Tag Archives: Inner West

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Black Betty BBQ at the Oxford Tavern

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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!

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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. 

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  • Oxford Tavern
  • 1 New Canterbury Road
  • Petersham 2049
  • 02 9550 9900
  • website
  • The Oxford Tavern on Urbanspoon
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Tram Stop Diner & El Cuervo Cantina

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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  • 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
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Brewtown Newtown

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“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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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How about one more cronut teaser?

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  • Brewtown Newtown
  • 6-8 O’Connell Street
  • Newtown 2042
  • 02 9519 2920
  • website
  • Brewtown Newtown on Urbanspoon
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Marrickville Organic Food & Farmers’ Markets

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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

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Our little part of Sydney seems to be on the up and up. King Street south is seeing as many closures as there are openings, and every time I walk up Enmore Road I spot something new. Mind you, Enmore Road didn’t get much of my attention in the past, but things are set to change.

The other half requested newcomer Russo & Russo as the birthday dinner pick, a blink and miss it place that looks to be your average sheer-curtained shopfront on this gritty strip. It appears to have been part of the Enmore fabric for quite some time but those window curtains haven’t even had time to gather dust.

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Vinyl tunes and raised voices fill the dim, candle-lit space and some supremely warm service makes you right at home. The menu comes pasted in the first pages of old books; a little confusing to begin with but if you’ve been to one of those cafe’s that use Golden Books as menu’s, you’ll get the drift.

Yes, there’s a la carte going on, designed to share and brought out one plate at a time, but it was the chefs selection that stopped us in our tracks. 4 courses $40 or 7 courses $65. Bargain. $5 corkage. Even bigger bargain. But to state the obvious, if we chose the same dishes straight off the regular menu, the value works out the same per person. Providing the size of the dishes isn’t bigger when ordering a la carte.

Seven courses it was, and to be honest, I didn’t even look at the individual dishes. We were informed that we could pick and choose what we wanted as part of our spread. Like the sound of the ragù? Then ask them to work it into your meal. I like their style.

One thing that couldn’t be altered was the Port Stephens oyster starter. Shame. The other half doesn’t eat them so they were both mine. Apple mignonette dressing and all.

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Appropriate to the current season, and appropriate to my appetite was the insalata bietola. It’s here that it became evident that kitchen ring-leader Jason Saxby did some time with some top shelf chefs. It looks pretty; artfully aligned the way chefs are presenting their food these days. Salt-baked beetroot, balsamic, cumquat, pomegranate, rye crumbs & beetroot chips. It’s artful in the mouth, as well.

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When it comes to the humble risotto, many people don’t seem to get it right. The Russo & Russo specimen hit all the right places for us. Rice grains that still have a bite, and a shallow bowl that still retains its liquid. It’s far from the gluggy mess we’re all used to seeing. Jerusalem artichoke and truffled parmesan. A glug of extra virgin olive oil, some pepper, you’re laughing.

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There was something about the zuppa di pesce that didn’t win me over. It comes pre-arranged in a bowl; blue mackerel, mussel, fennel, bottarga (salty pressed fish roe) & fregola, with a thick sauce/soup poured over the top. Lovely flavours and textures but it was barely warm when it was time to eat it.

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I found it a struggle to share the next dish. Petto d’Anatra. Duck breast, king mushrooms, hazelnuts, cavalo nero, puffed spelt and a delicious slick of duck jus. My only gripe is that I wanted more.

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It has been a while since I last enjoyed a cheese dish as much as I did with this one. Formaggio. Simple name; not so simple on the palate. We’ve got Parmigiano-Reggiano panna cotta, grapes, spiced pear, walnuts and sopa syrup. Perfection.

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The home stretch, of course, involves a bit of sugar. The rocher, for starters. Some rapidly-melting milk sorbet, chocolate hazelnut brownie, milk jelly and thin chocolate biscuits. Once again, I didn’t want to share.

Finally, as we both receive some complimentary walnut liqueur, a final plate is given to us before we hit the pavement. A tuile topped with rose water-scented white chocolate & goat’s milk, candied cumquat and light dusting of salt and black pepper. A little something to remind us that we need to return real soon.

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  • Osteria di Russo & Russo 
  • 158 Enmore Road
  • Enmore 2042
  • 02 8068 5202
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Taylor Thai Restaurant (closed)

I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointment when I walked into Taylor Thai. Nothing to do with the restaurant, just the fact that businesses don’t seem to survive in this location. It comes as no surprise, really. Being tucked away beneath an apartment building isn’t cause for concern, but when the apartment building is off on some side street away from through traffic, vehicle or pedestrian, things become an issue. Yes there’s word of mouth, social media and hundreds of residents in the immediate vicinity, but quite often that just isn’t enough.

Cafe Scrumptious wasn’t around for long in this same space, neither was Straits Kaffe, which is a shame as I really liked the food at Straits, so I can only hope this newish Thai place breaks the gloomy trend. Word has it the chef hails from Spice I Am, so it was this word that prompted me to put on my thongs, grab the other half, a bottle of booze and walk the five minutes it takes to get to Taylor Thai from my house.

The menu is in pamphlet form, the kind you get in your letter box, and I couldn’t help but utter the words “It looks like any Oz-Thai menu you get up and down King Street and anywhere else in suburbia”. Curry puffs, tom yum goong, green curry, pad Thai … really? I dug a little deeper and settled on one of the salads, of which there are six choices. Wise move as I craned my neck and peered into the kitchen, spotting one of those big clay mortars sitting on the bench, surrounded by ingredients. This was a good sign.

Anyone that’s been to Thailand would have seen those young girls and aunties out on the street pounding som tum and the like; pounding, layering and adding each ingredient until a deliciously crunchy, juicy and spicy salad is created. Ok, to be honest, the som tum ($11.9) here at Taylor Thai is nowhere near as prik-hot as the ones in Thailand but it’s pretty damn good. Green papaya, tomato, dried shrimp, garlic, peanuts, chilli, lime … you know what I’m talking about.

The selection of entrées is as predictable as ever. Fried spring rolls, curry puffs, pork satay, fish cakes and a couple of others. Deep-fried chicken wings ($5.9) sounded just the ticket. I thought they may have been tossed in something before they were scorched in hot oil, but no, all we have is chicken wings fresh from the fryer. Crunchy and dry with sweet chilli. That is all.

It’d been a while since my last choo chee ($11.9) so I thought it was time to revisit this creamy and golden curry. I usually go the seafood route but somehow it ended up being chicken; coated in a light batter, fried until soft-yet-crispy and generously doused in choo chee sauce. The spice indicators hover just over the mild levels so it’s not too destructive for those with aversions to a bit of prik. I really liked this dish, as I did the pad prik king crispy pork belly ($13.9). I mean, how could I not do pork belly when there are three dishes on the menu that feature it? I’m not one to play favourites but, hold on, yes I am. This was my favourite dish of the night. Thin bits of pork, green beans, a good slug of chilli ( I mean prik), threads of lime leaves, nubs of crunchy pork skin and a gorgeous dry sauce of shrimp paste, fish sauce and whatever else was in there.

Lips tingling. I’m happy. And I’ll be back.

  • Taylor Thai Restaurant
  • Unit 1101/12-14 Eve Street
  • Erskineville 2043
  • 02 9516 0729
  • Taylor Thai Restaurant on Urbanspoon
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Wagaya Tapas

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I couldn’t help but feel a little déjà vu when we chanced upon this Wagaya outlet where long-running Italian restaurant, Mamma MInnoDB, finally closed its doors late last year. The other half was craving some agedashi tofu so as we walked up King Street in the direction of Newtown’s few Japanese restaurants, we stopped to read the menu at Wagaya Tapas. I actually thought they were closed for lunch, until I pushed the button by the door and it opened.

The first thing I hear is squealing toddlers, coming from somewhere up the dimly-lit stairwell. A creche in downtown Newtown? Oh joy. Noisy kids in a restaurant. Thanks to being positioned in the room tucked around the side, the squealing and chopstick tapping noise was barely noticeable for the rest of the folk that wanted a peaceful lunch.

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The interior is all modern and, er, Japanese. You know … clean lines, partitions, and rigid booth seating that challenges boney backsides. Unless, of course, you slump into one of the vinyl armchairs at the kitchen counter. Just as we had at Maroubra’s Kokoroya, the ordering system is that DIY iPad that brings you food with the tap of the index finger and very little staff interaction. Need a glass of water? Tell the iPad. Ask the staff for water, and they may just ask you to order it via the pad.

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Why have agedashi tofu when you can have it in the same bowl as soft-shell crab? Such is the case at this Wagaya Tapas outlet. If my head was small enough I’d be blowing raspberries into this divine little dish. Agedashi soft-shell crab with tofu ($8.5). What a beauty. Warm, nourishing, soft, crispy, salty, sexy.

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Sitting in your own booth not only provides you with your own privatised piece of the restaurant, but should you choose the right table, it gives you a birds-eye view over the King Street people parade and the opposing colonial building façades.

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Forget peering outdoors. Cast your eyes on this. Deep-fried salmon skin ($5.5). To be frank, it was more flesh than skin, but I wasn’t complaining. Lightly crusted in salt flakes, it’s rich, oily, slightly crispy and jesus-my-arteries-hurt delicious. The lemon and soy does it wonders.

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The fishy flavours continue with the grilled mackerel set ($12.9). Ok, so “the set” may have arrived a good ten minutes before the mackerel (rice, daikon & pickles, edamame, miso soup & some kind of tea). Let’s just say the mackerel outshone the set. Cellophane-thin skin, crispy and umami with a light dusting of salt flakes. Beneath was a treasure of beautifully-flakey and almost bland flesh. All together it was a simplistically sexy dish.

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I had to bring a little sushi to the lunch set; and one of my favourites. Flame-grilled scallop sushi ($10.9), or aburi to those of us that know a little around the preparation. It may not have been licked by the flame as much as I liked, but it was a pleasure to eat.

The iPad system may have failed as our order of takoyaki ($7.5) was lost in the system and needed a reminder, but when it came it was almost worth the delay. I’ve never seen one so blanketed in bonito flakes, almost lost beneath a mountain of shaved and dried tuna shavings.

Black sesame ice cream ($4.5) was the only sweet I wanted to try, all in hoping it would match the one we were enamoured with back in Wellington. It may not have come close to the intensely-flavoured, gritty and home-made specimen I loved from the other side of the Tasman, but it did suffice in rounding up a relatively decent meal at our newest Japanese eatery.

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  • Wagaya Tapas
  • Level 1, 239 King Street
  • Newtown 2042
  • 1800 924 292
  • West Juliett on Urbanspoon
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West Juliett

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So Marrickville gets another cafe. No, it isn’t on any of the main drags, and no, it isn’t garbed with op-shop oddities, mis-matched crockery and souvenir teaspoons. Yes, it does serve very decent White Horse coffee, from The Shire I believe. And yes, the digs have become a bit of a magnet for the weekend hipsters. Tats, rolled-up chino’s and Ned Kelly beards.

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Twice I dropped by this freshly buzzing corner caff; one quiet weekday morning for a gutsy macchiato ($3.5) and stupendous flourless orange cake ($3) and another weekend morning with the other half. The place was pumping. Pumping with locals; many of which looked like they stepped from the pages of Frankie magazine, just not as photoshopped.

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Food is what we’re here for, not to look effortlessly hip. 12-hour pork sandwich ($11.9) with rocket, hazelnuts (the menu said they were there, but they weren’t), pickled & spiced pear and the aforementioned swine. A little more seasoning on the meat made it a winner. Bugger the freshly squeezed juices, a concoction the other half was sipping on to my right, but a big hello to a salted caramel shake ($5.9). Not as salty and sickly sweet as one I remember having at Reuben Hills last year; which came with much gratitude.

A bunch of other sandwiches lead the lunch menu, all constructed with fabulous miche bread (Sonoma?), plus a soup, salads and pasta. There is of course breakfast; where many of the choices step away from the expected.

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Another plate of food was this. Tagliatelle, duck ragù, pumpkin, crisp sage & hazelnuts*($15.9) Sounds fab, had we received it. And I only realise this as I write about it a day later. Instead the ragù morphed into a combination of tagliatelle and spaghetti, Neapolitan sauce plus meatballs studded with fennel seeds. Both of us questioned whether it could have been duck, but my tongue thinks it was not. The menu was right about the tagliatelle, but the rest got forgotten with our initial order. Still, the pasta with mystery meatballs was ok.

* The chef has since informed me of the menu typo, post publishing this review. So I’m guessing the waitress wasn’t informed, or simply forgot to pass it on to us when we ordered the ragù.

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  • West Juliett
  • 30 Llewellyn Street
  • Marrickville 2204
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Huong Giang

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Getting to Marrickville is a relatively straight forward exercise from my neck of the woods. Two train stops or an approximate half hour walk, depending on what part of it you need to get to. On this particular Sunday it took over an hour. I don’t blame it on the expected; traffic or delayed trains. You see, the original plan was to have lunch down in Rockdale but my choice of venue was closed for the Christmas/New Year period, as we discovered on arrival way back then. Bugger. My back-up plan was to visit a deli in Kogarah but after walking for 15 minutes from Rockdale we find it closed, along with 90% of Kogarah. You’ve got to be kidding me! The Coffee Club, Oporto’s and the local fish & chip shop just weren’t options I was happy with; and we were hungry when we left home.

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We grab the next train heading back towards the city and get off at Sydenham, walk up Marrickville Road and settle on this little joint. Huong Giang. More than three years have passed since our last visit and from memory it wasn’t all that bad. A couple of Vietnamese iced milk coffee’s ($3.5) cool us down and a few plates of food settle the nagging stomach. Cút rang muoi ($12), or quail in spicy salt, is the kind of food you can only get stuck into with your fingers. If someone tried using chopsticks here I’d probably laugh at them. The two halves of the petite bird are dusted in flour before tossed in hot oil to produce that glorious golden crunch. The little wings are even crunchy enough to eat along with the meat; a bit dry in places but nothing close to being severely overcooked.

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Something along the same lines was tom xao rang muoi ($17), king prawns in spicy salt. While the quails had more salt and pepper and no chill, the prawns had the addition of five spice. These little fella’s were perfection. About twelve king prawns dusted in flour and spices before hitting the fryer. Incredibly juicy and loaded with flavour. Be sure to squeeze the lemon wedge into the mixture of salt and pepper for that extra flavour hit.

The com tam ($14) at Huong Giang is ok but not as great as some I’ve tried. Otherwise known as combination broken rice, it’s a medley of nem chua (cured pork cake with rind, fish sauce, lots of garlic & other tidbits), fried egg, pork chop, pickled veg and bi (shredded pork skin mixed with ground rice & a few other things). I round the meal up with a little sugar in the form of che ba mau ($4), a tri-colour drink made using sweetened red azuki beans, coconut cream, shaved ice and green rice flour “worms”.

Aahh, that’s better. Rubbing belly now.

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  • Huong Giang
  • 287 Marrickville Road
  • Marrickville 2204
  • 02 95693698
  • Huong Giang on Urbanspoon
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Hitting the clubs

One of my earliest “eating out” memories conjures images of massive oval-shaped plates laden with crumbed Wiener schnitzel, stodgy potatoes and boiled vegetables. Big shiny cutlery wrapped in a paper napkin off to the side and a glass of fizzy raspberry-flavoured drink within my short arms reach. This was the ritual whenever the folks felt like treating us dinner at, the then local, German Club in Wollongong. For some reason I don’t remember ever going to a Croatian club, something a lot more fitting considering our immediate heritage. I guess there is German in my heritage as well.

The beauty of community clubs is they provide a social place for members and locals or anyone else that’s really just there for the cheap food and booze. Come to think of it, I’m sure my dad just took us to the club so that he could sit around smoking and drinking with his mates in the “No children allowed” room as my siblings and mum had our own quiet time after eating. I’m onto you, old man.

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I thought it’d be fitting to take my parents to a couple of clubs when they hit town for a long weekend. In this century, not back in the German Club days of the late 1970’s. Old times, you know. Except now I’m the one ordering the booze and keeping my dad in his place.

Not all that far from home I have a couple of clubs I’d been meaning to get to; one I had visited previously and the other, the Sydney Portugal Community Club, I’d wanted to try. Getting there may be a little puzzling to some. It’s located in Fraser Park; a park that resembles railway wastelands rather than something manicured and filled with beautiful trees. Just head under the railway bridge on Marrickville Road and hook around to the right. It’s kind of like a sports ground in the middle of nowhere.

The restaurant entrance is off on the right-hand-side of the building via a small door and hallway. The main entrance is just for the bar. Inside the restaurant it’s as if you’ve been transported back a few decades. It’s a small room, very quiet with cloth-covered tables already set for service. The menu reads like your typical club menu; the basics of rather large portioned meals that make you feel like you’ve stepped into a Portuguese family home. Nothing fancy, just home-cooking and a lot of it.

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Bife a Portuguesa (21.5) is a dish quite similar to the bife com cogumelos (22) except one comes with fresh potato crisps and a fried egg, and the other is surrounded by French fries and lays beneath a creamy blanket of mushroom sauce. Mum declares the latter as being the best steak she’s eaten for a long time and whilst I can’t concur, mine was supremely tender. The bacalhau a legareiro (22.5) was a celebration of dried and rehydrated cod and a whole lot of salt. In fact a whole lot of garlic and oil as well. This is not one for the high blood pressure-types as the sodium levels will seriously nudge you closer to a 000 phonecall.

Dessert was as light as a cloud, literally, easing the overload of garlic and salt on the tastebuds. Molotof (5) is basically a big wedge of soft and billowy meringue doused in a sugar syrup.

  • Sydney Portugal Community Club Restaurant
  • 100 Marrickville Road
  • Marrickville 2204
  • 02 9550 6344
  • Sydney Portugal Community Club Restaurant on Urbanspoon
 
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Merely a kilometre away is another club that’s been going strong for many, many years. Down by the Cooks River in an old croquet clubhouse is the Condordia Club, home to cheap German brews and a meat-fest that’ll make almost any carnivore happy. October brings the oompa bands whilst the rest of the year it’s the Inner West locals catching up with mates and families taking advantage of the relaxed surroundings and cheap food.

As far as German food goes, I doubt any awards will be handed out for the rustic, yet generous edibles. The deep-fried camembert (8) wasn’t the oozing cheesy mess I was hoping to create when I took to it with a fork. Instead the cheese was hard and ordinary. The pork schnitzel (18), a bit well done and nothing to wet your lederhosen over.

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For old-times’ sake, Mum goes for the leberkäse (16), a meatloaf of sorts made up of beef, pork and liver. She didn’t seem ecstatic about this particular one, coming with sauerkraut, potatoes and fried egg. The hands down winner at the table, four of us ordered one each, was the schweinhaxe (25). Clearly it gets ordered a lot judging by how many I noticed coming from the kitchen. An impaled roast pork knuckle, almost big enough for two, with mash, red cabbage and pan juices. Awesome crackling, if you’re lucky to get one that is burnished enough.

A few hits and misses at both venues but if you’re into your clubs, they still worth checking out.

  • Concordia Club
  • Richardsons Crescent
  • Tempe 2044
  • 02 9554 7388
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  • Concordia Club on Urbanspoon