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Saturday, September 15, 2018

Huxtaburger, Redfern

Cheesus burger and onion rings at Huxtaburger in Redfern Sydney

Burger fans rejoice. Melbourne's Huxtaburger is now officially flipping burger patties in Sydney. They're the second Melbourne burger lord to head north, hot on the heels of 8bit which opened in Darling Square in May.

Huxtaburger's first Sydney location is a clever one, sitting at the base of a recently completed student accommodation tower and only a stone's throw from Redfern train station.

Dining space at Huxtaburger in Redfern Sydney
Huxtaburger dining space

While Huxtaburger had an official open date of Saturday September 15, we acted on a hunch they were trading beforehand in soft launch mode. We rocked up and strolled right on in.

The dining space design is inner city grunge mixed with industrial chic. The vibe feels a little forced and over-stylised though, especially when the graffiti-covered walls are overlaid with feel good motivational messages like "Smash a burger. Smash Life" and "Every human is equal". Mmmkay.

Otherwise the menu reads much like its Melbourne counterparts. Burgers cover brekkie, beef and chicken. Vegetarians and vegans get to choose between the kale, zucchini and quinoa patty or the spicy bean and quinoa patty.

Cheesus beef burger at Huxtaburger in Redfern Sydney
Cheesus beef burger $14

Out of the 8 variations of beef burger, we find Cheesus. The double grass-fed beef patty with double cheese and cheesy mayo isn't as hefty as you'd expect, but the melting puddle of cheese is pretty spiritual.

Cheesus beef burger cross-section at Huxtaburger in Redfern Sydney
Double grass-fed beef patty cross-section inside the Cheesus beef burger

The beef patties are tender but they do have a somewhat spongy consistency. There isn't a great deal of caramelisation either, but there's a consolatory sweetness from the tomato sauce and pickles.

Britney chicken burger at Huxtaburger in Redfern Sydney
Britney chicken burger $13.90 

I'm a bigger fan of the Britney chicken burger, a towering assembly of fried chicken (you can also choose to have it grilled) with grilled bacon, aioli, cheese, lettuce, tomato and smashed avocado.

Grilled bacon inside the Britney chicken burger at Huxtaburger in Redfern Sydney
Hello bacon 

The chicken thigh fillet is impressively juicy, coated in golden fried breadcrumbs. And while the bacon could probably have been cooked to a darker crisp, there's a overall sense of harmony to this burger, the fried chicken and grilled bacon balanced out by crisp iceberg lettuce and creamy avocado.

Onion rings at Huxtaburger in Redfern Sydney
Onion rings $6.50 

You can order chicken tenders, chips, hash browns or tater tots (called hash bites on the menu) as sides. We're all about the onion rings, their sweet translucency sheathed in crunchy batter.

Furphy ale and Shit The Bed hot sauce at Huxtaburger in Redfern Sydney
Furphy ale $8.50 ($5 during happy hour 4pm-7pm everyday) 
and Shit The Bed hot sauce

Little self-serve condiment trolleys are situated at the front and rear of the store. From these you can help yourself to tomato sauce, salt and Shit The Bed hot sauce that really does stand up to its heat rating of 12/10. A liberal use of Scorpion chillies means this sauce has a Scoville rating of 35, 000 units. I'd recommend cautious dipping your food into this sauce rather than committing to a dangerous pour over.

And yes, Huxtaburger is licensed too. Choose from six beers, an apple cider or whisky and dry ginger ale. Wine drinks get just one red, one white and one sparkling. Happy hour (4pm-7pm daily) offers $5 Furphy ale, white wine or red wine. They also do milkshakes, soft drinks and Nespresso coffee.

Ice cream burger with hot sauce at Huxtaburger in Redfern Sydney
Ice cream burger with chocolate sauce $3.95 

There's only one choice for dessert, the ice cream burger with chocolate or caramel sauce. Ours is missing the Huxtacrunch (crushed feuilletine?) promised on the menu but we're hoping this was just a soft launch glitch.

Keen to try the burgers yourself? Get there for their opening day party on Saturday 15 September for $1 Huxtaburgers from 12pm to 8pm. Expect craaazy queues. 

Cheesus beef burger, the Britney chicken burger and onion rings at Huxtaburger in Redfern Sydney


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

Huxtaburger
Shop C, 66 Regent Street, Redfern, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 8591 1108

Opening hours
Sunday to Thursday 10.30am-9.30pm
Friday and Saturday 10.30am-10.30pm


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3 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 9/15/2018 02:14:00 am


Thursday, September 06, 2018

Fich at Petersham

Fried school prawns at Fich seafood restaurant in Petersham Sydney

So you thought Petersham was only about Portuguese charcoal chicken? Not so. It's seafood ahoy at the suburb's most recent addition, Fich. Co-owners and chefs Jose Silva (he also co-owns Sweet Belem) and Manny Paraiso (ex-Bibo Winebar) are bringing a new kind of fish and chip shop to the suburbs. Expect the best catches of the day available for dine-in or takeaway. And yep, they have potato scallops too.

Dining room at Fich seafood restaurant in Petersham Sydney

There's just one A3 page to the menu, broken up into small, large, burgers, salads and sides. Kids get to choose from fish cocktails, calamari rings or a fish burgers ($10-12), each served with chips. And yes, it's all seafood - don't go looking for any other proteins.

The dining room is clean lines and Nordic influences. The main wall is dominated by a giant fish mural. It's the kind of space that is low-key enough for young families but also passes as date night-friendly for couples.

I end up visiting twice in the space of a week: the first with friends, the second time with family. Ready for the onslaught of photos? Scroll on.

Swordfish ceviche at Fich seafood restaurant in Petersham Sydney
Ceviche $19

The swordfish ceviche is a good place to start. Chunky slices of swordfish have been cured with coconut vinegar to a barely-cooked softness. A blanket of coconut cream provides decadence, contrasted with the zingy pop of pomelo and the crisp bite of paper-thin cucumber.

Fish taco at Fich seafood restaurant in Petersham Sydney
FICH taco $9

At $9 a pop, the fish taco seems a little exxy at first glance, but there's a fair amount of work in this handheld snack. The battered fish combines puffy crunch with succulent flesh, balanced with a cucumber and tomato salsa and a perfectly cut square of butter lettuce. The highlight is the deep fried fish skin, scattered across the top like confetti.

Potato scallops at Fich seafood restaurant in Petersham Sydney
Potato scallops $2 each

Of course we had the potato scallops, much thicker and chunkier than my 20c takeaway shop memories. There's a noticeable creaminess to the potato, encased in a thick armour of crunchy batter.

Fried school prawns at Fich seafood restaurant in Petersham Sydney
School prawns $18

Most addictive dish is awarded to the school prawns, deep-fried so they eat as noisily as potato chips. It's a simple dish that works only with the freshest of ingredients. And there's attention to detail too, with the deliberate scattering of baby radishes, chives and micro herbs to break up the heaviness.

Skate schnitzel at Fich seafood restaurant in Petersham Sydney
NSW eagle ray skate schnitzel $22

There isn't enough skate on Australian restaurant menus, I reckon. Fich widens its appeal by turning it into a schnitzel. Our eagle ray skate schnitzel doesn't feel like it hits the mark this time, tasting a little mealy and without its trademark collagenic texture.

Mussels with sobrasada butter at Fich seafood restaurant in Petersham Sydney
Kinkawooka SA mussels $20

The Kinkawooka mussels with sobrasada butter is another story. I order it on both visits. On my second, we get two serves. The mussels are plump and juicy; the toasted bread is seductively charred and smoky, but let's be honest, it's all about the sobrasada butter. It's literally drinkable.

We do just that, breaking open the mussel shells and using one half as a spoon to scoop up every last drop. Its salty sweet butteriness has both the fragrance of seafood and the gently spiced undertones of sobarasada, a pork and paprika cured Spanish sausage.

Bacalhau salad at Fich seafood restaurant in Petersham Sydney
FICH love salad $12

Five choices beckon from the salad menu. We try three of them overall. The love salad promises bacalhau with cos lettuce, tomato, cucumber, olive and croutons. We only manage to find three tiny pieces of cured cod, but otherwise it's a tasty serving of vegetables (and deep-fried bread. Yum).

Roasted beetroot salad at Fich seafood restaurant in Petersham Sydney
Beet salad $10

There's much to like about the beet salad, the earthiness of crimson roasted beetroots offset by a labne dressing, bitter rocket and crunchy roasted chickpeas and pumpkin seeds.

Cous cous salad at Fich seafood restaurant in Petersham Sydney
Rocco salad $10

The rocco salad is all about celebrating cous cous. It's a fluffy mound, interspersed with roasted zucchini, charred capsicum, toasted almond flakes and the sweetness of raisins.

Polenta chips at Fich seafood restaurant in Petersham Sydney
Polenta chips with anchovy mayo $12

Polenta chips aren't presented in usual Jenga block fashion, but in cubes. That makes for a more favourable crunchy outer ratio, made even better with a splodge of anchovy mayo.

Whole grilled trout with grilled tortillas at Fich seafood restaurant in Petersham Sydney
Whole grilled trout with grilled tortillas, molhol verde, piri piri and aioli $36

The largest - and most expensive - dish on the menu is the whole fish, either grilled or southern fried as you choose. The fish varies day to day. We were keen to have the flathead but it's not on the menu today. We opt for the whole grilled trout instead. It's cooked with expertise, sporting slightly charred skin.

We demolish it all, alternating mouthfuls with the trio of sauces on the side: a Portuguese green sauce, piri piri chilli sauce and aioli. A grilled tortilla and pickled turnips and gherkins round out this substantial main.

Grilled garfish with grilled tortillas at Fich seafood restaurant in Petersham Sydney
Grilled garfish with grilled tortillas, molhol verde, piri piri and aioli $36

On our next visit, we're again denied the flathead so choose the snapper instead. This causes some confusion when grilled garfish arrives at the table. There's an awkward moment when the waitress asks us if we're happy with the garfish or if we'd prefer the snapper. We acquiesce but then suffer regret as we battle with the minefield of tiny bones. The fish is tasty, if hard work though.

Grilled Cone Bay barramundi at Fich seafood restaurant in Petersham Sydney
Grilled Cone Bay barramundi with roasted Jerusalem artichokes and broccoli $36

Much easier to eat is the grilled Cone Bay barramundi. It's another testament to the expertise in the kitchen, cooked so the crisp is crisp without compromising the flesh. Roasted Jerusalem artichokes and broccoli on the side would make this an ideal main course for one.

Beer battered ling fish and chips at Fich seafood restaurant in Petersham Sydney
Fich n chips $18

The classic fish and chips is one of the real highlights though. The beer battered New Zealand ling fillet is masterfully done. Is there anything more beautiful than deep-fried perfection? A massive serve of chips means you'd probably want to share this.

Chai tea custard at Fich seafood restaurant in Petersham Sydney
Fich bowl chai tea custard $10

We end up trying all three desserts available. The Fich bowl chai tea custard is probably the most disappointing, only because the taste of chai is barely discernible. Warm quince and the scattered crumble of oats, pumpkin seeds and almonds make this feel like I'm eating breakfast. If there's been more of the chai flavour this could have been so comforting.

Belem tart at Fich seafood restaurant in Petersham Sydney
When Fich meets Belem $7

Fich meets Belem is a cute tribute to the famed custard tart sold around the corner. The pasteis de nata is blinged up with blowtorched Swiss meringue and an assembly of finely sliced fruit. Few things can beat flaky pastry and eggy custard. It doesn't need all the garnishing to be honest, but it does mean you get to feel a little better about eating more fruit?

Looking for a night out or a night in? Go Fich. And get those mussels.

Caramel ice cream sandwich at Fich seafood restaurant in Petersham Sydney
Fich ice cream sandwich $8

Surprised dish of the day? The ice cream sandwich. It's more than that. It's swoonworthy. The discs of incredibly flaky pastry make my eyebrows arch, but it's the salted caramel too, a thick and dense sauce that has been pushed to the edge of sweet and salty bitterness.

Fich seafood restaurant in Petersham Sydney


Fich at Petersham Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Fich at Petersham
Shop 3, 98-106 Audley Street, Petersham, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9572 7887

Opening hours
Wednesday to Sunday 12pm-9pm


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5 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 9/06/2018 04:35:00 pm


Friday, August 31, 2018

Bang Bang Izakaya Bar, Steam Mill Lane, Darling Square

Bar seating at Bang Bang Japanese Izakaya Bar in Steam Mill and Darling Square Sydney

Kampai! That's the chorus you'll hear inside the newest addition to Steam Mill Lane, Bang Bang. You'll find snacks - large and small - and plenty of drinks at this izakaya, the Japanese version of a casual pub. Go light with sashimi or order a heavier Japanese curry or deep fried prawn burger and wash it all down with everything from whisky highballs to rice lager to nashi pear liquor.

Entrance and stool seating at Bang Bang Japanese Izakaya Bar in Steam Mill and Darling Square Sydney
Entrance to Bang Bang

The restaurant design is ingenious, linking multiple dining zones within a relatively small space. A narrow entrance immediately brings visions of a back alley of Shinjuku. Head past the wooden high stools and hanging lanterns overheads to find the main bar area, a chaotic but wondrous assault on the senses. To the left is a glassed in booth ideal for groups, complete with music video screens and optional karaoke. The secret area is right at the back - hidden behind the hanging curtains is a traditional tatami room for anyone with the flexibility to sit cross-legged on the floor.

Kobore chirashi at Bang Bang Japanese Izakaya Bar in Steam Mill and Darling Square Sydney
Kobore chirashi $16.80

We start with the kobore chirashi, a mix of raw seafood on top of sushi rice. Kobore means "spill", translated here to an artful cascade of salmon, tuna, kingfish, prawn and tobiko flying fish roe over a hillock of seasoned sushi rice. It's not the easiest dish to eat - we lose a prawn off the bamboo platform before enacting the "five second rule" - and the tobiko is hard to pick up with chopsticks, but there's plenty to interesting tidbits to pick through, including spongy yellow cubes of tamago omelette.

Lava omurice at Bang Bang Japanese Izakaya Bar in Steam Mill and Darling Square Sydney
Lava omurice $15.80

Despite the pictorial depiction and description of a "split to open omelette", the theatrical reveal of cutting the folded omelette has already been done in the kitchen rather than at the table. Other than that, the lava omurice delivers on the comfort food front, the shimmering folds of barely cooked egg drenched with a glossy demi glace sauce.

Inside the lava omurice at Bang Bang Japanese Izakaya Bar in Steam Mill and Darling Square Sydney
Ketchup fried rice inside the omelette

Nestled underneath the blanket of omelette is a mound of ketchup fried rice, sweet but not overly so. It's the kind of dish you want to snuggle up, savouring the slightly chewy rice against the silky omelette and rich brown sauce.

Tebasaki pepper soy sauce fried chicken wings at Bang Bang Japanese Izakaya Bar in Steam Mill and Darling Square Sydney
Bang Bang tebasaki $9.80 for 5 pieces

Tebasaki chicken wings follow the classic Nagoya recipe, fried twice and covered in a sweet and savoury soy pepper glaze. It's messy but tasty eating. We ordered the small serve but if you're with a crowd you could justify a mountain of 15 pieces for $27.80.

Mentaiko cream udon at Bang Bang Japanese Izakaya Bar in Steam Mill and Darling Square Sydney
Mentaiko cream udon $13.80

Mentaiko pasta has always been a favourite of mine, the salty intensity of pollock roe adding an umami hit to carbs. Here the usual spaghetti is swapped out for udon. It makes for a chewier experience let down only by the sparsity of sauce. There's barely a glimmer of saltiness and even less heat.

Karubi don at Bang Bang Japanese Izakaya Bar in Steam Mill and Darling Square Sydney
Karubi don $18.80

But all is right with the world when the karubi don arrives, fatty slices of wagyu rib eye fillet (graded 8 to 9+) on top of rice. The beef is ridiculously tender, cooked in a caramelised barbecue sauce that works so well with plain rice.

Japanese drink vending machine at Bang Bang Japanese Izakaya Bar in Steam Mill and Darling Square Sydney
Drinks vending machine with Pocari Sweat, green tea and pokemon soft drinks

Don't forget to swing by the vending machines at the back for a can of Pocari sweat. And if you're in too much of a hurry to join the suits in a round of biiru, a counter at the front - complete with sampuru plastic food replicas - allows you to order your teriyaki chicken burger to go.

Plastic Japanese food display at Bang Bang Japanese Izakaya Bar in Steam Mill and Darling Square Sydney


Bang Bang Izakaya Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bang Bang
14 Steam Mill Lane, Darling Square, Haymarket, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 8591 7818

Opening hours
Daily 11.30am-10.30pm


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3 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 8/31/2018 12:51:00 am


Monday, August 20, 2018

La Reina Queen of Venezuelan Arepas, Newtown

Shredded beef pabellon bowl, chicken arepa and pork arepa at La Reina Queen of Venezuelan Arepas in Newtown

The arepa is everything to Venezuelans, a gluten-free cornmeal patty eaten plain or split open and stuffed with meat or beans. They’re about as ubiquitous as a burger or kebab in Venezuela, eaten any time of day but always a hit late at night. Sydneysiders might have seen La Reina’s bright orange stall at weekend markets or food festivals but their digs in Newtown finally offer a permanent address for arepa fans to get their fix.

Shredded pork pabellon at La Reina Queen of Venezuelan Arepas in Newtown
Shredded pork pabellon $13.50
with black beans, feta and plantains

This small but cheerful eatery is already hugely popular with homesick South Americans. The menu is short and sweet, with photos providing a handy reference guide for newbies. Order and pay at the register before pulling up a stool at one of the communal tables. Staff will bring you your order.

Chicken and avocado arepa at La Reina Queen of Venezuelan Arepas in Newtown
Chicken breast and avocado Reina Pepiada $13.50
with a lime and pepper aioli and slaw salad

The standard stuffed arepa comes jammed with shredded chicken, beef or pork with slaw. Our favourite would have to be the reina pepiada, a juicy chicken breast and avocado combo that’s zingy with lime aioli. Vegans can revel in slow cooked creamy black beans with grilled and caramelised plantain bananas with slaw. If you’re the kind of person who suffers from FOMO, get the sampler pack of four mixed arepitas (mini arepas) with your choice of fillings. Those cute little snack pockets even come tinted pink, orange and green by using beetroot, carrot and kale juice.

Fried plantain bananas in the shredded pork arepa at La Reina Queen of Venezuelan Arepas in Newtown
Fried plantain bananas

Whatever you choose, prepare to get messy. Nobody’s complaining though. It’s all about that warm and toasted crunch of the grilled arepa that tastes like the lovechild of a corn tortilla and an English muffin.

Shredded beef pabellon bowl at La Reina Queen of Venezuelan Arepas in Newtown
Shredded beef pabellon bowl $13.50
with rice, black beans, feta and plantains

Arepa bowls are easier to eat but not half as fun. The pabellon bowl lets you choose one meat with rice, black beans, feta, plantains and two mini plain arepas on the side. But before you eat, don’t forget the self-serve condiment station. Load up on the mild red pepper sauce and add squiggles of guasacaca, a gauacamole sauce made from avocadoes and vinegar.

Shredded pork pabellon with red pepper sauce and guasacaca avocado sauce at La Reina Queen of Venezuelan Arepas in Newtown
Shredded pork pabellon with red pepper sauce and guasacaca avocado sauce

Shredded chicken arepa with red pepper sauce and guasacaca avocado sauce at La Reina Queen of Venezuelan Arepas in Newtown
Shredded chicken arepa with red pepper sauce and guasacaca avocado sauce

Shredded beef pabellon bowl, chicken arepa and pork arepa at La Reina Queen of Venezuelan Arepas in Newtown
Shredded beef pabellon bowl with chicken and beef stuffed arepas

Arepas for vegans and meatlovers at La Reina Queen of Venezuelan Arepas in Newtown


La Reina - The Queen of Venezuelan Arepas Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

La Reina Queen of Venezuelan Arepas
77 King Street, Newtown, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9550 9347

Opening hours
Wednesday to Sunday 11am-3pm and 5.30pm-9pm

This article first appeared in Time Out Sydney. Read this article online or read more of my Time Out Sydney reviews.
1 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 8/20/2018 12:01:00 am



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