Things you've never dreamed of

April 11th, 2010

Bodega Tapas Bar, Surry Hills

The SO and I were invited to a delightful dinner at Bodega Tapas Bar last Tuesday by a similarly delightful couple, Daniel and Chika. Bodega is a tiny place tucked away on a side street in Surry Hills – but its reputation is such that there is apparently a line of people outside the place most nights (they don’t accept reservations). Being a Tuesday we scored a table quite easily. Well, I say table, but they’re really seats at the long communal table in the middle of the restaurant. We were asked if we wanted our own table or if we wanted to sit in the middle table and being the social butterflies that we were, we took the communal table.

I didn’t take any photos of the place because I was a bit self conscious about taking pictures (I think my mistake was asking if I can take photos first, the dude was like “for personal use?” and I’m like “yeahhhhhhhhh” then I was a bit worried I’d look like a price comparison undercover person or something but uh this counts as personal use right?), but the restaurant is awesome. Not gonna lie, it was a bit cramped and noisy, but service was friendly and well, they’re all hot. There’s a rockabilly vibe in the place with almost everyone rocking 50s hair styles and clothing.

You know what though, I came home and looked at my collection of photos and was like, why did I even bother taking photos if it looks like I took photos of everything with my eyes closed? I’m disgusted guys, disgusted. It’s the opposite of my sentiments on actually eating there, which I’ll get to in the next paragraph.

Man I can’t ever think of a clever way to start a paragraph, so let’s get right to what we had:

Eggplant en escabeche and complimentary bread. I forgot to turn on my macro setting for this shot. What the fuck, indeed. Anyway, I can always get behind a place that gives you a crapload of delicious fluffy bread and olive oil free of charge. Wikipedia, the font of all knowledge says that an “escabeche” is a thing what’s marinated in something acidic. The eggplant was nice and slippery with a strong hint (is that an oxymoron?) of fennel.

OYSTERS. Not much to say there except OYSTERS GODDAMN. They’re $3.50 each. At first I was trying to appear demure or some shit by saying I only want one, but then everyone got two and I was like fuck it I want some goddamn oysters. So I got two, and it was double the deliciousness. The SO only had one because he is very secure about his testosterone levels.

Spiced pumpkin and feta empanadas with yoghurt sauce. It was crispy and not at all greasy. I didn’t think the yoghurt sauce was really necessary but was happily proven wrong when I slathered my bite of empanada with it.

Oh god this is just tragic. I stared at this picture in Photoshop for ages thinking, I’m never gonna salvage this piece of crap. Then I was struck with a brilliant idea – I’ll just resize it really really small and it won’t be too obvious that the picture’s shit. Obviously, it didn’t work. These are the deep fried spiced calamari with aioli. It was slightly too salty for me, but the bits of calamari are perfectly tender. Just one thing though… they gave us enough aioli for a bucket of fried calamari. I would love a bucket of it, just FYI guys.

These are called fish fingers, but they’re not the bright orange processed stuff you get in a box. From the site: “sashimi Kingfish on garlic toast with cuttlefish ceviche and mojama“. It’s a bit salty, a bit sour and a bit sweet from the onions. I’m a huge fan of this.

Steamed pork belly with warm salad of onion and shiitake mushroom. See, my experience with pork belly usually involves the crispy crackling or highly flavoured braise, so this was something very different for me. The steaming produces very silky, melt in your mouth delicate thin slices of pork. Daniel left the rind on his plate. If I wasn’t so concerned about looking like a rude arsehole I would have shamelessly asked if I can have it. If I’m trying to describe the dish by picking a passage from the well worn pages of purple prose analogies, I would liken it to your lover’s breath against your cheek as you sip a glass of wine, discussing philosophy in a buttercup-filled meadow with white doves flying overhead, while the advancing army of soul sucking robots move throu

Just as I was lulled into a trance-like bliss by the wispy carress that was the pork belly, the gutsy chorizo with sofrito paste came along and sucker punched me in the mouth. Pow, motherfucker!

I was a bit confused as to why the salad came later and not at the beginning of the meal, but it was not my place to ask such things – just to eat with relish. In hindsight it was a great way to end the savoury dishes and cleanse the palate for dessert. This was beetroot, labna, witlof and orange salad. I’ve always been kind of ehhhh when it comes to beetroot, but it was gorgeous here with the sweet oranges and tangy labna. I still can’t do witlof though, sorry. Evil little things. I ate them anyway because I’m polite.

The dude who took orders from our table said I can have dessert if I finish all my vegetables. I even ate the fucking witlof so this amazing plate was well deserved. This is the “banana split”, but like the fish fingers the name doesn’t really describe what it actually is. The plate consists of a cream flan, dulce de leche ice cream (WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIFE), ginger biscuit (assume this is the thing on top of the flan?) and a fluffy banana puree thing. I’d eat another witlof leaf for this.

This was a dessert on their specials board so I don’t actually know what they call this. But it has a pastry thing with some sort of vanilla creamy custardy thing in it, a quince… thing and a scoop of very chocolatey ice cream. I liked the vanilla thing enormously though SO found it a little bland.

This meal (we shared three desserts between the four of us), plus beers and bottle of sparkling water came to about $60 per person. I was completely stuffed at the end of the meal and felt like I had to be rolled out of the restaurant.

Bodega Tapas Bar
216 Commonwealth St
Surry Hills NSW 2010
(02) 9212 7766

December 18th, 2009

Na Zdrowie, Glebe


I had my Polish food cherry popped on Tuesday Wednesday. We were invited to dinner at Na Zdrowie by a friend with Polish background, who promised “something different”. Let’s call him Legoman because I’ll probably reference him a couple of times in this entry. Also at dinner was Sydney Veggo of Beyond Pesto.


Festive cock. Look, if I didn’t say it someone else would’ve.


Interior of Na Zdrowie. It’s a pretty small restaurant – cozy, but it gets noisy. The lighting here is, ahem, romantic. I’ll have to apologise in advance at how shit the pictures turned out. Time to save up for a proper DSLR, y/y? (photography lessons more like)

We had kompot to start, which is a very refreshing drink made of boiled dried fruit. Na Zdrowie’s kompot is lightly spiced with cinnamon. I feel bad because Legoman was like “Did you take a picture of the kompot? Did you?” and I’m like “yeah brah no worries” and when I checked my memory card tonight it turned out I didn’t. An arse is me!


My SO ordered deep fried mushrooms as his entree. I could have eaten a whole box of this stuff, it’s genius. Crispy on the outside, squidgy on the inside and served with a tangy, creamy sauce.


On Legoman’s recommendation I ordered the sledzik (pickled herring) as my entree. The herring fillets are wrapped around slices of apple, capsicum, onion and pickle on top of a creamy dill sauce. This is probably my favourite dish of the night. I’m already a big fan of strong tasting fish, but the contrast of textures and salty-sour-sweet flavours are a winner. This was actually a pretty big serve and I would have been happy to have just this as a main.

SV ordered the barszcz (beetroot soup) as her entree, which had tiny dumplings at the bottom of the bowl. I did take a picture of it but couldn’t edit it enough that it won’t look like blood, so I left it out.


Bread for the herring and soup.


Both SV and I had vegetarian pierogies (dumplings) for our mains. SV asked for a combination of the potato and mushroom/sauerkraut pierogies and I followed suit.The pierogies are served with a mushroom sauce.

If you know me, you’ll know that I have an intense and lasting romance with carbohydrates. With my love of carbs comes a slight guilt. It’s kind of like finding your first cousin hot – perfectly legal but slightly wrong. So, dumplings stuffed with potatoes? This hot carb-on-carb action was a whirlwind affair where my tastebuds were swept off their, uh, feet and my cellulite screams at me to be rational. Then I remembered it has cheese, therefore has some protein content in it and is perfectly OK.

The mushroom pierogies weren’t as exciting for me, but that’s because I can only have so much sauerkraut before my tastebuds start to rebel.


Red cabbage. It’s sweet and goes very well with the pierogies. Legoman also ordered a cucumber salad thing in sour cream but I hate cucumber so I didn’t take a picture of it out of spite.


Legoman has this very pretty looking meat skewer affair with what I think is horseradish sauce.


Legoman’s friend and SV’s partner had bigos, a stew with meat, sausage and cabbage. I only had a bite but it was pretty good. Sauerkraut again though, so… you know.

My SO and Legoman’s wife had the stuffed cabbage. It’s basically cabbage, right, stuffed with veal mince and served with a tomato-based sauce. I took a picture of that too but there wasn’t anything I can do with it that won’t make it look like bloodied brains on a plate. I thought it tasted slightly bland.



I can’t remember what this one is called, except that it’s ice cream and the description promises a “flaming dressing”. This picture is taken at a shit angle because I was trying to take it super fast, fearing that the flames will die out before I can take a picture. I put away my camera and you know what? That shit burned for ages.

There wasn’t actually a flaming dressing – it had a berry sauce and they set the sugar cube next to it on fire. It came with a marshmallow biscuit that kind of tasted like Arnott’s Chocolate Royals and a bar biscuit that I can’t even remember tasting. It was a bit of a disappointment to be honest, but hey, it’s on fire!

The kompot, entrees, mains and two desserts cost about $40 per head. Servings are crazy massive and I would highly recommend not eating anything 12 hours prior.

Na Zdrowie
161 Glebe Point Rd, Glebe
(02) 9660 1242

Any enquiries re: pronunciation should be directed to Legoman or your Polish friend.

ETA: It’s come to my attention that eatshowandtell has written a review of Na Zdrowie as well – so go and read that one if you want pictures of food that actually do them justice!

November 7th, 2009

Pomegranate Thai, Balmain

Pomegranate is my favourite Thai restaurant. It’s more expensive than your standard Thai restaurant but the thing about it is that it doesn’t serve your bog standard Aussie Thai fare. Pomegranate has amazing blackboard specials you can’t find anywhere else. My friends and I had these for dinner:


Deep fried spicy whitebait in betel leaves. Ohhhh crunchy crispy salty goodness and the slight bitterness of the betel leaves om nom nom nom. I’ve always associated betel leaves with the chewing practice because my late grandmother did it and I was absolutely fascinated with the process. Actually eating it was a new experience, but I welcome it with open arms (as long as it’s accompanied with deep fried whitebait).


Taro dumplings filled with pork mince and peanuts – a blackboard special. This and a few other dishes have Thai names that I can’t remember. It’s served on a witlof leaf. I found out tonight that I’m not a huge fan of witlof but it was still good. Love the contrast of the pillowy taro dumpling and crispy insides. The shape of the actual dumpling creates a civilised party in your mouth, complete with its best silver tea service.


Pork spare ribs served with two sauces (not pictured) – tamarind and sweet chilli. The meat was falling off the bones and melt-in-your-mouth tender.


Spicy deep fried crispy barramundi with salted duck eggs (blackboard special). This is the best I can do with the picture, sorry. The sauce tastes like pad prik king, but I’ve only ever had that dish once so I’m probably not the best person to ask about that sort of thing. Alls I know is, it’s bloody addictive and my friend scraped every last bit off the plate. He does that all the time anyway but the scraping was accompanied with heaps of praise and not just desperation.


Banana flower salad with creamy tamarind dressing and poached chicken (the white bits). I think the chicken was unnecessary – the salad was delicious on its own.

DESSERT TIME! The desserts are always blackboard specials.


Passionfruit and chilli sorbet. The chilli gets a little bit overwhelming and I don’t like passionfruit, but the two people who had this gave two thumbs up.


My friend and I shared this one – it’s black sticky rice, mango and coconut cream ice cream. My friend was greedy and wanted one dish for himself but we’re glad he didn’t – this was bloody huge and probably had the meat off one whole mango. This was v. good but the black sticky rice was crusty in some places.

Servings are crazy big. The above cost us $40 per person and we were dying from the amount of food we got. Service tends to be a little bit slow but very friendly. Book in advance on Friday and Saturday nights and prepare for a bit of a squeeze – it’s not a big restaurant and the tables are small.

Pomegranate Thai
191 Darling St. Balmain
(02) 9555 5693