I seem to never be prepared with my proper camera for all the food experiences I have and I’m often left to take photos on my iPhone, which is surprisingly pretty good. I have put together a little collection of some of these photos from Feb & March this year. During the day the camera works perfectly, but as night hits the photos start to become dull and lifeless as the flash is not too great. Anyways, the point is to get an idea of what the food is like at these places, so I hope they help. I guess you will know if I truly liked the place, as I will most likely do a follow up blog on their establishment with some better photos =P.

The Tree House – North Sydney

This place has just recently opened in North Sydney, and since it’s extremely local I have already been past a few times. The place really kicks off on a Friday night with the whole corporate crowd. I caught up with some of my girlfriends to celebrate my birthday and also had brunch here on the day after my actual birthday party (good hangover food).

Warm garlic and balsamic bread, with extra virgin olive oil, I guess pretty standard bread, no flavour really jumped out and grabbed me. I try to stay clear of bread before a meal anyway, as it is to easy to fill up on.

The signature Tree House pomegranate punch with Russian vodka, pomegranate syrup, touch of lime and then topped with cranberry juice. Very refreshing on a warm afternoon, I needed a few drinks to ease myself back into work mode from no longer being on holidays.

The smoked ocean trout nicoise salad was flavoursome and fresh, I especially liked the presentation twist of the small quail eggs instead of the normal boiled chicken egg. Trout is definitely my preferred pink fish, as it has a lighter texture and flavour in comparison to a salmon.

The steak house chips are everything you want and more after a big night out. They have a nice bitey crunch, are a decent chunky size, and come in a good portion size for sharing.

This is the mango, raspberry and coconut trifle with amaretto. The trifle was light and fluffy, with the mango and raspberry going well for presentation, unfortunately the flavour of the fruit was not as vibrant as the colour made out.

The Tree House is very cool and laid back, with service being pretty good, the staff are all extremely young and friendly. There is plenty of seating indoor and outdoors so I can’t imagine it being too much of a struggle to grab a seat, and I don’t think making a booking is essential.  I will definitely be coming back as this is the most recent wine bar/restaurant to open up in the area.

http://www.thetreehousehotel.com.au/

The Winery – Surry Hills

On Friday last week, our team from work decided to head to The Winery for some wining and dining. We all work in trade events at Tourism Australia and with our annual trade show ATE coming up in the next few weeks, we thought it would be good to stretch our stomachs and prepare ourselves for what is to come. We stuck with the tapas menu, and ordered a few serves of different dishes, and between the seven of us we managed to polish most of it off, good effort I must say!

Our first round of tapas came out and our table top was just covered in food. We went with the mixed olives, seared tuna with marinated pepper, fetta and baby herb salad, Spanish serrano jamon and the crispy squid with shredded snow peas and chilli lime dressing. Each of the dishes were good for tapas and very easy to share amoung us. The squid was really yummy with everyone enjoying the dipping sauce. The serrano jamon was also nice and not overly salty/fatty, but it needed something to go with it as we were eating it by the slice, it would of been better to come out with the second round of food as it would of complemented well with the mushrooms. The tuna was lightly seared on the outside, with fresh pink meat on the inside, this wasn’t as popular amongst the others but I really enjoyed it, I guess individual tastes may not like uncooked fish.

Our plates were all cleared and round two was laid out before us…

The second round consisted of stuffed roasted mushrooms with ricotta, pine nuts and pesto, a tomato and buffalo mozzarella salad with a sticky basil balsamic dressing and veal and chorizo sausage rolls with a tomato and chilli jam. These dishes were a lot heavier then the previous, and left us feeling satisfied and full. The mushrooms were a bit too oily for my liking and had many strong flavours in the one dish, which was quite overpowering. The tomato salad was made with a mixture of different tomato types that plated up very vibrantly and tasted crunchy and sweet. The sausage rolls were one of my favourites with the outer layer being a crunchy shell in which the veal and chorizo were encased, the accompanying tomato and chilli jam was chunky and worked well with the rolls, but we seemed to run out of it very quickly.

By this stage we were all pretty full, but we decided to look at the dessert menu with a few of us going ahead and ordering (me being one of them of course).

I went with the lightest option on the menu being the cointreau soaked strawberries with balsamic ice cream. I expected the ice cream to be quite strong in flavour, but the balsamic was subtle and and barely noticeable when you took a spoon of it with the cointreau strawberries. Great way to to end the meal and I thankfully didn’t walk out feeling unbearably full.

Two of the girls went with the double chocolate brownie, fairy floss and vanilla bean ice cream, which sounded so heavenly, yet I couldn’t find the room to fit it in. The girls commented that the brownie slice could of been a bit smaller, this is the perfect dessert for all those chocoholics out there.

Last but not least was the homemade baked cheesecake with a berry coulis. Like most sweet foods, I really enjoy a good cheesecake, you can just see from the photo that the cheese filling looks so light, and has a close resemblance to whipped butter, the cake has been freshly made as it is not crumbling and doesn’t have a dry look to it.

I will just leave you with a few photos of the interior, I really liked that dear heads with the hanging crucifixes (I wouldn’t personally have them in my own house) but the concept of hanging lights off them was interesting and adds to the intrigue of the venue.

http://www.thewinerybygazebo.com.au/

Raw – Bondi Beach

Before watching a movie at Bondi Junction the other night we stopped off at Raw down on Bondi Beach for a small bite to eat. The place was recommended by a friend of mine, who commented that it has some of the best Japanese food in Sydney. It was a nice night so we took a seat outside and enjoyed our food with the sunset over Sydney’s most beloved beach.

Unfortunately you don’t get any sea views from the restaurant….

But we were invited to a fantastic sunset.

We started with the inside out spider crab roll, which consists of soft shell crab, cucumber, fish roe and jalapeno sauce with mayonnaise. The rolls are made fresh on the spot, and the dish was served warm as the soft shell crab had just been cooked. I have a new love of the pickled ginger and was happy that each dish came with a nicely sized portion.

We had the assorted 12 piece sashimi next that had a mixture of salmon, tuna and king fish. Both the tuna and salmon were smooth and full of flavour and you could tell the pieces were from a good part of the fish as they each had the marble like effect which is the natural fat layers which add to the flavour.

We finished off with a mixture of the large rolls and chose 4 pieces of the chicken teriyaki roll with avocado lettuce and cucumber (the pieces on the bottom right) and then went with 8 pieces of the Kyoto roll that was char grilled salmon, avocado, fish roe and mayonnaise. The chicken was too dry for my liking but the char grilled salmon was cooked to perfection and still moist in texture.

So much for just having a light meal, by the end of all this and a bowl of miso soup each we were beyond full (must of been the rice). The meal was quite pricey and we ended up paying just over $80, but the serving sizes and quality of most of the dishes was worth the higher price. The place packed out really quickly so I would suggest making a booking or getting there early to grab a table outside, I hope you all receive a beautiful sunset like we did.

http://www.rawbar.com.au/

Baking & Making – My Crib

I have been trying really hard recently to cook more stuff at home, but in between work, uni and a social life I seem to always be short for time. Here are two little things I made; I promise that the next time I cook it will be something savoury.

Vanilla bean ice cream with chocolate cookies, I would call this my attempt at cookies and cream but felt that it was a bit too sweet, probably put less sweetened condensed milk next time. I copied the recipe from eating well who titles it as a healthy homemade ice-cream. Each serve (above tub is 8 serves) was approximately 200 calories before I added the biscuits, so I’d guess it was a bout 260 calories per serve in the end. My family enjoyed it so that was good and it wasn’t as ‘healthy’ as I intended but that’s ok, I was happy to be getting some use out of my new ice cream maker.

My second cooking expedition consisted of honey and ginger cookies with icing. Our oven was a bit too hot so they cooked through extrodinarily fast and got to a really dark golden colour. Thankfully that didn’t affect their taste with the mixture of honey and ginger going really well together. Next time I would even omit the icing and just make a batch of the cookies plain. I grabbed this recipe from the Taste website, you can view it here.

Hope you have enjoyed looking throught these mini posts of certain venues from the past few weeks. I will be putting up a post soon on a dinner at Ms. G’s in Darlinghurst. Have a good week everyone xx