Saturday, November 21, 2009

Bills Darlinghurst

433 Liverpool Street, Darlinghurst 2010
P: 02 9360 9631

Somewhere I've wanted to go for breakfast for, wow, as long as I can remember, is Bills. Any Bills. So long as I get me some famous hotcakes. My trip to Sydney (damn, a month ago now, I really need to blog more regularly) gave me the perfect opportunity. Although I've heard mixed reviews, I wasn't disappointed!

I was staying with R & M, and Bills Darlinghurst is just a pleasant Sunday morning stroll from their front door... lucky buggers. I may have to visit again... hahahahahahaha relax guys, just kidding!

Once we got to Bills and I saw the menu the first thing I noticed was that breakfast is served all day. I love this, especially for a lazy weekend. Places that cut off your breakfast after 11am are just cruel :-)

So, while I held fast to my hotcakes craving, J and R both ordered the sweet corn fritters. I had a little taste. Next time, I am SOOOO going these babies. Sweet corn, savoury fritter, crunchy yumminess. So incredibly good

M had the scrambled eggs, and these looked pretty damn good too. He reported success.

And these were my hotcakes. Thick, fluffy, delicious... especially when I slathered maple syrup all over them. If anything, they were too much of a good thing: I put up a good fight, but just couldn't finish the plate. I also had the sunrise drink... I was sure I'd taken a picture of this... anyway, it was nearly a meal on its own!

Bills don't take bookings for breakfast, so do yourself a favour and turn up either early, or late! Around 10am the place gets very, uh, cosy.

I'm so glad I went. I'm so glad it lived up to my expectations.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A Break in Scheduled Programming....

Below is a copy of the complaint I sent to Connex this morning after yesterday afternoon's trip home.

I'm interested in hearing people's thoughts.


This complaint refers to the 4.26pm train to Werribee from Flinders St yesterday.

Passengers on the train were rudely informed by the driver that someone was forcing the doors open on a carriage. He continued rudely, saying that he could see the person, and if they didn't stop forcing the doors he would report the train as defective and make all passengers get off. As we finally left Flinders station he informed us, still rudely, that the train was running 2 minutes late due to this person.

At North Melbourne the abuse continued, with the driver threatening that "this was the last warning" and "if the doors are held again the train will be declared defective" and all passengers ordered to get off.

At one of the small stations between Footscray and Newport (I now can't remember which) the train stopped, unscheduled. We sat there for some time, until two men exited the driver compartment and walked towards the end of the train (I was in the 1st carriage, so not sure where they went). The doors were not unlocked for other passengers to get out. After a time the two men returned to the driver compartment and the train continued.

At Newport the driver, still rude, reported that the train was now being declared defective, and we were all ordered off.

Regardless of whether or not the train was defective, regardless of whether someone caused this by forcing the doors or if it was caused by some other issue, my complaint resides with the driver and his manner.

He was rude, arrogant, threatened all passengers, and was incredibly unprofessional. If I were to act in that manner in my profession I would, at the very least, be severely reprimanded, at worst fired. While I do not know his name, or what he looks like, I recognise his voice as he frequently makes use of the PA system to speak to passengers, and his manner is often the same.

This is unacceptable.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


529 Kent Street, Sydney
P: 02 9267 2900

I'd been looking forward to this since mid-June... yes folks, I "did" Tetsuya's! I'm going to try REALLY hard not to gush during this post, but please excuse me if I do get a little carried away. This was an amazing meal, and a fabulous experience.

When R and M came down to Melbourne in June for my birthday we decided to go to Tetsuya's for dinner. When R rang up the earliest dinner vacancy on a weekend was, well, a long way off. Instead we settled on lunch, which happened in mid-October. You can find the menu we had (unless it's since changed). Oh wow. A four-hour food-fest, with offerings that barely ever dipped below absolutely fabulous.

The meal was kick-started with a chilled sweet corn soup with saffron and vanilla ice cream. This was fan-fucking-tabulous. Sweet and smooth and a brilliant way to prepare my taste-buds for what was to come.

The smoked ocean trout with Avruga caviar was equally delicious. Until a few years ago I didn't eat any seafood whatsoever, so the past six or seven years I've been getting progressively more adventurous, sampling first a few different types of fish, then moving to sashimi, and finally caviar-ish type things, usually the big bright orange salmon type. This was my first experience of the "black stuff", and I wasn't disappointed. In fact, I chased the last few little balls around my plate to make sure I got them all. That yellow you glimpse under the caviar is a perfectly cooked egg yolk. Oh man...

I believe at this point some oysters were brought out for R and M (which I didn't try, as I just can't handle oysters). They were served in the shell with a lime vinaigrette and were, apparently, brilliant. I completely forgot to take a picture!

I wasn't sure how, or if, I'd like the marinated Crystal Bay prawn, as I really don't like the texture of prawns. This was so delicious, though, that I scoffed the lot (I just didn't chew much, thereby avoiding much of the texture problem. That's not as gluttonous as it sounds, as I cut it up into smaller pieces instead of going the one big one!). I believe the yellow pffft of stuff on the bottom was a cheese-y type flavour, but I may be remembering incorrectly (R, M, can you remember for sure? The menu on the website mentions soy caramel, but I don't know...).

And so to Tetsuya's signature dish. And it's called that with damned good reason. The confit of Petuna Tasmanian ocean trout with konbu, shredded apple and daikon, with wasabi and seasonal green salad was just... I'm trying to come up with a descriptor that I haven't used already, and not having much luck. I'm also trying to think of one that adequately conveys how damned good this was. I guess I'm kinda speechless. What does that tell you?

If there was a low point in the meal, this was probably it. I think it tells you a lot when I say that, even so, it was pretty good. It's just that, compared to what came before and after, it didn't quite deliver. The terrine of Queensland spanner crab with an avocado mousse-type puddle was quite nice, but not really something I'd go out of my way to eat again.

The minor dip was quickly forgotten when the grilled fillet of barramundi with braised baby fennel arrived. Seriously, I think I should give up trying to tell you how good each of these servings were. Despite starting to feel a bit full by now, we all finished this one eagerly, and I have to tell you it was, well, great! Delicious!

I don't think I've ever eaten spatchcock. And I still don't think I have... the menu says this course was spatchcock, but R has reminded me that this was actually duck. Either way, except for the green stuff, this was great (or insert other word meaning really really really nice here).

The final "main" meal differed from the menu currently on the website, as did the remainder of the meal, so you'll have to forgive me if I can't say as much about the following dishes, other than "yum". This was a veal (?) fillet, cooked to perfection. I'm afraid my memory has failed me on the rest of the details. Dammit. I need to start paying more attention. And bringing a notebook. And doing my blog posts sooner after the event....

The transition dish between mains and the desserts was, well, interesting. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but cannellini beans with sweet toffee-ish accompanying flavours was surprisingly tasty. Actually, one little spoonful was almost too much of a tease. I think I might have run my finger over my spoon to try and get a little more of the sauce.

Oh yes, I did, I can just spy my finger-wipe mark :-)

First of the desserts was actually an offering of two at once - a pineapple sorbet that was very nice (although not quite to my taste), and something that resembled a creme caramel, but was in fact chai-flavoured. Different! But still good.

Oh god... a couple of the pictures I've posted here have the power to make me drool just by looking at them again, and this is one of them. To be funny I took this picture with another one just peeking through in the background but... funny thing happened. After I finished my first glass of wine (a couple of courses previously to this one), when I ordered another I also asked for a new glass as there were a couple of tiny pieces of cork in my current one. Our waiter apologised, then got me a fresh glass, and also opened a fresh bottle for me. Now THAT is service, and making someone feel special. Anyway, I'm not sure if that had any bearing on what happened after we'd finished our poached summer berries Tetsuya-style or not.

These oh-my-god-that-is-so-good-i-could-die-happy-right-now glasses had a slick of vanilla custard-type something on the bottom, then the poached berries, with a dollop of light-as-air white chocolate mousse on top. When our waiter came to take them away, I laughed and said "wow, if there are any of these out the back that no-one wants, we'll take them off your hands!"He laughed and replied "no! They're the ones I eat!" I like it when people can have a bit of a joke. Well.... a few minutes later another round of these babies were put in front of us :-D And y'know what? They were just as good the second time around!

I have to admit, I was getting seriously full by now, and don't have much memory of this dish at all, except that the strip of stuff poking up was crunchy... and it was chocolate-y... I'm sorry! There's a memory flitting around the edges of my mind but I can't quite grab it... R? M? Can you help me out?

Coffee and tea were served with these babies... a sweet little sponge, a chocolate macaron, and a square of green tea marshmallow. Wunderbar! Sooooooooooooo good.

Many thanks must go to R for making the booking, and for buying me my very own copy of Tetsuya's cookbook, and one for herself. Our kindly, generous waiter also included a jar each of truffle salsa.

I can't afford to eat at Tet's often, but I'd really love to make the trip to Sydney for it once a year. Oh yeah.