Saturday, June 21, 2014

Blackbird Cafe 2, Darling Harbour

Darling Harbour is the place to go when you're searching for a good view to impress whilst having your meal. So if the food doesn't impress, at least the waterfront will right? That being said, I enjoyed my meal at Blackbird Cafe significantly more than I thought I would last time - the salad really was a surprise of the good kind. My visit this time however, was of a different sort. The TGIF sort. I was kindly invited by Carly from Blackbird Cafe to sample their new cocktail menu designed by their in house mixologist, Mirko, who has spent ten years mixing drinks all over the place from Italy to Miami and even across North America. Looks like Blackbird has landed quite the Italian catch.

Clockwise from back: Sweet Emotion ; Apple Lychee Martini ; Oreo Crunch, $17.00 each
These cocktails were so incredibly yet dangerously drinkable!

With peach vodka and schnapps, passionfruit passoa, paraiso and lemon sour topped with lift and blue curacao, I really felt like it deserved an umbrella. It's the kind of drink you feel like you ought to be drinking in the Caribbeans whilst getting your tan on.

Introducing paraiso and apple schnapps gives your traditional martini a sweet fruity twist. I say the lychee flavour from the paraiso is a winning addition here.

But my favourite of the trio would have to be the Oreo Crunch. You wouldn't even know it were a cocktail if nobody told you because it really felt like I was having an awesome Oreo thickshake! This concoction of kahlua, baileys, frangelico, oreos, honey, sugar syrup and icecream seriously made us all feel like we were having a liquid dessert. Super delicious.

Onto proper food now, shall we?

Gnocchi, $26.90
Couldn't resist how lovely a simple gnocchi sounded with buffalo mozzarella, fresh basil and cherry tomatoes. The tomato based sauce itself needed a bit more of an extra little something but I loved the parts where I managed to get some glorious melted mozzarella and parmesan cheese. And there's always something very addicting about the texture of pan-fried gnocchi.

Lamb and champagne risotto, $28.90
Risotto always holds a special place in my heart and this one sounded very alluring with its inclusion of enoki mushrooms and pumpkin. It didn't quite hit the mark seasoning wise though. It could've packed a great punch if the flavours were infused into the risotto itself. Overall, a pleasant dish, but the wow risottos would have to go to Uccello and Jones The Grocer who've definitely set high benchmarks.

We were also rewarded with front row seats to a giant fireworks extravaganza from Blackbird's balcony. So do keep that in mind whether you find fireworks too loud or are looking to impress - it goes either way! Plus there is a lot of options on the cocktail menu for everyone to have a great Friday night :P

Crystal Noir sampled cocktails courtesy of Carly Lund of Blackbird Cafe, but opinions are entirely her own. The meal was independently paid for.

Blackbird Cafe
Harbour St, Balcony Level of Cockle Bay Wharf
Sydney, NSW, 2000

Blackbird Cafe on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Jones The Grocer 2, Sydney CBD

Don't think that I had begun neglecting my blog did we, dear readers? But the end of assessments mean I can finally update again (more like catch up on what I've been eating during my absence!). After loving Jones the Grocer so much the last time I dined there (that sticky date pudding gives me all sorts of heart palpatations every time I think about it), I was ecstatic at the opportunity to try out their new winter menu thanks to Ashley Hucker from Jones The Grocer.

L to R: Blood orange & cardamon cordial; pear & blueberry cordial, $5.50 each
We may have been given the same drink as they both looked at tasted of blueberry to me. Regardless, a wonderfully sweet and refreshing start to our meal.

Lamb cutlets, $28.00
The lamb cutlets were a beautiful blushing pink when cut. Though a tad underseasoned by itself, the eggplant relish provided a wonderful acidity that gave it that extra punch when eaten together.

Mushroom conchiglie, $17.00
You'll see me running when I hear the word mushroom, cream and pasta all in one sentence. So it was a given that we ordered the mushroom conchiglie. Creamy pasta with plenty of meaty mushroom pieces hidden beneath all that sauce is what you call a perfect pasta to sauce ratio. A sprinkling of young celery leaves and both my sister and I were all smiles.

Wedges, $8.00
These wedges were by far the crispiest wedges I've ever had. They must have been triple fried to achieve that level of crispiness!

Panna cotta, $10.00
And who ever says no to dessert? We couldn't help but giggle at the wobbliness of the panna cotta. But that's what a perfect panna cotta does, isn't it? I was glad the lemon verbena wasn't overpowering but it was strong enough to give the panna cotta that wow factor. The strawberries were doused ever so lightly in a rose syrup as well so the entire dessert was super fragrant and reminded me of flowers and spring time.

Creme brulee, $10.00
Boy am I glad I had the panna cotta first. Whilst I loved the first dessert, this one blew me away. We held our breaths before the first moment the spoon touched the blow torched sugar on top and were very satisfied with the solid crack we heard. The custard underneath was utterly beautiful and the rhubarb added an extra tang that made it almost reminiscent of yogurt - which we absolutely adored.

Our waitress, Maisy, for the evening was absolutely darling. You can't help but love her friendliness and bubbliness - it's contagious! Whilst I was very happy with the dinner menu, it's the breakfast menu I'm dying to try out. Breakfast risotto anyone?

Crystal Noir dined as a guest of Jones The Grocer courtesy of Ashley Hucker. Opinions however, are completely her own.

Jones The Grocer
Cnr Castlereagh & Market Streets
Sydney, NSW, 2000
Level 5 Westfield Sydney

Opening Hours
Monday - Saturday: 8:00am - late
Sunday: 8:00am - 7:00pm