Drinking in Sydney: Goros, Surry Hills

Sometimes I just feel like I’m on a reconnaisance mission. I’ll have just a drink or a coffee to see if the place tempts me back for a meal. Or I’ll have a meal to see if it tempts me back for more meals, possibly at different times of the day.

In this way, Goros succeeded. I’ve been curious about such a non-descript shopfront that nevertheless gets a line up of folks on the weekend. Entering on a Monday after work, it’s surprisingly busy, and it’s a bizarre mash-up. There’s a karaoke area off on one side. Pinball machines. A bar. Booths as if in a Japanese restaurant… or a food court. There’s a neon fish skeleton on one wall next to the neon Pokies sign. The toilets are marked Geishas and Ninjas.

We had draft Asahi beer, and I had a shochu and soda, flavoured with peach and yuzu, which was refreshing and delicious. Happy hour, we should have gone for the one dollar gyozas, but the place is so bizarre and cool, I’m definitely intrigued to come back for a casual Japanese meal.

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

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Coffee in Sydney: Ciao Down! Lindfield

I like a pun. I mean, why not? These days: we need laughs. Also: we need coffee.

So, we stopped here in Lindfield on our way to the Hunter Valley for L & A’s wedding. There was a nice neighbourhood buzz about it, with folks stopping in for breakfast and coffee, and I imagine there is a stream of interlopers like us, pulling off on the Pacific Highway for some java fuel.

Two large lattes. Strong enough but lots of milk. Just what we needed.

Ciao Down Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Sydney Food Diary: Phomo, Barangaroo

Man, I was full after the pho. Or should I say… I was pho-ll.

Heh, heh.

Phomo is a splash of colour along Wulugul Walk in Barangaroo. Since the specialty of the house was pho, that’s what we had. Husband had raw and cooked beef; and I had the beef combination (not noticing it had beef tripe in it, which I don’t mind, but explains why husband stuck to the other beef).

With lots of herbs and sprouts and sauce and a lemon slice, I thought the broth was delicious, the noodles appropriately slippery and I had a nice selection of beef things. I like interactive food, in any case. As a main, mine was $17.50.

We also split a plate of spring rolls, and my god: these were among the tastiest of the fried Vietnamese spring rolls that I’ve had lately. They tasted really freshly made, and luscious and crisp and meaty. Yum.

I’m pretty intrigued with this whole strip of restaurants. Thursday night and all of them (except the Indian place) were packed. I know it’s also packed at lunchtimes. After, we walked around the back, and the little strip of cafes and bars was pretty quiet; I can understand why you’d want to be next to the water and with the buzz.

Zomato reviews though seem really harsh in general. My guess is that they’re reacting to the prices, which seem a little higher than they should be (probably to cover the high cost of the rent). I’ve had good meals here though, and love the vibe. It’s great when developers can figure out how to make a restaurant district take off and I’d say this whole strip is a nice addition to Sydney’s dining scene. And if you drop by Phomo, have the spring rolls!

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

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Drinking in Sydney: Calaveras, Newtown

   We arrived a little early in Newtown before meeting our friends to go to Black Ginger, so I dragged husband to have a drink here. I’d seen the signs saying it’s a tequila bar… and hey, I like tequila. It’s upstairs in the revamped railway station, and has a good atmosphere.

But oh Sydney, you and your twenty dollar cocktails. I had a smoked margarita made with mezcal. Husband had the infamous “Bulldog” which has a Corona beer shoved into a Margarita. I would think this could be dangerous for the careless. If you tried to pull out the bottle, your glass would overflow.

My margarita was quite tasty, I admit. I didn’t really like the beer and margarita concotion, amused as I was by its presentation. We split a $15 plate of guacamole with corn chips (where I again think: oh Sydney, you and your prices).

I was hoping to see some interesting tequilas on the menu; maybe you have to sit at the bar instead? This was just cocktails and margaritas, and the food menu looks pretty standard. I’m not sure I’d come back to try it.

Calaveras Mexican Cantina & Tequila Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Sydney Food Diary: Black Ginger, Enmore

Pleasant and easy with particularly friendly service, Black Ginger has a nice feeling of being your neighbourhood Vietnamese restaurant. The menu is pretty standard in terms of the usual hits: banana blossom salad, various duck dishes, spicy salads, pho, shaken beef, chicken curry. I’m not sure there was anything that stood out as unusual.

But everything we had was tasty. The pho was particularly nice with a slightly sweet broth. I recommend getting a big bowl of that and splitting it among your table. I always like the deep fried spring rolls, the Vietnamese pancake was appropriately crispy and filled with freshly cooked bean sprouts. There were lots of herbs to tear off and add to the various dishes.

Also: BYOB makes it easy to bring your favourite wine (and I thought the bottle shop at the Town Hall Hotel, next to Newtown Station had a great selection at great prices). And the fish tank has some gorgeous fish in it! After, you can go in either direction for ice cream: Cow and Moon if you can get there before 10:30pm, or as we did, get some Turkish ice cream, tasty and strangely sticky.

Black Ginger Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Sydney Food Diary: et al., Potts Point

New kid on the block, et al., takes over from Impromptu, which lasted a little less than a year (I didn’t manage to get there!). In fact, the last time I ate here was when it was a modern Korean place called Kim (which I adored; I love modern interpretations of traditional Asian dishes).

It’s pretty much a perfect location for a Sydney summer meal (and we had good enough weather). What’s not to love about being served refined modern Australian food with a casual flair in an open courtyard facing onto the fun and funky Llankelly Place (which seems to continue to locate new and cool restaurants and bars).

There were six of us, which allowed to pretty much order one of everything on the menu. Slightly too much food. Ahem. But delicious.

This is not a strawberry sorbet here but instead a delicious chicken liver paté.

It was one of those nights where I thought the lighting would be bad to try to get food shots, and didn’t really feel like food-nerding out with the photos. But I think we liked everything. This chicken dish, as below, is a good example of what they serve up. It’s not complicated, but perfectly cooked, nicely plated and with a nice balance of something on the side to complement or lift the main ingredient.

Everything is designed to share, which makes the meal lively and social. Oh, there was one dish which I have to mention: Crisp potatoes in smoked golden syrup, a side dish that only cost 8 bucks, but my god: crispy potato goodness with a hint of sweet. It was spectacular. The barramundi was nice too, and I liked the lamb tartare. Why not? We had a few bottles of a white wine which, for the life of me, I can’t remember which one it was, around the $60 mark. A very nice accompaniment. Anyways… I’ll be back… for those potatoes and more.

Et Al. Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Book Review: Simon Fitzmaurice’s It’s Not Yet Dark

It's Not Yet Dark: A MemoirIt’s Not Yet Dark: A Memoir by Simon Fitzmaurice
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As a filmmaker, Simon Fitzmaurice knows how to tell a story. His memoir ‘It’s Not Yet Dark’, is written with an engaging narrative and voice and often in short, poetic scenes, it feels like the book is as much movie as a memoir.

For a book about slowly losing control of one’s body, it’s surprisingly hopeful. Fitzmaurice is unabashedly romantic and his love for his wife and family are the framework for the story. His voice and his attitude is direct and hopeful. He’s philosophical but not pessimistic. He doesn’t invite pity.

At one point, he digresses from the story to make a very specific point about health policy and NLS (about ventilation) and while I understand that he felt it important to make this point (and books don’t need to be apolitical), I found the change in tone jarring, and took away from the short, jazzy sentences which make up most of the book.

The book has been out for a few years in Ireland and the UK but has just been released in the USA. It’s a good time for a book like this. In a recent interview in People magazine, he said “I’m in love with this life, and it’s worth every hardship to me.” In these dark times, I hope this book finds a good readership with its message of hope and perseverance and indeed, a love of life. And may Fitzmaurice, like Stephen Hawking who was also told he only had two years to live upon diagnosis with ALS, live a long life. He clearly has more films to make and more books to write.

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Sydney Food Diary: Mekong, Chippendale

Traditionally, a restaurant that had all sorts of different kinds of Asian food was to be looked at with suspicion. Often found in smaller towns where people didn’t really care whether they were eating Yaki Udon or an Egg Foo Yung, it meant that the food could be vaguely Asian and not necessarily authentic to any one country.

But Mekong’s offerings seem innovative, where Chef Tiw Rakarin, with his experience running modern Thai and Vietnamese restaurants, can offer his experience and wisdom with Thai, Vietnamese, Lao, Cambodian and Burmese food, and make a complex rather than derivative Asian food experience.

We had the pleasure of trying many dishes at a special meal put on in conjunction with the Entertainment guide, far more than I took pictures of. And it came with lots of delicious wine too.

Rather than explain the various dishes, let me just say: delicious, beautifully plated and interesting food. The banquet menus look like an easy way of trying a lot of different dishes. Hope they’ll do this for just the two of us when I return with my hubby!

By the way, I love this dessert below… When I was in NYC in May, it seems to be a bit of a thing: the Japanese Water Cake (that’s the big blob below). Little taste but great texture and visually appealing, it needs to have some sauce or texture along with it to bring it to life… but I think it’s cool.

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

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Book Review: Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell’s The Disaster Artist

The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever MadeThe Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made by Greg Sestero
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A friend brought me to a screening of “The Room”, a terrible movie, this generation’s Rocky Horror Picture Show, with audience participation and spoon throwing, but no Time Warp, and really: I liked Rocky Horror. And I liked “The Room” too. The experience was really fun. This is not boringly bad, but confusingly bad and often hilariously bad. It made me want to know more, and I did do quite a bit of web surfing, and now… as the movie, The Disaster Artist, is soon to hit the screens, I read the book that the movie is based on.

It’s compelling stuff, and in some ways, quite a sweet story, a behind the scenes guide to how the film was made, how the mysterious Tommy Wiseau came to make it, a hilarious cast of characters caught in the action, and an oddball friendship. I think you’d have to know the movie to enjoy the book, and Sestero and his co-writer have structured an engaging narrative, scenes from making the money interspersed with Sestero’s first meetings with Wiseau, and their developing relationship.

It made me sad though. There’s enough honesty and self-awareness in the book to show Wiseau’s dark side, and it makes me less inclined to find the movie as funny. For example, in the movie, the scenes of the characters tossing around a football is so incongruous, so jarring, that they made me laugh in a confused way. But learning how lonely Wiseau is, and that those scenes are most likely Wiseau’s fantasies about being young, having friends and doing something American like tossing a ball around, makes me squirm. Better to have left it a mystery, like the endless source of Wiseau’s money used to make and promote the film. One part of me really wants to know, but I’m sure if I found it, I’d find it a disappointment.

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Sydney Food Diary: Rosetta, CBD


Rosetta is Neil Perry’s latest. Apparently, there’s one in Melbourne already. It’s fancy  Italian cuisine, near Circular Quay on George Street in a rather gorgeous Harry Seidler building. The setting (and the ample light that comes through the ceiling to floor windows) is beautiful.

Sometimes at lunch, I wish I had an extra stomach, at least at a restaurant like this, as I don’t feel up to going for a full three courses. But we made a good go of it, with a vegetarian pizzette to start with and a lovely plate of slow-cooked artichokes with olives, almonds and lemon.

Then I had the special pasta of the day, with seafood, and C had the eggplant parmiagiana. With rather nice glasses of wine to accompany the food.

What can I say? The food was pretty much perfection, definitely fine dining but not fussy or complicated, and very, very tasty. Quite a few servers, and all very earnest Europeans. It was pricey, but it looks like the lunch menu is the same as the dinner menu, so yes, expensive for lunch, but I don’t think outrageous for dinner.

It happened to be one of those lunches that I just didn’t feel like taking photos of the food. Do you ever feel like that?

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

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