Review: Pendolino Caffe (Sydney, NSW)

The Strand Arcade
100/412-444 George Street
https://www.pendolino.com.au/

Every so often, I get restaurant suggestions from readers. Of course, it’s impossible for me to visit every single restaurant I get recommended but I do try and check out as many as possible. A few years, Melbourne reader Julie gave me a comprehensive list of her favourite places to eat in Sydney. This was before I became a regular visit to Sydney so her tips were much appreciated. It did, however, take me quite some time to visit Pendolino, one of her suggestions. In this case though, it was better late than never.

Pendolino is located in Sydney’s Strand Arcade so if you’re doing a bit of shopping in town, this is an ideal spot for lunch. The food is regional-inspired Italian cuisine and the restaurant’s selling point is artisanal pastas made freshly daily in the kitchen under the watchful eyes of Executive Chef Nino Zoccali. The venue itself is divided into the stylish restaurant area inside or the more casual ‘caffe’ area, overlooking the arcade. If all you want is a ‘get in, get out’ lunch, then you’re better off sitting at the caffe section. The caffe only does walk-ins though, so your best bet to get a seat is to come in as close to 11:30am as you can – easy for me these days do as I’m self-employed.

Bean is not self-employed but he happened to be on holidays that day so he was my Pendolino dining buddy. He ordered the gramigna (curly pasta) with pork, veal and tomato ragu. The pasta spirals themselves were made out of traditional wild weeds, giving them their avocado green colour. I couldn’t take the weeds themselves but the pasta was beautifully cooked with the right amount of resistance while the ragu was rich, flavoursome and comforting.

Gramigna con il ragu ($21.40)

The menu advertised the brodo (aka Auntie Lidia’s chicken meatball soup) as ‘the best soup in the world’ so it MUST be good, right? Well, it was. The giant chicken meatballs swam in a delicious broth that held plenty of depth. I would have preferred more quadretti pasta in there but if you’re someone who prefers a higher meat-to-pasta ratio (and loves soup), this would be your dish.

Popettini in Brodo della Zia ($14.90)

When I want simple and delicious Italian food in Sydney, I usually gravitate towards Fratelli Paradiso in Potts Points but Pendolino offers a good alternative – especially if you’re stuck in the city and don’t have time to make a short dash east. I’d probably go for the ragu over the brodo next time, though.

The Restaurant Pendolino Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Review: ACME (Sydney, NSW)

60 Bayswater Road
Rushcutters Bay NSW 2011
+61 435 940 884
www.weareacme.com.au

It goes without saying that my list of places to visit in Sydney grows constantly thanks to recommendations from friends and restaurants opening up all the time. One place in particular has been on my radar for quite some time, ACME in Rushcutters Bay. So the last time I was in Sydney, I made it my sole aim to ensure that I dined that – other things look a backseat on the priority list (pfft friends? I don’t need to see them just yet!)

It seems like most hospo groupies know the whole story: the name ACME comes from the first letters of each of the owner’s first names (Andy Emerson, Cam Fairbairn, Ed Loveday and chef Mitch Orr). The food is post-modern (i.e. hipster) Italian but with Asian influences. On paper, the menu suited my palette to a tee. In reality, however, I was underwhelmed. I’m not sure if it was because we came on a bad night or whether my expectations were set too high – after all, my friends couldn’t stop raving about this place. Or maybe we ordered the wrong things. My dining partner Bean agreed with me though to be fair, fusion cuisine is not really his thing.

Foodies will tell you to start your meal with a serving of Jatz crackers – yes, the ones you can grab from the Coles biscuit aisle. For $6, you will get four pieces of crackers topped with whatever the kitchen feels like on the night. Sometimes it could be liverwurst and pickles and sometimes it could be mustard butter and salami. Our topping was a creamy curried egg topping which, to be fair, was nice but I still think the whole Jatz thing is an overpriced gimmick.

Jatz a la Café Paci ($6)

Better was the baby calamari dish, grilled in a lovely lime and five-spice marinate. I’d say this was probably the less ‘fusion-y’ dish on the menu that evening – and ironically, it was probably the highlight.

Baby calamari with lime and five spice ($24)

When dining at ACME, you’d better order their signature pigs head macaroni or you’ll incur the shock of ACME fangirls and fanboys asking if you’re insane for skipping THE MOST AMAZING DISH EVER. After having this dish, I have to ask these fangirls and fanboys what they saw in this dish because honestly, I didn’t think it was that great. Don’t get me wrong – the maraconi shells were divine and possibly one of the best pastas I’ve had in Australia (Orr has amazing technique when it comes to handmade pasta thanks to having worked at Pilu et al). The sauce, however, didn’t impress me. It was more sweet than salty and I felt that the chilli didn’t really belong in there. I wanted to like this dish though and like I said earlier, perhaps I really did come on a bad night.

Pigs head macaroni with egg yolk ($22)

As far as the mains went, I liked the maltagliati a lot more. The combination of shiitake mushrooms, spring onions (why say scallion? We’re in Australia!) worked beautifully with the rich butter sauce. As for the pasta, oh my goodness, the texture! It was amazing! This dish definitely smashed it – in fact, I was expecting the other dishes to be more like this one.

Maltagliati with shiitake and burnt scallion ($22)

Bean isn’t keen to do a return visit and I’m not sure if I’ll be rushing back. That said, I’m still willing to give it another chance as I’m curious to try the other pasta dishes on the menu (though let’s face it – like I’d turn down a chance to eat more pasta). I’ll let you guys know how my second visit is – if it’s as underwhelming as my first visit, I’ll know that ACME was sadly not for me. If it’s a lot better, then I’ll know that even the most popular restaurants in Sydney occasionally have bad nights.

Review: Spice I Am (Sydney, NSW)

90 Wentworth Avenue
Surry Hills NSW 2010
+61 2 9280 0928
http://www.spiceiam.com/spice-i-am-surry-hills

When it comes to the battle of which city serves up the best Thai food in Australia, I’m sorry but I have to say that Sydney definitely beats Melbourne. That’s not to say that Melbourne doesn’t have great Thai restaurants. Nope, in fact, Melbourne’s Thai restaurant scene has caught up in the last five years or so. But when it comes to variety, accessibility and heat factor, Sydney definitely wins. And Spice I Am is one of Sydney’s darlings of the Thai restaurant scene.

I’m not saying that it’s the best Thai restaurant in Sydney. I’m not even saying that it’s the cheapest or most authentic but it’s a solid all-rounder that rarely puts a foot wrong. Spice I Am has several outlets in Sydney but I tend to stick to the original one on Wentworth Street, which is on the city-Surry Hill border. They do a lunch special from Tuesdays to Fridays where they offer a limited menu at slightly cheaper prices so if curries, soup and stir-fry dishes are your thing, then I highly recommend going for lunch. FYI, it’s cash only so leave your cards neatly tucked in your wallet.

In the past, I never ordered spring rolls at restaurants – they’re easy to make at home and being a typical Asian tight ass, all I think about when I see spring rolls on the menu is ‘EEEEK THE MARK UP!’ For some reason, I’ve ordered the mini spring rolls at Spice I Am several times and they’re always delicious. The filling is delicious and filled with a reasonable amount of pork mince and best of all, they’re actually bigger than ‘mini-sized.’

Deep fried mini spring rolls (six for $9.50)

The last time I visited Spice I Am, I ordered the po taek soup; it is a mixed seafood soup gently flavoured with fresh Thai herbs, lemon juice and a burst of chilli. Add some mushrooms for a bit of earthiness and a bit of rice for carb-loading purposes and you have yourself a meal. I love this soup because it’s so comforting, delicious and very light – a great alternative to the omnipresent tom yum (though that’s also available here). Meanwhile, my dining partner Bean loves to go for the curries – this time he had the kang ka ree (yellow curry) with chicken. It’s a delicious curry that’s packed with potatoes and red onion, perfect to mop up with spoonfuls of rice.

Po taek ($14.50); chicken yellow curry ($12.50)

You won’t find boat noodles or papaya salads during lunch service at Spice I Am but you’ll still find something that you’ll like – and you’ll definitely come back wanting more.

Spice I Am Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Review: Ipoh on York (Sydney, NSW)

2/89 York Street
Sydney NSW 2000
+61 2 9299 0001
http://ipohcentral.com/

There seems to be a reasonable amount of Malaysian restaurants in Sydney’s CBD. In the past, I’ve dismissed them thinking that they were overpriced eateries serving mediocre and not-terribly-authentic food to time-poor suits. My recent lunch at Ipoh on York, however, proved me wrong.

The plan was for me to catch up for lunch with my friend Lawrence who worked in George Street. His favourite place to grab a cheap laksa in the city was Malay Chinese Takeaway, also known as ‘that Malaysian place on Hunter Street.’ I’ve walked past it many times without venturing in, assuming it was one of those Anglo-Asian joints that catered to white people. ‘No way!’ said Lawrence. ‘I’ve been going there with my mum since I was a child! This place is legit!’ As soon as he said that, I got excited – perhaps I was wrong all this time.

Sadly, we never made it to Malay Chinese Takeaway. By the time Lawrence was able to leave the office, it was well into peak lunch service. Apparently there was no way we’d get a seat then, he told me. Sydney’s weather gods also decided to release some torrential rain so walking up to Hunter Street was definitely out of the question now. Lawrence suddenly remembered the name of another Malaysian eatery that was closer to the office: Ipoh on York. He had never been himself but he’s had many colleagues recommend it. ‘Did you want to give it a go?’ he asked me tentatively. At this stage, I was happy to eat anything including McDonalds so I was like, sure, and off we went.

As predicted, Ipoh on York was already packed by the time we arrived but thankfully there were a few stray tables so we were quick to grab one. Upon arrival, you order at the counter, pay for your meal and grab a ticket. When your order is ready, you grab your tray and off you go. The set-up does remind me of a food court but when you’re getting flavours this good at a reasonable price (as reasonable as Sydney CBD can get anyway), who cares?

My initial plan was to get a laksa like Lawrence but I ended up opting for the eatery’s signature Ipoh hor fun ($12) – and I enjoyed every single spoonful of it. They gave me a generous amount of silky smooth rice noodles in a chicken and prawn broth, which was light yet extremely flavoursome at the same time. If you’re craving soup for a winter lunch without the heaviness of a laksa or a ramen, this ought to be your go-to dish.

Meanwhile, Lawrence chose the laksa. Here, you can get your laksa in different flavours ranging from the basic chicken to the more popular seafood. You can even order a vegetarian version though I’m not exactly sure how that works given that the basic laksa broth is flavoured with prawn shells in addition to other delicious ingredients not limited to chilli, lemongrass, galangal and candlenuts. Anyway, Lawrence chose the combination laksa ($15) so he can have a bit of everything, though the tofu to meat ratio was a bit skewed. I had a few spoonfuls of the broth and I can definitely verify its deliciousness.

Ipoh hor fun ($12), Combination laksa ($15)

Even though we didn’t get to try Malay Chinese Takeaway, Ipoh on York was definitely an excellent alternative and I’ll be back to enjoy a bowl of their laksa. I’m also keen to try their nasi lemak and their kway teow siram (wok-fried rice noodles in a silky egg gravy). A laksa at Malay Chinese Takeaway is still on my list, though.

Ipoh on York Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Review: Ramen O-San (Sydney, NSW)

Shop F1A, Sussex Centre Food Court
401 Sussex Street
Haymarket NSW 2000
+61 439 945 245

For the next few weeks, I’ll be writing about Sydney restaurants – after all, I’ll be moving there soon so I may as well make myself more comfortable, right? And one of my favourite things about being in Sydney is being spoilt for choice when it comes to ramen restaurants. They can be found pretty much everywhere from Chinatown to Chatswood and there will normally be a restaurant that will make the type of ramen you prefer, whether it’s a bowl of nutty miso ramen or a thick collagen-laden tonkotsu (pork bone) ramen.

I have a long list of ramen places I work through whenever I’m in Sydney and in 2015, Ramen O-San appeared on the bottom of the list. Ramen O-San is owned by restaurateur Kazuteru Oh (hence, the name O-San); the Kyushu-born O-San is also responsible for Busshari and Kujin so I knew Ramen O-San was going to be good. My Sydney friend Lawrence was also keen on checking Ramen O-San out so when I was up in Sydney for a weekend, we decided to visit. Better late than never, right?

Ramen O-San can be found at Sussex Centre Food Court in Haymarket. Here, you can often find owner Kazuteru Oh manning huge stockpots of tonkotsu broth that’s been simmering for 12 hours so that the collagen from kilos of pork bone, skin, belly and trotters can create a rich, thick broth that’s full of flavour. The broth is also MSG-free – not that you really need flavour enhancers for a broth that’s being cooked for that long anyway! O-San’s ramen noodles are also handmade, which is always a plus in my books.

Lawrence ordered the signature tonkotsu ramen while I decided go to light with the chicken soy ramen. We both added a soy-marinated egg in our ramen ($1.50 each). O-san’s tonkotsu ramen is thick, luscious and decadent. There is also the option to opt for an even thicker broth upon request, something that Gumshara fans would no doubt be up for. Nevertheless, the default tonkotsu option here does the job – and Lawrence slurped every last drop.

Tonkotsu ramen ($9.80), chicken soy ramen ($9.80)

If you feel that the tonkotsu broth might be too heavy for you, O-San’s chicken soy ramen is a lighter option but one that still delivers on the taste front – at least that’s my opinion of it. I was expecting it to taste like a Tokyo-style shoyu ramen (i.e. heavy on the soy) but instead the broth was much lighter. Think light chicken broth with a just the lightest dash of soy.

Chicken soy ramen with chashu pork

Sydney’s ramen scene might have plenty of healthy competition but I’d definitely list O-San as one of my top places along with Manpuku and Gumshara (yes, sometimes I do crave a super thick tonkotsu broth). There’s a ramen for everyone and best of all, everything is authentic right down to the noodles and well priced.

Ramen O-San Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Review: Doodee Paidang (Sydney, NSW)

9/37 Ultimo Road
Haymarket NSW 2000
+61 2 8065 3827
http://www.dodeepaideng.com.au/

I’m not sure what it is about Aussies and their love for Thai food – but when I say Thai food, I’m not talking legit Thai food that you get in the bustling streets of Bangkok. No, we’re speaking of one-dimensional green curries without any discerning flavours or heat. We’re talking pad thai noodles that’s missing the well-balanced ratio of salty-sweet-spicy-sour and the all-important wok hei. And finally, all the fake elephants and purple. Bleh!

Thankfully, you’ll find none of that here at Doodee Paidang, a small chain of Thai restaurants in Sydney. Specialising in tom yum noodle soups, Doodee is a favourite cheap eats joint for Thai international students so you know you’ll expect more than a decent level of authenticity.

Doodee has branches in Cabramatta, Bondi Junction and Haymarket; for folk that work in the city, Haymarket is the most convenient location – that’s where I caught up with fellow foodie Julie for a post-work dinner one evening.

You can choose between seven levels of spiciness, starting with the mild (albeit Thai mild which is different to gweilo mild) Doodee Monster right through to the sadistic Doodee super nova at level seven. Technically though, there really are only five levels – they omit numbers four and six as they’re unlucky numbers. I also liked that you can choose between a jumbo bowl if you’re hungry or a small bowl if you want to try other stuff on their menu, such as rice dishes or non-spicy noodle soups.

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Being indecisive, I ended up going for the Dooedee duo ($14). On one side there was the Doodee vermicelli with tender braised pork, fish and beef balls and crispy wonton skin shreds; on the other side, there was the Doodee barbeque pork with egg noodles. There was no chilli in any of my dishes but on every table, there is a condiments island so you can DIY heat. (and suffer the consequences of putting way too much chilli – but my iced Thai milk tea ($4.50) saved the day.)

Meanwhile, Julie went a la carte. She divided her attention between two small dishes: the soft boil rice with prawns ($6.90) and the tom yum noodles with ribs ($6). I snuck several bites from each bowl and loved the gorgeous balance of intricate flavours that came out of every spoonful. And while I’m more of a noodles>rice person, I did find the rice dish much nicer – the rich seafood broth was beautifully infused with pork, chilli and lime.

I have to say that this was one of the best Thai meals I’ve had in Australia. All our dishes struck the perfect balance of spicy, salty and sweet – and if you happen to go for one of the spicy options, heat. The liberal use of fresh herbs such as coriander also helped to lift the flavours of each dish to another level that surpassed your average suburban Thai restaurant.

Review: Nam Fong (Sydney, NSW)

54 Bankstown City Plaza
Bankstown NSW 2200
+61 2 9708 4306

Upon leaving Pho An, it was time for me to head back up north. I may have been giddily full from eating the most scrumptious bowl of pho but no way I was leaving Bankstown empty-handed; I had to get my hands on a pork roll to take back home with me.

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Google took me to Nam Fong, one of Bankstown’s many Vietnamese bakeries that supposedly do a mean pork roll – at least according to the citizens of the internet. Nam Fong was bursting to the brim when I got there; predictably, there were no lines and no order – you simply had to walk and squeeze yourself right up to the front of the counter and catch the eye of one of the thong-welding ladies.

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There were so many things I wanted to buy at Nam Long, from the boxes of Vietnamese sweets right through to the meatball baguettes. However, I stuck to my original aim which was to get one original pork roll (banh mi thit) and walk off. After all, it was bad enough carrying one pork roll in your bag on public transport let alone half a dozen of them. (to the folk taking the bus to Padstow, the train to Wooli Creek, the train to Wynyard and the bus to the north shore on Sunday: please forgive me.)

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One thing I loved about Nam Fong was its retro pricing: my pork roll was only $3.50. You don’t come across many places that do a decent pork roll for less than $4 these days – at least not in Melbourne. This pork roll did it for me: it had a lovely mix of cold cuts and shredded barbeque pork complimented with the right amount of pickled vegetables and chillies. I also liked that they were very liberal with the condiments – the more fish sauce, pâté and mayo, the better. The bread was also notably crunchy and light, an impressive feat given that it did the 1.5-hour commute back north with me and sat in the fridge for an extra two hours.

I haven’t sampled enough of Sydney’s Vietnamese pork rolls to decide whether this one’s a sturdy winner, but suffice to say that I’d definitely come back again. It’s an excellent value roll for what it’s worth and a winner for those who like it saucy.

Review: Pho An (Sydney, NSW)

27 Greenfield Parade
Bankstown NSW 2200
+61 2 9796 7826
http://anrestaurant.com.au/

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been more than TWO WHOLE MONTHS since I’ve updated this blog. Given that I was once someone who posted several times a week, this relatively long hiatus was somewhat out of character. If it weren’t for a few lovely readers asking me why I hadn’t updated in so long, I probably would not have been writing this – and that’s a shame because I do love blogging and hence, my keenness to resurrect this blog again. As a promise to you, dear reader, I’ll update this blog as much as I can. And if I ever slack off again, please send me a gentle reminder and I’ll be on my two feet again.

So that’s that.

It’s also been quite a while since I’ve sat down and had a solid bowl of pho so this post seems appropriate. Earlier today, I decided to trek down to Bankstown to try what is apparently one of Sydney’s finest pho. As some of you may know, I currently live in Gold Coast, a city where halfway decent and authentic Vietnamese food is severely lacking. Although I’ve been living (and working) in Sydney for the last month or so, I’m still kind of far away from good pho. And by good pho, I mean one that actually bear some semblance to the stuff they serve in Saigon and not diluted with a ridiculous amount of MSG.

Today, I finally had the chance to make the commute down to Bankstown – to Pho An, to be exact. In the grand scheme of things, Bankstown isn’t all that far – and nowhere near the long GC-Brisbane dash that we GC foodies have to contend with sometimes – but not having a car means that a Bankstown pho trek requires us to set aside an extra hour or two. That was fine.

Naturally though, there happened to be track works along the Bankstown line on the day I set aside for this trek. There were no other days left on my calendar in which I could complete this trek so I thought ‘what the hell’ and off I went.

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Was the three-hour travel time worth it?

As I said, it was my first bowl of half decent pho in a long time so yes.

Pho bo tai ($15), ca phe sue da ($5)
Pho bo tai ($15), ca phe sue da ($5)

I don’t remember the last time I’ve slurped a spoonful of soulfully delicious broth and sighed with happiness. It ticked all boxes: taste, depth and the MSG test (no tickle down my throat). The noodles were thick, glossy and gloriously slippery and they were generous with the sliced beef. I was also impressed with the service – my pho, drink and condiments all came within two minutes of ordering. The only con I could think of was that it wasn’t cheap – a medium bowl of pho was $15 and my Vietnamese iced coffee was $5 (say, what?!). The bowl wasn’t exactly big either; I suppose this is to encourage people to upsize for only an extra $1.50 but I’m not one to be able to order big bowls of pho these days and comfortably finish it.

So would I do the trek from the north shore to Bankstown via public transport for one bowl of pho again? If there were track works happening again, probably not. If I had a car, most likely yes. It was one of the better bowls of pho I’ve had in living memory but far out, getting there was a lot of work!

Pho An Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Review: Waterman’s Lobster Co (Sydney, NSW)

5/29-31 Orwell Street
Potts Points NSW 2011
+61 2 9380 2558
http://www.watermanslobsterco.com/

When the co-owner of one of my favourite wine bars (Love Tilley Devine) in Sydney decided to open a lobster roll bar in Potts Points, I just knew I had to visit the first chance I got. That moment happened just a few weeks after the lobster roll bar, Waterman’s Lobster Co, opened. I arrived in Sydney just after dinnertime which was fine because according to Waterman’s website, they opened until late. By the time I met up with my friend Dom in front of the Potts Points establishment, it was just after 9pm.

And Waterman’s just had closed.

One of the guys at the bar told us that they decided to shut down early because they hadn’t ‘seen a single person walk in for at least an hour’ (this was followed by his co-worker giving him side greasy). They had just closed the kitchen and weren’t taking any more orders. Disappointed, we went into the winter night and into some random pizza place in the ‘Cross.

I did, however, get my second chance only a few weeks ago. Long story short, but I had to made a trip to the French Consulate in Sydney one Thursday morning. Not wanting to risk a delayed morning flight out of Gold Coast, I decided to fly into Sydney the previous day, stay there overnight and wake up refreshed the following morning to (nicely) take on the French.

It was around 6:30pm on Wednesday night when we decided to give Waterman’s another go – and the place was buzzing. Thankfully, they managed to squeeze the two of us in at a communal table in the back room.

New England clam chowder ($12)
New England clam chowder ($12)

Because it was such a cold night, we figured a bowl of crouton-topped chowder would be a perfect starter to share. It arrived immediately so I’m guessing everyone else had the same idea and the kitchen had heaps ready to ladle out. The chowder was rich, creamy and deep in flavour; I haven’t had many chowders in my life but I’m fairly certain that this was the real deal – at least compared to the pretty-sure-this-ain’t-legit one I had at a Marlborough winery a few years ago.

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Waterman’s offers two different types of lobster rolls: the Maine style one and the Connecticut style one. Dom suggested we order both and split them, which was a brilliant idea. I then decided to order a glass of Gosset Brut Excellence ($20) to have with my lobster, another brilliant idea if I do say so myself. It was a beautifully balanced champagne; rich and creamy yet fragrant and fruity, the bubbles complemented the buttery lobster rolls to a tee.

‘Maine Style’ lobster roll ($18)
‘Maine Style’ lobster roll ($18)

The Maine style lobster roll came with mayo and celery; after one bite, I was hooked. The closest thing I’ve had to this was Andrew McConnell’s now-famous lobster roll from Golden Fields which, at the time, sent foodgasmic shockwaves around Melbourne’s foodie set. I, however, found it underwhelming mainly due to its price point – $15 for a small roll? Yeah, no.

This roll, however, was big. As big as a hot dog. And sure, the lobster may have been imported from the ‘States (according to the owners, they tasted better) and sure, there may have been a bit of a wait for them but hey. The combination of succulently sweet lobster, buttery bread and mayo, accentuated by the crunch of the celery pieces, was nothing short of amazing.

‘Connecticut Style’ lobster roll ($18)
‘Connecticut Style’ lobster roll ($18)

The Connecticut Style roll was just as good. It was a simpler roll, with just a dash of warm butter to coat the lobster. I think I liked the Maine style lobster more because of the beautiful balance of flavours and textures, though the simple nature of the Connecticut roll meant that I really got to taste the natural flavour of the lobster meat.

We both added some lightly seasoned fries ($2) and a pickle ($1) to our plates to make it a complete meal. While Dom was a bit underwhelmed by the pickle (it lacked flavour, he argued), I thought otherwise – it was especially great with the Connecticut Style roll as it added a bit of extra flavour.

Of course, Waterman’s rolls aren’t just limited to lobster ones. They also sell prawn, scallop and smoked eel rolls, all of which I’m keen to try the next time I’m down in Sydney… which probably won’t be until the end of the year. Sob.

Review: Mary’s City (Sydney, NSW)

154 Castlereagh Street
Sydney NSW 2000

After spending a morning at the French Consulate, I found myself roaming Sydney’s city streets looking for a good feed. It was a glorious winter day in my favourite Aussie city – sure, it was cold but the sun was out and the winds were (thankfully) nowhere to be found. There was no better way to spend the afternoon than by enjoying lunch outside, in Hyde Park.

Luckily, my favourite Sydney burger joint, Mary’s, has a branch in the city. The city joint is just a block away from Hyde Park so I decided that lunch that day was going to be burger, fries, gravy and a lot of bloating (totally worth it though… or so I thought).

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Predictably, the Thursday afternoon queue was massive. The diminutive city store only does take away and most of the people patiently lining up were hungry office workers. Fortunately, the line does move fast. (that said, I then waited an extra 15 minutes to the side for my food to be ready.)

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Taking cues from its Newtown big sister, the city store also has a wall where punters can scribble dick pics and lewd messages to their heart’s content.

Cheeseburger ($10)
Cheeseburger ($10)

Walking over to Hyde Park, I eagerly unpacked the contents of my white paper bag. Although the city store has all the Newtown menu favourites, its price point is a bit different. If you order a cheeseburger in Newtown, $15 will get you a generously sized burger with chips. Here, $10 gets you a much smaller burger and no chips. In fact, I was surprised at how small, deflated and sorry-looking my city burger was. I was even more surprised to find that it tasted like a Maccas cheeseburger minus the onions and pickle. It was hard to believe that this burger was actually a Mary’s burger. What. The Hell.

Gravy ($4)
Gravy ($4)

You can’t leave Mary’s without ordering gravy to go with your fries. Seeing as the burger came without fries, I ordered a serving of them ($4) and a tub of gravy ($4). Thankfully, they tasted just as I remembered; the chips were crispy and well-seasoned and while the gravy wasn’t as lusciously velvety as the ones I’ve enjoyed in Newtown, it was still delicious. God bless rendered chicken fat and a splash of warm stock, oh yeah.

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Look. Despite the #burgerfail, it was actually not a bad lunch.

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