Archive for the 'Sydney dining (City)' Category

Xanthi Greek Restaurant – Westfield Sydney

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

The surprises just keep on coming at Westfield Sydney.  Opening to much fanfare in April with Zara and a brand new foodcourt on Level 5, and then the second stage opening up just recently, I thought they were done!  But they are STILL going!  Just opened were a new Italian restaurant and the relocation of Perama at Petersham to new digs and new name Xanthi on level 6 of Westfield.    The entrance evokes a mysterious aladdin’s cave – with beautiful decorative tiles and stained glass lamps.  A bit more Moroccan than Greek, but adding to the cosy atmosphere contributed to by the sweeping draped curtains.

Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Living once put out a list of fine dining features that make a nice restaurant more welcoming. Those added touches that make you feel at home without looking for every opportunity to make a few more dollars.  Xanthi scored immeditely on two of these as you sit down – tap water offered (most fine diners offer you sparkling or still ie not free); and soon after – crusty bread and olive oil for dipping as you peruse the carefully planned menu.

All the dishes were beautiful earthenware tapas style plates.  I would love some of these at home!

The waiter suggested we order something from each section of the menu to share.  Dips/mezze, flat breads, mains and desserts.  Well with just two of us we thought we would order it Aussie style and treat it like one entree one main each.  We tried firstly the eggplant – two baby chargrilled lebanese eggplants (whole) and served with tomato sauce and some tzatziki.

When I went to Greece a year and half ago, there was one restaurant in Oia, Santorini that we kept going back to – fond memories – and one thing we tried there were zucchini fritters.  So for nostalgic reasons, this is what I had to order.   The pattie was great, but the oil wasn’t hot enough, so they were very very oily.  Three fritters came on top of a chickpea dip.  Yum though, but not good on the waistline!

Next, our selection from the Apo tin plastira – which means ‘From the wooden board’.  Xanthi’s site notes:

A plastira is the board that the women of the village use to stretch and roll out filo. The wood is made from pine trees and its properties make it the best surface to stop the pastry from sticking and tearing as it’s carefully stretched and thinned.

Our pastry is handrolled and made fresh. Baked fresh and served straight from the oven. Please be patient. Waits can be up to 30 minutes depending on demand.

Luckily, we didn’t have to wait so long, but intrigued we were by the rabbit stifatho – rabbit braised in tomato, honey, cinnammon, clove and red wine sauce and then shredded.  Hmmm….. eat bugs bunny?? Never tried it!  But gosh, they sure harped on it enough on Masterchef for me to be curious!  What came on our plate did not resemble bugs at all – but in fact looked like slow cooked chicken, or indeed pulled pork.  The pastry wasn’t light like the filo we get in the supermarkets – but it was definitely savoury and substantial.  As for bugs…. I would describe it like eating fishy chicken.   Maybe my palate is unsophisticated but it was definitely a bit seafoody.  Not in a delightful way, but interesting way.  I think I will leave elmer fud to eat dat wabbit!    I thought it was extremely pretty and good value for $16 though!  I did like it more than i like escargot though.


Fat Buddha, Queen Victoria Building – Yum Cha

Sunday, August 14th, 2011

Well Fat Buddha certainly caught me off guard – openly discreetly with no fanfare and no write ups!  It wasn’t until my colleague told me “have you been to the new Yum Cha at QVB” that I was alerted to the fact that it has in fact been operational for over a week!  Very keen to try it – who doesn’t love yum cha?  We went there on a Saturday morning – but shhh don’t tell the people at our regular hehehe :)  It’s actually on level 2 of the QVB where the ABC shop used to be – directly below the Tea Room.  I have to admit, the name “Fat Buddha”, and also the red huge signs next to Cupcake Bakery signalling its construction made me believe that it would be a trendy mod-Asian style of yum cha.  How wrong I was!    We walked up to the grand foyer and discovered it is decked out more like a palatial colonial style of dining room – more like Raffles style than Longrain style (sorry to mesh cuisines, but you know what I mean!).  The gorgeous wooden screens, the red and gold fabric lamps and the solid wood chairs, matched perfectly with brand new linen and dark silver topped chopsticks.

They set the bar high – this is yum cha fine dining style!  The usual pram jam and rampant children running dangerously around steaming hot trolleys might not be featured here – instead it’s likely to form a suit crowd. Verified by the waiter who said that it was packed out during the week. Well the proof is is in the dumpling – the prawn dumpling in fact. The yardstick by which all yum chas are measured!  The pricing here seems to be at a small premium for the upmarket experience, most are extra large at $9.50 a pop. but you do get 4 of each, unlike some cheeky yum chas who now give 3!    I loved the prawn dumpling.  The skin was correctly translucently but al dente. Not soggy at all, and the prawn filling had the appropriate texture and also this delicious seasoning that is usually simply pepper in other restaurants. Thumbs up!

The fancy sister of har gau is the scallop dumpling.  They look like little “cheeks” if you know what I mean! hehehe.  They were plump and nice.  But my only gripe is that a bit of cheap seafood extender is also in the filling.

Next, the other staple for comparison – the siu mai – or pork dim sum. Dotted with some roe on top.  The meat had some texture but my one didn’t have much prawn.

The lotus leaf wrapped sticky rice was good too. Also at the extra large price though.  The rice was gooey and perfect, but personally a bit more sauce would be excellent! (more…)

A Tavola, Darlinghurst

Sunday, July 10th, 2011

Ever since appearing on Italian Food Safari and seeing the real way to make amazing Spaghetti Vongole I have been dying to try this place.  I knew it was a cosy little restaurant centred around a communal table, and I also knew that it is seriously popular.  Both I found to be true when I visited!   The large marble communal table is in fact the very bench where the chef makes handmade pasta daily as we are told by the waiter. In fact, it is so produce driven that there are only a few permanent menu items, printed on a piece of paper and tucked neatly into your napkin.  The rest – actually, most of the menu, is repeated and described individually to everyone by the poor waiter.   It was strange actually, bcos the specials menu was actually quite a bit more expensive than the regular menu, strange given that I would have thought that in season food would be cheaper to source.  The regular menu is more Italian cucina pricing whilst the specials is more your fine dining ($35+ for mains).  So we hedged our bets, obviously!

When you are seated, you are presented with some fresh made foccacia and chilli oil for dipping. Nice. The bread is so soft and fluffy with a just lightly crispy crust with a slight oily texture to the touch.  The chilli oil could have done with a bit more of a kick for my liking, but that’s just me, and would most probably have masked the bread!

So for entrees, I had the salami entree.  It was $14, and I was a bit disappointed with its simplicity.  Three slices of salami lightly fried served on a bed of polenta.  A bit more polenta would have been great – or at least another carb provided or even a veg, as the salami is very full bodied and salty to have on its own.

What I should have gotten was the scallops from the specials menu, served with roasted baby beets including my new favourite thing – heirloom varieties, so pretty!  The dish was scattered with pomegranite seeds and served with rocket.  Good to have the balance of veges, and you have to agree – such a pretty plating up, which contrasts to the rustic simplicity of the normal menu. Are you getting the contrast?  The scallops would not look out of place at a three hat restaurant!

For mains – we only had two courses each because we were in a hurry for the theatre – again , a tale of two menus!  I chose the ragu which I was informed was veal, pork and chicken. Yum.  I was confused as this arrived in front of me – the meat was minced instead of slow cooked chunks :(   It was a HUGE serving! Yum though! But as I continued to eat it, it sat in a pool of red oil – it certainly wasn’t low fat… probably a bit too much oil that perhap could have been better off integrated into the sauce so that it doesn’t split out.  Having said that, the pasta was cooked perfectly. (more…)

Bacco Pasticceria – now at the Queen Victoria Building!

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

Since Adriano Zumbo, Sydney has been in a bakery (and more specifically, macaron) state of frenzy.  It then surprised me that the new branch of the Bacco Pasticerria opened in quite a low key manner, in quite a low key spot at the top of QVB.  I can’t say that that upsets me too much, because this means that by lunchtime there is greater likelihood of a good variety of sweet things to choose from!  Bacco is a pasticerria and cafe and restaurant in one.

Beneath the stained glass arched entrance is a clear glass display of beautiful pieces of fine cake art.  It is soooo hard to choose from – tiramisus, mousse cake slices, gigantic macarons sandwiched with ganache, and their signature three texture chocolate mousse cake to name but a few..

They also have a good selection of family sized cakes, all too delicious to eat – topped with gorgeous strawberries, macarons and other jewels of adornment.   The style is less crazy, definitely not plain classic, each one a beautiful work of art that seems too good to ruin by eating.

What paticceria in Sydney would dare not offer a macaron. These chubby cuties sandwiched generously in ganache and irresstible in their pastel beauty.