Bloody Mary's
332 Victoria St
Darlinghurst, Sydney

If you’ve been to Los Angeles, then hopefully you’ve experienced an LA style brunch. A decadent experience of food and drinks that starts in the morning and flows well into the afternoon.

The good news is you don’t have to travel 14 hours on a plane to experience it. A funky place called Bloody Mary’s has opened right in the heart of Darlinghurst and its been mastering that LA style experience, right here in our backyard.

As the name suggests, Bloody Mary’s is the place to go if you’re in the mood for a Bloody Mary but that isn’t all they offer.

In fact, Bloody Mary’s has such a diverse menu of food and drinks, it’s got you covered for breakfast lunch and dinner, whether you are in the mood to drink alcohol or not.

Bloody Mary’s is situated in Victoria Street, Darlinghurst, an area that has changed so much in the past few years, its gone from nightclub hotspot to cool and trendy in a matter of months. Its boasts a stylish interior with a courtyard out the back making it a perfect choice for a function or event.

We arrived around midday on a Sunday and we can tell you this place was going off. We walked in and clearly everyone was having a great time, trays of cocktails were being delivered across the room and the smell of some very nice food was coming out of the kitchen.

We quickly found a table and ordered, yep you guessed it, a couple of Bloody Marys and by looking at their menu, this place has quite a few of them on offer.

Count J ordered a classic Bloody Mary and Count N, feeling quite adventurous, ordered a Bloody Hell (normally it's the other way around). The classic bloody Mary was fresh and full of flavour. They make their own tomato juice here which really makes a difference to the taste of the cocktail.

The bloody Hell was nothing like we had ever seen before. This drink is not for the faint hearted. It has chilli infused vodka and comes with a slider, buffalo wing and a shrimp. Literally, a three course meal on a drink. The fish sauce, coriander and palm sugar give this cocktail a real Asian Fusion. Its most definitely unique and most definitely worth trying.

After those two cocktails our appetites (and mouths) were on fire, so we were ready for some food. Blood Mary’s diverse menu has quite a few American inspired dishes so we went with that and ordered two American favourites. The Reuben Sandwich was generously filled with meat, cheese and mustard. Its been years since we’ve had pastrami and this sandwich had loads of it. The bread was fresh and tasted great too.

The salmon bagel was great. Packed with Fresh salmon and homemade salsa wedged in a freshly baked bagel, it was delicious and had us scraping up every last crumb. It was a decent size serving too.

So an hour in and Count N was still going with his bloody hell (this drink is massive) .Count J was up for another drink though, so before you could say tomato juice, a bloody Pirate arrived our table. This version of Bloody Mary is made with pampero dark rum and a lovely spice mix giving it a real Caribbean flavour. Count J who's opinion of dark rum generally isn't very favourable, gave this drink a thumbs up.

After this, It was time for some more food though and this time we ordered a couple of items from the lunch menu. The Yankee Doodle resembled something you would expect to see in a trendy Manhattan venue. A mouthwatering hot dog in a fresh bun with a chipotle truffle mayonnaise that was just sensational. We don't know where they get this mayonnaise from, or if they make it themselves, but we'd sure love to get our hands on some.

The chilli crab linguine was just as impressive.

The chilli was present but not overpowering so you didn't miss the taste of the crab, which was quite generous by the way.

The linguine was cooked al dente and with just the right amount of seasoning, the dish was just perfect.

By this time, a DJ has started and the vibe n the place was getting cooler and cooler by the minute so The counts decided to fit in one more drink and some truffle fries.Our drink, "There's something about Mary", was a refreshing gin cocktail with strawberries, mint, cucumber and lime. Like the movie, you can go a little crazy over this Mary as well. It's a smooth drink and very easy to drink.

Our truffle fries were quite crispy and not too oily which can happen sometimes with truffle oil. Luckily, these were perfect and Count N went a bit crazy over them so we decided at that point it was probably time to go. There was no way we could fit in dessert despite wanting to, very much.

We enjoyed our afternoon at Bloody Mary's so much. With cool atmosphere, trendy decor, an impressive drinks and food menu along with a  DJ on the weekends, it's the the perfect choice whether you're looking for a nice place to have a drink, meet some friends for lunch or need to fix a hangover.

They say hair of the dog is the best hangover  cure and you can order a drink here from about 8am on weekends.

See you next Sunday at 8am!

The Counts, who review for Sir and Mlady Dine Out, dined as guests of the Bloody Mary's. Big thanks to Kimberley Stewart of Agency G for the invitation.

Bloody Mary's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 


The Original Balkan
249 Crown St
Darlinghurst, Sydney

The Original Balkan has been around for 50 years - yes 50! That's a very long time for any business let alone a restaurant.

Whilst it has moved a short distance to its current location a few years ago - it's still the same familiar place - same food and same staff.

The restaurant has a comfortable, homely feel to it. It still looks and feels like a restaurant though. It's current location was once part of a church, and this gives the feel of space with its high ceilings, exposed beams and arches.

There are quite a few different spaces here too. The front room leads through to another large room at the rear. There's also a good sized function room upstairs that's heavily booked, especially on weekends. Downstairs they seat 130 and upstairs 65.

When in Rome - or in this case when in a Balkan restaurant........  We always love to try different things, whether it's the food or the drinks. In this case we tried Croatian beer for the first (and not last) time. It was great even if the name was unpronounceable to us! Another, um, one of those beers please!

In a Balkan restaurant it's clearly best to eat the dishes of the region.

The cabbage roll is just that, a traditional dish of cabbage leaves filled with a tasty mix.

When served, it resembles a savoury pancake in appearance.

Apart from the great flavours, you notice just how big this is. Be prepared - it's all big here!

Our next "starter" was a plate of fried goodies. The smell of them arriving was enough to get us salivating.

This plate had both prawn cutlets and fried whitebait.

We loved both. The crisp light crumb coating was so good , revealing tender seafood underneath.

As always it was a huge serving too.

The garlic prawns here are one of the most popular dishes. Let yourself go, it's worth it. These plump tender prawns are slathered in a garlicky, chilli mix that you'll want to keep dipping your bread into after you've finished the prawns - it's so good.

The Balkan salad - potato and shredded cabbage - was so good we just couldn't stop eating it - even when full.

Oh my, the wine was really good. Again, we hadn't had Croatian wine before - in fact we didn't even realise they made wine there - even though most countries do! If you like a mellow, medium bodied wine then the Peljesac is definitely worth trying. 

Sir kind of grew up on chevapi - well he's had it plenty of times before at least - but this was a first for Mlady. It's basically a mildly spiced sausage without any skin - which is an oversimplification, but you get the gist. Sir said these were so much better than he'd ever had before - with much more flavour in them. The capsicum and onion salsa was delish too.

Serving a fish cooked whole looks great.

You certainly know you're eating fish - it's staring you in the face almost.

This was whole John Dory and even though it was a large serving - again - the flesh was so tender and juicy we just kept picking at it until it was all gone.

Next - yes believe it or not there was a next - was scampi.

In Australia we'd regard scampi as a kind of like a large prawn or small crayfish. So if you like this type of seafood, and we do a lot, then give it a go. These were split, lightly grilled and served on lettuce with some lemon wedges. They were very good!

You have to save some room for dessert here! We tried two choices of pancakes. First was the fruit pancake which was packed with healthy fillings and served with ice cream. The second was a crepe filled with delicious traditional plum jam.

Both were sensational. Mlady preferred the first while Sir opted for the second!

The Original Balkan is an institution in Sydney. It's been around forever because it is that good. The food is great and comes in huge servings. The drinks are just as good too and the service is so friendly and helpful. Give it a go - you won't be disappointed.

Sir and Mlady dined as guests of The Original Balkan. Special thanks to owners John and Tanja (and the previous generation Nedeo and Danica) for the invitation and to Sanja and Rose for looking after us so well.

Click to add a blog post for The Original Balkan Restaurant on Zomato


Izba Russian Treats
579 King St
Newtown, Sydney

Izba Russian Treats brings the traditional ‘Izba’ experience - the authentic Russian countryside - to life in Newtown. Located on the south end of King Street, a neighbourhood bursting with multiculturalism, Izba Russian Treats has cemented itself as a local favourite with an array of delicious treats, both sweet and savoury.

We arrived at 579 King Street and although the space might seem small, with seating to hold about ten people inside plus a few tables out the front, the cute wooden tables and stools make it easy for you to enjoy coffee and cake on the premises, so we took a seat inside.

Immediately excited with the vast selection of cakes and pastries on display, some of which we couldn’t pronounce, we knew choosing what to order was going to be a difficult task.

We generally start off with a couple of coffees but we noticed a very interesting selection of frappes on the board so we decided to try one. This Lemon, Honey and Mint frappe was served in a giant glass and was bursting with freshness and flavour. We also had a long black which we enjoyed. Izba Russian Treats use Crave Coffee which is exceptionally smooth.

Whilst deciding what to eat, we met Olga, the owner of this amazing patisserie Her warm welcome and passion for traditional Russian food made us feel eager to try every single item on the menu! Olga talked to us about her mission to showcase her Russian heritage and childhood memories through her sweets. Everything here is made in house from recipes that have been passed down to Olga through generations of her family.

We opted to start with something savoury, so we chose the Salmon Pie. What a great choice! This huge piece of pie, filled with delicious chunks of salmon, spinach and cheese was a hearty and warming dish. The buckwheat filling was a surprising and tasty addition and made it exceptionally light along with the airy and crisp house made pastry top.

Next we tried the Blini - two pancakes filled with tasty cottage cheese and sultanas with sour cream on the side. They were very fluffy and soft, quite different to how they usually look. Olga told us they use yeast in the pancake mix which is the traditional Russian way of making them, resulting in a delicate micro-lattice effect. They really were delicious.

Our Russian tasting adventure continued with three more impressive cakes - Napoleon, Honey Cake and the eponymous Izba.

We all know Napoleon as the very famous French emperor, but in Russia, Napoleon is the name of the most popular cake around.

Adapted from the traditional French style mille-feuille vanilla slice in the early 19th century, this divine cake boasts three layers of crispy, flaky pastry.

The pastry then sandwiches delicious Russian-style custard which is then topped with beautiful pastry crumbs.

The very different Honey Cake however is a fusion of sour cream and honey that is then topped with a nutty crumble.

It’s a combination of flavours that really melt in your mouth.

Lastly, we tried the Izba, their signature dish. This cake is stacked like a log house (Izba means log house in Russian) and is nothing like we’d ever seen before. The log shaped dough was filled with Amareno (non-alcoholic almond liquor) and covered with a vanilla infused sour cream. This is a heavenly combination of flavours. We could taste the fresh cream.

Our experience at Izba Russian Treats was nothing short of divine. The service is exceptional and the atmosphere is very warm. The freshness of the traditional food stood out. Everything was bursting with flavour. There were so many other treats we wanted to try but just couldn’t fit in. We certainly will be back to try them.

Izba Russian Treats is open
7 days a week and is also now at Broadway Shopping Centre in Ultimo, giving you even more reason to try this Russian art of food.

The Counts, who are now doing reviews for Sir and Mlady Dine Out, dined as guests of Izba. Special thanks also to Olga, the owner, for arranging this.

Click to add a blog post for Izba Russian Treats on Zomato 


Hot & Roll
61 Quay St
Sydney CBD

Hot & Roll serve freshly made wraps with their own Malaysian twist.

The real difference is that their fillings are wrapped in house made roti. For us, this was a huge attraction as we are big roti fans!

It's a smallish place at the far end of Chinatown in Sydney CBD, past the markets.

You can eat there but most people order take away. It's all freshly prepared too - you just choose the wrap and filling - and there are several vegetarian options as well.

We ended up choosing a selection to share. The rolls are huge and packed with filling. The large rolls were already cut in half, as we had requested, but we ended up cutting them in half again (or quarters).

We had the satay chicken, tandoori chicken, chicken and avocado and the beef rendang. All were great but the satay chicken was probably the most popular, followed by the tangy beef rendang. They were tasty and very filling.

Service was fast and friendly and the rolls were very tasty too.

Sir and Mlady's visit to Hot & Roll was supported by the Malaysian Kitchen Programme.

Hot & Roll on Urbanspoon


La Tavernetta Osteria
23-26 Norton St
Leichhardt, Sydney

La Tavernetta (which means Little Tavern in Italian) is part of that predominantly Italian enclave know as The Forum in Leichhardt.

Owners Ernesto and Antonella Meduri only started their "Little Tavern" in December 2013 and it has attracted a great following. It was packed and buzzing when we visited.

It has a small indoor area and bar and a larger protected al fresco area in front. The al fresco area is covered though so it can be used comfortably in all weather - and of course there are scattered heaters for those cooler evenings or nights.

The whole place has really captured that Italian feel with simple adornments that are perfectly in style.

One very popular offering is their Aperitivo which runs every Friday evening.

For a mere $15 you get a glass of wine or beer and unlimited access to their "buffet" of food.

For $20 you get a cocktail and all the goodies. It's an amazing deal and understandably in high demand. We tried this for our entree and loved it!

Sir started with a Pimm's which came mixed with fresh fruit, white sugar and ginger ale. It was a tasty start and Mlady had a glass of red to start the evening.

Later Sir unusually had another cocktail, which we both actually shared. It was a speciality of Rocco, the mixologist there, and it was extremely unique.

Firstly, the drink itself looked spectacular, with fruit everywhere - inside it and on top. A hollowed-out ring of pineapple also sat on top.

The really unusual part was that we were provided two small squirter bottles and told to squirt our mouths first with the red one then the white second - before each sip!

We still don't know what it was but it was a great taste!  

The gnocchi here is certainly worth having - even as a teaser before your mains. The gnocchi Napolitana is so simple and tasty. Their tender house made gnocchi arrives with a good covering of rich, vibrant and satisfying sauce. It works so well. Otherwise there's the gnocchi al Gorgonzola - another simple yet delicious dish. This variation has their gnocchi mixed with a creamy yet not overpowering Gorgonzola sauce and garnished with some pieces of super crispy pancetta.

One thing about La Tavernetta is that you can ask for dishes that aren't on the menu - or combinations that aren't.

They will do what they can here to oblige to create a mix that suits the individuals taste.

The next dish was a lovely pairing of beautifully cooked scampi and risotto.

The scampi was halved and cooked perfectly - its tender flesh peeling easily out of the shell.

It's so easy to overcook scampi - but it wasn't the case here with a gentle hand and light touch clearly at work.

The risotto was lovely - how can rice taste this good - and it was so simple too. Cherry tomatoes adorned it as well. 

Next was the Costolette d'agnello - possibly the prettiest dish of the night - and delicious as well.

This was lovely tender BBQ lamb cutlets served on top of generous dollops of beetroot purée and interspersed with scattered freshly steamed snow peas.

It was a sea of colour as it arrived and the lamb was nicely cooked to medium rare and beautifully pink inside.

Is affogato really a dessert or is it more of a palate enhancer before or after or instead of dessert. Mlady regards it as the coffee she has when she's not having coffee.

Anyway, the Affogato Tavernetta arrived and it was a scoop of vanilla gelato and espresso coffee served with a touch of Baileys and garnished with scattered crushed amaretto biscuits.

Whatever this was - it was good. 

Then the bigger desserts arrived starting with the ananas flambé al grand mariner. This dish is pineapple flambéd with Grand Marnier then served with a tangy lemon sorbet. It's fresh, vibrant, tangy and pretty filling too.

Sir's favourite finale was the Crespelle Tavernetta. This was chilled homemade crepes with ricotta and toblerone chocolate. It's unusual having crepes chilled but we found that it actually worked very well.

La Tavernetta Osteria is in the far corner of The Forum but once there you'll probably not want to leave. They have lovely food that will bring you back once you try it. The locals certainly agree!

Sir and Mlady dined as guests of La Tavernetta. Big thanks to owners Ernesto and Antonella Meduri. Thanks also to Maria, Rocco and Andrea for looking after us so well. Special thanks also to Stephanie for arranging our visit.

La Tavernetta Osteria on Urbanspoon


Elements Restaurant
(Inside The Mercure Resort Hunter Valley Gardens)
2090 Broke Rd
Pokolbin, Hunter Valley NSW

Elements is the new restaurant inside the elegant and picturesque Mercure Resort Hunter Valley Gardens.

It offers a French/Australian fusion menu put together by Executive Chef Jean Marc Pollet.

The menu draws on both seasonal offerings and local produce and much of the local produce comes from his own gardens on his 5 acre farm.

The restaurant is lovely inside - simple and elegant. Outside are absolutely lovely views overlooking the manicured gardens, a stunning fountain bubbling away further down the lawn and a spectacular large fire pit on the verandah crackling right in front of the windows.

We started with some lovely fresh house baked bread.

There are two choices as well, mixed herb bread or garlic bread - so we chose one of each to sample both and they were certainly nice.

We also had a serving of olives, balsamic glaze and virgin olive oil to nibble on as a nice appetiser to get us in the mood for food. It was so pleasant!

As we were in the Hunter Valley it certainly seemed only right to choose a local wine to have with our dinner. There were plenty to choose from on the wine list but we ended up deciding on a 2011 Scarborough Pinot Noir which was delightful. Our table water was nicely served chilled in a Cointreau bottle. 

For starters Mlady chose the Canadian seared scallops and blue swimmer crab tortellini and tomato salsa with Woodland first pressed Hunter olive oil.

It was a great pairing with the plump juicy scallops attractively presented alternating with fluffy tortellini filled with blue swimmer crab.

Down the side of the plate was a line of tomato salsa that not only looked great but added further flavour to the dish.

The scallops looked beautiful topped with red caviar beads that also tumbled off the sides onto the plate.

The tortellini was also a winner - either of these would probably have been enough as a starter on their own with the salsa.
Sir had the beautifully plated snapper souffle with New Zealand scampi, fennel foam and crustacean oil.

It was artistically presented with the scampi piled high on the souffle.

The dish was one of delicate and very subtle flavours with each combining nicely with the others while not dominating the dish. The scampi and souffle were nicely cooked too.

For her main course Mlady chose the traditional French coq au vin.

The dish was made from slow cooked corn fed chicken with Hunter Shiraz, tarragon, mushroom and onion.

It arrived quaintly presented in a lovely cast iron pan and it was a substantial serving of a rich dish with nice bold flavours. Mlady really enjoyed this. 

Sir went for the meatier fillet mignon - a favourite of his.

It was Hunter signature select beef, cross breed, pasture fed 250gm eye fillet that was wrapped with bacon and then topped with baked mushrooms

It was a nice piece of meat which had great textures and it was very tender and nicely cooked to order - medium rare.

For dessert Sir had another favourite, crepe Suzette. The crepes came with a blood orange sorbet and he thoroughly enjoyed them. Mlady of course chose the warm chocolate fondant, hazelnut praline and vanilla bean ice cream. It smelled delish and tasted great with good combinations that ticked all the boxes. 

Mlady sipped a lovely Moorebank Muscat Liqueur while Sir had a great 2013 Hunter Valley McLeish Estate Jessica's Botrytis Semillon.

Elements Restaurant is a sophisticated dining experience. The fusion of French classics and local Australian choices and produce works well. It's a lovely place with great service and the lovely food of Jean Marc Pollet to match.

Sir and Mlady dined as guests of Elements Restaurant and the Mercure Resort Hunter Valley Gardens. Thanks to Eliza, Kimberly and Cassie for looking after us. Special thanks to David Lowe for arranging our visit. 
Elements on Urbanspoon


Bleu Blanc Rouge Festival
Circular Quay Sydney

Slide Restaurant
41 Oxford St
Darlinghurst, Sydney

We were lucky enough to be invited to visit the Bleu Blanc Rouge Festival to celebrate all things French and to join in a cooking class as well from Chef Aymeric Saint-Lannes of Slide Restaurant in Darlinghurst.

But first - the festival. If you like French food and all things French then this was the place to be. There were so many goodies on display and for sale - people were buying to eat there and stocking up for later as well. We'll be back next year for sure.

We love French food and are already planning our next visit to Paris so this was sheer bliss! The cooking class and eating the food was a bonus. 

Chef Aymeric Saint-Lannes is the force behind the kitchen at Slide Restaurant in Oxford St and such a charming guy as well. If the food we got to prepare and eat is any indication of what to expect there then it will be good (but much better prepared than we did!). The menu for us to cook was:

Entree - Clarence River Scool Prawn Bisque;
Seared Scallop and Pernod Mornay on the Shell

Main - Roast Duck Breast
Bush Pepperberry Bordelaise
Dubarry Gratin Dauphinois

Dessert - Vanilla Bourbon Creme Brulee
served with Almond Tuile

As a duck lover - in the eating kind of way - the main course was certainly something I was looking forward to trying. We seared the duck in a pan first to brown the skin then baked it until it was medium rare. The bush pepperberry bordelaise went perfectly - it had bite without overpowering the duck.

And lets not forget the potatoes either - so rich but oh so nice!

To also learn the tricks to a good creme brulee was a real treat as well. It looks so simple - and it is - but the art is in how you do it. The subtleties make all the difference. We'll be trying this at home with Aymerics number on speed dial just in case.

Sir and Mlady were guests of the Bleu Blanc Rouge Festival. Special thanks to Aymeric Saint-Lannes for sharing his skill and expertise with our small group and for the lovely food that resulted. We're now very keen to visit Slide Restaurant as many of our dishes are in fact on their menu. They have shows there as well during dinner! Thanks also to April Davies of Exposure Public Relations and Marketing for arranging our visit so professionally. 

Slide Lounge on Urbanspoon