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Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Helm Bar, Darling Harbour, Sydney

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 bar

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.

Would you like to dine at Helm for free? Enter the Grab Your Fork Freebie Friday competition for your chance to win a $50 dining voucher. Entries close on July 4, 2010 so hurry and enter now.

View Larger Map
Helm Bar on Urbanspoon

Helm Bar
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
19 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 6/09/2010 03:05:00 am


  • At 6/09/2010 9:00 am, Anonymous Betty @ The Hungry Girl said…

    The $10 and under menu is such a great idea. That 2 inch beef patty looks rather daunting! But I like the sound of the ribs and the fish & chips and you can't go wrong with that view! :)

  • At 6/09/2010 11:13 am, Anonymous kewpie said…

    one MORE reason why i wish i was working in the CBD

  • At 6/09/2010 11:38 am, Anonymous Hannah said…

    *giggle* Fat Yak. Love it. Ah, a $10 and under dinner. This is precisely the kind of thing I'm going to have to keep an eye out for, now that I've said yes to a PhD and moving out (and thus poverty) and am sadly bidding farewell to products like real maple syrup in favour of cans of chickpeas.

    It's annoying, though, becausewhat I really want are the mussels in blue cheese sauce. Sigh.

  • At 6/09/2010 6:14 pm, Anonymous Mark @ Cafe Campana said…

    Great looking menu for under $10. Its hard to eat in Darling Harbour on the cheap.

  • At 6/09/2010 9:42 pm, Blogger YaYa said…

    That wagyu burger looks like fantastic value but the bun doesn't look as good as Plan B's!

  • At 6/09/2010 10:55 pm, Blogger Rita (mademoiselle délicieuse) said…

    Woah, I was taken by the wagyu burger but the ribs plate looks much more balanced and perhaps more filling!

  • At 6/10/2010 4:13 am, Blogger Unknown said…

    Ohhh, it sucks to be a vegetarian in that place. Greek salad and deep-fried potatoes. Amazing.

    But the rest of it looked ok... ;)

  • At 6/10/2010 10:02 am, Blogger Unknown said…

    Do you ever grow oblivious to the harbour view in Sydney? I know I probably would although that is bad to admit. Good bargain menu.

  • At 6/10/2010 10:49 am, Blogger Unknown said…

    That burger looks so frakkin' amazing - and those ribs + fries!! Drooolage.. how can it possibly be less than $10!

    I am lagging on comments and I'm so sorry. BRB - facepalming self into oblivion.

    Keep on being awesome, Helen! =]

  • At 6/10/2010 3:54 pm, Blogger Laura said…

    I'm yet to explore down along the water yet but this place has been added to my wish list.

    I'm loving the view

    I'm not a fan of shoestring fries though sadly. I'm more of a wedge size chip girl.

  • At 6/10/2010 5:10 pm, Anonymous Simon @ the heart of food said…

    Ribs for lunch at only $10? FTW!

    Wanna so try this out the next time I'm in the area.

    Not sure about the wagyu burger. Looks like Plan B does a better job at it for around the same price.

  • At 6/11/2010 10:12 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'd ahve to go with Helens recommendation and try the ribs! But if I took my son with me, Ithink he would still go the burger.

  • At 6/11/2010 12:33 pm, Blogger Unknown said…

    I think they are even showing the soccer world cup there

    being a meat lover it would have to be the burger - looks serious and might make up for any soccer disasters!

  • At 6/11/2010 2:36 pm, Anonymous Andreas@MyGourmetFeast~> said…

    the ribs YUM! the wagyu burger!! Would love go there soon!!

  • At 6/13/2010 4:11 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Betty - Who doesn't love a cheap lunch? The ribs were tasty and I agree, something about fish and chips and water views that seems so perfect!

    Hi Kewpie - Silver lining - sometimes it's good to have less temptation? lol

    Hi Hannah - Ha, you'll have to have a fat yak when you're next in Sydney. Congrats on your declared pursuit of a PhD and aww sometimes the necessity of budgeting leads you to lots of new and creative recipes!

    Hi Mark - I agree, Darling Harbour can be a struggle for budget eats, but there are more and more good options to be found, particularly at lunchtime or early week nights. Good news for the hungry!

    Hi YaYa - I think Plan B's is tastier although the burger here is significantly bigger. Ideal for anyone who wants a huge hit of protein!

    Hi Mademoiselle Delicieuse - The ribs were very filling and I agree, I liked the combo of meat, carbs and (mayo-drenched) salad.

    Hi M - There are a couple more vegetarian options on the a la carte menu but agreed, bars aren't usually the best spots for vegetarians!

    Hi Gourmet Chick - I never grow oblivious. Having lived away from Sydney before, each time I see the water I sigh a little and smile at how lucky we are :)

    Hi Margaret Tran - The ribs are great value for less than $10. And don't worry, I'm lagging on my comment replies. I think we're even. lol. And aww thanks, if only I could be half as awesome as you :)

    Hi Laura - You'll have to get yourself to Cockle Bay and King Street Wharf. Always lovely to dine with a water view. And I usually prefer steak-cut fries too - something about the contrast between crunchy shell and soft insides that gets me every time!

    Hi Simon - The ribs were delicious, and at only $10 they're a steal. I prefer the Plan B burger too, but then some people like their meat and lots of it!

    Hi Anon - I did enjoy those ribs. And I love it when my colleagues order different meals - best way of sampling a bit more of the menu "for research purposes"!

    Hi Michael - They are showing the World Cup so they'd be a perfect spot for soccer fans. If you like your meat, I think you'll love the burger :)

    Hi Andreas - The $10 menu is pretty good value. Hope you get there soon :)

  • At 6/23/2010 9:59 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thanks Helen for the recommendation, i went to Helm just before 830pm as the dinner menu changes around 9pm. As it was Tuesday, it was pretty empty and the staff were pretty happy to see me I guess!

    Anyway they served me two racks of half ribs and they were delicious and I thanked the chef with a smile before watching New Zealand draw it's first World Cup match at the Fifa Fan Fest next door.

    If you sign up to Time Out's Gold Pass thing, you get another 10% discount on food and drink so beer and ribs + chips came to $13.40 - a bargain i say for such a meal!

  • At 6/28/2010 1:58 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Anon - Glad you enjoyed your meal. The Time Out Gold Pass is a good point. Thanks for letting us all know. That's a bargain meal indeed :)

  • At 7/16/2010 6:55 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I have eaten both burgers and Helms is by far better! plan B just didn't do it for me. You can t beat The Helm Burger!!!

  • At 7/25/2010 5:41 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Anon - That's quite a big call! Glad you've found your perfect burger :)


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