Surly's - AMERICAN BBQ PLATES*: PORK SPARE RIBS

Surly’s

Hello Everyone and a very warm welcome back to an all new Review Sunday! It’s been a while now since I’ve done a review on the blog, and it’s mainly because I’ve been travelling around Australia the past month with my family. Not only was time a bit short on my hand, I didn’t have much places that I wanted to review anyway. Now that I’ve sort of settled down a bit from travelling, I’ve been visiting/revisiting some of my favourite eatery spots in and around Sydney. That’s probably one of the many things I will miss about Sydney, the food diversity it has to offer.

Surly's

About a week ago or so, my friend Sophia was organising a Food meet up and asked for suggestions on what kind of cuisine we’d be up for. Since the meet up was on the 4th of July, I suggested we go out and have some American food to kind of, but not really, celebrate Independence Day; and that’s what we did yesterday night at Surly’s. We caught up over good (but greasy) food and exchanged A LOT of laughs across the table, and even when we were out and about Surry Hills making our way to Gelato Messina for dessert.

I wasn’t evasedropping or anything, then again maybe I was since the music was ever so loud at the place, but this was how to conversation went at the table beside ours:

Aussie: Today is America Day right? Happy America Day!
American: It’s not ‘America Day’, we don’t call it America Day…
Aussie: Oh so what do you call it then?
American: It’s Independence Day.

I don’t know why I found that so funny – maybe because here it’s called ‘Australia Day’ but that is in fact it is the complete opposite of gaining independence. I’m not even American anyway so I don’t know why I was so keen on kind-of celebrating 4th of July. I’d probably call myself faux-merican just because when I first arrived here in Australia, people always assumed that I was from America because of my ‘accent’ – sorry what accent? I always thought that Australian’s had an accent while I was perfectly normal. Anyway, there was one guy who went all specific and said to me, “you sound like you’re from California”.

Surly's - STARTERS: NACHOS
STARTERS: NACHOS
Cheesy jalapeño ($10.00)

What can I say? Chips, really yummy cheese, and jalapeños. ‘Nuff said. $10.00 might’ve been a tad bit too much to charge for just these though. I don’t really like jalapeños as well so it was just basically chips and cheese for me, but still good!

Surly's - STARTERS: WINGS
STARTERS: WINGS
Buffalo hot wings served with carrot and celery sticks and ranch ($12.00)

I remember looking at the menu before heading to Surly’s that night and when I saw buffalo wings on the menu, I knew I was going to get a side of these for sure. When we got to Surly’s and we were deciding on what dishes to get to share with everyone, I asked which of the wings they wanted from a choice of either Buffalo Hot Wings or House BBQ Wings. Natalie tad me that Sophia doesn’t really eat hot/spicy things, but said that she would need to eventually since she’d be going to Thailand with her. So I said, “hot wings it is – this can be her training for Thailand”. The wings were good and had a good amount of heat, didn’t really like the ranch sauce, more of a blue cheese sauce person when it comes to buffalo wings, but the majority of the table voted for ranch. The only thing I didn’t quite comprehend was ‘served with carrot and celery sticks’; we had just one stick of each…

Surly's - FRIED CHICKEN: 6 pieces with fries on the side
FRIED CHICKEN: 6 pieces with fries on the side ($25.00)

Okay I admit that when I saw 6 pieces and $25.00 together I was a bit confused like how and why so pricey for 6 pieces of fried chicken?! When the dish came to the table, it was not at all what I had in my mind – they were 6 enormous pieces of chicken, like as big as your face kind of big. I told everyone at the table that I wasn’t expecting the pieces to be so big, and then followed that sentence with, “oh that’s right, I forgot it’s American sized” and everyone started laughing. Also, when Sophia got this dish, she asked what were the other sides that we decided on for the other dishes because we all agreed that we’d get different sides to try them all. The sides that we hadn’t picked yet were fries and greens beans. I jokingly told Sophia to get the green beans just because it’d be funny to imagine the pairing of fried chicken with green beans! Anyway, funny backstory aside, the chicken was well cooked – tender and juicy on the inside, and a flavourful crust on the outside. A bit greasy but what even is fried chicken without the grease?

Surly's - AMERICAN BBQ PLATES*: PULLED PORK
AMERICAN BBQ PLATES*: PULLED PORK
with BBQ beans and coleslaw ($15.00)

The pulled pork for me didn’t have much flavour to it to be honest, and I probably only had two small bites of this dish because of this; sorry but I wasn’t a fan. Also, it seemed kind of dissatisfying to see such tender good pork to be slopped on a plate just like that – at least put it in a sandwich or burger. Other than that, the BBQ beans tasted really good, and coleslaw, I mean, it’s just coleslaw to me. The cornbread was really good and I definitely think there should be more cornbread on the plate to go with the pulled pork I reckon!

Surly's - AMERICAN BBQ PLATES*: PORK SPARE RIBS
AMERICAN BBQ PLATES*: PORK SPARE RIBS
with mac n’ cheese and potato salad ($20.00)

Sadly the pork ribs didn’t leave me wanting for more. Jialing agreed that the ribs lacked flavour beyond the outer layer of the meat and quote, “as if they didn’t marinate the ribs at all”. On top of that, the ribs were dry and not very tender. The sides were good though, but that’s basically all for this dish.

*All plates come with 2 sides (mac n’ cheese, coleslaw, BBQ beans, green beans, potato salad, or fries) and  homemade cornbread

The only thing that I wanted to try but completely forgot about ordering it when at Surly’s was their Philly Phil’z Philly Cheesesteak: Juicy grilled flank , grilled peppers and onions all glued together with provolone ($13.00) Man that sounds so good! Maybe next time? Well see – if I really REALLY need to go back for this dish.

The ambience of the place was pretty good actually, lots of space and pool tables on the upper floor for a nice game; not for me though because I don’t play (more like I don’t know how to play). The place was well lit, but not enough at night that is, for someone like me who takes pictures of food – we had to be ‘that kind of people’ who takes out their phone flashlight for a photograph. alright; not a place for a person who loves taking pictures. The music was really loud, so I wouldn’t suggest it if you want to catch up with friends and have deep long conversations or for a date; it’s more like a Friday night with your mates kind of place.

Nonetheless, we enjoyed exchanging laughs as I said earlier and ended up not having an itchy throat at the end of the night from raising our voice over the table. The service was really quick, when we returned to our tables, Jialing’s pork ribs came within 10 seconds upon sitting down, and I’m guessing on average we waited less than 15 minutes for all the meals to come to the table, which was less than waiting for Sophia to arrive at the place. I’d say a good value for money as well, but probably not for the BBQ plates in my opinion. Overall the food was okay – maybe good, but nothing out of this world; I’d probably rate it a 5 out of 10 just with some minor issues that I had with some dishes. Other than that, be sure to check out Surly’s with your mates for a round or two, or maybe more, of drinks and a game of pool – the place has a pretty sweet vibe for that kinda night out.

Surly’s
182 Campbell Street
Surry Hills, New South Wales
Australia, 2010

– Ally xx

Devon Café (Devon by Night) - ENTRÉE: King Salmon Sashimi, Avocado, Jelly, Ikura, Chives

Devon Café (Devon by Night)

Hello Everyone! And a very Happy New Year to all! I trust everyone enjoyed celebrating in one way or another. I spent the whole day sitting out in the sun with friends as we waited for midnight to strike. Watching the fireworks display by the Harbour Bridge was an amazing experience, and also such a tiring day of waiting really.

Anyway, hopefully I can keep this going as long as I have visited enough places and have the time to write up my dining experience. I feel like it’s been a while since I did a review – well that’s because it has been a while indeed! So, starting this New Years, I will be uploading a review every Sunday on top of 2 recipes a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

So I’ve been to Devon Café a total of 3 times now this year; twice for brunch and once for their dinner service. The both times that I went for brunch I ordered the same dish, and so did the one other person I went with, so I thought doing a review just on the one dish from their brunch menu was a bit meh. I had the Eggs Blini by the way which you can probably already tell because I had it twice (within two weeks) was so good and also apparently was the most Instagrammed dish from their menu at the time.

Anyway, the last time I visited Devon Café was actually in August of this year. Yes, that means that the food that you see in this review may not even be on their menu anymore as I am aware that menus here in Australia tend to change depending on the season. Therefore, the food that you see here are from their winter menu, and I have not been back to know whether their menu is different for the now summer season.

Devon Café (Devon by Night) - ENTRÉE: Prawn and Scallop Wontons
ENTRÉE: Prawn and Scallop Wontons
Scallop and Prawn Ceviche, Crispy Wontons, Green Mango, Peanuts, Nahm Jim ($18.00)

When the waiter first came to our table with these, I actually thought he got our order mixed up. In my head I was like “these aren’t wontons are they?” I was actually hesitant to have him place the dish on our table and I think he could tell that I was confused. I asked “are these the wontons?” He assured me that they were, AND then I saw him carrying the other plate that had the wonton wrappers. Yes I know, not quite how I’ve known wontons to be served, but nonetheless these tasted amazing! I really loved the freshness of the prawn and scallop ceviche paired with the kick of spice from the nahm jim sauce. Not to mention the crispy wontons that added that extra crunch to the dish!

Devon Café (Devon by Night) - ENTRÉE: King Salmon Sashimi, Avocado, Jelly, Ikura, Chives
ENTRÉE: King Salmon Sashimi, Avocado, Jelly, Ikura, Chives ($15.00)

Enticingly fresh salmon. What more can I say? This dish was spot on for me!

Devon Café (Devon by Night) - MAIN: Chinese Egg Custard, Shiitake, Fungus, Yellow Needle Flower, Chinese Fried Bread and Perigord Black Truffle
MAIN: Chinese Egg Custard, Shiitake, Fungus, Yellow Needle Flower, Chinese Fried Bread and Perigord Black Truffle ($29.00)

This dish gave me some mixed feelings – well, now that I think of it, the flavour didn’t quite sit well with me even though I think my other friends enjoyed it. I found the mushroom taste to be a bit too overpowering for me, which was probably the main reason why I didn’t not enjoy this dish. Also, the Chinese Fried Bread was not at all crispy, at least not as crispy as the ones I’d get back home. Their bread also didn’t look that fresh.

Devon Café (Devon by Night) - MAIN: Aunty Yulia's Short Ribs
MAIN: Aunty Yulia’s Short Ribs
Slow Cooked in Indonesian Sweet Soy with Spicy Tomato and Basil Relish ($28.00)

This was probably the highlight of all dishes. The short ribs were cooked to perfection; falling off the bone tender and packed with that delicious kecap manis flavour. The relish was a nice refreshing touch to the palette and that him tot spice really gave it that kick it needed. I highly recommend this dish if it’s still on their menu!

Devon Café (Devon by Night) - DESSERT: Matcha Fondant (Green Tea Molten Lava Cake)
DESSERT: Matcha Fondant (Green Tea Molten Lava Cake)
with Vanilla-bean Ice Cream, Honey Dew Balls and Pistachio Crumb ($13.00)

This dessert I believe is actually one of the main reasons why I wanted to go to Devon by Night. I saw it all over Instagram and I said to myself that I NEEDED to go here just to be able to get my hands on this dessert. The last time I had a green tea molten lava cake was 2 or 3 years ago at Tokkuri. That I loved, but I think now THIS I love more! The perfect consistency and paired with other flavours and textures that really enhanced the dish. The lava was thick and rich – just absolute yum! A definite must try!

Devon Café (Devon by Night) - DESSERT: Fried Ice Cream Bao with Dark Chocolate Sauce
DESSERT: Fried Ice Cream Bao with Dark Chocolate Sauce ($7.00)

This was the day that I broke my fried ice cream virginity as well – and I am glad that I lost it to Devon’s Fried Ice Cream Bao! Such a clever and innovative way of fusion cooking; serving fried ice cream in a bao. The only let down with this was that they served it with a dark chocolate sauce – don’t get me wrong, the sauce was perfection, but I was expecting a kaya (coconut jam) sauce instead, as from what I’ve seen all over Instagram. I seriously believe that it would’ve tasted a hundred times better! I’m probably being biased here since I’m not a huge fan of chocolate, but KAYA?! My fellow kaya-loving friends/followers will be able to imagine magic happening in their mouth just thinking about this flavour combination.

Devon Café is quite a popular breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner spot to both the locals and the tourists. So if and when you get the chance to Sydney, or are currently residing in Sydney, this should be in your places to eat in Sydney list. A MUST! They’ve recently opened a new branch in Waterloo on Danks St. which I was able to visit with two other friends for a nice brunch just this week actually. Unless their menu has changed at the original Devon Café, their menu is quite different so I will be doing a review on them too! Soon I hope!

Devon Café
76 Devonshire Street
Surry Hills, New South Wales
Australia, 2043

– Ally xx

Rustic Pearl

Rustic Pearl

Hello Everyone! Here is another brunch turned late lunch review of this lovely café in Surry Hills that my housemate/friend recommended for a Sunday Brunch treat before the beginning of Semester 2 (last semester for me, but many more semesters for her). We’ve also been planning this brunch outing for a while now as our friend Daniel was on a month-long, or even more, holiday and we wanted to have our first brunch-turned-late-lunch get together. I also invited along my new housemate Lydia for our delicious eats.

I keep saying brunch-turned-late-lunch, and for those of you who have read my previous post, I am very particular about the timing when it comes to ‘brunch’ and ‘lunch’. Well hats off to Marissa for wanted to get to Rustic Pearl at 10am, at least she understood the concept of time when it comes to brunch, but what happened was that we ended up leaving a little bit later than planned. We only left home at about 10:45AM and probably reached the place at around 11:15AM. At least it wasn’t quite lunch yet, but nearly pushing it. The place was hectic though, we had to wait in line for a table and I was told by one of the waiters that it would be about a 45-minute to an hour wait. I was just like OH MY GOD, but we waited anyway.

They were pretty spot on with the predicted waiting time as I didn’t get a call for a free table until about an hour later. By the time we sat down and ordered it was probably already quarter to one, and food probably came out about another 15-20 minutes later. Man I was starving because as usual I skipped out on breakfast thinking that I would be having brunch. I think from the past two ‘brunch’ outings I have learnt my lesson – that I will NEVER be able to actually have brunch at the time I perceive it to be at, and that I should ALWAYS have breakfast before going out for a brunch-turned-late-lunch outing.

But enough babble, I shall get onto what I loved about Rustic Pearl. Now, I’m not one to order drinks at cafés just because it usually fills me up a bit even before the food arrives. But Marissa told me that they have some pretty awesome smoothies, and other drinks of course on their menu – and she was right! It was to die for! I had something called a Chocomolé which was basically Avocado and Chocolate, something I’ve never had before, combined that is, and I was just blown away by how amazing it tasted. The other smoothies were delicious as well (yes, we all doubled dipped and shared a sip from each drink that we ordered amongst the four of us).

Rustic Pearl - Avocado SmoothieAvocado Smoothie topped with pistachio & pomegranate seeds ($7.00)

Rustic Pearl - Banana Cinnamon SmoothieBanana Cinnamon Smoothie ($7.00)

Rustic Pearl - Chocomolé SmoothieChocomolé Smoothie with avocado, cocoa & honey, topped with pistachio & pomegranate seeds ($7.00)

Rustic Pearl - 'Yum Yeshil' (dairy free) Blended Fruit Juice‘Yum Yeshil’ (dairy free) Blended Fruit Juice with spirulina, topped with seeds, goji berries & bee pollen ($7.00)

Daniel wasn’t too fond of this drink. I only had a little sip so I couldn’t really judge the taste of it based on that. But this was the only smoothie that was dairy-free which is why he ordered it.

Now onto the food, we of course decided to order something different so that we could all each have at least one bite from everyones plate. The food was amazing! I could not fault the dishes at all, and neither could my friends.

Rustic Pearl - Breakfast Special: Smoked Wagyu Omelette
Breakfast Special: Smoked Wagyu Omelette with buffalo mozzarella, spinach, skordalia, bacon dust, tomato relish & toast ($17.00)

Marissa’s dish; she absolutely loved about the omelette was silky smooth and juicy. She is not a big fan of cherry tomatoes, but with this dish in particular, she almost forgot that she ate them! It was that good. She said that it looked a little bit small on the plate (in comparison to our dishes) but it was filling enough for her.

Rustic Pearl - Lunch Special: Fish of the Day (Swordfish)
Lunch Special: Fish of the Day (Swordfish) with spinach, tomato concasse, capers, avocado, cucumber & witlof, dressed with apple vinaigrette ($19.50)

Daniel’s dish; he absolutely loved how his fish was cooked to perfection. Yummy and juicy. He also loved his greens so this was the perfect, healthy dish for him.

Rustic Pearl - LUNCH for the soul: Char grilled Mediterranean Lamb Burger
LUNCH for the soul: Char grilled Mediterranean Lamb Burger with red onion jam, smoky eggplant purée, fresh tomato, cos lettuce & yoghurt dressing ($18.00)

Lydia’s dish; another stellar dish that did not upset. The meat patty was cooked to perfection – moist and juicy.

Rustic Pearl - BREAKFAST for the soul: Bosphorus Benedict
BREAKFAST for the soul: Bosphorus Benedict, char grilled bay lobster flesh, crushed avocado & 2 poached organic eggs, topped with homemade hollandaise, fresh chives, coriander & chilli ($24.00)

In my opinion, the best dish of the 4 (just because it was mine and I got to eat most of it) no but seriously, this dish was just so delicious. Runny egg yolk with char grilled lobster, who would’ve thought? Another stellar dish to my list of mind-blowing eggs benny (my top one is still Devon’s Eggs Blini – I will do a review on them when I have the chance to go back with more friends that that I have an array of dishes to show and write about and not just the one).

Now this is one worth mentioning (but hopefully no one from the café will see this, just incase it was a mistake and they will get in trouble with this), however I assume that it was intentional and I will state why… So, when the bill came, it was folded in half, had the total amount written on the back of the order sheet, and had a ‘Thank You!’ note written just below it. Now of course because we all knew that we needed to split the bill according to what we ordered, I opened the bill to see that we were undercharged in two of the dishes. Each dish, except Daniel’s was $17. Which meant that Lydia’s Lamb Burger was undercharged by $1 and my lobster Eggs Benny was undercharged by $7… Now being a nice and honest person, I was actually going to ask them if they had made a mistake on the bill, because I find being undercharged $7 is quite significant.

But instead I didn’t – not because I wanted to cheat but because I analysed they way the bill was given to us. It was folded in half, the total was written on the back of the order sheet, and I’m pretty sure that if they had totalled it, they would’ve spotted the mistake on the bill. Also, the two dishes that were undercharged came from their regular menu so I’m pretty sure they have been serving the dishes for a while and they would’ve remembered how much it costed. So I just wondered… Why? I probably should’ve asked why we were undercharged so that I at least knew why… A part of me also thought that it might be because we waited just a little bit over an hour for a table? Just maybe.

Nonetheless, it was a great day of warmth and sunshine (off for it is the middle of ‘winter’ here down under), laughs shared between old and new friends accompanied by delicious drinks and lip-smacking food. A must visit café for those in the Sydney region!

Rustic Pearl
415 Crown Street
Surry Hills, New South Wales
Australia, 2010

– Ally xx

Bar Surry Hills & Italian Restaurant

Bar Surry Hills & Italian Restaurant

Bar Surry Hills & Italian Restaurant
I have had the greatest pleasure of attending the re-launch of Bar Surry Hills with my lovely +1, Yvonne Wang. The story behind this photo was that the two ladies sandwiching Yvonne and I “photobomed” our photo.

The Bar is now open with an all new Italian kitchen, featuring a menu themed with all your favourite pizza and pasta selections! It is located on the ground floor of the Rydges Hotel Surry Hills, and is just a 5-minute walk from Central Station, and is open daily from 11 am until late, making it the perfect venue for a business lunch, an after-work cocktail, a romantic nightcap, a private party, birthday, or a special event.

The overall experience was a good one, and I was glad that I got to share the night with the lovely Yvonne Wang. As we entered the venue, it greeted us with a warm welcome. We were led towards the bar to grab our complimentary beverages (from Sydney Brewery Beers, to various cocktails, and wine). Towards the left of the entrance to the restaurant was the charcuterie station – a display of aesthetically beautiful Italian bread and a selection of various cold cut meats, sliced on the spot for you as you wait in line to grab a charcuterie plate for yourself (or your table).

We waited around for a while with our drinks until a table cleared. We then sat down and had all the food circled and brought to us – breadsticks with oil-marinated olives, bruschetta, a selection of pizzas, and desserts, Nutella pizza and what tasted like lemon and poppyseed cannoli to me. We had a little bit of everything, and probably missed out on a few selections that they offered on the night – I know because I remember seeing plates of what looked like deep fried balls, filled/stuffed with cheese perhaps? Anyway, they never made it to our table and stopped serving them at one point.

The food was great. Delicious. I can’t say much about the value for money as I’m uncertain on how much each individual dish that was served costed. Nonetheless, they average from about $10-$30 AUD, which I think is reasonable for the quality of the food. The venue, also great. I really loved the sleek and modern feel the place brought, and also evoked a fun and funky atmosphere. I can’t comment much on service quality in terms of how quick the food arrives to your table, but I can definitely say that the staff very friendly.

Bar Surry Hills & Italian RestaurantComplimentary Paloma Cocktail, Red Wine, and Breadsticks with Oil-marinated Olives

Bar Surry Hills & Italian RestaurantComplimentary Espresso Martini

Bar Surry Hills & Italian RestaurantCharcuterie Station – selection of beautiful Italian bread & cold cut meats

Bar Surry Hills & Italian Restaurant
Diavolo Pizza

Bar Surry Hills & Italian Restaurant
The highlight of the night in my opinion – Nutella Pizza served on a huge plank of veneered plywood

Be sure to check out their entire menu by visiting their Bar and Restaurant!

Bar Surry Hills & Italian Restaurant
28 Albion Street
Surry Hills, New South Wales
Australia, 2010

Click here to see more photos of the event.

– Ally xx

ps: Also, many thanks to my fellow COFA friend, Greta Peterson. Without her, I wouldn’t have known about the event. Thank you for getting me onto the VIP list!