the owl house

Want the two best words of the week?

Date Night!

The Owl House in Darlinghurst is where we went for our date earlier this week.

owlhouseowlhouse_fun

Located just off Williams St, this little red terrace is cute & cosy; hosting a well stocked candlelit bar downstairs and a small dining room upstairs.

We had a special experience created by Lime & Tonic which was for a set 5 small-course meal which we kicked off at the bar;

starting off at the bar
starting off at the bar
tea lights in the little wall cracks
tea lights in the little wall cracks
I'd have to say I agree!
I’d have to say I agree!

We were then taken upstairs by the waitress Anna for our dinner

upstairs dining
upstairs dining
upstairs dining
upstairs dining

The terraces in Darlinghurst have a lot of history; the suburb was established in the 1830s and in recent years business owners are embracing the history of the area and the people who lived there through interior design that keeps in theme with the rich history of early Sydney.

My photos are a little dark, as I didn’t want to disrupt the ambiance (or embarrass Jay) with my phone’s gigantic flash! But you get the idea; Commonwealth influences, red walls, candles, recycled timber, etc.

course 1 | oyster with pepper citrus foam
course 1 | oyster with pepper citrus foam
course 2 | oxtail croquette on a bed of herbed mayo & watercress
course 2 | oxtail croquette on a bed of herbed mayo & watercress
course 3 | beetroot mousse with creme fraiche & snowpea tendrils
course 3 | beetroot mousse with creme fraiche celeriac coleslaw & snowpea tendrils
course 4 | veal medallion, brisket with walnut cracker topping on parsnip mash
course 4 | veal medallion, brisket with walnut cracker topping on parsnip mash with roasted yellow beetroot & shredded silverbeet
course 5 | chocolate mousse topped with honeycomb with a little chocolate & almond brownie
course 5 | chocolate mousse topped with honeycomb with a little chocolate & almond brownie

The food was an exciting surprise (we didn’t know what the menu held for us) and the dining room is intimate and candlelit, making for a romantic night out!

If you can, I recommend you head over there for an after work beverage or dinner with a girlfriend/mate/date!

‘Best Bar with Food’ winner: 2012 SMH Good Food Guide. The Owl House Darlinghurst is for superb food, or spoiling yourself with a cocktail for grown-ups.

Check out their website for details

hartsyard | restaurant review

harts2

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To celebrate Jay’s birthday last week we went to the newly hatted Newtown restaurant Hartsyard.

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A work colleague Sheena has long been urging me to go, as it’s co-owned by one of her school friends and is her fave restaurant, so I have to admit I had high expectations.

The restaurant is all about community; the food is made to share and indulge and the space is intimate and dark with rustic wooden furniture, candlelight.

harts

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“Increasingly, Newtown is becoming Brooklyn to Sydney’s Manhattan, its people and places rejecting the bright and flashy for the neighbourly, the communal and the free-range.”
-SMH review [here]

We had a little trouble with the service; the wait-staff were so busy chatting to regulars that it took them 15 minutes to take our first orders and I’m not a fan of holding a table’s wine at the bar especially if the service isn’t on the ball. If I order a bottle of wine I would like to pour it when I want it!
We went a few days after the newly appointed ‘hat’ so I have a feeling everyone was a little too cool for themselves, so we’ll have to see how their attitude changes over the coming months…

The service is a shame though, because the food is amazing.
The menu is broken up in ‘Seed‘ (little bites), ‘Feed‘ (more substantial share plates) and ‘Out to Pasture‘ (dessert).

Hartsyard Manhattan
Hartsyard Manhattan

The Hartsyard Manhattan is an ingenious cocktail; bacon-infused Jack Daniel’s with sweet vermouth, bitters and maple syrup. Delicious!

The wine list is short and succinct with all the good varietals. We order a bottle from Gippsland in Victoria; 2012 Moondarra Beurot Pinot Gris. It goes perfectly with our food selections…

Oyster Po Boy
Oyster Po Boy

Seriously so good! Hint of sweet brioche little slider-like buns with a deep-fried oyster, house-made hot-sauce and coleslaw. I could eat a hundred of the Oyster Po‘s and it wouldn’t be enough!

Crispy Pigs Tails
Crispy Pigs Tails

These little crispy patties are filled with rich, meaty piggy tail meat. They’re served with pickles and a sweet & sour chutney-mustard.

Fried Chicken
Fried Chicken

How can you go wrong with Fried Chicken? It’s super crispy and the chicken meat is succulent and tender. It could do with some seasoning. And it’s served with a good old American style ‘biscuit and gravy’. Yum.

Iced Vo-vo
Iced Vo-vo

A nice touch on Jay’s dessert; a bright sparkler! The Iced Vo-Vo is a menu special and it seriously tastes exactly like Arnott’s Iced Vovo! EXACTLY!
It’s a generous serving and could easily feed two people! We ordered another dessert so they wrapped up the remainder to go.

Peanut Butter + Banana Sundae
Peanut Butter + Banana Sundae

This.Is.Heaven. Banana doughnut-dumplings dusted in sugar smothered in salted fudge, chocolate sauce and pretzel icecream. The second best dessert I’ve ever eaten. Ever.
(winner of best dessert goes to Justin North’s Becasse Banana Parfait)

***

Hartsyard
33 Enmore Rd, Newtown
[website]

dinner club 2013 february | mexico surry hills

mexico food + liquor | Surry Hills

It was Jay’s choice for February dinner club. We went to Sydney’s latest Mexican buzz establishment Mexico Food + Liquor in Surry Hills (affectionately aka Slurry).

hola pic above borrowed from their website

mexico_inside

Goodness it’s hot & muggy when we arrive after work on Tuesday evening. E & Neen are already seated at the bar (they won’t seat you until all your party has arrived, and there are no bookings!) and have the right idea… a jug of margarita!

neensjugs stolen from Neen’s Instagram @neenjackson

Although it’s quiet when we arrive it soon fills and is buzzing with after work catch-ups. The food is tasty and super quick. The menu reads like standard Tex-Mex but it’s finger food fun with creative twists that make it awesome and along with the atmosphere and funky staff give this place it’s new-kid-on-the-block buzz. All the menu items are small plates, so you order a few and graze.

20130226220559155clockwise from top left:

totes cool day of the dead entrance
menu
wall of tequila & cerveza
long-bench tables

20130226220743681we each have a small soft taco (E & Neen have pulled pork, Jay has beef & I have fish) we share the quesadillas.

clockwise above from top left:

*Pibil rubbed pork w black beans, red cabbage, guajillo, sesame soft taco
*Beef brisket braised in coconut & ancho w green onion, chilli, papaya soft taco
*Blackboard special: chorizo & whitefish with green cabbage soft taco
*Achiote chicken, citrus cured red onion, mint w salsa borracha quesadillas

20130226220902407we share….

clockwise above from top left:

*Mexico’s fried chicken (ohmygodohmygodohmygod)
*Beetroot, blood orange, chilli peanut salad w queso fresco, tostada
*Quinoa, wild rice, green bean, grilled zucchini salad w mustard greens
*Crispy potatoes tossed in celery lime salt w spicy tomatillo dressing

ohmygodohmygodohmygod. The fried chicken is to die for!!! The salads are amazing; fresh, different & tasty!

mexicofrida
wall of Frida

I love this place. I want to go back every night until I can’t eat Mexican anymore! If you’re local, don’t walk, RUN here!

Mexico Food + Liquor | 17 Randle St, Surry Hills
mexicofoodandliquor.com.au

 ♥

est. restaurant | celebrating long service at work

I was just a wee lass when I started working for Dimension Data (or ComTech as it was then called). Of course they demonstrated vision & forward thinking hiring a university drop-out with a pierced tongue and black nails.

I reckon it all paid off (if I do say so myself); I must be doing something right to have kept my job all these years! DD has nurtured and challenged my career and above all, it continues to be an exciting place to work.

my invitation
my invitation

Once you reach long service status (10 years+) you join the illustrious 10 Year Dinner Club which holds the honour of yearly dining with fellow long service colleagues and the senior execs at a fancy schmancy restaurant. As with all most ICT organisations, alcohol is always flowing in excess and it’s a privilege to dine at one of Sydney’s top restaurants; the 3 hat awarded est. 

121201323566There were a little over 80 people (partners included) at the Sydney dinner club which included colleagues from our Canberra office and we mingled & chatted for about an hour with champagne and canapes (freshly shucked Sydney rock oysters & lobster salad spoons), before we sat down to listen to a short speech from our CEO.

entrees
entrees

Left: I ordered the Italian buffalo mozzarella, heirloom tomatoes, tarragon, sumac vinaigrette
Centre: Moreton bay bug, wombok, coconut, giner, chilli, kaffir lime, coriander
Right: salad of spanner crab, avocado, fresh corn, lime, gem lettuce, mint

main courses
main courses

Top: glazed beef cheek, caramelized onion, shaved cucumber, grilled leeks, celtuce leaf puree
Centre: I ordered the steamed Murray cod fillet, shaved abalone, snow peas, black fungi, ginger-green shallot vinaigrette
Bottom: pan roasted lamb rib eye, smoked eggplant, baby onions, lemon olive oil

dessert
dessert

Left: toasted almond bavarois, coffee biscuit sponge, peach jelly, buttermilk sorbet
Top Right: valrhona chololate arlette, apricots, tarragon, apricot granita
Bottom Right: petit fours

121201323552Colleagues Amy & Robin, Juan-Carlos & Pete, Jay & I

We had a super fun night catching up about work, family, wedding plans, new babies, holidays & all sorts of tipsy chatter. Til next year!

ellenix lennox head | cafe review

Lennox Head is exactly what I imagined Byron Bay to be like; a sweet little beach-side town with surfy shops, cute homewares & trinket stores and funky little cafes situated along the beautiful Pacific ocean.

While Byron is much more developed; a buzzy but relaxed alternative-lifestyle hub for Northern NSW, Lennox Head is just as I imagined.

Lennox Head Main Street
Lennox Head Main Street
Lennox Head main beach
Lennox Head main beach

On our Summer holiday away with The Jacksons we discovered the sleepy little town of Lennox had some amazing cafes! We actually drove the 20 minutes south from Byron to eat at Ellenix Cafe twice! Here’s a sample of the brekkie offerings…

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20130102_095525 probably the best coffee we had while we were out of our caffine safe zone (Sydney!)

blueberry pancakes with icecream & maple syrup
blueberry pancakes with icecream & maple syrup

It’s always a challenge for me to snap a picture of E’s food before he smashes it! Huzzah! Don’t the blueberry pancakes look delicious!?!

Turkish pide with avocado, bacon & fried egg
Turkish pide with avocado, bacon & fried egg

I’m so proud of Jay!
He orders something different from the standard “big breakfast”. Turkish pide stuffed with spinach & cheese served with a side of avocado & bacon and topped with a fried egg.

scrambled eggs with haloumi & avocado
scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, haloumi & avocado

Neen declares her scrambled eggs as the best she’s ever eaten.
Who are we to argue! Delicious textures with the chewy grilled haloumi and chilled smoked salmon and the peppery crunch of fresh rocket.

poached eggs with bacon, avocado & roast tomato on sourdough
poached eggs with bacon, avocado, spinach & roast tomato on sourdough

You know what makes me insanely giggly happy?
Cutting into a perfectly gooey poached egg that oozes all over your plate!
Breakfast perfection!

mango frappe
mango frappe

What summer cafe outing is complete without a bright summery mango frappe!

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If you’re ever in the area; GO!

Ellenix | Ballina St, Lennox Head NSW 2478

blue plate bar + grill | restaurant review

French & Mexican are my favourite cuisines closely contested in third place by Southern American style food.

While Sydney has an abundance of French and Mexican, finding the Americano cuisine is rare. I’ve been to Blue Plate Bar + Grill a couple of times over the last couple of years but since it had been a while from my last hit of pumpkin pie I certainly made up for it recently; visiting Blue Plate twice on the same weekend!

Blue Plate Bar & Grill
Blue Plate Bar & Grill

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Gracie & Melly
Friday night – Gracie & Melly

Friday night I took my BFF Gracie for a reunion dinner. She’s lived in the States a few times and misses the food, so we went, drank cocktails followed by more cocktails in pitchers (frozen margaritas!!!!) and ate Buffalo Wings (cue Gracie reunion!), Corn Bread & Crab Cakes. We drank so much we couldn’t fit in dessert!

Jay & Melly
Saturday night – Jay & Melly

Saturday night Jay & I met some friends for a birthday dinner and since I was designated driver I made sure I had enough room for dessert!

Buffalo Wings & Sam Adams Lager
Buffalo Wings & Sam Adams Lager

We share Buffalo wings for a Starter and have a couple of Sam Adams brews.  The chicken is a perfect combo of crispy chicken smothered in special hot sauce served with blue cheese dressing and a few carrot & celery sticks so you can appease your guilt. I could eat a trough of these! I like the Sam Adams; it’s a good full lager flavour with a hint of honey sweetness.

BBQ Ribs, fries & blackened corn
BBQ Ribs, fries & blackened corn

Jay orders the BBQ ribs with a side of fries and blackened corn. He says the ribs are super tender & juicy but that the sauce is a little too tomato-y. The blackened corn is sweet with a hint of chargrilled smokiness.

Fish tacos with slaw
Fish tacos with slaw

I order the fish tacos with fries and slaw. OMG. These are delicious! WHy haven’t I ever had fish tacos before??? They are amazeballs! I want to lick the lime & coriander aoli off the plate (but I don’t)!

Pumpkin pie with icecream
Pumpkin pie with icecream

The pumpkin pie is out of this world. The additional crust is a little redundant but the pie is silky smooth and deliciously pumpkin-cinnamon goodness with a little dollop of vanilla ice-cream. We are in heaven.

Seriously, how do those Southern Belles stay so slim???? If I had this food to eat every day I wouldn’t fit through the door!

The wait staff and nice and friendly and the majority are ex-pat Americans, so you really can sit back, gorge yourself and image you’re in Alabama!

Blue Plate Bar + Grill
24 Young St, Neutral Bay NSW 2089
02 9953 2942
[website]

moo gourmet burgers | restaurant review

Jay’s pick for October Dinner Club with the Jacksons was a last minute call, chosen for it’s location close to the city and sticking with our years theme of ‘cheap & cheerful‘!

Moo Gourmet Burgers on King St Newtown is a fun, casual, quirky cafe that servers burgers, sides & a couple of desserts. It’s also licensed so you can order beers, the odd cocktail & wine.

They have 19 burgers! That’s right – nineteen! Plus they cater for vegetarians and even have a mini-moo menu for kids.

Moo couch
Moo interior
Moo courtyard

[all pics above via]

We all meet after work and sit ourselves in a big communal table. You order at the bar and drink our beers while we wait for our orders to arrive.

Jay & I both order the Big Moo burger although I have mine with no egg.

Big Moo
Big Moo (no egg)

The burgers are GIGANTIC! And believe it or not it’s only half the size of the Deluxe Moo! The perfect burger tower is filled with 100% Aussie Angus beef pattie that is as round as the bun, cheddar cheese, free range bacon, free range egg (for Jay), pineapple, beetroot, tomato, mixed lettuce leaf, home-made mayo & tomato relish. The bun is rustic style with no sweetness. The burger tastes and looks like a really good home-made burger. It’s awesome!

Ian orders the Classic Cheese Burger which has the Angus beef pattie, cheddar cheese, tomato, mixed lettuce leaf, home-made mayo & tomato relish.

Classic Cheese Burger

Janine goes for the chicken option and orders the Chicken, Avocado & Bacon Burger which comes filled with grilled free-range chicken breast, avocado puree, free-range bacon, mixed lettuce leaf & home-made mayo.

Chicken, Avocado & Bacon Burger

We share a couple orders of Cheesy Bacon Chips & Sweet Potato Fries which could stop your heart simply by looking at them!

Cheesy Bacon Chips
Sweet Potato Fries

We sit, digest & catch-up for a while before ordering dessert to share; a Moo Split which is a tempting boat of banana, icecream, chocolate syrup, crushed nuts, whipped cream, smashed Crunchie & Snickers with a cherry on top. We are in diabetic heaven!

So as a true burger lover I can, with 100% conviction, say that this Moo burger is better than Grill’d!

If you want to try it out here’s the details:

Moo Gourmet Burgers
232 King St, Newtown NSW 2042 | 
http://www.moogourmetburgers.com.au