ITALIAN STREET KITCHEN - NEUTRAL BAY, SYDNEY

Italian Street Kitchen
21 Grosvenor St
Neutral Bay, Sydney

Italian Street kitchen recently opened its doors in the pristine suburb of Neutral Bay.

It's a new restaurant only in name, for these are the same people that are behind the very successful Bacomatto Osteria in Surry Hills.

The counts rarely venture over the bridge for a meal, but any name that is connected with this group of Italian stars makes it not only worthwhile, but mandatory.

Italian Street Kitchen is located on popular Grosvenor street and there is some street parking nearby and to our surprise, we didn't have any difficulty getting a parking spot.

Tonight we were attending a media dinner, an exciting opportunity to taste an authentic artisan menu at the launch of a new restaurant.


As we took our seats, we glanced over the menu for the evening and noticed a mind blowing array of  antipasto dishes, starters, mains and desserts on offer. The counts rarely shy away from a mega feast but even for two seasoned Italian food lovers, this was unimaginable.


Well, True to the artisan Italian street food experience, all food here at Italian Street Kitchen Is designed to share, so much to our relief, we realised weren't about to embark on a 12 course meal.

On that note, it was time to get things started,  so to kick off the experience, we poured a glass of Aperol spritz each. Count N especially loves Aperol spritz and this one was served in a beautiful jug (again designed to share).

First up our antipasto arrived our first one being a salami board fit for a King. With lashes of Prosciutto, Salami, Catalingo and Mortadella spread over thick slices of rosemary focaccia, it was delicious and had the whole table talking.

The cured meats were obviously freshly sliced and the bread was evidently  baked right on premises as it was still warm and soft.
The Arancini was crisp and filled with chunks of pumpkin (a surprising and delicious filling). The smoked provolone added a deeper cheese taste to it and the panko crumb exterior was crisp and good enough to eat by itself! Our next antipasto dish was fried cheese. Two of our favourite words. These delicious bites of Fior Di Latte, Parmesan and champagne ham were fried up in a ball and were melting in our mouth with each bite! Delicious. We also tried the Calamari which was flour dusted and served with a tasty lemon aioli.


After all of that (especially the salami board) we needed a short break before our starters arrived.

Our primi pizza was a mouthwatering buffalo mozzarella pizza with a hint of Parmesan through it. The Parmesan added quite a bite and the fresh basil complemented the cheese really well. It's a nice touch to a classic pizza. However the surprise starter was the rigatoni Amatricana. This was a hearty pasta dish with pork cheek and pecorino cheese cooked in a beautiful Napoli sauce. The pork was super tender and the the Napoli sauce was bursting with freshness. It had small cherry tomatoes as well for an extra tomato hit.


Our final starter was some gnocchi. We love gnocchi ( well count N does ) but this one was semolina based and a lot fuller in texture.

It was oven baked in a bechamel and Napoli sauce, which was great. The creaminess of the bechamel sauce blended so well with the freshness of the Napoli sauce. You could almost describe it as a lasagne.
Next some mains. The wood-fired oven pork belly was roasted beautifully with an amazing layer of crackling and served with both a radicchio salad and rocket salad. The salads were really fresh. The rocket had quite a bit of Parmesan in it which is always a crowd pleaser. The radicchio salad had feta in it (here's the cheese again) but also fennel and Kalamata olives all in a lemon oil dressing. Count N loved the salad and refused to share it.



An Italian experience is not complete without dessert though and the two desserts on our menu were authentic and sure to impress any sweet tooth big or small. Tiramisu is one of our favourite desserts. For some, it's the layered espresso dipped savoiardi biscuits, for others it's the Marsala but for us it's the Mascarpone (no surprises there, right?). It was bursting with freshness and the mascarpone was creamed adding that custard like texture (and taste) to it. We loved it so much we asked for an extra serving.

Our second dessert although just as impressive, wasn't something the counts (and others at the table) had tried before.

Drawing on traditional recipes handed down from generations, this cremafritta  is a custard lovers heaven as the custard is fried, dusted with icing sugar and eaten like how one would enjoy fried ice cream or a fried banana. It was served with a chocolate fondue. It's definitely different and one dish you should try, even just once.
 So after all this food, moving around in our chair was proving to be difficult so we knew it was time to call it a night. As we were leaving, we got the opportunity to chat with owner Mona who talked to us about her passion for creating authentic Italian Artisan Street food, just like the food you would expect to find in places like Sicily.

Well, we certainly felt that passion through the food and atmosphere . Italian Street Kitchen is open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner.


The Counts, who review for Sir and Mlady Dine Out, dined as guests of Italian Street Kitchen. Special thanks to Abbey Thomas of AMPR for this invitation.


Italian Street Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

HAYES STREET WHARF BISTRO - NEUTRAL BAY, SYDNEY

Hayes Street Wharf Bistro
13 Hayes Street
Neutral Bay, Sydney

Tucked away down Hayes Street - and in fact almost hidden - is the deliciously delightful Hayes Street Wharf Bistro.

They do have a clear French influence - but their food goes beyond this. Described as Modern French it has a range of influences touching its original base.

The brainchild of Gavin and Natasha Tuckwell, they've found a nicely cosy location to bring their dream to life.

It's clearly also a produce driven menu that stays small based on what's fresh and seasonally available and therefore it also constantly changes.

The decor is charming. It has a pleasant yet casual feel to it that embraces you instantly.

When you arrive anywhere and are first seated your priorities are probably something to nibble, a menu to peruse and a drink to sip on. Well the sourdough baguette with truffled butter that they have here is perfect for the nibble. Then you could sip on a glass or two of good red wine - in this case a Chateau Grand Jean 2010 Bordeaux Superieur. The menu was there too and it already had us excited. All three boxes were ticked and the night was off to a great start! 




















Then it was time for our starters.

Mlady had the delicate scallop and crab boudin blanc in a fragrant tomato crab bisque dotted with black caviar. It was an impressive dish.

Sir had a beautiful lightly seared bugs tails with avocado, celeriac remoulade and salmon pearls.

Mlady was in the mood for red meat for her main course - which happens less often than with Sir. She chose the sticky Wagyu beef brisket Bourguignon (that literally dissolved), caramelised shallot and a great truffled mash. She loved it.

A tasty side of green vegetables and almonds went well too.










Sir spied the duck on the main course menu and as is often the case the rest was history.

This beautiful dish was roasted half duck with lovely gnocchi and cherries.

It was a big dish too - with plenty of nicely cooked duck. The cherries and gnocchi added great flavour too.

Dessert - the sweetest part of the meal - soon arrived. Mlady's inner chocoholic shone through brightly and she chose the chocolate fondant with hazelnuts and raspberry sorbet.

The molten inner of the fondant oozed out when it was cut, slowly seeping onto the plate. It was rich, indulgent and amazingly good.

Sir chose uncharacteristically with the rhubarb blancmange, cinnamon crumble and apple sorbet.

He usually heads for chocolate or pastry.

The very light and fluffy blancmange was simply delicious, and the fruity apple sorbet combined perfectly.

 Hayes Street Wharf Bistro is a hidden gem worth looking for and finding. The food has substance and subtlety, delicacy and flavour, colour and texture. The venue is comfortable and the service is attentive but not overbearing. Find it and see for yourself.

Sir and Mlady dined as guests of Hayes Street Wharf Bistro. Special thanks to owners Gavin and Natasha Tuckwell and also to Yyani for looking after us. Thanks to Claire McPherson of CPM Online Marketing for arranging our visit.




















Hayes Street Wharf Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

FIREFLY - NEUTRAL BAY, SYDNEY

Firefly
24 Young St
Neutral Bay, Sydney

There are so many eateries in Neutral Bay, but if you want a really good one, Firefly is it.

Sitting on a street corner, it’s a popular place which has an inviting party atmosphere you can feel on approach. It doesn’t take long before the restaurant fills up with cheerful people and even on a cold night the outdoor tables are full.

On to the food!

The beautifully presented share plates are quite substantial and we started with the Smoked Trout “Hand Held” Salad with Citrus and Coconut Dressing.

Served on a leaf which is eaten with your hands (like the Asian San Choy Bow) it was very tasty and had a lovely fresh crispiness to it.

The Canadian Seared Scallops with Cauliflower puree, Morcilla and Pickled Pear was also delicious.

We were surprised at the combination of the morcilla sausage with the seafood, but surprised in a good way. Nice to see creativity in food when it works well.

The zucchini fries, which are very popular here, made a nice side dish.

The Pumpkin Tortellini with Beurre Noisette and Crisp Sage was a thing of beauty.

The delicate flavours and hand-made pasta made this Dame C’s pick of the day.

Grilled Haloumi with Warm Chickpea Salad and Lemon Dressing followed. Dame M thought the haloumi was cooked especially well as it was still soft and moist inside.

Who doesn’t love pork belly! The Crisped Pork Belly with Chilli Caramel and Asian Herb Salad was a winner. Impressively plated and totally wonderful. We both loved this tasty dish.



















Last on our list was Roasted Lamb Rump with Crushed Minted Potato and Pea Puree.

Wow.

A dish of plenty – lots of really tender lamb cooked pink.

This was melt-in-the-mouth and the potatoes underneath this extremely tender meat combined so perfectly.


Then dessert! Not normally a big hit with the Dames but we ordered the “Milky Bar" White Choc Cheesecake with hot fudge sauce and the Bread and Brandy Butter Pudding with Butterscotch Sauce and Salted Caramel Ice Cream. We shared these and they were both good. To be honest, however, we fought over the bread and butter pudding, it was so good. We would come back for this!
























A lovely flight of Pinot Noirs was chosen for us to complement our plates.

The wines offered at Firefly are carefully selected and taken seriously by the staff, who clearly know their stuff.

The bar was also popular with cocktail lovers who were later kicking on, enjoying the atmosphere.
























We’ll simplify by saying “Those Dames” really liked this place. Great food, presentation, wine and service. We will definitely be back. A big thank you to manager Rhys and our waiter Jordan who are obviously people in the right jobs!

Those Dames, who are now doing reviews for Sir and Mlady Dine Out, dined as guests of Firefly. Special thanks to Daniel Sofo for the invitation

Firefly Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

THE OAKS (MEAT MASTERCLASS) - NEUTRAL BAY, SYDNEY

The Oaks (Meat Masterclass)
118 Military Rd
Neutral Bay, Sydney

We were pleasantly surprised when we attended an educational evening of fine meaty fare dedicated to (you guessed it)  MEAT. The meat company Haverick Meats, situated at Banksmeadow, supplied the meat. The quality of their produce was all A grade. The gorgeous Oaks Hotel at Neutral Bay was the venue for the evening and each course and was matched beautifully with Bremerton Wines. We were lucky to have the lovely Rebecca Willson, who with her sister Lucy Willson, run the family owned Bremerton Winery, with exemplary wines produced in Langhorne Creek South Australia. Rebecca introduced the wines we were about to be served and gave us a brief background on each variety such as grape, ageing, technique, and processes. They were exquisite wines. We both bought some to take home.

Upon arrival we were treated to canapes presented by the owner of The Oaks, Andrew Thomas who was happily greeting guests, plate in hand and a smile on his face. Andrew does not mind getting his hands dirty, he loves to mingle and have a laugh with patrons. A glass of Bremerton “Betty & Lu” Sauvignon Blanc 2014, was also presented. The Canapes consisted of oxtail fingers & smoked mustard aioli (absolutely delicious) and Bresaola with pickles which were also very tasty.

Our starter for our food journey for the night was Lingua Tonnato which looked and tasted spectacular.

It had great colours and flavours including finely shaved tongue, tomatoes and tuna.

It was inventive and a really good dish.

This also went really well with Bremerton Limited Release Malbec 2013.


Our main course was braised beef short rib (which had been slow-cooked for 8 hours), smoked wagyu rump with smoked carrot puree, baby onions, bone marrow, sweetbread jus and gentleman’s relish.

What a great combination!

The meat was extremely tender and very clearly expertly cooked.

We loved the smokey flavours and also the crumbed bone marrow.

This dish was served with simple yet ideal accompaniments of roast potatoes and salad.

It was also paired with a Bremerton “Old Adam” Shiraz 2012.

Dessert was fruit mince pie: biscuits layered with fruit and served with chocolate ice cream and a sugared carrot. This dish had a surprise twist. It was presented as a dessert but was in fact made of meat products, even the ice cream!

Clever Danny Russo and his team worked tirelessly to prepare the innovative dessert to get the balance just right. What a treat.



This course was coupled with Bremerton “Mistelle” Dessert Wine NV (simply divine.)



Throughout the evening we were educated on cuts of meat, how to prepare and cook them and what to do with the more obscure meat cuts and offal. Apart from stretching the culinary senses, it gave carnivorous guests new ways to look at meat. What you can do with meat is – SIMPLY AMAZING!

The evening was tremendous value for money and I would recommend the Meat Masterclass to anyone who likes their meat. It was fun, informative and we met a few fellow meat lovers too.

Those Dames, who are now doing reviews for Sir and Mlady Dine Out, dined as guests of The Oaks. Special thanks to Andrew Thomas for his great hospitality and charm, Danny Russo for his great food, Rebecca and Lucy Willson from Bremerton Winery and of course to Haverick Meats for their delicious cuts. Big thanks also to Amy Wong for the invitation and arranging everything so professionally.


Click to add a blog post for The Oaks Hotel on Zomato

FIREFLY - NEUTRAL BAY, SYDNEY

Firefly
24 Young St
Neutral Bay, Sydney

Firefly is a restaurant/bar perched on a pleasant corner in Neutral Bay. Inside it's a walk back in time with timber and stone creating a rustic feel and even more tables and chairs outside for those wanting to sip or dine al fresco.

Firefly is of course a full bar - but they pride themselves on their extensive selection of Pinot Noir - with over 70 choices available. It'd be hard to beat that range anywhere else in Sydney!

The food is made for sharing by night with a wide range of tapas on offer. For Friday lunches they have four choices for only $20 each. For this you get a huge serving as well - plenty of food for a hearty appetite with the added bonus of it being quick service and quick arrival to the table. Of course you're also welcome to linger! Sir was joined by D for this particular lunch.


If you're like us then a wine is needed with lunch - and if you're in a place famous for its Pinot range you clearly need to have Pinot! We both chose the Lightfoot & Sons Pinot Noir from Gippsland in Victoria. It was a lovely drop, light but not as light as many Pinot's and full flavoured too. 




Sliders are of course perfect for a pre-dinner snack or entree - but they're also perfect for lunch too.

We tried the pair of pulled pork sliders that came with Firefly's famous zucchini fries. The sliders were great - tangy, tasty and decent sized and packed with tender pork but we were of course curious about these fries. They turned out to be quite unique - who would have thought having your veggies would be this tasty!!

 



The pumpkin and ricotta gnocchi and warm toasted bread was as pretty as it was tasty.

Gnocchi is always a favourite of ours but pumpkin gnocchi has such great colour as well - and this version was delicious. We just kept nibbling it constantly all through our meal.

It came served with fresh sage and plenty of walnuts.



The final main course we shared was the salt and pepper calamari that came served with a delicious side salad.

Again it was a huge serving - but we'd come to expect this here!

The calamari was very tender and nicely spicy - and there was plenty of it too. Again we kept picking even after we had decided to stop eating!




















Even though it was a quick - or working - lunch, dessert was still a clear option. Fortunately there are quite a few tasty choices available here and we ended up agreeing (finally) on the Eton mess. It turned out to be as pretty as a picture and as tasty as ..... well as tasty as we had hoped it would be. It was so delish and we devoured it all even though we we very full!




















Firefly is a place with lots of appeal. It has a real charm coupled with some great food and a massive range of drinks - and especially Pinot! It's well worth a visit for a meal, drink or just to relax in!

Sir and Mlady dined as guests of Firefly. Special thanks to everyone there - we were so well looked after! A big thanks also to Firefly owner Daniel Sofo for inviting us.


Firefly on Urbanspoon

SOCAL SYDNEY - NEUTRAL BAY, SYDNEY

SoCal Sydney
1 Young St
Neutral Bay, Sydney

SoCal Sydney recently turned 1 - and we were lucky enough to be there to help them celebrate.

If you haven't been to SoCal before you should try it - it's an experience.

The gang behind Applejack Hospitality, Hamish Watts and Ben Carroll, have created a laid back, beachy Southern Californian inspired haunt that transports you to another place and time. They're also the mob behind The Botanist in Kirribilli, Bondi Hardware and their new place that's also going so well - The Butler in Potts Point. They're obviously doing a lot of things right.

Importantly it's a restaurant and a bar - so they have plenty of great food and drinks.

Head Chef Zac Smart has really unleashed some great Southern Californian inspired creations on their main menu, which is all so easy to share.

We'd sampled quite a few of these on a previous visit (click here to see it).

Around 100 people were there to help Hamish and Ben celebrate - and it was a great bash.

Drinks were flowing fast and furiously - and we weren't about to have a dry night. Sir started with their Margarita, made from Reposado Tequila,Cointreau, lime, a dash of sugar and a half salt rim. He loves Margaritas and had quite a few of these! Mlady tried the other main offering, the Garden Party, made from blueberry-infused Tanqueray gin, elderflower liqueur, spiced blueberry syrup, rhubarb bitters and basil. She enjoyed her second as much as the first one! The guys behind the bar were working hard this night - but doing a great job and having fun at the same time. The fun was infectious!



We started our eating with some corn chips that came with house made guacamole and chunky salsa.

It's a hearty dish we'd had there before and enjoyed so we were glad it was on the list for this evening.

This was soon followed by some lovely lamb, ricotta and raisin empanadas.

The tasty filling was spicy, tangy and totally delicious.

It was all encased in a lovely crisp pastry too - just as it should be!
 

The food and drinks  kept on flowing - so like everyone else we kept on enjoying it!

Next out was Sriracha chicken quesadilla's - we just love these toasty, tasty treats!

The dish of the night for Sir was undoubtedly the next one - the ceviche lettuce cups.

He loves ceviche and these little bite sized morsels were simply delicious - with the fresh fish and citrus juice blending so well.

He particularly liked this all being served in small crisp lettuce cups - making them both tasty and easy to eat!

Then there were the chicken and sopressada sliders - quite tangy again and quite substantial.

We were filling up fast and more food was still to come!

Later they also brought out spiced eggplant tostadas, grilled vegetable empanadas, flank steak and chimichurri (and Sir loves almost anything that comes with chimichurri), Southern fried chicken and slaw and spiced vegetable cous cous.

Soooo much food - and all of it so good!

We washed it down with a few glasses of red (after our earlier cocktails) and grabbed a cab home! 
SoCal has a really laid back relaxed feel to it.

If you're looking for somewhere to just escape life for a while and sit back sipping a few good brews and sharing some tangy and tasty food with a few friends then head here!

There's some great retro music playing and it has both an indoor and outdoor area - covering all options.

Sir and Mlady were guests of SoCal for their first birthday. Special thanks to Ben and Hamish for a great event. A big thanks also to Olivia Warne of Pendulum Communications for inviting us. 

SoCal on Urbanspoon

SOCAL - NEUTRAL BAY, SYDNEY

SoCal
1 Young St
Neutral Bay, Sydney

SoCal is the relaxed Southern Californian surf influenced place that has rapidly become very popular in Neutral Bay.

If you like comfort food in laid back surroundings with subdued lighting and great music playing then head up the staircase! It's a deceptively big space with several areas that are separate but flowing into each other.

A massive bar - signposted BAR which you can't miss - stretches along the length of the main room. At the rear is a very casual room with a real indoor/outdoor feel to it. Plants at intervals and exposed pipes on the ceiling give it an almost casual industrial feel, and coloured lights, surfboards on the walls, share comfort food and the music ensure that Southern Californian aura.

We studied the menu while our first preliminary order arrived - a very tasty serving of corn chips with guacamole and salsa on an enamel plate.

It's hard not to order this - they looked good and most tables around us had them. Their popularity was a good sign that they'd be good - and they were.

It was a decent sized serving as well with a generous bowl of corn chips and two separate jars - one with salsa and one with guacamole.

The salsa was nice and chunky and very fresh - with a bit of tang as well.

The guacamole was a bit tangier again - and it all went really well together!























Drinks time - we were in a bar after all!

I had a Fee Fi Fo Rum - as a rum drinker I just couldn't resist the name!

It was made with aperol, Pampero blanco rum, lime juice, vanilla syrup a splash of sugar and angostura bitters. Very tasty too!

Mlady had a Garden Party - made from blueberry infused Tanqueray gin, elderflower liqueur, spiced blueberry syrup, rhubarb bitters and basil.

The immediate feedback showed that she really enjoyed this.

Both drinks were very well presented, as expected, and nicely garnished.


Our first entree was a cracker!

The prawn and crab puffs with habanero mayo were actually not quite what we expected - but they didn't disappoint at all and turned out to be great.

We probably pictured something in puff pastry and what arrived was more like a round croquette.

They were so good.

The "puffs"arrived piping hot, crisp on the outside and yet soft inside. The habanero mayo was a winner as well - it combined really nicely with the puffs and had a nice kick yet it didn't overpower the seafood filling.

We'd grab these again any time!





















Mlady is quite partial to vegetarian dishes - and I usually politely avoid them. Sometimes one makes the list to be ordered and they're usually quite good - for vegetarian dishes.

This one was an exception.

I'd probably describe it as similar to a vegetarian lasagne. It was rich, substantial, complex and most of all extremely tasty - so much that I think I ate more than she did.


Our next share dish was quite light and yet still a substantial serving. It was the mahi mahi with lentil salad, rocket pesto and veg crisps.

The fish was nicely cooked and the lentil salad and pesto added texture and complexity to the dish.

The veg crisps were to die for! Thin and crunchy we could have kept eating them. If they were available as a side we'd order extra servings!

Dessert time had arrived and even though we had filled up quite a bit, there's always room for a sweet finish to a meal! The sweets weren't shown on the menu but they were written on a surfboard on the wall opposite us and as there were two choices we decided to try them both. The almond and mocha moose was Mlady's choice and I ordered the lemon and caramel cheesecake with raspberries. The concept was to share them, but we failed. We each shared a mouthful but then stuck to our own choices as our favourites. Both were very tasty and the sizes make them ideal to share - if you can!

SoCal has a real buzz to it. It's busy but things keep moving at a nice pace. The southern Californian influence is certainly very apparent in decor, lighting, music and of course food and drinks. It all combined well to create a great place to stop by, chill out, grab a drink and devour some snacks or a full meal. Most tables around us went for the full meal option and shared dishes - giving everyone in each group a wider range of dishes to taste. 

Sir and Mlady dined as guests of SoCal. Thanks to Gemma for looking after us and recommending dishes. Special thanks to owners Hamish Watts and Ben Carroll of Applejack Hospitality. Thanks also to Olivia Warne of Pendulum Communications for arranging our visit. 



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