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

 

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Liiiiisa, why would you eat me? 6 hour roast lamb

I like the concept of roasting low and slow. That you can take a cheap, shitty cut of meat and turn it into something truly wonderful. Something, juicy, tender and altogether moreish. I recently had a whole day of having to stay at home, studying. What better way to pass such a hideous day, than to have wafts of lamb floating through the house throughout the day. And what better way to achieve such wafts than cooking lamb over the course of an entire day. Well, half a day, because battling inner-city supermarkets at 9am is a several-hour mission in itself.

Anyway, the lamb. I bought a nice, big fat piece of shoulder from the butcher and roasted it at 120 for 6 hours with various flavours added along the way. The concept is that you get a shitty old piece of meat that has heaps of fatty bits and sinew running through it, which all render out and / or go all tender and melty and by the end you have this absolutely delicious piece of lamb on your fork – knives need not apply because this baby just falls apart in your mouth.

You will need:
– 1 piece of meat. You could use pork, beef, lamb, whatever. The idea is just to get one of the cheap cuts. These are the ones that benefit from the long, slow roast. Premium eye fillet ain’t got no home here. I chose lamb shoulder, as mentioned, about 2kgs
– 1 cup of dry white wine
– 1 cup of stock
– a couple of bay leaves
– 4 cloves of garlic
– a few anchovies (optional!)

Phase 1 – get stuffed: The first thing to do is trim up your meat. You don’t want to be too harsh – some of that fat and sinew in slow roasting is a good thing. What you want to remove is that really thick, pale yellow fat that looks like it could clog up your arteries with just one glance. After you’ve spent a bit of time doing that, place a few incisions nice and deep into your lamb shoulder. In it, slide a few slices from the garlic cloves and, if you like, a little piece of anchovy – don’t worry, it seems to mellow and break up during the cooking process. Turn your oven up to 120 degrees at this point. Then you want to get a pan nice and hot with a little oil. You want to brown the lamb shoulder in said appropriately sized pot (because it ain’t gonna get nice and brown cooking at 120 degrees). It’ll take about 10-15 mins and when you’re happy with the golden-ness, deglaze that hot mess by adding your wine and stock to the pot. At this point, add your bay leaves (oh and I also added half a leek, chopped in half…though I’m not quite sure what this added. Sweetness of some variety).

Lamb - phase one complete

Lamb – phase one complete

Phase 2 – hot hot heat: Into the oven goes your lamb, in the pot, lid on. That is all. Seriously, leave it there for the next 6 hours, perhaps turning ever couple of hours. I did the cartouche thing – i.e. putting a piece of baking paper over the lamb so it loses less moisture.

Phase 2 - complete

Phase 2 – complete

Phase 3 – get some lamb (or pork) on your fork: all you need to do now is let your lamb rest in the pot for about half an hour. This is coincidentally the time it takes to organise some epic roast pumpkin / potatoes. Then get your fork out – save the knife – and go mental

Phase 3 - get it in ya

Phase 3 – get it in ya

The Everest Kitchen, Marrickville

One of my favourite activities, like all kids these days, is travelling. And whilst travelling to Bali and getting drunk under the full moon on a beach and waking up the next morning with a cracking headache has its merits, I’m talking of the kind of travel where you throw caution to the wind, don’t look back over your shoulder and head to the great unknown – the countries with few westerners, even fewer english speakers and lots of weird and wonderful experiences.

Having had a recent spate of itchy feet for a good old travel abroad, stymied somewhat by my depressing annual leave and bank balances, I grabbed a dining friend and off we set, towards the setting sun, to the Everest Kitchen in Marrickville.

For a Saturday night, the atmosphere was worryingly subdued, but nevertheless, we were seated in the nicely Nepalese-themed restaurant. Once again, the mistake was made in nominating me as the designated dish chooser, which due to my excitement in trying new things invariably results in gross over-ordering.

We kicked off the night with an entree of six buffalo momo ($9). We’d demolished half by the time I remembered I was in the business of blogging. They looked fairly gyoza-like although were steamed, not fried. Having only had momo once previously, many years ago in the cultural epicentre that was early 2000s Brisbane, I had a different image in my head of a palm-sized circular, taller, very meaty dumpling, but what we ate at Everest Kitchen wasn’t bad. The filling was tasty, and went well with the cooling coriander-y dipping sauce, although I can’t say that the flavour of the buffalo was particularly striking. The pastry had a sufficiently chewy texture, though.

Mo' momo

Mo’ momo

We also had the potato cake ($7), which although fairly standard, was demolished before I had a chance to photograph.

For the mains, we went with a gargantuan plate of Everest grilled lamb ($18). Majority of the pile of lamb was very tender (although there were a couple of grissly pieces that involved animalistic chewing somewhat reminiscent of Homer Simpson wrestling a pork chop – you know what I’m talking about:

Hey, that's my pork chop

Hey, that’s my pork chop

Nevertheless, the lamb had a nice grill-y flavour and was a very generous serve. I’m not exactly sure what was so Everest-y about it, though. And guys – if you’re going to go with the side salad, don’t pull it from some container that’s been sitting around, drowning in dressing for the last 8 hours. The slightly spicy, almost capsicum-y sauce to the left was a nice accompaniment.

Everest lamb

Everest lamb

As if that wasn’t enough, I had spotted the table next to us scoffing down a platter of several dishes ($23). We clearly had to get this

 

Traditional Nepalese dinner set

Traditional Nepalese dinner set

I felt it was a pretty decent representative sample. Clockwise from the suspicious greeny liquid to the back – a dhal which was disappointingly underwhelming, although which had a nice texture in that you could still tell the lentils existed. Then, pappadums – pretty hard to stuff those up. The forest green veg was next – I think these were mustard leaves and as anyone who knows what hell my parents inflicted on me throughout my childhood with their incessant love of mustard plant…I’m not a huge fan. They were cooked well, though, retaining their crunchy texture. Next up, a red plate of a pickly chutney of some sort. I was expecting it to be a little punchier, but it had great flavour. There was a cooling yoghurt next – nothing too exciting, but was a nice contrast. Then a very tender chicken curry with a decent serving of the meat – this was probably my favourite of the plate. Last up, a bamboo curry, which was actually pretty good. Not particularly hot, but retained the nice flavour and texture of bamboo shoots.

That was about all we could fit in and with satisfied stomachs, we rolled ourselves out the door and into the night. The Everest Kitchen was nice, homely, had good service and the food was quite good, if not a little patchy in some areas – but hey, doesn’t that all add to the charm?

The Everest Kitchen
314 Victoria Road, Marrickville

Food: 6/10
Drinks: a can of lift is hard to mess up, although they did have a couple of lassis available
Atmosphere: 7/10 – a nice, non-tacky selection of photos, prayer flags and other Nepalese ornaments
Recommend it? I actually think it’d be a cool place to grab a bunch of friends and have a bit of a birthday feast. It’s not too expensive, the look of the place is nice, the service is good. The food is generally pretty good, though not outrageously overwhelming.

 

The Everest Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Two for the price of one – baked lamb meatballs and baked eggplant extravaganza

We recently had a (relatively) bloody cold day in Sydney, even though getting into summer the temperature should be hovering around the high twenties. Realising this was probably my last chance to eat warming, scrummy comfort food before the onslaught of what is an Australian summer hits, I took the opportunity to cook up a storm – baked lamb meatballs, and also what I would like to call a baked eggplant extravaganza. I give you good deal – two for the price of one.

I actually only took a picture of the lamb meatballs as both dishes looked approximately exactly the same – various delicious goods baked in a hearty tomato sauce and topped with stretchy, gooey mozzarella look the same – whaddaya know.

First up – the lamb.

You will need:
– Lamb! I baked enough for about 3 or 4 people and used about 500 grams of minced lamb
– 1 onion, diced (I used half in the meatballs and half in the tomato sauce)
– 4 cloves of garlic, chopped (because everyone should get more bullish about garlic) – half for the meatballs, half for the sauce
– salt and pepper to taste
– a nice handful of basil
– 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
– a couple of those little baby eggplant (or half a big eggplant), cut into small (say, 1cm) chunks (optional)
– tomato paste
– 1 nice, hot red chilli (optional)
– mozzarella (however cheesey you like your food) – I used about 4 of those bocconcini (the smaller mozzarella) balls

Step 1 – mary had a little lamb: in a bowl, mix your lamb, half the onion, half the garlic, salt and pepper and half the basil. Get your hands in there and really give it a good mix. Roll these into little spheres – however big you like (I went for golf-ball sized) and, if you like, stuff a tiny cube of mozzarella into each ball. Make sure you seal the meat around the cheese well!

Gettin’ friendly

Step 2 – if at first you don’t succeed, then fry, fry again: heat some olive oil in a saucepan on a med-high heat and place your beautiful meatballs in to fry, turning as each side becomes golden.

Lamby goodness

Step 3 – mamma mia: once your meatballs are golden (don’t be too worried if they’re not cooked through at this stage), add your eggplants (if using) and fry off for a couple of minutes. Tip in a can of diced tomatoes, the remaining basil, some tomato paste and chilli, if you want a little heat. Let these simmer away for a few minutes until some of the liquid evaporates.

Simmer away, my little lamby friends

Step 4 – wakey bakey: you could stop at step 3 and have a delicious dish – a really great pasta sauce, even – but in the words of some wanky chef, somewhere, I’m going to take this one to the next level (I got this). Tip your meaty lamby mixture into a casserole dish, top with carelessly torn mozzarella, strewn at random, and bake at about 200 degrees celcius until the mozza is melty and slightly goldy.

Baked lamb droolballs

Second up… for those Sunday nights when the depression of the coming work week hits its hardest, you’ve come off the back of a busy, fun filled weekend of running around, hanging out in the sun and having a brewski or two…and all you want is dinner on a plate, in front of your, not in an hour… now.

You will need:
– the rest of that pack of baby eggplant you bought for the lamb meatballs recipe… (I used about 5 or so)
– bacon! I used about 5 rashers, chopped
– half an onion, chopped
– 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
– the rest of the mozzarella (if you like getting cheesey)
– a tin of diced tomatoes
– basil, a nice handful

Step 1 – there’s really only one step: heat a saucepan – you don’t really need oil, some will come from the bacon fat (yes, gross, but delicious). Chuck in your bacon and onion and fry until the onion is translucent and the bacon with nice little golden bits on it (oh, and until any bacon fat renders). Add your garlic at this point, and also the eggplants, halved. Fry your eggplants until they’re nice and golden and gettin’ squishy. Tip in your tomatoes and basil. Simmer until some of the water has evaporated. Then, if you like, tip into a baking dish, top with mozzarella and bake at 200 degrees until it all looks nicely golden and melty. That’s it! That’s all.