Friday, 26 March 2010

Capital Grill, Circular Quay

I always said I'd never do a review/blog of where I work, it's... immoral..?  Nevertheless, I would like to say that I am trying my best to leave my bias out of it.

Furthmore, I unfortunately have no photos because I didn't really feel right taking photos where I work - I don't really want my colleagues to know I'm a food blogger. Not because I'm embarrassed or anything, I'm just not sure how appropriate it is to be a chef/blogger, doing reviews of competitors etc. Anyway, will add in some pics from our website.

Anyway, onto the food. I recently went to Capital Grill with a couple of friends who are currenly living in Hong Kong and visited Sydney for four days this week. I'd planned on going to Sake, a Japanese place in the Rocks but they wanted anything but Asian food.

The girls ordered cocktails, Nic had a fantastic fruity thing (created by our Bar Manager) and Rach had a pretty good looking Pisco Sour - she enjoyed it but I didn't taste it myself.

Having been seated upstairs, we were given the royal treatment. It was a quiet Tuesday evening so the head chef had time to create some specials for us: Obviously I'm a chef there so I knew the menu, which meant that he tried to mix it up as much as possible and ended up providing us with a fantastic 7 course meal. We were also offered a fantastic Pinot Noir that had been matched to our menu (not sure of anything about the wine though; it was recommended and we drank it!)

First up, we had an amuse bouche of a spicy gazpacho with basil oil, followed by our first entree of Sydney Rock Oysters (from Port Stephen I believe); served with Red Wine Vinegar Granita, diced eshallots and cracked black pepper. Awesome - much prefer these to the Irish Oysters I'm used to back home.

Next course was what is becoming our signature dish, having featured in our Telegraph and SMH reviews. Carpaccio of Hiramasa Kingfish with Pomegranate, Watermelon Vinaigrette and Salmon Roe. I'd tasted it several times before but never actually had a whole dish, and it was beautifully presented and the flavours will brilliant, only I might've liked a little more salt, even with the saltiness of the Roe.

Kingfish Carpaccio

Third course, we were sent up two seared scallops on sweetcorn puree with sauteed trompette mushrooms and parsley. This dish isn't on the menu as such, but the flavours were fantastic together, the sweetness of the scallop and puree, which give way to the deep earthiness of the trompettes.

The Fish Course, and we received a fantastically presented fillet of Blue-Eye Cod with Desiree Potato scales, sat on top of sauteed Cavalo Nero (a Tuscan Cabbage), with whole roast garlic cloves and a Bordelaise sauce (not an overpowering bordelaise though, we made it half chicken and half beef, and the Blue-Eye is a fairly meaty fish that can stand up to the flavour of the jus.) Again, everything was delicious.

Meat Course was Beef Fillet from Riverine, SA, with Soubise (a creamy onion puree-ish), Red Wine Jus, a Fondant Kipfler Potato and Roasted King Brown mushrooms. The meat was cooked to perfection, a beautiful medium rare, although the girls would have preferred it more well done. (Rest assured, for normal customers the meat is cooked to their requests, it's just for me that he sent up the meat cooked [in a chef's opinion] how it should be!)

Finally, on to dessert. I was trying to guess what Zac, the head chef, would send up to us but I'd completely forgot he'd been experimenting recently with a peach souffle... It arrived at the table, towering up over the plate, garnished with a fat chunk of beautifully creamy vanilla parfait and some scattered fresh raspberries, and I prayed the girls were too full to eat theirs!!! I love desserts - I hope to develop into a pastry chef eventually - and this souffle was magnificent. For those of you that are turning green with envy now, there is a chance that it'll go on the menu soon, and I promise you wouldn't be disappointed!

Mezzanine Dining Area

So, that's all folks. Definitely the best meal I've had in my five months in Sydney, and one of the best I've ever had. Granted, we weren't "normal" customers so we were treated to that extra bit of attention that makes all the difference, but I am still confident that when the new Good Food Guide comes out in September(?), we'll win our Chef's Hat.

I don't really intend this post to read like a review, I pretty much just wanted to make you jealous. I know I'm salivating just thinking about it.

Monday, 22 March 2010


Not the most adventurous home-cooked meal but I'm on a tight budget this week...

It's obviously pretty straightforward, but everyone's recipe differs. Mine differs every time I make it, depending on what I have in the kitchen!

Tomato Pasta Sauce
Sliced Onion
Ripe Tomatoes
Tinned Tomatoes
Tomato Paste
Capsicum (Roasted and peeled, if you can be bothered)
Mixed Herbs (Today I used Basil, Parsley and Thyme)
Salt & Pepper
Worcestershire Sauce

Sweat the onions, then add everything else and simmer... Sometimes I puree it, sometimes I leave it pretty rustic.

Sauce, pureed.

Meat, balled.
1kg Beef Mince
500g Pork Mince
Diced Onion
Chopped Chilli
Chopped Garlic
Chopped Parsley
Salt & Pepper

Sweat the onion, chilli and garlic slowly, then allow to cool before mixing into the meat and rest for half an hour. Shape into balls, about 50g/the size of a ping-pong ball. Seal the balls in hot oil, then pour over the tomato sauce and simmer gently for... a while.

Ideally, serve on top of spaghetti or linguini, garnish with finely chopped parsley and grated parmesan. Eat.

This batch wasn't bad, not fantastic. I like having capsicum in the sauce too, not really traditional (I don't think), but it adds a bit of extra depth.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Eveleigh Farmers Market (And Lunch!)

My first ever visit to Eveleigh Market and, to be honest, I love it. Granted, it's a bit smaller than I expected but I loved all the stalls there and I'm going back next week for sure.

The market was fairly busy, packed full of like-minded foodies (and Kylie Kwong), although it wasn't so busy as to be frustrating. Beautiful day to be strolling through the market too.

The variety of fruit, vegetables, meats, cheeses and everything else was fantastic, and everything was very reasonably priced too.

At the market, I bought a bag of these apples, $6, as well as a selection of cheeses including a fantastic NSW Brie, a bottle of Bell River Estate Reserve Tawny Port ($25), some great awarding winning Alto Olive Oil (and the guy let me have some tasty olives too for $20 all together), a tub each of Yalla hummus and capsicum salsa (both brilliant), some lovely, fresh Oak Leaf lettuce and sorrel, and a bright orange little pumpkin, which I haven't tasted yet.

Not the Oil I bought, but still pretty good!

An hour later, back at my place, Red & I cracked open the Port, set up a brilliant lunch for ourselves and sat back in the beautiful Sydney sunshine. 

Eveleigh Market (Every Saturday, 8am - 1pm)
243 Wilson Street

Monday, 15 March 2010

Bairro Portuguese Festival / Goan Pork Curry

Since my funds are running painfully low, I couldn't really afford to try out a restaurant this weekend, and laziness stopped me from cooking at home (Is it bad that I never want to cook for just me alone?). I walked up to Petersham (a lot further than I thought!) to visit the Portuguese festival there.

The Festival was OK, lots of crowds, live music, capoeira demonstrations, and a good range of food stalls offering everything from Portuguese (obviously), to Brazilian and Goan, and even a few random stalls too - including Spanish Paella and Dutch Pancakes.

After buying a frankly rather average plastic cup full of Sangria ($5), I wandered over to the stall run by Viva Goa, a restaurant in Pyrmont, where I opted for a small serving of the Porco vin d'alho (Wine & Garlic Pork). It was delicious, maybe since I'd been craving an Indian curry, but nevertheless I did find it well seasoned and tasty and the pork was fairly tender too - I'm confident it'd be even better in the restaurant.

In all honesty I couldn't really identify much difference between Goan and other Indian curries, but I'm not exactly an expert - the "Indian" curries back home in England have little or no authenticity to them!

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Bump 'N' Grind Central Cafe, King Street, Newtown

I stopped into Bump N Grind for a quiet coffee on Sunday morning, having walked past it so many times and it's almost always lively.

After being greeted by the smiling waitress, I sat outside and ordered a Soy Flat White and Toasted Banana Bread ($6.50). The service was fast and attentive, and both the waitresses were friendly and pleasant.

The coffee arrived first, and was pretty good. Nicely hot, not too bitter so I didn't need to add sugar, and good looking as well. I won't say it's the best coffee in the world, but it's not bad.

The Banana bread arrived shortly afterwards, sliced into three fat slices and garnished with a strawberry. Unfortunately the promised butter didn't arrive, but I didn't actually notice until I was almost finished because the bread was so moist anyway. It was still hot from the toaster when it arrived, just crisp on the outside. Good stuff.

All in all, I had few complaints - being sat on the pavement of King Street isn't that much of a pleasant experience, any quieter street would have been much better! The strawberry garnish wasn't very tasty; it was very sharp, not sweet and juicy. And finally, the lack of butter... it wasn't strictly necessary but do I like my butter. 


Next time I want a coffee and can't be bothered walking to Campos, I'm sure there's worse places to go than Bump N Grind.

Bump 'N' Grind
534 King Street
Newtown 2042
9516 2888

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Sydney Fish Market, Pyrmont

After walking up Glebe Point Road, I reached my destination: The Sydney Fish Market. I'd wanted to go here after reading about it in the Lonely Planet Australia guidebook, but I was kind of disappointed really. I was expecting one huge market, dominated by commercial buyers and so on.

What I found in reality, was several different companies selling exactly the same thing, each of them much like a large (albeit very fresh) fishmongers. Which is good, I suppose, as a consumer - you can buy one salmon fillet and so on, rather than having to buy a whole salmon, but it's just not the picture I had in my mind. Nevertheless, it was an interesting way to spend half an hour or so, exploring the markets.

Atlantic Salmon

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Baja Cantina / Glebe Market, Glebe Point Road

 Glebe Market

 My weekend-ly (is that a word?) exploration of Sydney today led me to the Glebe Markets, on Glebe Point Road. I wasn't looking for anything in particular at the market, I just fancied checking it out; there is a fantastic, eclectic collection of stalls here, and I'm sure when I do have some spare cash I'll come back!

 Glebe Market

I had planned on going to a cafe or restaurant on Glebe Point Road but inside the market (held in the grounds of Glebe Public School, every Saturday from 9 till 4) I found a mexican food stall, run by Baja Cantina. Here, I got a $10 Pork Burrito, a flour tortilla jam-packed with rice, refried breans, pico de gallo, jack cheese, and a good amount of chunky pieces of juicy pork.

Not the most picturesque meal but seriously tasty!
[Accompanied by Pine-and-Lime-ade from The Citrus Factory] 

Having expected shredded or even minced pork, the delicious bitesize hunks of well-seasoned pork were a great surprise. Overall, the flavour was pretty good, and seemed fairly authentic (although I've never actually been to Mexico!). I think I'd have prefered it to be a little spicier, but there were a range of spicy sauces on offer to add yourself. The accompanying feta salad was simple but good, with fresh crispy leaves, sweet, juicy and ripe tomatoes, all dressed with a tasty yet straightforward vinaigrette. The guacamole was also good - just the right amount of acidity from the lime juice. My only real complaint is that the flour tortilla is from a packet rather than freshly made, but it tasted good all the same.

The restaurant, across the road from the market stall isn't open for lunch on Saturday, but it does open later for dinner service. Inside, the decor is very colourful, bright and bold, with typical Central American art and sculptures. There is also a sign in the window advertising their new courtyard/beer garden.

Judging by the burrito, I would go to the restaurant sometime to try a proper meal, especially with main courses all below $20.

Baja Cantina
43-45 Glebe Point Road,
Glebe, 2037,
9571 1199

New Camera!!

Woohoo! Finally got myself a new camera (a Fujifilm Finepix F70 EXR) so my photos should be much better now.

Here are some of my test photos.