Category Archives: Sydney CBD

Galileo Restaurant, Sydney CBD

Hidden away in the Millers Point area of the Sydney CBD is the Langham Hotel and its restaurant, Galileo Restaurant. As we walked there from World Square, it turned out to be quite a walk and D2D soon thought we must have walked so far we’d be in North Sydney…

But not so. This is just the quiet residential area that’s metres away from Walsh Bay and the Rocks area. When we arrive (finally), the doormen open and greet us. Nice.

Galileo Restaurant

The Langham
The Langham

The decor of the Langham and Galileo is that of vintage Paris and grandeau. Next to the restaurant, they also have a more casual bar area, where people are having drinks and coffees while a man plays the piano.

The staff service is quite formal, which is to be expected at the Langham.

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Inside the Parisian decor continues with the walls decorated with different drawings and cartoons. The chairs are plush and filled with cushions.

Seriously.

They have an abundance of cushions to the point where I struggled to fit onto the “inside” seat of the table (the one backing the wall) because there was no room for me, until I shoved some of the cushions aside.

Anyway,  we’ve come here on a five course Groupon voucher. Normally, it costs $99 per person.

Amuse Bouche - potato with yoghurt
Amuse Bouche – potato with yoghurt

This is an interestingly little cubed potato with the center hollowed out to fit in some yogurt and a random leaf. Yummy. They also present this on a small plate, on top of a napkin, which is on top of a slightly bigger plate. That’s layered presentation for you!

Bacon and maple bread
Bacon and maple bread

We also get complimentary bread, which is one of my favourite features of fine dining. This is served with a block of truffle butter! I order the bacon maple bread, which was the last one so D2D is stuck with normal sourdough.

We later get a second round of bread AND butter. The service was a bit forgetful though and we had to ask twice for the bread.

gull 029
Woodside Goats Cheese Parfait with witlof, apple, fig, asparagus and jamon.

This is the goats cheese parfait. Delicious! And I liked the presentation and squiggly form. Jamon is the thinly slice meat which was nice and savoury, contrasting with the slight sourness of the apples and cheese.

Cone Bay Barramundi (pan fried) with calamari, sweet corn, fennel, squid ink quinoa
Cone Bay Barramundi (pan fried) with calamari, sweet corn, fennel, squid ink quinoa

 

D2D and I agreed that this was our favourite dish of the degustation! The fish is cooked really well and is super smooth. The squid ink quinoa is nicely done and there’s just a mixture of different thinks working together.

Plus it has corn – which is just the best.

But since it’s a degustation, the servings are small and the plates are big. Like really, the outer rim of this plate was like 10 cm wide! The same diameter of the inside…

Cucumber marshmallow, apple sorbet
Cucumber marshmallow, apple sorbet

This was the “intermediary” or palate cleanser. I thought it was interesting – housemade marshmallow! I can’t recall what the dark green puree was….and again, it comes with random little leaves (a favourite of the chef I suspect).

Cosy
Cosy

Here’s another look at the decor/ambience of Galileo.

Venison, dates, black pudding puree, spiced carrots, native violet
Venison, dates, black pudding puree, spiced carrots, native violet

Onto the main! A juicy block of venison served medium rare. Black pudding puree? Hmm interesting.

Fromage
Fromage

We also opt for the $15 per person fromage plate. We only get one serving and it’s enough because we’re actually quite full. We polished off most of it except for the walnuts and prunes.

Tea and coffee
Tea and coffee

We also get some complimentary tea and coffee which is nice – something to soothe away the day’s troubles (if any). Again, the cups and saucers follow the decor theme.

I get a super strong black English breakfast tea. No milk or sugar.

Salted caramel pannacotta, malt, olive, caramelised milk
Salted caramel pannacotta, malt, olive, caramelised milk

This was quite a nice dessert but very sweet/salty. Good thing we had the tea to balance it off.

Overall, I really liked the decor and ambience of Galileo and it was just…very relaxing to eat a long meal, leaning against plush cushions, then ending with cheese, dessert and a refreshing black tea.

I would recommend coming here on a Groupon voucher to try it out, as $99 per person is a bit steep for a 5 course meal (there are comparable restaurants serving more courses / offering cheaper prices in Sydney).

They also offer a la carte, eight course degustation ($120) and a vegetarian degustation ($105).

Galileo Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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Rabbit Hole Bar & Dining, Sydney CBD

Squirreled away like many underground bars, Rabbit Hole Bar & Dining is tucked away in Martin Place, Sydney CBD. I’ve wanted to try this place before, but like most grand ideas, it somehow slipped away. But I got a reminder recently listing the top desserts to try and the one at Rabbit was mentioned…

Rabbit Hole Bar & Dining:

  • Website: http://www.rabbitholebar.com.au/
  • Address: Basement level, 82 Elizabeth St, Sydney NSW 2000
  • Getting there: closest train station is Martin Place or St James, but you can also easily walk from Wynyard
  • Book: suggested, we came on a Wednesday night and most of the tables were reserved already! Luckily a table for two is often easily accommodated. Book via enquiries@rabbitholebar.com.au or 02 8084 2505
  • Open: Mon to Fri (12pm – 2am), Sat (4pm – 2am). Closed Sun.

Head down the spiral stairway and you feel a bit like Alice going down the Rabbit Hole. I suppose that’s the feeling it’s supposed to create. This bar is quite low lit (mood lighting), so don’t expect pastel coloured walls and mushrooms reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland.

There’s some pictures of rabbits on the wall, which is cool, but otherwise it kind of looks like a normal bar.

Welcome to Rabbit Hole
Welcome to Rabbit Hole

What is a bit are the tea cups holding a candle on each table. water is served in a liquor bottle of gin. Nice touch. The teacup is pretty cool and quotes Charles Dickens around the edge:

Minds, like bodies, will often fall into a pimpled, ill-conditioned state from mere excess of comfort.

Currently, on Wednesday nights, they are running a 2 for 1 promotion on cocktails between 5-7pm. Unfortunately they don’t show tell you until later that this only applies to limited cocktails and none sound as cool as the ones we wanted!

So we just ordered off the normal cocktail menu.

Wood and Smoke $22
Wood and Smoke $22

D2D ordered the Wood & Smoke (GIN), which is described as:

First the aroma of smouldering cinnamon will greet you. Then be taken to a warm fireplace with this complex and bitter drink. Auchentoshan 3 Wood, Jim Beam Devil’s Cut and Laphroaig 10yo is mixed with Quassia and Barberry Bark syrup, Acid Phosphate, Fee Brother’s Whisky Barrel Aged bitters and Old Fashioned.
The drinks at RB are definitely different and there’s a scientific-experimental feel to what they are trying to do. D2D’s Wood and Smoke tasted like….wood and smoke, haha. It comes with piece of cinnamon (on fire/smoking), which you can later put out by putting into the little glass of water it comes with.
XO Zombie $19
XO Zombie $19

I got the XO Zombie (rhum), which is described as:

Our twist on the original. Mt Gay XO, Cointreau and Joseph Cartron Cocody are muddled with lime, mint and our house made passionfruit caramel. It is shaken with aromatic bitters, pineapple and orange. Served in a bitter, sugar rimmed glass with a flaming passionfruit.

Things on fire are just instantly cooler for some reason!

The drinks at RB are quite expensive ($20 mark) actually, but you actually get quite a lot because the glasses are big.  There are some other drinks on the menu which sounded quite interesting (including ones in a powder form!), but we have to save room for food…

RH has a lunch, dinner and bar menu. Their dinner menu is in the small vs large format, which seems popular for shared dining these days.

First up:

vivid 008
Crispy and gooey truffled eggs; liquid nitrogen yolk, frozen meringue, blue cheese foam & dark cocoa brioche $25

Let’s be blunt. This was weird.

And we definitely drew the gaze of all the other diners when this came out! Though we appreciated the experimental nature of this, we didn’t quite enjoy the flavours/textures of this dish. It was a bit confusing to have so many different elements, which, even when you ate it together, still tasted strange. Perhaps it’s the “cold” feeling of eating frozen meringue and nitrogen yolk… in the beginning of winter? It also felt rather unsubstantial (admittedly, it is a “Small” dish) for the price of $25.

Interesting stuff – but would we eat it again? Highly unlikely….

Glazed pork belly and tornadoes, vegetable risotto, bacon & garlic caramel $22
Glazed pork belly and tornadoes, vegetable risotto, bacon & garlic caramel $22

The second “Small” dish was a bit more “normal”. That yellow strip on top is a bacon/garlic caramel!! I really liked it – like salted caramel – but D2D complained he had garlic breath. We both liked the soft pork belly and risotto underneath.

What’s that red sauce? No idea! Maybe “tornadoes” is “tomatoes” and it’s some kind of tomato sauce…

We then moved onto dessert, which was the reason I had been reminded of this place:

Chocolate skull on FIRE!

Chocolate skull, rum, spiced black vanilla ice cream, flourless pineapple cake & fire $21

Chocolate skull, rum, spiced black vanilla ice cream, flourless pineapple cake & fire $21

Yeah, another fiery dish! Unfortunately I missed the fire part of the presentation, but basically the waiter pours alcohol over the dish, with a flame, so it’s basically like the Bombe Alaska dessert.

What makes it different is the chocolate skull mask that is the centerpiece of the dish. This melted quite a bit by the time the fire was out, so the photo doesn’t quite capture it but you get the idea. The pineapple cake really soaks up the alcohol so it’s a bit heady for the alcohol lightweights (like me). Theses also gold and blue flakes which was interesting.

All in all, Rabbit Hole Bar & Dining offers some interesting and experimental cocktails and food! However, it can be an expensive meal ($120 all up for the two of us) where the portions aren’t that substantial and the experiments can feel like they’ve gone…a bit awry.

Interestingly, most of the other diners that night didn’t choose the “off the beaten track” dishes and drinks that we got. Perhaps they are the regulars, who have realised and enjoy RH’s more mainstream dishes.

Rabbit Hole Bar & Dining on Urbanspoon

Baroque Pantry and Bistro, The Rocks

Updated visit:

We recently went back to Baroque, for dinner this time, on a Tuesday night for their Baroque Bouchon $48 three course plus wine menu. This is an changing weekly menu, its name inspired Bouchons of Lyons, which is well known for bistro meals and wines at a low price.

Baroque
Baroque

On this visit, we were lucky enough to be there for the last Bouchon menu! After being seated, we were offered a choice between the house white or red wine, with top up. They were very generous with this!

MOULES À LA NORMANDE Mussells with cider, cream and eschallots
MOULES À LA NORMANDE Mussells with cider, cream and eschallots

Entree was a mussels dish with yummy sauce. You can’t really go wrong with mussels and a cream sauce…

Free bread!
Free bread!

We also received complimentary baguette bread with a slab of butter. This went well to mop up the mussel’s sauce as well.

POULET AUX 40 GOUSSES D'AIL Chicken cooked with 40 cloves of garlic
POULET AUX 40 GOUSSES D’AIL Chicken cooked with 40 cloves of garlic

This was the main – beautifully presented and a very tasty collection of different elements.  No wonder – it had 40 cloves of garlic!! Good way to keep the vampires away…

There was vegetables, some beans, mash and what seemed to be a small croquette.

SAINT HONORE ROSE FRAMBOISE Raspberry and rose gateau St Honore
SAINT HONORE ROSE FRAMBOISE Raspberry and rose gateau St Honore

The dessert was also a highlight! This was quite interestingly pieced together, with a slightly hard/crunchy pastry for the bottom square and those five spheres topped on top. Quite delightful and well presented.

All in all, we enjoyed the Bouchon menu and hope they keep going with it! The $48 three course is a good deal, though the portions are quite small. I imagine some people may not feel quite full… Still, a very tasty way to try entree, main and dessert, plus wine and free bread!

Original post:

It’s 8am on a Sunday and we’re headed out to the City for a trip to Cockatoo Island for the 19th Biennale of Sydney. The plan is to breakfast at Cafe Sopra in Walsh Bay but it turns out they don’t open until noon! What kind of cafe opens so late…

Pretty interior
Pretty interior

Instead, we head for Baroque (Pantry by day, Bistro by night). Even at 9am, when the Rocks Markets are still being setup, the tables are getting filled up. There’s tables inside and outside but they still don’t seem to be enough. Soon, there’s even a waiting area for people to get seated.

Baroque Pantry and Bistro
Baroque Pantry and Bistro

Baroque Pantry and Bistro

  • Website: http://www.baroquebistro.com.au/
  • Address: 88 George Street, The Rocks
  • Pantry hours: 8am-3pm daily
  • Bistro hours: Tues to Sun from 6pm
  • Bookings: recommended, do it online via Dimmi and earn points (see their website)

Baroque is pretty much located on the corner of George Street and Hickson Road in The Rocks area. There’s cobblestone paths and markets every Sat and Sun surrounding this popular eatery.

Baroque is kind of a mixed bag. Their website describes it as a pantry, bistro, restaurant and patisserie all rolled into one. Opening in 2009 by the Charkos family who own the popular La Renaissance Cafe Patisserie just down the road, Baroque is headed by Chef Drew Bolton. There’s a lot going on here, including cooking classes (including macaron masterclass!).

Since we there for breakfast, I’ll only talk about Baroque Pantry. So what’s there to eat?

Baroque menu
Baroque menu

Baroque is a modern French style restaurant. Their menu is quite extensive and you can read up on it here. The price is about $10-$30 for breakfast and lunch items. They also serve wines, cocktails and beers.

Flat white $4.50
Flat white $4.50

D2D’s flat white arrives. It’s a bit hot sitting in the sun in the alfresco dining and it’s a shame they don’t have more indoor seats or shaded areas.

Egg Cocotte 15.5 Bacon, mushroom, tomato, hollandaise, served with Sonoma sourdough toast
Egg Cocotte $15.5
Bacon, mushroom, tomato, hollandaise, served with Sonoma sourdough toast

This is my little pot of baked eggs served with Sonoma bread. Although the pot is quite small, it’s packed with bacon, mushroom, tomato and even some spinach. Because of the depth of the bowl (usually baked eggs is in a shallow pan), the egg is less cooked than normal. This might put some people off?

The bread is from Sonoma and must have been slathered in butter before it was toasted, because it tastes so good and feels a bit oily when I pull it apart.

Quite a filling breakfast.

Croque Madame 22 Croque Monsieur served with a fried free range egg
Croque Madame $22
Croque Monsieur served with a fried free range egg

This is D2D’s croque madam – basically a ham and cheese toast with fried free range egg on top, served with a side of salad. This is a very fried dish! So the salad helps to balance it out.   This is a pretty big serving, much bigger than my mini baked eggs.

All up, the bill comes to $42 for two breakfasts and a coffee. Pay inside and you’ll see:

Inside Baroque
Inside Baroque

Their patisserie kitchen! No wonder there is little seating inside, they have a big open kitchen taking up most of the space. Here’s a couple paying before us, sporting sunnies for the day ahead.

Macarons
Macarons

Baroque Macarons are quite a favourite in this town. They are $3 each (or $2.70 takeaway), and you can get 3 macarons plus a coffee for $12. As I said above, you can even make your own in a Baroque Macaron Masterclass.

Dessert time
Dessert time

They also have a wide range of other cakes and delightful desserts. Unfortunately we were too full to try any after breakfast.

Before we head off, here’s one other little secret:

Strawberry garden
Strawberry garden

Next to the alfresco dining areas are a series of potted trenches . I initially thought they were just decorative plants, but a closer inspection revealed… strawberries! This one isn’t quite ripe yet. They also had some other herbs like lavendar, mint, oregano and dill!

I guess if you want you can grab some herbs and sprinkle onto your meal!

What else is around?

  • The Rocks Markets set up right outside Baroque and up to the end of George Street every Saturday and Sunday.
  • La Renaissance Cafe Patisserie is just down the road if Baroque is too packed or you want something more casual
  • Museum of Contemporary Art
  • The Circular Quay wharf area makes a nice walk around the water to either Opera House or Walsh Bay

Baroque | Bistro Bar Patisserie on Urbanspoon

Prime, Sydney CBD

About a few years ago, I experimented with eating as little meat as possible. It was the closest I got to being a vegetarian – basically I only ordered the vegetarian option when eating out, and only ate vegetables at home. However, for social occasions or home cooking where meat was unavoidable (e.g. meat is included in the dish), I still ate meat.

How does this relate to this post?

Meat is the main event at PRIME. I can’t imagine what a vegetarian could find to eat here… maybe just the free bread?

Prime Restaurant

Prime
Prime

The Prime restaurant is very hidden. The address is No 1 Martin Place, which is basically the big old GPO (post office) building on the corner of Martin Place and George Street. The closest train station is either Martin Place or Wynyard. The old GPO is now the lobby of the Westin Hotel and when you enter, there’s two curving stairs going down. This is where you head to find a couple of restaurants, including Prime.

Outside the door, they display a lot of fancy awards. Opening in 1999, the Prime restaurant boasts being the best steak restaurant (voted) for the past 14 years, including a one hat. They offer 18 steaks as well as some seafood, poultry and vegetarian (lol) options.

Here's some of the party of six
Here’s some of the party of six

All the seats are quite nice and plush, with white clothed tables and big wineglasses. Our party of six gets a table in a little enclave built into the wall of this subterranean restaurant. Apparently this wall is heritage listed sandstone. Fancy!

Do you need to dress up? Maybe… but D2D is sporting shorts today.

Mini lamps
Mini lamps

Above our table is a cute row of mini lamps.

 

Free bread
Free bread

MMM….free bread! We get some  complimentary bread for the table, along with pickles and:

Butter x 3
Butter x 3

Three types of butter! From the left, there is wasabi butter, classic butter, and lastly sundried tomato butter.

On a negative note, we asked for more bread because we had extra butter left over. But the waiter never came back with bread and then someone else packed up the bread plates/butter! This was a disappointing and later turned out to be much needed bread, because the steaks took a looong time to come out.

Wine
Wine

Prime also boasts a fine wine list of which can be viewed online. We order a bottle of red.

After a bit of a long wait, the food arrives!

The Food:

You can view their menu online as well, and as you soon realise, it’s very long and somewhat confusing for the unfamiliar steak eater like myself. So I’ll try to translate it so you can walk in looking very meat-smart.

Essentially, there’s three prime meats:

  1. Angus Hereford Yearlings – described as “consistent”, ~$55
  2. Black Angus – more intense and juicier than Angus, $55-$74
  3. Wagyu – considered the highest grade, $87 – $295

Each cow is raised in a different way to produce different results in terms of flavour, marbling etc.

From these three prime meats, you can choose options of fillet, rib eye, sirloin, fillet. Each is described with weight, what it’s been fed (grass/grain, how long) and where it’s been raised. To me, it seems a bit too much information…

And to add even more choice you can decide your potato (puree, gratinee, chips), and sauce (red wine jus, jus corse, bearnaise, various mustards).  Sometimes they give you all four types of mustard…

So what did we end up ordering?

Steak
Steak

BIG steak with yummy sauce and two little cherry tomatoes.

Steak
Steak

D2D’s steak, also with cherry tomatoes and cute stubby chips. You can also add prawns, scallops and spinach for $15, but we decided not to opt for that.

GOOD THING, because these are massive. I guess I’m not used to eating so much meat, because I basically only ate half before I was KOed from eating too much meat. D2D ended up eating his and my half steak (1.5!), which he seemed pretty happy to do…

Overall verdict? If you enjoy good steak, then this is the place to go for a premium steak experience (but you also pay for that premium). Don’t add too many extras or sides, because there’s free bread and trust me, you’ll be too full anyway.

Prime Steak Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Alpha, Sydney

We don’t usually go to Greek restaurants, but our experience so far (Gazi) has been pretty good and Alpha is no exception.

Conveniently close to Sydney CBD (and only a few minutes away from work), we visited on a Thursday lunch at noon. The place was relatively empty, but quickly filled up with business men and women.

Welcome to Alpha
Welcome to Alpha

Gazi

  • Website: http://alpharestaurant.com.au/
  • Address: 238 Castlereagh Street, Sydney NSW 2000 (nearest train station is Town Hall)
  • Call: (02) 9098 1111
  • Bookings: recommended (note, bookings not available for breakfast), online
  • Open: breakfast (M-F, 7.30-10.30am), lunch (daily 12-3pm), dinner (Mon to Sat 6-10pm, Sun 5-pm)
  • Chef: Peter Conistis
  • 10% surcharge for groups of 10+ people
Office workers
Office workers

First up, the decor in here is really beautiful. The white automatic double doors open up to urns for putting your umbrellas and high ceilings lit up by lights in woven baskets.

Alpha has a lot of tables set up, including lounge seats, or circular tables that remind me of Chinese restaurants where you can see and talk to everyone.

Empty for now
Empty for now

Service is good. But once the place filled up for lunch, it became a bit difficult to hail down a waiter for the bill and to pay. We had to ask twice, but I suspect the first person we asked actually worked in the Foodstore, rather than the restaurant (we later saw her at the Foodstore counter). In this respect, they were a bit slow, but otherwise everything else was great.

My suggestion? Come early – like noon.

Onto the food:

The menus can be viewed on their website, and like most Greek restaurants, they have a pretty wide menu.

Let’s just go straight to their signature dish, which D2D was very eager to try since it features his favourite vegetable (and my less favourite): EGGPLANT.

Moussaka of eggplant, seared scallops, taramosalata $27
Moussaka of eggplant, seared scallops, taramosalata $27

This is not really a “moussaka” per se, but it’s really delicious nonetheless. Essentially it’s stacked eggplant, topped with tomato salsa and seared scallops in between. In addition, the plate is circled by fish roe. Yes, fish roe and scallops! It totally makes up for the eggplant, which I’m not a fan of.

In fact, D2D was all too eager to grab the rest of my eggplant when I said the skin was weird… Oh well, at least we were both happy with the different parts of this dish! Is it expensive at $27? Perhaps, but it’s worth a try.

Funnily enough, someone took an Instagram of this same dish and won the Alpha competition on the same day that we went! If only I had posted my moussaka photo a bit earlier, haha.

Ouzo cured ocean trout, fennel, orange, watercress, sumac onions - $14
Ouzo cured ocean trout, fennel, orange, watercress, sumac onions – $14

This is a bit cheaper at $14, and is wonderfully fresh. I always find Greek salads are full of interesting flavours and collections of vegetables. In this, there were peeled orange pieces – yum. But I probably would order something different to try next time I come.

Pita bread $2 pp plus dip ranging $8 to $11
Pita bread $2 pp plus dip ranging $8 to $11

While we were waiting for our food, we got a bit worried that we hadn’t ordered enough. Plus we kept watching all the other tables order bread and dips. So we caved…

You get a lot of pita bread. I warn you now – but I also warn you that the bread is very yummy. It’s warm and drizzled with olive oil and herbs. I’m not sure what dip we got – we opted instead to ask the waiter which was their recommendation and just went with that. It was pretty good and they give you a pretty big pot of it.

We only ordered 1 dip, but a few tables around us had a number of dips.

Slow roasted lamb spare ribs, thyme, honey, ouzo, glaze - $19
Slow roasted lamb spare ribs, thyme, honey, ouzo, glaze – $19

 

The lamb ribs were also delicious and tender, and was pretty easy to slip off the bone. This dish also comes with a dip.

All in all, the lunch came to $74 for two, which is a bit more on the expensive side. We were a bit too full by the end, and probably could have foregone the ocean trout dish.

Next door to Alpha is their Foodstore. This is open Mon to Fri from 7.30am to late and features artisan Greek products, as well as coffee, cakes and pastries. Everything looks really good but unfortunately we’re a bit too full! Maybe next time…

Food store
Food store

What else is around:

Alpha is very centrally located, so there is a host of places in Town Hall that are within walking distance including Hyde Park, QVB, Galeries Victoria, Pitt Street Mall and more.

Perhaps after a filling lunch at Alpha, you can head off for some ‘cardio’ shopping…

Alpha Restaurant on Urbanspoon