Ashraf cooks up a storm at #Coya #restaurant, #Cromer #Sydney

On Thursday night we made the trip to the northern beaches suburb of Cromer for a special Arabian nights themed dinner at Chef Ashraf Saleh’s Coya restaurant. https://www.coyacromer.com.au

Ashraf’s reputation for innovative middle eastern cooking is growing in Sydney and after the divine 7 course degustation we enjoyed, I imagine it won’t be long before we hear of troves of Sydney-siders making their way to Cromer for dinner! (Better still if he moves to the inner city of course!)

True to his website description Chef Ashraf demonstrated his” drive and enthusiasm for combining herbs and spices from the East with the best ingredients from the West” in a beautifully presented series of thoughtfully put together dishes, ending with a stunning desert of Baklava Halva Cheesecake with figs and raspberries.

This is a restaurant which lives up to the professional phot shoot in real life!

The meal started with mezze of the best Baba Ghanoush, Hummus and Tabbouleh I have ever tasted. (Ashraf says he only uses “male” eggplants in his Baba Ghanoush to avoid the bitterness of the seeds in female eggplants. I forgot to ask him how you tell a male eggplant from a female eggplant!) it is the extra touches like the minute pine nuts served with the Hummus is what you feel the care and thought that has gone into each dish and it is this that makes his food really stand out.

Following Mezze our tastebuds were tantalised by stunningly presented Kibbeh Nayea…a raw lamb tartare,

Maloof – a cabbage roll stuffed with seafood in a beautiful accompanying sauce,

Shish Barak – duck parcels in a tortellini style wrapping with a divine saffron tomato broth,

Grilled lamb Kofta with a stunning “Mujadarra” rice lentil and cucumber yoghurt salad base,

organic chicken Shawarma with then garlicky deliciousness of the Arabian Toum dipping sauce.

But after all this there was still room for desert which was a fittingly fabulous finale to a truly remarkable foodie adventure!

Head up to Coya sooner rather than later and check for Ashraf’s special themed Spanish and Offal nights which he does regularly as well as a very interesting a la carte menu! https://www.coyacromer.com.au

Fabulous Flathead at Saint Peter

If you want to eat seafood and fish like never before then Saint Peter in Paddington, Sydney is the place to go.

We started with a delicious range of Sydney Rock Oysters, yellowfin tuna crudo and calamari salad with a hint of chilli and moved onto brilliant, creative mains.

The fish and chips are in a league of their own but my BBQ Rock Flathead with a corn salsa was the winner in my books. Finished off with old school custard tart and chocolate tart…it was one of the best meals I’ve had in Sydney in a long time!

The menu changes regularly as it is driven by the best seafood available. All the more reason to go often I’d say!! Make sure you book ahead.

So absorbed in eating I forgot take more pics!

Thanks Saint Peter https://www.saintpeter.com.au

Review: Posh Indian at Bombay Club Washington DC

The Bombay Club is right in the heart of Washington DC’s executive quarter, just a few blocks from the White House. Frequented by American Presidents and Hollywood stars this is not your everyday Indian restaurant. It was rated by GQ India as the third best Indian restaurant in the world. (Read full article http://www.gqindia.com/live-well/food/7-best-indian-restaurants-across-globe/ ).

Intrigued by what we had read and heard about the restaurant we saved it for our last night in DC and we were not disappointed.

From  the plush padded seats, starched linen tablecloths and the tinkling from the pianist in the corner, the atmosphere is reminiscent of a Raj-era exclusive club.

For entree we chose the highly recommended Spicy Duck Kebabs- Minced duck, chilies, ginger, nutmeg and garam masala and the Dum Ka Shrimp marinated in black pepper, saffron, yogurt, cardamom. The kebabs were divine and spicier than we expected which to us bode well that the Bombay Club hasn’t “dumbed” down the spicing for Western palates too much. The prawns were more subtly flavoured and delicious too.

For mains we ordered an “unabashedly Indian curry” – Lamb vindaloo and Bhindi Do Piaza (okra), Dhal Makni, naan, basmati rice and lemon chutney. The lamb vindaloo was redolent of the aged vinegar, onions, chilies, cinnamon and cardamon it is cooked in with a perfect balance of tanginess and spicy warmth. The Dhal Makni is cooked for 16 hours and it tasted smoky and rich, like it had been cooked overnight in the tandoor. The okra is cooked with pickled onions, tomatoes and chilli and was an ideal vegetarian accompaniment to our meal, along with one of the best pickled lemon chutney I have ever tasted. Wish I could get the recipe for that!

Treating ourselves to dessert, we loved the Gulab Jamun served with cardamom gelato and the mango kulfi.

The entire meal was one of the best Indian epicurean experiences we have ever had and I would highly recommend eating at Bombay Club if you live in or visit DC. Here is the link to their website for more pictures and information http://www.bombayclubdc.com

 

 

Soulful style at Marvin in Washington DC

Marvin’s is a very cool bistro, bar and nightclub in Washington’s happening “U street corridor” on 14th Street NW. Established in 2007, the food is inspired by Marvin’s Gaye’s travels to Belgium and southern “soul” food he grew up with in America. The decore is contemporary but comfortable, making you feel instantly at ease. Understandable why it is such a favourite with the locals.

 

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Marvin restaurant inspired by Marvin Gaye

We had come to eat like the locals so started off with Chicken fried oysters and Shrimp ‘n Grits. The oysters were fried in a spicy batter and came with a remoulade, mayonnaise. They were crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside making for a delicious contrast. The Shrimp had been cooked in tangy spices and were served with cheesy grits, jus from the shrimps and scattered with toasted almonds. (Grits are small broken corn grains that when are well are creamy almost like polenta.) The flavours from the shrimp enlivened the grits and made the dish extremely more-ish!

For entrees (mains) we chose the Pepper Crusted Hanger steak with green beans, shiitake mushrooms and  bordelaise sauce and Chicken and Waffles which was served with gravy, syrup and collard greens. I never thought I’d ever be caught eating waffles for dinner but I have to say the pairing was divine, especially with the sweetness of the accompanying sauces and the bitterness of the collard greens. The steak was very Belgian French in style, spiced with pepper and cooked perfectly to medium rare as requested.

Once again we had no room for the tempting dessert menu but I took a photo so you can see the delicious choices on offer.

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Dessert Menu at Marvin in Wsahington DC

After dinner we wandered upstairs to catch some tunes on the rooftop deck which was filled with a hipster crowd enjoying the cool sounds from the DJ.

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Excellent evening of food and entertainment. Plan to spend longer than you expect.

Boston Legal Clam Chowder

Monday brought a snow storm to Boston and with it the perfect weather for soups and comfort food. We had enjoyed the milder weather over the weekend, making hay while the sun shined and walking the Freedom Trail learning about Paul Revere’s heroic ride to warn the Patriots of the approaching British troops and all about Boston’s contribution to American Independence.

But by Monday we were ready to hole up and take advantage of the weather to try out Legal Seafood down at the revitalised Seafront district for their renowned Clam Chowder. We had been assured by locals that despite being an ever expanding chain,the quality of food and service had remained and that this was the best spot to sample Boston’s acclaimed seafood.

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Located next to the fishermen’s pier and overlooking the harbour, Legal Seafood at the Seafront certainly puts one in the mood for fine dining, although more casual dining is also offered downstairs. This is by no means a cheap eats restaurant but at the same time prices for food and wine are excellent value for the quality and style.

We chose a Deloach Sonoma Pinot Noir, which little did we know at the time of ordering, was developed especially for Legal Seafood to go with their seafood centric menu.

Dinner started on a high note with the complimentary amuse Bouche sent by the chef.

The Clam Chowder certainly lived up to it’s reputation and was deliciously creamy – you can taste the sea in the freshness of the seafood ingredients. As a starter it is certainly filling but not heavy. Beautiful free breads were served at the beginning.

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For mains we tried halibut (rarely found in Australia), and of course lobster. The halibut was served with couscous,roasted fennel and aioli. And the lobster came with a parsnip puree, steamed kale, and one slow cooked beef brisket rib. Both entrees(mains) demonstrated a sophisticated approach to balancing flavours and tastes that “legitimised” for us Legal Seafood’s word of mouth referrals and food critic approvals.

The dessert menu was very tempting but we couldn’t fit it in so we settled for chocolates instead.

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A must try on you next trip to Boston.

St Patrick’s Day at The Roger and Molly’s Bar NYC

Arrived in New York after 26 hours of travelling from Sydney at 4.30pm on St Patrick’s Day.

We were staying at The Roger, a boutique hotel on the Corner of Madison and East 31st, in the area still known as Nomad(north of Madison park). I remember staying in mid-town years back when I visited New York and it is certainly changing with many more trendy bars and restaurants and a much more vibrant and a far less grungy atmosphere.

The rooms are very spacious by New York standards and ours even had a seperate walk in wardrobe. Anyway, impressed as we were with our digs, we wanted a true New York Irish experience to celebrate St Patrick’s Day. After some quick online research, Adrian suggested Molly’s Bar about 15 minutes walk down in Gramercy, on 287 3rd Avenue just down from East 23rd st.

 

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Queues to get in at Molly’s Bar in New York on St Patrick’s Day

The tiny bar,established in 1960 and known to be New York’s most authentic Irish bar in New York, with sawdust on the floor and a log fire, was packed to the rafters with New Yorkers of Irish descent and every other descent celebrating St Pat’s Day – raucously! As loud as it was, we got there around 8.30pm and managed to avoid any queues and even to get a booth. Somehow  the noise seemed to diminish when we sat down and it was still fine to talk and enjoy our delicious meal of Irish favourites – corned beef served with cabbage, vegetables and mash and of course, Irish Lamb Stew.

We knew we were in the US of A when the gigantic main  courses arrived, but just like the noise, the size of the dishes diminished when we tucked in! Both meals were delicious and served with complimentary traditional Irish Soda Bread. (Excuse the poor quality of the food pics but it was pretty dark in the booth!) Accompanied by Irish Harp Lager and a delicious glass of red wine from Washington State. Prices for meals and drinks are reasonable and tallied up to about $80 including tip for 2 of us, without an entree(appetiser) or dessert, but including more than 1 round of drinks!

Great green atmosphere on St Pats Day but I think it would be just as much, or even more fun, on a normal evening.