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

* * *

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

???????????????????????????????

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.

???????????????????????????????

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

???????????????????????????????

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.

???????????????????????????????

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.

???????????????????????????????

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!

???????????????????????????????

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.

???????????????????????????????

???????????????????????????????

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.

???????????????????????????????

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.

???????????????????????????????

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

???????????????????????????????

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.

IMG_6364

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.

???????????????????????????????

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.

???????????????????????????????

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.

???????????????????????????????

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.

???????????????????????????????

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.

???????????????????????????????

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!

???????????????????????????????

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

 

Euro Taste Cafe, Top Ryde ($)

Address: Corner Devlin Street and Blaxland Road, Ryde NSW

Tel: (02) 9808 1268

Website: http://www.toprydecity.com.au/dining-a-entertainment/restaurants/item/eurotaste-cafe

Opening Hours: 

8am – 11pm – 7 days a week

* * *

MC and I had originally been hoping to go to Hurricanes in Top Ryde. However, once we got there we found that it was packed out and we would have to wait one hour to get a table.

We decided it definitely was not worth the wait and walked around the restaurants and cafes looking for somewhere to eat. I had already been to Kazbah before, had eaten at Red Spoon Thai in Castle Hill the night before, and had tried The Poets and Sushi Roll previously. We wanted something different and eventually we settled on Euro Taste.

Despite the name, Euro Taste appears to be run by Asians. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but just don’t expect very authentic European food.

The fare is the typical Italian style foods with classics including pizzas, pastas, schnitzel, steaks and grilled salmon.

Atmosphere

There were quite a few people around and the restaurant was busy but as it was a cold night and the only source of heating were the patio heaters, I think most people were just trying to get warm. Euro Taste doesn’t really have much indoor space, it’s mainly outdoors but covered with a pergola. It’s not too bad but some better insulation and cool music would help (listening to Get Lucky by Daft Punk now and thinking that some of this wouldn’t be amiss there :p).

Service

Service was OK. Our waitress didn’t say much and was a bit inattentive. I did notice a male waiter who was very helpful to both his own customers and to us when we needed something.

Food

There was a special deal where you could get a free garlic bread or garlic pizza and we decided to take advantage of it by ordering one of each.

While the garlic bread was pretty average, the garlic pizza was surprisingly good. Not surprisingly because it was garlic pizza (everyone knows that garlic pizza is amazing), but surprising because I didn’t expect this small and (to be honest) pretty cheap cafe to have such great garlic pizza. It was hot, cheesy (could always do with more though- especially around the edges), very garlicky and had a delicious soft base.

1

MC ordered the steak with Pepper Sauce – which was quite peppery. The steak was tasty and quite well cooked, although perhaps a little too well done to be medium-well.

2

My grilled salmon with chips and salad was delicious. The salmon was well cooked, hot and slightly buttery, if a little small. The salad was refreshing AND colourful on the plate and the chips were generous, well salted and crunchy.

3

Overall, a pretty good meal for under $50.

Rating:

I would rate my experience (out of 10):

  • Service- 5
  • Food- 7
  • Ambience- 6
  • Value –7.5

Third Village, Darlinghurst ($)

Address: 80 Stanley Street Darlinghurst NSW

Tel: 02 9361 5826

Website: http://thirdvillage.com.au

Opening hours:
Monday to Friday: 7.00 am – 4.00 pm
Saturday to Sunday: 8.00 am – 4.00 pm

* * *

I’m quite sad that I only discovered this little gem on the last day of my job in Woolloomooloo. Had I known about it earlier I would have been a frequent visitor on my lunch breaks!

I met my lovely uni friend Nancy for lunch here on a particularly rainy day. Having walked through the drizzle with a borrowed umbrella (thanks Lauren!), I was glad to find the little hole-in-the-wall cafe in popular Stanley Street.

Atmosphere

Third Village is a typical Surry Hills/Darlinghurst type of cafe. A little bit of grungy-ness, a little bit organic, and a lot of friendly locals.

The interesting Oxford Street mural on the wall added a bit of colour and the wooden chairs and tables contributed to the natural and organic vibe of the cafe.

8

Service

Introducing myself to staff I was welcomed to take a seat and asked what I wanted to drink. After ordering my preferred beverage, I was asked to come to the counter when I was ready to order. When Nancy arrived the staff took her order at the table. They were very friendly and service was quite prompt.

Nancy’s order, which required quite a few changes to what was on the menu, was accommodated with ease and I was pleasantly surprised at their flexibility and friendly attitude. Of course, as they knew I was blogging I can’t vouch for their being friendly all the time, but then again, who is? From my experience there they were quite nice.

2

Drink

Both Nancy and I ordered chai lattes. I was impressed with how they presented them, in a small glass jug with a strainer and glass on the side. The tea was hot, sweet and fragrant and was absolutely perfect on this cold day. Nancy also commented on how well-presented the tea was and how nice it tasted.

3

4

9

Chai Latte, $4.30

Food

The menu at Third Village is a little dodgy, being simply a piece of printed A4 paper. I would suggest either laminating the paper (as ours had a few patches on it), or getting a more professional one printed out. Despite the fact that plastic is not good for the environment, laminated menus would last longer and elevate the cafe a little, making it look a lot more inviting.

1

I was feeling eggs that morning. Poached eggs. Don’t know why, as it was 1.00pm, but I just wanted eggs. 

After perusing the menu and umming and aaahing over the numerous delicious alternatives, I decided on the Eggs Royale. This consisted of 2 eggs (poached), on a toasted sonoma round roll with sustainable Tasmanian salmon, baby spinach and hollandaise sauce.

When the dish came out I was impressed. Presentation was fantastic and portion size was great. I was very excited to dig in, and the meal did not disappoint. The eggs were perfectly poached, the sauce creamy and delicious, the salmon fresh and slightly oily and the bread, crunchy and well-toasted. One of the best brekkies (for lunch) I’ve had and close to my favourites at Cora’s in Canada.

10

Eggs Royale, $17.95

Nancy ordered the Eggs Mediterranean. As she is gluten intolerant we swapped sour dough toast for gluten free bread. She also asked for haloumi instead of sheep feta, and scrambled eggs instead of poached ones.

Her dish was also very well presented with two neat piles of bread, avocado, roasted tomato and haloumi topped with pesto, and a pile of scrambled eggs in the middle.

She said her eggs were not dry at all and despite the haloumi being slightly overcooked, she enjoyed the meal.

7

6

Eggs Mediterranean, $17.95

All in all, both breakfasts were delicious and enjoyable, as was the chai tea. We also saw a few fellow diners enjoying some of Third Village’s salads which looked delicious- definitely something to try next time!

Cost

The Casual Food Blogger and her friend Nancy dined as guests of Third Village.

Rating:

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

    • Service- 6.5
    • Food- 8.5
    • Ambience- 5.5
    • Value – 7.5

Third Village on Urbanspoon

Tropicana Caffe, Darlinghurst ($$)

Address: 227 Victoria Street, Darlinghurst

Tel: (02) 9360 9809

Website: http://www.tropicanacaffe.com

Opening Hours:

Open from 5am to 11pm every day

* * *

Being a hot summer day in Sydney, we decided to head out for lunch and stroll up to Tropicana near Potts Point.

Tropicana is one of the popular cafes in this area, with a variety of delicious meals on offer. They have everything from breakfasts to lunches, pasta to salad, foccacias to sweets, coffee to cakes. There is plenty of variety here, that’s for sure!

The six of us wanted to sit outside but as there were a few six-seater tables occupied by a single person, and we didn’t want to ask them if we could share, we decided to sit inside.

The cafe is pretty busy and, after queuing for a little while, we finally placed our orders. After a wait of about 10 minutes we were served our meals.

I ordered the Salmon Spring Salad consisting of – salmon, mesculin & Finesse leaves, red onion, fried capers, cold poached egg, avocado,  white balsamic vinaigrette.

It was delicious and fresh, and very light. I would have preferred my egg to be a little more runny, but overall, it was a delicious salad with plenty of salmon.

My friend ordered the Chicken Spring Salad with a side of eggplant. Although she liked the salad, she was surprised that the small side of eggplant cost an extra $4.00! That’s 1/3 of the cost of the dish!

Overall it was an enjoyable lunch and I am looking forward to trying some of the other dishes on offer.

20130207_131630

Corn & Zucchini Fritters (serves 4)

These delicious fritters are easy to make and perfect for breakfast, brunch or lunch.

Topped with fresh or smoked salmon and a dollop or sour cream, they were tasty and something I hadn’t tried making before. Even my younger brother who tends to be a bit of a fussy eater enjoyed them.

I adapted this recipe from the Taste website.

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup plain flour
  • 1/2 cup self-raising flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2/3 cup of corn kernels
  • 2/3 cup grated zucchini
  • 1 cup grated cheese
  • 40g butter
  • 100g smoked salmon
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • Salt

Method:

1. Sift flours into a bowl.

1

2. Combine eggs and milk in a jug and whisk lightly. Gradually whisk the egg mixture into the flour until it forms a smooth batter

4

3. Add corn, zucchini and cheese.

3

2

4. Stir to combine then add a little salt, cover and set aside for about 20 minutes.

6

5. Melt a teaspoon of butter in a large, non-stick pan over high. Pour a few tablespoons of batter into the pan for each fritter.

7

6. Cook on each side until golden and cooked through. Then remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Repeat until all batter is used, adding a teaspoon of butter for each new batch.

9

7. Place a fritter on a plate and top with 1 tablespoon of sour cream, some sliced salmon and extra cheese.

5

12

Sushi 2 Go, Edgecliff ($)

Address: 15, Level 1, Eastpoint Centre, 235-287 New South Head Road, Edgecliff

* * *
Lunch today was from Sushi 2 Go, Edgecliff’s very own little sushi shop.

Staff are very chatty and chirpy, constantly asking “can I help you?” or “yessss?”. You order at the cash register and then food is brought out to you. There is also the option of doing take-away for those in a bit of a hurry.

Interior of Sushi 2 Go

I ordered the Chicken Teriyaki Sushi 2 Go Box. A Miso Soup was quickly brought out to me, obviously pre-prepared as it came out within seconds of my being seated.

After having a few sips of the soup the rest of my food was brought out. I wasn’t too keen on filling up on the Miso Soup so I moved on.

The sushi was OK. The salmon was cut thinly and was slightly oily and beautifully presented but the prawn was a little dry. This was surprising as I often buy take-away sushi rolls from here and have, in the past, found them to be very fresh.

Chicken Teriyaki

The rice was lovely and sticky, easy to eat with my chopsticks, and the chicken was coated in flour before it was cooked, making it a little firmer. The fresh salad leaves and gingery vegetables complimented the sweet and salty teriyaki sauce perfectly.

Overall a pretty good meal, and for $13.50 too- great value. A cute atmosphere and good service make this an excellent place for lunch breaks!

For more information on Japanese food see here.