I finally made it to Mexican Society, and I’m so glad I did. I started with a mojito, the perfect drink to accompany spicy food. I would have liked it slightly sweeter (and fizzy) but otherwise it hit the spot. First dish was a soft shell crab taco ($11.50 each) and it was a hard one to beat. The lime jalapeno mayo was hot, but it matched the outside-crispy, inside-tender crab meat perfectly. The fresh salsa balanced the dish and we could have happily eaten these all night. Next up was the kingfish ceviche ($15.90), which had a fabulous flavour combo of macadamias, pomegranate and orange in the curing mix, but as with most dishes of this style, all the seafood flavour was lost. I’d recommend getting some extra tortillas to mop up the sauce. Finally we had the slow cooked beef enchiladas ($25.90) with a side of sweet potato chips ($7.90). Holy cow, those chips were divine. The seasoning was some kind of magic chilli lime combination and we devoured them. A must-order. The enchiladas were the least spicy dish of the day, with plenty of sour cream, cheese and coriander to add flavour. The beef was super tender and tasty to boot. I can’t wait to come back for more!
Mexican Society of Chinatown, 140 Gouger Street, Adelaide SA, http://mexicansociety.com.au/
Bar Rochford had a great vibe going when my friend and I arrived just after 6pm on a Friday night. We snagged two seats at the bar, and started with the Stormy Monday cocktail ($16). With aged rum, house-made ginger beer, lime and bitters, we were astounded at how strong the ginger was, to the point of being a bit much (more like chilli in terms of heat). I sipped cautiously throughout the night. We started with a plate of three cold cuts – finocchiona, proscuitto and coppe ($20). Each was generously portioned and delicious, although the proscuitto was cut a tad thick for my taste. We then ordered from the specials menu – the roast duck with crispy skin and beetroot. This was a complete delight, with well-seasoned skin and tasty meat that was just past pink but not tough. The foam on the plate didn’t really have a flavour, but the beetroot had an intense earthy taste which complemented the duck perfectly. Finally, still going on the cocktail, we ordered a plate of hand-cut chips ($8), served with a spiced tomato relish. These were so moreish I could have eaten them all night. Yum!
Bar Rochford, first floor, 65 London Circuit, Canberra ACT, http://www.barrochford.com/
I’ve never actually had dessert at Monster, so after a scrumptious dinner there with Dad (pork neck bao, best lamb ever), we decided to share a dessert as I finished off my Lyneham cocktail ($19). The cocktail was an unusual blend of gin, capsicum, black tea, lychee and lemon – it had a suprisingly savoury taste which I quite liked, with a stronger capsicum flavour than I had expected. Definitely a sophisticated drink. The dessert menu doesn’t tell you anything more than the ingredients, so we chose the soft chocolate, mandarin, cocoa nib and almond dish ($18), and waited to see what would emerge. We were rewarded with the most delicate soft chocolate… I’m not sure exactly what to call it – log? cake? mousse? It was just that bit thicker than a mousse, and matched the mix of textures from the mandarin gel, alcoholic mandarin segments, and crisp mandarin shards perched on top. I got much more peanut than almond as the nut flavour – they were scattered whole and crumbed on top. It was an adventurous delight to try all of the elements, and together they matched perfectly. Utterly delicious!
Monster Kitchen and Bar, Hotel Hotel, 25 Edinburgh Avenue, Acton ACT, http://www.hotel-hotel.com.au/eat-and-drink/monster/
This was a mostly icecream dessert, so here it goes for #icecreamthurs this week! Let me say straight up, White Rabbit has beautiful cocktails and delicious desserts. This is a great place for a special treat, and I started by ordering The Dodo ($20), with gin, orange bitters, lemon and blueberry syrup hiding under a thick layer of passionfruit foam. Yum, yum, yum. This was utterly delightful – a nice balance between sweet and tart, I will be back for this drink. For dessert, I ordered the fried brioche sandwich ($16), with peanut butter gelato and raspberry swirl sorbet. When the dish came out, it was clear that the brioche was more soldiers than sandwich, topped with a nut crumble (be warned those with allergies, this is not noted on the menu) and edible flowers. The brioche was very rich, but somehow dipping it into the raspberry jam and melting icecream helped. The peanut butter flavour was great in the super creamy icecream, and although it took a while to find the raspberry swirl, when I did it added a great tartness to the otherwise very sweet dish. This is one for the sweet-tooths, to be sure.
White Rabbit Cocktail Room, 65 Northbourne Avenue, Canberra ACT,
My dream has come true. There is an authentic Japanese izakaya in Australia. Tokyo Bird sits in a little Surry Hills laneway and fulfills all my izakaya needs – an extensive drinks menu, lots of ‘little bites’ to eat and a vibe that’s buzzing. We started with cocktails – I chose the Breakfast Martini, with gin, curacao, lemon and yuzu marmalade. There is so much citrus happening there that my cheeks puckered, definitely in a good way. Dinner started with the Assorted Pickles ($6) and Katsu Chicken Nuggets ($9). The pickles were lightly done and dusted in spicy togarashi seasoning – excellent for nibbling slowly. The katsu nuggets were the best thing ever – tender chicken bits deep fried in panko and served with kewpie mayo. Needless to say, they disappeared very quickly. We then picked four yakitori dishes. I loved the Negima (chicken thigh with shallot) – tender, charred nicely and basted in the magic yakitori sauce, it was probably my favourite of the four. The Tonton (pork belly) was lovely and fatty, and the Hatsu (chicken hearts) were tasty, although slightly tougher than the other meats. Finally, we both loved the Nasu (eggplant and miso) – beautifully salty with creamy eggplant, we were in izakaya heaven. I will be back as soon as I possibly can!
Tokyo Bird, 2/226-228 Commonwealth Street (entry on Belmore Lane), Surry Hills NSW, http://www.tokyobird.com.au/
Provini has been on my to visit list for a while, and it moved up the list after reopening with a new look and refreshed menu. I started with the pig’s head slider ($8 each), mostly because it was the most exotic-sounding item on the menu. The meat was tender and perfectly crumbed, sandwiched between two knots of panini and enhanced by the sweetness of roasted peppers. Tick. Next up was the meatballs ($16), which came with four meatballs in a pot of delicious sugo topped with cheese, and a large chunk of bread. This was the pick of the night – the pork and veal meatballs were perfectly cooked and packed full of flavour, the bread was excellent and perfect for mopping up what little sauce remained after we devoured it on the meatballs. We chose a pasta to share for the main, opting for the pappardelle ($26), with pork, veal and a white wine ragu. Unfortunately the dish was only just warm when it arrived (after quite a long wait) and there was no real ragu to speak of. The meat was lovely – it had been pulled into tender strips – and the pasta was al dente, but it needed much more sauce. We certainly didn’t leave hungry though!
Provini, 50 Bunda Street, Civic ACT, http://www.cocu.com.au/provini/
Gondola Gondola is my new happy place. I started with the Weaboo cocktail ($18) – rum, yuzu liqueur, nashi pear shrub, lime, mint and soda. This drink was basically refreshment in a glass, well-balanced and perfect for a hot day. Up first was the salt and pepper bean curd ($12), fried so lightly that it formed the thinnest, most perfect skin over the soft curd inside. It’s super salty (in a good way), and the salad it’s served on packs some heat and epic ginger action! There were a generous 6 pieces to enjoy. Next up was the banh xeo (Vietnamese pancake, $22) with pork mince, prawn and sprouts, served with lettuce, purple leaves, mint, coriander, carrot and pickled cabbage. Whilst it looked big, this was a fairly light dish – a bit like san choi bao in that you wrap the ingredients in the lettuce and add sauce. Messy, but a great mix of textures and flavours – the coriander in particular brings it all to life. Finally, we had the bun cha ($22), which was our pick of the night – the pork was utter perfection, with a super crispy skin and tender meat, plus the noodles were fabulous! Everything here is packed full of flavour and perfect – take me back!
Gondola Gondola, 1 Peel Street, Adelaide SA, http://www.gondolagondola.com.au