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Cakes

My friends sometimes ask how I can afford to eat out as much as I do since it appears like every meal’s a hatted multi-course magic ride into the culinary clouds (okay those are my words not theirs) and the creative profession is rarely a well-paid one. The thing is there’s no secret oil tycoon fiance; sometimes good things come in cheap packages, you just have to know where to find them.


Latte $3.30

Wilbur’s place sounds like a jolly place to chill out with your porcine host but in actuality is a new little eatery from the guys at Bourke Street Bakery. The other up side is the prices seem to be from the 90’s with the most expensive item a dinner plate of duck leg, roasted plums with vino cotto which would still return you a gold coin’s change from a 20 note.

This concept seems to hit all angles of the magical triangle (good, fast, cheap) and I’m so keen to visit I blab on about this place for weeks. Upon their reopening for the new year, three of us rock up for a long lunch at this alleyway digs.


Seranno ham, grapefruit and fennel salad $12

We settle in with some coffees on the outdoor table and start with the Serrano ham, grapefruit and fennel salad. The combination sounded intriguing and light: the ham and grapefruit added nice touches of salt and bitterness to the salad. Strangely though the fennel was limp and quite sugary and acidic.


Cappucino $3.30


Complimentary Duck liver parfait, toast & cornichons (Normally $12)

Our lovable waiter Ben approaches us with a surprise: a complimentary dish of duck liver parfait for us to nibble on, it’s buttery smooth and we pull sad faces when we run out of brioche.


White anchovy, cucumber, celery, croutons $12

White anchovy, cucumber, celery, croutons was our second choice: another interesting combination. Sadly this too tasted overwhelmingly like apple vinegar and we asked Ben to check for us. He returns and advises the kitchen only adds salt, pepper, olive oil and a squeeze of lemon to the salad but there’s no fresh lemon zing and the sugary limpness of the celery betrays an overwhelming acidic taste. Cathy notes the kitchen may have pre-dressed the celery and fennel in apple vinegar in the morning and accidentally macerated the vegetables resulting in an overpowering sweetness.


Porchetta plate, white beans and bread $14

I’ve been looking forward to the porchetta plate for quite some time, which time-poor locals can get in a roll for only $8 a pop. We food tourists though have all the time to languish in the sun and slowly devour the pork with beans and sourdough. The meat is quite tender and doused with rosemary, with a streak of fat running through, on a bed of jus which we mop up. Midway through Cathy pulled a piece of trussing string from her portion and we’re also disappointed to note that the beans haven’t been cooked enough and are quite hard on the inside; the jus itself was also a bit sticky from being over-reduced.

We manage to finish most of our food though and remain optimistic about dessert. The ice cream for the brioche sandwich is made by the staff and the sound of a meringue covered flourless chocolate sponge seems intriguing but Ben tells us his absolute favourite is the custard tart. We’re still wondering what to order when he arrives with the tart in question and places it before us.


Complimentary Custard tart (Normally $12)

We dig in and sigh over the delectably smooth custard blanketed with a generous amount of nutmeg. Dessert’s over in seconds and we each leave having spent well under $20 each. We wave goodbye to Ben and Paul and waddle off down the alleyway: our hip pockets barely lightened but stomachs well full.

The Verdict
Have you ever bumped into two siblings* and noticed one got a lot luckier with the gene pool lotto? The Bourke Street crew have baking down pat and the menu at their new sister restaurant is simple but imaginative, so it’s quite sad to see poor execution letting everyone down. The service is affable and the prices are very kind to all and sundry; I’ve just got my fingers crossed that the kitchen simply has the start-up jitters and will soon develop into a well-oiled machine by the time I return for that duck and perhaps some ocean trout fingers.

*This is a metaphor and is not in reference to any persons living or dead.

Wilbur’s Place
a. 36 Llankelly Place, Kings Cross
t. 9332 2999
e. info(at)wilbursplace.com
w. www.wilbursplace.com

Wilbur's Place on Urbanspoon

Despite my best efforts it’s been a bit difficult to find a time to visit Freda’s since it’s not located near many other drinking establishments except the Abercrombie so for now we’ve settled for popping by for lunch instead.

Even after some online sleuthing it took us a few moments to find Freda’s. The entrance is nondescript, a single green blackboard hangs on a gate listing a couple of daily offerings and a chalk drawn arrow pointing down the long empty driveway. We bump into a waitress who leads us down and through an opening; we step inside eyes adjusting to the cool darkness and tungsten lit space within.

The three amigos Simon Cancio (ex Sean’s Panorama, Onde, Luxe and Bourke Street bakeries), Ibrahim Kasif (ex Fish Face) and Marty Campaign (ex el Coctel) have taken over this 100 year old site and upped the charm to provide a sleek drinking hole. There’s something about warehouses which seem super awesome or maybe it’s just a personal penchant for exposed beams, bricks and industrial chic but the space just feels NYC cool.


Large Cappuccino $4.50

The two of us settle down at the window bay and are handed a single page drinks menu. I’ve yet to have my caffeine hit so played it safe whilst Jen is keen to sample the daily juice.


Daily Juice: Watermelon with Mint $4

Campaign delivers this tall glass to our table, it’s refreshing and visually intense with the added flourish of a mint sprig making it appear more like a cocktail.

The food can vary daily, the short chalkboard menu lists sandwiches and salads but we were adamant about trying the slow roasted pork sandwich. Noticing our indecision regarding salad choice (I’m failing to make all the tough decisions) the waitress suggested that she could serve a half and half: my face lit up at this compromise, it’s a fantastic solution and I lamented that not everyone could offer me half and half of everything in life.


Salad of cauliflower, quinoa, broad beans and fennel + Salad of sugar snap green bean, broccoli, hazelnut and orange vinegarette $10

Our pretty plate of greens arrive and Jen notes it’s really fresh and delicious. I love their creativity in mixing beans with hazelnuts but would say my preference lies with the cauliflower and broad bean combination. They didn’t overdo it with the quinoa which added a beautiful texture without trying too hard (unlike some other chefs, guys please take note just because it’s the super food of the moment doesn’t mean you have to use it with everything) and I’m stoked to say it’s the best quinoa dish I’ve had to date.


Slow roasted pork shoulder with cabbage and salsa verde sandwich $11

But of course munchkins we were here for the slow roasted pork sando. The floury ciabatta made fresh that morning by Cancio is light yet has enough chew resistance, the pork shoulder meat tender and slathered with the salsa verde. It comes sliced and served with half a gherkin and two slices of radishes pickled with beetroot juice.


Little details: small chunks of roast pork, dessert spoon at the ready, second hand chairs, South American scenes and tapestry

Luckily we avoided potential disaster by sharing instead of ordering two sandwiches so we still had a small empty corner in our stomachs shaped like a slice of their cake of the day.


Orange cake $7

My eyes widen when we were presented with this cake slice, it was quite a generous serving and yet homely at the same time (I’m sure if my grandma wasn’t Asian she would bake me something like this). Sliding our forks in we mused over why there wasn’t any syrup but one taste and it was obvious: the cake was already exceptionally moist with small squares of orange peel folded through. They’ve also managed to keep the sugar content down and let the natural sweetness of the orange shine. We polished this off in moments and as Campaign walked past to ask us how our cake was he laughed when he noticed our spotless plate. Somethings are just too good and we thought it best not to leave any evidence behind.

Three out of five

The Verdict
This two week old small bar has yet to catch on big so you can still have a quiet soothing lunch with your mates and sip a summer juice before heading back to the studio. I confess to being a little disappointed that the pork to bread ratio wasn’t as luxurious as that of the photos posted on their Facebook page but it still tasted amazing with my friend pining for the sandwich hours later. I’m definitely keen to come back one evening to try a few cocktails while nibbling on some beautiful Iberian bar food.

Freda’s
a. 109 Regent Street Chippendale (walk down the driveway and there should be a door to your left)
t. 8971 7336
e. info(at)fredas.com.au
w. www.fredas.com.au

Freda's on Urbanspoon

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

Black Star Pastry on Urbanspoon