We were in Sydney for a quick stop over on our way to visit family in Nambucca Heads near Coffs Harbour in NSW. Zorba the Greek was on a quest for authentic Arabic food.
Our Egyptian-Australian host, Hubba, took us to Rowda Ya Habibi on King Street in Newtown. She warned us that the restaurant was nothing flash, but that the food was good. To us, that’s what mattered, good food.
We walked in, and like other reviews I’ve since seen, it does look a bit dodgy – like your standard take away kebab shop that you’d visit at 1am on a Saturday night on your way home from a big night out. But walk through the take away section into the modest restaurant out the back and allow yourself to be pleasantly surprised by great cheap food. It is simply decorated, but that’s not what you come here for.
We were all craving mezze, so we ordered hummus, tabouli, babaganoush, falafel and stuffed vine leaves to get us started.
The babaganoush was a stand out – smokey eggplant that had obviously been charred properly before being peeled and blended.
The hummus was smooth with a nice hint of garlic without being over powering.
The tabouli was just the way I like it, fresh and heavy on the parsley and light on the cracked wheat. Tangy and tasty.
The falafel was beautiful – crunchy outer shell and soft nutty inner. They were served on a bed of tahini sauce and when mixed in a fresh slice of pitta bread with tabouli and hummus, they were beautiful. I felt like I was back in Egypt.
Vine leaves I could take or leave, they don’t float my boat and never have.
We also ordered a mixed meat platter, which was way too much food. The meat was delicious. We each stuffed a piece of soft pitta bread with hummus, tabouli and meat. Delicious.
The service was friendly, and reasonably efficient, although the owner serving us could have done with an extra waitress. The poor love was run off her feet.
Our resident expert Hubba said the food was authentic. From what I had experienced travelling through the Middle East, I thought the food was authentic also.
It’s BYO also, another bonus. Our bill for three people with left over food, came to $75. Cheap as you like for delicious arabic cuisine as long as you are happy sitting in a plain non-descript restaurant.
Rowda Ya Habibi
101 King St
Newtown NSW 2042
Phone: (02) 95575368
Lido Vietnamese restaurant is situated in the heart of Perth’s quasi China Town in Northbridge. Walking in, my eyes had to adjust to the brightness of the lights. The restaurant is big and on a Friday night, the place was packed.
Within seconds of being seated, we were given tap water and handed a menu each.
The menu was big; eight pages of food choices. As we were on a quest for authentic Vietnamese cuisine, I consulted a waitress who pointed out the traditional dishes. For entrée we opted for boneless roast duck rice paper rolls ($8.50) and medium rare veal salad in tamarind sauce ($17).
The two rice paper rolls, served with a peanut hoisin dipping sauce, were fresh and tasty. The duck was tender and the addition of vegetables added some crunch while the mint and coriander intensified the freshness.
The veal salad was delightful. The balanced dressing is what really made this dish stand out. The tender veal was sliced very thin and the crispy salad added texture. It felt healthy to eat and it had me going back for more. The serving size was generous – big enough for a lunch for one.
For main course, beef stewed in five special herbs with mild chilli (19.50) was pleasant enough, but lacked intensity. The beef was tender, however, it was completely overshadowed by our other main dish.
The Patagonian tooth fish with ginger and shallots ($30) was one of the pricier dishes on the menu, but well worth it. The flaky fish texture just melted in my mouth and the flavor of the sauce, which was poured over the fish by our waiter at the table, gorgeous – the perfect balance of salty, sweet, and sour. The sauce had me filling up my bowl with steamed rice ($3) several times just so it could be topped with more sauce.
Whilst not the cheapest Vietnamese / Asian restaurant, the food makes paying a little extra worthwhile and the service was attentive and helpful. Overall, it was a pleasant dining experience.
Lido Vietnamese Restaurant
416 Williams Street, Northbridge WA 6000
Tel: 08 9227 5545
Open Monday to Sunday for lunch and dinner. Fully licensed, BYO wine only.
The Fine Dining Progressive Dinner as part of the Eat Drink Perth food festival happening in WA’s capital city during the month of March, is a great way to experience three of the city’s finest restaurants.
Led by Perth’s popular walking tour specialists Two Feet and Heart Beat, the progressive dinner itinerary featured entree at the Print Hall, main meal at Lamonts Bishop House, and dessert at the Terrace Hotel.
Firstly, before a decadent dinner, Two Feet and a Heart Beat owner Ryan took our small group of seven on a short secret art walking tour. It’s secret because we saw some art in a secret city alley way that hardly anyone knows exists. I’m not sure I should give Two Feet and a Heart Beat’s secret away by telling you where it is? You might have to message me on Facebook and ask very nicely if you really want to know. We found it interesting and eye opening.
Onto the Print Hall. This was Zorba’s first time to Brookfield Place and he liked it. Thank God. Trying to get him to agree to a night out in the city is a challenge. I think it’s going to be a bit easier from here on. He loved it.
We were spoilt with two entrees; two types of freshly shucked oysters – South Australian (bigger and delicate flavour) and Albany (smaller more intense flavour). It was interesting to compare the two types. My allegiance to WA was put to one side for a moment as my taste buds preferred the South Australian oysters for their delicate flavour. Others preferred the creaminess of the Albany oysters. The two vinaigrettes were beautiful, but I still prefer just a squeeze of lemon when the oysters are as good as these.
Print Hall has an oyster special on Tuesdays, two dozen oysters for $50. That’s just over $2 per oyster. A bargain. Zorba (who loves a bargain) and another tour goer Barry decided to get another two dozen to share. Totally indulgent – I love it!
I thoroughly enjoyed a glass of Pinot Noir from the USA. I know, I know, I should have chosen bubbly or white wine, but the red just sounded (and tasted!) so good. I broke the sacred wine with food rule. Oh well, rules are made to be broken.
The second part of our entree at the Print Hall was a tasting platter featuring a gorgeous pistachio and pork terrine, serrano jamon, air dried shaved beef, salami, a chorizo like sausage, pickled vegetables, and yummy rye grissini bread sticks as well as fresh bread. The house made butter was a little cold and hard to spread at first, but boy was it creamy and delicious after a few minutes.
The terrine was an absolute standout. Firm texture with the added crunch of the pistachio made it something really special. Beautifully flavoured. Everything on the platter was gorgeous, but fairly standard fare in our house, besides the terrine. It was so good.
Next stop, Lamonts at Bishop House. Bishop’s House is tucked away behind Rigby’s bar between Mill Street and Spring Street in the city. Many moons ago, a fresh spring once ran under neath where the house is built, hence the name of Spring Street. The heritage listed house was built in 1859. It is so lovely and who ever did the interior design really did a outstanding job – it’s beautifully furnished. It has a warm and welcoming ambience – the vibe the building exuded made me feel instantly comfortable, like I had been there before. We sat on the balcony overlooking the gardens that provided a natural shield to the traffic on Mounts Bay Road.
The food at Lamonts, at any Lamonts restaurant, is unbelievably good. Tonight was no exception. Barramundi with a fried zucchini flower and roast pepper and tomato salsa. The zucchini flower, that wasn’t stuffed, was delicate and crispy – as good as any I’ve had in Italy. The barramundi was gorgeous, flakey and soft. The roasted pepper and tomato salsa was amazing. Everything worked beautifully. And we got two pieces of bread and house made butter also. The Germans in our group were very excited about the quality of the bread, saying it was just like bread they got back home.
The Lamonts Shiraz was delicious. Yes, I know, again I had red wine with seafood. Seriously, with red wine this good, I’d have it with cereal. Perfect Shiraz.
Off for another short walk. Tour guide Ryan pointed out some more interesting pieces of art on the corner of the St Georges Terrace and Milligan Street, before leading us into the Terrace Hotel.
Italian waiter Antonio explained the complex process of how the fortified wine was made; the wine is distilled in one wine barrel for a set time before being moved to a series of older barrels, until it reached the oldest mother barrel, which was made in 1927, which was also the name of the wine. He said it could be called a sherry. Call it what ever you like – but can I have another glass? It was yummy, like a light port.
The dessert wine accompanied a cheese platter. By far the blue cheese and the quince jam was my second favourite. My favourite was the dessert wine, whilst not technically a food group, I’d happily skip dessert just for the wine.
We sat in a private dining room surround by a gazillion dollars worth of wine and champagne. I had cellar envy for sure.
If I was to make any criticism, it would come from my sweet tooth. Cheese I love, but not as much as chocolate. It would have been a fitting end to a delicious and delightful night to have a chocolate dessert or petit fours.
It was 10.15pm and our night came to an end. We were grateful that we had a good group that chatted and gelled well together. This was helped along by tour guide Ryan, a Canadian, who has a really lovely way with people. It’s no surprise that his tourism business is doing so well.
It was a terrific way to experience three of Perth’s newest fine dining establishments in one night, at the cost of having just one night out at one of these venues.
Don’t delay, the progressive dinner is only on again next Monday and Tuesday. It costs $140 per person. A glass of wine or beer is included with each course. The wine was most generous at Lamonts as the friendly waiter continued to top up our glasses. Thanks Lamonts.
We hope Tour operators Two Feet and a Heart Beat are able to continue the Fine Dining Progressive Dinner as part of their tour offerings as planned. A great idea and it was fun to be tourist in my own city. Try it, like me, you might discover some new secrets.
We paid for our own tickets to this event.
Eat Drink Perth runs for the month of March in the City of Perth.
Two Feet and a Heart Beat offer interesting walking and small bar tours in Perth and Sydney.
Our Sunday Brunch was going to be at the Gordon Street Garage, a new Perth eatery that is the current talk of the town. I suspected it would be busy, but was not expecting a cue or to be told that there would be a 40 minute wait for a table. Plan B: Subiaco.
We called the Subiaco Hotel and was told that a table for three at 10.30am was booked. Admittedly, none of us were thinking we would have a brunch worth writing about at the Subi Hotel. I was delightfully proved wrong.
Firstly, the breakfast menu was terrific offering choices like brioche french toast with maple syrup and berries; morrocan brik pastry with duck egg, turkish bread, spinach and feta; potato and pork hash with fried eggs mustard and tomatoes. Everything listed was under $20, with the exception of the big farmers breakfast which was $21.
I couldn’t go past the avocado on chunky multigrain with fresh tomato and goats curd ($16.50). I added a couple of soft poached eggs – it sounded so good that my beautiful brunch buddies both ordered the same thing. It was the perfect brunch dish.
Creamy avocado, salty goats curd, fresh peppery rocket, and fresh tomato worked really well together. The bread was thick and yummy and felt healthy to eat. The soft poached eggs were cooked perfectly. The dish was seasoned really well and for once, I was not searching for salt on the table.
I also enjoyed a fresh juice of blood orange, mango and lime juice ($8) – it was thick and delicious. In fact, it was so good I drank it all down before I took a photo. Sorry!
The Subiaco Hotel was a place that has been a stalwart of Subiaco for eons. It had been ages, years in fact, since I’ve eaten at the Subiaco Hotel. I had forgotten how good it was.
465 Hay Street, Subiaco WA 6008
Tel: 08 9381 3069
Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe has once again transformed Perth’s iconic beach to an open-air Sculpture Park. Over 70 local, national and international artists have created cool works for everyone to enjoy. Best thing of all, it doesn’t cost a cent. That’s right, it’s completely free. From the grandiose, to those that are fun for the kids, to the thought provoking, the range of sculptures will appeal to a variety of tastes. Some sculptures are truly beautiful and pretty cool, while others left me wondering, really is that what they call art?
I checked out the 9th Annual Sculpture by Sea very early on opening day and was as impressed as I have been in past years.
I particularly loved the fishing rods piece, aptly named ‘casting around’.
This big wooden sculpture called ‘upside down again’ was also really cool. It was big and I loved the way you can look through it and see the ocean.
There we so many great pieces, it’s hard to choose which ones to write about. I’ll let the pictures paint the words and do the story telling, then you can see for yourself and make your own mind up.
A great night out would be to grab some fish n chips and enjoy dinner on the grassy banks or on the beach itself surrounded by inspiring art.
If you end up going, let me know your favourite piece. I really liked habibi on the end of the groin, portal depicting three men crouching together, and upside down again twisted wooden cavern.
Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe started on 8 March and finishes on 24 March.
Happy anniversary husband. Two wonderful years and I can’t wait for the next two hundred together. Or however long. Zorba’s choice of Rockpool at Crown Perth was a fitting place to celebrate our anniversary.
Walking into Rockpool is Hollywood. A long corridor lined with candles in glass urns makes you feel like you are about to enter somewhere special. And you are.
The five star service is attentive, efficient, friendly and unobtrusive. I mean, when you are having an intimate dinner, the last thing you want is a string of waiters constantly asking, ‘is everything alright?’. I feel like saying sometimes, ‘it was until you interrupted my train of thought and our conversation, go away and let us enjoy our meals in peace.’ This is not the case at Rockpool.
We started the night with a bloody mary cocktail each ($18). It packed quite a bunch with a bit of heat and lots of spiciness. I had to eat the celery garnish to cool my mouth and it was crunchy and fresh. I then at Zorba’s celery too (I have a low chilli tolerance). It sure woke me up from champagne lull that was starting to set in.
The gorgeous bread was still warm and the fresh butter was really creamy. I love freshly baked warm bread.
Choosing a wine was difficult. The wine list is very comprehensive – there are five pages of just Sangovese wines! The sommelier offered to assist with a wine choice. I described my ideal red wine – smooth, velvety, quite a bit of body like a Shiraz, but little or no tannin. He deliberated for a few minutes, flicking back and forth through the wine list, before finally recommending the Timaeus, a Grenache blend from the Barossa in South Australia ($80). The recommendation was spot on, after it opened up and breathed for ten minutes or so. Zorba kept commenting on how delicious the wine was. There weren’t many wines on the list under $50, plenty well over $100, and more than a few over $1000.
For starters we both shared Yellow Fin Tuna Tartare with Moroccan Eggplant and Cumin Mayonnaise ($34) and Warm Wood Fired Quail Salad with Roasted Peaches, Endive, Watercress and Pecans ($33).
You know what I am going to say, right? Yes, they were both delicious. The tuna was fresh, light, and I loved the smoky eggplant with the Middle Eastern flavours.
The quail was exquisite. The skin was slightly charred outside and the meat carried the wood fired flavour and was so juicy. So beautiful with the roasted peaches. The quail was an absolute standout dish.
We were offered more bread and butter; yes please thank you very much.
For main course, we shared the Grain Fed 300 Day Dry Aged Rib Eye 450g on the bone ($75) cooked medium rare with a side serve of potatoes cooked in Wagyu fat with rosemary and garlic.
The Rib Eye was served cut up on a board and it was amazing. It just melted on the tongue – so tender and cooked perfectly. Zorba loved it. I actually cringed when Zorba ordered the potatoes cooked in Wagyu fat, but when I tasted them, I was so happy he had. They were crispy on the outside and creamy inside with a subtle beefy after taste. They were yum and hard to stop eating. When the cut Rib Eye was eaten, Zorba and I both eyed each other off for the bone. In the end, because it was our anniversary, I surrendered and let him take the bone for a good old gnaw. I promptly excused myself to use the facilities and left him to enjoy his caveman urges.
What a satisfying meal. One Rib Eye was definitely enough for two people to share.
The friendly waitress asked us if we were celebrating a special occasion and I explained it was our anniversary. Next thing you know, we were given a complementary chocolate devils cupcake – yum, thank you Rockpool.
For dessert, I couldn’t go past the chocolate mousse with peanut butter ice-cream. OMG, heavenly. The peanut butter ice-cream was slightly salty, creamy, and peanutty in flavour, as you would expect. The salty ice-cream with the sweet and rich mousse that was light and delicious was a perfect marriage.
Our bill came to $311. If we didn’t drink cocktails and red wine, it would have been $100 less.
Verdict: Yes it’s expensive, but for our special occasion, it was worth it. I was so full at end of the night. A fabulous experience with first class friendly service. I couldn’t fault it. Very impressed.
Rockpool Bar and Grill
Great Eastern Highway, Burswood WA 6100
Phone : + 61 8 6252 1900
The West End Deli on Carr Street in West Perth was our cafe choice for a Saturday lunch. I was thrilled to see breakfast dishes on the lunch menu.
It is a popular place, which isn’t surprising given its great reputation.
I was tossing up between slow cooked egg, peas and anchovies or the two crab omelette. The helpful waitress recommended the omelette and that’s what I chose.
It was an excellent recommendation. The omelette was fluffily and light, the crab meat was sweet, the coriander gave it a zing and it was seasoned just right. I loved it. I could have eaten two of them and in fact had to make a conscious effort to slow down and savour it rather than scoff it down.
As a side dish, a girlfriend ordered vine ripened cherry tomatoes with goats curd. They were delicious. Intense tomato flavour complemented beautifully with the salty goats curd. I was polite and only had one. Again, I could have easily wolfed down the whole plate.
A good coffee was the perfect finish to a light lunch. I was very tempted by the potted cheesecake with dulce de leche for dessert and even ordered it, but when my girlfriends resisted dessert, guilt got the better of me. I cancelled the dessert order. I’m on a quest to drop the extra kilos that have crept on in recent months, and as anyone knows, losing weight ain’t easy. I felt happy that I was strong enough to say no. But OMG did those desserts look amazing! I will be back when I’m skinny and will try that potted cheesecake, and that’s a promise.
I’ve eaten at West End Deli a few times in the past for dinner (BYO, no corkage, brilliant), but never for lunch. It was a winner.
West End Deli
95 Carr St, West Perth
Tel 08 9328 3605
When shopping at Leederville IGA a few weeks ago, I was thrilled to see traditional bread from Sardinia (Italy) for sale (about $12). Strictly speaking, it’s more of a thin cracker than a bread.
It’s called ‘carta di musica’ which translates to sheet music or paper of music (literal), because the wafer come cracker is fine like paper. I love it and ate bucket loads of it during both of my trips to Sardinia a few years ago.
It comes in a box and it is very delicate. Between five and eight thin crispy wafer-like sheets are stacked on top of each other. To serve it, you drizzle some good olive oil on each sheet, sprinkle it with rock salt or salt flakes and fresh rosemary. Pile the sheets up on top of each other and put it in the oven until it starts to go brown on the edges.
When you bring it to the table, the aroma of the rosemary will make your mouth water.
The crispy sheets are delicious and just melt on your tongue. Be warned, it is nearly impossible to stop once you start eating Sardinian bread.
It’s too fine and crispy to use with a dip. A dip would spoil the taste of the bread anyway.
In my previous post you might have read about my heart-break when I left Sydney and left a box of Zumbarons in my friend Hubba’s fridge. I was a tragedy to leave Sydney without even tasting a Zumbaron, also known as macroons when made by anyone other than the Master of All Things Sweet, Adriano Zumbo.
Hubba kindly texted me the following day mouth watering descriptions and photos of the zumbarons, just to highlight what I’d missed out on.
“I don’t know the flavour of this black one you bought, but OMG it’s amazing.”
Thanks Hubba, that would be the black vanilla flavour.
“These are so crispy on the outside yet slightly sticky and gooey on the inside. And that’s just the biscuit. I’m loving this flavour and could eat this all day, every day.”
“OMG Maggot, you missed out! This chocolate one is amazing. Not as good as the caramel one, and I don’t normally like caramel. In heaven.”
It is my mission to eat a zumbaron or two when I am in Sydney before Easter. If I do nothing else in Sydney except eat a zumbaron, I’ll leave satisfied.