Thursday, July 26, 2012

Xanthi Bar & Restaurant

Located in Westfield Sydney's Level 6 Dining Precinct, Xanthi Bar & Restaurant headed by David Tsirekas, certainly dishes out some great Greek food. 

Jumping at the opportunity of The Chefs Club promotion from Westfield last month, a group of us got together and sampled their special Tuesday night menu. It was a cold and rainy night but when we finally left the restaurant, two bottles of wine and a load of delicious food later, none of us could feel much of the cold. 

With delicate golden fabric draped from the ceiling, it felt as if we walked into a circus tent, one that's rather elegant and luxurious.

Lamb Skaras
The Chefs Club menu changes monthly so it gives patrons a good opportunity to try different dishes. Our set menu came with a traditional Greek SaladPork Belly Baklava (twice cooked pork belly with a date and pistachio filling, served with a date mastic sauce and pork crackling), Lamb Skaras (Perama's famous slow braised lamb shoulder, marinated in paprika, garlic and olive oil. Barbecued and served with lemon, olive oil baste, baked lemon oregano potatoes and steamed string beans, and last but not least, Caramel Baklava Ice Cream (Sliced layers of vanilla bean ice cream, caramel fudge and baklava nuts).

We chose Kir Yianni Akakies Rose 2010 Xinomavro from Amydeon, Macedonia to accompany our meal, a light, fragrant wine that doesn't distract us from the flavourful food presented to us. There is also a selection of beer and cocktails should your palate prefer something other than wine, or you can always pick something from the Ouzo cart that has 20 different Ouzos as well as Tsipouro ad Raki.

Xanthi Bar & Restaurant: Level 6 Westfield Sydney. Cnr Pitt St Mall and Market St, Sydney, NSW 2000  Xanthi Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

Monday, July 9, 2012

Mad Cow (CLOSED)

Sydney is going through a long and cold winter this year, but thanks to winter specials popping up in bars and restaurants around town, it meant braving the cold could lead to a great meal that won't break the bank. So with a friend in tow we checked out Merivale's Mad Cow last Friday night.

The deco inside is nothing like what you'd expect for a steakhouse; with its white, yellow and gold colours, oversized lampshades and leafy green foliage, it oozed elegance and left me feeling a tad underdressed. The leather booth seating might not look very comfortable, that is until you sit down and hours later still want to stay seated.

Located on the same floor as the ivy bar, Mad Cow is currently running their Holy Cow promotion, where $40 will get you 2 courses and a drink. Pretty good deal if you ask me, especially when the mains you get to choose from are around $30-$40 themselves.

I opted for entrée and main for my 2 courses while my friend went for the main and dessert combo. Feeling quite hungry we added a few Sides from the full menu as extras to share. Half way through dinner we realised that we probably could have done without the Hand cut thick chips with murray river pink salt, not because they weren't good, in fact, they were excellent, crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle, but after the complimentary soy and linseed and sourdough bread that came with some seriously creamy and soft butter, plus the not-so-small bowl of shoestring fries served with my main, we ended up with too much food on the table.

Hand cut thick chips and Broccolini
What caught my eyes during the meal was the Broccolini, lemon, chilli side dish, its vibrant green colour lured me to try it as soon as it arrived at the table. Crisp-tender, it tasted as good as it looked!

The Sydney rock oysters, mignonette sauce, lemon I had as entrée were fresh but nothing to get excited about; the Minute steak, 200g with café de paris butter served with shoestring fries and green salad had a warm and mostly pink-red centre that was tender and juicy. In other words, it was cooked to a perfect medium-rare, just the way I like it. I finally had my steak craving satisfied after a very disappointing experience at a steakhouse two weeks ago, where a prime piece of Scotch fillet was ruined with too much salt.

Given the generous servings, a plateful of Risotto of mushrooms, peas, sage, parmigiano reggiano had my friend seeking my help when it came to dessert time. The Pavlova, pineapple, passion fruit was simple and delicious, the sweetness from the crisp crust and soft, fluffy centre was well balanced by the acidity from the fruits.

Espresso Martini and Bramble
With another friend joining us towards the end of the meal we decided to stay for a few drinks before heading over to Pool Club. Instead of the usual coffee or tea our waitress suggested Espresso Martini (Belvedere Vodka, Kahlua, dash of sugar and fresh espresso) as a little after dinner pick-me-up and they came with some delectable buttery shortbread and gooey brownie petits fours. Staying away from the late night caffeine hit, I ordered myself a sour but refreshing Bramble (Plymouth Gin and lemon juice stirred with crushed ice, crowned with Crème De Mure).

Considering the top notch service, mouthwatering steak and great cocktails, it was no wonder our meal ended up being over 3 hours long. Good thing we went for an early dinner.

Mad Cow: Level 1, ivy, 330 George Street, Sydney, NSW 2000  Mad Cow on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Misschu Bondi

Charlie's Iced Tea
I'm pretty clueless when it comes to whisky, but one can always learn to appreciate it, just like I did with wine. And bar manager Ben Eakins was more than happy to show me the large range of premium and rare whiskies he's got stocked on the shelves at Misschu Bondi. Yep, you've heard me right, we now have a whisky bar in a Vietnamese eatery. 

Not a whisky fan? No problem. Wine, beer and cocktails are also on offer. The cocktail list is small but features all the main spirits, with some Asian influence mixed in. Charlie's Iced Tea (Absolute Wild Tea, Green Tea Syrup, Cucumber, mint and apple juice) was my first choice, refreshing and easy to drink. The Tree Fiddy (Beefeater 24 Gin and St Germain Elderflower liqueur with crushed pineapple and cardamom, served with cardamom pods floated over the top) was smooth and definitely had a kick to it. 

Wagyu Beef Pho & Rice Paper Rolls
Self-claimed as Queen of Rice Paper Rolls, the food at Nahji Chu's Misschu certainly do not disappoint, and that's not just limited to the rice paper rolls. The blackboard specials is a great place to start. The use of ox tail in the broth of the Wagyu Beef Pho (traditional Vietnamese beef noodle soup) definitely paid off, flavourful without MSG. Even though the Traditional Duck Pancakes come highly recommended, make sure you give the Steamed Dumplings a try. Scallop & prawn and Shanghai pork are my favourites. For dessert, the Gluten free Cheery Chocolate Brownie and the Tapioca Pearl Pudding with coconut cream rounded off our meal perfectly. 

Another thing I love about this tuck shop in Bondi is their Steam Boat and all you need is two people for it. For me, eating fresh veggies, meat and seafood cooked in a delicious broth right on the table in front of you is one of the best ways to battle the winter cold. 

Unlike the hole-in-the-wall Misschu tuck shops in Darlinghurst and Regent Place, Misschu Bondi is a proper eatery where you can sit back, relax and let Liz and her team look after you. The deco is funky with lots of wood, while the rackets and helmets hung from the hooks on the wall are obviously part of the deco, coats from patrons often find their way onto the hooks. You'll also find hooks on the side of tables and under the bar, perfect for hanging handbags. The missing bricks in the wall allow you to have a peek into the newly opened Potato Ghetto next door (also from Nahji Chu). So grab a bunch of friends and have a steam boat party, or find a seat at the bar and learn all about the world of whisky. 

Misschu, Bondi: 178 Campbell Parade, Bondi Beach, NSW 2026  Misschu on Urbanspoon