were nicely cooked. Quite a substantial looking Commons Chicken Parmagiana with fresh mozzarella ($22) went down well and I enjoyed my Pumpkin and pine nut ravioli with brown butter and sage ($20) which contained some of the largest homemade ravioli I've seen since the The Pond. The Crème brûlée ($9) was quite small but smooth and had a nice caramelised top although I wished there was more vanilla bean for extra flavour. Our service was pretty accommodating and down-to-earth. For drinks only head downstairs to the bar at the back but we found it had quite a musty and dusty smell so perhaps not too good for asthma sufferers.

PROS: Menu changes daily to use the freshest ingredients, Enjoyable dishes at reasonable prices, Quality ingredients, Cosy decor
CONS: Dishes tend to run out quickly during the night, Varying service experiences (see Eatability), Small stool seating quite uncomfortable over long periods of time, Can get busy
MUST TRY: Ravioli with brown butter and sage

Seasonal produce plate ($20)

Lasagne of Biodynamic veal and free range pork ($18), side of green beans ($5)

Commons Chicken Parmagiana with fresh mozzarella ($22)

Pumpkin and pine nut ravioli with brown butter and sage ($20)

Crème brûlée ($9)

Chain of ponds Sangiovese Blend 'Novello' 2007 ($36/bottle)


Outside dining

Inside dining

Downstairs bar area

Bill $140 for 3 people

29 August 2010

Elysium Restaurant: French & Italian influenced dishes, Randwick (19 May 2010)

133 Avoca Street, Randwick NSW 2031
Note: After 3.5 years Elysium Restaurant is moving to new premises at The Spot in Randwick around October 2010.

Nice meals and decor

'elysium' - taken from the adjective elysian, which relates to elysium or elysian fields, the place in greek mythology where heroes were conveyed after death; of or like paradise.

The advertised Plat du jour with a glass of house wine for only $20 on the outside chalkboard menu was a tempting enticement to come and check out this nice and comfy looking restaurant. Unfortunately I'd just had a pie previously that day for lunch so the bourguignonne style beef, mushroom and bacon pie with fat chips wasn't as tempting as all the other higher priced menu dishes on offer. The reasonably priced House red wine ($15/500ml) was very drinkable and served in it's own carafe. I really enjoyed the Seared sea scallops ($19) which came with an unusual but lovely tasting caperberry and tarragon salsa, although I felt the large saffron and chorizo risotto fritter sitting in the middle wasn't quite needed — perhaps some cauliflower puree instead would have been more preferred for me.

Crunchy pork crackling was thankfully found on the Twice cooked 'porchetta' style pork belly with honey roasted apple, celeriac puree and calvados sauce ($28). It was a tasty yet heavy dish which sadly left no room for dessert. The nicely cooked Roasted baby chicken breasts ($28) combined well with the sauteed greens, pancetta and chestnuts although I thought the pithivier of the leg meat and black truffle didn't really add anything to the dish. Service was friendly and the decor and seating was very pleasant. I'd be happy to visit again and try other dishes on the menu and hopefully leave room for dessert next time.

PROS: Nice decor, Friendly service, Reasonably priced plat du jour, Nicely cooked dishes, Reasonably priced house wines
CONS: Some dishes could be quite heavy due to the French cooking style, Menu changes regularly so your favourite dish might not be there the next time, No BYO on Saturdays
MUST TRY: Seared sea scallops with caperberry and tarragon salsa, Desserts next time

Complimentary bread and butter

Seared sea scallops with a saffron and chorizo risotto fritter and a caperberry and tarragon salsa ($19)

Twice cooked 'porchetta' style pork belly with honey roasted apple, celeriac puree and calvados sauce ($28)

Roasted baby chicken breasts, pithivier of the leg meat and black truffle with sauteed greens, pancetta and chestnuts ($28)

House red wine 500ml carafe ($15)

Framed wine labels

28 August 2010

The Big Fish: Fish Burger, Darlinghurst (28 March 2010)

114 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst NSW 2010

Simple seafood pleasures

This fish n chip eatery is a refreshing option for a quick bite along Oxford Street amongst all the franchised hamburger joints. The reasonably priced special of the day of Fried fish burger ($5.90) comes with lettuce, tomato and mayo and hits the spot for a semi-healthy tasting burger. The Grilled fish burger ($5.90) option is a bit messier to eat but still as tasty. It's always best to eat as soon as possible so it doesn't go soggy.

I'm always looking for a great tasting fish burger so if you have any suggestions please let me know.

PROS: Looks clean and fresh, Available seating, Reasonable prices
CONS: The service person was the cook so customers had to wait sometimes, Messy as a take away
MUST TRY: There fish and chips next time to compare

Fried fish burger ($5.90)

Grilled fish burger ($5.90)


Service and display counter

View of Oxford Street

View Larger Map
The Big Fish on Urbanspoon

il baretto: Italian, Surry Hills (4 March 2010)

496 Bourke Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010

Popular Italian at a price

Either come early or late to grab a seat at il baretto because it always seems very busy during peak dinner time and it wouldn't be uncommon to wait for an hour. Thankfully the cheap Carrington Hotel directly opposite accommodates those waiting for a table which also becomes their default nearest bottle shop. Alternatively there's the nicer fico down the road but it's not as cheap. Signature dishes by popularity seem to be the filling Pappardelle with duck ragu ($26) with pull apart meat and the tasty Spaghetti alle Vongole ($26) although prices seem to have gone up since my last visit. The Polenta with spicy sausage ($17) was rather heavy — possibly due to lots of butter in the polenta — and the basic Spaghetti Arrabbiata ($14) was decently tasty but nothing particularly special. Fresh Mixed leaf salad ($9.50) came with olives and tomato and helped break up the carb heavy meals. The Tiramisu ($9) had a nice coffee taste but I still prefer the one from Lucio Pizzeria. The Panna Cotta ($9) had a nice wobble factor and noticeable vanilla bean present — seems to be there signature dessert. Service can be a bit rushed due to being so busy and sometimes hard to grab their attention.

PROS: Quite large portions, Handy cheap bottle shop across the road
CONS: Very popular so hard to grab a table, Prepare to wait, No cards, No bookings, Service can be brisk and unfriendly
MUST TRY: Pappardelle with duck ragu, Spaghetti alle Vongole

Pappardelle with duck ragu ($26)

Spaghetti alle Vongole ($26)

Spaghetti Arrabbiata ($14)

Polenta with spicy sausage ($17)

Mixed leaf salad ($9.50)

Tiramisu ($9)

Panna Cotta ($9)


Busy at 8.30 pm

Carrington Hotel bottle shop

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