Coffee in Sydney: Le Fix, Surry Hills

It’s comforting to find that Le Fix, just back from Taylor Square, is providing the same comforting atmosphere as Cafe Belgenny did for as long as I remember (though I believe Belgenny changed hands a few times).

They’ve been open eight months, apparently, and the place seems to be a big brighter than before, with some more rainbow colours and sparkle (though that might just be because of the current Equality campaign).

We settled in for coffee, a cinnamon scroll, a fancy cold-pressed juice (which my pal thought was great) and tea. Friendly owner, nice vibe, and: check this out: maybe you’ll get a special coffee too if you’re there at the right time. 

Le Fix Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Sydney Food Diary: Madang, CBD


Finding Sydney Madang where it’s tucked in an alleyway off Pitt Street does feel like you could be in a grey and featureless backstreet of an Asian city, say in Japan or Korea. This restaurant has great reviews and apparently has big queues in the evening! For lunch on a Wednesday, it was very quiet in fact. We opted to split a huge mixed platter for the BBQ with bulgogi (two portions as one was a substitute for the ox tongue that we passed on), three big juicy prawns, some octopus, a few mussels, some chicken and pork.

I admit that all Korean BBQs take pretty much the same to me. I suppose if it were bad, I’d be able to taste it but otherwise, marinated, tender, smoky pieces of meat and seafood seem hard to differentiate. The side dishes, usually a thrill at a Korean restaurant, were fairly lifeless though. $60 for the two of us. It felt neither here nor there. Perhaps time to head back to Danjee instead.

Those two paragraphs above were written in November 2015 (and as of the end of October 2017 were purportedly seen by 35,885). Just this week, I was craving Korean Fried Chicken after a concert, and we wandered back here.

I had that hint of recognition, remembering that it had good reviews but not remembering my lunch here from 2015. Decided to give it a go, and it was probably even more disappointing the second time.

The small plates of kimchi and such were definitely not as good as other places I’ve been to. They don’t serve Korean Fried Chicken, so we tried a deep-fried chicken in a sweet and sour sauce. Uninspiring. Worst was the Bibimbap in a hotpot; with the right combo of ingredients and sauce, this is always a favourite. This version tasted like plain rice with vegetables. The Jap Chae, potato starch noodles, were the best: great flavour and consistency and they serve a range of Korean beer, which is fun, but overall I felt bummed out that we hadn’t found better Korean food when there seems to be so much of it around, and so close.

Sydney Madang Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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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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