As Sydney celebrated Mardi Gras I had my own Fat Tuesday at this revamped beauty. It’s big, fat, loud food for big, fat, loud people, underpinned by solid French technique, courtesy of ten-year Becasse stalwart James Metcalfe. Get messy (perhaps revisiting some of your earlier memories in this iconic spot) with butter-drenched Grilled Alaskan Crab Clusters ($19/250g) or Jumbo Shrimp ($24) in Creole butter so tasty, you’ll damn your arteries and demand Warm Bread ($3).
Mention the name Claude’s you’re likely to hear: “I’ve always wanted to eat there, just never thought I could afford it.” Cue despondent look. What this fails to take into account is that the fourth chef in the restaurant’s thirty-six year history, Chui Lee Luk, has made a radical departure, shifting fine dining upstairs and opening a casual, affordable eatery/wine bar downstairs! While some might bemoan turning five star French technique into sliders, they clearly haven’t eating the unctuous pork jowl and black fungus relish decking the Pig Face Roll ($12/2).
GET READY AMIGOS! El Loco is on the move again – this time for the month of March. “El Loco at The House went gangbusters this summer, with Dan Hong creating over 2000 tacos a day throughout the month of January and we can only imagine the anticipation El Loco at Slip Inn will bring with the courtyard being transformed into a Mexican festival; guests can expect the award winning favourites of El Loco including the Jalapeño Martini, in a whole new setting," Slip Inn Licensee Elise Reynolds shared with BAR FLY.
Concrete Blonde *UPDATED*
Last week I slipped back into Concrete Blonde on a drizzly Sunday, lured by the idea of a gossipy girls’ lunch against a backdrop of sultry jazz. The singer, Anna Salleh, did not disappoint; and at their lunch price point, nor did the food. Since we had nowhere to be later in the day, we started proceedings with the Blonde Spiced Tea ($42/jug). It’s a freshened-up Long Island Iced Tea with lemon juice, lychee and spiced chai syrup, served in the tallest cocktail jug about town (you might want to let your waiter handle any refills)!
Last week I headed to A Taste Of at the InterContinental Sydney. It was the launch event for a series of dinners that are set to celebrate the hotel’s relationship with some key Australian producers. The first producer they’ll be featuring is Sydney’s (undisputed) king of butter, Pepe Saya, in a dinner called A Taste of Artisan Butter with Pepe Saya. Up until the 17th March you can partake of canapés and four courses made by Executive Sous Chef Julien Pouteau with Pepe’s hand-churned butter as the core ingredient. Julien also has a history with butter: “Growing up in Brittany in France, I was raised on butter.”
Biota Dining gets its luxury from its use of space, and space is luxury - especially when you’re used to being squished together in the city! The restaurant, bar and grounds -complete with sculptures, kitchen garden, pond and (reasonably) friendly geese - speak of bounty and plenty. There’s a definite synergy between the site, and what’s presented on the plates, but the whole here is greater than the sum of its parts. Get your first taste of garden botanicals in the Biota Pimms Cup ($15)
Pop-ups are one of the best things about Sydney at the moment, opening up versatile venues to keep our drinking mojo at its peak. Cake Wines has partnered with the amazing Tropfest film festival in a bouncy underground sandstone bunker bar in one of Australia’s oldest warehouses in The Rocks. Opening night this BAR FLY had the first glass of wine, Cake Wines Rosé, and watched the venue fill to capacity within its first hour.
With the weather taking a decided turn for the worse of late, Lyndey Milan’s latest series Taste of Ireland could not be better timed! It’s currently airing on 7TWO every Sunday at midday until the 17th March. Whilst home-cook hero Lyndey Milan has a knack for making foreign cuisines accessible, if you’re keen to get a taste of simple Irish peasant food without getting your hands dirty, head in to eat Colin Fassnidge’s colcannon at Four in Hand.
How do you get rich, Central American style cuisine on a plate without coming off as a carnival? Get the Corner House boys to serve it in Bondi. For instance, their Fried Chicken ($27) with creamed corn, corn bread and gumbo sauce is the Deep South epitomised, but it's so pretty. And Tacos ($7), sure they feature in every diner/pub/pop-up in Sydney, but these ones are special. They're deconstructed and come with big chunks of tender meat; the jerk chicken and pulled pork options are more like a barbeque than a pocket-sized snack.
Snaffling a table on the coveted balcony, I take in the streetscape that’s inspired fan pages like My Love Affair With Newtown. Truth be told, I’ve got my own slew of memories in this venue, but the new Keith Richards Coconut Incident ($18) melds with them nicely. (Blue drinks slugged from bottles never tasted this fine when I was a teenager.)