Work lunch with Lenka took us to Sam Sam where we were quickly seated in a funky little dining room. I ordered the spicy stir fried pork belly and Lenka went schnitzel. Both dishes came with rice.
Servings are generous and tasty and arrived quickly. The pork was a little sweet so I think I prefer the Seoulja Boy version plus that one has a runny egg which makes all things better. However this was still good and we both enjoyed our meals and concluded that Sam Sam is decent place for a Korean lunch.
Chur chooses the brioche bun and the slight sweetness goes well with the various mayos and sauces. The Chur Beast looked like it might be too much for two hands to handle but it stayed in one piece, just! No one likes a disintegrated burger.
I found the chicken burger light on the meat so I was glad I added some cheeky cheese and a bit of bacon. I did like the zingy dressing on the slaw and that it wasn't mayo heavy.
The chips were overly seasoned with chilli salt - someone had obviously been liberal with the shaker.
Chur Burger is a decent choice if you're in the area and need your stomach filling up. Thanks for filling us up Chur!
I had my favourite kamo seiro with chilled soba noodles. It comes out on a tray with a hot bowl of duck broth, the bamboo mat of chilled noodles and a small bottle of the shichimi togarashi to spice things up. I love the chilled version because the noodles retain their bite whereas the hot version I find overcooks them. The broth is so flavoursome with slices of pink duck breast and pieces of eggplant and some enoki mushrooms.
Steve had the teriyaki chicken set lunch which is a small bowl of teriyaki chicken on rice and a plate of either warm or chilled soba noodles. He went with chilled and thoroughly enjoyed it.
It was a tasty lunch that feels light on the tummy but satisfies the tastebuds. Welcome to the neighbourhood Shimbashi. We're going to be great friends.
Two friends and I called in here for a quick Friday night feed before going to the Cirque du Soleil show a short walk away. We arrived around 6:15pm and the place was pretty busy but we were able to secure a table and our order was taken quickly.
I ordered the Surf and Turf, and my friends ordered meatballs and a side salad and the crumbed lamb cutlets. It's not a particularly cheap restaurant at $42 for the steak and $30 plus for the lamb but it's also not unaffordably pricey. Pretty run of the mill and that statement applies also to the food. Decent enough for a necessary dinner because we were in the area but not a draw to come especially.
It's family friendly; boisterous with an energetic and upbeat feel. It's casual and the menu has plenty for all tastes: pizzas, pasta, ribs, salads. The food looks appetising. We saw some ribs go out that looked the part and the lamb salad also looked good.
My surf and turf was fine. Pub type steak - overcooked for the rare I ordered but not obliterated. Meatballs and salad also met expectations. The crumbed lamb cutlets were probably the fail. There were 5 of them which is generous enough but no flavour with a thick non descript crumb. Accompanying mash and vegetables also bland. Very much cafeteria food.
Our food took a while to arrive and when we followed up the waiter said, "We're busy because of the show so there's a 30 minute wait." I had to respond and point out that this 30 minute wait was not communicated to us and had we known we wouldn't have ordered because we also had to get to the show. Luckily our food arrived soon after.
Pacino's is a destination that does the job although I would avoid the lamb cutlets and maybe go pizza or ribs if we were to dine there again.
These entrees came out quickly. The chive cakes were nice enough with sweetish soy and stuffed with fragrant chives. The chicken satay was juicy and tender and I liked the chilli dipping sauce more than the ubiquitous peanut sauce that is usually served in Thai restaurants. Certainly a tasty enough start and washed down by a couple of fruity, punchy cocktails it was a good Sunday afternoon!
My favourite here was surprisingly the watercress which was stir fried to perfection with a punchy sauce. The flavour of the prawn curry was powerful and yummy with the steamed rice but mashed prawn means mince prawn which I found a bit mealy and I'd have preferred whole prawns or some other chunkier protein. The mashed prawn is obviously more cost efficent as uses less prawn but I would have preferred to pay more and have more protein.
The glass noodle salad came out a little later so were had trouble finishing it but it was fresh and tasty. I think the noodles were slightly overcooked so a bit mushy but again, the flavours were good.
In all, we enjoyed our Long Chim visit. I wouldn't be averse to another one to try more as the food was appetisingly attractive and tasty. Not all of it was to my taste though but enough of it tantalised the old tastebuds to warrant a second try.
I visited SPQR in a group of 6 for a pre theatre feed. We were actually running about 15 minutes late and I gave them a quick call and they were really friendly and accommodating. Our table was waiting for us when we arrived and drinks orders quickly taken and an order for some antipasto and a serve of their daily dip to share put through.
Antipasto is sold for 2 or 4. Knowing we were going to feast on pizzas we went for 4 between 6 and there was certainly enough for us. The flatbread that comes is delicious so it was a great convivial way to start.
We were told the pizzas only take 90 seconds to cook in their impressive wood fired oven and whilst it took a bit longer than that for them to arrive, it was certainly fast enough. We gorged on 6 different pizzas selected from the blackboard. There's plenty of variety with tomato based and the less common but not unusual bianco type.
The pizzas are thin and crispy Neopolitan style with a tasty blistered char to the dough. Toppings are not heavy and whilst I think they could have taken the sauce and toppings closer to the edge, it's only a minor quibble. My personal favourite was the Amarice which was guanciale (pig cheek bacon) with Parmesan and with the San Marzano tomato base. My least favourite was the one with ricotta and n'duja as I found it slightly weirdly sweet and the textures to soft but my least favourite was someone else's favourite so winners all round!
The Aperol spritzes we ordered were too heavy on the Aperol to be refreshing and were a bit cloying and thick but a quick word meant more soda water was added to lift them up. And the waitress noticed one of our party didn't drink her's even after the addition of soda water and knocked it off the bill for failing to hit the mark.
We were in a rush to leave because of our theatre booking but as luck would have it, the credit card machine didn't work. Eventually it did and we were on our way but I received a call from the restaurant 5 minutes later explaining that the last credit card payment one of group made was actually overcharged by $30 and they'd return the money if we popped back in. We appreciate the honesty and the effort they made.
SPQR is an abbreviation of the Latin phrase Senatus Populusque Romanus which takes me back to my high school Latin classes...Caecilius est in foro...amo, amas, amat...anyway, it means the Senate and the People of Rome...patriotic pizza for the people and certainly what SPQR offered our party was pleasing enough to the people.
It's been a long time that Emporium has had Calia hiding behind construction work. All that time has resulted in an attractive and appealing shop front with a bistro style restaurant and retail outlet with classy looking offerings.
A midweek lunch with friend / colleague tempted us in and we were quickly seated at a large shared table. Service was pretty quick and friendly.
Bowls of food are served around the $20 mark with a couple of more extravagant options. Our YOLO attitude saw us splurge the 30 plus dollars on the Calia chirashi bowl and the Calia Wagyu bowl.
Both dishes were beautifully presented and came quickly so perfect for a lunch hour. The sashimi is undeniably good. Stonkingly fresh, the toro just melted in the mouth as it should. The soy based dipping sauce was delicious and the rice just right. Often I find the rice a bit too vinegary. This was a joy to eat. It's definitely a light lunch though but I don't begrudge the $35 as the quality is definitely there.
My friend also did not begrudge the $32 for the Wagyu beef and declared it delicious. The perfectly cooked egg did look very appealing and I know I'll be going down this route next time.
Whilst I don't think the price point a turn off and it's on balance with the quality of produce, and the fit out is evidently classy, it still feels like a restaurant in shopping centre so there's no big sense of occasion or 'destination dining'. I think it will appeal to those from cities with swanky malls where it's the norm to have fine dining venues within them; the Hong Kong, Singapore type of shopping centre. My parents would love it as it's quick, good service, can bring the children and not feel they're going to be a problem and the food quality is there.
For me it doesn't feel like I'm going somewhere special for my feed although the actual feed is a good one.
I'd heard of this mythical noodle joint hidden in the dark depths of a CBD car park. Finally an attractive Instagram photo that cropped up on my feed convinced and reminded me to follow up on my commitment to give it a whirl.
Headed there on a warm lunchtime with my lovely friend and work colleague, Lenka and as we headed further and further into the car park, we were transported to the back streets of Bangkok. The menu is small but the little tick sheet helps with the decision making and we went up to the cash register to order.
I wanted to try the house speciality boat noodles but my head was swayed by the lure of tom yum with pork and prawn. Tom yum is my ultimate fave. Lenka ordered the boat noodles though and I'd heard portions were small and people have had two bowls so we upsized. And ordered Thai milk tea to add to the occasion.
Food arrived quickly in homely plastic crockery. Plenty of meat in both bowls; not as much noodle as I'd like for $15. The tom yum actually had a couple of prawn dumplings as well as pork. It's a light fragrant broth that has a bit of zip and tang but not really the intensity of what I've had previously. It's tasty though but just not quite what I was expecting. I made use of the condiments on the table to amp up the flavours.
My limited experience of boat noodles is that it's a bit too intense for me but I was open to trying as I've not had it that many times. I took a slurp of Lenka's and whilst it was less murky and intense as what I've had previously, it's still not my favourite form of soup noodles. The lighter, clearer flavours of broth like in pho and the tom yum are my cup of tea. Speaking of which the Thai iced milk tea was delicious; perfect blend of flavour, creaminess and sweetness.
Both bowls of noodles were good but could do with more zip, zing and whallop. I like it enough to return though. Besides it's fun to spend a lunch break in a car park right?
I'm going to be controversial and upfront! I'm not a fan of The Townmouse which is Embla's sister restaurant. I haven't enjoyed the food the two times I've been there and I don't find it a comfortable place to eat. I almost gave up on the little stool I had at the bar to eat standing up...
But many people have urged me to give Embla a go and we found ourselves there for a pre theatre feed on Saturday. It was just after 6pm and there were a few seats left. We chose to sit at the kitchen bar, just to the side of the wood fired oven to try and stay a little cooler and it was a great seat. I'm so pleased to say that the stool was comfy and there was a little ledge to support my short legs. Great start Embla and I like you already!
We found the welcome warm and friendly and there was a good pace to the food coming out; leisurely enough to be enjoyable but speedy enough to keep the momentum going. The service is friendly and personable and again, when ordering drinks midway through the meal they arrive promptly which is well received.
We start off with:
The whipped nduja is much more robust and punchy and with the crispbreads it's a great alternative.
And the cod roe on soft warm flatbread is salty and creamy and again provides another taste dimension. We're a fan of all three dishes and just lapping up the flavours and the feels of this wine bar that offers sensational food.
Next up come:
We can't see the anchovy on the stracciatella but there's a distinct saltiness that is offset by the cool creaminess of the cheese and then there's a tangy touch of pickled zucchini.
The duck leg is sliced and on top of a bed of Mediterranean vibrant ratatouille. The meat and the sweetness of the vegetables with a hint of yoghurt is a simple, homely but so satisfying combination. I defy anyone not to enjoy this!
And we continue with the journey of enjoyment as our final dishes come out:
Perfectly cooked beef with a flavoursome crust of char and a blushing pink centre. The beef is tender and so flavoursome with such intense 'beefiness' and a delicious richness that lingers in the mouth. The salsa verde is quite strong with the tarragon flavours and I only need a teeny bit. I love the beef so much I don't want to overpower it.
The intensity of the beef goes so well with the fresh tomatoes that are zingy and fruity enhanced and amped up by the addition of the smoked goat's curd.
Undeniably this was a delicious meal. Watching the busy kitchen and seeing that wonderful wood fired oven that just cranks up the flavour notes in the dishes is delightful. In some ways, the cosy, intimate, wine bar feel makes it perfect for couples but the delicious food and generous flavours means the hospitality needs to embrace groups of more than just two! Embla creates a certain magic that just works.
For those that know us, this section will probably come with no surprise! Steve and I love eating out so this is our record of our time in Australia.