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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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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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Thursday, October 03, 2019

All-you-can-eat raclette at Loluk Bistro, Surry Hills

All-you-can-eat raclette at Loluk Bistro Surry Hills Sydney

What's better than grilled cheese? ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT GRILLED CHEESE. Imagine a landslide of molten cheese, scraped onto a plate of potatoes, bread and charcuterie. With endless cheese. Yep. Unlimited. Non-stop. Never-Ending. Unrestricted. You know you want it.

Melted raclette cheese at Loluk Bistro Surry Hills Sydney
Melted raclette cheese

Live out all your wildest cheesy dreams with the all-you-can-eat raclette at Loluk Bistro, a quaint French bistro in a converted terrace in Surry Hills. The front dining room is tiny but the courtyard out the back - accessed by a scenic walk through the kitchen - is much more airy.

The all-you-can-eat raclette menu costs $49 which is pretty darn reasonable. That includes unlimited raclette, boiled potatoes and salad. You also get a serve of bread and charcuterie. And friendly staff to serve you all night. And do the dishes. Not bad considering raclette itself costs $55/kg.

It happens every Tuesday and Wednesday night and, unlike most other raclette offerings in Sydney, runs throughout the year.

Raclette cheese under the grill at Loluk Bistro Surry Hills Sydney
Raclette cheese under the grill at Loluk

Raclette is a Swiss cheese by origin, popularly melted by a campfire or grill and scraped onto bread. It began as an easy and mobile meal for cow herders, but today it's enjoyed as more of a social event, much like fondue.

Boiled potatoes for all-you-can-eat raclette at Loluk Bistro Surry Hills Sydney
Boiled potatoes (unlimited)

At Loluk, the carriage of choice for your melted cheese is the humble potato (unlimited as part of the raclette all-you-can-eat). While the cheese is melting in the kitchen, diners are instructed to start cutting up the boiled potatoes on their plate.

Scraping all-you-can-eat raclette cheese onto potatoes at Loluk Bistro Surry Hills Sydney
Scraping melted raclette cheese onto potatoes

Staff will then come around and scrape lashings of gooey molten cheese all over your potatoes. It's wondrous.

All-you-can-eat raclette cheese on potatoes at Loluk Bistro Surry Hills Sydney
Melted raclette cheese on potatoes

There's a nutty, slightly acidic flavour to raclette, not dissimilar to Gruyere. It languishes with ease across the potatoes. The potatoes, I have to say, are impressive too, with a waxy lusciousness that makes them ideal for melted cheese.

Charcuterie plate, part of the all-you-can-eat raclette at Loluk Bistro Surry Hills Sydney
Charcuterie plate for four

Alongside your potatoes, you'll score a charcuterie plate - a selection of prosciutto, saucisson, coppa, white ham and bresaola served with pickled onions and cornichons. Additional serves of charcuterie are available for $8 but we don't need any more, especially since we're intent on filling our stomachs with cheese.

Salad as part of the all-you-can-eat raclette at Loluk Bistro Surry Hills Sydney
Salad (unlimited)

Salad is unlimited too. Sure it's only a simple salad of leaves tossed with dressing, but trust me, you'll be relishing a mouthful of greens as a much-needed palate cleanser between all the cheese.

Grilled all-you-can-eat raclette cheese at Loluk Bistro Surry Hills Sydney
Grilled raclette cheese

"More cheese?" The staff are super keen to keep on plying you with cheese. I'd expected the restaurant to try and discreetly restrict cheese consumption, but the staff on the floor merrily oblige you with as much cheese as you can stomach. Literally.

And there's seriously something so mesmerising about watching the cheese river slide off the half-wheel and cascade onto your plate.

Gooey and crisp all-you-can-eat raclette cheese at Loluk Bistro Surry Hills Sydney
Gooey and golden raclette cheese on potatoes

Glorious cheese. Our table is divided over whether people prefer their raclette all soft and melty or tinged with golden and caramelised edges. I'm all about the latter.

All-you-can-eat raclette cheese with potatoes, charcuterie and salad at Loluk Bistro Surry Hills Sydney
Potatoes and raclette cheese

How much cheese can you eat? It all depends on your greed. And lactose tolerance. I manage five serves of raclette before I have to wave the white flag. And loosen my belt.

Profiteroles at Loluk Bistro Surry Hills Sydney
Profiterole with ice cream and chocolate sauce

Dessert is included, a profiterole with ice cream and warm chocolate sauce. I wish I could say it's incredible. It isn't. The pastry feels forlorn and the ice cream is low in butterfat.

Not that we needed any more dairy products at this point.

Staff at Loluk Bistro Surry Hills Sydney

But the raclette is good. And plentiful. And the staff are a friendly bunch too.

Loluk Bistro Surry Hills Sydney


Loluk Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Loluk Bistro
2/411 Bourke Street, Surry Hills, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 7900 6251

Opening hours
Lunch Friday - Saturday 12pm-3pm
Dinner Tuesday to Saturday 6pm-10pm


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