Restaurant Atelier, Glebe

There it was. Out of the blue. An invitation to dine at Restaurant Atelier in Glebe last Friday night. Incredible! Having lived in Glebe in my first year in Sydney, walking past the terrace restaurant sometimes multiple times per day, I had been wanting to dine there for ages.

Facing the not particularly difficult choice of two degustation menus (4 or 7 course), we took the option that a quick race is a good race, and decided on the 4 course dinner ($65). Immediately a cute plate of black and green olives were plonked down on our table, their slight saltiness making my mouth water in anticipation.

Soon after, we were presented with a pretty large serving of the warmest, crustiest, most delicious sourdough I have had in a while. I know I made the same claim about Soffrito’s bread a couple of weeks back, but there is a new king in town. I don’t know if they actually make it on site, but it was fantastic. And even better served with a little Pepe Saya butter (apparently the only butter we are supposed to eat these days…). But it was warm…and the butter was melty and, yes, we unashamedly ate the whole plate. Who are you judging?

Bread head

Bread head

First up for our epic meal – the Atelier hen’s egg, a smooth custardy creamy “yolk” with kombu, foie gras, ocean trout roe – bursting (literally) with flavour – and little micro herbs for that bite of freshness. I enjoyed the exciting burst and saltiness of the roe (yes, I’m a food nerd. The bursting roe was indeed exciting). The foie gras was super creamy, really rounding out the dish. A really great, delicate introduction to the meal.

A hen's egg is a chicken's egg, people!

A hen’s egg is a chicken’s egg, people!

Next up, an admittedly terrible photo, which I put down to excessive excitement about the dish placed in front of me. Cured kingfish, confit yolk, potentially shiitakes and a light mushroomy shaving. Yes, I was definitely so excited by the dish that I forgot what was in it. Useless. The central concept that was it was super fresh, lightly cured fish, with various delicious condiments that went really well. Part of the fish was actually relatively tough and hard to cut through! But that is potentially just me not understanding that type of fish. Another winning dish.

Here fishy fishy

Here fishy fishy

Onwards and upwards to number three. After two fairly light dishes, it was comforting to see a nice, hearty, powerful-looking plate in front of me. So it was basically aged mutton cooked two ways. The pink piece in the centre was a beautifully flavourful seared few mouthfuls of lamby goodness. There’s another one of those hidden under the foliage. The second way was a fantastic slow roasted rib of the meat. Falling off the bone and incredibly tender; the fat melting through the meat and adding a sticky deliciousness to the whole thing. Some asparagus and baby turnips, as well as some form of tasty moussey stuff accompanied, and it really was satisfying.

Little lamby

Little lamby

Winding down towards the end of the night, satisfied but also sad that there was only one more dish to round out the night at such a great restaurant (with solid service, too!), we were presented with dessert – a banana souffle, caramel milkshake and yoghurt sorbet. I think Atelier has had a few iterations of this dessert with various flavours, but I think we landed on a winner. The souffle had chunks of caramelised banana at the bottom and we were advised to tip a little of the caramel milkshake into the souffle – a quality suggestion indeed. The yoghurt sorbet added a nice slight tartness to the dish and even with bursting tummies, the plates were licked clean.

Bananarama

Bananarama

All in all, a great night was had at Restaurant Atelier in Glebe. The service, despite a fairly full restaurant and only two waiters, was spot on. I really liked the touch of being explained the various components of the dish (although, as illustrated, through my excitement the detail was somewhat lost on me). The portion sizes were sufficient so that by the end of the four courses I was pretty full – a good taste of everything. I liked that the food was delicate and of top quality.

Restaurant Atelier
22 Glebe Point Road, Glebe

Food? 9/10! Tasty, good quality, a great succession of meals and tastes. Was it French? Well…probably not specifically…but it was good. And you can’t go wrong with starting out with great quality, warm, crusty sourdough.
Drinks? I actually have to admit that, having had about 84 beers earlier that evening, I didn’t pay too much attention to it. What a fail.
Atmosphere? The restaurant is set in a beautiful sandstone terrace, which was very comfortable (although as with all terraces, when sitting next to a…gaggle of cackling women (as we were), you should probably bring some earplugs or fear a rapid onset of deafness.

Restaurant Atelier on Urbanspoon

 

Soffritto, Newtown

It’s been 4 years since I spotted some cute looking guy kayaking towards me, trying to teach me that paddling in a straight line isn’t THAT hard. I still haven’t got it yet. But after countless adventures, numerous camping trips, bazillions of uni exams, temper tantrums on the ski slopes (well, from my part), transitions to becoming fledgling adults and four years that I wish I could joke about and say they were the longest of my life….but which have absolutely flown by like a non-crashing Concorde…here we are. And what better way to celebrate than to head to a beautiful little restaurant, down towards the quiet end of King Street in Newtown, Soffritto.

We opted to go for the three-courser, $55, with around half a dozen options for each course. Shortly after ordering, we were presented with a plate of house made sourdough and olive oil. The bread was much in the style of damper, but had a great crust, and the olive oil was fruity and zesty.

For entrees, DF went for the mushroom and truffle gnocchi. It was quite light and did have a noticeable truffle flavour. The finishing of parmesan went down a treat. Quite a generous serving, as well. I actually really like it when gnocchi is finished off in the pan to give a lightly crisp finish, though even without this, it was a solid dish.

Gnocchi me out

Gnocchi me out

I opted for an oft-reviewed duck tortellini, served with a beautifully nutty burnt butter and crisp sage sauce. There was literally nothing I could fault about this dish (well, maybe only the rush with which the waiter brought the dish, messing it up a little, but that’s just getting nit-picky). It was fantastic. Five plump tortellini, almost bursting with duck, and cooked until perfectly al dente, and finished off with a few crispy sage leaves and a good shaving of parmesan, along with that nutty burnt butter. Could have eaten about four of these.

Lucky ducky

Lucky ducky

Mains up next and DF opted for the crisp skin barramundi, served with baby leeks and almond quinoa. It was a crying shame that DF doesn’t like fish skin, because it looked super crisp and delicious (and socially awkward for me to reach across at a nice restaurant and eat it). He liked the almonds that accompanied the quinoa (though it did look like they could have been slivered or something). The fish was cooked perfectly.

Barra

Barra

I chose the roast fillet of beef wrapped in pancetta with garlic spinach (I think there were supposed to be mushrooms involved, although there was no sign of this) and mash. The beef was cooked perfectly – I like it quite rare, and that it was. Very tender. The spinach was deliciously garlicky. We also ordered some (pretty unnecessary) roast potatoes, which were stellar.

High steaks

High steaks

With tummies rapidly filling, we were surprisingly still looking forward to the desserts, expecting big things. DF went for a creme brulee with pear compote. Solid crackly top; thick and smooth custard and a sweetly tart pear. He complained about the absence of ice cream, as the resident ice cream freak, but apart from that it was gobbled up in a matter of minutes.

Creme of the brulee variety

Creme of the brulee variety

And last but not least, I went for death by chocolate – a warm chocolate fondant with ice cream and berries. There’s really no way you can stuff up a fondant. You essentially just undercook a chocolate cake. I don’t know who came up with it, but they’re a bloody genius. In fact, in hindsight I think this may have been described as a chocolate pudding, in which case, yes it was legitimately undercooked. Either way, I’m going with the theory that it was on purpose. Big blob of ice cream on top – the hot, the cold – and you’re laughing.

Fon-don't make me stop eating this

Fon-don’t make me stop eating this

Overall, a great experience was had by all. The restaurant was absolutely bustling (people were being turned away!), the food was of a high standard and the service was pretty consistent and charming (especially considering the diner to waiter ratio – far in favour of the diners). A nice place to go for a special occasion and I will be back.

Soffritto Newtown
367 King St, Newtown

Food? 9/10. My go-to dish is absolutely the duck tortellini. No complaints about any of the others. Generous servings, good ingredients. More care could have been taken with the dishes during the journey from kitchen to table, but the food itself was overall really very good.
Drinks? Not too bad. A few wines by the glass and a few bottled beers (though I believe you can also bring your own wine).
Atmosphere? I liked it. It’s a fairly small restaurant – perhaps 10 tables – and it was bustling. The decor is quite nice, the waiters dealt with the busy-ness well and it was overall a good night. Entrees came out strikingly fast as well.

 Soffritto on Urbanspoon

Shenkin Kitchen, Enmore

I found out, this morning, that we have a resident duck in the neighbourhood. I found this out because at the somewhat ungodly hour of 6:30am on a Sunday morning, that duck decided that it would bring out its inner rooster and let the neighbourhood know that morning had reared its ugly head. I mean, arrived.

But in my new attempt to see the good in everything, early Sunday mornings bring brisk morning walks in the cool, fresh air along quiet, uninterrupted streets. And brisk walks lead us to brunch spots. Uncrowded brunch spots.

Beating all of those suckers that wake up at 10am only to wait by the side of a bustling street for a tiny, wobbly chair in the middle of a kitchen-to-patron thoroughfare, we turned up at Shenkin Kitchen, fresh faced and rosy cheeked, with hardly a soul in sight. Brilliant.

Lovely

Lovely

No sooner had we stepped through the door, the ubiquitously-moustached wait staff had greeted us with a friendly g’day, and asked for our coffee order. Now that’s efficiency. Glancing across to the giant drinks blackboard across the room, we went for a caramel milkshake (typical dining friend behaviour – $5.50 – can’t believe he didn’t get the oreo cookie-filled “harlem shake”) and a coconut hot chocolate ($4.50).

Delish

Delish

DF, resident milkshake expert of years gone by, commented that they key to a winning milkshake is the combo of cold, cold milk (colder than a fridge; not as cold as a freezer) and ice cream. This caramel milkshake got the thumbs up.

So icy, so milky

So icy, so milky

I was super impressed with the coconut hot chocolate. A rich, chocolatey drink with more than a hint of coconut. Delicious. I’m not sure I’ll be able to go back to boring old regular hot chocolate after this.

Coco-nutso

Coco-nutso

We took a fair while to make our way through the lengthy breakfast menu. DF incredibly lamely went for the bacon and egg pita ($8), which – sadly – was not actually served on a pita, but rather a regular white roll. DF’s comments were, of course, “good, tasty, I liked it”. Basically it wasn’t particularly fancy – it did the job.

Egg and bacon non-pita

Egg and bacon non-pita

I had the Angelita special – $17 – a puff pastry semi-circle filled with a fried egg, a zingy little coriander sauce, their “famous shakshuka sauce” and then a generically square shaped slice of cheese. It was a pretty tasty morsel. I reckon it could’ve done with another egg in that little parcel and there was definitely something left to be desired in terms of presentation. But overall, not a bad way to start the day.

Angelita special

Angelita special

I like Shenkin Kitchen. Every time I’ve ever walked past there, it has been jam packed – hence grabbing an early Sunday morning brunch session like a bull’s horns. The staff were super friendly, there was a delicious-looking array of various cakes, muffins and slices on the countertop, the menu was nice and imaginative and the interior of the building is pretty cool and well-decked out. If I’m ever up that early again, I’ll be back.

Shenkin Kitchen
129 Enmore Road
Enmore, NSW 2042

Food? 7/10. Our meals weren’t crazy exciting and eye-poppingly amazing. They were good and solid. I’d really like to try some other things from the menu though. They look good and I was flustered with the extensive range
Drinks? 8/10. Two thumbs up for the milkshake and hot choc. They had a few other good-looking milkshakes and various frappes – not too bad at all
Atmosphere? 9/10. Cool interior, very rough and ready. Gets super-mega-busy by the time 9am rolls around so I can’t speak for it then

Shenkin Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Carrot cake: the cake of carrots (that isn’t gross)

Whilst the fundamental concept of carrot cake is, well, a little weird, it’s actually a delicious cake. And a home made one even more so. It doesn’t taste like carrots. You can’t even see the carrots. It’s not a carrot surprise (thanks for that one, Dad). It’s just nutmeggy, sort of sweet, non-dry and altogether delicious.

For one super fantastic cake (I made mine in a loaf tin, but I think you could get around 12 muffins out of this, too) you will need:
- 1/2 cup of butter, softened
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup-worth of finely shredded carrot (I used 2 big-ish carrots)
- 1/2 cup walnuts (toasted in a dry pan) (optional!)
- 1/2 cup sultanas (optional!)
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup self-raising flour
- 1/2 teaspoon bi-carb
- pinch of salt
- nutmeg
- cinnamon

For the super epic cream cheese frosting, you will need:
- 180g cream cheese
- 4 tablespoons icing sugar
- about 1 tablespoon of butter, softened
- 2-3 of tablespoons of lemon juice

Step 1 – it’s cake time: heat your oven up to 180 degrees celsius. In a bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and airy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. At this point, add your other cake-related ingredients. I’m quite bullish on nutmeg and cinnamon so I literally added about 2 teaspoons of cinnamon and half a fresh nutmeg; add less if you’re less of a fan (and therefore less awesome). Pour into a greased pan and bake for about 40-50 mins (if it’s in a cake tin), prob about half that time if they are muffins.

Step 2 – filla: mix together all of the frosting ingredients in a beating-fashion. When the cake is cool, cut it in half and spread the frosting in between the two halves. Bloody good.

Carrot cake. A cake of carrots.

Carrot cake. A cake of carrots.

An elegant taste test of frozen dumplings aka I go dumpling crazy

It was a need that had been brewing in my mind. I had been thinking about it for a while. A problem that had to be solved; that wouldn’t just go away. A fundamental problem? Perhaps. But one that I could manage? Not alone. It was, scary, it was ever present…and it had to be managed swiftly.

I needed dumplings.

Fundamental indeed. This problem in mind, a brave dining friend and I ventured far into the night (Burwood) and into Sydney Dumpling King. Looking at the extensive array of dumplings, I briefly felt we had bitten off more than we could chew (and then realised that there were essentially about 5 ingredients on high rotation to make up the 28 varieties of dumpling on offer). We chose a half-half dish of boiled dumplings – fish and coriander / prawn with eggs, chives and wood-ear mushrooms, as well as a half-half dish of fried dumplings, pot-sticker style – beef with celery and pork with zucchini (feeling experimental). Each had 15 dumplings and were reasonably priced – $14 for the seafood; $11-ish ($9-ish plus a $2 frying fee) for the beef/pork versions.

The two ladies hand-making all of those dumplings were the fastest-working people I have ever seen in my life. Who rolls out and fills dough that quickly? Anyway, they were mainly delicious. The pork and zucchini was, somewhat expectedly, kind of bland. Both seafood versions were great and the beef and celery was surprisingly tasty. I did prefer the texture of the fried, but that’s just me. And it was reassuring to see those ladies and know that it was not mystery meat in the dumpling.

I'm pretty much dumpling royalty

Various seafood dumplings

Nicely fried beef/pork dumplings

Nicely fried beef/pork dumplings

Like some slow rolling dumpling train on the verge of picking up even more dumplings I felt the undying urge to perpetuate this dumpling-foolery. I proceeded to the closest Asian grocery and stocked up. Yum Cha weekend bonanza!

The cheong fun was pretty sad. Three dried out prawns in each of the thick, dried out pastry. Skip this one and hold out for yum cha.

Cheong fun or cheong sum? I can never remember

Cheong fun or cheong sum? I can never remember

The har gau was more like spinach gau, sadly! The pastry was similarly fairly thick – a common theme in the world of frozen dumplings. Again, one to hold out for yum cha.

Spinach gau?

Spinach gau?

The surprise winners of the day were the shanghai-style dumplings. I bought pork and vegetable, pork and coriander and then some form of mystery meat “juicy buns” aka everyone’s favourite xiao long bau. Again, the common theme of fairly thick pastry continued but the dumplings contained a nice soupiness (and also can be steamed from frozen in 12 minutes or less). Winning. Oh and for c.$4 per packet, who is complaining?

Dumpling mania

Dumpling mania

I also bought a few mystery sauces…

XLB

XLB

I also bought a pack of frozen green onion pancakes. Now, I’m not sure if this is testament to the quality of the product…or a reflection of the (sub par) green onion pancakes of meals past. But these were one of the best I’ve ever had. Check this flakiness (ignore the kind of burnt bits):

So flaky

So flaky

Anyway, this weekend has been a total yum cha bonanza. I’m pretty sure my nutrient levels are 100% depleted, but it sure has been a delicious couple of days…