Dinner @ Firedoor (Sydney, Australia)

October 25, 2020 in Australian by thywhaleliciousfay

When I made my reservation to dine at Firedoor in December 2019, I was given the options between table and counter (not to be confused with bar counter) seats. And I opted for the latter. But what I didn’t realise was that depending on which end of the counter one was at, the seats could get pretty hot. Literally because one would be subjected to direct heat from the grill! But don’t get me wrong. I rather be on the ‘hot seat’ cause there’s where I could get my full view of chef-owner Lennox Hastie cooking away at the grill.

Both a-la carte and chef’s menu were offered on the menu. And I went with the chef’s menu. Mainly because I was dining solo and that was my best option of being able to try as many dishes as possible. And thus, I commenced my dinner (chef’s menu, AUD160) with:-

1) Radish, wattleseed, lonza (above) – Wrapped with pork cheek.

2) Oyster, desert lime, oyster leaf (above)


  

3) Kangaroo, macadamia, davidson plum (above) – The staff opened the lid of the claypot to reveal the kangaroo meat beneath. Embers, which were still burning, were placed beneath the leaves to smoke the meat. Was told by the staff that the meat was more on the raw side so that it could absorb the aroma of the smoked leaves. Was also told to slide the meat off the skewer and into the bread. Something like a sandwich. And the flat bread was really soft. As I tore the bread along the side, I realised it’s like a pita (pocket bread). Tried a piece of the kangaroo meat on its own and it was tenderly good. I really enjoyed this.

4) Burratina, peach, smoke tomato (above) – The smokiness in the tomato was distinct. Nice.


5) Bonito, blood plum, celtuce (above) – I loved everything about this dish. The bonito was beautifully grilled; Its centre still slightly opaque. And the sweetness of the succulent flesh was enhanced by the slightly salty brown butter-tamari sauce and crispy fried capers.

6) Yellow squash, pyengana, lovage (above)

  

7) Bread, cultured butter, sprouted rye (above) – Served slightly charred, I preferred if the bread was served warm. Not sure why I had that expectation though. Maybe cause fire seemed easily accessible in Firedoor, and I was craving for warm bread? Shrug.

8) Murray cod, tatsoi, pil pil (above)


9) Pork chop, pepper, charred leek (above) – Beef was on the original menu as the main course. The staff offered to replaced it with fish when I mentioned my dietary restriction (of no beef). However, noting that there’s already a few fish dishes on the menu, I stated my preference for something else. And was thus given pork.

10) Geraldton wax, chamomile, fig leaf (above)

  

11) Woodfired rum baba, smoked creme diplomat (above)


12) Marshmallow (above) – With plum and dark chocolate.

Seated at the counter meant there was opportunity to talk to head chef Lennox. He asked if I was local or visiting. I replied, “travelling”. Not exactly true, but I still do feel like I’m a tourist despite having spent 5 months in Australia (at the point of dinner). And I noticed he talked more to the locals. I guess his initial question was his way of sassing out which customers are easier happier to converse with> Shrug. But I was happy to be left alone. I had drinks with colleagues prior to dinner, and was a bit… Haha.

Will I recommend Firedoor? I sure do! I enjoyed the dishes although I wished I had a bigger stomach cause I would have loved to try some of the a-la carte dishes like the pipis or (whole) quail. And it’s always intriguing and fascinating to visit a restaurant which did all their cooking by fire. Yes, including warm water served to customers.

And it’s nice that Firedoor has received increased publicity with its appearance on Netflix’s Chef’s Table BBQ. As taken from Firedoor’s website… Head chef Lennox takes viewers on a journey through his childhood, his career, and his fascination with fire. He showcases how he draws extraordinary flavors out of meat, fish and vegetables using only a wood fire, a grill and his unique skills honed in Spain at Etxebarri and then in Sydney at Firedoor. Introducing viewers to a number of amazing Australian producers and pushes the limits of traditional open flame cooking, breathing new life into the meaning of barbecue. The downside is that they are fully booked till May 2020. I kid not.

FIREDOOR
23-33 Mary Street, Surry Hills, Sydney, NSW, Australia
+61 2 8204 0800, Website
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Thur – Fri : 12:00 – 15:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 7
Tues – Sat : 17:30 – 22:30 (Dinner)
Value: 7
Service: 7
* Closed on Mon & Sun

Dinner @ Orana (Adelaide, Australia)

September 20, 2020 in Australian by thywhaleliciousfay

After I arrived in Sydney in July ’19, I didn’t do much interstate travelling except for a trip to Canberra in October. You see… My flight tickets were mostly all bought for 2020. So while some of my trips were cancelled because of COVID-19, I was fortunate I managed to travel a bit before the lockdown (in April ’20). So yes, I’m actually very thankful I got to head up to Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne.

  

For my dinner reservation in February, I made mine in December ’19 through Orana’s website since Orana accepted reservation up to 3 months in advanced. And as taken from their website, Restaurant Orana is home to chef-owner Jock Zonfrillo’s intimate dining room where he uses Indigenous ingredients to showcase Australia’s modern gastronomic identity.

The accommodation that I stayed in Adelaide happened to be within walking distance from Orana. And if one’s headed to Orana on a weekend and in summer, I recommend reaching the area earlier to check out Ebenezer Night Market too. It’s a pretty small market, but I walked away with 3 pairs of earrings. Haha.

I arrived at the restaurant punctually for my 7pm dinner. And as I took my seat, I noticed every unoccupied table had what looked like dough proofing in banneton baskets. And true enough, the staff said the dough would be taken to the kitchen be baked. Pretty awesome, I got to say.

The degustation menu named ‘Alkoopina’ meant snacks in Aboriginal language. And yes, ‘Orana’ had a meaning behind its name in Aboriginal language too. ‘Orana’ meant welcome. And I commenced my dinner menu, AUD295 with:-


  

1) Potato damper & lamb butter (above) – Placed on hot coals, I was told to turn the potato damper on lemon myrtle branch skewer around after 5 seconds. Unfortunately I got a little carried away with my picture taking which explained why mine turned out to be more charred than it should be. Though the staff did come over with tongs to help me remove the burnt bits and excess ash. A neighbouring table got equally carried away, but theirs probably couldn’t be saved because the staff had theirs replaced.


2) Macadamia & native thyme (topmost, right) – And this was certainly interesting; Warm macadamia milk with native thyme oil.

3) Scarlet prawn, crocodile lardo & boab (above) – A close-up of the dish revealed boab powder, deep-fried-till-crisp prawn legs and thin layers of lardo placed over the prawn flesh. In fact, the slices of lardo were placed slightly overlapping one another to replicate a prawn shell. The attention to details was simply amazing. And this tasted so good too. Was also told to suck at the prawn head.

4) Streaky Bay abalone & gubinge (above)


5) Murray river cod, succulents & eucalyptus (above)

6) Bunya nut, wild salmon roe & long yam (above)

7) Set custard, Coorong mullet bottarga, bunya & saltbush (above) – And this staeamed egg (chawanmushi) dish was a surprise in terms of plating. The staff removed the lid to reveal the bunya nut miso and saltbush leaves ‘stuck’ to the bottom of the lid.


8) Surf & turf (above) – Smoked over coals, this was supposed to be cubes of blue-fin tuna belly with Davidson plum curry and wagyu beef with Dorrigo pepper. But because I don’t take beef for religious reason, the beef was replaced with mushroom.


9) ‘Tongue in cheek’ roti (above) – Jerked lamb tongue & leather jacket cheek. This was enjoyable, although I wished the roti was a little less oily.

10) ‘Soup soup’ (above) – Crocodile with Australian botanicals.

11) Kohlrabi, quandong, lemon myrtle & dorrigo (above) – Pickled kohlrabi discs rolled into tiny cones, and held together by chilled burrata foam within. Topped with pickled quandong strips, and each cone piped with lemon myrtle and dorrigo dressing.


12) Return of the bread (above) – With native thyme & macadamia butter. And yes, this was from the same dough that was proofing on the table under a glass cloche. Bakers would know we sometimes have our ‘off baking days’, yet Orana boldly placed the balls of dough on every tables. And that to me spelled confidence.

13) Marron, Geraldton wax & wild plum (above) – Orana usually served this dish with green ants. But I must have come when ants weren’t in season. Although to be very honest, I think I was secretly happy I got the ant-less version. Keke.

14) Quail, minya, Ngeringa farm greens & bunya nut shoyu (above)


  

15) Coopers sparkling ice-cream pop, paperbark ice-cream sandwich & Orana vovo (topmost, left to right)

16) Set buttermilk, strawberry & eucalyptus (above)

17) Twin Lakes Mob Jillungin tea (above)

18) MacRobertson chocolate – Freddo Frog (above)

It was a fun and interesting dining experience at Orana. I did a little research and realised bush damper is part of the Aboriginal culture. So yes, it’s pretty amazing how head chef Jock designed the dish to allow us to experience a little of the Aboriginal culture by getting us to ‘cook’ our own (potato) damper. So if I could say… The meal doubled up as being educational too. At least forty seasonal Indigenous ingredients were used. And the restaurant was decorated with different pieces of Aboriginal artworks and native flower arrangement.

One definitely has to give it to head chef Jock. Even though he wasn’t born here, he chose to take on the task of preventing the Aboriginal tradition and culture from being wiped out. I read from an article that he first came to Australia in 1990s. After a few years, he left before returning in 2000 because his fascination of Australia refused to swindle. And it was his past conversation with an Aboriginal man in 1990s that inspired him to establish the Orana Foundation. Wow. And the Orana Foundation is a non-profit venture that works with Indigenous communities to preserve and promote Indigenous food and culture, and share skills training and employment opportunities.

No surprise that 2 sachets of native tea leaves were in the souvenir bag, which the staff passed to me as I made my way to the exit. And it’s a pity head chef Jock wasn’t at the restaurant during my meal. It’s only later that I realised it’s probably because he was filming MasterChef Australia: Back To Win, which premiered on 13 April ’20.

Do I recommend Orana? Oh yes! It may be pricey than other fine-dining restaurants, but I feel it’s justified. Please dine at Orana and experience the incredible things that head chef Jock and his team are doing!

RESTAURANT ORANA
1/285 Rundle Street, Adelaide, SA, Australia
+61 8 8232 3444, Website
Overall: 8.5
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 9
Fri : 12:00 – 15:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 8
Tues – Sat : 18:00 – 22:00 (Dinner)
Value: 8
Service: 9
* Closed on Mon & Sun

Lunch @ Sixpenny (Sydney, Australia)

September 9, 2020 in Australian, European by thywhaleliciousfay

Was chit chatting with my colleagues when our conversation shifted to food. And they were raving of their respective meals at Sixpenny. So it was only natural that I quickly made reservation for a weekend lunch. And 2 days before my meal, I received a text message reminding me of my reservation and asking for my dietary restriction.

The restaurant was a short 5 to 8 minutes walk from Stanmore station. And as I opened the entrance door, I immediately stepped into the main dining area. It being a pretty small space, there was no reception counter or waiting area. It was an awkward 5 seconds (although it felt like a good long minute) as I stood there alone, unsure who to speak to.


Interior (Picture Credit: Link)

Upon seated, I was told there wasn’t any physical menu at Sixpenny. The staff continued to mention there would be 5 savoury dishes and 2 desserts, with 2 add-on options; Oyster & dry-aged duck. I went with the latter only. And I commenced my lunch course, AUD175 with:-


1) Snacks, Complimentary (above) – Multi grain cracker with dried tomato and parmesan cream, and pai tee with tuna tartare.

  

2) Bread, Complimentary (above) – Sourdough bread with mascarpone butter.


3) Savoury #1 (above) – Cured coral trout with white peach, horseradish and kholrabi. And when the dish was placed in front of me, I thought the top layer was jelly. But no, it was actually fish! Placed like a disc over cubed vegetable and fruit. Wow.

4) Savoury #2 (above) – Kangaroo tartare, sweet potato crisp and dried cheese.

5) Savoury #3 (above) – Poached squid from Spencer Gulf with sweet peas and tomatillo (green tomato) broth.

6) Bread, Complimentary (above) – Yesterday’s sourdough. Was told the leftover dough was dried, powdered, mixed with new dough and coffee powder, and then (re)baked. And this tasted more sour than the first bread, which I actually preferred! So nice!

7) Savoury #4 (above) – Bass grouper from New Zealand with spinach, champagne butter sauce and cauliflower purée.


  

8) Dry aged duck, AUD30 (above) – So glad I ordered this an additional a-la carte dish. Amazing, amazing, amazing! The smoked duck breast was very aromatic and its texture was great. I was also told the cherry-braised beetroot was treated for 8 to 9 hours. So much hard work to produce this amazing dish! Loved this dish, lots. Was also surprised to see 2 other duck dishes served alongside the duck breast. Liver parfait with cherry and mustard jelly, and duck heart. Duck heart? Like what!?! I was impressed!


  

9) Savoury #5 (above) – Dry aged Borrowdale pork loin, mushroom and marsala demi-glace. This was a real stunner. From the looks to the taste. Pure perfection.

10) Dessert #1 (above) – Strawberry consommé, frozen strawberry and mead vinegar custard. Though it wasn’t mentioned in the dish introduction, I thought there might be frozen pomegranate too. I saw pictures of this prior to my visit and was hoping it would be on the menu when I came. And I was so glad it was because it was so good. A beautiful balance of sweet and sour.

11) Dessert #2 (above) – Red Anjou pear ice cream with toasted milk, caramelised white chocolate and warm salted dark chocolate sauce.

I enjoyed myself immensely at Sixpenny. There’s no doubt about the food. It was executed beautifully. It’s hard to pick a favourite cause every dish was so good.

And the thing about dining solo was that I had lots of time to observe my surrounding. And I thought Sixpenny had a pretty interesting way with their table arrangement. Instead of sitting opposite each other, customers in pairs sat beside each other to face the centre of the dining space. So it was almost like we were all eating together at one big dining table. Though I did find it odd that for a fine-dining establishment, we weren’t given stools to put our handbags on. Most ladies placed theirs on the floor while I hanged mine on my chair.

Would I recommend Sixpenny? A big yes. Definitely deserving of their 3 hats by Good Food Guide (2020).

SIXPENNY
83 Percival Road, Stanmore, Sydney, NSW, Australia
+61 2 9572 6666, Website
Overall: 8
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 9
Sat – Sun : 12:00 – 15:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 7
Wed – Sat : 18:00 – 22:00 (Dinner)
Value: 8
Service: 8
* Closed on Mon & Tues