So as I hinted earlier, my friend is in town, and today we were going to choose some of the top casual diners and cheap eats from the 2011 Time Out Food Awards as a way of getting to both see the city and have a fun mission-esque food hunt throughout Sydney.
Before I go on, I should mention that at this time in my life, inevitably I find myself asking the following questions when visiting an eatery south of the bridge:
1) Is it worth crossing the bridge and finding a parking space? (Usually for a first time or two, it is!); and
2) Is it worth taking out my Invisalign, the bane of my adult life at the moment…
And with these questions in mind, I almost find I’m weighing up every experience against the two. Quite judgemental indeed, I know. Secondly, I should mention I had thought of going through the casual/cheap eats of Sydney guide a couple of weeks ago and started out with a trip to Makan @ Alice’s in Pennant Hills. Nice food, but not as particularly ‘cheap’ as I had imagined (the suggested $45 for a meal for two was slightly exaggerated unless they had only ordered a main and entrée to share with rice) and waaaaaaay out-of-town, so I was somewhat dismayed by the zeal with which it was recommended BUT I gave the magazine the benefit of the doubt and thought this was a great way to try the rest…
So first stop along the way (we were a bit early so decided for an early morning dessert, as you do!) was the Guylian cafe in Circular Quay. Not sure if anyone could ever have a bad dessert here, but I certainly didn’t, it was wonderful. From the menu I chose what I thought would be the simplest item – the Guylian baked chocolate cake. But it was anything but simple…
The chocolate ice cream (incredible) was surrounded by chocolate orange aero-like crumbles which was a surprise and the cake was just perfect – heavy and moist. Exactly what you want for a dessert like this. Coupled with a hot chocolate from their menu, our day started off well! Would I cross the bridge for yes? Oh yes, yes and more yes! Would I take out my Invisalign? Gladly, in fact for a tasty morsel such as this I’d even do it in public… and may well have
Our next stop was Opera Kitchen on the lower concourse of the Opera House to sample Time Out’s recommended rice paper rolls from Miss Chu. We opted to share a chicken one on the go given we had many more places to visit during the general 12-3pm lunch hour rush!
The rice paper rolls were nice – not too spicy, the rolls were filling and packed with coriander. But I must consider that this is probably more of a ‘on the go’ food than something I would go out of my way to sample. Next time I’m at Opera Kitchen, I think I’ll choose of my own from the menu rather than Time Out’s recommendation.
So off we left for a spot of shopping… cut scene to our trip out to Surry Hills to sample the famous $5 tacos from El Loco.
Now don’t get me wrong… for $5, they are a good price and I can see the mass appeal of these (given their spice and ease with which they go down) with beer. But to go out of my way to try one? I wouldn’t do that again. The venue is incredibly trendy in its casual way, the food spicy and the atmosphere warm, but if I’m not in the Surry Hills area, and I’m not hankering for spicy food, I doubt you’ll see me back here. Next time I’ll be trying El Capo I think!
From here we decided to do one more stop of the day and take a quick ride over to Newtown to sample something from Black Star Pastry. Unfortunately the day was still bleak (raining and cold) and by the time we arrived at Black Star, the (very small) room was packed with people not really allowing us to get inside out of the rain, and after some of the other recommendations we had sampled during the day, we opted to simply go for a stroll along King St instead.
Lesson of the day: Forget recommendations from Time Out, and simply start to look for recommendations of my own!!!