Nicholas Hill (ex Sepia) has breathed new life into the Old Fitzroy Hotel in Woolloomooloo with British influenced bistro food and a rotating specials menu featuring a pie of the day
When you mention pub food I immediately think of salt and pepper calamari, Thai food or a stodgy parmie. None of these are available at the Old Fitzroy Hotel in Woolloomooloo now with Nicholas Hill (ex Sepia) at the helm in the kitchen which is a relief in a town with the same ol same ol on the menu. Instead, the menu is British influenced bistro food with a rotating specials menu featuring a pie of the day. Order at the bar and grab a pint before making your way past the kitchen to the mezzanine area which also connects to the theatre- warning, the place gets packed with pre theatre guests and staff will ring a bell when a show is about to start.
We start with the Hot chip butty ($10), which is only available at lunch with optional upgrades of beef dripping gravy ($4) and curried egg ($4) and trust me, get them. It arrives deconstructed style so you can sneak a chip or two while slathering your devils white bread with butter. A less OCD person would dump all the chips onto the bread but well, I wanted to ensure even chip coverage and so carefully jenga stacked the fat golden chips before adding the curried egg layer and then smothering in the rich gravy.
Carb on carb perfection! There’s also bottles of HP, Worcestershire, vinegar and hot sauce available to customise your sammich to your liking.
There’s quite a few snacks on the menu and we cannot pass up the Scotch egg($8) which is picture perfect.
Inside the crispy, golden breadcrumbed shell is a deliciously peppery sausage meat layer around firm egg white and a gloriously golden and gooey yolky center.
We score a complimentary Chicken and lardo terrine ($16) from the kitchen, a tile of chilled, pressed chicken with ribbons of creamy rich lardo on top that I may have carefully peeled off to eat separately. I quite liked the tarragon mustard which provided a nice heat to the terrine.
The Raw beef on dripping toast($14) is basically a steak tartare on toast and it’s one tasty dish! The meat is nicely seasoned and the sprinkle of finely chopped chives providing a pleasant crunch and brightness against the rich umami laden toast.
The Tripe and chicken nuggets ($8) only comes 2 for the portion which made me a bit sad because I reckon the scotch egg would be more value buuuuut they were delicious and I’d totally order them again.
If you’re a fan of the textural elements of tripe you might be disappointed with how they’re reduced to nubbins and vying for center of attention against the chicken but there’s just something about these nuggets that explode with flavour and make you wish there were 20 more.
I’ve never eaten a rissole before so was curious about the Rissole sandwich with fries ($17) and was pleasantly surprised about how soft and tender the rissole was! I would definitely return for this and loved the melty cheddar against the sweetness of the beetroot. A special mention to the fries, they were covered in some crazy addictive salt that we would gladly buy to sprinkle on absolutely everything.
Pie fillings (and sizes) rotate daily so check out their grams for what’s on. On one visit our group shared the Roast chicken and artichoke pie for two ($45) and ohhh boy the pie was spectacular and so fricken massive! I reckon it would’ve been enough for 3-4 people for mains! The chicken fat and yellow wine sauce was velvety smooth and just so delicious that I wanted to bathe in it but settled for drowning the very juicy pieces of chicken dug up from the cavernous pie. And of course the puff pastry was amazing, golden with many flaky layers.
On another visit the pie of the day was Pigs head with grilled onion and cheddar ($22). I loved the juicy meat and tiny cubes of fat that melted on the tongue with the rich gravy.
While smaller in size the pie was no less tasty and in fact I actually preferred this pie as it felt like there was a higher puff pastry to innards ratio.
The Old Fitzroy Hotel
129 Dowling St,
Monday – Friday: 11am – 12am
Saturday: 12pm – 12am
Sunday: 12pm – 10pm
Banh Xeo Bar is bringing Vietnamese food to Rosebery with banh mi, banh xeo and hearty pho but order the crispy pig head for a special occasion!
I’ve been to Banh Xeo Bar in The Cannery in Rosebery a few times now, their bun bo hue is awesome and I love their bone marrow so for my bday lunch with the fam I decided it was time for the ½ Berkshire pig head ($79.50)!
The pig head takes about 30-40mins to roast so we order some dishes to share while we wait. The Lemongrass chicken Banh Xeo ($25) has a 15mins wait warning message but it’s definitely worth the wait. The banh xeo is massive and every bit as tasty as it looked! Super crispy lacy edges and choc a block filled with fragrant chicken pieces and fat beansprouts.
You absolutely have to order the Whole greenback flounder with brown butter fish sauce, lemongrass and chilli ($41.50). It comes with a plate of the lightest, most crisp baguette I’ve ever had and was just oh so perfect for mopping up the incredible sauce, brown butter is seriously the answer to all problems in life. The flounder was perfectly cooked and oh so tender but the fam and I were sad to see that the tail had been trimmed as we love gnawing away at all the crispy bits haha
And now for the main event! The pig head was golden and crisp and the meat in the cheek was just so crazily juicy and fatty. There was enough crackle to go around our table of 5 and we fall into silence as we all sighed with carnivorous happiness.
Meaty cross section! Oh and there’s baguettes lying on the bottom of the pig soaking up meaty juices which was so incredibly rich that I had to admit defeat after a few bites.
The lettuce, pickles and sauces are replenishable thank goodness, the fattiness of the pork will of course get overwhelming so I’d recommend sharing it between 5-6 people.
To stave off the feeling of a heart attack, we wrapped pieces of pork and glorious crackle in lettuce cups and pickled vegetables before drizzling on our selected condiments- chilli sauce, sambal, lemongrass & chilli and fish sauce.
There was also potatoes roasted in beef fat! These were the most incredible roast potatoes I have ever eaten! The outside was so freaking crispy and the inside perfectly soft and fluffy and the flavour just tasted so comforting and savoury.
Banh Xeo Bar (inside the Cannery)
11/61-71 Mentmore Ave,
Tues – Thurs: 12pm – 3.30pm
Fri – Sat: 12 – 3.30pm, 5.30pm – 9.30pm
Sun: 12 – 3.30pm
Get your hands on buttery flaky croissants from ButterCrumbs Croissants which has popped up at Bare Witness cafe in Rhodes
So a few weekends ago Joy mentioned a croissant shop had popped up inside the Bare Witness cafe in Rhodes and eager to re-live my croissant eating Paris days (which I uh still haven’t blogged about), the boy and I made the trek out to Agent Orange land.
We start with the Original croissant ($4), a perfectly golden specimen and the last one available from the display. The amount of layers is certainly impressive, especially considering the size of the kitchen! The croissant hits all the right check marks with a crisp, golden shell and light, buttery honeycomb innards.
The Pain au chocolat ($4.50) is a beauty and quite large for a chocolate croissant. The pastry is just as awesome as the original and has a couple of sticks of rich dark chocolate snuggled together at the base.
The Pretzel ($4.50) is a beautiful burnished croissant just begging to be devoured. The croissant pastry is a bit more denser, like well, a pretzel. The sprinkle of sesame seeds is very moreish and I reckon this would be perfect if it was a filled croissant with ham and cheese!
The butter cube immediately catches my eye with its perfect cube shape and squillions of layers. On offer that morning was a large unfilled butter cube ($9) or the smaller matcha cream filled ($5) but I’ve chosen the vanilla cream filled butter cube ($5).
But did it live up to the hype? Hmmm. Biting into the cube was pretty much impossible, it was about a cm too tall for a proper top-down bite and eating it sideways against the layers seemed so wrong. I loved the super smooth vanilla cream filling but oh how little the filling was! And the cube itself? While impressive looking with all its layers and perfect edges I felt a bit letdown in taste. I think I was expecting it to be like a palmier, sweet and crisp but instead it was basically a compressed croissant pastry and with a name like buttercube i’d expect it to be… buttery..
The Sticky nuts ($6) however blew my mind! It was exactly like a pecan pie with brown sugar caramelised gooeyness and mixed nuts encrusted on a croissant base. It has the perfect balance of sweetness with a touch of saltiness and all of the textures from crunch to chew.
And I had to get a savoury to balance all the sweets so a Spinach and ricotta ($6) croissant was procured.
The filling in this was nice and generous almost to the point where it was too much haha whinge whinge ikr but I loved this filled croissant, there was enough flaky pastry encasing the smooth cheesy spinach innards. It was pretty filling (although eating 5+ croissants will do that for you lol) and fyi it holds up pretty good reheating in the oven later 😀
Buttercrumbs Croissants (inside Bare Witness cafe)
30 Shoreline Drive
Fri, Sat, Sun: 8am – sold out
Kenji Okuda (previously head chef of Lotus Barangaroo) and his wife Donna have opened Japanese inspired Koku Culture cafe in Ashfield with the most amazing confit salmon
You know when you read a menu and know that you will love it even though you haven’t seen any pics or heard from anyone who’s been? That’s how I felt when Good Living reported that Kenji Okuda (head chef Lotus Barangaroo) would be opening Japanese inspired Koku Culture Cafe in Ashfield, selling his miso pastes and soy sauce. Long story short it was everything I had hoped for and more and I have a prediction this cafe will no longer be a hidden gem!
If there’s one must order dish at Koku, it’s the torched confit Alpine king salmon fillet with Koku miso dressing & green tea noodle salad ($19) with an optional 63 degree egg ($2). Holy crap you guys! The salmon has got to be the tastiest salmon I’ve ever had! It was buttery soft and the light blowtorch char just kicked the umami into the stratosphere. And the noodles! They were slightly chilled and had a yuzu and mint dressing and it was just so refreshing and delicious! The egg was perfectly gooey but honestly I don’t think the noodles needed the richness and is perfect without it.
The seared Wagyu beef ($23) was also incredible. The Wagyu was lightly seared for that slight smokiness but was so incredibly tender and just melted in the mouth. The optional 63 degree egg ($2) works wonders on the nutty tasting buckwheat and lovingly coats the huddle of mixed mushrooms and rocket.
The crispy rice burgers comes with fries and the choice of grilled Koji chicken with Sriracha & mayo or the corn & zucchini fritter with spicy mayo but I have chosen the classic cheeseburger with Koku secret sauce ($15). The burger is quite large and requires 2 hands holding onto the crispy nori seaweed that’s wrapped around 2 rectangles of golden, crispy rice. The rice is awesome, like the crispy burnt bits you get on the bottom of a claypot rice bowl. The meat patty is not as tender as I had hoped but it’s plenty juicy and tasty with the melted American cheese and sauce. While I normally hate salad in my burgers I actually quite enjoyed the fresh lettuce and tomato but there was absolutely no way I finished the fries >.<
The twice cooked pork belly with red cabbage salad, 63 degree egg, quinoa and spicy gochujang sauce ($19) while tasty, wasn’t my favourite of the menu but to be fair I ate this on their 3rd day of trading. The pork crackle wasn’t as crispy as I had hoped and the meat while soft, wasn’t as juicy as it could be but I would totally give this another try.
There’s also an all day breakfast menu and while I don’t normally eat breakfast during the week I quite happily devoured the Wok fried eggs ($17) for lunch. The eggs were golden and gloriously crisp and surprisingly not oily and the yolky centres patiently waiting to be released from its crunchy prison. I loved the holy combo of okonomiyaki sauce and mayo and the salty hit from the bonito flakes. For once bacon was not a drawcard for me and *gasp* I don’t think it needs it.
I was very tempted to get the mortgage breaker of smashed avocado on toast ($16) which comes on Japanese milk toast, a poached egg, feta, shiso & Koku miso dressing but instead I’m swayed with the sautéed spicy miso butter mushrooms on sourdough ($15). It is a very generous serving with 2 slices of sourdough (sourced from Azuki Bakery in Newtown) on the bottom of a mountain of mixed mushrooms, rocket, poached eggs, mint and a sprinkle of feta. I absolutely loved the miso butter in the mushrooms, it is just such a comforting flavour and perfect for winter!
Aaaaand I had to get the brûlée matcha pancake ($16) which was a bit denser than I expected for a pancake, with a texture more like cake. But the matcha hit was great, strong but not bitter and holds up against the blanket of custard with brûléed surface that I had fun cracking into. There’s also fruit on the side but I’m not convinced by the 2 quenelles of sour cream.
Coffee is by Single O and there’s also hojicha latte on the menu which I cannot wait to try. So after 5 consecutive days of eating my way through the majority of the menu at Koku, I’m extremely happy for this newest edition to Ashfield!
Koku Culture Cafe
355 Liverpool Road
7 days: 7am – 4pm
Taco King Toby Wilson (Ghostboy Cantina) has teamed up with Jaime Wirth (Drink n Dine) and natural-wine merchant Joel Amos (DRNKS) and given The George in Waterloo a spanking new makeover!
Let’s taco bout Taco King Toby Wilson (Ghostboy Cantina) who has teamed up with Jaime Wirth (Drink n Dine) and natural-wine merchant Joel Amos (DRNKS) and given The George in Waterloo a spanking new makeover!
The boys refreshed the interior of the bar area and while there’s craft beers on tap they’ve kept the Melbourne Bitters around for the locals. There’s also a bottle shop featuring natural and organic wines, but most importantly they stock my new favourite prosecco from Puncheon Bottles! Add $20 to any of the wines and you can drink them in the pub and they’ll provide an ice bucket and wine glasses.
The beer garden out back was previously Hughes Barbecue but gone are the cactuses and barbecue smokers and instead there’s a water feature complete with an al pastor water fountain and 2 live eels happily swimming around.
The corn chips ($7) was meant to come with salsa but guacamole arrived instead and I’m not gonna complain about that because guacamole is life and this was the perfect snack with our adult beverages.
First on the taco lineup is the Ensenada fish taco ($7), a warm house-made corn tortilla holds pieces of fried masa flour battered gurnard with shaved cabbage and slivers of crunchy radish. I did find this a touch on the dry side but nothing a whack of their house made hot sauce can’t fix!
I absolutely LOVED the Kingfish ceviche tostada ($7) and not just because of the crispy tostada haha it was the natural sweetness and freshness of the raw kingfish against the sourness of the pickles and crunch of the tostada, everything was so perfectly balanced!
Noods had ordered the Chicken carnitas taco ($6) and assumed I’d also gotten one for myself so devoured it in less than 5 seconds without offering a bite >.< but apparently it was tasty?
So here’s a pic of the plate. Thanks Noods.
I instead had ordered the Barbacoa lamb taco ($6) which was awesome, the lamb was melt in the mouth tender with juicy nubbins of fat. I’d totally order an entire tray of these bad boys next time.
Aaand I had to get the Chorizo Quesadilla ($8) because well, I required cheese and it certainly delivered on the flavour front with spicy chorizo nubbins enveloped in a blanket of melty cheese.
The signature taco is the famed Al Pastor taco although it wasn’t available at lunch but because it was the long weekend and we were having a jolly good time drinking all the drinks, somehow dinner time rolled around and we managed to get the first lot of tacos just as dinner service started up. The corn tortilla holds pork neck marinated in a house-made adobo sauce that’s been slowly cooked on a spit and shaved to order and also a wedge of juicy roasted pineapple to tie things together. It’s a juicy, meaty mouthful and you’ll regret only ordering one.
Oh and we also get the Elotes aka juicy corn cobs slathered with a generous amount of mayo, chilli, cheese and lime.
Make sure you save room for dessert! The Churros ($8) are a revelation, I’ve never particularly loved churros before but these are the absolute bomb! The churros are crisp on the outside and wondrously light and fluffy on the inside. They were drizzled with cajeta, a dulce de leche syrup made with goat’s milk which has the perfect balance of caramel-y sweetness and makes it near impossible for me to resist licking the plate clean.
760 Elizabeth Street,
Mon – Thurs: 11am – 12am
Fri – Sat: 11am – 3am
Sun: 11am – 10pm