Monday, 15 July 2013

The Devonshire, Surry Hills

The Devonshire was voted as one of the best valued lunches in SMH Good Food Guide 2013 and I couldn't agree more. They change their Friday lunch menu every week ensuring regular customers are always coming back for something new but with the same sophistication. 

I would suggest diners attending The Devonshire should opt for traveling by public transport because parking is limited to one-hour only. A three-course meal shouldn't be disrupted midway so cars can be relocated! Parking rangers are always on the prowl in Surry Hills. 

The Devonshire's atmosphere changes depending if you're there for lunch or dinner. At lunch it's a little bit more rowdy, conversations can be heard more prominently and plenty of natural sun light comes through the glass doors. However at night it's much more romantic, it's dark and mysterious, everyone is eating by candlelight and you are immediately noticed if you accidentally use your outside voice. 

Wall of mirrors
Each of the mirrors are different from each other and give the illusion of space and mystery. I notice other diners also having difficulty trying not to look at themselves in the mirrors. There are so many of them, it's hard to not look and see if you're make up is  smudged or if you have sauce on your shirt.

Butter, honey butter and fresh bread rolls
The other time I was here, the waitstaff were nice enough to inform us about the different butters but not this time. However the waitress that served us this time was very hostile (as well as to other diners), ungenuine, uninterested and bored when she asked "How was everything?" after each course and she never smiled. It's so important to be a bit lively when you're interacting with customers because they can feel any attitude you have towards them. I understand people have bad days but you're at work and customers don't deserve your insincerity. 

The honey butter is quite sweet, a bit too much for my liking and the regular butter was lovely and velvety. The fresh bread rolls were piping hot! My mum and I were having great difficulty breaking it apart as our finger tips were burning. It was fluffy and soft inside and had a crisp interior. My mum was very tempted to order another roll but I assured her to leave room for our three courses. Additional rolls is an extra $1. 

Smoked Ora King Salmon fishcakes, broccolini, shallot and lemon vinaigrette 
This dish was incredible - a perfect entree! The smoked ora king salmon fishcakes weren't overly smoked but had enough flavour to ascent the salmon. The flakes were soft  and full of flavour. The batter was crunchy and wasn't at all oily. The creamy mayonaise-like sauce complimented the fishcakes well. The broccolini, shallot and lemon vinaigrette was a great contrast to the deep fried fishcakes as it cuts through any possible heaviness from the deep fried fishcakes and lightens it with some tang.

Slow cooked lamb rump, crisp shoulder, quinoa, black olive and rosemary dressing
The lamb rump and shoulder was cooked differently, allowing them to be shown off in the best manner. When the dish first arrived I immediately thought was it was a small serving but as I enjoyed it I realised it was the perfect amount because the lamb was rich. The slow cooked lamb rump is presented like a spring roll, the pastry is thin and encases the tender meat. The crispy shoulder has been seared and cooked to a medium-rare, the meat is moist and juicy. I love the inclusion of quinoa and black olives as it plays with texture. I don't enjoy olives but in this case it has been finely diced and added subtle flavours to the plain quinoa. The rosemary dressing and the unknown cream sauce ties it altogether.
Broccollini with walnut dressing 
We ordered the brocollini as a side to our mains and it tasted great with the lamb. The broccollini was cooked perfectly, tender with a good bite to it. The walnut dressing was incredible, perfect for any vegetable! It brought out the sweetness in the brocollini and gave it enriching flavour. Nut dressings are great with vegetables, almonds are a favourite!

Champagne poached rhubarb, rhubarb jelly, vanilla mousse and nut crumble
It was delightful to finish off the meal with something fruity and light. The champagne poached rhubarb had the right amount of sourness but was a bit difficult to eat, strong force was needed to cut it apart! The vanilla mousse and rhubarb jelly harmonised the sourness with its creaminess and sweet flavour. The nut crumble added crunch. I'm not sure what the quenelle was, tasted like ice cream even though the waitress said it was sorbet - maybe it was! I can never tell the difference between ice cream and creamy sorbet. Is there a difference? 

Despite the unfortunate lack of service, I absolutely love the food at The Devonshire. Their Devonshire tea creme brulee is out of this world, not too sweet, incredibly smooth and the infusion of black tea makes it very unique! I can't wait to come back to The Devonshire for lunch again and be surprised by their delicious creations, and also for their 8-course degustation I am saving for a special occasion. 

The Devonshire  
204 Devonshire Street
Surry Hills 

9698 9427

The Devonshire on Urbanspoon

Friday, 5 July 2013

Salvage Coffee, Atarmon

Sydney Morning Herald released their SMH Good Cafe Guide awards for 2013 last month and Salvage Specialty Coffee was listed as the home of 'Bonsoy best barista', Dan Yee. Unfortunately he was not there the day I visited but I thought the cafe would still be worthwhile trying out. 

We were immediately greeted when they saw us standing outside looking at their menu. Mum and I were planning to only get coffees but it was lunch time so we thought we'd give their food a go. I ordered a soy latte, hoping their other baristas may have gotten some tips from Dan Yee and have the potential to be okay! 

Soy latte, $4.00 and latte, $3.50
As we were waiting for our coffees I noticed they were using Vitasoy cafe soy milk - not Bonsoy. Just because Bonsoy best barista isn't there, why can't they use Bonsoy? That was problem number one. Then our lattes came out in coffee cups not latte glasses - problem number two. Salvage Coffee uses Mecca coffee beans and from my visit to the original cafe, it's pretty good. However our lattes tasted weak and not hot enough - problem number four. There was way too much foam in both coffees, resembling a cappuccino but without the chocolate dusting on top - problem number five. I'm so critical of their coffees because they're associated to something award-winning, they shouldn't be faulting these things. 

We were sitting outside and this tree was hovering over us, every time the wind blew its flowers and leave would fly down, landing on our table, water and coffees. We definitely weren't sitting at the best spot. 

I'm usually pretty patient when it comes to waiting for food, but waiting for 20 minutes for food that doesn't require any actual cooking except for the poached eggs isn't quite acceptable. The food just needs to be plated and the bread toasted, I didn't think it would be that time consuming.  
Sourdough w/ smashed avo, pine nuts, tomato & fresh herbs, $12.00
The sourdough was toasted evenly and very crunchy. I loved the smashed avocado! It was well seasoned, the herbs gave it freshness and the pine nuts worked wonders with it! The tomato was drizzled with oil and sprinkled with seeds. I see the care that has been put into assembling this, but it still doesn't take that long!  

Poached free range eggs w/ cured king salmon, fennel & sourdough, $14.00
Mum and I combined our two lunches together because we felt they were both missing components when eaten on their own. Mum told me the poached eggs were runny but cold. There was a generous amount of cured king salmon, sweet, mild and not at all salty. I ate the rocket and fennel salad with my avo and sourdough and it tasted great. 

I regret not ordering the wagyu sandwich as it looked much more hearty and filling at the same price as my sourdough and avocado. I was a bit disappointed with my visit to Salvage Coffee, I though I would enjoy my experience instead I was left a bit frustrated by the mediocre coffee and the long wait for the food. It's a pity because the wait staff were friendly and the food was tasty. 

Salvage Specialty Coffee
5 Wilkes Ave

Salvage Coffee on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Moo Burgers, Crows Nest

The first Moo Burgers I went to was at Newtown. The atmosphere was fun yet chilled. I still feel this at the Crows Nest restaurant but it seems like whenever we go we are only one of a couple of tables that are occupied. So it feels a little bit more chilled (and slightly quiet)... Perhaps we're not going at the right time? 


Since the last time I went, the menu has been reprinted on translucent plastic which makes it a bit difficult to read even though it may feel nicer. The menu acts like a place mat when you've finished ordering from it. Food is to be ordered at the counter and the Moo staff bring it out to you.  

Wall of Deluxe Moo double decker eaters
The Deluxe Moo double decker consists of two beef patties, cheddar cheese, mozzarella, bacon, egg, grilled onions, pineapple, beetroot, tomato, mixed leaf lettuce, home-made mayonnaise & tomato relish. It's no wonder your picture gets taken and stuck on the wall if you successfully eat this beast of a burger! 

Big Moo, $16.50
My partner and I both order the Big Moo like we always do because it satisfies any possible burger cravings that you had prior. Even though the burgers are slightly more expensive than those at Grill'd, I enjoy Moo Burgers much more because the fillings are so much more generous and tasty! The beef pattie is 100% Australian Angus pure natural beef and cooked well as it retains its juices and flavours. The sourdough buns are warm and buttered which means it doesn't taste like dry toast. The free range bacon isn't too fatty and gives great smokiness. The free range egg is still runny, allowing the yoke to become another sauce! I am a huge fan of pineapple and beetroot on burgers, so this addition makes any burger go from being good to great! We ordered extra caramelised onions and this tasted great with the pattie. The combination of home-made mayonnaise and tomato relish tied the whole burger together. 

Basket of chunky home-style chips, $7.00
If you're having a huge burger like the Big Moo I probably won't recommend you ordering a basket of chips as well, even if it is to share! Eating the Big Moo really takes it out of you - you get so full! But it's quite hard to resist Moo Burgers' chips as they're very crispy on the outside and fluffy inside. They certainly know how to make chips! I am yet to try their Cheesy Bacon Chips - chips topped with melted Egmont cheese and bacon pieces. Perhaps I'll leave that for when I plan to run a marathon the next day. 

Burger places are great because it's informal and you can chow down a burger without having to be polite about the mess you've made in the process. Moo Burgers are licensed  so it's a great dinner suggestion for those who want to eat, drink and be merry! Don't forget to try their Moo Shakes if you have a chance - who doesn't like Crunchie bars, Tim Tams, Maltesers, Kit Kats or Snickers blended into their milkshake? 

Moo Burgers
69 Willoughby Rd,
Crows Nest

9438 2367

Also at Bondi Beach, Coogee, Manly and Newtown. 

Moo Gourmet Burgers on Urbanspoon

Monday, 1 July 2013

Flavours of the Valley, Kangaroo Valley

For Christmas last year I gave my partner gift certificates to an Italian cooking class in Kangaroo Valley. I know I know, it's one of those presents where I get in on it as well but I saw it as an opportunity for us to have a lovely weekend getaway and a fun road trip somewhere neither of us have been!

Kangaroo Valley is a two hour drive from Sydney, of course a bit longer if you're making pitstops and rest breaks. It's great to have country towns only two hours away as it means you can quickly get away from the hustle and bustle. 

View from cottage
The view was exceptional, it was great breathing in the crisp air and lovely weather before we got down to business. We were amongst couples, so I knew I wasn't the only one conning the other half to participate! 

Kitchen workspace

A lovely home and cooking class workspace! Big enough for everyone to get together and learn how to make quick and easy pasta, and also to split up and work in pairs. Our host and chef, Toni, informed us that we were going to make pasta together but each couple would then be assigned to cook various components of our three course meal then we would all come together to plate up and eat at the table. I thought it was a systematic way of organising the class but unfortunately we didn't get to choose what element of the menu we wanted to cook! 

Pasta machines
We have made pasta a couple of times back home but it was great learning new tips and tricks! Working directly on the wooden table was great fun as the pasta dough was much more manageable and cleaning up was easy. 

My first tortellini!
Handmade tortellinis

I loved handcrafting the pumpkin tortellinis! I love working with my hands and the experience of making tortellini was very therapeutic. The perfectionist in me wanted to make sure every dumpling was flawless!

We also made trofie pasta which surprisingly required a bit of skill and patience. By the time I got my hands cleaned from the pasta dough and got the camera to take photos they were already set aside to be cooked.  
Dining table
After all the cooking was done and the utensils cleaned we all sat down and enjoyed the food! We told each other which component of the menu we cooked, sharing tips of the trade and foodie experiences.

Creamed leek, ricotta and tomato tartlets with warm caponata salad and garlic bread
My partner and I were in charge of making the warm caponata salad and we did not disappoint the others! Each vegetable, eggplant, capsicum and mushrooms, was cooked till soft yet firm. It's very satisfying when others like your food! Toni added some finishing touches such as the ricotta she made earlier and it worked well with the veg. The garlic bread was nice and crisp. The creamed leek, ricotta and tomato tartlets complemented the salad nicely. The leek was cooked before it was put into the tartlets so they were sweet and soft. The tartlet had a crispy outside and a creamy centre, tasting like a mini quiche. But the balsamic was definitely necessary to tie all the elements together and give it more flavour.      

Pumpkin tortellini with butter cream sauce and parmesan crisps
Fresh pasta is definitely one of my favourite things to eat and making it yourself gives the entire eating experience delicious as well as rewarding! I was very excited to eat the pumpkin tortellinis and they were very silky yet al dente. The roasted pumpkin filling was very sweet so when we made it at home a few weeks later, we made a burnt butter sauce instead so the slight bitterness could cut through the sweetness. The parmesan crisps were great as a salty kick to the dish. 

Trofie with pea puree and toasted pine nuts 
I actually liked this pasta more than the tortellini because it was fresh and light yet the pine nuts gave it great earthiness. I love that the trofie pasta were all different lengths and shapes which made it very homemade. When you're eating at home, rustic is the best and freshly made pasta is impressive enough! The lemon juice, pea puree and pea shoots made it more like a pasta salad and I would have enjoyed it warm or cold!  

Cannoli with raspberry & white chocolate and toffee pistachio fillings
When we were assigned to cook the caponata salad I was slightly disappointed because I really wanted to make the dessert - cannolis! They were so light that you could hardly feel guilty eating them (just don't read the ingredients). There were two flavour fillings, toffee pistachio and raspberry white chocolate. The toffee filling was quite sweet but deliciously addictive. The raspberry white chocolate was a great contrast as the berries were slightly sour. 

After we had all finished the three-course meal, Toni and her husband Robert offered coffees and teas for the table. Robert sneakily brought out the piping bags that had the two cannoli fillings and were offering us to finish it off. My partner and I couldn't resist and did something a little embarrassing; piping the filling onto our plates and eating it with our coffee! But then again it was so good, there was no need to be embarrassed! Everyone else started piping it onto their plates after we made the first move! 

I highly recommend couples, families and friends going to a cooking class together! It's great fun to make a bit of a mess, meet other foodies and eat your accomplishments! It will also inspire you to take what you've learnt, cook at home and show off your cooking skills at dinner parties. Whether it's going to the Kangaroo Valley or somewhere closer to home, it's a good gift to give someone, especially for those who have everything! 

Flavours of the Valley
4465 2010