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Newtown

Sydney has really been coming alive; dead alleyways rejuvenated by a burst of speakeasys and the impending glorious arrival of some food truckery to our lean street-food scene (more on that next time). Every now and again though you just want to curl up away from the grit and grind with drink in hand to catch some vitamin D.

Jester Seeds has been around for a while but unlike its many small-bar counterparts this has a large signposted shop-front on a main road. The entrance of the bar is open and welcoming: a jumble of tattered chairs, chipped tables and flowers looking out onto the snarl of King street. Slip down the corridor behind the kitchen though and you’ll find a schizophrenic mix of spaces: we pass through the dark candle lit séance corner and the grande open room out to the intimate courtyard at the back, decked with fake lawn, blankets, umbrellas and milk crates.

We slowly settle down in the corner on some hessian cushions and admire this little patch of adult playground: the tartan blankets and records-cum-coasters are a sweet thought and would be perfect for sprawling on the astro-turf on a chilly evening with wine in hand.


Lemon lime bitters

The menu here’s largely focused on cocktails and small bites with an Asian-Mex bent. Agatha sips on a lemon lime bitters whilst I slowly lap up one of the cocktails off the black board specials.

Sloe ginger fizz: mix of sloe gin and elderflower with a hint of lemongrass (special) $16

The Sloe ginger fizz is pleasantly sweet and floral, finished off with a subtle whiff of lemongrass and a pretty curl of orange rind.

Dos Blockos $8

Although the focus is on cocktails they also have 2 bottled beers available. The waitress recommended I try the Dos Blockos: a Melbournian micro brew that’s a little denser than your average pale lager and comes in a branded paper bag which I found rather amusing.

Kalbi Tacos x2: Kalbi beef, avocado and hot sauce $10

Although the bar is almost empty, it takes quite a while for our tacos to arrive but we waited patiently in anticipation of some grilled soy-marinated beef deliciousness. The twins arrive and are very pretty indeed; with strips of beef propped up on a bright bed of carrot, cabbage and coriander. We take a bite but were disappointed to find the beef was cold and bland without the smokey sweetness you would normally get from a Korean grill marinade and the large portion of salad meant it drowned out any taste of meat anyway.

Broken Potatoes with paprika mayo and sage $6

It takes another while before out potatoes arrive, we’re relieved to find these are hot and crispy but noted that most of them had one side which was quite burnt and verging on being a little bitter from the charring, but by this point we’re hungry so we gladly coat these in the paprika mayo.

Miso Roasted Corn with fluffy Parmesan $6

Last to arrive was the corn, a simple enough affair which I rolled liberally on the bed of finely grated Parmesan.

A few more people arrive, we share a smile and nod before they settle down on the lawn with their drinks. The two of us can’t help but linger for a moment longer and watch as the hills hoist next door spins in the breeze under the fading rays of the Summer sun before picking up our bags and disappearing back onto the blur of King Street.

The Verdict
It’s a lovely worn-in space where you can get a quiet drink to the hum of inner-west suburbia; perfect for those moments when you don’t want to fight the peacocks or pokies for a spot at the bar. Perhaps we’ve been unlucky and visited whilst the kitchen was having a bad day (I’ve seen photos of the same dishes on other sites and they didn’t appear burnt or cold) but I personally would not return for the food. Cocktails and jugs of Sangria though, are a different matter.

Jester Seeds
a. 127 King Street Newtown
t. 9557 7008
e. info(at)jesterseeds.com
w. http://www.jesterseeds.com

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Uh-oh, I start madly punching away at the shutter button but to no avail, dead battery means no more photos for the day (this would not a big deal for normal people unless you were a photo whore like me).

We were at Black Star Pastry, and due to very limited seating we partook in 5 minutes of musical chairs before trading up to a cushioned spot in the window bay. As we settled down the large crowd started to thin out: a mark of the end of lunch period (these rules clearly don’t apply to us). The tiny bakery slash cafe opened three years ago by Christopher Thé (of Quay, Claude’s and Sonoma fame) has an assortment of cakes and breads on display in charming wood framed cabinets and glass cake stands. With pies, baguettes, tarts and macarons on offer, Queenie and I were forced into deep discussion for a few minutes before finally settling on our order.


Bowls of croissants on the busy counter top

At this point my camera had decided this was the perfect time for a nap, I spent a while madly rubbing the battery between my palms and thankfully managed to coax another few frames from the lethargic device.


Chicken & Avocado Sandwich

Since neither of us was extremely hungry we decided to share a chicken sandwich (pies, we figured were too difficult to share *sad face*). The sandwich turned out to be huge with the simple combination of poached chicken, rocket and avocado lying snug within two slices of soft white. Somehow the fresh bread and luscious chicken combo was strangely addictive: it disappeared rather quickly.


Strawberry and watermelon cake with rose cream

We were vain admirers of aesthetics and chose the prettiest cakes to go with our coffee and chai. First in line was Black Star’s signature Strawberry Watermelon cake with Rose cream. Deliciously light and feminine with the sweetness of the rose-water and fresh watermelon seeping through the cream and almond dacquoise. If you’re interested in recreating this for a fancy party (or a very special party of one) then Gourmet Traveller and Chef The has published the recipe online as part of ‘fare exchange’.


A few frames from my sardine can lomo, the DIY toast station

The next victim was another signature offer from Thé: Orange Cake with Persian Fig and Quince with a few dried flower petals and slivers of pistachio crowning the mini cake. I found this to be the hollywood blonde sister; very beautiful but lacking complexity within, the cake was denser than I imagined with a strong citrus taste but the quince and fig flavours didn’t seem to carry through.


Blueberry doughnut and the Orange cake with Persian fig and quince

Our last choice was a blueberry doughnut. Admittedly I didn’t get much time to savour my half before inhaling the sugar-coated pillow, a burst of blueberry filling sliding down my throat as we suddenly stared at the naked plates.

4

The verdict
A cute-as-pie pastry shop situated in a relatively quiet nook of Newtown. All items are well priced and include a lot of unique signature items from chef Thé. Worth coming back to try a few more of their delectable pyramid-shaped lemon meringues, lamb shank pies and ginger ninjas. Can be hard to find a seat during peak hour but lucky for all us late risers they’re open until 5pm.

Black Star Pastry
a. 277 Australia St Newtown
t. 9557 8656
w. www.blackstarpastry.com.au

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