You guys. Shake Shack has dominated my Instagram feed, and it seems to be the holy grail of American burger icons. I finally found it! Having never been to the States, I was thrilled to find an outlet at Dubai’s International Airport on my way home from Germany. So, being the dedicated foodie I am, I ordered a Shack Burger (AED $35) with a side of crinkle cut fries (AED $20) at 8am – roughly AUD $20. I am a huge fan of soft, sloppy burgers (give me that over crispy burger buns anyday) and Shake Shack totally rocks this category. The patty was fresh and cooked just right, although on the downside, it did have a piece of gristle inside (not cool). The lettuce, tomato and cheese are all pretty standard, but the ShackSauce was so excellent that it lifted the burger up a notch. I couldn’t finish the fries (8am people, 8am) but I found them a little underdone (just a minute more and they would have been awesome). The crinkle cut certainly expands the fried surface, maximising flavour, and they were well-seasoned. Overall, this was an enjoyable burger, although not quite worth the fairly high price for what it was.
Shake Shack, Terminal 3 Airport Rd, Dubai United Arab Emirates, https://www.shakeshack.com/location/dubai-dxb-airport/
Dear Mocan & Green Grout, I love your baked eggs. I have been a fan for a long time, and you never, ever let me down. Seriously, I’m not even being sarcastic. This visit was no exception, and I couldn’t be tempted to part from your beautiful, runny yolks, or your spicy tang of harissa paste, no matter how exciting your menu. I always take a moment to appreciate the top quality of the local bread you use for dipping, lightly toasted. I don’t want to be critical, but a little knob of butter could improve its potential exponentially, should you be so inclined. Oh, I can’t write without telling you how much I adore the charred eggplant lying at the bottom of this pan of deliciousness. I can’t cook eggplant to save my life, so having it dished up with such delightful creaminess is wonderful. With a squeeze of lemon, your Meredith chevre becomes sprightly and fun, joining the flavour party with the sort of gusto this dish warrants. Of course your restaurant space is welcoming and elegant, to match your quality food. Please keep doing what you’re doing. Thanks, Sharon
Mocan & Green Grout, 1/19 Marcus Clarke Street, New Acton, ACT http://mocanandgreengrout.com/
Eggless is another one of Adelaide’s awesome dessert cafes (Canberra, please take note), and they shake things up with a new menu every month! I can’t even imagine the creativity that the team has to keep this happening year after year. So I dived right in and picked one of the January specials – the Banana, Passionfruit and Anzac Tart ($12). The tart was beautifully presented, with fresh banana piled on top, abig scoop of soy icecream (yes, that’s right, this dessert is vegan so lactose free!), drizzles of passionfruit syrup and a healthy dusting of icing sugar over the lot. Mmm. The tart shell was made of anzac biscuit-flavoured pastry, with that lovely sweetness of golden syrup and oats, and the luscious passionfruit curd inside the shell was blissfully good. The flavours all worked so well together, and of course the textures were balanced too – dense, not-too-crumbly pastry plus creamy curd and soft banana. My friends waxed lyrical about the Mango Float, and the Rose Sago looked beautiful too. The service here was fabulous, with friendly staff and table service. I’d recommend arriving early – by 9pm people were putting their names down on the door!
Eggless, 162 Goodwood Rd, Goodwood SA, no website
Little Bird is one of the nicest mid-range places in Barton for lunch, and, stopping in with a friend on a warm weekday, I was tempted by their salad options. The quinoa and haloumi salad ($17.5) , while not something I would usually order, turned out to be an excellent choice and one I will happily order again. Firstly, the serving is generous, not just in terms of size, but also in terms of grilled chicken, avocado and haloumi content. These folks know how to cook their haloumi, bringing out the natural saltiness with perfectly charred pieces. This is complemented by the creamy avocado and good dose of chipotle hummus, which adds a nice but not-over-the-top kick to the dish, and also removes any risk of the dish being dry. Roasted sweet potato, fresh cherry tomatoes and rocket make up the rest of the salad, creating a good mix of textures and flavours. The quinoa is a great lunch option, not leaving you feeling sluggish in the afternoon and with a drizzle of lemon on top you couldn’t really ask for anything more.
Little Bird, Corner of Macquarie and Broughton Streets, Barton ACT, http://littlebirdbarton.com/
Last month I was lucky enough to travel to Germany for the first time, and spent an evening staying with friends in Berlin. I had a terrible cold, but was determined to try some authentic German cuisine, so they took me out to their local pub. This isn’t a trendy, on the foodie-map venue (there are no English menus), but it was exactly what I wanted to try. Seated in the nautical-themed space, I ordered the Berliner Haxenpfanne (EUR 12.99) – hello pork knuckle. The plate was huge, and packed with both meat and sides. The pork had been stripped off the bone, and whilst a bit tough and dry on the outside, was beautifully tender and tasty on the inside. I was particularly excited by the large portion of saurkraut (one of my favourite things), and found it pretty much the same as the sort you get in Australia. The small amount of lettuce and tomato in the middle was a nice relief from the heavy dish, because the next thing on the plate was semmelknoel, a kind of bread dumpling that, in this case, resembled roast potatoes. The dumplings had a fun, spongey texture and were nicely seasoned on the outside. Perfect for a freezing Berlin night.
Marinehaus, Märkisches Ufer 48-50, 10179 Berlin, Germany, https://www.marinehaus.de/
One of my friends came to visit from Melbourne recently, and we met at Penny University for brunch. I was immediately drawn to the salmon-laden options, and decided to try the ‘Winter Fishing in Yemen’ ($21) and a fresh watermelon, apple and mint juice ($7.5). The dish comprised a freekeh risotto with miso salmon, roast fennel, cherry tomatoes and a 65 degree egg. The serving was huge, and I was impressed by the amount of salmon included – flakey, tender salmon, although to be honest, I couldn’t really taste the miso. The risotto had a fabulous texture, viscous and rich, although I found the whole dish rather salty (perhaps that was the miso’s contribution?), just a shade past the point of enjoyably salty. Fennel isn’t generally my favourite, but it worked really well in this dish, adding some good textural contrast, although the cherry tomatoes kind of stole the show with their charred, sweet pops of flavour. Spinach leaves and red cabbage completed the ensemble, enriched by the perfectly runny egg. The serve was a bit too big for me, and I was glad of the juice to help quench my thirst – enjoyable, but probably not a dish I’d go back for in particular.
Penny University, 15 Kennedy Street, Kingston ACT, http://pennyuniversitycafe.com/
I know I’m behind the crowd on this one – Soi has been dishing up noodles and other delicious things in the city for a while now – I finally stopped in for a weeknight dinner with friends. You order at the counter and I picked the chicken yakiudon ($15) and a cup of genmaicha ($4), my favourite Japanese tea. I’m usually wary of restaurants trying to do too much – the menu has Thai, Japanese, etc. – but the yakiudon was pretty good considering it isn’t a specialty Japanese restaurant. Whilst the vegetables weren’t totally authentic (pumpkin?), the flavour and texture mix worked well – the mushrooms were particularly good. There were plenty of bonito flakes and I really liked the yakiudon sauce – it clung well to the noodles, although was quite salty and left me thirsty. Luckily I ordered the tea – it came in a large mug and was a great example of genmaicha. The restaurant is nicely organised with plenty of seats and a fun mural on the back wall brightening the space. The staff were friendly and efficient, and for the price point, the food was good value and tasty.
Soi Noodle Bar, Shop EG08, Bunda Street, Civic ACT, http://www.soinoodlebar.com.au/