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Black Star, the new cafe Powerhouse

February 9, 2015 at 1:50 pm


The name Black Star has become quickly synonymous with some of the most popular pastries in Sydney; and their new cafe is set to become yet another culinary powerhouse, literally.

The fresh Black Star institution is situated just next door to Sydney’s renowned Powerhouse Museum, making it a prime attraction for exhibition enthusiasts and Ultimo office workers alike. But don’t let the cafe’s status as the latest edition of a relatively young company fool you into thinking they haven’t got the staples down pat.

The bacon and egg roll is perfectly cooked and brought to life with a tangy twist in the tomato style sauce; coupled with some consistently good Little Marionette coffee, it’s a pretty snazzy start to the day. Particularly if that start is on the run into a solid day at the museum.


The edgy new cafe’s layout

The colourful, modern layout gives everyone heaps of space to chill out and enjoy some of the famous treats prepared by Christopher The and his crew of talented pastry chefs. The large, open kitchen provides a cheeky view into the intense inner workings of the cafe’s talented chefs; and it’s nice to see where all the food is coming from.

Most importantly, there’s no let down on quality. The pastries are just as good as we’ve come to expect from the Newtown and Rosebery establishments. Personal testament can be paid to the Custard Tart which, even at 9am was a superb way to round off breakfast.

Drop by or stay up to date on Instagram or Twitter.

Devout dining in Sydney’s Thai scene

January 21, 2015 at 5:22 pm


Image by Ramen Raff

Image by Ramen Raff

Known for being one of the best in the west, Holy Basil has branched out from the central Asian restaurant hub in Canley Vale and scattered its blessings upon Sydney’s CBD.

Best described as a divine eating experience, you’re immediately immersed into the exoticism of Thai and Laotian culture through the cacophony of intense smells, sights and vivid colours scattered across every table.

The story of the restaurant’s unique food heralding from deep in the southwest is not unknown – local cuisine hitting a high note and making it big in the city. But this fresh new location offers something a little more posh. Mashing together a perfect balance between sophisticated and casual dining are long wooden communal tables, dazzling red ceiling lanterns, and extravagant golden statues.

A mellow aroma of herbs and spices escapes the open kitchen and ties in with the décor, capturing the essence of Asian culture, Buddhist tradition and Thai delicacies. Come opening time at midday, the Liverpool St restaurant is thriving with hungry eaters scouting a convenient location for both sociable catch ups and business lunch meetings.

The menu offers a modern twist on traditional Thai and Laotian dishes ranging from rich creamy curries, to exotic salads. Then there’s the not to be missed marinated seafood and red meats, roasted or fried to perfection. Every dish is bursting with flavour combinations that are sure to not only satisfy but also excite.

Oodles of noodles with this winner - Pad See Ew. Image by Jina Hong

Oodles of noodles with this winner – Pad See Ew. Image by Jina Hong

In true essence of Asian cultures far and wide, sharing dishes with fellow dining companions is the way to go, and is definitely the best way to explore the menu – it’s also an easy way to save yourself from forking out big bucks and purchasing several dishes for your lonesome.

But wait, there’s more! In addition to the savoury dishes on offer, it is impossible to over look the intriguing desserts, especially the likes of the outstandingly popular fried vanilla ice cream, encased in a warm and crispy fried pastry sheet, served with coconut muesli, caramel drizzle and topped off with a light dusting of icing sugar. The whole arrangement is a serious killer in taste, texture, and presentation. With those 3 boxes checked, it’s no wonder this mouthful is a foodie fave.

From start to finish, your tastebuds will be on a ride through sugar, spice, and everything nice, so expect nothing short of a glorious stomach-filling meal and a sanctified soul after an experience at this heavenly destination.

Coffee by the horns

January 20, 2015 at 3:19 pm

When passing through dense CBD corridors in Sydney, there’s a limited possibility you could stumble across some coffee action that’s as good as that in Melbourne. There’s the odd coffee shop bustling with caffeine-crazed commuters around the railway corridors, but buried in the northern end of the city is an iconic little place whose main focuses are coffee, coffee and coffee.

Cabrito Coffee Roasters is nestled proudly within the walls of history; the heritage building it’s positioned in teaming with regular activity behind the brick archway and pouring onto the sidewalk. With roaring chitchat from happy customers, owner Kit Cheong and his business partner Michael Cookson have stripped the building down leaving the original wooden flooring, rustic beams and patches of ‘historic paint’.

It’s a business design for success – but the Little Goat (that’s what Cabrito means in Español) would be nothing without the brewing talents of their baristas. Whether your poison is a full-bodied espresso or a rich and creamy cappuccino, they’ll work their magic and deliver every time.

For a spot not out in the open, being hidden away on Bulletin Place has served them well. Those who are in the know are treated as royal regulars and fresh faces are welcomed just as enthusiastically – it’s a comfort knowing their cosy location doesn’t leave them disadvantaged. Cabrito is basically just a Hispanic, goat-filled version of the Little Engine that Could.

With kitschy Keep Cups lining the shelves (in an array of sizes and materials, mind you), you’re well aware that they’re conscious about the planet’s waste. Though we feel it could, maybe, not likely, but possibly have something to do with the fact that if a takeaway cup is made of glass, not paper, any billy goats roaming down Bridge St would leave you the heck alone.

The cheesiest toasties can be found here. Image by Sheena and Thomas Southam

And food, glorious food… Well, there’s no hot sausage and mustard. But you will find some delectable sweet treats and savoury eats. From the famous cheese-loaded (ricotta, mozzarella and jamón) toastie and sandwiches to the rotating selection of contemporary LusciousKiki lamington flavours (think raspberry cocount, pink velvet or salted caramel) and pastries, there’s always something to accompany you on your journey to caffeine heaven.

If you’re having a downer of a day and in need of a pick me up, take action and swing on by. Grabbing the goat by the horns is exactly what you need to keep your spirits up.

Southwest Sydney’s cafe food of Angils.

January 16, 2015 at 3:51 pm
Bacon & egg brioche with provolone, aioli and smokey BBQ. Source

Bacon & egg brioche with provolone, aioli and smokey BBQ. Image by Katrina Pham

A lot can be said for a man who introduces great coffee to a region of Sydney long untouched by inner-west coffee connoisseurs in favour of something a tad closer to the city’s art-filled laneways and beachside barista hangouts. 

Frank Angilletta – who we believe to be an angel in disguise if his Italian last name isn’t enough – has successfully sculpted a café setup that suits the burgeoning southwest region of Sydney and become a mecca for Liverpool’s coffee-deprived residents.

Having grown up in the area, Angilletta says he “could see there wasn’t anywhere decent in Liverpool to get a cup of coffee.” And that’s how the idea for Ristretto & Co, his cosy Surry Hills-like terrace café that sits proudly next to St. Luke’s Church on Northumberland St, was born. He saw the opportunity, and like an angel, descended upon the narrow block of land with a plan to resurrect the area’s associations as a caffeine-dead-zone with that of abundant life.

Espresso Ristretto

Campos Coffee brewed to any bean-hunter’s top standards, every hot-drip beverage is a knockout. Flat white to foamy cappuccino, every cup is guaranteed to be a winner. And then there’s the rest of the drink menu – creamy hot chocolates, a T2 selection, and fresh orange juice, which we guarantee is 100% fresh – we witnessed a trolley load of the citrus fruit being delivered to the store room upon arrival.

Moving onto edibles, Ristretto is open for brekkie or lunch, but for anyone ready to take on the chef’s Italian cooking skills, lunchtime is where the menu has been weaved together from regions around Italia. There’s paninis and pastas of the day, traditional beef lasagne, pizza e toglio – and a vegetarian’s dream: bruschetta with grilled eggplant, zucchini, roasted peppers, Persian feta, rocket and pesto.

The ultimate bread board. Source

The ultimate bread board. Image by Katrina Pham

Despite the generous selection on offer after midday, breakfast is where the star players come out. From the simple, but sublime burnt fig and raisin toast to the extravagant bread boards layered with grilled truss tomatoes, poached eggs and a variety of meats or vegetables, there’s plenty to stress over when ordering. But the top dog is Angilletta’s favourite – “it would have to be our signature dish, the uovo in pomodoro,” which is free-range egg poached with chorizo, spinach & pomodoro sauce in a terracotta pot, served with toasted sourdough. The cost of this saucy monster? Less than $15.

Fig and raisin toast, Ristretto

Fig and raisin toast, with jam and butter.

Perhaps the greatest ensemble of coffee beans, Italian-esque delicacies and kitsch, mismatched furniture we’ve ever come across (you’ll also love the ferns dangling from the awning in the courtyard out back), guardian angel Angilletta has commenced construction on a second venture – and it’s almost finished.

Opening January 27 at 7am for the Monday rush, pop-up The Shed will bring new life to Bigge Park, servicing customers from the mega-sized Liverpool Hospital, TAFE and nearby transport interchange. “It’s a beautiful space on the grass,” Angilletta says. “The building is actually an old changing room that we’re fitting out.”

Opening soon... Source.

Opening soon… Source.

More of a tuckshop than hit Ristretto, the focus will be on easy meals and coffee. “But there’ll be sandwiches, salads and other produce made onsite at Ristretto and delivered daily,” he points out.

Regardless of the downsize to the amazing menu, The Shed will be a welcome addition to Liverpool’s café culture. Sitting on the grass, iced frappe in hand and munching on a grilled panini seems the perfect way to spend a lunch break, or heck – any time of day.

Being situated so close to the station, there’ll be no excuses from any inner-city coffee fiends not to pop by and revel in the new Liverpool that Angel-etta is helping create.

The Vegetarian Guide to Suckling Pig

January 12, 2015 at 12:32 pm


The vegetarians among us will understand that there are a few times on your travels when you will have thrown your hands up and let the meat eaters do their thing. In Ubud, Bali, this situation is unavoidable as the lure of the famous Babi Guling draws travellers in.

The Babi Guling, or suckling pig is a traditional Balinese cuisine that was brought to the world’s attention by travel and food writer Anthony Bourdain. Ever since Boudain visited Ibu Oka in 2007 and claimed that he had reached “the mountaintop of pork”, foodies everywhere have flocked to get a piece of the meat. As the years have gone by however, the word on the streets and amongst the backpackers is that there is a new kid on the block who follows the same traditional recipes that has made the Babi Guling such a sought after dish.

201008_34_baliThe Babi Guling is prepared by hand at each step of the process

You would almost think that you had read your map wrong or stumbled into someone’s house when you enter Jalan Raya Mas. Amidst plastic chairs, a crate of Bintang and a few warm bottles of Sprite sit beside the women who prepare the delicacy. It’s a friendly welcome, but vegetarians beware: the only thing meat free is the beer.

Like many things in Bali, the pig is prepared entirely by hand. An entire pig is stuffed with chilli, ginger and salam leaf before being stitched up and roasted on a spit over an open flame. This six-hour-long process is only interrupted for the women to rub sweet coconut water on the pig’s skin to start the caramelisation process.

babi guling porsiTender pork, wafer thin crackling and a cacophony of Balinese flavours

The (from what I’m told) extremely tender meat is served with rice, a spicy shredded pork soup and for the daring, a slab of pork blood sausage. The crowning jewel of any pig dish however is the crackling. The sound alone is enough to answer a pork lovers prayers as the skin cracks and crunches into shards like a layer of thin toffee.

Babi Guling is certainly an experience to withhold, whether you’re an omnivore or not. This tiny restaurant takes you away from the crowds and into a world of food that is truly, utterly, uniquely Balinese. But vegetarian to vegetarian? Use it as leverage to drag the meat eaters to the Indian joint down the road for a yummy and cheap vegetable curry!



Something special in Canley Vale

January 12, 2015 at 12:27 pm
TK Something Octopus

They may have eight legs, but you’ll need eight stomachs to get through every dish. Source

Canley Vale is essentially the lesser-known, quiet underachieving brother of Asian cuisine behemoth Cabramatta. And he’s currently going through puberty, becoming more and more well rounded as the months go by.

About 1500 metres from the most popular eateries in Canley Heights, another hotspot for Vietnamese, Thai and Chinese dishes, TK Something claims an all-you-can-eat throne. It’s here, for around $30 per person that the best of south-western Sydney is in the spotlight, the restaurant basking in a glow that lasts well past sunset and into the late evening before closing time.

Roaring crowds of local families from backgrounds that encompass much of South East Asia flood the restaurant on the daily. They come for the simplicity offered in a self-serve, buffet-style Korean BBQ restaurant.

Sweet or spicy - you're spoilt for choice with the sauce selection. Source

Sweet or spicy – you’re spoilt for choice with the sauce selection. Source

As an accompaniment to the classic sweet chilli, soy and sriracha, a range of Korean sauces are also perched on the large wooden table tops for those more traditionally inclined. But breaking traditions and blending cultures is what contemporary dining is all about.

Rather than being limited to a few choices of poultry or red meat, TK Something goes all out and offers a wider variety of meats than found on Old MacDonald’s farm. Ranging from pork belly and chicken breast to kangaroo and octopus, they’ve scoured their local supplier for the best picks for us to chow down.

Got s Source

Got beef? Or are you more of a chicken? Source

With the option of choosing as many plates as you want, the only ‘difficulty’ is that TK, like a number of barbeque restaurants, is not pre-cooked. You need to pick up a pair of tongs and rotate your own beef strips or calamari, grilling it to your own preferred standards.

But relax – you won’t go entirely hungry as your meat sears in front of you. Scattered between you and your dining companions are several side dishes to peck at – there’s boiled white rice, iceberg lettuce, cucumber strips and of course, kimchi.

Kimchi or Cucumber? It isn't all about the spice and rice.

Kimchi or Cucumber? It isn’t all about the spice and rice. Source

Once you’ve dunked your dishes in sauces and cleared your plates, make sure there’s room for dessert – it’s the first time the word buffet makes total sense – as you wander towards the small fridge in the centre of the restaurant and make your choice from numerous rotating desserts. Pana cotta, crème brûlée, fresh watermelon and sliced oranges feature upon last visit, each worth trying if you’ve saved enough space.

Ready to take on the blossoming teen of South-West Sydney? We hope so – Canley Vale’s sure to be a stud in the future with joints like TK Something dotted along their main street.

You’d be barking mad not to check it out

January 12, 2015 at 12:14 pm

Tanya Stevanovic, owner and buyer of Newtown’s high-end fashion Boutique Pretty Dog

Catching up with Tanya Stevanovic, owner and buyer of Newtown’s high-end fashion boutique Pretty Dog, is a charming experience in its own right. Just wait till you see the clothes…

Tanya is the ultimate purveyor of style and taste. With twenty-four years of retail fashion experience, it has always been her passion. Pretty Dog is a haunt for the style savvy seeking independent Australian and international designer wares.

Pretty Dog hosts an eclectic mix of exquisite clothes and accessories. Tanya handpicks everything in store and chooses unique collections from labels such as Kate Walker and Tales of the Fallen, House of Holland and Romance Was Born

A peak inside The Pretty Dog Boutique

When it comes to finding designer collections she has her pick, often being contacted by up to thirty designers in the one day. A businesswoman with a hectic schedule, she still manages to squeeze in a few fashion essentials, namely being world-class fashion festivals that include this year’s Australian, New Zealand and New York fashion weeks.  Tanya’s favourite show you may wonder? “Romance was Born, They put on the most amazing shows,” is her fairly prompt response.

Pretty Dog’s vast collection of Prints from designers such as Romance was Born and Karen Walker.

Browsing the racks of Pretty Dog, it’s worth asking how she stops herself from taking all the clothes home and adding it to her own wardrobe. But the cat, nay the dog, is out of the bag – her reply to our questioning, ”I order one of everything for myself”. So there you have it – you can have your own cake and eat it too.

For those who approach fashion as a foreigner, Tanya and the Pretty Dog team will be happy to deck you out during an intimate private styling session. Free of charge to her VIP clientele, if you want the top-notch treatment, all it takes is a friendly attitude. For Tanya, her VIPs are just customers that have built a close relationship with her and the staff.

Danica styled by Pretty Dog in Romance Was Born blouse and Lover pants.

If you’re looking for a unique shopping experience and a friendly chat with a girl who’s in-the-know when it comes to fashion, we truly recommend you detour off Newtown’s busier King Street thoroughfare and pop into Pretty Dog… You’ll be barking mad not to check it out.






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