I’d always thought of Chaco Bar as a yakitori place, and it is, but only for dinner. We went for a weekend lunch, and discovered that the lunch menu is all about the ramen. I picked the yuzu scallop ramen ($16), with one bearded Hokkaido scallop, a wanton, black mushrooms, leek, Japanese mustard greens (mizuna) and butter, plus an egg as extra ($3). I also ordered a yuzu and lychee soda ($7), which was huge, beautifully refreshing and possibly my new favourite drink ever. Now, the ramen was a first for me – I’ve only ever tried ramen with pork, miso or soy broth, but this was a seafood broth, and it was beautiful. It was lighter than the other kinds, although surprisingly rich, particularly with the butter stirred through, and the yuzu in the broth really helped balance it out. The scallop was a little bit chewy, but I’d never had a bearded one before, so that may be usual. The ramen had a perfect amount of bite, and I really liked the mustard greens, which also helped cut through the rich seafoodiness of the broth. The egg, as all ramen eggs are, was perfection, and I saved it until last (although the wanton was a close contender for best bit – soft skin, tasty insides). I will definitely be back!
Chaco Bar, 238 Crown Street, Darlinghurst NSW, http://www.chacobar.com.au/
Adelaide has jumped aboard the ‘rooftop bar’ bandwagon with 2KW, a sleek, sophisticated venue with stellar views across the city. Dear friends of mine treated me to lunch there, and we worked our way through the ‘Let Us Feed You’ menu ($65 pp). The first course was 2 freshhly shucked West Coast oysters each – large, plump and perfect with a drizzle of lemon. Next up was the Chacuterie plate, with proscuitto, peach, blue cheese, and greens, all coming together to create a delicate balance of flavours that was pure pleasure. The portion was generous and delicious. There was quite a long wait between courses here, but the Clare Valley chicken with achiote (a Caribbean spice) and chargrilled orange was worth the wait. Drizzling the orange juice on top, we devoured the tender meat, relishing the coriander on top and keen to find out where to get achiote from (it’s amazing!). The final dish was the Jack Creek 120 day grain-fed scotch fillet, served with chimmichurri and grilled spring onions. I was pretty full at this point, but oh man was that steak good. My only criticism was that it was served medium, without having asked us (we definitely would have gone medium-rare), but otherwise it was a delight, tender and well-matched with the accompaniments. Oh, and the side of triple-cooked salt and vinegar potatoes deserves its own blog post – to die for! Please eat some for me on your visit.
2KW Bar and Restaurant, 2 King William Street, Adelaide SA, https://www.2kwbar.com.au/
Lunch with my Mum at Urban Pantry was a treat for the tastebuds. We sat out on the breezy deck, and decided to share two lighter dishes – the kingfish ceviche ($18) and the chargrilled octopus ($24), and I treated myself to a house lychee soad ($7). The soda was refreshing, although the lychee flavour had to be mixed in, which was tricky given the glass was packed with ice! But the flavour was lovely, with a sprig of fresh mint. We ate the octopus salad first, devouring the plump, tender pieces doused in a tangy vinagrette. I would have liked a more smokey flavour from a chargrill, but that was my only complaint. The salad had a magic pesto hidden inside – magic, because it was one of the best pestos I’ve ever tried, and it was fun to discover it amid the chickpeas, green beans, kipfler potatoes, roasted capsicum strips and salad leaves. The ceviche was a strong finish, with caviar balanced on top of a radish slice balanced on top of a pile of kingfish, avocado and fresh tomato, accompanied by slices of a luscious lavosh. A mouthful with a bit of everything was heavenly, and we hardly spoke a word while eating. Definitely coming back for both dishes.
Urban Pantry, 5 Bougainville Street, Griffith ACT, http://www.urbanpantrymanuka.com.au/
You know that feeling when your food comes out and you think, yes, I have ordered exactly what I feel like? That’s what happened when I saw my giant Korean Fried Chicken burger ($16.90) at Space Kitchen. The burger comes with bacon (chicken and bacon are meant to be together), the eponymous fried chicken, Asian slaw, Sriracha and a smokey soy aioli. I also ordered a side of chips for $3 (not necessary). The chips were the only let down – a bit undercooked, they lacked freshness and crispness, although were well seasoned. The burger was hard to eat – knife and fork required – but worth the effort. The chicken isn’t super fried, just the skin, so within are tender pieces of breast meat that just melt in your mouth. The bacon was also a little less crisp than I prefer, but added so much flavour with a good streak of fat. The slaw was made by the great combo of Sriracha and the smokey aioli – together, they weren’t too much, and stopped the slaw from being dry. I couldn’t finish the burger, let alone the chips, so maybe a good one to share.
Space Kitchen, Skypark, corner of Furzer and Worgan Streets, Phillip ACT, http://space-kitchen.com.au/
I usually find myself at Local Press for breakfast, but on my last day before going back to work, I treated myself to a late lunch on a whim. The lunch menu has great seasonal options, and given the heat of the day, I opted for something on the refreshing side – Seared Tuna with furikake rice, house kimchi, pickled vegetables, miso bok choy, edamame puree and togarashi ($24). Phew. Luckily, eating it wasn’t as exhausting as typing it. This is definitely one of the food highlights of 2017 so far – the tuna was beautifully cooked (although one of the three portions was a bit cool by the time it got to the table), and the togarashi seasoning added a nice kick of spice. The accompaniments were well-considered, each adding great flavour and texture, and making the dish easy to eat slowly and savour. The bok choy was crisp and salty, and matched nicely with the heat of the kimchi (soooo good). The rice, well-seasoned, also helped to cool the kimchi heat and helped the dish become filling. The pickled vegetables were a highlight – the cucumber stole the show, although the beetroot and carrot were also tasty. This one is definitely a keeper please Local Press! Can’t wait to order it again!
Local Press, 128 Trevellian Quay, Kingston ACT http://www.localpresscafe.com.au/
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/
Jones & Co has a great summer menu, with plenty of cold food options to enjoy in the warm weather. I had a weekday lunch with friends, and we started with Pacific oysters. We tried the mignonette ($3.5 each), bloody mary and kilpatrick ($4 each), with the latter being the pick of the bunch (although the mignonette was beautifully refreshing too). Each oyster was huge, fresh and plump, and I could have eaten a tonne more. Next up were the pork belly bao ($6.5 each), with fatty, crisp pork and a great combo of hoi sin sauce and kewpie mayonnaise. Tick. The zucchini flowers ($17 for 2) were delicate and tasty, although trickier to share with 4 people, packed full of goats cheese and honey, done in a poppyseed tempura (for photos of all dishes, check out my Facebook page). We loved the sashimi plate ($24), which had slices of salmon, tuna, kingfish and scallops, and then followed on with the large meat board ($34) – packed with cold cuts, terrine, pickles, beetroot relish and char-grilled bread. Yum, yum, yum. Every dish was done well, beautifully presented and tasty. Oh, and I’d recommend the cucumber mojito mocktail ($9) – very refreshing!
Jones & Co, Cnr Giles & Kennedy Street, Kingston ACT, http://jonesnco.com.au/