Rabbit Hole Bar & Dining, Sydney CBD ($$)

Address: Basement level, 82 Elizabeth Street, Sydney NSW

Tel: (02) 8084 2505

Website: http://www.rabbitholebar.com.au/

Opening Hours:

Monday to Friday -12.00 pm to late

Saturday- 4.00 pm to late

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Pendulum Communications invited MC and I to Rabbit Hole Bar and Dining’s (RHBD) first birthday party, located underground on Elizabeth Street.

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The entry

Celeb guests included Justine Schofield (of MasterChef and Everyday Gourmet fame), Nacho Pop, Sam McMillan and Brittany Cairns, while fellow food bloggers; Simon from Simon Food Favourites, Bob from Jugernauts, and Tina from Food, Booze and Shoes were also in attendance.

Atmosphere

RHBD has a very quaint almost 20’s feel to it with lots of neutral colours and old fashioned cartoons on the walls.

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There are two bars: one in the main area, and one in another more intimate space around the corner.  

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Main bar

We headed over after work, about 6.30pm and managed to find a table in the room to the left of the main bar area. 

This space had a bar in the middle and featured cushioned seats on one side of the wall and mismatched wooden chairs, large round barrels and stools around the rest of the space, some covered in white rabbit-like fur.

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Smaller bar area

It was quite dark and the only light we had came from down lights, mirrors, sky lights and candles which added depth and brightened up the dark spaces.

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The place has a quirky and private feel and features mysterious Alice in Wonderland-like accents such as rabbit-related cartoons, flowery cushions in contrast to the dark bar and seats, and “DRINK ME” worthy cocktail concoctions!

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The music was quite relaxed and laid back and contributed to the “classy hipster” vibe.

Service

The staff were pretty attentive, walking around to collect empty glasses and to ask if we wanted another drink, and the bar staff were great at pouring the drinks, serving them up with flair and informing us of the ingredients.

Food

Owner Doug Laming has appointed a new chef, Jeremy Metivier who has worked in Michelin star restaurants and who is the driving force behind RHBD’s new French fine dining menu.

The menu included dishes such as:

  • Goats Cheese and Beetroot Apples
  • Scallops on Beetroot Shortbread with Mango and Beetroot Emulsions
  • Mini Wagyu Sliders with Brie Cheese and house made Relish
  • Slow Roasted Lamb with Artichoke Puree, Coriander and Wine Jelly
  • Salmon Gravlax with Cucumber and Aloe Vera “Snow”
  • Chocolate Skulls, with Firm Spicy Pirate Cream and Coconut Cake

Unfortunately, as MC and I were seated on one side, most of the food never made it past the crowd at the front of the room, so we only got to try 3 dishes.

One of the dishes we tried were the Goats Cheese and Beetroot Apples.  This dish was very elegantly presented on a bed of golden crumbs with glossy grapes and peppered balls of goats cheese covered in an almost waxy edible red coating.

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The other savoury dish we tried was the Salmon Gravlax appetiser, mini versions of the salmon gravalax, cucumber lake, orange cream and aloe vera snow dish available from the dinner menu.

These were little morsels of heaven; perfectly sliced salmon with a green cucumber jelly, delicate edible decorations of orange, red and white and beautiful purple flowers to garnish.

An exquisite tasting dish which had a flavour that matched its appearance.

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Finally, for dessert we enjoyed the Chocolate Skulls– spoons of a spicy custard-like cream with coconut cake rounds, chopped summer fruit and dark chocolate skills with a gold dusting.

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These skulls were lit on fire, leaving the custard warm, the chocolate slightly melted and the on watchers in awe!

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Overall, while we didn’t get much food to try, the menu looked quite appetising and the dishes that were on offer seemed to be different and well put together.  I can see how this place would appeal to the office works and corporates in the Martin Place and CBD area with its fine dining dishes and creative cocktails.

Drinks  

As RHBD is owned and run by Doug Laming, a “molecular mixologist” (read: awesome cocktail maker who uses physical and chemical modification of ingredients to create interesting drinks), it makes sense that he would put his skills on display and serve up an array of cocktails. 

Some of the cocktails we tried included:

  • The Smoked Apple
  • Breakfast Bouquet
  • The White Cloud Above Mount Gay
  • The Wood and Smoke
  • You’ve Gone Nuts
  • Stolen painkiller

Although we didn’t have much food, we did have a LOT of drinks!  We wanted to try one of each of the ones we saw so we ended up sharing quite a few between us.

First up was the Smoked Apple. It contained  torrontes and pomme verte layered agar apples, Ceylon tea infused cinnamon syrup, rhubarb butters and cloudy apple juice finished with fresh cider, smoked salt and some apple slices.

It was a pleasant looking dish, served in a short glass and while the smokey flavour wasn’t really to my liking, MC enjoyed the fresh flavours and boldness of the drink.

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We then shared one of the sweetest drinks, the Breakfast Bouquet.

This drink has larios, gin, double creme de cassis, rose and strawberry jam, wild willow water, fresh lemon and a dash of rhubarb bitters.  It is a complex yet sweet looking cocktail which looked lovely, topped with a rose petal and blueberry.

As you drink the cocktail the scent of the rose petal wafts up and leaves you feeling as though you are walking through a field of roses!  Lame but true.

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We also enjoyed a rum and marshmallow foam cocktail which was called the White Cloud Above Mount Gay.

Mount Gay extra old rum is shaken with black pepper, pineapple caramel, fresh lime and more pineapple, and is then poured over marshmallow foam which leaves a white cloud on top.

The drink is another sweet one which, after the previous sweet drinks, we found a little hard to swallow.  While it was interesting to watch it being made, I wasn’t a fan of it as it was a little too sweet.

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The Wood and Smoke was an interesting cocktail which the menu says is made from ingredients including Jim Beam Devil’s Cut, Laphroaig single malt whiskey, quassia (bark chips), barberry bark syrup, acid phosphate and bitters.

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After shaking up a storm, the bartender pours the slightly cloudy drink over ice, where it settles and turns from creamy to clear.  A cinnamon stick is placed in the drink and is then set alight, giving a woody and smoky scent.

While I preferred the sweeter drinks, MC, a Jim Beam and Jack Daniels fan, enjoyed this smoky, cinnamon flavoured cocktail over the rest.

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The You’ve Gone Nuts drink contains Sierra Millenario infused with tonka beans, and shaken with Disaronno amaretto, house-made peanut and cashew syrup and finished with walnut bitters.

The cocktail looks like it is full of lemon juice with a sugar rim but in actual fact, like the other cocktails, it was quite sweet rather than sour.

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Finally, the Stolen Painkiller, a first for me, this powdered cocktail tasted like fizzy sherbert pops.  It contained powdered rum, pineapple, coconut and passionfruit powder and was served in half a passionfruit shell.

The interesting presentation and tangy sour taste was a great way to finish off our cocktail tasting and we enjoyed it, although one of the guys seated next to us wasn’t a fan!

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Rating

I would rate my experience (out of 10):

  • Service-  6
  • Food-   5 (what food?)
  • Atmosphere- 7
  • Value – 7

TCFB dined as a guest of Pendulum Communications and Rabbit Hole Bar & Dining.

Rabbit Hole Bar & Dining on Urbanspoon

 

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Wooden Spoon Bar & Restaurant, Cremorne ($$)

Address: Shop 3 /362 Military Rd Cremorne NSW 

Tel: (02) 9904 5687

Website: http://woodenspoonbar.com.au/

Opening Hours: 

Tuesday -Friday: 5.00 pm till late
Saturday: 12.00 pm till late
Monday & Sunday open for Functions only

* * *

I was delighted to receive an invite from Taylor of  Foggo Gourmetto a bloggers-only event introducing Wooden Spoon’s new degustation menu. Located in Sydney’s Lower North Shore, Wooden Spoon was previously a restaurant, but has now been transformed into a modern and exciting tapas bar. The bar is the joint venture of the lovely Livia Wang, and chef, Noel Phear. 

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Exterior of the restaurant

It is conveniently located near the Hayden Orpheum, making it the perfect spot for a pre-show nibble or post-show drink. I decided to take my mum (Super Mum) along with me for a second opinion, as she is one of the best cooks I know. Super Mum’s powers include being able to whip up a 5 dish Sri Lankan meal in about an hour, and making extra-hot prawn curries, the effects of which, can only be withstood by those with equally awesome super powers!

Super Mum and I caught the bus from North Sydney Station after work. As we live near a train line we don’t often catch the bus, so we were a little anxious about how to get there. However, it was quite easy as bus stand D is situated just outside North Sydney Station, and the first bus that came along took us right in front of the bar. Getting home was another matter though, as we had to get a bus back to Wynyard Station and then a train back down the North Shore Line!

Atmosphere

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Upon arriving we were greeted by the lovely Taylor and the equally lovely Livia. Looking around the restaurant I was impressed by the cute and quirky decor. I loved the dark colours on the walls, and interesting ornaments in the bookshelves.

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The mood lighting and candles added a warm and intimate feel to what is quite a large area. 

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From the seating area you can see the bar and also see part of the kitchen where the chef was at work. It is quite a nice layout, with the bar and kitchen area located in the centre of the space instead of in the corner, where they are often found in other restaurants.

At the back of the restaurant is a more private area, probably used for functions. The space would accommodate about 40 people comfortably, and contains dining tables and chairs as well as some comfortable-looking couches. The hanging ornaments above, bring some depth to the space and make it more interesting to look at, while the cute green plants on the tables add some colour.

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Service

Taylor led us to a bar table with a couple of stools around it, where we were served some water. We were soon joined by Brenda & Belinda, sister bloggers from The Lamstock. After chatting with Taylor and the girls for a while, one of my uni friends, DK, and his co-blogger Yvonne, from Excuse Me Waiter joined us at the table.

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During the night service was great. Staff were friendly and helpful and service of the food was quick and faultless. Our used plates and cutlery were cleared away quickly and fresh ones brought out after each course. Our water was refilled and we were frequently offered drinks.

Drinks

We were served a variety of “mini cocktail tasters” including one called “Stay Classy San Diego” ($16.00), which contained sparkling wine, vodka, mint, and elderflower. As soon as I tasted this drink I knew it contained vodka, sparkling wine and mint. It was quite refreshing and very cool, as the menu suggests.

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Stay Classy San Diego

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We were then led into the back area where we were seated with all the other bloggers at a long table. This put me next to Kevin from Shiitake & Stuff, and near Viv from When the World Stops Spinning.

We were soon served up the Earl of Cremorne cocktail, featuring earl grey tea, lemon juice, rum and gin. Although Super Mum wasn’t a fan, I really enjoyed this drink and thought the rimming sugar made all the difference, sweetening what would otherwise be quite a bitter drink.

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Earl of Cremorne

Later on in the night I tried a strawberry mocktail. It was quite sweet and tasted like “fake” strawberry (perhaps frozen?). Not sure what was in it, but it did have an odd taste. I also tasted some coconut juice or water in there. Overall it was not a bad drink, but fresh strawberries would have been better.

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Strawberry Mocktail

Super Mum tried a passionfruit mocktail which was basically slightly bitter orange juice with half a passionfruit. The presentation was lovely and, once I poured the passionfruit pulp into the glass, the drink tasted quite refreshing.

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Passionfruit Mocktail

Food

The degustation menu at Wooden Spoon consists of 5 tasters for $59.00 per person, or $99.00 with matching wines. We were served a smaller version of the degustation normally served to customers, but at the end of it we were all full, so I am sure this would be more than enough for any paying customer!

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The menu

To start, we enjoyed the pan seared scallops, with ox tail sausage, pea and lemon puree, apple and pork jus. The dish was beautifully presented and the scallop was perfectly cooked, with a golden glaze on top. I have never had ox-tail sausage before but decided I would try it. Unfortunately there wasn’t much to try as I could not find where the ox tail was in the dish. I assumed it was broken up into pieces somewhere in the pea and lemon puree. I would have liked to see a nice slice of browned sausage under the scallop instead. I also couldn’t really taste much of the apple in the jus. Overall however, the scallops were beautiful and the pea and lemon puree had a lovely texture. The dish was well-presented and tasty, despite the absence of ox tail sausage.

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Next we were served my favourite dish of the evening, zucchini flowers-salt cod and potato brandade, tomato and vanilla fondue, whitebait and lime crisps. This dish was just art on a plate. It was so pretty! I couldn’t wait to eat it and. when I did. I was impressed! The white bait was well seasoned and tasted soft on the inside with a crunchy outside. The zucchini was perfectly cooked and the flower itself was coated in the most delicious crunchy batter with a soft potato mash on the inside. The acidity of the tomato was counterbalanced by the mild vanilla taste, making the perfect sauce. Absolutely delicious dish and one that you must all try!

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The pecking (did they mean peking?) duck dumplings with bamboo with ponzu sauce were next. Again, very well presented. We were served two dumplings each. This dish normally comes with prawn dumplings as well, but we did not receive them on this occasion. The dumplings were soft and moist, but I could not really taste the duck in them. This is probably a good thing as, while I have eaten duck (accidentally), I don’t like to because I used to have a pet duck. I did however taste a strong licorice-flavoured spice (anise or star anise?) which did ruin that particular mouthful. I am not generally a fan of licorice and an unexpected bite of it in a dumpling was not pleasing. Overall though it is quite a nice dish. I would have liked to try the prawn one as well!

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Finally, after a short wait, we were served the final two dishes on a wooden board: confit pork belly, butternut squash and toasted cumin puree, pickled leek and apple salad and the mini beef mignon, green lentil and speck ragout, shiraz and mustard emulsion sauce.

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Everything was exquisitely presented and looked delicious. I started with the pork. I found my pork to be soft and easy to eat, with a delicious crunchy crackling underneath. The leek and apple salad with carrot was refreshing and cut through some of that fat in the pork. I did find it quite chewy and fatty, but it is pork so that is somewhat expected. Super Mum said her pork had a piece of hard meat at the bottom and she didn’t enjoy the flavour much. As for the butternut squash and cumin puree, it was nice with the pork, but tasted a little mustardy. I would have the squash flavour to be stronger.

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The beef fillets we both got were cooked perfectly and were soft and tender, slightly pink in the middle. The bacon wrapped around it was delicious and crunchy and added some salt to the beef.  The lentil and speck ragout was tasty, as was the shiraz sauce, but the mustard emulsion tasted like mustard mixed with cream and I did not enjoy it.

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Overall the two final dishes were both tasty but minor aspects of the dishes, such as the mustard emulsion and the way the pork was cooked, affected the overall quality and flavour of the dish.

To finish off the night, mum had a latte which was very pretty and which, she said, was the perfect end to the meal.

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In summary, Wooden Spoon Bar & Restaurant is a great place for drinks and tapas. The food is tasty and well-presented and I can see this becoming one of the area’s most popular venues. I would definitely recommend giving this place a go!

Rating:

Overall I would rate my dining experience (out of 10):

  • Service- 7.5
  • Food- 8
  • Ambience- 7.5
  • Value – 7

If you liked this review, see here for a Q&A with co-owner Livia Wang.

Wooden Spoon Bar & Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Q & A with Wooden Spoon Bar & Restaurant’s co-owner Livia Wang

I had the pleasure of visiting Wooden Spoon last Wednesday and thought I would ask the lovely owner some questions about the restaurant to give you more of an insight into the hip new venue.

1. How did you get into the food/hospitality industry?

Our family background is food/restaurant business. When my husband and I met each other 5 years ago, we decided to open a restaurant/bar. He is a bartender and I’m the floor manager. Wooden Spoon is our third business and we love this industry!

2. When was Wooden Spoon Bar opened?

It was opened in March 2012.

3. Why makes Wooden Spoon Bar different to other similar restaurants/bars?

Cremorne is a very “residential” area. We do not treat our “customers” as customers, we like to have long term relationship and treat them as our family. We focus on the “network” a lot; we have wine tasting twice a month; cocktail tasting evenings once a month; mother groups; corporate tasting evenings etc. We think Wooden Spoon is the place for everyone to get together.

4. What is the one dish that you would recommend on the menu?

I do like our “Mini beef mignon, green lentil and speck ragout, shiraz and mustard emulsion sauce” dish.

5. What is your favourite drink on the cocktail menu?

I will say…Strawberry and Cream; Sailor Jerry Rum shaken with strawberries and lemon juice with a strawberry cream float.

6. If you could invite any celebrity to dine at Wooden Spoon Bar, who would it be and why?

This is a good question! Maybe I will say North Sydney council’ Mayor Jilly Gibson and Councillors. Because here is somewhere people get together.

Product Review: Rekorderlig Orange & Ginger Cider

Product: Orange & Ginger Rekorderlig Cider

Available at: your local liquor store

For more information: http://www.rekorderlig.com/au/

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I am a bit of a Rekorderlig fan and was given the opportunity to review the new Orange & Ginger flavour when I was sent a couple of bottles to try.

Rekorderlig’s range of ciders have become increasingly popular among those looking for a more light and flavoursome alternative to beer and wine. I am not much of a beer or wine drinker unless it is a sweet wine such as Rose, Moscato or Verdi. Otherwise I drink mixed drinks such as Beer Chandy or Mimosas, or Vodka Lemon Lime Bitters etc. I really like drinks which taste nice as I don’t drink just for the sake of it, and this is why I enjoy Rekorderlig.

Source: http://www.beersofeurope.co.uk 

Orange & Ginger

When I heard that Rekorderlig had released a new Orange & Ginger flavour cider I was a little sceptical. Their other flavours have been so good (they have Apple, Pear, Wild Berries, Strawberry Lime, etc).

I reviewed the drink with my mum, dad and MC for more opinions on the drink.

The colour of the drink is a pleasant peach which is a little different to the brighter pinks of the other flavours.

The drink itself is quite ginger-y, and in fact tastes a little like ginger beer.. It doesn’t taste of orange at all. I found myself comparing it to those orange and lime mineral waters and diet drinks available in supermarkets.

MC wasn’t much of a fan (he said it was his least favourite Rekorderlig flavour) but my mum and dad really enjoyed it. My mum said it would appeal to ginger beer lovers, such as my dad.

Summary

In conclusion, while all Rekorderlig drinks are light and refreshing for summer, the Orange & Ginger flavour isn’t for everyone.

If you are a ginger beer fan I would definitely recommend trying it. If not, then the only way to find out if you will like this drink is to go out and try it!

Rating

I rated this drink 4.5/10.

Four Seasons High Tea Party

About The Event

Sunday was the High Tea Party at the Four Seasons Hotel in Sydney. The High Tea Party is an all day shopping and pampering event/expo organised by the Four Seasons Hotel and a number of partners including the National Breast Cancer Foundation and Million Dollar Woman. The event ran from 9.00am to 6.00pm on the 27th and 28th of October.

Arrival

We arrived at the hotel around 11.30am and were directed towards the registration tables where we handed over our tickets and received a Price Attack gift bag containing vouchers and samples.

We were given a short spiel about the event and the high tea by a lady near the entrance, and then we were handed some Lindauer champagne to enjoy as we wandered through the expo.

High Tea

At 12.30pm we headed towards the Grand Ballroom for a lovely high tea. We were seated at a table of 4 with some comfortable chairs and plenty of room. It was nice that we had our own table and didn’t need to share with people we didn’t know.

The high tea itself was lovely. We had one tray between the four of us with four of each item on it. I was a little peeved when I saw that the dessert plate was in the middle and the scones were on top (have some order people, order!) but we ate them in the right order anyway!

We started with some sandwiches which included chicken and mayo, salmon on brioche, a strange mint/tabbouli/lettuce wrap, and the best ham and cheese sandwich I’ve had in a while.

 

We were given unlimited tea (which I definitely took advantage of, having about 4 cups!) or coffee and another glass of champagne.

We then moved on to the scones with jam and cream. The scones looked very cute but tasted more like a bread roll than a scone. However they were soft and still tasted nice with the jam and cream.

Finally we tried some of the desserts, although we were all getting full by then. There was an opera cake-style slice, mini cupcakes, and some carrot cake with toasted muesli on top. The desserts were all nice but were quite sweet and we were already very full by then!

 

During the high tea, there was a fashion show put on by Living Silk, which provided some entertainment and something interesting to watch. There were a few giveaways and then the high tea part of the day was over, and we headed out of the ballroom to the other levels of the expo.

 

 

Stalls

MDS and I enjoyed taking photos with the Porsche, getting some eyelash extensions (with a mascara brush), tasting the GallianoLindauer and Skinny Girl drinks, and checking out some of the jewellery, clothes and hair and make-up products on show.


 

 

There were some cute pieces of jewellery and some fascinators on display there but I thought the event would be improved with a few more food-related stalls. Also, some of the items, such as the fascinators, were beautiful but were sooo expensive. One fascinator was about $600 and a plain silver bead necklace was for sale at $650.

The room on level 2 where girls could go to get their hair, makeup and nails done was a really good idea and MDS and I thought it would have been perfect if we attended the Saturday session and were going out afterwards!

Overall this was a really fun girl’s day out and I would recommend it for a little bit of pampering and fun.