I am biased against Darling Harbour restaurants. My posts on the Italian-based Casa Di Nico and Nick’s Bar & Grill show this. They’re not all terrible, but most are really just fronts for good views that happen to provide mediocre food. Food tastes better when girt by a harbour view, right? It certainly works, given that these restaraurants get absolutely packed during peak times. There is a market here, it just happens that I’m not in the target demographic.
Thus, it was with a healthy dose of dubioussness on my latest Darling Harbour restaurant visit to Blackbird Café. I’ve been long before, in a time bygone, when I was just a normal, non-food blogging university student. By current standards, that visit would have scored a 6 or so. Fast forward two-ish years and what do we have now?
Date Last Visited: 22/3/14
Address: Balcony Level, Cockle Bay Wharf Sydney, NSW 2000
Recommended Dish(es): kangaroo loin, peking duck pizza
Every big city around the world has a “Little” or a “Town”. What do I mean by this? I mean culinarily speaking – Chinatown, Little Italy, and so forth.
Sydney’s Little Italy is widely regarded to be Norton Street in Leichardt. Die-hard Italian connoisseurs swear by it; I’ll have to take their word for that, as I haven’t actually been myself. Besides, I’m confident Fratelli Fresh is more than satisfactory.
But what of Melbourne? Actually, Melbourne’s Little Italy is even more famed than that of Sydney, primarily because it’s much, much bigger (length-wise), and the quality of the Italian is top notch. Yes readers, we are talking about Lygon St. Like Norton St in Sydney, Lygon St is not in the CBD, so you’ll have to travel a bit.
Totally worth it. Read on for the carby details.
Date Last Visited: 7/7/13
Address: 303 Lygon St Carlton, VIC 3053
Recommended Dish(es): tortellini tartufo
Oh, ramen! That alone is an adequate introduction.
When a new ramen restaurant makes its Sydney entrance, there will be waves. Take Ippudo, for example. To cause a tsunami, how about throwing in the fact that chef Haru Inukai, of one-toqued Blancharu fame, is manning the helm? That’s where Ramen Ikkyu takes the stage, drawing queues before opening hours even though it’s only a small corner stall in Sussex Centre food court.
But it’s just noodle soup, right? The beauty is that that’s exactly what it is, pure and simple.
What’s the fuss? Read on to find out!
Date Last Visited: 14/8/13
Address: Sussex Centre Food Court, Sussex St Haymarket, NSW 2000
Recommended Dish(es): Ikkyu Shoyu, Tsuke-men
Ask me whether I’ve been to Watson’s Bay before and I’d easily say no – I don’t live there and it’s out of the way. In fact, I would probably use those same excuses to justify why I’ve never been.
With that said, there are two things that can motivate me to get off my lazy bum and take a trip. One – great scenery; the other? Food, of course!
Being a Bay and all, I’m sure Watson’s Bay delivers on the former, but how does it do with the latter? That dear reader, is the right question. Watson’s Beach Club attempts to answer it. Read on.
Date Last Visited: 9/2/14
Address: 1 Military Rd Sydney, NSW
Recommended Dish(es): seafood platter/roast pumpkin salad
I’m treading deadly waters here. I’m not Vietnamese, and I don’t live in the West, so I can’t say my exposure to Vietnamese food is in any way robust. Best pho I’ve had? Still An Restaurant (link) in Bankstown. Pho Tau Bay may change that once I deign to visit it, but for now, An has the crown.
Enter the challenger from Melbourne – Pho Chu The, self-proclaimed “best pho” in Melbourne. A bold claim, but one that isn’t just empty words from the source – many in Melbourne apparently do consider it to be Melbourne’s best. With that kind of pedigree, how could we resist the temptation to compare one of Sydney’s greats to Melbourne’s greatest?
Read on, pho the full scoop. And yes, I promise that’s the last time I make a pho-based pun in this post. Shake it out of the system, shake it out.
Date Last Visited: 7/7/13
Address: 270 Victoria St Richmond, VIC 3121
Recommended Dish(es): pho sure
When you name your café after your partner, you know you’re visiting a brekky joint that’s built out of love. That is the premise of owner Philip Ocampo’s Something for Jess. A café that’s conveniently situated in Chippendale a short walk away from Central.
Something for Jess considers itself a “boutique café”. I’m not really sure what that means, since every café is supposedly individual, but when we walk in, we’re convinced that this quaint little place is something a little bit different.
I’m sure Jess loves it. Read on.
Date Last Visited: 28/1/14
Address: Cr O’Connor And Abercrombie St Chippendale, NSW 2008
Recommended Dish(es): N/A – menu changes frequently
Once upon a time in a land not really all that far away, there was a restaurant called Assiette. It was one of those rare fine dining restaurants that served great food with great service. I’m sure you would agree when I say that if you nail the combo of good food and good service, you’ll be around for awhile to come.
Alas, the story is never as simple as that. Plagued by cost issues, head chef Warren Turnbull made the call to shut down Assiette to pursue other opportunities in New Zealand, his country of birth. Australia’s quite the poster child for fair labour wages, which isn’t exactly great news for restaurateurs.
But Turnbull is made of tougher stuff than that. He remained in Australia to open up a second venture on the same grounds – Albion Street Kitchen. This was a low-cost, bistro-style venue which caters for a very different (and critically – much larger) market. I hear it was a decent place to go for a decent feed.
I didn’t have time to go myself though because ASK didn’t last very long either – a kitchen fire ripped through and glutted the building almost completely. Good grief, the man could just not take a break.
But no, Turnbull’s wired of stronger brass. Not long after the flames, he established what could quite possibly be his pièce de résistance, the magnum opus. It’s a burger joint.
Date Last Visited: 22/2/2014
Address: 48 Albion Street Surry Hills, NSW 2010
Recommended Dish(es): Just get a Chur Burger