Sydney Food Diary: 2.0 coffee co, Stanley Street

It was an excellent suggestion of Darryl’s to head down to Stanley Street for brunch rather than our usual ‘hood. A few interesting places were open, and Bill and Tony’s was packed. We grabbed a table outside at this unfamiliar place (I think it’s been under new management for a year) and while I should have had the coffee, because of its name, I had an Irish breakfast tea. Sometimes lately coffee is jazzing me up, and not in a nice way.

In any case, Darryl said his poached eggs and avocado on toast was delicious, and I have to say my scrambled eggs, with asparagus and bacon, were pretty much perfect. Lots of butter on that toast. Everything perfectly composed. The cafe has a really humble feel but this was a perfect Sydney breakfast (so good that it made me think how mediocre my last breakfasts were at similar cafes). And next time, I really do have to try the coffee. I hear they do great latte art!

2.0 Coffee Co Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Sydney Food Diary: Gou Sushi, Surry Hills

On a quick walk by Gou Sushi, this place looks stylish and fun; Haven’s coolness rubs off on it too. Haven had exactly zero out of four dishes on their lunch menu for vegetarians so we went next door. Between my perception of stylishness and the rave reviews on Zomato, I was expecting it to be pretty good!

But to start with, it was mayhem. The folks from the dentistry school were crowding the place and doing take-out, and the two staff members couldn’t seem to keep up.

There were NO vegetarian sushi on the conveyor belt. You had to order them… which was a bit difficult to get the attention of a waiter.

In any case, we finally did. The hand-roll sushi was tasty enough. Miso soup fine. My pal was happy with his veggie tempura. Udon soup is hard to go wrong: beautiful clear broth, and slippery noodles, but the chicken karaage was uninspiring compared to other places, and was already soggy by the time it got to the table. So, really, this was just a regular, inexpensive Japanese restaurant. Fine but nothing special, and some problems with service.

Gou Sushi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Sydney Food Diary: Negus, Surry Hills

  This little cafe attached to the City Crown Hotel has gone through a few different incarnations. Negus seems pretty new. Because I had already eaten, I have to turn over this review to Davy. He found their take on an eggs benedict (with a choice of pancetta or salmon) quite original, and he wavered in his opinion. The problem was that it wasn’t that hot, and would have benefited from being served at the right temperature. But he had to say it was pretty delicious, especially the little fried onion bits on top.

The gazpacho seemed like the perfect solution to a big night out. I tasted it and the spices were pretty good, though perhaps it could have had a more concentrated flavour. It had some froth or ice in it or something. Likewise, with my juice, all $9 of it for the large size. I think it had watermelon and ginger and er, something else. Tasty enough but nothing special. The eggs were almost a 4 out of 5, even luke warm, but I think the juices (and price) brings the overall rating down.

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

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Coffee in Sydney: Felix, Surry Hills

Shall I admit that the main reason that I stopped for coffee here, one Tuesday morning, is that it looked like it was close enough to the Pokemon Go gym at the Quaker Church for me to play a few rounds while sipping on a latte?

OK. I admit it. And then when I sat down, it said that the gym is too far away. Oh well. (I could have gone to Ourobouros, but the seats by the windows, closest to the church, were a bit crowded).

My large latte was perfectly fine. And I treated myself to a caramel slice. I think this is my kryptonite weakness of Australian baked goods. I like the caramel not too sweet, and I don’t mind whether the crust is crumbly (as this was) or firmer. But it’s a pretty good combo. We don’t have these in Canada.

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

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Sydney Food Diary: The Paramount Coffee Project, Surry Hills

I’m not sure how I haven’t managed to blog about the Paramount yet, as I’ve been here a number of times. Aside from the fact that it can get mighty crowded, what more to say about excellent coffee, friendly service and inventive and enticing menu items? All in an industrial chic atmosphere that manages to be both cool and cosy at the time time.

There’s always something slightly surprising on the menu. This morning, Saturday, 9:30am which beat the crowd, neither of us could go past the white blood sausage, baked eggs and labneh. Delicious. Surry Hills breakfast at its best…

The Paramount Coffee Project Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Book Review: Richard Siken’s Crush (Poetry)

CrushCrush by Richard Siken
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve read many poetry collections in my time, and I found this quite a unique experience. I’m not one to watch a horror movie, say, to feel scared. And while I can be convinced to read a dystopic novel to feel fear for the future, or to read about tragedy to try to find empathy or understanding, I probably would have shied away from this collection if told that it would induce such a feeling of queasy, unease, as if I’d wandered into a kind of 60s renegade Western film, violent scenes and dirty hotel rooms. But I would have regretted shying away, as I found this book both engaging and accomplished.

There is repetition in the work, and it’s not a long collection, so sort of felt like a dream. I caught myself at first not sure what was happening, and not sure I was liking it, but to risk so many poems with unreliable narrators: there’s something going on here much more complex than most collections, to play with the idea of who is narrating and what the hell is happening, really, in this dreamlike word, acts of violence, identities shifting. I like the juxtaposition of high drama and emotion with mundane details, often of food: a tuna fish sandwich, a bowl of soup.

The language, rather than poetic, is often from storytelling, or like the script of a play or movie: ‘Are you there, sweetheart? Do you know me?’ Yet when it’s all jammed together, it has this end effect of rather good poetry: visual, emotive, inconclusive. I found Louise Glück’s introduction useful: providing context from an expert poet (and one of judges who awarded this collection a competition prize). But I would probably admit that my favourite poem was more traditional in form (as his poems are often splashed out over the page). ‘Saying Your Names’ grabbed me from the first lines:

Chemical names, bird names, name of fire / and flight and snow…

Finally, I had a little peek online to find something more about Richard Siken and found he is working full time as a social worker and is also a filmmaker and painter – and that’s what I felt from this book too, that he’s an original voice speaking from his own experience, not trying to be particularly literary or fit into a literary genre or canon; these poems felt like blood pumping through the body’s veins and arteries, very alive, very visceral.

View all my reviews

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Sydney Food Diary: LoLuk, Darlinghurst

So, new kid on the block is Loluk Bistro, charmingly named after two brothers from Nice, Luc and Loic. I vaguely recall dining at the Pelican bistro many, many years ago. It’s in a good location, tucked behind Taylor Square, and we headed here for Sunday brunch on the Easter weekend. It’s only been open two months, and is gathering some dinner trade, though it’s a great place for a weekend brunch too.

We loved our travels to the South of France, so it’s great to find a little bit of the South of France has moved in Darlinghurst. The decor is light and bright, like a beachside bistro, with inspirational phrases about achieving dreams and drinking wine written high on the walls. Appropriate, as owning and running a restaurant would be the dream of Luc, the owner.

The menu has regional specialties from the south of France, and inspired by their mother’s kitchen, the food has a home kitchen vibe, casual. Also: they carry my favourite bottle water, Badoit.

My better half opted for the ‘perfect egg in a jar’, ratatouille with tasty lamb and a perfect soft-boiled on top (and homemade brioche toast). It looked small but I was informed it was very filling, and I tried some. Tasty indeed.

I opted for the Croque Madame, the classic. Nicely presented and nice balance of flavours and textures.

We had a look over the dinner menu, which looks great, and a drinks menu filled with French wine and liqueur. The couple next to us (for breakfast!) had these amazing looking desserts (profiteroles and pannacotta). They have a commitment to making things from scratch (the profiterole pastry, soup stock, brioches). Future looks bright for them, if they can just manage to find their people in the tough Darlinghurst and Sydney market. We’ll be back to try the dinner menu too!

Loluk Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Sydney Food Diary: Kepos Street Kitchen, Redfern

Oh my god: this breakfast. The middle eastern ‘cigars’ filled with lamb mince, with two poached eggs, pine nuts, greenery and some sauce.

Absolutely delicious and my dining companion thought his Kepos Eggs Benedict (with a milk brioche) was pretty good.

We moved from the main dining area to the pretty sunroom. Man, the acoustics in that place are terrible; it’s so noisy.

And I was pleased we managed to get in on a Saturday morning just after 10am. I remember when there were lines outside every Saturday and Sunday.

Nice waiter too. This experience makes me want to go back soon, and also give their other branch a whirl, which is not so far away.

Kepos Street Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Sydney Food Diary: OhBar Thai Cuisine 1982, Darlinghurst

Hidden under the Connaught Building on the corner of Oxford Street and Liverpool Street, across from Hyde Park, is the new OHBAR Thai Cuisine. We had a casual meal here on a rainy Monday night.

An interesting menu, with lots of choice. It does seem to have a bit of an extra twist to the menu, with spicy salads, spicy sausages from the North, and other curries and stir fries which don’t seem to be typical. Ah, and you can get sticky rice here, served in the small woven straw containers: a favourite of mine, that you can’t get at all Thai restaurants.

The three of us did three appetizers: calamari, Isaan sausage and a crab shrimp roll; and then three mains: a spicy prawn curry, a stewed beef (I ordered stewed pork belly so don’t know what happened here) and a salmon in a rich coconut sauce.

So, it’s tasty with some unusual flavours. Not as good as the fantastic Muum Maam, Chat Thai or Home Thai, but better than the average Sydney Thai restaurant.

Great decor, and a fun vibe, with young Thai people, which we thought was a good sign. The sign is pretty much the same as at Holy Duck! But it’s a good look for now. Fun. They do BYO which is a plus, and are currently in the Entertainment coupon book. It was $135 for the three of us, though since we then got $35 off with the coupon, I thought a $20 tip was fair… $40 each. If I was in the area, and hankering for Thai, I’d go again.

THE OHBAR Thai Cuisine 1982 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Sydney Food Diary: Platia, Top Ryde

So, it was great to be invited along one Friday evening by Around the Clock Foodie, or at least half of ATCF, and be able to hang out with the stupendous company of Weekend Food Escapes, plus one, and meet the colourful and infamous (because he’s the top Zomato food reviewer in Sydney) Random DinDins.

Our destination: Platia. Located in the Top Ryde City Shopping Centre, it’s a bit of a strange contrast in that it’s got such a nice, homey feel to it, and a family-run operation, that it feels like it should be your neighbourhood Greek place, or in a Greek area of the city, or in Greece! On the other hand, it’s lovely to sit in the open courtyard and the mall makes the place feel appropriately modern and contemporary.

We were fed and watered extremely well, with a wonderful array of starters and mains. This souvlaki above was a favourite. A basic dish but everything was so tasty. As was this incredible prawn dish.

It was a great evening and Platia were very generous to us. Nicer people you could not meet. Greek cheese is a bit marvelous too.

And this slightly unusual rendition of feta.

My favourite, I’d have to say, was the octopus, which at times, in other restaurants I have found too, er, visceral an experience, but the grilled flavour was just so good.

All the standards are on offer here too… Slow-cooked lamb.

Moussaka, a particular favourite of mine, but I think it gets lost a bit when there are so many other dishes.


Stuffed mushrooms…

A few new menu items were on offer such as this chicken dish.

Then the dancing broke out. My goodness (and the two musicians who played throughout the evening were great!)

The plates were rather interesting: made of plaster and made me to be broken.

You’d have thought that the ouzo shots were the reason for the dancing but in fact were offered kindly as a farewell gesture.

Though before this we also polished off this amazing dessert plate.

Thanks to Platia and my fellow diners for a memorable meal. If you’re in Ryde, or up for a Ryde (heh, heh), ride on up there. OK. I’ll stop now.

Platia Greek Taverna Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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