El Capo

2 Mar

I had the privilege of experiencing authentic Colombian food as a young girl. A large part of my family were our Colombian in-laws who lived and breathed home-made, traditional cuisine. One of my favourite treats was a Buñuelo which seemed to be my in-laws version of crackers and cheese, because they were at every family occasion.

I had been wanting to go to El Capo ever since I saw the amazing blog post on Grab Your Fork. On the outside, El Capo describes itself as Latin Street food, but it is so much more than that. It is traditional Latin food, with a modern twist. And although the decor of the restaurant gives you a down and dirty impression of a hot, Latino underbelly; the food is perfected through an elegant composition and presentation.

Guacamole $6

You can never go wrong with simple starters, but the guacamole was a serious hit within the whole restaurant. It isn’t served with plain corn chips, it’s served with a crispy, quasi tortilla. The guacamole was fresh, and filled with garlic and coriander; not a good thing if you’re on a date, but so delicious you won’t even think about it.

Pina Colada $17

The Pina Colada may not look it, but it had a serious kick to it. With 2 shots of rum, and a smooth coconut finish, this was enough to keep me going through the rest of the meal.

Colombian Empanadas $11

My favourite of the night, the Colombian Empanadas, were probably the most traditional ones I have ever tried. Traditionally empanadas should be made with a cornmeal pastry, but most of the ones you buy in restaurants are made with pre-prepared puff pastry. It was such a delight to try this amazing snack that I haven’t eaten in over a decade, and to eat it exactly as I remember it as a young girl. They are served with a slightly tangy salsa that is filled with onion and coriander.

Sticky Pork RIbs $13

The Sticky Pork Ribs were very tender and sweet. They were nice, but I regretted not ordering the beef tartare, alas, I will have to go back soon.

Slow cooked leg of pork with Plum and Cabbage $28

Ordering pork for the starter, and main was not a good choice, I definitely got a bit tired of eating pork by the end of this main. This was a special, so I’m not sure if it is always available. One thing I will say about it, however, was that the potato in this dish was delicious. Definitely wanted more than two pieces!

Three Milk Cake $13

The dessert we ordered was a really delicious and hearty dessert, but I did feel the cake itself was a bit dry. I love cake, and I like to enjoy it with and without sauce, but this cake couldn’t be eaten without the sauce as it was too dry. (Excuse the photo – had to use my iPhone photo for this one)

Filtered coffee $1

El Capo is one of those great places you can pop into before you go for a few drinks or see a movie. It has a really great vibe to it, and great service and staff. One of the best aspects of it however, is that all our food and drinks came under $100, this was a definite, but lovely surprise at the end.

El Capo – 52 Waterloo St. Surry Hills
NSW Australia. 2010
Ph (02) 9699 2518


Chefs Gallery – New Menu

23 Feb

There was such a buzz when Chef’s Gallery first opened in 2010; it was coined by many as the best and newest dumpling house in Sydney. One of the main attractions of Chef’s Gallery, similar to its rival Ding Tai Fung, is the open window through which nosy little patrons, like myself, can watch the noodles being hand-made. This was the 2010 image of Chefs Gallery….

It was just another night, trying to find a good place in the city to eat with no booking, brainstorming good restaurants in the vacinity. Chef’s Gallery came up a few times, but personally I wasn’t too fussed on eating dumplings and noodles. Fortunately, there was no where else to go; so to Chef’s Gallery we sojourned.

The first thing that stood out to me was the new menu, and to my delight, the new menu was a collation of newly added variety and versatility to the original menu. It was no longer a menu of dumplings and noodles; Chef’s Gallery started doing Chinese Tapas, expanded their noodle repertoire, and they became very creative with some of their menu items.

Curry Diced Chicken Noodles $13.50

The noodles were our first course, and as usual, they were incomparably amazing. This dish was bordering on a laksa, but definitely my favourite noodle dish from here so far. The noodles in this dish were egg noodles and they had such a nice firm texture.

Fried Radish Cakes $12.90

When our radish cakes got to the table I was very surprised at how creatively they had presented it. In taste, these were like a reworked, modern, pork bun, but to look at, it was fried radish. Quite a delight indeed.

Mini Pork Burger $12.90

My favourite dish of the night was the mini pork burgers. They were mini little crisp mouth-size bites of cripsy pork and fresh Julienne
vegetables. The bun was lightly sweet, which relieved a lot of the heaviness of the fried pork. Definitely worth going here for these alone!

Peking Duck Roti $15.90

The Peking Duck Roti was a nice variation to Peking Duck Pancakes. The roti was doughy and contrasted nicely with the crunchy cucumber.

Prawn Dumplings $16.90

The prawn dumplings with three kinds of row were very meaty and well balanced. I do think this dish needed a bit of fresh ginger though, just to off set all the flavours of the seafood.

Charcoal Wagyu Beef with Pepper Sauce $28.90

Lastly was an unexpected favourite. Ordering wagyu is always a gamble, because you never know if you will really get wagyu, or even if it will be decent quality. The wagyu at Chef’s Gallery was utterly outstanding. It was cooked to utter perfection – crispy on the outside, slightly rare and tender on the inside. The sauce that it was placed in was peppery and hearty. It may not have been the most attractive, but definitely one of the nicest wagyu dishes I have tried.

Chefs Gallery – 501 George Street  Sydney NSW 2000

Cherrybite – The Shortlist

20 Feb

Sometimes the hype of a new place outweighs the quality of the food; and although we’ve all seen that good food alone isn’t always enough to cause a stir, there is no point going to a beautifully adorned cafe if the food is just short of bangers and mash.

The Shortlist is by no means beautifully adorned, in fact, it is warn down in an ironic and hip way. The tables are always full, the barista is faced with a long line each morning, but somehow, it doesn’t meet the hype I see on my daily commutes.

Upon entering it is a little disconcerting on what you are meant to be doing;  not being greeted was a big tick in my naughty box, and then not being told to order at the counter while I had been sitting at a table was immensely rude in my books.

Cafe Latte

Finally when I had figured out the workings of this narrow little nook, we received coffee’s we did not order, and then our waiter took away our table number even though we were still waiting for food.

Fetta & Potato Hash with Jamon $15.50

Alas, I never like to judge a place off insignificant details, but finally when my breakfast arrived (my friend decided not to order from the sheer confusion) it was pretty disappointing and bland. I ordered a potato and fetta hash, with oven roasted tomatoes and added $3 for Jamon. It also came with some undressed baby spinach, and was totally unseasoned.

I was chatting to the owner who seems very new in the game and she was lovingly apologetic and amenable enough for me to look past some of the more subtle misgivings. What I do not understand, however, is the way in which a cafe with medicore food, and barely decent coffee and barista staff, can have such a huge impact on the little suburb of Darlington. I’m sure any discerning cafe goer would not return here after their first visit.

The Shortlist – 258 Abercrombie Street, Darlington, 2008

Golden Century

15 Feb

Many people absorb themselves in a land of Chinese food made of fried rice and sweet and sour pork. I think we have all been there; immersed in glazed rounds of westernized meat, when suddenly an epiphany strikes: maybe there is more to oriental cuisine coated in sugar. I know that not many people would look to Golden Century as the holy grail of restaurants, but the seafood they offer is incredibly fresh, and presented traditionally, regardless of what side of the plate you sit on.

Peking Duck 1st Course

Peking Duck 2nd Course - altogether $36 for 4 pieces

The Peking Duck (2 courses) was quite a show; both courses are brought out and assembled in front of you. It’s incredibly exciting to see the 1st course come out, the duck skin was glistening and the pancake perfectly round. The 2nd course was San Choy Bow, it was fiddly to eat but the duck was so tender, and the chestnuts always add that fulfilling nutty taste and texture. Personally, I was pretty content after the Peking Duck, but we still had 3 courses coming.

Mud Crab with Ginger & Shallot - Market Price

Golden Century brought out the crab for us to see the size, and to see that it was alive. It is quite a strange notion that at one minute you are looking at it alive and kicking (literally), and the next it is in front of you ready to be consumed. But alas, it was really good. Crab has always been a bit hard for me to eat, but I persevered with the meaty claw. The sauce in this dish was so delightful; it complemented the sweetness of the crab meat but didn’t over power it.

Live Barramundi - Market Price

Heavenly Braised 4 Vegetables $18.80

The Barramundi was steamed, and served within a light soy sauce. The fish was so fresh, it tasted pure without hint of fishiness. When it comes out it appears quite large, but it was such a nice dish, it was completely finished and the sauce was tossed over any left over rice. Sometimes the simple things are the best.

Scallops Stir-Fired with Vegetables $33

Our last course was scallops; but they should be named freaking huge scallops. The serving alone was incredibly large, but the scallops themselves were the largest I have ever eaten. They had a lovely buttery taste, and they came with a lightly sweet dipping sauce that pushed the dish into the next level.

Complimentary after dinner sweets

If you are going to go to Golden Century, fight the urge to get fried rice, and sweet and sour pork. They are there to offer fish that was caught on the day, so that you can experience fresh ingredients, that are cooked with tremendous skill. My mum has always said to me that Chinese chefs are some of the best in the world, and after this meal, I am definitely inclined to agree.

Golden Century – Cnr Errol Flynn Blvd and Lang RD, Moore Park NSW 2021

Duke Bistro – 11 January 2012

12 Feb

Bistros tend to conjure images of badly cooked steak and gravy, seedy pokies, and me popping in quickly to use the bathroom. There must be a bistro snob in me because I always tend to think that they all pass around the same disappointing menu, and then try to fool you by using different salad leaves that are sprinkled around your soggy chips. So I guess I never have been a fan of the bistro seen.

Duke Bistro at The Flinders in Darlinghurst is the little nugget of gold in my bowl of bistro rocks. Upon walking up the narrow stairs along the side of The Flinders, you are hit with the amazing and unique decor of a rogue bistro pushing its way into amazement. We were greeted by a friendly, moustache equipped waiter and hurried along to our beautiful window side table.

Duke Bistro’s theme is to have a sense of humour and side of quirkiness with their seriously great food, and their decor is especially quirky, even for Darlinghurst.

Putting the unusual hatted parrot aside, the menu is absolutely faultless. Our first dish was the ‘Bacon and Eggs’, and OMG, I have never had a more tasty rendition of this old classic in my whole life. Every element of this dish is like a symphony of flavour, even to the slighty burnt edges of the toast, this dish was perfection.

Bacon Jam, Egg, Toast $12

Secondly, we had the Chargrilled Kingfish Wing, and for such a small looking serve, there was a surprising large amount of fish on it. The fish itself had such a nice contrast texturally, as the fish meat was incredibly tender and juicy, but the skin was delightfully crisp and sweet.

Chargrilled Kingfish Wing $14

The beef shoulder was incredibly tender, but being shoulder, it was slightly fatty. The combination of green olive and the blade cap was delectable, but this dish is best served in its quasi size.

Blade Cap, Green Olive, Lemon $26

Now for the fun desserts. My favourite was Duke’s milk done three ways; it was three different textures of milk at different levels of sweetness. This is a dessert that is good for people who aren’t normally big on sweets, but it was also great for me because I love anything with sugar in it.

Milk, milk, milk $12

The licorice and chocolate mouse is definitely not for people who do not like licorice. They were like unsweetened licorice pellets. Altogether, the elements of this dessert seem to harmonize nicely enough, but just be wary if you do not like licorice.

Chocolate, Strawberries & Licorice Salt $12

Our final dish was the Gelato. The friendly staff were telling me that they make different gelato depending on availability, so that day we had Italian nougat and honey. Trying to hold back my biased sweet-tooth, this came in second after milk, milk, milk; it was amazing.

Gelato $4 per scoop

I would really like to add that the staff were incredibly friendly, helpful and attentive. Although it is a bistro, you receive service at the level of some of the finer restaurants. If I find time in my culinary expeditions, I would definitely love to return to try all they have to offer

Duke Bistro – 65 Flinders St. Darlinghurst, Sydney, NSW 2010

Tuesday-Saturday: 6-late

Grand Opening of Sparkle Kiosk – Martin Place

9 Feb

Valentines day is around the corner, and what better way to celebrate than with cupcakes! I’m a serious lurker at the Luxe Cafe in Bondi Junction, and was so excited to hear about the little kiosk Sparkle that has opened at Martin Place. A friend and I were some of the lucky patrons who received free mini cupcakes to honour their sparkling presence in the heart of the CDB.

White chocolate and milk chocolate mini cupcakes

Pasta Vera – Pyrmont

8 Feb

Eating pasta in public is messy. Sauce flies, cheese oozes, chins adorn the battle scars. But we all do it, because pasta is one of the world’s most treasured dishes, and if it isn’t messy; it isn’t worth eating. I can remember as a child, the only thing I wanted to eat was spaghetti, and although I’ve added a few more beloved dishes to my repertoire, nothing beats a good pasta.

Pasta Vera epitomizes freshness through its homemade pasta and pastries. This little cafe in Pyrmont makes all its pasta on the premises, and also stocks many of its pasta produce to good quality stockists like Norton Street Grocer.

Assorted pasta and sauces

Assorted homemade cakes and pastries

I have been to Pasta Vera countless times, and this is one place you will always get consistently good service, a fresh and diverse menu that caters to availability of products, and amazing food presentation. I could go on, so I will; their coffee is also a serious contender for top cup of coffee. The flat white I ordered was nice and strong without being bitter, normally I am a mocha girl so this is a big deal for me.

Flat White $3.50

Cafe Latte $3.50

I got the Sirloin Steak Sandwich, but firstly I need to confess; when I order a steak sandwich, I expect it to be cheesy, saucy, and pretty much just unhealthy all around. This sandwhich was the polar opposite to what I normally like, but it was still a work of art. The steak was tender and juicy, and the caramelised onions added an immense sweetness that converted me from the dark side.

Sirloin Steak Sandwich $14.50

The Chili Spaghetti  came with cherry tomatoes, king prawns and chorizo; there is no better combination. This pasta had the perfect balance of spiciness, it was enough to keep your senses going, but not so much that you break out in a chili sweat. The pasta itself was al dente, and as usual, napkins were required.

Chili Spaghettie $19.50

Pasta Vera  is definitely one of those places you feel pleased with having been to, and pleased that you have discovered. If more places made good quality food, compared to the price that Pasta Vera offers it, we’d all be a little bit more messy, but very content.

Pasta Vera
186-188 Harris St
Pyrmont 2009 NSW
Mon – Sat 9:30am-10:30pm