Monday, June 18, 2012

Hartsyard, Newtown

On Thursday it was my birthday, and I couldn't think of a better way to have spent it than gorging myself stupid at Hartsyard. Another new Newtown eatery generating big buzz for its American/Canadian influenced nosh, the decor is suitably on-trend with hanging light bulbs and steel pipe shelving framing the bar. However there's no big names behind this new restaurant, it's headed by husband/wife duo Gregory and Naomi who serve stunning food without the pretentiousness. There's a decent wine list and a quirky and unique cocktail menu - try the Manhattan made with bacon-infused vodka and garnished with a piece of candied bacon. I also thought it was worth mentioning that we sat next to Terry Durack of SMH's Good Living that night... I hope he didn't judge me for being another "Female Asian Blogger" when I took out my DSLR.

Radishes and Butter, Hartsyard
Radishes $14

The menu is designed for sharing and split into two categories, Seed and Feed. Seed is compromised of smaller, lighter snacks while Feed indicates the heavier, meatier dishes. James and I decide to go halves on two Seed dishes to start and the four of us would then share four more Feed dishes as mains (probably a bit too ambitiously). The first of ours was the radishes, thinly shaved and beautifully presentled with red onions and baby watercress on a layer of fragrant smoked butter. A delicate and refreshing dish, it was definitely needed to help cut through the grease that we were about to consume...

Oyster Po Boy, Hartsyard
Oyster Po' Boy $16

Stephannie and Jordan share the oyster po' bay, miniature burgers of housemade English muffin and deep-fried oyster dressed with coleslaw and Old Bay mayonnaise.

Poutine, Hartsyard
Poutine $19

The poutine induced tears of joy and involuntary moaning at the table. It was also one of the main reasons that we were here. A big bowl of fat, crispy potato chips rested in a pool of creamy, pale-coloured oxtail gravy and beer sauce, topped with beef threads and shredded cheddar. Hidden beneath the chips in the sauce were soft, melt-your-mouth pieces of beef - there are really no words for this and we requested additional muffins to mop up that glorious gravy. I'm just grateful that Stephannie was wise enough to order two of these for our table, there might've been messy knife fights at the table otherwise. When I was explaining poutine to a friend later, she asked me, "Do you really want to pay twenty dollars for chips and gravy, though?" Why yes, yes I do.

Salmon in a Jar, Hartsyard
Salmon Cooked in a Jar $19

The salmon cooked in a jar was actually incredible, and turned out to be my favourite dish of the night. My curiosity was piqued by the unconventional preparation, and what arrived was a rather inconspicuous piece of fish sitting on a hidden piece of slice of cured pork in a small Fido jar. It was served with a light and refreshing sorrel salad, with rye crisps, creme fraiche and cornichon on the side. However, my mind was blown when I tentatively sampled a small forkful of the bright orange flesh - it was insanely tender, soft and buttery beyond the realms of the best sashimi I've had and literally, literally dissolved on my tongue like magic. I just can't get over it, and it was so incomprehensibly luscious with a dab of the creme fraiche. Dying.

Cold Smoked Fried Chicken, Hartsyard
Cold-smoked Fried Chicken $26

With a salty and ludicrously crunchy coating, the four generous pieces of cold-smoked fried chicken surprisingly revealed tender and succulent flesh. After three deep-fried dishes, we were understandably fatigued by the salty low country sausage gravy, which felt like overkill at this point. However I still loved the warm and fluffy buttermilk biscuit, which would've been perfect to mop up gravy at any other time. I also ate the gnarly piece of rogue deep-fried chicken skin I found at the bottom (bonus!).

Duck Confit, Hartsyard
Honey-glazed Duck Breast and Confit $31

The honey-glazed duck breast and confit was revealed to be another artfully-plated masterpiece. The menu seems also to be split into two alternative categories - the hearty, homely and fried vs. the arty, comely and refined. The four pink slices of duck were carefully arranged, daubed with fennel puree and showered with hazelnut praline and crackling. The duck was tender and sweet with honey and went beautifully with the crisp praline and delicate duck crackling. The duck confit had been shredded, balled, crumbled and deep-fried into playful little sphere of flavour.

Rhubarb Crumble, Hartsyard
Rhubarb Crumble $16

With Steph and Jordan were stuffed out of the game (weaklings), James and I powered on to share dessert. Eyeing up the sundae with a longing yet defeated eye, I decided to instead go for the rhurbarb crumble, for our bodies' sake. Another gorgeously presented dish, it was a refreshing assembly of strawberry sorbet and dehydrated rhubarb sticks on a bed of malted milk and burnt butter crumbs, topped with a sweet pomegranate sauce and light, crisp parsnip chips. A perfect end to the most indulgence meal. Bliss.

33 Enmore Rd, Newtown 2042
(02) 8068 1473

Hartsyard on Urbanspoon

Monday, June 11, 2012

Eat Art Truck, Sydney

I was super excited when I first heard news of Sydney's food truck revolution. Late night dining would never been the same again! No more stomach-churning kebabs, McDonalds or the poor excuses for pies from Pie Face. Eat Art Truck, the second of the food truck fleet to hit the city streets, is manned by ex-Tetsuyas sous chef Stuart McGill and ex-Quay sous chef Brenton Balicki. Dishing out Asian-inspired take-away from one side of the truck, the other is a roaming canvas featuring work by local street artists.

Chicken Sembe, Eat Art Truck
Chicken Sembe $5

The chicken sembe is to die for, almost literally. Artery-clogging deep-fried chicken skin is drizzled with chilli mayo, the greasily satisfying crunch is just so good yet so bad. The chilli mayo adds a little kick, enhancing the ridiculous moreish-ness of the pieces. If something that tastes so good is this bad for you, then I don't want to live.

Kinpira Salad and Spatchcock Ssam, Eat Art Truck
Kinpira Salad $8 and Spatchcock Ssam $12

The kinpira salad is a mix of gobo (burdock roots), shredded carrot, edamame and sesame seeds, sauteed with soy sauce and mirin. It's refreshing, crunchy and a little spicy-sweet. The spatchcock ssam is served in a lettuce leaf, filled with shredded confit spatchcock, shallots, vermicelli and fried garlic. Fiery with chilli oil, it was very messy to pick and eat, so definitely tackle it with a fork.

Pulled Pork and BBQ Beef Rolls, Eat Art Truck
BBQ Beef $12 and Pulled Pork $12 

The BBQ beef is a spicy piece of work, slices of meat stuffed into a sweet bun with coleslaw and doused in hot sauce. It was super tasty but my wimpy taste buds struggled to handle the heat. The pulled pork was much more to my liking, with hot smoked pulled pork in the same soft bun with mustard cabbage and wild turkey BBQ sauce. Succulent, sweet and saucy, it's definitely my idea of a perfect late-night feed. The truck also offers a selection of house-made juices, my favourite being the apple and pomegranate, which is pulpy and sweet with whole pomegranate seeds floating around inside.

Eat Art Truck
Streets of Sydney
0439 841 008

Eat Art Truck on Urbanspoon

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Essen Restaurant & Beer Cafe, Ultimo

Essen Restaurant & Beer Cafe is a northern European restaurant which I first visited working with Secret Foodies, where it was the venue for our Dutch Spring dinner. We had a fantastic time that night being introduced to Dutch food by Netherlands-native chef and owner Geert, and I was kindly invited back to the restaurant to try their German speciality, the reuben sandwich.

Deep-fried Camembert, Essen
Deep-fried Camembert $10

Our lunch started with the deep-fried camembert, indulgent wedges of creamy cheese coated with a layer of breadcrumbs and deep-fried to a crisp. The golden exterior held gooey innards of melted cheese, which disappeared much too quickly into my mouth.  The cranberry compote was a sweet jam-like accompaniment that cut through the richness of the camembert, but I preferred the cheese au naturel.

Deep-fried Camembert, Essen

Condiments, Essen

A selection of condiments were brought our to accompany our mains, two types of horseradish for my reuben sandwich and a sweet mustard for my dining companion/gay husband Mikey's sausages.

Reuben Sandwich, Essen
Reuben Sandwich $22.50

The reuben sandwich is a monster. Available as a special only on Thursdays and Fridays during lunch, the price includes chips on the side and a glass of German tap beer, which I unfortunately had to forgo to due to an after-lunch presentation that day. Four slices of dark rye bread sandwiched mounds of roast beef brisket, sauerkraut, Gruyere cheese and mayonnaise, all skewered ruthlessly by a knife in a wooden board. Fragrant and flavoursome, with tender pink beef brisket and creamy, almost nutty, melted cheese the sandwich was a knockout. I only ate one of the two sandwiches, doggy-bagging the rest, and barely made it back to uni before my friends sniffed it out and consumed the reuben within mere minutes.

Reuben Sandwich, Essen

Sausage Platter, Essen
Sausage Platter $26.50

Mikey's sausage platter was an impressive spread. On the wooden board, there was (from top to bottom) Bavarian weisswurst, Swiss cervelat and Hungarian csabai, served with a selection of homemade pickles and two bread dumplings. The white weisswurst was our favourite, made from fresh veal and bacon and eaten with the sweet mustard. I also love the deep-fried bread dumplings and the unusual but very tasty pickled watermelon rinds.

Essen Restaurant & Beer Cafe
135 Broadway, Ultimo 2007
(02) 9211 3805

Essen Restaurant & Beer Cafe on Urbanspoon

Figs & Brie dined as a guest of Essen.