Wagyu beef burger $9.50
180g wagyu beef, red onion jam, marinated tomato,
cheese, bacon, mayonnaise and lettuce
Food always tastes better with a harbour view.
We're no strangers to the venue at Helm Bar, a space that used to play host to our lunchtime favourite Pier 26. Over the past 18 months, renovations have been afoot. In addition to the name change, the central bar on the upper balcony has been relocated to the back wall, the dining area expanded and a nautical theme installed with portholes, navy blue lounges and an expansive striped banquette that matches the decking floor.
Helm Brasserie and the view of the Maritime Museum
What hasn't changed is the view. With the sun blazing overhead, we forget we're in the middle of winter, our attention focussed on the glinting water, the steady chug of passenger boats in and out of the docks, and the aimless meander of lost tourists on the promenade below.
We've been invited to dine at Helm Bar, primarily to check out their new menu. Whilst we decide on food, I happily nurse a schooner of Bulmer's cider. Other beers on-tap include Asahi, Fat Yak, Pure Blonde and Blue Tongue.
The special "$10 and under" menu promises excellent value at this end of town. The offerings are simple and hearty, including Black Angus beef sausages ($10), chicken schnitzel burger ($9.50), Wagyu beef burger ($9.50) and marinated BBQ beef ribs ($10). Vegetarians can choose from a Greek salad ($9.50), wedges ($7) or fries ($6). The baguette of the day ($8) offers no other detail and hence little allure.
We order the wagyu beef burger, one of their most popular menu items. The chicken schnitzel burger is their other big seller.
The patty is two inches thick and comes topped with a bacon rasher smothered in melting cheese. A lettuce leaf and two slices of tomato are no match for the unabashed glorification of protein. I prefer my burgers a little more balanced, with less meat and the addition of beetroot and pickles, but meatlovers elsewhere will merely rejoice.
Marinated BBQ beef ribs with fries $10
I find the marinated barbecue beef ribs, on the other hand, much more rewarding. The serving of ribs isn't huge, but by the time you've pulled the tender and fatty meat from the bones, savoured the crinkly sheets of crispy skin underneath, dug into the mound of shoestring chips and eaten your way through the trough of chunky coleslaw, you will, undoubtedly, have barely enough room to suck those marinated bones dry.
Beer-battered fish and chips $17
The standard menu is a little pricier: Australian black mussels with fries in provencale, Thai or blue cheese sauce ($19.50), lamb and veal shank pie ($22), portobello mushroom and parmesan risottto ($20) and salted and spiced spatchcock with couscous salad ($28). We bypass the seafood stand for two ($70) and stick with the pub grub favourite of beer-battered fish and chips.
A generous serve of four fish fillets have been freshly battered and fried to a deep golden brown. The fish is sweet and succulent, the batter light and crunchy.
The vibe is relaxed, even with a huddle of office suits congregating in the corner. The new beer garden on the ground floor was closed when we visited, but we'll be sure to check it out next time the sun is out.
Grab Your Fork dined as a guest of Helm Bar and Wasamedia.
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Aquarium Wharf, Wheat Road,
Darling Harbour, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9290 1571
Helm Brasserie bookings available for lunch 7 days a week
and dinner Monday to Thursday
Daily specials as at 9 June 2010
Mondays - $13 chicken schnitzel with fries and salad
Tuesday - $10 steak with fries and salad
Wednesday and Thursday - $19.95 all-you-can-eat mussels
Saturday and Sunday - $25 kg bucket of Australian prawns
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6/09/2010 03:05:00 a.m.