Advertisements

Archive for the Australia Category

Margaret River – day trips to Eagle Bay and Bunkers Bay

Posted in Australia, Bunkers Bay, Eagle Bay, Margaret River, Western Australia with tags , on January 17, 2020 by gannet39

From Dunsborough I cycled to a couple of stunning beaches in the north east of the peninsula. The furthest and most isolated was beautiful Bunkers Bay.

Video here.

From here I cycled to Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse at the very northern tip of the peninsula but I lost my photos from that, sorry.

My map here.

I can also recommend the long beach at Eagle Bay. It’s busier as it’s easier to get too but still really lovely. Both these beaches have a lot of shallows so there’s no need to worry about sharks!

They could also be hiked as part of the Cape to Cape track.

Inland from Eagle Bay are two well known places to eat and drink…

Wise Wine (High Intermediate B+), 237 Eagle Bay Rd, www.wisewine.com.au

The entrance to the Wise Wine vineyard is immmediately over the road from the Eagle Bay Brewery below, so you get to choose between beer and wine. The food is much better at Wise though, although not as good as other wineries I visited.

Their boast is that they are the only vineyard whose vines reach as far as the sea. Although I couldn’t quite see that this was actually true with my own eyes, the view from their terrace was still pretty good.

I started off with a round of white wine tastings at the cellar door and concluded that their Pino Grigio was the one for me (B+) despite the A$48 asking price in the restaurant (a separate business apparently).

The Swordfish began things well (B+) but was also a bit pricey at A$44.

I wasn’t that hungry so I went straight to the Australian cheeses which were the best I had on the trip. The Chevre and the Brie both scored A. The service was average but everything else was good so I left happy.

Eagle Bay Brewing Co (Intermediate C), 236 Eagle Bay Rd, www.eaglebaybrewing.com.au

This is the place to come on a hot day when you really need to slake a thirst. It was in the low 30s when I cycled up the hill from Dunsborough. The greeter was pretty gobsmacked to see me as it seems nobody in their right minds would normally cycle up here in the heat!

I was spitting nails so I downed a pint of their excellent Pale Ale (A) in a matter of minutes. I followed up with a tasting paddle of all their beers but none of them could match the PA as far as I was concerned.

A friend tells me that beer was exactly what my body needed after all that exertion, in order to balance my electrolytes.

The dining room is very big, they must be able to cater for a couple of hundred customers at once. The view is okay but not all that imho. Video here.

Despite positive reviews from various sources, I didn’t rate the food here at all. The grilled Barrimundi dumped on my table was passable in flavour (B) but the oily salad it came with wasn’t great (C).

I had to send the following Korean Chicken Wings back they were so bad (D).

And the Marinaded Octopus wasn’t much better (C-). The Iced Chocolate for dessert saved things a bit (B+).

Service was variable but generally okay. A good place to drink Pale Ale but I wouldn’t go back for the food.

So stick to the wineries! Heading west next…

Advertisements

Margaret River – holing up in Dunsborough

Posted in Australia, Dunsborough, Margaret River, Western Australia with tags , , , , on January 15, 2020 by gannet39

When I first came on this trip to Western Australia, I had plans to head up north to Shark Bay to see the dugongs and stromatolites, but I was told it was the wrong time of year (January) as the heat would be unbearable. It’s also a trip that would require several days and a lot of driving, so I decided to leave it for another time and head south to Margaret River instead.

The river has given its name to a town and surrounding tourism region that’s three hours’ drive from Perth. The area is famous for being one of Australia’s best wine regions. I spent a night in an AirBnb just outside the town of Margaret River (see later post) but first I spent seven nights in Dunsborough, a coastal town in the north east of the region. My map of the Margaret River region is here.

Dunsborough is nice enough but not particularly exciting, however it’s an excellent jump off point for visiting the peninsula that constitutes the northern part of the Margaret River region.

It does have its own beach which is nice enough…

…but not as nice as Meelup Beach on the edge of town. Video here.

The Meelup to Castle Rock walk starts near the beach.

It takes you through a pristine nature reserve with some scenic coastal views along the way. Video here.

My planned daily routine was to get up early and cycle to a new beach, and then visit a winery for a long lunch and a gentle cycle home later when it wasn’t so hot (see coming posts).

So my first stop was usually for an early breakfast here…

The Cure (Elementary B), 1/20 Faure Ln, Dunsborough WA 6281 www.thecurecoffee.com.au

This drive through café in a quirky building was a couple of streets away from my AirBnB. They have a small terrace outside so it’s a nice place to start the day.

They do good coffee and a great smoked salmon bagel (B+).

For a luxurious lunch the best place in town is…

Palmer’s Winery (Advanced A), 1271 Caves Rd, www.palmerwines.com.au

I came here on a very hot day as it was close to Dunsborough beach. It was recommended by my AirBnB hosts but I wasn’t expecting it to be as good as it was.

The Albany Rock Oysters were the best ones I had on the whole trip (A+), and I’d had oysters at least ten times in the five weeks I was in Oz.

Always up for the local specialities, I tried the Manjiup Marron (local freshwater crayfish) with Seared Asparagus, Potato & Green Onion Salad, Garlic Butter & Fried Capers. Butterflied for easy eating, it had plenty of meat to it but was slightly disappointing in terms of flavour (B).

However their in-house Semillon was the perfect match for the seafood (B+).

The service from my adorable waitress Julie was also the best I had during the whole trip, which is saying something given the high standards I generally encountered in and around Perth.

The Coconut Pannacotta with Mango, Strawberry & ‘Honeycomb’ was fantastic too (A). I want to have a go at making this.

I followed up with an Affogato. I was unsure what sweet wine to have with this so Julie gave me a taster of their Pedro Ximenez (B), an Andalucian favourite of mine, and a port-like wine also of their own making (B+). I went with the latter (B+).

After paying the bill and leaving a handsome tip for Julie (tipping is not required in Oz, unless they really deserve it, which is maybe why the service is generally so good), I followed her directions and stumbled through the rows of display vines to their cellar door…

…to try a few of their range of reds, courtesy (?) of the taciturn cellar guardian.

They also process the grapes of a nearby vineyard under the name of Purebred which impressed me too. I left with a bottle of 2014 Purebred Malbec (€39) and one of the Port from Palmer’s private collection (€25) that I’d had with the Affogato. Fortunately home was only a short cycle ride after this!

I liked Palmers wines so much that I came back a second time with Karen and went through the whites, finally purchasing a mixed box of six which sustained us for the following week. They were the 2016 Palmer SB, the 2014 Palmer Semillon, the 2015 Purebred Chardonnay MW, the 2015 Purebred Chardonnay B.D. and the only red; the 2014 Purebred Malbec MW again. Total cost A$157.

The old boy was a bit more friendly this time as I was a returnee. I learned from him that Palmers wines are not easily purchasable as there’s not much money in involving middle men, so you have to visit to get their good stuff. It’s a must in my book, do go. You can recognise the turn off for the cellar door by this old sports car parked on the grass verge by the main road.

There are a few other places in the centre of town that are okay for everyday eating and drinking.

The Dunsborough (Intermediate B), 536 Naturaliste Terrace, Dunsborough WA 6281 www.thedunsborough.com.au

The big local pub, popular with families. Big terrace outside.

Occy’s (Low Intermediate B), 12/34 Dunn Bay Road, www.occys.com.au

A very popular wine bar that sells food. I can recommend the fried squid (B+).

Oh Delhi (Low Intermediate B+), 9/34 Dunn Bay Road, ohdelhi.com.au

Good Indian food. I enjoyed the Lamb Chops, Tawa Veg Curry, Raita and Butter Naan (all B+).

Little Saigon (Low Intermediate C+), Shop Seven/34 Dunn Bay Road, www.littlesaigondunsborough.com

I had a great Beef Pho for lunch but I wasn’t impressed by the Fresh Rolls, Chicken Skewers and Barrimundi Fillet I had in the evening (all C).

So now I had a base camp, I could do a few day trips…

Perth – Eating and Drinking at Swanbourne Beach

Posted in Australia, Perth, Swanbourne, Western Australia with tags on January 14, 2020 by gannet39

Swanbourne is the next beach up from Cottesloe to the north. It’s a continuation of the same beach but as it’s at the far northern end which is relatively isolated and windy, so the only people you’ll meet here are kite surfers or naturists and gay men posing on top of sand dunes in the buff!

My reason for coming here though was this great beach restaurant…

The Shorehouse (High Intermediate A), 278 Marine Parade, www.shorehouse.com.au

The Shorehouse has a One Hat rating from the 2018 Good Food Guide. I love the terrace out front which has a great view of the sea and the sunsets although it can get a bit cold later in the evening, so you should bring warm coverings and some mosquito spray.

I enjoyed it so much I came twice, once for lunch and the second time to celebrate my brother’s birthday meal.

On both visits I kicked off with a G&T of which there are six on the menu to choose from. The Bangkok Hilton did it for me (B+) but the Sipsmith Cucumber less so (B-).

I was starving on my first visit so I rattled through four courses, beginning with some decent, very knobbly oysters (B).

The Evoi Sauvignon Blanc went well with them (B).

The following Watermelon Salad with Seared Nectrines, Heirloom Tomatoes, Mozzarella and Basil with Organic Honey absolutely blew me away (A+). Must have a bash at this at home.

For the pasta course the Linguine with Blue Crab and Prawns was also very good (B+).

And I couldn’t fault the final Panna Cotta (A).

Six of us sat down for Dan’s birthday a week later and I was too busy talking to score or take pictures of the food but I enjoyed the Burrata Salad (B+), even though it wasn’t my idea of burrata, it was just very fresh mozzarella with no cream inside.

Next the Tiger Prawns, cooked on a Josper charcoal grill, were good but I’ve had better (B).

Finally the cheesecake was okay except that it was lacking a base which is usually the most tasty part (B).

To drink, the Silkman Semillon was okay but lacked fragrance (C+) despite being from a region known for this aromatic grape. The Cullen SBS was better (B+) and I enjoyed the sweet Juniper Estate (B) with dessert.

Everyone else seemed to enjoy their food so I have no hesitation in recommending The Shorehouse as one of my favourite spots in Perth.

Perth – Eating and Drinking at Cottesloe Beach

Posted in Australia, Cottesloe, Perth, Western Australia with tags , , , , on January 13, 2020 by gannet39

Cottlesloe Beach is one of the most popular and beautiful beaches in Perth. Video here.

It’s well located between Perth and Fremantle. My map here.

My brother and I rented an AirBnB in neighbouring Mosman Park (see previous post) just so we could come here every day. As you can see from the stunning houses along Marine Parade, it must be very expensive to stay in the area unless you have the wherewithal.

Most days we would do the twenty minute walk to start the day with brunch on the terrace at this lovely Art Deco cafe…

John Street Café (Intermediate A), 37 John Street, www.johnstreetcafe.com.au

As well as their traditional ‘John’s Lot’ fry up (A)…

…I can recommend the San Daniele prosciutto (preferable to Parma for me) with rocket, goat’s curd, poached eggs, ciabatta and caramelised fig (A)…

…and the Bruschetta with smashed avocado, tomato medley, Spanish onions, basil, garlic and a field mushroom (B+).

For lunch you could come here…

Indiana Tearooms (Intermediate B), 99 Marine Parade, www.indiana.com.au

The tearooms are in the iconic Art Deco building that overlooks the most popular part of Cottesloe beach.

It’s a good spot to sit and watch the goings on.

However I didn’t rate their oysters (C-) which I thought were very metallic and the least favourite of the many I tried in Perth. The bar seems a bit lacking too.

I’d still go again though, once I’ve worked through the menu at this place over the road…

Il Lido (High Intermediate B+), 88 Marine Parade, illido.com.au

Usually I’d think twice about eating Italian food outside of Italy, unless I cook it myself, but I’d heard good things about Il Lido so I gave it a shot.

I liked it so much I came twice; once as a lone diner for lunch and again with my brother for dinner. The food is very good but the wine is overpriced I think.

On my first visit I begain with the Arancini of the day which were great (B+).

The menu suggested a wine match of imported Inama Soave (B) without saying how much it would cost. I nearly choked when the bill came and it was A$17! (About £10).

The Fremantle Octopus with chickpeas, garlic, shallots, cherry tomatoes and lemon on bruschetta was a winner as well (B+).

With a glass of Bisleri Chinotto (a fizzy bitter orange drink) and a macchiato coffee, the bill was just shy of A$70, so a bit excessive to my mind.

With my brother on another night I had the excellent Polpetti meatballs (A)…

…and the less impressive Mozzarella (B) which came with a char-grilled tomato (C).

We shared the Lasagne which was great (A)…

…and finished with the Chocolate Truffle (B+) which was more reasonably priced at €5.

The Whicher Ridge ‘Elevation’ Cab Sauv was okay (B).

One thing I really like about this place was the soundtrack which had obviously been chosen by a person with great musical knowledge. There’s not many restaurants where you’ll hear Fela Kuti’s ‘Water Got No Enemy’.

Amberjacks (Elementary B), 28/94 Marine Parade, amberjacks.com.au

This is a decent fish and chip shop on the seafront for when you’re trying to reign in your budget, if you consider paying £10 ‘reigning it in’. The chip portions are huge (go small) but they’re a bit stingy with the fish portions.

I regretted getting the grilled mackerel (C) as my brother’s battered hake was much better (B). The only chippy I’ve been to where the vinegar comes in a spray gun!

Boatshed, 40 Jarrad St, www.boatshedmarket.com.au

A very posh deli off the Stirling Highway on the way to the beach. It’s nice to go and have a drool even if you don’t intend to buy any of it. There are often lots of free samples to graze on.

Wish I had the money to live in Cottesloe!

Off to Swanbourne now, the next beach up to the north…

Perth – chilling in Mosman Park

Posted in Australia, Mosman Park, Perth, Western Australia with tags , , , , on January 12, 2020 by gannet39

Mosman Park is a fairly affluent residential area that’s well positioned for getting into central Perth to the north (45 mins by bus, less by train) and Freo to the south (20 mins on the bus).

My brother and I rented an AirBnB here for about £50 a night. Our main reason for staying in the area was to go to nearby Cottesloe beach (see next post) which was just 20 mins walk due west.

My map here.

Foodwise there are a few decent places…

Good Things (Intermediate B+), 28 Wellington Street, goodthingscafe.com.au

A decent breakfast spot. I liked the ‘The Hulk’; smashed advocado with peas, mint, pickled red onion, seeds, sesame, whipped feta and chili on toast (B+). The smoothies are great too (A).

Nasi Lemak Korner (Intermediate B), 626 Stirling Highway, www.nasilemakkorner.com

A decent Malaysian place. The mixed starter plate was huge, and pretty good (B).

The Beef Rendang is their star dish by all accounts. We really enjoyed it (B+) with my bro going as far as to say that it was better than the ones he’d recently had in Indonesia (which has a lot of culinary crossover with Malaysia).

However I wasn’t too impressed by the Rotis which were a bit greasy (C+).

Tsunami (Intermediate B), 18 Glyde Street, www.tsunamisushi.com.au

Opened by one of the chefs from Nobu, the most famous Japanese restaurant in Perth. The Sukiyaki was alright (B-) as were the Lamb Ribs (B) and the voyager Sauvignon Blanc (B).

One Sunday we didn’t have a lot to do so we went to the Chidley Reserve and had a pleasant walk next to the Swan River.

You’re surrounded by nature all along the path. Amazing to think this is all reclaimed industrial land.

After our walk we went on a tour of the Leighton Battery www.artillerywa.org.au in Mosman Park.

It’s a WW2 gun instillation which was built to resist attack from the Japanese.

It has since been preserved and renovated by volunteers. It’s quite atmospheric wandering the underground tunnels and imagining what it must have been like to serve there.

The battery is only open to the public on Sundays.

So nothing terribly exciting about Mosman Park but it is well placed for Cottesloe, more of which next.

Perth – a trip to Rottnest island

Posted in Australia, Rottnest Island, Western Australia with tags , , , on January 11, 2020 by gannet39

You can’t really go to Perth and not visit Rottnest Island www.rottnestisland.com. This beautiful craggy island of rocks and white sand beaches is a protected nature reserve and all round national treasure.

It’s most famous inhabitants are the quokkas, a small marsupial that doesn’t exist anywhere else. A passing Dutch sea captain thought they were large rats, hence the name of the island.

After a hearty shakshuka breakfast at Kazoomie’s (see previous post) we boarded the ferry to “Rotto”. It takes about 25 minutes from Fremantle, or 90 minutes from Perth.

I was with my brother Dan and our friend Nicky who were right at home.

You can hire snorkelling gear from the place next to Kazoomie’s, or on the island. You can also rent bikes on the island, or catch the Island Explorer bus that circulates the island at regular intervals. We had a set of snorkelling gear with us and got tickets for the bus.

There are many beaches you could go to, but on our friend Karen’s recommendation we went to Little Salmon Bay.

It’s one of the smaller beaches so less crowded. The water was beautiful and clear. Videos here and a bit farther up the coast here.

After a couple of hours there we got a bus to the westernmost tip of the island to the Cape Vlamingh Viewing Platform. We got some good views over the water from there. Video here.

And from there it was a short walk to another viewing platform at West End. Video here.

Then another short hop on the bus to the Cathedral Rocks Viewing Platform to see the New Zealand fur seals, another highlight of the trip.

Looks like we got a bit closer than we were supposed to but we were on a small ledge safely above them. They can be a bit aggressive if you approach them apparently.

Hard to see in these pics but the seals were swimming on the spot with one flipper raised vertically out of the water, but you can see it in this video I took. The practice is known as sailing. I looked it up later and it seems that it helps them to regulate their body temperature in both hot and cold conditions.

Then it was back on the Island Explorer to Thompson Bay, where we’d first come ashore. By now we were feeling the need to get fed and watered. There are a couple of places you could eat but this place seemed the obvious choice…

Hotel Rottnest (Intermediate B), 1 Bedford Ave, Rottnest Island, www.hotelrottnest.com.au

This is a classic Aussie pub with a big outdoor terrace looking out over the bay. We hunkered down and got the sherberts in while we waited for our ferry home.

The sea air had given me quite an appetite and I had two rounds of oysters as well as a burger and chips and a couple of jugs of Little Creatures pale ale. The food was okay but nothing special, just decent local pub grub (B/C+).

Occasionally we felt something brush against our legs under the table.

It was the quokkas on the lookout for crumbs, completely unphased by the busy pub terrace and loud music. Video here.

Peter the Peacock was also on the lookout for any leftover tidbits that we weren’t keeping an eye on.

This was a truly special day, a wonderful experience that I’d urge anyone to have. I’ll be back at the first opportunity.

Fremantle – food & drink in the centre

Posted in Australia, Fremantle, West Fremantle, Western Australia with tags , , , , , , , on January 10, 2020 by gannet39

West Fremantle is the city centre, the location of the original Swan River settlement. See separate posts for North Fremantle food and art and architecture. Here’s my Google map here.

Fremantle has some fantastic places to eat, these are my favourites:

Kazoomie’s(High Elementary A), E Shed Markets, E2 Peter Hughes Dr, www.nimrodkazoom.com

Located right next to the ferry quay, this is the perfect place to fuel up before heading to Rottnest Island (see next post).

Kazoomie’s specialise in North African and Spanish food but the star of the show is the Shakshuka; a traditional Mediterranean breakfast made with eggs cooked in a spicy tomato sauce containing chili, garlic, cumin and nutmeg.

They have a few choices but I loved the Lamb Red Shakshuka made with Kadaif, thinly sliced filo noodles and pita on the side. This dish has won numerous local awards including ‘Best Breakfast in Perth 2016’.

The Green Shakshuka with is a winner too. The eggs are poached with turmeric and garlic herb buttered spinach. There’s marinated eggplant and cows feta with the pita.

Shakshukas are very popular in Israel I later discovered which makes sense as chef owner Nimrod Kazoom is of Jewish origin. Here’s fellow Israeli, Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipe.

Moore & Moore Cafe (Intermediate A), W D Moore & Co Warehouse, Building 46/42 Henry St, www.mooreandmoorecafe.com

Moore & Moore is a very laid back breakfast spot. I went three times because I liked it so much. There’s lots of shaded seating out in the back yard.

I can recommend The Avocado; avocado with fresh cherry tomatoes, goats cheese, organic tomato pesto, five seed rye and herb salad. Simple but very effective (A).

I also liked their Pulled Beef Burger; grass-fed organic beef tossed in aioli and served with pickled daikon, caramelised horse radish and onion (B+).

It’s a contemporary art gallery as well as a café. This amazing photo was on display when I went.

Bread in Common (High Intermediate A), 43 Pakenham St, www.breadincommon.com.au

Possibly the best place to eat in the centre of Fremantle, certainly in terms of its decor. I didn’t score all the dishes highly but there were many that I did.

I came twice; once by myself for lunch and again with my brother in the evening.

For lunch I had the Oysters which were decent (B+)…

…followed by the Barrimundi (a popular local white fish) in a tomato and olive sauce which I really enjoyed (B+).

The Vermentino, a favourite wine when I was in Sardinia and Genoa, was a bit of a flavourless disappointment sadly (C+).

Then to finish a flight of cheeses including Australian Cambray Ashover and Cambray Gouda, both from Nannup in the south west. Also a Gorgonzola from Lombardy in Italy.

This session wasn’t cheap at A$134 for one but the second time Dan and I only spent A$172 between us.

We kicked off with a bowl of olives (B+) and some of their own bread (Rye, Olive Ciabatta, Sourdough and Black Brea) which although baked on the premises, I really wasn’t impressed by (C).

We also shared a plate of San Daniele, my favourite Italian cured ham (A).

Dan had the excellent Beef Brisket (A)…

and I had Kangaroo once more, although it wasn’t quite as good as the one I’d had at Bib & Tucker (B).

We had the cheeses again to finish. The Frankland Shiraz went well with all this (B) but it was a bit pricey at A$65 for what it was.

So not cheap but definitely a good spot to check out.

Little Creatures Brewery (Intermediate B+), 42 Mews Rd, www.littlecreatures.com.au

As luck would have it, the brewery for my favourite Australian beer is located in Perth.

It’s an impressive space that has been converted to be a huge bar and restaurant. Not tried the food but I’m told that it’s okay.

I came a couple of times for a cooling pint. Temperatures were in the mid thirties when I was there.

You can sit outside and look out over the harbour as well. The boat garage is right next door.

The ferris wheel over the road has good views too I believe.

Manuka Woodfire Kitchen (Intermediate B+), 134 High St, www.manukawoodfire.com.au

I’d heard good things about this place from a staff member at Propeller so I decided to eat here with my bro on our last night in Perth.

We had the set menu for A$110 which was good but not amazing.

Proceedings commenced with a bowl of hot olives of various kinds (B+).

A bottle of Snake & Herring Riesling (B-) and a Negroni (B) added another A$75 to the total.

Char-grilled Honey Bugs which are a kind of slipper lobster I understand.

They taste a lot better than they look!

A good place, I’d go again.

And some stuff for the shopping basket…

The Fremantle Markets www.fremantlemarkets.com.au, located in a beautiful heritage building on the corner of South Terrace and Henderson Street, are definitely worth a visit.

Especially for this stall…

The Honeycake Shop (Elementary A), Fremantle Markets, 40/74 South Terrace, www.thehoneycake.com

I’d never come across honeycake before I had it here and as I’m a big honey fan, it totally blew my mind (A+). The prep must take forever but the results are amazing.

I believe it’s from Russia originally where it’s known as Medevik.

And elsewhere…

Kakulas Sister (Intermediate A), 29/31 Market St, www.facebook.com/Kakulas-Sister

This is a great little deli which I’d definitely shop in all the time if I lived here. Instead I picked up two honeys to smuggle home; one from WA and the other from Tasmania. The latter ranks as my second most favourite honey ever! )The first was Bangladeshi mangrove forest honey which was freshly harvested for me and would take some beating). According to the helpful shop assistant, anything from Tassy is going to be good.

So heaps of great things to eat in Fremantle!

Off to Rottnest next…

Fremantle – street art

Posted in Australia, Fremantle, Western Australia with tags , , on January 9, 2020 by gannet39

Fremantle is a hotbed for street art and you’ll find it dotted about everywhere.

My favourite is Kraken by Sheffield artist Phlegm but then I’m biased.

But there are lots of other great paintings.

In the previous post you may have wondered about the stripes of yellow paint across some of the buildings.

It all makes sense when you stand on the balcony of the Roundhouse and look down the High Street to the town hall at the end.

The work is called called Arcs d’Ellipses by Felice Varini. Nice idea but it didn’t end very well unfortunately.

Many of the paintings above and statues below can be found around the Fishing Boat Harbour which is a pleasant area to walk around. The statues show the jobs locals did in the harbour, but theres also one of local boy Bon Scott, the singer from AC/DC, which many people like to get a photo with.

Not sure what this chap is about though…

Food and drink next!

Fremantle – architecture old and new

Posted in Australia, Fremantle, Western Australia with tags , on January 8, 2020 by gannet39

Fremantle, Perth’s port, has its own thing going on. Perched on the sea, on the southern bank of the Swan River, it’s a city to itself with its own personality. Just like its nickname, ‘Freo’ feels hipper and more chilled than central Perth. Some of this vibe is down to its architecture.

Unlike central Perth, lots of old colonial buildings remain, like these lovely old hotels.

As well as lots of other public buildings and offices.

Love these quirky residential numbers.

Not sure what you’d call this.

There are some nice bits of Deco.

Love the brutalist Port Authority building.

And this 80s looking fire station.

And there’s the odd modern shock squeezed in between the old stuff.

Perth’s oldest public building is here as well. The Roundhouse www.fremantleroundhouse.com.au is the original gaol that preceded Fremantle Prison. It overlooks the titchy Bathers Beach where I spent the occasional day sunning myself.

To get an idea of what the area looked like in 1831, look at this painting by Jane Eliza Currie called ‘Panorama of the Swan River Settlement’.

We also did a tour of Fremantle prison www.fremantleprison.com.au which was an interesting experience…

And then there’s the street art…

Fremantle – chilling by the river in Bicton

Posted in Australia, Bicton, Fremantle, Western Australia with tags on January 7, 2020 by gannet39

My friend Karen lives in Bicton, a residential neighbourhood a short bus ride from Fremantle’s centre.

In the evenings a lot of people go to relax at Bicton Baths, a chilled spot by the Swan river. You can swim if you like, or do as we did and have a little picnic.

We grabbed some fish & chips from Bicton Fish & Burger Grill at 39B Bristol Avenue.

I tried the special, Red Emperador, which was a new fish for me (B+). Other fish on the menu were hake, pink and goldband snapper, Spanish mackerel and shark! The chips were okay (C) but Karen reckons chippies are generally better back in the UK.

When it comes to picnicing, she has all the bases covered.

The best Australian fizz is from Tasmania apparently.

While I was in Bicton, we celebrated her eldest son Tom’s thirtieth birthday.

I helped out by making five big curries to feed the guests.

And not a singler turmeric stain on my white t-shirt, happy days! 🙂 x

Perth – Eating and Drinking in North Fremantle

Posted in Australia, Fremantle, North Fremantle, Western Australia with tags , , on January 6, 2020 by gannet39

After Northbridge I moved downstream to Freo (Fremantle), Perth’s port at the mouth of the Swan River. Going further north along the coastline (the beach is pretty much continuous) you come to Cottesloe and Mosman Park which I’ve given separate posts. West Fremantle, the centre of town, also has it’s own post. My map is here.

I’d come to visit my dear friend Karen, a Derbyshire ex-pat and longstanding Freo resident, and she chose this venue to celebrate our reunion…

She took me to this place on Leighton Beach in North Fremantle, the first of many beach restaurants in beautiful locations overlooking the Indian Ocean.

Bib and Tucker (High Intermediate B+), 18 Leighton Beach Boulevard, North Fremantle, www.bibandtucker.net.au

It’s owned by Eamon Sullivan, an Olympic medal winning swimmer, so quality should be assumed. Snag a spot on the terrace if you can, especially in winter as it’s a good place to watch the sunset apparently. It was a bright sunny day in January when we went though so I had to splash on the sun cream.

The celebrations were intense so I don’t remember much except that it was all very good! The ‘Perfect Day’ Sauvignon Blanc defintitely fitted the mood.

The food was lovely. This was the Charcoal-roasted West Australian Octopus with Fennel, Apple, Smoked Almonds and ‘Crispy Bits’. Roast octopi are one of the finer things in life I think (A).

And you can’t go wrong with Saltcod Fritters with Lemon Aioli (A).

I had my first taste of Kangaroo here. I can tell you it’s pretty good when served medium-rare (B+).

There can’t be many countries that eat their national symbols. The only other example I can think of is the Welsh and their leeks.

The only let down was the overfried Chorizo (C) but then I have been spoiled by my trips to Spain.

Some more of the excellent local white wine made everything right though.

On another evening, Karen took me to another place nearby…

Propeller (High Intermediate A), 222 Queen Victoria St, propellernorthfreo.com.au

This Lebanese restaurant is one of her favourite spots and rightly so as the food is excellent.

Again I don’t remember the details as I was too busy chatting. Also my pics didn’t come out well unfortunately as it was quite dark out on the terrace.

I do remember we began with a Negroni and a Turkish Delight Martini which Karen loved.

To eat we had the cheaper of the two tasting menus at A$45 a head, as opposed to A$65, to suit our appetites. It was more than enough.

We started with some Salt Roasted Sunflower and Pumpkin seeds and a mixed bowl of olives including Gordal, Kalamata, Manazanilla and Liguria varieties.

Then scallops with white bean puree and chilli followed by Freo Sardine with Broccolini, Pine Nuts and Currants.

Rather than get a whole bottle we had two glasses of Ocean Eight Pinot Gris with the earlier courses.

Next I think Cemen Lamb with Green Beans, Raisins and Yoghurt. Cemen is a paste of ground fenugreek seeds, Turkish red pepper and mashed garlic which is used to coat the meat.

We drank a couple of glasses of Spinifex Grenache with the meat.

With a glass of PX and another of Rockford Cane Cut to go with the desserts (nice but forgotten), the final bill was a very reasonable A$200.

Mrs Brown (Intermediate B+), 241 Queen Victoria St, mrsbrownbar.com.au

After eating at Propellor we piled over the road to this wine bar which is Karen’s after work local. It was a bit quiet as it was the night before Australia Day but it’s usually much busier. All the same, it was lovely to have a quiet nightcap watching the blossom falling from the tree in the back yard.

I tried my first and only Australian Brandy here, the Saint Agnes five-year-old VSOP.

It was drinkable but brandy is not one of the Aussies fortes unfortunately (C). They have plenty more to make up for it though.

Over to Bicton, Karen’s neighbourhood next!

Perth – eating and drinking in Northbridge

Posted in Australia, Northbridge, Perth, Western Australia with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 5, 2020 by gannet39

Northbridge is the coolest residential district in central Perth according to my research so I got an AirBnB there for a week. You’ll find some of the more avante garde restaurants here and it also serves as the city’s Asiatown with lots of Vietnamese, Japanese and Chinese businesses. There are lots of great boozers too. Here are some of my favourites, there are lots more on my map.

Lot Twenty (Intermediate B+), 198-206 William Street, www.lot20.co

This gastro pub is a nice little spot. I’d like to come back try some other things off the menu but I was brought here by the promise of great oysters from Jerry Fraser the (self-dubbed?) ‘King of Oysters’. He’s at different pubs on different days so check his movements on oystershucker.com.au. He’s a nice chap and very happy to chat.

It was to be my first experience of local oysters and I wanted to learn as much as I could from him. For $25 he gave me a mixed half dozen of Rocks (not the same as UK Rocks apparently) and Pacifics which, like all Aussie oysters are farmed.

The Rocks won hands down (B+) being more creamy and salty than the Pacifics, although they were pretty decent too (B).

I really wanted to try the local Angasi mud oysters but these are only available in the autumn apparently.

It was fun listening to Jerry talk about his time working in oyster bars in London. His personal opinion is that Scottish Lock Fyne oysters www.lochfyne.com are the best in the world which is something I need to test for myself.

Shadow Wine Bar (Intermediate B+), 214 William Street, shadowwinebar.com.au

This is a great place to try West Australian wines although with full priced servings of only 100ml, I could only justify one visit.

I had the Spagehettini with crab, tomatoes and the tiniest capers I’ve ever seen (B+).

The Woodlands Wilyabrup Valley Chardonnay was truly excellent (A) but I felt the pours were a bit stingy at $10 per 100ml glass. The total bill came to $54. Not cheap but I’d definitely go again.

Okay Vietnamese (Intermediate B+), 6/457 William Street

There are many Vietnamese restaurants in the neighbourhood but this is defintely a good one.

I enjoyed their raw beef Pho Tai soup (B+). Wish I’d had time to try the rest of the menu.

Ichiraku (Elementary B), 43 Monger Street, www.facebook.com/ramenichirakuperth

There are better ramen-ya bars in the CBD but this is the best in the neighbourhood. I had the ‘Signature Hakata Tonkotsu Ramen’ and a rack of five Gyoza dumplings (both B) for A$25.50.

I wouldn’t bother with Oceans (C) at 62 Roe Street. It’s fine at a pinch but their broth doesn’t cut it for me.

The Re Store (High Intermediate A), 72 Lake Street, www.facebook.com/therestore.northbridge

This big old deli is great for getting stuff to take home, especially wine. I’m sure the café is good too.

They have an even bigger and better branch at 231 Oxford Street in Leederville. m.facebook.com/restoreoxford

GOOD PUBS IN NORTHBRIDGE:

Brass Monkey Hotel (Intermediate A), William Street corner of James Street, www.thebrassmonkey.com.au

A nice old pub with lots of different bars with areas for playing pool, watching sports, sitting outside or being quiet. It’s centrally located on the city side of the neighbourhood.

The Brisbane Hotel (Intermediate A), 292 Beaufort Street, www.thebrisbanehotel.com.au

The spacious beer garden often features good house music DJs from abroad. Think this might be one to avoid though.

The Standard (Intermediate B+), 28 Roe Street, www.thestandardperth.com.au

Their terrace is a great place to watch the sun go down. Food looks good.

Picabar (Intermediate B+), 51 James Street, www.picabar.com.au

A popular drinking spot near the Cultural Centre where a lot of people can sit outside under a big tree.

Hyde Park on William Street is a nice place for a leafy walk. Lots of interesting birds and plants, and jacaranda in spring.

So lots to eat and drink, see and do in Northbridge! It’s such a great neighbourhood, wish I could have stayed longer.

Off to Freo next!

Perth – choice breakfast spots in the centre

Posted in Australia, Central Business District, Leederville, Northbridge, Perth, West Perth, Western Australia with tags , , , , , on January 4, 2020 by gannet39

I spent my first week in Perth staying in an AirBnb in Northbridge which is the most happening neighbourhood in the centre. Every morning I’d walk to a new breakfast spot. Aussie breakfast cafes rule and the ones within walking distance were no exception. Here are a few of my favourites…

The Little Bird Cafe (Intermediate A), 100 Lake St, Northbridge, m.facebook.com/thelittlebirdcafe

This was my local spot which I visited a few times. Nice staff, pleasant outdoor seating, good coffee, great food.

I adore their Acai Bowl with seasonal fruit, ‘coastal crunch’ granola and coconut flakes overlaying an acai, orange and blueberry smoothie (A+). Such a great way to start the day.

The Bird Benedict with bacon, poached eggs and hollandaise sauce on sourdough with fresh spinach was another good one (A).

The classic Brekky Brushcetta with fresh tomatoes, smashed lemon and mint avocado, bacon, poached egg and feta on sourdough can’t fail (A).

These were all around the $20 to $18 mark. If you’re staying in central Perth, my advice is to get a place near here!

Leederville, another central neighbourhood with a few good eateries and shops, is a thirty minute walk from Northbridge.

Sayers (Intermediate B+), 224 Carr Place, Leederville, www.sayersfood.com.au

I liked their Potato Rosti with poached eggs, bacon, onion jam and ‘lemon-scented’ wilted spinach (B+).

Their chocolate-banana bread with honey butter is also great for a bit of indulgence (B+).

While you’re in Leederville you should check out Restore at 231 Oxford Street m.facebook.com/ReStoreOxford. This deli is a treasure store of ingredients and wine. Dare say the cafe is good too.

West Perth is another central neighbourhood between Leederville and Northbridge…

West End Deli (Intermediate B+), 95 Carr St, West Perth, www.westenddeli.net.au

A nice neighbourhood spot. I had poached eggs with dukkah, smashed avocado with mint and peas, and seared kale. All very healthy and simple but totally delicioius (A).

Dukkah by the way is an Egyptian spice and nut mix that is used around the Arab middle east. It has really taken off in Australia due to immigration from the Lebanon and other Arab countries, and has been further popularised by cooking shows.

Wish I’d been here more than once to try the rest of the menu.

And in the CBD, a previously mentioned favourite…

Toastface Grillah (Elementary B+), on Grand Lane, a side alley off Wellington St near the corner with Barrack St, www.toastfacegrillah.com

Top marks for the name! They serve great cheese toasties and decent coffee. See my Perth CBD food post for more info.

Petition (Intermediate B), State Buildings, St Georges Terrace & Barrack St, petitionperth.com

A busy lawyers hangout in the CBD. I had their wonderful Poached Salmon, Smoked Egg Gribiche, Rocket and Ricotta Salata (B+).

I miss these breakfasts so much! They’re a major reason I to go to Australia!

Perth – great places to eat in the CBD

Posted in Australia, Central Business District, Perth, Western Australia with tags , , , , , , on January 3, 2020 by gannet39

There are heaps of places to eat in the CBD, from basic to high end. These are my favourites, all scoring high marks on my scale of A to D, and a couple to be wary of at the bottom (Cs). There’s a gem for every meal of the day so you could have a toastie for breakfast, ramen for lunch and a top notch Thai or Italian with great Aussie wines for your evening meal, it’s all there.

My map here.

Toastface Grillah (Elementary A), Wellington St & Barrack St, Perth, www.toastfacegrillah.com

I love this little place, for its name, attitude and grungy location down a back alley, and the coffee and toasties are pretty good too (A/B+).

I can recommend the ‘Ol’Faithful’; smoked ham, cheddar, sweet pickle relish on grain.

There are lots of other interesting combos with great names like the ‘Notorius B.A,G’; bacon, apple, gouda!

Nao Ramen (Intermediate A-), 191/580 Hay St, www.naojapaneserestaurant.com.au

I know my ramen, and this was the best ramen-ya of the four that I tried in Perth. The all-important broth is deep and rich (B+) and their cha-siu pork is some of the best I’ve ever tasted (A).

You can choose from four kinds each of flavoured broths and noodles. I had the Miso and I came back a second time and had their Spicy Miso too (both B+). Plain egg noodles every time for me.

Their Pork Gyoza are very dense which might be to some people’s taste but I like them to be just a little more delicate (B).

Hikaru Ramen (Elementary B+), 4b/50 St Georges Terrace, www.hikaru.com.au

Hikaru is another very good ramen place that’s worth trying, but it comes in second to Nao.

The Aviary (Intermediate B), Level 1/140 William St, www.theaviaryperth.com.au

This is a good spot if you’re looking for a beer terrace to escape the afternoon heat or watch the sunset. Slightly more expensive than other pubs I think but a good location.

Lalla Rookh (High Intermediate A), 32/77 St Georges Terrace, www.lallarookh.com.au

This atmospheric basement restaurant off Perth’s main drag was awarded One Hat by the 2018 Good Food Guide, so I felt had to try it and I was very glad I did.

It serves very authentic Italian food at not unreasonable prices and I also learned a lot about local food and wine from the accommodating staff.

I had the tasting menu; ‘Il Capo’ for A$68. With an additional wine matching the total came to a hefty €162. Not cheap, but it was good value for what I got.

The Beef, Stracciatella and Bottarga was a bit salty but still very good (A). The pic was blurred sorry.

I had this with the first of many good local wines; a Lowboi Riesling which was bone dry with very little nose (B+).

The Kingfish Crudo with pink peppercorns, grapefruit and thyme was nice (B).

I really liked the oaky Vasse Felix Chardonnay matched with it (B+).

I forgot to take a pic of the delicious Marinated Ox Tongue Marjoram and Lemon (B+), sorry.

The Blind Corner Field Blend Shiraz wasn’t bad (B).

Best of the food was the Paccheri Pasta with Smoked Pancetta, Ox Tongue and Pine Nuts which was absolutely killer (A+).

The Empirica Syrah with it was just okay (B).

Food-wise I also loved the Quail with Beetroot, Pistachio, Orange and Chevre (A).

Thankfully I had a good red with it, the Hay Shed Cabernet Sauvignon (B+).

For dessert just a canolo…

… and a glass of a local sweet liqueur called Talijancich Verdelho which was fantastic (A).

I liked it so much that I went back to their shop (entrance just around the corner on Sherwood Court) and bought a bottle for $40. Absolute nectar.

I was also treated to a shot of Limburners Honey Liqueur (A).

As a finale the waitress offered up the information that at a recent wine festival in Perth, all the wine spat out by the tasters was distilled and made into a spirit called ‘Kissing A Stranger’. I’m actually quite glad I missed out that one!

Long Chim (High Intermediate A-), corner of St Georges Terrace and Barrack, www.longchimperth.com

Long Chim, meaning ‘come try’, sells authentic Thai street cuisine. The food is very good, but it sure ain’t cheap, by UK let alone Bangkok standards. Chef owner David Thompson has managed to garner quite a reputation and it’s another One Hat winner in the 2018 Good Food Guide.

It’s located in the basement of the 19th century Treasury where the government records and archives were once stored.

There’s a nice outdoor area…

… featuring quirky décor and cartoonish street art.

The Mandarin & Lemongrass Negroni was an interesting twist on the classic (B+).

I was by myself and not particularly hungry, so I couldn’t justify splashing out. In the end I made the very unimaginative selection of Pad Thai, which was excellent (A) and made with a good variety of ingredients. I particularly loved the tiny chunks of tofu which I’d not had in Pad Thai before.

The Tirra Lirra white blend was nice (B).

I would go back to Long Chim if I was with a group. It’s very famous and popular so booking in the evenings is definitely recommended.

Wildflower on the roof of the same building is also very well reputed but I saved it for next time.

A couple of places I went to weren’t that great.

This well-known Vietnamese cafe was a let down…

Mama Tran (High Elementary C), 6/36-40 Milligan St, www.mamatran.com.au

Despite having a rep for being the best in town I thought their pre-packaged Banh Mi (pork sandwich) was tasteless. I’m sure their pho is fine. It’s cheap and very busy at lunchtimes, closed in the evening.
.
Another one to be wary of despite the great location on the waterfront…

Oyster Bar (Intermediate C), Level 1/&2 Geoffrey Bolton Av, Elizabeth Quay, www.oysterbar.com.au

Not particularly keen on this place even though oysters were half price on the night I went. I’ve had better oysters elsewhere (see my Northbridge posts). We sat on the top floor to catch the view but it got a bit windy. Service wasn’t great and the other food was mediocre.

However I would go again just for their Bloody Mary Oyster Shot which is a very fine concept indeed!

More good food in neighbouring Northbridge next!

Perth – Street Art in the CBD

Posted in Australia, Central Business District, Perth, Western Australia on January 2, 2020 by gannet39

Perth has a big reputation for street art and many local businesses have embraced the form to decorate their buildings, so you’ll see it everywhere. However the main hot spot is around Wolf Lane in the CBD, where I took most of these pictures on my visit in 2017. Two years late I know but hey, I’ve been busy 😀 My map with Wolf Lane on is here. I’m going to dedicate a seperate post to street art in Fremantle which has its own thing going on.

Click on the pics to expand.

Perth – Urban Architecture Old and New

Posted in Australia, Central Business District, Perth, Western Australia on January 1, 2020 by gannet39

In January 2018 I had a few weeks holiday in Western Australia. It was my second time in Oz (see my New South Wales posts) but my first time over this side of the country. Although I originally had plans to experience the natural beauty of the northern part of the state, I instead decided to leave it until my next visit and, except for a couple of weeks in the Margaret River wine region in the near south, keep things fairly urban. Seventy nine percent of the state’s population lives in Perth, the capital, and city boy that I am, this is where I most wanted to be.

You’ll find my state map here and my Perth map here.

One of the best places to get a view of Perth’s skyline is from Kings Park which has an elevated view over the city, video here.

Many people enjoy coming here around dusk to watch the sun go down. Video here.

Another good view of the CBD can be had down at Elizabeths Quay on the waterfront. Video here.

The quay is also very atmospheric at night. Video here.

The whole area was redeveloped in 2016 so it’s a good area to walk around whatever the time of day.

Perth was built with mining money. One of the highest towers belongs to mining behmoth Rio Tinto, coincidentally named after one of the rivers mentioned in my previous posts on Huelva in Spain. You’ll find a brief history here.

To be honest the skyscrapers don’t have much going for them and the Rio Tinto HQ is no exception.

Local architects are getting quite good at the smaller scale modern stuff though. The City of Perth Library and History Centre is a nice example of the contemporary timber style of modernist architecture.

If nothing else at least it’s a good place to cool down on a hot day!

My favourite building is just a short distance away at 27 St Georges Terrace. Council House is a beautiful (to me) brutalist monster by day…

…and is now an even lovelier glowing rainbow by night. What a great way to show off the design.

You get the full effect from the video here.

Another modern building I quite liked was the newly completed Children’s Hospital.

And there were a few other post-modern bits and pieces dotted around that caught my eye.

There’s the odd nice bit of Deco.

They are quite good at integrating old colonial era facades with modern buildings.

The entrance to the Cadogan Song School next to the Cathedral is another example.

Plenty of colonial buildings have been lovingly preserved alongside their modern counterparts.

So, lots of architerctural eye candy around Perth. Street art next…

Japanese French Fusion in Central Sydney

Posted in Australia, Central, New South Wales, Sydney with tags on March 12, 2015 by gannet39

It’s terrible I know but in four weeks of staying in Sydney, I was only lured out of Bondi once! And this was only because the place below promised to be very special…

Tetsuyas 005Tetsuya’s (Advanced A+), 529 Kent Street, www.tetsuyas.com

Although there are heaps of other places I wanted to go to, Tetsuya’s won out due to a recommendation from my foodie DJ friend Chris Duckenfield and a mention in Eat My Globe by fellow Yorkshireman Simon Majumdar, as well as being in lots of guides of course. Depending on who you believe, it’s in the top five, or top ten, or top fifty, restaurants in the world.

Tetsuya’s cuisine fuses Japanese seasonal sensibilities with French technique, a heady combination for a Japanophile foodie like me.

The only choice is to have the $220 ten-course tasting menu, to which I added the wine matching option (another $90 or so I think), reasoning that if you’re going to go the whole hog, then you really should do it properly. Thankfully it was all fantastic (A+).

Unfortunately I mislaid my notes but to the best of my memory, this is what I had:

Remember you can click on the photos for a better view.

Tetsuyas 006First off a preliminary Martini to gird the loins, stirred not shaken (A).

Tetsuyas 008After taking the edge off with some excellent bread and black truffle butter (A), I started with two Pacific oysters dressed with rice wine vinaigrette, ginger and chives (A+).

Tetsuyas 013Next,  ‘Savoury Custard with Avruga’, the latter being a caviar substitute made from herring but with no fish roe in it. Very tasty (A).

Tetsuyas 018This was followed by ‘Salad of the Sea’, a deconstructed nigiri with various kinds of sashimi. I think the fishes used were tuna, kingfish, bonito and trout belly. I think the fishes used were tuna, kingfish, bonito and trout belly which had been marinated or cured.

Tetsuyas 020The waiter matched the raw fish with a 2009 Riesling by Tunkalilla of Oregon (B+).

Tetsuyas 022After this, ‘Marinated New Zealand Scampi with Walnut Oil and Egg’, with a topping of creme fraiche. The egg yolk on a bed of seaweed added to the creamy texture of the scampi tails. Superb (A).

Tetsuyas 026For Simon Majumdar, Tetsuya’s signature dish ‘Confit of Petuna Ocean Trout With a Salad of Celery, Witlof, Apple and Unpasteurised Ocean Trout Roe’ is one of the best things he’s ever eaten.

It was very very good (A) but I’m not sure if I would confer the same honour upon it. By the way ‘Witlof’ is the Belgian name for chicory. The black coating is dried kombu seaweed, with a sprinkling of chives.

This came with a green salad on the side.

Tetsuyas 031Not sure what this fish with the beans is called sorry.

Tetsuyas 041With this a glass of the Tim Adams 2013 Pinot Gris (B+).

Tetsuyas 043Then came the ‘Tea Smoked Quail Breast with Parsnip & Calamari’, a fantastic fusion of disparate flavours (A).

Tetsuyas 047Next the ‘Grass-fed Fillet of Beef with Soy Braised Tendon and Wasabi Leaf’ was fantastic (A) made more so by the dollop of bone marrow crowning it.

Tetsuyas 050Then a trio of desserts, the first being looking like some Granita topped with Yoghurt Icecream (B).

Tetsuyas 053Can’t remember what the white blob is sorry.

With these I had a moscatel (not pictured) called MR by Telmo Rodriquez in Malaga (B+).

Tetsuyas 060You can’t go wrong with ‘Tetsuya’s Chocolate Cake’ (A+)

Tetsuyas 061A glass of syrupy Toro Albala Gran Reserva Pedro Ximenez matched it perfectly (A).

Tetsuyas 064And finally some Petits Fours to go with my coffee.

Of course the service was exemplary and I soon dispelled the air of formality by discovering a shared interest in Warp Records and Cabaret Voltaire (both from my home town) with my French waiter.

A couple at a table on the other side of the room let it be known they didn’t approve of me taking photos but then the man promptly fell asleep at the table! Table manners are different here obviously.

Tetsuyas 038The servers took it in their stride though and I was even given a tour of the kitchen. Another reason to blog is that you get better service!

Tetsuyas 040The decor is Japanese minimalist which avoids competing with the zen garden out of the window.

So was it worth all that money?  Everything was superb and I do think it’s good to experience this kind of place once in a while. For me it was a great way to end a very enjoyable stay in Sydney.

Better Bites in Bondi Junction

Posted in Australia, Bondi Junction, New South Wales, Sydney with tags , , , on March 12, 2015 by gannet39

here is a concentration of Japanese ramen shops and restaurants in Bondi Junction so I would leg it up there occasionally to get my ramen fix.
For those that don’t know, ramen is a Japanese noodle soup typically made with Chinese wheat noodles and cha-shu pork, seaweed, kamaboko fish cake and green onion, although my favourite version includes spicy Korean kimchi as well. A true fusion dish if ever there was one.

Tetsuyas 004

In Japan, each region has its own style of making the stock. In Kyushu for example they uses pork bone broth (tonkotsu) whereas in Hokkaido they add miso bean paste. I like a combination of both.

The noodle soup should be accompanied by a rack of gyoza; pan-fried pork mince dumplings, and ideally a chilled bottle of Sapporo Black Label.

Tetsuyas 003

I tried Cha-Shu Tonkotsu Ramen in three places. The best for me was Ichi Ban Boshi (A) at 171-173 Oxford Street www.ichibanboshi.com.au

The stock had a great flavor and the noodles were perfect (A) and I really enjoyed their gyoza (A). Both are pictured above.

Another good place is Mappen (B+) at 183-193 Oxford Street (entrance on Spring Street) www.mappen.com.au which has a canteen vibe.

I also went to Ramen Kan (B) at 3/33 Bronte Road where I got a good bowl of ramen (B+) but the gyoza were frozen in the middle! Not good (D) but it wouldn’t stop me going again.

Bondi Junction also has an excellent and very authentic Italian restaurant called Osteria Riva (B+) at 114 Bronte Road www.osteriariva.com.au which might be linked to La Piadina, my favourite place in Bondi (see previous post).

I had my favourite Italian cured ham, San Daniele (A) and some decent mozzarella to start (B).

Camera3 117

I don’t recall the pasta special but it was very good, as was the Scallopine di Vitello (B+) and Crema Catalana (B) to finish.

Such authenticity doesn’t come cheap (with wine it must have been about $80 or so) but it was so good I couldn’t stop! Much better than the Italian places down by the beach.

Bondi Beach – the Best Bites

Posted in Australia, Bondi Beach, New South Wales, Sydney with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 10, 2015 by gannet39

I ate in a lot of places in Bondi Beach over the four weeks I was there in January 2014 so I’ve organised the reviews into these categories: Brunch, Chippies, Vietnamese, Thai, Japanese, Indian, Italian/European, Modern Fusion, American, Middle Eastern, Ice Cream and Pubs.

Please see the previous post for other non-food stuff about Bondi Beach, and the following posts for Bondi Junction and central Sydney for more food.Here’s my Google map with all the places reviewed below and heaps of others all over Sydney that I didn’t get to go to.

BRUNCH:

When it comes to food, something the Aussies can’t be beaten on is the morning meal. There are heaps of cafes all over the shop and I’m sure you could go into any of them and have a good brekky. These were my favourites in order of preference:

La Piadina (Elementary A+), Bondi Beach, www.lapiadina.com.au, closed Monday.
This was my primero place to eat during my whole stay. It’s just a small place run by two young brothers from Romagna, the Italian region from which the Piadina flatbread hails from, and some of their Japanese friends.  The food is authentic and healthy, the coffee is the best in town and I enjoy the quirky touches, like the fact that their cups and glasses are never the same.

Camera3 112

I generally drank Flat Whites here but their Macchiato and Iced Mocha are also very good (B+).

Camera3 043

Flat whites are similar to cappuccino or a latte but have a velvety microfoam of milk made of smaller, finer bubbles. According to my barista friend Gavin, the credit for this improvement on an Italian classic should go to the Kiwis rather than the Aussies.

Over my stay I slowly worked through their whole piadina menu. The ones that stick in my head as being particularly good were the classic Tuna (tossed lemon juice), Mozzarella, Tomato & Rocket, or the spicy Nduga, Stracchino & Spanish Onion (all A), as well as the weekend special ’Rocco Siffredi’ (pictured) named after an Italian porn star and involving strachino mozzarella, organic egg frittata, cherry tomatoes, rocket and chilli oil  (A+).

Camera3 069

The occasional Negroni aperitif was downed here too in the company of my buddy Finn, Gavin’s sister.

Tetsuyas 054

You can also get bottles of Chinotto (the bitter orange used in Campari and other Italian amari) by San Pelligrino (my favourite fizzy pop company) from La Piadina’s deli next door,  one of a row of great food and drink businesses along this stretch of Glenayr Avenue.

Camera3 114

Bondi Massive (Intermediate A), 2/8 Campbell Parade, Bondi Beach

Excellent coffee and the best BLAT (bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich with avocado) that I had during my stay. All their egg dishes are good too, such as the Eggs Benedict in the pic.

Tetsuyas 016

Bondi Massive is immediately below Noah’s Backpackers hostel but the quality and the consequently slightly higher prices seem to attract a more genteel local clientele.

Sonoma Café (Advance A), 130 Campbell Parade (entrance on Gould St) www.sonoma.com.au

I heard about this place via Where Chef’s Eat, a world restaurant guide published by Aussies, which describes them as making ‘the best bread in the country’.

I’d go further and say the huge wedge of sourdough I had with my smoked salmon and poached eggs (A) was perhaps the best bread I’ve ever eaten (A++). Prices are high but it’s worth the taste experience if you can get in.

Nice bread place

Lock Stock & Barrel (Intermediate A), 140 Glenayr Ave, Bondi Beach www.lockstockandbarrel.com.au

You’ll have a good brunch here, if you can get in. Always popular.

Brown Sugar (Intermediate A), 106 Curlewis Street, Bondi Beach

In the same vein as Lock Stock, and equally difficult to get into.

Bondi Hardware (Intermediate B-), 39 Hall Street, Bondi Beach, www.bondi-hardware.com.au

Yet another of the seemingly generic brunch places but this place is also apparently a very good in the evenings. I’ve only had breakfast here (avocado smash with eggs on toast and a good coffee I think) as it was a slight trek from where I was staying but it was definitely worth the walk (A).

Organic Republic (Intermediate B), 98/100 Glenayr Avenue, Bondi Beach

I’d come here for brekky occasionally to break the routine of piadinas from next door. Everything I had here; coffee, chocolate croissants, beef sausage roll, mini-focaccia, was just ok (B) and nothing special, but it was freshly baked and still warm. I’m sure their spelt bread is very good but I was too lazy to make my own sandwiches. Nice staff and owner.

Bondi Picnic (Intermediate B-), 101 Hall Street, Bondi Beach

I’m sure this place is fine (the service was very pleasant) but I had my first experience of Australian bacon here, which isn’t something I want to repeat. It was served here in a thick clump of wafer thin rashers that looked broiled rather than grilled or fried.  So at least there’s one thing we do better at home.

Cafe Bondi (Intermediate B), 14 O’Brien Street, Bondi Beach

Ended up here when there was an electricity cut on Glenayr Ave and there were no piadinas to be had. Generic brunch place, you can sit outside, good service, totally fine.

CHIPPIES:

Bondi’s Best Seafood (Elementary A+), 29-53 Campbell Parade, Bondi Beach www.bondisbest.com.au
Another thing I think the Aussies beat us on is chip shops.  At BBS for instance you can get Owen’s Fisherman’s Basket, a mixed fry which includes battered king prawns and squid, as well as the more typical fish, onion rings and potato croquettes.

Camera3 042
And you can get excellent freshly made sushi!! It’s fully licenced as well with a good selection of white wines. What a great place, I love it.

Tetsuyas 033
It’s hard to get a seat but the tables both inside and out offer great views of a beach. If you can’t get a seat, get your fry to take out and go to the bottom of the street where you can sit at the top of the grass slope overlooking the beach as Finn, Gavin and I did.

Camera3 053

Fishmongers (Intermediate B), 42 Hall St, Bondi Beach www.mongers.com.au

Mongers is the best fryer down in the centre of Bondi Beach, not as good as BBS above who have got the view and the sushi thing going on as well, but still better than a chippie in the UK in terms of the variety of offerings on the menu (fresh oysters anyone?). I had the Mongers Box which involved Hoki Fillet, Chips, six Calamari Rings, served with fresh lemon and tartar sauce, all very nice thank you (B+).

VIETNAMESE:

Miss Chu (Intermediate B), 178 Campbell Parade, www.misschu.com.au

I’m a sucker for a Banh Mi and this place was a regular lunch stop for me after a long morning at the pool. I’ve had the best and they do a pretty good one here, though I do wish they’d peel the inedible skin off the sliced sausage as it’s like finding a rubber band in your baguette (hence the B). Another good thing is you can have a schooner of pale ale in the Bondi Hotel opposite while you’re waiting for your sandwich to go, although they will also deliver (‘you ling, we bling’).

THAI:

Bangkok Bites (Intermediate B), 95 Hall St, Bondi Beach

Think I remember this place being touted as ‘Best Thai’ in Bondi? It’s always packed out so there must be something good on the menu. My choices were ok but nothing special (B).

JAPANESE:

For good Japanese food you need to go to Bondi Junction which has a bit of a Japantown thing going on, please see my next post. The Japanese places in Bondi Beach are less authentic and generally not as good in my opinion.

Mamasan (Intermediate B+), 57-59 Beach Rd, Bondi Beach, www.mamasan.com.au

I quite like this place for modern Japanese fusion although a bit it was a bit too expensive for me to go that often. The Papa Sashimi plate, big chunks of raw fish on a bed of salad leaves, is good (B+) but it costs a hefty $27.

The Papa Sashimi plate, big chunks of raw fish on a bed of salad leaves, is good (B+) but it costs a hefty $27.

However, I really like their Edamame  which are stir-fried with garlic (A) rather than just steamed as is traditional.

Camera3 090

I also like the fact that you can get Asahi draught in chilled glasses. It’s a shame they’re plastic and not real glasses but they look the real deal and still do a fairly good job of keeping the beer cool. After a couple I can at least still pretend I’m living in Japan again.

Camera3 102

Soy (Intermediate B), 3/38 Campbell Parade, Bondi Beach

This is just an okay Japanese sushi shop with nice service, on the seafront, nothing to write a blog about really.

Sake St (Intermediate B), 76 Hall St, Bondi Beach, www.sakestreet.com.au

Not as good as Soy for straight up nigiri but I quite like their Vegetarian and Fish Tempura maki rolls. Their menu is more limited but they are cheaper than the others.

Camera3 136

As I said earlier, if you want real Japanese food, go to Bondi Junction instead (next post).

INDIAN:

Namaste (Intermediate B), 80 Hall St, Bondi Beach, www.namasteinbondi.com.au

Purveyors of fairly authentic Indian food. They were severely short of staff the second time I went which slowed things down a lot. I paid about $50 for two curries (one veg, one meat), two beers and a plain rice, not particularly cheap.

Camera3 045

A good place to go with your veggie friends. Their samosas are huge. I’m sure you’ll be able to get them to go.

MIDDLE EASTERN:

Sababba (Elementary B+), 80-82 Hall Street, Bondi Beach http://www.sabbaba.com.au

This is a good place to come for cheap, healthy, tasty middle-eastern food. Lots of menus to choose from and they have draught beer.

MODERN FUSION:

Neighbourhood (Intermediate B+), 143 Curlewis St, Bondi Beach, www.neighbourhoodbondi.com.au

A popular hipster joint, great if you can get in. I love their fresh oysters with tequila and coriander (A) but the mussels in tomato sauce were over salted (C-).  Their cocktails are pretty decent.

ITALIAN/EUROPEAN:

For an authentic Italian restaurant experience I recommend Osteria Riva in Bondi Junction (see next post).

La Macelleria (Elementary A), Shop 1, 112-114 Campbell Parade (entrance on corner of Curlewis St and Gould St), Bondi Beach, www.macelleria.com.au
This is a deli and sandwich shop as well as a butchers. A good place to pick up top quality chunks of meat if you’re going to a BBQ. Should you fancy a DIY dinner you can cook your grill items on the public barbecues at Biddigal Reserve, a grassy park with picnic tables at the east end of the beach.

Camera3 106

Gelbison Pizzeria Ristorante, (Low Intermediate B), 10 Lamrock Avenue, Bondi Beach, www.gelbisonbondi.com

Gelbison is the people’s choice when it comes to Italian food in BB, and I agree it is the best of a not particularly good lot (avoid Bondi Trattoria on the next block at all costs, my food was crap), but they are resting on their Calabrian laurels in my opinion.

I had the Pappardelle di Nonna Pina, a seafood special with crab, scampi, prawns, mussels and clams, for $34. It was ok, but the pasta wasn’t al dente and they didn’t have the crab, so they only got a B from me for the food. Customer service isn’t great and it’s always rammed, so go early if you want to get in. No complementary limoncellos here.

Camera3 053

Icebergs Dining Room (Advanced B-), 1 Notts Avenue,  Bondi Beach, www.idrb.com

I came to this high end restaurant on my last night because I’d read good reviews and because they have a fantastic view of the beach. I also love their swimming pool  which is just a couple of floors below.
Things started well with a well-mixed Negroni in the bar watching the sun go down with my mate Finn.

Beach and Coast 004
Unfortunately things went downhill when we moved into the dining room. I ordered the steak, for which they are supposedly famous. Unfortunately mine was well done when I had asked for it medium rare (B-) and I had to complain.

Beach and Coast 024

Finn wasn’t particularly enamoured with her fish either which she said had not been descaled properly, though like me she still ate her food.  The service was pretty decent though and my glass of dessert wine was made complementary when it should have cost a pretty penny. No intentions of going back however.

The service was pretty decent however and my glass of dessert wine was made complementary when it should have cost a pretty penny. No intentions of going back though.

Smart casual dress only so probably for people with more money than sense. When you reserve remember to specify a table at the window at sunset if you want to get the famous view.

Beach and Coast 010

AMERICAN:

Hurricane’s Grill (Intermediate B), 130 Roscoe Street, Bondi Beach www.bondibeach.hurricanesgrill.com.au

One of the most popular places on Trip Advisor, popular with my carnivorous friends and always rammed to the rafters. Everyone likes this chain except me it seems. I’ve never been that keen on BBQ ribs which, as well as steaks, is what Hurricane’s specialises in. It’s the gloopy, usually over-sweet BBQ sauce that puts me off.

I had a ‘full’ portion of their pork ribs for $49, a gluttonous choice given that you get two whole racks of ribs to yourself. What annoyed me this time was that they both tasted differently, one just mediocre (B-) and the other a bit burnt (C-). On the positive side, the bib is a nice touch.

Camera3 066

I also dislike the dark, cavernous interior of this particular branch. I’m sure it’s nice to sit out front on the terrace but as a lone diner there was no chance of that. I would go back with company but overall I wasn’t that impressed. Total bill with an ok cocktail was $67.

ICE CREAM:

Gelato Messina Bondi (Elementary A), 6/61 Hall Street, Bondi Beach

The Trip Advisor #1, as ice cream shops often are, this gelateria is so popular they have a greeter and a velvet rope to organise the queue at busy times. Perhaps that’s because the gelato is exceptionally good. I had the Dulce de Leche version (A).

PUBS:

Beach Road Hotel (Intermediate B+), 71 Beach Road, Bondi Beach, beachroadbondi.com.au

This can be redneck central but they have a great yard with mattresses and floor cushions out back, and DJs at the weekends, which seems to attract a more interesting crowd. They have several pool tables at the back of the front bar too.

Another thing I like about this place is that they have a drive-in off licence right next door, known as a Bottle-O in Oz (a brand name but in common usage). This is where I’d come for a six pack of my favourite Aussie pale ales, Little Creatures or One Fifty Lashes.

Ravesi’s (Intermediate B)

A big boozer with sports screens on the water front, popular due to its location. Good for watching cricket while sinking a cheeky afternoon schooner on the way home from the pool.

For more refined drinking experiences I’d recommend Neighbourhood or Bondi Hardware above.

 

 

Beached in Bondi

Posted in Australia, Bondi Beach, New South Wales, Sydney with tags , , , on February 25, 2015 by gannet39

On Xmas Day 2013 I got a cheap flight to Sydney for my first ever trip to Australia. I had grand plans of going on a road trip around the south-east but never quite made it and my friends in Melbourne still haven’t forgiven me.

The thing is once I got to Bondi I liked it so much that I didn’t want to go anywhere else for the next four weeks! Everything I needed for a life of contentment was right there…

Tetsuyas 025

Most importantly, good food, and lots of it. My next post is entirely dedicated to reviews of all the places I ate during my stay.
Next of course, good wine was a major reason for me getting on the plane. I went to the legendary wine mecca Kemenys www.kemenys.com at 137-147 Bondi Road to stock up. Here’s a picture of a happy man.

Camera3 059

One of the original wine retail outfits in the 60s, Kemenys have won the coveted ‘Australian Liquor Store of the Year’ award more than ten times since its inception in the 1994. If you can’t get it here, it’s probably not worth getting.

I went with a recent list of their top Aussie wines from www.bestwinesunder20.com.au, an excellent independent wine blog. Armed with this knowledge I got good service from the gruff old manager who I think warmed to me when I rejected his suggestions of French substitutes for the wines he was lacking and insisted on Aussie only.
I bought twelve bottles to take back to the pad on my first visit. They were all pretty good but the star of the stay for me was the Yealand Estate (A+), an award-winning, beautifully crisp and fragrant Sauvignon Blanc.

Camera3 061
I couldn’t live anywhere that didn’t have a swimming pool and BB not only has a pool (at Icebergs private club www.icebergs.com.au at the southern end of the beach) but an outdoor, saltwater, Olympic-size pool with a great view! In fact it’s my favourite public pool in the whole wide world so far!

Beach and Coast 059
The salt water takes a bit of getting used to as your body is more buoyant and you have to change your style slightly. Sometimes on blustery days huge waves come over the seawall and wipe out the whole pool, leaving all the swimmers in a pile in the far corner! It’s all part of the fun.

Camera3 029

Another bonus is that it’s not too busy because many people don’t realise that although Icebergs is a private members club, their pool is open to the public. You can see how busy it is by checking the online pool cam before you go.  It’s worth checking as they do regularly drain the pool to remove all the flotsam and jetsam that’s been washed in.
The next best thing in terms of exercise is the coastal walk which stretches for several kilometers.

Beach and Coast 032
You could use it to go to the neighbouring beaches of Tamarama or Bronte for a change of scene.

Beach and Coast 053

Bronte beach has its own small saltwater pool, hewn out of the cliffs by convicts for Victorian ladies to swim in.

There’s lots of photogenic rock formations along the way.

Beach and Coast 037

Beach and Coast 048I spent a few mornings running along here to blow the cobwebs away. The short dips and rises in the path are a killer though and I was always being overtaken by super-fit body beautifuls who ground my ego into the gravel! Once though I did manage to get to Clovelly which I think is about 5km there and back to North Bondi where I was staying.

Once though I did manage to get to Clovelly which I think is about 5km there and back to North Bondi where I was staying.

We wanted to walk to Coogee someday but never got round to it, mainly because the sun was just too hot. You have to be really careful in the sun here as there is no ozone layer to protect you. The Australian government has actually made it illegal to sell sun lotion with a factor lower than 50!

In my perfect world, after natural eye candy I also want some interesting buildings to look at and Bondi has some nice residential architecture, like these sugary Art Deco units along the north end of Campbell Parade.


Camera3 023
Camera3 020

Camera3 034Generally the feel of the seafront is very much that of an English seaside town, with Fish & Chip shops and pubs, it’s just that the weather is much better!

Camera3 082Camera3 078Bondi Road has some of the oldest residential buildings in Sydney, such as the cottages in the first picture.

I love the wrought iron detailing on this house though the painting must be a nightmare.

Tetsuyas 007

Love the two faces made by the doors and windows in this photo.

Tetsuyas 010

 

Some other small blocks of flats on Hall Street made me feel like I was in London on a sunny day.

Camera3 037 Camera3 036 Camera3 038Accommodation in Bondi is expensive and hard to get. Luckily I rented a cheap room from a friend of a friend for a while and then spent a few odd days in a private room at Noahs Backpackers www.noahsbondibeach.com (as opposed to Bondi Backpackers) which was fine. There’s no luxury of any kind but there’s a great view from the roof, and it’s very handy for the pool and the coastal path. There’s a good breakfast place and a pub immediately under the hostel and handy shops nearby.

It’s also an excellent place to meet people from all over the world who are passing through, although the downside of that is that it’s pretty popular so you should book well in advance, especially for peak periods. You might strike lucky if you don’t have a booking though as they occasionally evict everyone when things get too messy!

So now for the food…

%d bloggers like this: