Tag Archives: Inner West

Cafe Sopra at Fratelli Fresh, Alexandria - by heneedsfood.com

Cafe Sopra at Fratelli Fresh, Alexandria

Cafe Sopra at Fratelli Fresh, Alexandria - by heneedsfood.com

Cafe Sopra at Fratelli Fresh, Alexandria - by heneedsfood.com

For over a decade the Fratelli empire has been providing Sydney with imported smallgoods, fresh produce and Italian fare at its Cafe Sopra eatery.

Ever since the Danks Street outlet closed its doors to relocate and fill the former Buckland pub digs in Alexandria, this pair has been paying them visits a little more frequently. Mind you, mainly to pick up fresh Iggy’s sourdough on the weekends as soon as they open.

I’d previously dined at Cafe Sopra on Bridge Street in town; the cosy basement eating space with decent Italian food offerings and an atmosphere that leaves a ringing in the ears; a combination of poor acoustics and people that can’t keep it down.

Cafe Sopra at Fratelli Fresh, Alexandria - by heneedsfood.com

Cafe Sopra at Fratelli Fresh, Alexandria - by heneedsfood.com

The menu is pretty much cloned across every Sopra outlet – Antipasti, primi, secondi, pizza etc – so something like that glorious plate of crisp polenta, mushrooms and gorgonzola cream (18) can be enjoyed wherever you choose to eat.

As for the pan-fried gnocchi (28), we’re told that’s it only at the Alexandria address that you can have it. The high price may not match the size so much, but the flavour and texture of these little darlings is something else. Spinach, peas, pancetta and goat cheese join a delicious lemon-scented sauce that works beautifully with the light dumplings.

Cafe Sopra at Fratelli Fresh, Alexandria - by heneedsfood.com

Some greenery came in the form of baby spinach salad (22) with burrata, roast pumpkin and pistachios.

All intentions were made to try the wood-fired pizza on another visit, but those golden fried hunks of polenta had to be consumed again. Just as good as last time.

The lamb ragù with orecchiette (22) sounded great on paper; obviously slow-cooked with tomato, chilli and rosemary, but sadly no love was applied. Watery, lifeless and none of the flavours that you’d expect from any kind of ragú. This was a “hand-me-the-salt” instance.

Things looked up with the pan-fried barramundi (28) adorned with juicy roasted cherry tomatoes. Creamy flesh – clearly freshwater barra with its earthy flavour – a little pumpkin purée, garlic crisps and fresh basil.

Considering the hits and misses, it’s still a decent choice for the neighbourhood.

Cafe Sopra at Fratelli Fresh, Alexandria - by heneedsfood.com

Cafe Sopra at Fratelli Fresh, Alexandria - by heneedsfood.com

Cafe Sopra at Fratelli Fresh, Alexandria - by heneedsfood.com

  • Cafe Sopra at Fratelli Fresh
  • 52 Mitchell Road
  • Alexandria 2015
  • 02 8399 4777
  • website
  • Click to add a blog post for Café Sopra at Fratelli Fresh on Zomato
Pasha's Restaurant, Newtown, Sydney - by heneedsfood.com

Pasha’s Restaurant

Pasha's Restaurant, Newtown, Sydney - by heneedsfood.com

With all the comings and goings along the ever-changing King Street south in Newtown, there’s a handful of stalwarts that have been consistently feeding us for many years.

Take these guys, for example. Pasha’s has had its fair share of owners, but how many Newtown restaurants can boast about being in business for 40 years? And the point of being Sydney’s first Turkish restaurant may be a valid one.

Pasha's Restaurant, Newtown, Sydney - by heneedsfood.com

Pasha's Restaurant, Newtown, Sydney - by heneedsfood.com

The rich and traditional décor is a real feast for the eyes. Mosaic lamps and table-tops, pottery, boncuk amulets and beads, rugs and handicrafts decorate almost every available space. And for the more flexible diners amongst us: the option to sit in the cushion room.

Meze is always a good place to start with a cuisine like Turkish. A little dangerous as I find it way too easy to focus on the hot and cold dishes, sip on vino and forget about the rest of the menu.

The karışık meze platter (26) is a taste-fest of hummus, spinach & garlic yoghurt, smoked eggplant, cucumber-garlic yoghurt and chilli-walnut. Bread comes with it, or course.

Pasha's Restaurant, Newtown, Sydney - by heneedsfood.com

Pasha's Restaurant, Newtown, Sydney - by heneedsfood.com

Pasha's Restaurant, Newtown, Sydney - by heneedsfood.com

From the hot meze selection, it was the paçanga börek (14) that we dove into first. Thin, crispy and a tad on the oily-side, the golden pastry rolls are filled with aged pastirma and kaşar cheese.

One hot meze I’ve had in the past is the Istanbul style shrimp (16); juicy little critters sautéed in butter and basil with a final flourish of boozy rakı. Love them.

As if they weren’t enough to start with, a plate of wild vine leaves (15) and spoon salad made the meze spread as well.

Pasha's Restaurant, Newtown, Sydney - by heneedsfood.com

Pasha's Restaurant, Newtown, Sydney - by heneedsfood.com

Pasha's Restaurant, Newtown, Sydney - by heneedsfood.com

Lamb became the go-to meat on this particular visitation. The colourfully plated hünkar beğendi (29) features tender nubs of lamb stewed with capsicum and tomato, spooned over a delicious charred eggplant concoction. That glorious eggplant seriously stole the limelight.

My core love for dumplings was satisfied with the kayseri mantı (25) – a golden huddle of meat-filled dumplings treading in yoghurt and tomato sauce. This one deserves a gold star.

Pasha's Restaurant, Newtown, Sydney - by heneedsfood.com

The final plate of savouries was the yoghurt kebab (28), served a little differently to the more familiar İskender variety. Drenched in tangy tomato sauce, yoghurt and butter, the chunks of tender lamb were coming close to defeating us.

What did defeat us was the künefe (18), a Turkish classic that’s a celebration of shredded kadayıf pastry, soft cheese and butter. To add to the richness it’s surrounded by a moat of creamy custard, with toasted almonds and ground pistachios.

Pasha's Restaurant, Newtown, Sydney - by heneedsfood.com

Something that’s still relatively new to Pasha’s is the Bosphorus Style breakfast they put on every Sunday from 9am to 2pm. For $30 you can partake in some a.m. feasting that’s bound to make you skip lunch.

A little cup of Turkish coffee jolts the senses as you scan the edibles and decide what to dig into first. A variety of breads – simit, lavaş and Turkish – fill baskets alongside sour cherry, strawberry and apricot jams. Another dish contains tahini pekmez, a lip-pursing concoction with nutrient-rich grape molasses; whilst another one holds bal kaymak – clotted cream and honey.

And then there are the cheeses. String haloumi, çökelek (air-dried cottage cheese), sheep feta with black sesame, a classic white and traditional Turkish cheddar (kaşar).

Pasha's Restaurant, Newtown, Sydney - by heneedsfood.com

Pasha's Restaurant, Newtown, Sydney - by heneedsfood.com

Pasha's Restaurant, Newtown, Sydney - by heneedsfood.com

Fresh tomato, cucumber, a variety of olives and pickled chilli. Plus two runny eggs cooked in butter and topped with pul biker – flakes of red pepper.

Some pan-fried sucuk – a spicy veal sausage – is served over leaves dressed in a sharp pomegranate reduction and walnuts. In case a little sausage action isn’t enough, a 40 cm long börek appears and joins the feast. Thin, crispy pastry and warm spinach & cheese innards. On top is a delicious coil of pastırma.

A variety of teas is available during the breakfast feasting, and to round it all off you get wedges of melon sprinkled with ground pistachio plus Turkish delight for a little more sugar.

Now that’s one mighty breakfast!

Pasha's Restaurant, Newtown, Sydney - by heneedsfood.com

Pasha's Restaurant, Newtown, Sydney - by heneedsfood.com

Pasha's Restaurant, Newtown, Sydney - by heneedsfood.com

  • Pasha’s Restaurant
  • 490 King Street
  • Newtown 2042
  • 02 9519 3139
  • website
  • Pasha's Restaurant on Urbanspoon
The Bach Eatery, feature by heneedsfood.com

The Bach Eatery

The Bach Eatery, feature by heneedsfood.com

The closure of Newtown’s Spencer Guthrie late last year left us with one less eatery on the every-changing south end of King Street. When old doors close, new ones open, so it didn’t take long before the narrow space was stripped and a new one emerged.

At first glance, the name Bach gives the impression of a classical composer from the Baroque period; but those that are familiar with a certain piece of New Zealand architecture have another thing in their minds.

The bach is a small holiday or beach house. A shabby dwelling made from wood panels, fibro or corrugated iron; with a drop toilet out the back and the rolling surf just metres away. Although, some of the new ones are a tad jaw-dropping.

The Bach Eatery, feature by heneedsfood.com

The Bach Eatery, feature by heneedsfood.com

Owners Darrien and Philippa Potaka have created their own type of bach where one can step off bustling King Street and escape to a chilled place offering booze, food and a cosy atmosphere.

A bit of a change for Darrien, considering he was previously executive chef at Bistro Moncur and Bar 333; and those that remember Level 41, he was Dietmar Sawyere’s right hand man.

The Bach Eatery, feature by heneedsfood.com

The Bach Eatery, feature by heneedsfood.com

A visit to New Zealand without coming across Monteith’s beer would be a rarity, so seeing the brew at The Bach is another sign that the owners are fellow antipodeans. And as for the wine list, well, you could probably guess where most of the wines come from. There’s even L&P for those that like it fizzy, sugary and alcohol-free.

Food-wise, it’s evident that Darrien is behind the menu creation. It may be a tightly edited collection of edibles, but it’s in dishes like the 16-hour slow cooked lamb shoulder (20) that his French techniques shine through. In fact, it was the first thing we smelled as soon as we stepped over the imprinted “Good Times” threshold.

Juicy, melting and loaded with richness; the two blocks of lamb are complemented by carrot purée and brussels sprouts treated in two ways.

The Bach Eatery, feature by heneedsfood.com

The Bach Eatery, feature by heneedsfood.com

There are a bunch of small bites designed for nibbling with drinks: such as oysters, charcuterie and prawn & pea arancini (4). The prawn may not have shined through a great deal in the golden little orbs, but a faint hint of crab bisque did in the aïoli.

There’s a celebration of textures in the beet & heirloom carrot salad (14); all tangled with greenery, fried carrot, hazelnuts, ricotta and parsnip purée.

A slow-cooked egg sits camouflaged by a snow of parmesan in the pappardelle with broad bean velouté (18). Nice, simple flavours with pasta that’s flecked with broccoli. Pity the yolk was on the firm side and didn’t contribute much to coating the pappardelle.

The Bach Eatery, feature by heneedsfood.com

The Bach Eatery, feature by heneedsfood.com

The desserts are limited to a few choices, plus a cheese board for the fromage fans amongst us. The hokey pokey brûlée (10) drew us in immediately because, well, it’s only the Kiwi’s that do the hokey pokey thing.

It’s usually added to ice cream, but the honeycomb element is used to garnish the brûlée here in The Bach. Nice, thick sugary crust over a deliciously silky custard.

So get your jandals on and drop by the Bach, bro, and no need to bring the chilly bin!

The Bach Eatery, feature by heneedsfood.com

  • The Bach Eatery
  • 399 King Street
  • Newtown 2042
  • 02 8084 4093
  • website
  • Bach Eatery on Urbanspoon
Izba Russian Treats, feature by heneedsfood.com

Izba Russian Treats

Izba Russian Treats, feature by heneedsfood.com

It’s a little difficult to imagine having to line up for hours to buy a special type of cake or confectionary. And I’m not referring to the likes of Dominique Ansel Bakery in New York.

Queuing for hours was a very common activity in the iron clad USSR, post-WWII. Hard times, methinks.

The government had control over everything, even down to the way a particular cake was to be made and sold. State run factories produced such food items from a single recipe, so no matter which town or city you were in, that cake was exactly the same and without any home-cooked or personal flourishes.

Izba Russian Treats, feature by heneedsfood.com

Izba Russian Treats, feature by heneedsfood.com

Izba Russian Treats, feature by heneedsfood.com

They may be vague memories, but owner of Izba Russian Treats – Olga Rogacheva – remembers what it was like in the years before the Iron Curtain came down.

Olga’s love for cakes and baked treats is pretty strong. It was not long after moving here from Russia’s second largest city of Yaroslavl several years ago that she opened her own bakery in Sydney’s Newtown.

Izba Russian Treats, feature by heneedsfood.com

Izba Russian Treats, feature by heneedsfood.com

Olga’s two chefs, which so happen to be French, do most of the baking; knocking out a steady stream of sweet and savoury breads and pastries, cakes, pies and pirozhki. Whilst all the traditional Russian ingredients aren’t available in Australia, what these guys produce is still the real deal.

The blini is a staple to many Russian families and here at Izba there are two varieties to choose from. Made using buckwheat flour, the gluten-free, slightly-sour pancakes are filled with either stewed beef & caramelised onion or sweetened cottage cheese & sultanas (11). We can confidently vouch for the sweet version – soft and delicate and served with homemade cranberry jam and sour cream.

I couldn’t help but scoff a little sample of the gluten Putin (8.5), a triple layered creation featuring layers of flourless sponge, raspberry-chocolate ganache and gooey caramel. Talk about a sugar hit!

Izba Russian Treats, feature by heneedsfood.com

Izba Russian Treats, feature by heneedsfood.com

Izba Russian Treats, feature by heneedsfood.com

For a great value feed there are the few pies that are big enough for two. A chicken, a mushroom, and this salmon pie (9.5). It’s basically a cross-section cut from a much larger pie with hearty layers of buckwheat, chopped egg, spinach, goat cheese and hot smoked salmon. Those unfamiliar with the taste of buckwheat may find it a tad rich.

Izba Russian Treats, feature by heneedsfood.com

Izba Russian Treats, feature by heneedsfood.com

With freshly baked koshka, piroshki and poppy seed plushka peering at you from the top of the counter, it’s easy to get carried away with trying more than intended.

One of Russia’s sweet signatures is the honey cake (5) – a layered creation that dates back to the 1800’s, when it was made for the Empress that had an aversion to honey. The layers of soft biscuit-like honey pastry and whipped vanilla sour cream are surprisingly low in sugar, which to me, means you can try another piece of cake!

Izba Russian Treats, feature by heneedsfood.com

Izba Russian Treats, feature by heneedsfood.com

Perhaps a tiny kartoshka (4.5) cone of buttercream and ground biscuits, coated in cocoa? Nah, I had to try the Izba (9).

It gets its name from the traditional wooden cross-log hut that was first built in the 8th century – an architectural marvel of old-time Russia.

The cake takes its cues from this traditional wooden hut with amarena cherries that are rolled in dough and stacked into an izba shape with vanilla-laced sour cream. The cream itself isn’t too sour, and instead the tartness comes from the juicy cherries. It has a very soft mouth-feel and is surprisingly not overloaded with sugar; reminding me of the elaborate torte I used to eat as a kid.

One thing, for sure, is there’s bound to be something to satisfy anyones sweet tooth at this little piece of Russia on King Street south.

  • Izba Russian Treats
  • 579 King Street
  • Newtown 2042
  • 02 9557 9437
  • website
  • Izba Russian Treats on Urbanspoon
burgerten01

Burger 10

Burger 10, Glebe - feature by heneedsfood.com

“10 burgers. 10 countries. An unforgettable burger tasting experience.”

You’ve got to admire a place that sings its own praises.

For the handful of times that the suburb of Glebe sees my face each year, the more recent walks down Glebe Point Road saw me stopping at this joint to read the menu.

I’m not the biggest of burger consumers, but the sound of the offerings at Burger 10 finally drew me in. Even for a second and third visit to try more from the menu; a required task as my significant other, or “the non-burger eater”, wasn’t all that wowed on our first visit.

Burger 10, Glebe - feature by heneedsfood.com

Burger 10, Glebe - feature by heneedsfood.com

Burger 10, Glebe - feature by heneedsfood.com

The first time around was a table for two, and when I say the other half wasn’t all that wowed, I mean it wasn’t all that memorable. A smoked chicken burger (10.95) that (thankfully) uses thigh rather than breast was moist, flavoursome and joined rocket and beetroot with aîoli in its Italian themed burger. Some very slight smokiness came through in the chicken, plus a little lemon, and the regular bun was substituted with Turkish bread.

My choice of braised beef burger (12.5) was the Australian representative of the multi-national burger menu; shredded chunks of meat with a slices of ham, sauerkraut, mushrooms and roasted garlic cheese sauce. It’s incredibly juicy. So-much-so that it dripped incessantly every time it was lifted; rendering the base bun to a soppy mess.

Admittedly, it’s a very odd collection of fillings for an “Australian” burger; especially with that sauerkraut. I think the average Aussie is more in tune with the beef, cheese, fried onion, beetroot and fried egg combination. Perhaps even pineapple, if you really want to push it.

Burger 10, Glebe - feature by heneedsfood.com

Burger 10, Glebe - feature by heneedsfood.com

One burger I can confidently vouch for is the barramundi burger (12.95). With the Thai flag displayed next to its name on the menu, the hefty chunk of divine fish is lightly crusted in coconut with a very light drizzle of barely noticeable satay sauce. Apparently the fish is marinated in red curry but none of those flavours really permeate through, which is fine, as the flavour of the barra is the absolute star here. Loved it.

Moving away from the burgers, there’s a bunch of sides that can be included with the burger action. Salads, moussaka, rissoles and fries. I kinda liked the chicken tandoori empanadas (6.5); visibly handmade and served with minted yoghurt.

Another one was the caramelised smoked bbq glazed pork belly (12.5). Chunks of tender meat and fat that are completely overwhelmed by a very jarring glaze so full of artificial smoke flavour that ruined it for me.

Burger 10, Glebe - feature by heneedsfood.com

Burger 10, Glebe - feature by heneedsfood.com

Burger 10, Glebe - feature by heneedsfood.com

Alongside the barramundi burger, the pork & prawn burger (13.5) joined in as the other favourite. This is the Chinese representative on the menu; a well-seasoned patty of prawn and pork mince marinated in shoaxing and ginger, laden with cucumber, spring onion, soy mayo and hoisin.

It’s another difficult one to pick up and eat without making an absolute mess, but the flavours and textures went down an absolute treat. Especially with that steamed bun. It was like eating one big saucy Chinese dumpling, in burger form.

Burger 10, Glebe - feature by heneedsfood.com

  • Burger 10
  • 39 Glebe Point Road
  • Glebe 2037
  • 02 8283 3878
  • website
  • Burger10 on Urbanspoon
cuckoo09

Cuckoo Callay

Cuckoo Callay, Sydney - feature by heneedsfood.com

With the impending Bacon Festival (yes, that’s right, in case you haven’t heard) kicking off at Newtown’s Cuckoo Callay on 9 February, I decided to drop in over several visits to sample a few bits from the regular menu before it gets temporarily modified with all things porcine.

All the exposure these guys have – be it from hundreds of people walking to and from the train station, word of mouth or the constant trickle of write-ups has created a perpetually busy cafe that seems to stand out from many of the others.

And they don’t even have a cronut hybrid on the menu.

Cuckoo Callay, Sydney - feature by heneedsfood.com

Coffee-wise, it’s pretty decent, be it hot and milky espresso-based or chilled and temple-numbing cold drip.

My favourite plate of food has to go to the mother ducker (22). An earthy ensemble of lentils, sautéed spuds and shreds of tenderly warm duck topped with the most perfect poached egg. Pity the shaved asparagus was a no-show and the chilli jam was more akin to a chutney with no bite whatsoever. Negatives aside, this is one bowl of goodness I’d tuck into anytime, despite not getting everything the menu declared.

Cuckoo Callay, Sydney - feature by heneedsfood.com

Cuckoo Callay, Sydney - feature by heneedsfood.com

It’s all about cumin-spiced lamb in the beeting the sheep (19) – rolled in thin pastry and fried until golden and crisp. Some grated beetroot (I think it’s meant to be pickled) and goat cheese provide the condiment-factor, with a little extra crunch from shaved radish and snow pea tendrils.

Cuckoo Callay, Sydney - feature by heneedsfood.com

Cuckoo Callay, Sydney - feature by heneedsfood.com

With many innovative breakfast options, it can be a little tricky choosing without the risk of food envy when you spot something else go to another table.

Cured salmon is always a winner in my books, so I chose it with the #hashtag browns 2.0 (18). Bacon steak or grilled haloumi are the other add-ons. The salmon is absolute perfection and I’m chuffed with the generous quantity of it.

The let-downs? A poached egg that had way too much simmer-time, rendering it to a hard boiled egg. And a pity the bubble and squeak hash brown patty it came with was pasty and lacked any form of noticeable seasoning.

Cuckoo Callay, Sydney - feature by heneedsfood.com

A touch of Americana is evident in the berets, stars & stripes (15) – a rather sexy collection of ingredients that get the tastebuds dancing. Brioche French toast weighed down with maple bacon, whipped ricotta and smear of peanut caramel. A light sprinkling of cornflakes sealed the sugary deal. This one’s a winner.

So too is the chorizo that comes with the speedy gonzalez (18) – strong porky and paprika flavours that, with the fried eggs and beans, make for two rockin’ breakfast burritos. And the lemon-marinated avocado zings up the palate in the process.

Cuckoo Callay, Sydney - feature by heneedsfood.com

Cuckoo Callay, Sydney - feature by heneedsfood.com

  • Cuckoo Callay
  • 324b Newtown Railway Station
  • Newtown 2042
  • 02 9557 7006
  • website
  • Cuckoo Callay on Urbanspoon
bettys01

Black Betty BBQ at the Oxford Tavern

bettys02

Gone are the days of lads flocking to The Oxford Tavern to fulfil some kind of fantasy with bare female flesh and jelly wrestling. The pub had a late-2013 makeover, introduced some on-trend American fare and the devoted Inner Westies followed. Sydney still seems to be rocking with food from our across-the-Pacific neighbours.

Black Betty – that quad-drummed chamber smoker in the corner of the beer garden – debuted her full-time job in July of this year, and has been smoking her meats every weekend since. Brisket, pulled pork, smoked chook, ribs and more. It’s American barbecue, baby!

bettys03

bettys04

bettys05

bettys06

The natural inclination for many-a-carnivore at a place like this would be to try a little bit of everything. And that we did at this particular gathering of bloggers and plus ones. Foregoing the supplied cutlery and using the implements we were born with; tearing away moist chunks of smoked chicken, shreds of pork, lean slices of brisket and rather dry pork and beef ribs. I’m guessing Betty can be a little temperamental from time to time.

The small bread rolls reminded me of the ones you get in the U.S. – very little substance, a little sweet and powdery to the touch. I got the impression that the smoked pork sausage was one of the favourites; all juicy and studded with fat.

Some much needed vegetation joined the mix and helped cut through the richness. Coleslaw and a kale, broccoli and edamame salad freshened the palate of its smoky intensity. Until, of course, you dove in and sampled some of the sweet-and-smoky burnt end beans.

Probably should have grabbed another one of those $20 jugs of peach mojito.

hnf dined as +1 of Grab Your Fork and as a guest of the Oxford Tavern. 

bettys07

bettys07a

bettys08

bettys09

  • Oxford Tavern
  • 1 New Canterbury Road
  • Petersham 2049
  • 02 9550 9900
  • website
  • The Oxford Tavern on Urbanspoon
trammexican01

Tram Stop Diner & El Cuervo Cantina

trammexican02

When I was out of town late last year I heard that a diner had opened in my neighbourhood. It was news that didn’t really excite me as not only was I in the States surrounded by diners, but I haven’t quite gravitated to the American fast food trend that saturates Sydney at the moment.

On returning to Sydney, I quietly watched the new place on King Street south. Tram Stop Diner never seemed all that busy. Something that often comes down to location, menu and good old word of mouth. Aside from a breakfast menu that was only available from 10am, the regular lunch and dinner menu didn’t veer all that far from a bunch of regular sandwiches and burgers, salads, chicken & ribs and specials. It was time I gave them a go.

trammexican03

The macchiato was pretty decent. Food-wise, I went for a half rack of bbq beef ribs (9) lightly coated in hickory smoked bbq sauce. They looked pretty delicious but the meat was a tad on the chewy side, and more of the smokey bbq flavour wouldn’t have gone astray, either. A nice little cabbage and carrot slaw came with it.

Of the three salads available, the beetroot (14.5) sounded just the ticket. Big hunks of roasted beet and pumpkin, served at room temperature with Persian feta, candied walnuts and micro herbs. A good sprinkle of Kapai Puku added some much-loved crunch thanks to its mixture of seeds, nuts and puffed amaranth.

This wasn’t your ordinary diner salad and it was actually good for me. Loved it. Although, a wedge salad with blue cheese dressing would have made me happy as well.

trammexican04

trammexican05

I never quite made it back to try anything else, but I have noticed the Tram Stop Diner hasn’t been open for a while. Looks like it may be bye-byes for them?

It wasn’t long before things began to change at 609 King Street. The old signage was still up on the windows, but flashes of Mexican signage was appearing and disappearing. What the hell is going on here?

It appeared that El Cuervo Cantina moved from its Enmore Road digs; re-opening in the same space as Tram Stop Diner. The story is that there are two businesses sharing the same address. Diner by day and Mexican cantina by night. As one of the guys that works at the cantina said to me on last visit, “I don’t know what goes on with the diner during the day”.

They’re not connected. They only share a lease. I’m also told that this is Mexican food made by Mexicans. Something they’re clearly proud to announce.

trammexican06

I haven’t eaten Mexican in Sydney much despite the fact that, it too, is just as trendy as American diner food. When a restaurant goes all out with themed décor I tend to (and probably shouldn’t) make the assumption that the food is overshadowed by the over-the-top surroundings. They’re places I find myself avoiding.

No sombreros, “day of the dead” skulls and flashing neons here. And I like it. The menu is simple, fairly small and features the usual empanadas, nachos, burritos and fajitas. Tacos of the day (11) was a line-up of beef, pork and chorizo. No sloppy toppings, just spiced meat with onion and coriander. Very much like the ones I adore from Tehuitzingo in New York. Except they specialise in offal toppings, something I’d love to see here at El Cuervo.

It’s been a while since my last tostada (7), and here at El Cuervo you have the choice of beans, chicken or beef. Crispy corn tortilla topped with torn juicy slow-cooked beef, lettuce, cream and crumbled queso fresco. Simply delicious.

The last chicken mole I had was over a decade ago in Mexico City. I had to give the mole poblano (25) a try here. The chicken breast may have been very dry, but the spiced chilli and chocolate sauce was just as I remember it. Rice, refried beans and chilli sauce come with it, plus an insulated pouch keeping a couple of corn tortillas nice and toasty warm.

My grand plans of returning to try other menu items were halted when I checked their facebook page and learned they were temporarily closed; resolving a few issues with the building owner. As it stands today, they’ve closed for good. Which is unfortunate, as they dished up some mighty fine Mexican.

trammexican07

trammexican08

trammexican08a

trammexican09

  • Tram Stop Diner / El Cuervo Cantina
  • 609 King Street
  • Newtown 2042
  • 02 8021 3486
  • Facebook
  • Tram Stop Diner on Urbanspoon
  • El Cuervo Cantina on Urbanspoon
brewtown01

Brewtown Newtown

brewtown02

“Where are all the books?” says a young mother in a surprised and panicked tone, as she turns and pushes her stroller into what she thought was Berkelouw Books. The look on her face was priceless.

That’s the thing about Newtown. Turn your back for a few months and you’ve got something new happening. What was once a warehouse filled with books and a lofty cafe has been transformed into Newtown’s latest address for coffee, food and a thing or two to buy.

Brewtown Newtown is the newest venture by the folk behind Gnome in Surry Hills. The bones of the warehouse have been retained and subtly sectioned into a variety of seating, an open kitchen and coffee making counter.

brewtown03

brewtown04

The coffee sure hits the mark. It may just be an introductory offer, but if you lift your cup and see a coffee bean motif on the saucer, rather than the regular gnome motif, a free coffee is coming your way. Looks like I was a winner!

brewtown05

brewtown06

The breakfast menu offers the regular muesli or egg dishes but there are few more creative delectables if you want to step away from the conventional. Beetroot cured ocean trout (15) was they way to go, on my first visit. A slice of toasted rye sourdough, generous smear of smashed avocado, watercress, Persian feta, beetroot relish and some glorious ruby ribbons of ocean trout.

brewtown07

brewtown08

brewtown08a

The second visit was geared for the lunch menu. A bunch of sandwiches sounded tempting enough but it was the braised rabbit (15) that stood out from almost everything else. Slowly cooked with veggies and tomatoes and spiced up with cinnamon. A flavour combination that could easily be mistaken for a Moroccan tagine. The meat is sweet, tender and beyond generous for the price point. The polenta “crouton” on which it rests is more like a soft baked wedge of polenta that absorbs all of the glorious juices. And the poached summer plum is the perfect accompaniment.

The other go-to dish has to be the duck ravioli (16). Two very large and very plump pasta pillows loaded with shredded and slightly sweet duck meat. Porcini and wild mushrooms bring a rich earthiness, and a light dribble of truffle oil over the shaved cheese is enough to make you salivate before you even get a taste.

brewtown09

brewtown10a

brewtown11

There’s no dessert menu as such; just a small glass cabinet tacked to the end of the counter, displaying a few pastries and muffins that are made in-house. Now it may not be from New York’s Dominique Ansel Bakery, but the cronut here at Brewtown has already become one of its more popular items. Forget the fork that comes with it, as eating something like this involves the fingers. Layers of light croissant-doughnut pastry that’s doused in cinnamon sugar. It’s worth getting sugar all over your face for.

brewtown12

brewtown13

Upstairs is O’Connell Street Merchants, a collaboration of independent fashion, design and lifestyle concepts and a soon-to-open gelato and affogato bar. There’s a florist, Samantha Robinson porcelain, TokyoBike bikes, homewares, stationary and accessories from The Dan300 Group, ici et la deck chairs and sustainable clothing from Tluxe.

brewtown14

brewtown15

brewtown16

brewtown17

How about one more cronut teaser?

brewtown18

  • Brewtown Newtown
  • 6-8 O’Connell Street
  • Newtown 2042
  • 02 9519 2920
  • website
  • Brewtown Newtown on Urbanspoon
marrickvilleMkt01

Marrickville Organic Food & Farmers’ Markets

marrickvilleMkt02

marrickvilleMkt03

Having the Eveleigh Farmers’ Market closest to home may be a good thing, but it’s always nice to have a choice of where to pick up farm-fresh produce when I’m in the mood to part with more of my cash than normal. A mere 20-minute walk from home is Marrickville’s Organic Food & Farmers’ Market, a buzzing little spot that seems to have grown somewhat since I last set food in the precinct. This place is like Sydney’s Wynyard Station at 8.30 am on a weekday, just sans the suits. You can barely move without bumping into an organic-looking Inner Westie donning a tote bag in one hand and jumper-wearing pooch in the other.

marrickvilleMkt04

marrickvilleMkt05

One thing I noticed is much of the produce in unpriced, so it’s a nice surprise when it’s time to open the wallet. That’ll be $5 for that bulb of garlic, thanks, and welcome to organic life in Sydney.

There’s a decent variety of stalls that tempt us with their freshly cooked goodies along the shaded and congested walkways. Dumplings, grilled sausage sambo’s, noodles and vegan-friendly fare.

marrickvilleMkt06

And that would be Paddy’s Irish potato bread in the above pic. Potato, butter, flour and salt. I’m thinking butter is high in the proportions, judging by the colour of it. Yes please!

marrickvilleMkt07

marrickvilleMkt08

marrickvilleMkt09

As you tread towards the car park-end of the market, things begin to look a little flea market-like. Used books, plants, records and vintage clothes and housewares. There really is something for everyone.

marrickvilleMkt10

marrickvilleMkt11

marrickvilleMkt12

marrickvilleMkt13

  • Marrickville Organic Food & Farmers Markets
  • 142 Addison Road
  • Marrickville 2204
  • 02 9999 2226
  • Every Sunday 8.30am-3pm
  • website