Lebanese pizzas and more @ Manoosh

Manoosh Pizzeria began as a traditional Lebanese bakery and pizzeria and has grown to be super popular with locations in Enmore and Marrickville. Opened by Charlie and his sister Mary in February 2008, and a second store in Marrickville in Feb 2015. The pair had been inspired by their parents’ traditional Lebanese bakery and grown since those days.

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With large menu, you certainly have a lot of choice! Using traditional recipes, they have a variety of pizzas, wraps and sides like salad and dips.

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The pizzas are of a high quality and reasonably priced. The slow cooked Mediterranean beef pizza served with Labne, was a very tasty pizza. You can also order a number of sides and the lamb kibbeh and and falafel are quality traditional options, both very moist inside with lots of flavour and you can add even more flavour by choosing some dips, the hummus and garlic sauce, which are both very good.

It is a small takeaway pizza shop that also serves some traditional Lebanese options. Reasonably priced, great for a quick bite to eat and there are a few tables if you would like to eat in.

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Manoosh Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Ho Jiak – Now offering an exotic Malaysian high tea experience

We had the opportunity to experience a new exotic high tea in Sydney’s Haymarket. One of our favourite Malaysian restaurants Ho Jiak, is now offering an opportunity to savour some delectable sweet and savoury bites. The high tea experience is running between 2.30pm to 5pm daily, at $25 per person with free flow of coffee or tea, or $40 per person with free flow of house bubbles.

Malaysia is known for their love of a cup of tea with their teh tarik which translates to pulled tea. Teh Tarik is considered to be the national drink of Malaysia. The Teh Tarik is prepared by a process called pulling which combines tea and condensed milk in a mesmerising process that involves pouring the mixture back and forth from one vessel to another.

Tea also refers to a meal, hence the term tea time. The Ho Jiak high tea offers intricate Malaysian sweet and savoury delicacies, made in house, with love. The process takes hours to produce a beautiful display of coulourful, tasty morsels, served on a colourful three tiered display stand.

Starting with the savoury on this occasion, our favourite being the Chai Tow Kway – Deep fried raddish cakes garnished with sweet chilli and spring onions. So tasty, we could have eaten a bucket load. The Curry Puff is alway a go to snack and the pastry had a nice crust with a tasty filling of curry and mixed vegetables. The tart, called the Pie Tee is a tasty little number and it is what will first grab your attention. A superb crispy tart shell filled with vegetables and topped with chilli.

The most impressive part was the two layers of brightly coloured cakes. The layer cakes are usually what comes to mind when it comes to Malaysian sweets. The pink layered cake (Kueh Lapis) is a pretty glutinous cake made of steamed rice flour with coconut milk layered cake with a delicate sweetness. There was the yellow cake (Kueh Binga) A syrupy and sweet is made from baked tapioca and cassava. Also on the same layer was the white blue and green layered cake – (Seri Muka) This Layered glutinous rice cake topped pandan custard was a little richer in flavour.

Then there was the layer with sweet dumplings and crepe. It is hard not to get excited when you see dumplings on a plate, especially when they are as vibrant and colourful as the ones presented by Ho Jiak as part of this high tea set. There is something about dumplings, perhaps it is the suprise element and anticipation associated with not knowing what’s inside until you take a bite. The pink dumpling (Ang Ku Kueh) is s vibrant bite filled with a sweet mung bean paste. The blue rice cake (Pulut Taitai) with its colour coming from the Butterfly Pea flower, topped with a dollop of delicious Kaya (a coconut honey jam). There was also the long green crepe – (Kueh Dardar) A pandan crepe wrapped around a filling of deliciously sweet palm sugar and grated coconut.

Head to Ho Jiak for an experience like no other, take in some Malaysian delicacies whist sipping on tea, coffee or bubbles. Sounds like a perfect afternoon? Well, grab a bunch of friends or round up some relatives and use this as an excuse to catch up.

https://www.hojiak.com.au

Bistro Mekong offers a culinary journey through Indochina

After much success at their Kensington Street restaurant in Chippendale, Mekong restaurant have opened a new restaurant in the North Sydney suburb of Castlecrag. Bistro Mekong with its relaxed atmosphere and alfresco dining space helping make the updated Quadrangle Arcade in Castlecrag a foodie destination. Bistro Mekong is already very popular with the locals, this due to the quality food on offer, providing a culinary experience inspired by the countries, cultures that rely on the Mekong River as a lifeline. The menu displaying tasty and exciting food from Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.

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Bistro Mekong describe their fare as contemporary Indochinese and that is very evident with the Bistro Mekong share plate, which is a combination of small bites with a modern take the flavours of the regions that the Mekong flows through. The share plate is made up of the tasty yellow pancake, the spanner crab Taco, the pork belly in betel leaf provides a full flavour explosion and the Thai flavoured smoked ocean trout on chickpea crisp.

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Mekong is also a licensed venue, with a range of craft beer, wine, and cocktails on offer, that pair nicely with your meal. The smokey flavours and chilli kick of the smoked and spiced Margarita was both enjoyable and paired nicely with the share plate.

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Bistro Mekong had a range of tempting mains including the Vietnamese papaya salad, soft shell crab masala, Phuket style Hokkien noodles with seafood and the Cambodian beef curry. We were tempted by the curries and having done some prior research, their signature Royal Amok curry was a must. This is a lighter Cambodian seafood curry made with perfectly cooked seafood including king prawn, scallops and barramundi. The curry cooked with strips of young coconut which gives freshness to the dish.

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The duck curry is always a favourite and the Bistro Mekong version was very good. A heavier Thai red curry with a beautifully prepared confit duck with pineapple and tomato to cut through richness. We also ordered a side of crisp roti and pillow like milk buns to mop up the delicious curry sauce.

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Bistro Mekong a must visit, perfect for a group dining experience or date night. Bistro Mekong allowing you to experience exciting dishes from the many regions that the Mekong gives life to. They do great food and have some menu options that you do not commonly find. It is a little pricier than your usual Asian fare, but the food is refined and prepared to perfection and well worth the extra dollars.

Thanks to Bistro Mekong for the great dining experience and to Cardinal Spin Communication Agency for arranging our visit.

Some photos supplied by Cardinal Spin

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Bistro Mekong

100 Edinburgh Road, CASTLECRAG New South Wales 2118 ·

Bistro Mekong Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Hope Blooms @ The Village Florist

Plant the seed of positivity and hope will bloom

Too often we turn on the daily news, open a newspaper or scroll through our facebook feed, seeing stories of disaster, trauma and sadness. We need to foster more happiness, positivity and hope in our lives.

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Fun, lovely, optimistic, wondrous, emotive, reflective, symbolic. 

Flowers. They are symbolic of beauty, of thanks, of love, of care and of hope. I like to think that flowers can be used as a metaphor for life and the blooming of flowers, representing hope.

The seeds are planted. The soil, the roots and the whole plant are cultivated. From this, the flower blooms.

Us? We need to be cared for and care for ourselves, cultivate our own intellect and emotions in order to grow.

What can help us to grow? That is positivity. That is hope.

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As Claudia “Lady Bird” Johnston once stated “where flowers bloom, so does hope”. This is a quote ringing true to my heart. There is nothing quite like a bunch of flowers to spark  a positive outlook.

That bunch you receive in congratulations for your TAFE certificate, University degree, job promotion. They are the hope one has in you for a prosperous future.

That bunch you receive in sympathy or loss of a loved one. This represents hope one has in you to get you through the darkest days, to reflect positively on a life well lived.

That bunch you have in your hands walking down the aisle of your wedding. This is hope for a beautiful and everlasting marriage.

That bunch you buy for yourself and admire as you sip your morning coffee.  This is hope for a marvellous day and week ahead.

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In any situation, flowers can represent a hopeful future.

There are many varieties of flowers and symbolic at different times in our life.

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Where can we find these beautiful blooms? Many people like myself live in apartments with no balconies or backyards. Whilst we can visit an independent seller or chain store, these are all sourced from the Sydney Flower markets, the location of the largest market of freshly cut flowers, straight from the farms and growers. Florists flock here, keenly sourcing their most favoured blooms and supplies, ready to make into beautiful bouquets and table decorations.

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We are lucky that we have the intermediary to visit the market for us, so we can purchase directly from an independent local florist. There we can buy our blooms as we get our morning paper and coffee and come home with that optimistic smile on our face. They have the ability to brighten your day.

I fell in love with flowers as a young adult, finding they are something that makes me happy, they put a smile on my face when I walk past a store or admire them in my living room. I dabbled in some floral courses and helping friends with bouquets at events and weddings. When it came around to my own wedding, I knew what I wanted and went to find the florist that met my style and expectations. I had optimism in her and hope for a beautiful wedding. This was fulfilled to my expectations and beyond.

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Sarah Begnell, of the Village Florist in Hunters Hill certainly has style and extraordinarily good taste. Her store, with is beautiful range of blooms, bespoke bouquets and resume of work shown through many events and weddings is testament to this.

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The flowers she selects both match her own personal style and that of her demographic. Whilst a gerbera or sunflower might attract the fancy of some, you won’t find them here. You will find what the locals come back for time and time again. The aesthetic is rustic, stylish and elegant. The favourites of the locals include hydrangeas and peonies, suiting the beautiful cobblestone houses and leafy streets in the area.

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Sarah’s flowers are all sourced from the growers at the Sydney Flower Markets. So keen is she on keeping the freshest flowers, the markets are visited every Monday, Wednesday and Friday rather than once a week like most.

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Flowers regularly stocked here include the Oriental lily, Roses, Dahlia’s, Lisianthus, Hyacinth, Bouvardia, Vanda orchid, Chrysanthemum, Delphinium, Stock, Snapdragons, Queen Anne’s lace, Pieris, Tulips, Peach frill tulip, Hydrangea, Hypericum berry and Ivy berry. The store will put together your perfect bouquet!

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Sarah only has one other staff member, who I have it recorded ‘works as hard as two people’, in an aim to keep costs down. Their vision is complementary and their work is superb.

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Sarah loves the opportunity to pick her choice of flowers and she sticks primarily to the same growers, that she loves and trusts, believing that it is important to gain and maintain loyalty. As an independent, small business owner, that’s what is all about. Building relationships and having a positive relationship with all involved.

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Should these flowers not be in season in Australia, growers import them from overseas, knowing the customer demand is there. This high demand leads to these flowers being sourced from Holland, Kenya and especially New Zealand to name a few.

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Sarah loves her work. She loves putting together the perfect arrangement and seeing the customer walk away with a smile on their face and she enjoys preparing table arrangements and bouquets for weddings, knowing this is part of an important day for many. She loves to make people happy. This is probably why I felt so connected to this florist.

What I believe is important, is having independent stores such as this. There is loyalty, trust and relationships with all involved. Sarah agrees. She wants the store to remain ‘boutique’.  Us? We get the best of both worlds – we get the flowers from the grower from the Sydney Markets at a location convenient to us, and bunches made with love.

In order to create a positive wellbeing and outlook on life, we need inspiration, motivation and hope. This can begin with something just as small, but hugely symbolic – a bunch of flowers. They represent hope.

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So whether you’re buying flowers as congratulations, or in a time of sympathy and sadness or even for yourself, just remember to think of them as a symbol of happiness optimism and hope.

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The Village florist Hunters Hill 

Shop 1 / 37 Alexandra street

Hunters Hill NSW 2110

02 9879 4444

0413 390 565

www.villageflorist.com.au

Instagram @the.village.florist

 

Sydney Markets

Enter Sydney Markets via Austin Avenue (off Circulating Road), Flemington

https://www.sydneymarkets.com.au

http://www.freshawards.com.au/

Intstagram @thefreshawards

 

 

Japanese Omakase @ Sashimi Shingensumi

If you’re mad keen on Japanese like we are, then you will most certainly want to check out Sashimi Shingensumi. But be warned, it’s not an easy feat to get a booking. Why? Firstly, the restaurant only seats two tables of 6 people. Secondly, the restaurant only takes reservations 6 times a year. This is part of the charm though, right? The phone line for bookings opens up on a Monday evening, in the third week in February, April, June, August, October, December. You cannot book via text or facebook messages. We had all hands on deck to make those phone calls one evening with about 5 people calling many times over the evening, we managed to secure a booking a month later.

6 of us visited the restaurant for their dining experience. For $80, you receive a multiple course omakase, which is a Japanese phrase that means “I’ll leave it to you”. This involves the Head Chef Shinji Matsui presenting a series of dishes including an appetiser, soup, sashimi nigiri and dessert.

Our appetiser is a small piece of tuna, cooked salmon and a huge oyster. Following this we get piece by piece of amazingly fresh sashimi.

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There were so many courses it seemed as though we sampled every fish in the sea. Highlights include the bug, bass grouper, anago eel, samsom, Kampachi sushi with cooked snapper roe .

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Uni Sea Urchin Roe (chef’s favourite), always very polarising, the urchin roe is very rich and exhibits a strong taste of the ocean. There were more; scallops, chotoro tuna, akami tuna, john dory with its liver, Shimaji striped mackerel, aburi king fish, salmon belly sushi, shima aji yellowtail mackerel.

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Our favourite was the scampi, this is the single best piece of nigiri we have eaten, super fresh with an amazing sweetness to the flesh. The rice is nicely seasoned and we also get soy sauce, and some of the sushi has a touch of wasabi too. I think we must have had at least 13 pieces when the chef says “one more” and we agree, receiving the raw squid sashmi which was expertly prepared with what seemed like a thousand small incisions, the squid was very tender with a creamy texture.

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Chef moves between our table and the other as we rest our stomachs for more courses. The last dish was tamagoyaki, a rolled omelette made with dashi. It was incredible to watch chef’s care and technique, preparing all the layers of this omelette infront of engaged diners, this was truly a spectacle.

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The restaurant is located in Crows Nest, just off the main strip. It is a small shop with a basic kitchen and two dining tables. They have a small open display fridge that sells sashimi to the daytime shopper too. We sit at the stools across from the chef watching him in action which is art in motion and ends up being displayed on the plate. Watching in awe as the food is expertly prepared, slicing the fish with precision knife work.

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A wall poster shows all the fish on offer at Sashimi Shingensumi. All is super fresh and prepared beautifully.

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You can take both non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks with no corkage fee. There’s also green tea ice cream for dessert.

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Highly recommended for that one of a kind dining experience.

Sashimi Shinsengumi 

Shop 10, Crows Nest Plaza

103 Willoughby Road, Crows Nest

Bookings (for minimum of 5 people) by phone on 0434 108 526

Sashimi Shinsengumi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Chef’s table @ Frankie’s Food Factory

Located in the Hills District and specifically within Flower Power, Frankies Food Factory offers a lovely dining experience catered for all – couples, friends, families, parties. It is in such a beautiful picturesque setting, and as you walk in, you can’t help but notice the sun room, overlooking the lake. The lake is filled with ducks which you can feed! This certainly gave the venue a relaxed feel.

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An instagram worthy venue with great ambience, rustic/country house décor. I also like the water mist cooling system used in the sun room.

The menu is modern classics with a twist, and the food is fresh and tasty and most importantly, locally sourced. The menu is diverse & considers all dietary requirements. Staff are friendly, welcoming and attentive.

On this visit we were in a group and were certainly extremely well looked after. The big space means all customers are able to have the privacy between other tables as well as a great place to hold events/functions.

We couldn’t possibly fit in any more food at the end of the visit, but loved that we were able to try so many of the new menu items.

From Camembert triangles, to calamari fritti and kale and salame crisps – with crispy pepperoni, hummus and jalepenos, the starters certainly began well!

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Continuing with some delicious sweet potato fries, sprinkled with feta, always a crowd pleaser.

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Combined with the freshness of a prosciutto and ricotta salad, with watermelon, heirloom tomatoes, honey dew, chickpeas and watercress, the balance of flavours was perfect.

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From the list of mains, we tried the chicken tacos and for the  meat lovers out there, the BBQ lamb skewers were enormous, served with capsicum, onion, hummus, toasted flatbread and fries.

They have lovely salads like the orange and salmon salad with fennel, pea sprouts, pickled turnips, feta, carrots, quinoa and linseed. We also shared the halloumi and quinoa salad.

Pastas are also on offer – they have a penne pasta with blue spinner crab meat crab as well as the “Pachino pasta” (a vegetarian option) with heirloom tomatoes, basic and garlic.

We were so impressed with the quality and range of meal choices.  quality and range of meal choices.

Dessert certainly hit the mark and you must absolutely try the Donut fries. Quite possibly a match of the two most delicious foods around. Fries + Donuts! They look like fries, taste like donuts, and come served with Belgian Chocolate dipping sauce. Wow.

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When you think you’re done, you’re not. There’s cookies and crème churros! A dessert lovers dream. Made with oreo cookies, filled with oreo icing cream and served with white chocolate dipping sauce. Again, wow.

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To finish off, there’s also salted caramel pretzels with thick salted caramel and chocolate sauce. We highly recommend a few of these.

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Now we’re sure this will have you drooling, so make sure you pay this place a visit.

The drinks are great too – juices, tea, coffee – they have it all!

For families, there’s also a kids friendly with a kids play area including a slippery dip as well as the outside area by the lake for kids or all customers to enjoy.

For those who don’t live nearby, it’s definitely worth the trip out!

Thank you to the Huddle Group for the invitation to dine and to our contributors Sakina @sakinav and Tomas for the Blog and photos.

Frankie’s Food Factory

609 Old Northern Road, Glenhaven
2156, NSW

Open 8am – 5pm daily

Frankies Food Factory Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Korean Fried Chicken @ Chir Chir

Chir Chir is Korea’s largest fried chicken restaurant chain. Now you can avoid the expense and time of flying to Korea to get it. Chir Chir is located in Burwood and they are doing a range of quality fried chicken and a number of traditional Korean favourites.

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The restaurant occupies a large modern space, it is a licensed venue with a range of Korean alcoholic beverages including beer and shoju. They also have a range of refreshing non alcoholic drinks including the lychee mint and lime and strawberry.

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We tried some tasty starters including the Fried squid tentacles crumbed with special frying flour and the fried Korean rice cakes. The noodle bibimbap with fried beef a healthier traditional option.

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But it is all about the fried chicken and it is pretty hard to go past the Chir Chir tenders triple combo. A trifecta of original, spicy and garlic. The chicken is tender and the batter is crisp, the garlic and spicy varieties add a nice subtle flavour and are not too over the top or spicy and no bones, so less hassle. If you are a wing fan, they also have a variety of wings on the menu.

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You can also go for pimped out versions of the Korean fried chicken with spaghetti, chips or pizza. Our favourite and most popular was the Venus cheesy chicken. A mountain of Fried chicken strips served on a hot plate with tomato and different types of cheese which melt over the chicken and in the pan. They also pour over a cheese sauce which is a bit of a spectacle.

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Chir Chir are good for some tasty Korean fried chicken with prompt service. They are a little pricy, but the portions are generous and most of the fried chicken dishes will serve two people.

Chir Chir Burwood

11a/27 Belmore Street, Burwood New South Wales 2134

Chir Chir Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

It’s all about desserts @ The Last Course

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The last course is a newly opened dessert bar in Enmore opposite the Enmore theatre. The chef Sue, formerly of Suez kitchen in Windsor is passionate about the dessert coming out of the kitchen. Quality is key and there are no corners cut. The Last Course is colourful establishment with a risque mural painted on the wall, R&B music to provide ambiance and a range of desserts to suit everyone.

 The last course is a licensed venue with a range of cocktails and wine to enjoy with you choice of dessert. There is also coffee, hot chocolate and tea. 

A super tasty option was the blueberry cake with a sour cream crumble adding texture and a vanilla anglaise further enhanced this dessert. 

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The banoffee pie is another dessert that was very popular and did not last long. The knafeh was also very tasty and was up to standard of some of our Lebanese foodie friends, comparable to their favourites made by relatives. 

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There are a number of other desserts available including brownies, panacotta, deconstructed cheese cake, sticky date pudding and many more.

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Make sure you check out the last course if dining in the area or after a show. The staff here a very friendly and will be sure to make you feel welcome.

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The Last Course

175 Enmore Road, Enmore, Sydney

The Last Course Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

New menu launching @ Banksia Bistro

The Banksia Bistro has an exciting new menu launching April 5. We were lucky to be invited by foodie friend Where_do_I_eat_pete and one of the owners of Banksia Bistro, Clayton, who in conjunction with chef Colin Fassnidge of Four In Hand and Leigh McDivitt of 3 Weeds, who, opened this venue just over a year ago.

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Located on the Princess Highway at Banksia, you’ve probably driven past it many a time, without realising the great dining venue located inside! A pub with your typical bar and sports area, but the venue saw a huge renovation and kitchen overhaul to inspire the locals to experience great food, near home without having to trek to the city.

The space has rustic wooden tables, an outdoor section and kids area so it’s very suitable for a group catch up, a date or a meal with the family. We would describe it as a gastro pub with nose to tail cooking. The food is hearty, delicious and certainly very moreish.

The new menu adding a sense of nostalgia by adding Prawn toast, which is always a favourite when visiting an old school Chinese restaurant. Crispy bread topped with prawns and sesame seeds, herbs and a lemon wedge, this adds an element to it and a great start to a meal.

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Their Mezze plate with ham hock, smoked chorizo and tempura Rapid leaves (of the kale family), the accompanying grilled bread and smoked pumpkin mayo was the perfect match.

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The chicken liver parfait a polarising dish that you either love or don’t. Served atop pork skin crackers with pickled watermelon radish and parmesan, it had a number of us going back for more.

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We shared a seafood entree of whisky cured Ora king salmon with a salmon skin cracker, avocado purée salsa, make sure you squeeze a little lime to adding another element and to cut through the rich flavours.

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Their famous creamy blue swimmer crab toast with citrus and paprika flavours is another winner and great to snack on with a beverage in hand.

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Other options from the previous menu include a pigs ear schnitzel, suckling pig sausage roll, it’s great food to accompany a beer or two. Another dish perfect for this includes the chicken wings, crispy and super flavoursome coating, this combined with the ever tasty Kim chi mayo and your heart is warmed. We could have eaten a whole basket.. Or two.

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These options are great to share amongst friends, but if you’re after your own dish, their mains include burgers and chips, bangers and mash, a ginormous buttermilk’s schnitzel sitting above a huge pile of the most amazing fries (cooked in lard).

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They have a pie of the week too. Not your regular pie, in French style it is made in reverse, flat pastry on the bottom, with the extremely flavousome beef and Guinness filling with pea purée and greens. We could order this time and time again.

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Dessert will take you back to your childhood. A banana popsicle is made with bananas, topped with ice magic and crystallised sugar, this is one that the whole family will enjoy.

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We’ll be back to try a whopper of a 1.2 k Tomahawk steak, but first will be the whole suckling pig. For 10 people, at $80 each with all the trimmings, sounds like a party made in heaven.

The new menu begins April 5, and we’re certain you’ll enjoy it as much as us.

Banksia Bistro (in the Banksia Hotel)

315 Princes Highway, Rockdale, Sydney ·

Banksia Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato