Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Sydney Gastronome: the other highlights

Getting ready for NYE fireworks

How's this for a NYE balcony view?! On New Years Eve I attended a party at my Sydney uncle's apartment in Milsons Point (which I've previously raved about here). The view of the fireworks was pretty goddamn spectacular, as you can see.

Fireworks on NYE

Oh, SYDNEY. More fireworks photos can be seen here.

Fireworks on NYE

And here are three quick reviews of the other culinary highlights from my brief stay in that beautiful, crazy city to the north.

Bird Cow Fish
500 Crown Street, Surry Hills (map)
(02) 9380 4090

Bird Cow Fish

On this visit to Sydney I stayed at the apartment of my charming friend Beatch, in Surry Hills. The two of us went out one morning for brunch (I was keen to check out the Bourke Street Bakery, but alas it had not yet opened for 2010). We decided instead to have a light lunch at Bird Cow Fish, a restaurant I like a lot but whose name I am destined to never remember correctly ("so it's Chicken and Cow... and Fish, right?").

Mains are around the $35 mark, but we just had an entree each. I couldn't go past the house made gravalax with celeriac remoulade and croutons ($18.50), gravalax and celeri rémoulade being two of my very favourite foods. Aye, it's delicious, but I wish the celeri rémoulade hadn't had so much parsley in it. But the gravalax was very, very good - I especially liked the dill still encrusted on the edge. An excellent light meal.

Housemade gravalax with celeriac remoulade and croutons

Beatch ordered the potato gnocchi with prawn meat sauteed in burnt butter, verjuice, capers and crispy sage ($19.50). He adored it, and vowed he'll be returning soon to try our their dinner menu. We also shared a serve of marinated Yarra Valley feta on the side.

Potato gnocchi with prawn meat sauteed in burnt butter, verjuice, capers and crispy sage

Chinese Noodle Restaurant
Shop TG7, Prince Centre, 8 Quay Street, Haymarket (map)
(02) 9281 9051

White boys like Chinese Noodle Restaurant

On another day, Beatch took me to a Chinese noodle restaurant he wanted me to try, called (appropriately enough) Chinese Noodle Restaurant.

Essentially, Chinese Noodle Restaurant is to Sydneysiders what Camy Shanghai Dumpling is to Melburnians: a grimy, hidden away but wildly popular restaurant serving cheap cheap dumplings that everyone likes to think is their little secret. Both restaurants have pages dedicated to them on facebook with hundreds of devoted fans.

Chinese Noodle Restaurant

We ordered Beatch's favourite dish on the menu, the spicy chicken salad ($9), which was a revelation. The chicken had been shredded very finely and the salty spices and dried chilli were completely addictive.

Spicy chicken salad

Sadly we didn't order any of the signature Xinjiang handmade noodles, which are made and stretched on the premises, visible to restaurant patrons via a peep show window.

We did however order a perfectly cromulent serve of ma po tofu ($9.80), some excellent steamed pork and Chinese cabbage dumplings ($8.80 for 12) and some pan fried egg and chive dumplings ($8.50 for 12) for Miss A, Beatch's delightful and (mostly) vegetarian housemate. The vegetarian dumplings had been fried for a little too long but were otherwise very good.

Ma po tofuSteamed pork and Chinese cabbage dumplings

The Chinese Noodle Restaurant ceiling is kitted out with a canopy of plastic grapevines, and the walls are adorned with thick tapestries depicting Northen Chinese pastoral scenes. Oddly enough, it works.

Chinese Noodle Restaurant tapestry

Bourke Street Bakery
633 Bourke Street, Surry Hills (map)
(02) 9699 1011

Bourke Street Bakery

Given the hijinks and mayhem that ensued on my final night in Sydney, I was feeling quite the happy but fragile panda the morning after. With Beatch at work, Miss A suggested that a coffee and bite to eat at the Bourke Street Bakery might go a long way towards restoring me to my usual self before my flight.

The line outside Bourke Street Bakery

There is almost ALWAYS a queue stretched out the door of Bourke Street Bakery - and with good reason. If this Melbourne Gastronome ever ends up becoming Sydney Gastronome, I will live in Surry Hills in order to be near this bakery.

Bourke Street Bakery tartsBourke Street Bakery tarts

I ordered a bottle of freshly squeezed orange juice (or, as I prefer to call it, Elixir of Life, $3). No matter how hungover I am, FSOJ never fails to revive me.

Bourke Street Bakery FSOJ

I knew I had to try one of their famous sausage rolls. Miss A ordered a vegetarian roll, but which would I choose? Would it be the lamb, harissa and almond? The beef, veal and olive?

Bourke Street Bakery FSOJBourke Street Bakery pork and fennel sausage roll

No, it was the pork and fennel sausage roll ($4). Dee-licious. Just look at those fennel seeds! That pastry!

Pork and fennel sausage roll

But if I thought the sausage roll was good, I was in for a treat when I ordered the famous strawberry and vanilla brulée tart ($4.40). The inspiration for an entire blog post of food erotica moaning its praises, the tart's combination of vanilla custard, strawberry, SUPERIOR pastry and a satisfyingly fork-crackable burnt sugar lid was sin personified. More please.

Strawberry and vanilla brulee tart

Miss A chose the other brulée tart, flavoured with ginger and topped with pistachio. Also $4.40, also delicious. Excellent coffees, too.

Ginger brulee tartBourke Street Bakery weak latte

Thank you, Bourke Street Bakery, for bringing me back to life. I really hope we meet again soon. xox

Bourke Street Bakery nun


s_carn said...

The spicy chicken salad is ah-may-zing. It is also my favourite dish.

Esz said...

Bourke St Bakery is on my list of MUST VISIT places for if/when I visit Sydney. Along with Zumbo Cafe also. Mmm pastries. That sausage roll looks incredible

Reemski said...

Was fab to finally meet you, and I'm so glad you enjoyed some our neighbourhood delights!

Jetsetting Joyce (MEL: HOT OR NOT) said...

You know why I love Bourke Street Bakery? Because it's so Melburnian (sorry Sydney-siders) - squashy-tiny, artisanal and milk crates for seating.

Jetsetting Joyce

Gourmet Chick said...

I remember the queue outside Burke street bakery as well - worth it though!

Alex W said...


When next in Surry Hills a few doors down from Bird Cow Fish is Essenza Italian. I try and get there each time I'm in Sydney as the food and atmosphere is superb. I've eaten at a lot of places on Crown St and Essenza is by far my favourite.

Also, your Melbourne food encycolpedia was invaluable during a recent fortnight there. We fairly well exclusively ate at places you had visited and were only disappointed on one occasion. Highlights were definitely +39 and Hardware Societe. At our second Hardware Societe breakfast another table was ordering baked eggs 'that looked so excellent on the internet'. The delightful proprier's response was, naturally, 'on Melbourne Gastronome'? She said they have changed the eggs slightly but to me they seemed the same as on your visit and were utterly delicious. You will have to get back there for the blood sausage omlette.

claire said...

Mr Carn, that makes three of us. :) xx

Hi Esz - I am TOTALLY adding it to my list too for future visits. Didn't make it out to Zumbo this time... I console myself with the thought that it was probably closed.

Delightful to meet you too, Reemski! See you at the conference...

Haha Joyce. Alas, they now have proper chairs outside so it's no longer milk crates.

Hi GC! The good thing is that the queue moves pretty quickly, so the wait isn't that bad.

Hey Alex W. Will definitely bear Essenza in mind for my next Sydney visit. And so glad the blog could assist you on your recent trip to Melbourne!! On my first visit to Hardware Societe my friend Beatch ordered the blood sausage omelette (it didn't photograph well so it wasn't included, but it was delicious). I'm going back there for breakfast soon.... :)

Stephen Estcourt said...

Especially love the gnocchi and the brulee tart Claire

cloudcontrol said...

Brulee tart!? I hope they're open on Australia Day (though sadly, I expect they won't be) when I'm up there next.

I love the fact that Buddhist monks/nuns also enjoy bakery treats.

EOlivas said...

I miss Melbourne! Beautiful city. I was there 2004! Would love to go back and visit but for the meantime reading your blog will do!
I especially like the additional info you post (address, etc)

gia. [K] said...

Bourke Street Bakery was definetely one of my highlights too when I went to Sydney in December - I was lucky enough to stay very close by and bought a little something every day on my way to work - I call their muffin the sex muffins, because they really are. Raspberry and choc-chip - just melts, in, your, mouth. The ginger brulee was also amazing as was the rhubard tart. I also had the pleasure of purchasing the Bourke Street Bakery Christmas cake back to Melbourne just in time for christmas and it was absolutely amazing...how I miss the Bourke Street Bakery!

Also worth while to check out their newer joint in the CBD, the city depot.

claire said...

Hi Stephen - thanks!

Hey cloudcontrol - yes, I was particularly happy to get that photo of the Buddhist nun in the bakery :)

Thank you, EOlivas!

Oh, gia.[K]. Thanks for your comment - your line "I call their muffins the sex muffins, because they really are" had me laughing out loud :)

Katie said...

I was Googling "Bill Granger Spicy Chicken Salad" and found your great blog. Chinese Noodle Restaurant is cool--I can't believe I didn't go back there during my last trip. (Lived in Sydney for 7 years; back in the States now.)