Monday, December 3, 2012

Sydney trip - Bill's, Kitchen by Mike, Laduree, Adriano Zumbo and Bambini Trust

A couple of weeks ago, I went to Sydney with my colleague, Lee, for work, and we stayed for the weekend to play.  It was a great opportunity to sample some of the fabulous eateries that Sydney has to offer.

On our first night, we went to Bills in Surrey Hills.  For the uninitiated, "Bill" is Australian chef Bill Granger, who now resides in London.  Being a Wednesday night, Bills was quieter than it would be on a weekend, hence we were able to get a table immediately on walking in off the street. 

For main, I ordered the yellow fish curry with brown rice and cucumber relish, pictured at the top of this post ($28).  This is a fairly mild curry, but still very tasty, and the brown rice was perfect for soaking up the sauce.

For dessert, on Lee's recommendation, I had the brown sugar pavlova with strawberries and yoghurt cream:   

What can I say - this was a delicious pav, Aussie style, crispy on the outside and soft in the middle, with a brown sugar twist ($14.50).

On Thursday, Lee and I went to our Rosebery office for work.  There, we found a hidden gem -  Kitchen by Mike, which featured in Delicious magazine recently.  Mike's is situated in a large converted warehouse:

which is light and airy and spacious.   The front part of the warehouse space is the cafe itself, while the back part of the warehouse is a homewares and garden shop.  You can buy cheeses, jams, jellies and sauces in the cafe area.   

You order at the counter.  When we first arrived, we had a coffee, and out of the blue, while we were drinking our coffee, a long line appeared at the counter.  It was worth the wait for lunch, however.  I ordered the turkey with cranberry sauce and stuffing:

and the roast pumpkin salad and broccoli and bean salads:

Lee had apple puff pastry for dessert:

and I had the chocolate meringue:

All of the food was fabulous, although slightly on the pricey side for lunch.  I liked the fact that the cutlery was available on the tables in tomato tins:

The homewares part of Kitchen at Mike's has a number of rather cool sculptures, including this plywood horse sculpture:

On Thursday night we went to a cocktail party at the Penthouse in The Ivy in George Street.  What goes on tour stays on tour, but I can say that we ended the evening at Hungry Jacks in George Street where Lee conversed with the locals about Aussie Rules football and the meaning of life.

Friday was seminar day, and although the  seminar dinner was forgettable, I got to walk home past the fabulous Coca Cola sign in Kings Cross:

Lee partied on into the wee small hours, so I was glad that I left with another colleague at a more moderate hour.  Frankly I do not have the stamina to stay out all night, and having never done it as a much younger person, I am not about to start now.  

On Saturday, I went to Circular Quay to catch a ferry to Adriano Zumbos at Balmain, where Voyager of the Seas was in port:

On the way, the ferry went past Luna Park, which had acquired a mo' for Movember:

At Zumbos, I purchased 6 "Zumbarons" ($15):

The flavours are, left to right: burnt vanilla, salt and vinegar, vanilla milkshake, carrot cake, salted caramel and salted butter popcorn.  The stand out was the salted caramel macaron, with a flowing caramel centre.  My second favourite was the carrot cake macaron, which indeed tasted like carrot cake.  The vanilla milkshake had a very milk-like slipperiness to the centre that I wasn't that keen on, and the salt and vinegar indeed tasted just like salt and vinegar, but it seemed odd in a macaron. 

I also bought a V8 cake ($10), being eight layers of vanilla (vanilla chiffon, vanilla ganache, vanilla dacquoise, vanilla macaron, toasted vanilla brulee): 

It unfortunately got a little beaten up before I photographed it, but it looked gorgeous and tasted devine.  I also bought one of his famous chocolate mousse cakes from Masterchef ($9), but it paled into insignificance in comparison with the sweet decadence of the V8 cake.  

I was surprised to see that the Balmain branch of Adriano Zumbos had substantially wound down since I last visited.  On my first visit a couple of years ago, I had to wait in line for an hour to get in, and the shop was heaving with baked goods.  This time, I walked straight in off the street and the range of baked goods was much reduced, with quite a bit of blank space.  Maybe now that there are a number of branches of Zumbos throughout Sydney, many with facilities for eating in, the original "hole in the wall" shop is not as popular.

I was tipped off that Laduree had opened in Westfield in the Pitt Street Mall, so being a true lover of pretty baked goods, I could not pass up the chance to visit.  And I was not disappointed:

Although it is like a pop up shop in the middle of the shopping centre, it is still very pretty.  Takeaway is on one side, and the cafe is on the other side.  I purchased six macarons in the trademark green and gold box ($23):

Laduree's macarons are rather more expensive that the Zumbarons.  While I believe that the presentation and condition of the macarons was superior to the Zumbarons, for flavour, I believe the Zumbarons pack a much bigger punch.  The Laduree flavours that I chose are (left to right, top row then bottom) raspberry, violet marshmallow, San Domingo chocolate, pistachio, salted caramel and blackcurrant.  Of these, I preferred the blackcurrant for its punchy flavour.  I was also lucky enough to try a licorice maracron, as they were on the counter for tasting, and the friendly gent who served me specifically offered me one.  The licorice was rather good too.

On our final night in Sydney, Lee and I went to Bambini Trust, a gem of an Italian restaurant in Elizabeth Street, Sydney.  As we had spent the last few days eating and drinking, we ate lightly, and ordered fish dishes.  I ordered one of the specials, being snapper with scallops, asparagus and beans:   

It was delightful, especially the scallops (which I am terrible at cooking myself).  For side dishes, we ordered the butterhead lettuce with gorgonzola, grapes and hazelnuts and the potato fries to share.  Both were complimentary to our fish dishes.

For breakfast on Sunday morning, I sauntered down to Circular Quay and had this wonderful granola trifle (~$12) for breakfast at a cafe in Alfred Street:

Unfortunately, the name of the cafe eludes me, but this trifle was very good and the service was friendly and efficient.

Lee and I then went to the Francis Bacon Exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.  My favourite part of the exhibition was the various photos that Bacon used of his friends and acquaintances as inspiration for his paintings by tearing and folding the photos to distort the bodies.  I love looking at faces, and these were faces from the swinging 60s in London, hence making them even more interesting to me.   

Sadly, all good  things must come to an end and we headed back home on Sunday afternoon.  However, it was a wonderful weekend, and a perfect way to round out the year.

359 Crown Street
Surry Hills NSW 2010
Ph: 02 9360 4762
Kitchen by Mike
85 Dunning Ave
Rosebery NSW 2018
Ph: 02 9045 0910
Adriano Zumbo Patisserie
296 Darling St
Balmain NSW 2040
Westfield Sydney
Level 3
Corner Pitt and Market Streets
Sydney NSW 2000
Ph: 02 9231 0491
Bambini Trust
185 Elizabeth Street
Sydney 2000
Ph: 02 9283 7908


Finla said...

wowo you went to Billsplace, i love his show.

Elaine said...

I enjoy reading about your eating adventures so much. Everything looks delicious. Glad you had a great weekend!

Lisa said...

Great post, Cakelaw. Sydney's my home town so it was great to catch up. Loved the info on Bill's, Kitchen by Mike and Laduree. Need another trip home!

Kayte said...

Oh, what a fun time reading about Sydney and your trip there...and the food...oh my goodness did all of that look fabulous!