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Sunday, February 23, 2020

Dimitri's Pizza, Darlinghurst

Woodfired sourdough pizzas at Dimitri's Pizzeria on Oxford Street in Darlinghurst Sydney

So you like your pizzas puffy and blistered with a caramelised char? Me too. At Dimitri's Pizza in Darlinghurst, they churn out brilliantly floppy pizzas made with sourdough bases, finished in an Italian-made woodfired oven.

Freshly woodfired sourdough pizza on a pizza paddle at Dimitri's Pizzeria on Oxford Street in Darlinghurst Sydney

The best table is by the kitchen, offering a front row view of all the pizza making action. There's something almost sensual about watching a pizzaiolo gently coax the dough into shape, then strew it with toppings before plunging it into the fiery cavern of the woodfired oven (I told you it was sensual).

Marinara woodfired sourdough pizza at Dimitri's Pizzeria on Oxford Street in Darlinghurst Sydney
Marinara pizza $18 with stracciatella +$10
tomato, confit garlic and oregano

The classic marinara is simplicity at its best: a humble tomato sauce with confit garlic and oregano. We upgrade ours with stracciatella, made from torn mozzarella soaked in cream. It adds a milky decadence to this tomato pizza, interspersed with alternating hits of jammy garlic cloves and fresh basil leaves.

The pizza edges are the best bit, brilliantly bubbled around the edges with all the right shades of char. The base is soft and floppy because of its thinness, perfect for folding over while you try and eat this demurely with your fingers (who am I kidding? Just get right in there).

Mushroom and mozzarella woodfired sourdough pizza at Dimitri's Pizzeria on Oxford Street in Darlinghurst Sydney
Funguy pizza $23
Mushroom, mozzarella, truffle oil, chilli and basil

The pizza menu is reassuringly short - just eight options to choose from - but owners Ken Williams and Drew Huston aren't tied to the usual toppings. They're not afraid of a few puns either, like the funguy pizza with mushrooms and truffle oil (boom tish).

Woodfired sourdough pizza with corn and mozzarella at Dimitri's Pizzeria on Oxford Street in Darlinghurst Sydney
Cream of korn pizza $23
Wood oven smoked and creamed corn, mozzarella and pickled jalapenos

The cream of korn pizza wins over my tastebuds tonight though, because, CORN. It's a party of juicy sweet corn kernels sliced straight off the cob, made even tastier with stretchy molten mozzarella cheese and the gentle heat of pickled jalapenos.

Cutting sopressa and honey woodfired sourdough pizza at Dimitri's Pizzeria on Oxford Street in Darlinghurst Sydney
Bee sting pizza $23
Tomato, sopressa, mozzarella and hot honey

Things get even wilder with the bee sting pizza. That's slices of sopressa - an aged salami - drizzled over with warm honey.

Woodfired sourdough pizza with sopressa, honey and mozzarella at Dimitri's Pizzeria on Oxford Street in Darlinghurst Sydney
Sopressa salami pizza with mozarella and hot honey

It's not as strange as you think. Pork goes brilliantly with sugar - think roast pork with apple sauce or Chinese char siu barbecue pork. Here it adds a mellow richness to the cured pork.

Smoked egglant from Dimitri's Pizzeria on Oxford Street in Darlinghurst Sydney
Smoked eggplant $16
with charred cherry tomatoes, olives and parmigiano 

It's not all pizza either.

The smoked eggplant is terrific, its buttery soft flesh permeated with smoky undertones, sauced up with blistered cherry tomatoes and a cloud of parmigiano cheese.

Heirloom tomatoes and housemade stracciatella from Dimitri's Pizzeria on Oxford Street in Darlinghurst Sydney
Cheese and tomato $16
housemade stracciatella and mixed heirloom tomatoes 

We get in on more housemade stacciatella action too, dolloped generously over a medley of mixed heirloom tomatoes. Tomatoes, basil, mozzarella and extra virgin olive oil. Is there a more iconic taste of Italy?

Drinks? There's definitely a focus on boutique beer breweries, including half a dozen beers by Marrickville brewery The Grifter. Happy hour used to run 5pm-7pm but looks to have been shortened to 6pm now. There's a pretty decent selection of wines too, includes orange/skin wines and nine wines available by the glass.

Cutting fluffy blistered woodfired sourdough pizza at Dimitri's Pizzeria on Oxford Street in Darlinghurst Sydney



Dimitri's Pizzeria
215 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 8068 4247

Opening hours
Wednesday to Saturday 5pm til late


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posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 2/23/2020 09:43:00 pm


Sunday, January 19, 2020

The Kittyhawk, Sydney

Potato crisp with trout roe and caviar at The Kittyhawk in Sydney

Chips are good but homemade crisps are better. Especially when they're a vehicle for creme fraiche, caviar and briny pops of trout roe. It's just one of the snacks at The Kittyhawk, the French restaurant and cocktail bar you've probably walked past a million times and never noticed. Kittyhawk isn't entirely new, having opened in 2016. My interest to visit was piqued when I realised Alex Lynn, former head chef of Casoni, was now rattling the pans here.

Dining room at The Kittyhawk in Sydney

Entering Kittyhawk feels like a bit of a strange and awkward maze at first, but keep walking and a second door spits you into a moody dining room. The semi-circular banquettes are where you want to be - cushioned and cosy comfort for the entire table. The dimly lit room is filled with prints, dark toned timbers and empty liquor bottles.

What I do love is the menu, a terrific range of dishes that can easily accommodate your table's collective appetite. Because you can order throughout the night, too, it means our late-running friend, doesn't miss out either.

Sardines with pickled lemon at The Kittyhawk in Sydney
Sardines, pickled lemon, aioli and toast $19

We kick off with Ortiz sardines, the saltiness of these prime fillets offset with pickled lemon slices pickled fennel and a dollop of aioli. The charred toast offers a pleasing smokiness.

Trout roe with crispy potato at The Kittyhawk in Sydney
 Trout roe with crispy potato $14

The trout roe with crispy potato is ridiculously addictive, like the fanciest chip and dip you and your boujee friends could possibly imagine.

Trout roe and caviar on potato crisp at The Kittyhawk in Sydney
Trout roe and caviar on crispy potato

Slather generously and savour that creamy lusciousness against carby crunch. Bliss.

Steak tartare with horseradish at The Kittyhawk in Sydney
Steak tartare with horseradish $20 

Housemade crisps also arrive with our steak tartare, seasoned with just enough cornichon to make me sigh with relief. Could I just have all my meals served on potato crisps please?

Bone marrow, parsley and black garlic toast at The Kittyhawk in Sydney
Bone marrow, parsley and black garlic toast $17

Ordering bone marrow on any menu is usually a no-brainer for me. This one is cooked to perfection, the trench of marrow wobbly with fattiness but still whole, slicked with a parsley sauce in forest green. The black garlic toast on the side reminds me of Vegemite toast, but truth be told, I end up preferring to eat these components separately so I can appreciate each of them on their own and unadulterated.

Boudin noir with French toast at The Kittyhawk in Sydney
Boudin noir with French toast $16 

Boudin noir blood sausage arrives as crisp slices on top of rafts of French toast. Melted cheese adds a extra layer of decadence, the whole shebang crowned with petals of pickled onion.

Gruyere cheese donuts at The Kittyhawk in Sydney\
Gruyere cheese donuts $8 for 2 pieces

And because Chef Lynn has realised I'm dining tonight (I'd sent him a direct message on Instagram to reserve an order of scarlet prawns), we're sent out a round of gruyere cheese donuts from the kitchen.

Inside the gruyere cheese donuts at The Kittyhawk in Sydney
Inside the gruyere cheese donut

If you love cheese, you'll love these donuts, elongated footballs of cheesy sophistication.

The bar at The Kittyhawk in Sydney

Let's not forget the drinks list either, a comprehensive menu that includes a depth of rum and cocktails like lean in all different directions. The Ledo Road with pandan leaf, lime juice, pandan syrup, toasted coconut milk and Bacardi has my name all over it.

Gnocchi Parisienne with mushroom fricasse and asparagus at The Kittyhawk in Sydney
Gnocchi Parisienne with mushroom fricasse and asparagus $27 

We finish up with larger dishes, including the gnocchi Parisienne. This French take on gnocchi is potato-less, instead using choux pastry that is boiled and then pan-fried. It makes for a starchier and slightly chewier mouthfeel, the golden-seared pillows served with a deeply rich and savoury mushroom fricasse. Crisp asparagus spears provide much appreciated freshness and crunch.

Scarlet prawn tagliatelle with prawn bisque at The Kittyhawk in Sydney
Scarlet prawn tagliatelle with prawn bisque $38 

And of course we have to have to the scarlet prawn tagliatelle. These are huge portions, each one easily shared between two. The scarlet prawns themselves are enormous, cooked so the flesh is still soft and sweet. The highlight is in the prawn head of course, a bonanza of prawn intensity that deserves to be licked, scraped and sucked with enthusiastic abandon.

Rum baba brioche cake with rum and creme patissiere at The Kittyhawk in Sydney
Rum baba brioche cake with rum and creme patissiere $14 

Dessert is a classic rum baba, theatrically set on fire at the table. Once the blue flame subsides, you're left with a boozy brioche laced with rum, best eaten with a good spoonful of creme patissiere.

Creme caramel with miso caramel at The Kittyhawk in Sydney
Creme caramel with miso caramel

And because it was my birthday, the kitchen sends out a complimentary dessert: creme caramel with miso caramel on the side. It takes us a while to work out the flavour of the caramel on the side - later verified with Chef Lynn - its savoury saltiness adds nuance and complexity to this traditional French dessert.

All up, good food and good fun. And if you enjoy live music, swing by on Thursday nights when blues-rock band Cass Greaves and the Ragin Cajuns perform.

Entrance to The Kittyhawk in Sydney


Kittyhawk Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Kittyhawk
16 Phillip Lane, Sydney
Tel: 0455 041 172

Opening hours
Tuesday to Saturday 4pm-12am


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posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 1/19/2020 02:42:00 am


Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Noi, Petersham

Lemon and thyme pastries and tacos with salmon and wine jelly canapes at Noi restaurant in Petersham Sydney

Take one LuMi co-owner, Anastasia Drakopolous, add Veneto-bred chef Alessandro Intini (ex-Aqua Dining) and you have Noi Restaurant plonked in the middle of Little Portugal, Petersham. It's the kind of fancy restaurant you wouldn't expect in Petersham, but one that's likely to accommodate the changing demographic in the inner west: one that likes good food with parking and isn't too far from home.

The seven-course tasting menu is priced at a very reasonable $72 or choose your own adventure with a la carte - entrees range between $18-$21; mains are $26-$31.

It's a reasonable proposition once you factor in the complimentary items. We're immediately presented with amuse bouche of lemon thyme pastry puffs with mayonnaise and mini tacos with salmon and wine jelly. They're incongruously served in a Chinese steamer basket, but functional and cultural inexplicabilites aside, it makes for a welcome and appetite-inducing introduction.

House bread box of milk bun, focaccia and breadsticks with smoked paprika butter and EVOO pipette at Noi restaurant in Petersham Sydney
Milk bun, focaccia and bread sticks with extra virgin olive oil and smoked paprika butter

There's a sense of LuMi hospitality too in the presentation of the complimentary bread offering, a trio of options served in an elegant timber box. Quell any hunger pangs with the mini milk bun, a square of crusty focaccia and elongated bread sticks. Smoked paprika butter is dolloped into a wooden pinch pot; extra virgin olive oil is dispensed using a (plastic) pipette. While the novelty value of the pipette is high, my only quibble would be it wasn't quite enough for three people.

Maybe I'm looking for the similarities, but the decor has LuMi vibes too, a sense of understated luxury with its cool tones of dark timber, brass and midnight blue. The napkins are heavy, water is poured into beautiful ceramic cups and industrial lights illuminate exposed brick walls and stripped back floorboards.

Kingfish, young fennel and wild rice at Noi restaurant in Petersham Sydney
Kingfish, young fennel and wild rice $20

The menu reads more like a list of ingredients. You can always ask waitstaff for more details - or look on Instagram (you bet we did). It leads us to lock in the kingfish with young fennel and wild rice. The entree is light and refreshing, delicate slices of firm kingfish contrasted with the acidity of pickled fennel and the nutty crunch of wild rice puffs.

Pig's head terrine with coconut, turmeric and sherry vinegar at Noi restaurant in Petersham Sydney
Pig's head terrine with coconut, turmeric and sherry vinegar $18

Pig's head terrine is steadily becoming one of Noi's signature dishes, raved on about across Instagram. The picked morsels of pork are compressed into a neat little log, crowned with a dollop of whipped coconut cream and scattered with toasted coconut flakes. The coconut adds a tropical decadence although it does feel a touch overwhelming - perhaps even dessert-like - against the soft and tender fattiness of the pork.

Risotto, Cloudy Bay clams, asparagus and sour cream at Noi restaurant in Petersham Sydney
Risotto, Cloudy Bay clams, asparagus and sour cream $21

We skip the housemade pasta options in favour of risotto. The rice is cooked to a toothsome chewiness, strewn with petite nuggets of de-shelled Cloudy Bay clams and crisp spears of asparagus. It eats better than it looks, fortified with pinstripes of asparagus emulsion and sour cream.

Lamb, hazelnut, kipfler potatoes and buerre noisette at Noi restaurant in Petersham Sydney
Lamb, hazelnut, kipfler potatoes and buerre noisette $29

Lamb cutlets are cooked to a textbook shade of juicy pink. The fat has been rendered, the skin is crisp and the buerre noisette and toasted hazelnut crumbs add a nutty and textural enhancement.

28-day dry aged black Angus sirloin steak at Noi restaurant in Petersham Sydney
28-day dry aged black Angus sirloin with spring onion, shallots and juniper $31

The 28-day dry aged black Angus sirloin feels a little chewy by comparison, although I am a fan of the charred and caramelised spring onions and sticky jus.

Hapuka with green papaya at Noi restaurant in Petersham Sydney
Hapuka, green papaya, baby cos and ginger $31

For a lighter main, the hapuka delivers on all fronts, a hunk of fish cooked to flake-forking tenderness that we swipe through polka dot dollops of of green and white.

Broccoli with satay sauce and cashew nuts at Noi restaurant in Petersham Sydney
Broccoli, satay sauce and cashew nuts $8

We order a side of vegetables on our waitstaff's suggestion. Roasted broccoli sounds delicious but in hindsight the satay sauce is an odd inclusion, especially as its pervasive creamy spiciness jars against all of our mains. The broccoli is cooked to the point of soggy softness which does make me appreciate the crunch of smashed cashews even more.

Terramisu miso oil, mascarpone and coffee at Noi restaurant in Petersham Sydney
Terramisu $14
Miso oil, mascarpone and coffee

Terramisu continues the Asian-Italian pattern, a mash-up that works well here. It's a playful presentation of umami-laden miso soil scattered across mascarpone cream.

Matcha creme, pistachio crumble and mint ice cream at Noi restaurant in Petersham Sydney
Green $14
Matcha creme, pistachio crumble and mint ice cream

Green is a triple combo of matcha, pistachio and mint. Do they work together? I'm not sure. The match and mint don't feel like a natural pairing, even if the pistachio works valiantly between the two.

Yoghurt pannacotta with melon and almonds at Noi restaurant in Petersham Sydney
Spring $14
Yoghurt pannacotta with melon and almonds

The most unassuming dessert ends up being my favourite. Yoghurt pannacotta is impressive in its nuanced subtlety and delicate fragility. There's a distinct echo of honeydew melon in the aerated foam. This is just the kind of dessert to leave you refreshed and content after a long meal.

Chocolate meringue with jam at Noi restaurant in Petersham Sydney
Chocolate meringue with jam

We linger so long in the dining room (there's only been one other two-top present throughout the entire Sunday lunch service) that we score complimentary petit fours, chocolate meringue shards with jam. A bottle of peach-cello also materialises - it's like limoncello but made with peaches instead of lemon - and everyone is treated to a shot.

In a suburb cloaked with the aroma of charcoal chicken, Noi is not like any of its neighbours. Even seafood restaurant Fich next door looks to do a heavier trade in takeaway than dine-in. Noi means "we" or "us" in Italian. Here's hoping Noi finds its tribe.

Noi restaurant in Petersham Sydney


Noi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Noi Restaurant
108 Audley Street, Petersham, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9337 7377

Opening hours
Lunch Thursday to Sunday 12pm-3pm
Dinner Thursday to Tuesday 5pm-10pm
Closed on Wednesdays


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posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 11/26/2019 08:49:00 pm


Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Cafe Paci, Newtown

Maltagliati with sweet corn, basil and walnut at Cafe Paci in Newtown

He's back. It's been four years since Pasi Petanen shut the doors on Cafe Paci, his pop-up restaurant in Darlinghurst that ran for two years. Diners were won over by a menu of interesting and experimental dishes, like his pho-tato Scandi-Vietnamese mashup and desserts of carrot sorbet with licorice cake. Petanen draws on influences across Asia as well as his Finnish heritage, finessed with fine dining expertise (Petanen was the former head chef at former three-hat restaurant Marque).

Cafe Paci has now opened in permanent digs in Newtown, neatly tucked in between Bella Brutta Pizza and Mapo Gelato. It's a win for everyone.

Dining room at Cafe Paci in Newtown

The long and narrow dining room feels more like a European wine bar. Long banquettes along the wall are lined with tables and bentwood chairs. High stools at the bar are ideal for walk-ins and single diners. And the former set menu structure has been casualised in favour of a la carte. That means diners can pop in for a snack or stay for a full meal.

Potato and molasses bread with butter at Cafe Paci in Newtown
Potato and molasses bread with butter $4 per slice

Petanan's potato and molasses bread has thankfully been revived. It's impressively soft and fragrant with a gloriously sheen to its glaze. On the side is a swipe of whipped butter, interspersed with flecks of brown butter. It's so addictive we run out of butter and plead for more. We're rewarded with an even bigger portion that we down with glee.

Bloodcake with whipped lardo and pickled onion at Cafe Paci in Newtown
Blood cake with whipped lardo and pickled onion $20

Blood cake is a hearty disc of earthy satisfaction. The pure-as-snow whipped lardo belies its mouth-filling decadence. Petals of pickled onion provide welcome acidic relief.

Raw beef with smoked tomato and parmesan at Cafe Paci in Newtown
Raw beef with smoked tomato and parmesan $26

Raw beef with smoked tomato and parmesan is Petanen's take on steak tartare. It's not quite the pizza-inspired mouthful he presented at Rootstock and then Cafe Paci in 2014, but there's plenty to like about this tender raw beef enhanced with the umami of smoked tomato and fresh parmesan curls.

Maltagliati pasta with sweet corn, basil and walnut at Cafe Paci in Newtown
Maltagliati with sweet corn, basil and walnut $24

If you like corn, you'll love the maltagliati with sweet corn, basil and walnut. It's beautifully balanced in sweetness, and boosted with the slightly bitter crunch of toasted walnuts. The maltagliati pasta sheets are whisper thin and silky. Next visit, I'd be happy to eat just this with a glass of wine.

Potato dumpling with XO trout at Cafe Paci in Newtown
Potato dumpling with XO trout $26

Is there a difference between potato dumplings and gnocchi? Methinks not. What these potato dumplings do offer is a cloud of fluffy lightness. XO trout is a little harder to grasp if you're used to, and expecting scallop and prawn hit of traditional Hong Kong-style XO sauce. This trout version is obviously fishier, with less of the traditional garlicky shallot sweetness.

Flounder with sauce Florentine at Cafe Paci in Newtown
Flounder with sauce Florentine $38

Whole flounder is something you should order, cooked to just the right level of fork-yielding tenderness. Its mild sweet flesh is perfect for soaking up the lake of creamy sauce Florentine, speckled with mustard seeds.

Dutch cream potatoes with potato anglaise at Cafe Paci in Newtown
Dutch cream potatoes with potato anglaise $10

And on the side, a serve of buttery soft Dutch cream potatoes, doused in butter. C'est bon!

Carrot sorbet with yoghurt and licorice at Cafe Paci in Newtown
Carrot sorbet with yoghurt and licorice $15

One of Petanen's signature dishes, the carrot sorbet with yoghurt and licorice, has survived the move. This felt like a nonsensical and crazy dessert when we first ate it in 2013. It's just as enjoyable and enigmatic today. The cloud of yoghurt foam envelopes a quenelle of carrot sorbet like an egg white eiderdown. The licorice cake on the bottom is ridiculously more-ish.

It's a surprisingly accessible menu from Petanen, which is perhaps one of its only disappointments. The former set menu format forced everyone to join a wild ride, as Petanen ignored conventional flavour combinations and applications. Is this a more economically sustainable option for inner west diners? Maybe. But I'd happily pay more for Petanen's playful whimsy in a heartbeat.

Bar seating at Cafe Paci in Newtown


Cafe Paci Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cafe Paci
131 King Street, Newtown, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9550 6196

Opening hours
Lunch Saturday from 12pm
Dinner Monday to Saturday 5.30pm til late


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posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 11/19/2019 12:25:00 am



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