Coffee in Sydney: Two Good Eggs Cafe, Surry Hills

Two Good Eggs does a cracking business, meaning I should have a breakfast and see what the fuss is about.

But I just wanted a coffee, after doing some chores in the ‘hood. It’s got a nice view of Harmony Park and was buzzy with, I assume folks working nearby, as well as some possible food tourists.

I usually have a bit of a sad when I don’t get coffee art… but my latte was so tasty, I couldn’t fault it.

Two Good Eggs Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Sydney Food Diary: Chinese Noodle Restaurant, Chinatown

My marketing advice to the Chinese Noodle Restaurant is that when you’ve got a relatively Unique Selling Point (USP, kill me now, I know) you should flaunt it. Why hide under such a generic name like Chinese Noodle Restaurant when you are serving up interesting dishes from Xinjiang, and Northern Chinese snacks and dumplings. If I had enough stomachs, I would have tried all those dishes…

But instead, trying to find somewhere for a quick meal after the very strange show time of 6:30pm to 9:30pm (but the show, Muriel’s Wedding, seen on a Tuesday night, was great: a wonderful new Australian musical), we really only had the appetite for a quick meal, and even then ordered too much. Husband thought he’d go for a classic sweet and sour pork, so we weren’t expecting this shredded pork dish served with Chinese pancakes as a wrap. I actually love Chinese pancakes, but there was way too much of a mainly salty, a little sweet sauce. Not terrible but I didn’t love it. You can see this is a humble place, but there’s a buzz about it, even at 10pm or so, with people who I think are coming for a simple, humble place like this, inexpensive and authentic.

On the other hand, the cumin lamb dish was delicious. There’s something about that Xinjiang dish, the spices and the way it’s fried up so it’s fairly dry, that I find delectable. Two dishes plus rice and some sadly cold tea (though I should have asked for the pot to be replaced but couldn’t be bothered): $40 with a small tip, and I’m coming back for dumplings (and maybe hand-pulled noodles…).

Chinatown Noodle Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Coffee in Sydney: Rapha Cycle Club Cafe, Surry Hills

And why not have coffee in the front section of a shop in Surry Hills that sells cycle gear?

I like the casual and simple feel here. It’s a limited menu as there’s no space! So, not sure how much luck you’ll have if you want to eat, but for coffee (or ice tea as my pal had), it’s fine.

I got a cute heart on my large latte, and I have to say it was very delicious.

Rapha Cycle Club Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Sydney Food Diary: Sven-San, Paddington

Are Japanese-Scandinavian restaurants the new trend in Sydney? Following Edition Coffee Roasters in Darlinghurst comes Sven-San, at the top of Oxford Street in Paddington, just across from an entrance to Centennial Park. It looks rather casual from the outside (and has outdoors seating and a casual cafe) but we found the interior very classy and contemporary.

What I didn’t know at the time was that Sven-San isn’t really trying to do a fusion of Japanese and Nordic cuisines; there just happens to be both cuisines on the menu. And why not?

We ordered a few dishes to try. Their version of Japanese fried chicken was light and crisp and savoury with a tasty mayo.

The paté was moreish; served with perfectly crisp homemade crackers, I couldn’t get enough of it.

We thought we should try something recognisably Scando and why not the meatballs? With dill, lingonberry sauce, some cucumbers, and gravy, this was (thankfully) a step up from the IKEA version (which I admit I love).

We had a casual meal with only these dishes, but there’s the option if coming with more friends to try more dishes, and I think to make a more formal occasion of it. In the end, we sort of forgot about what cuisine the dishes were supposed to be and just enjoyed the flavours. I’d go back!

Sven-San Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Sydney Food Diary: Black Star Pastry, Moore Park

What a contrast to the original Black Star Pastry in Newtown (0pened in 2008 by Haberfield’s own Christopher Thé)! Rather than a tiny serving space, and probably a line up to try to find somewhere to sit down and have one of their famous pastries, sausage rolls or meat pies, this location in the Entertainment Quarters, once a Lovesac store I believe, is huge, two floors, a very high ceiling, and ample seating and display. Also fun is that next door you can see them at work, in a large working space, with glass windows open for passersby, heading, perhaps like us, to the movies.

We split a cake and god it was good, pistachio lemon zen cake, ‘layers of pistachio ganache, white chocolate mousse, lemon curd and crunchy pistachio dacquoise’. So many layers, it felt really decadent, and complex with so many ingredients.

Since it was too late in the day for a coffee for me (after 3pm, it keeps me WIDE AWAKE), I was really happy they had both a matcha latte and a black sesame latte on the menu: also – yum (it’s not pretty but it’s delicious). What a perfect place for a snack.

Black Star Pastry Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Sydney Food Diary: Sonoma Café, Paddington

Since the Sonoma bakeries have such a great reputation for supplying bread to many places in Sydney, the bread and pastries at one of their cafés were great. I got to introduce my non-Australian family to a perfect Lamington. The cinnamon bun was tasty as was the almond croissant. One of us had toast with a bit of Pepe Saya butter.

My problem was a mismatch of expectations. We were hoping for a relaxed brunch place to sit down. But the seating area across from the counter was cramped and packed out when we dropped by, so we found seating in the back yard, a bit wet that day, but we managed. So, between ordering at the counter and being out back, it was less formal than the other brunch places we passed by in Five Ways.

If that suits you though, this café is a cut above with the quality of its baking and food. My eggs and smoked salmon on a croissant was delicious, and as you can see, rather pretty. Also the coffee was good!

Sonoma Café Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Sydney Food Diary: Bill & Toni’s Restaurant, Darlinghurst

Bill & Toni’s has been around since the early 1970s and eventually, it was long-time customers that took over both ownership and management. It serves up Italian-Australian food in huge portions, home style, with a friendly vibe.

You can order enormous plates of protein, big plates of pasta, or go crazy and do a combo. My American family was pretty pleased with this option.

Truthfully, I can’t say we loved the food. My cannelloni was a big saucy mess; nephew’s Chicken Schnitzel was unlike pub schnitty’s that I’ve encountered; this had some eggplant baked on top of it as well as sauce, looked like it had been sort of blowtorched to the plate and was unfortunately dry. The pastas were pretty standard.

My sister-in-law’s pork chop (first photo above), however, though humungous, was tender and delicious with a nice tasty layer of fat at the edges (which we like).

In fact, my nephew said that he thought that the Arch, less-known and lower-rated, across the way, was better.

Still, it’s a fun place to be, so popular and renowned that it’s a good place to take out-of-towners, big portions, and we played pinball afterwards downstairs in the café!

Bill & Toni's Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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2018 in lists: concerts & shows, theatre, books, movies, TV

(Obviously, a work in progress…)

Concerts, Shows, Theatre & Words

  • What will be the first concert or show of 2018?

Exhibitions

  • What will be the first exhibition of 2018?

Books

  • Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend (fiction): reading it now.

Movies

  • Moana. I watched this hungover from New Year’s Eve and thought it was great.
  • Call me by your name: Romantic, languid and slow. Of course I loved it.
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi: Entertaining, engaging with characters I was rooting for, and amusing space creatures.
  • The Shape of Water: What an odd film, but quite magical.
  • Lady Bird: I don’t think I liked it quite as much as the critics… and even though the film was playing with cliché and trope, some felt too familiar, but the central performance is compelling.

Television

  • Stranger Things, Season 2. Pretty fun to watch, and some interesting developments from the first season though I’m not sure it always make sense…
  • Project Runway All Stars, 2018
  • The Crown, Season 2

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Sydney Food Diary: Devon Cafe, Surry Hills

Around the corner of Haven and a few blocks away from Meet Mica, Devon is the original purveyor of Asian-Western fusion brunches and lunches. I last reviewed the Devon in 2015, three years ago, and it’s good to report (bringing my North American family here for brunch) that it’s still going strong.

The front part of the cafe is stylish Scandinavian, but the back has some odd military-type netting, and more space to sit. Either location is fine to try their interesting dishes, such as the fantastic dessert for breakfast matcha option, pictured above (They call it DMC, the Devon Matcha cake).

My almost-12-year-old niece’s choice was the meatiest of options: pork belly (perfect), sausage, an amazing potato, and peas!

Everyone was happy with their choices (and there were seven of us, so there was a lot of choice). I quite like the specialty of the house with miso grilled salmon, an eel croquette and one of those perfectly cooked 63 degree eggs. Their much-photographed Little Lost Bread is French Toast amped up with sweets and colour. I loved my Tropical Chia Pudding, a simpler dish than the others. I’m not sure you can go wrong here.

And their coffee is very good too.

Devon Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Sydney Food Diary: Christie’s Seafood Excellence, Fish Market

When I wrote, on Boxing Day, that I wanted to try Christie’s, to compare it to the Fish Market Cafe which is right next door, I didn’t expect that I’d be able to do so less than a week later, with my in-laws rather than my family. But that’s the thing: the Fish Market really is the perfect place for visitors to Sydney to come for a meal and soak in the vibe of this bustling market.

Also, we were particularly blessed that day. We were just letting out my father-in-law close to the market, as he has trouble walking, and the very kind security/parking guy directed us to park right next to the market. Usually parking guys tell me something negative; this was such a kind gesture. Then, when waiting at a peak time, like really crazy packed to the rafters crowd scene, a table of people at Christie’s saw Dad-in-law and said they would go soon, would we like their table?

We ordered a similar amount of food and a selection as I did at Christie’s, one fried selection and one grilled. Because there were two white people and one Asian person who ordered, they decided that we should get fries; I would have liked to try their Asian noodles. My verdict was that the seafood was just a little bit nicer than at Christie’s (which was excellent) and the portions were a little smaller and that it was a little more expensive. Too many tiny squid for the table’s liking (which was the same as the platters at Christie’s). But basically, thumbs up. Very tasty, and a great food and tourist experience.

Christie's Seafood Excellence Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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