Sunday 9 November 2008

Urban Bites

When you think of angry man, you think Jason Statham in Crank. For a fool, maybe a Brendan Fevola. The truth, Paul Pierce, cause he can motherf*ckin play. I like the epitomes in life. Or at least try seek them out.

It’s chilled, casual, relaxed environment with it’s arty grundgy edges has King St (without all the cars) all over it. Adding to that, the food is nothing outstanding (save for Oscillate Wildly, Gelatomassi and maybe Guzman) but it certainly is satisfying.

The name says it all. No surprises on this cafĂ© menu, there’s your coffees, juices which won’t tread on too many toes. Find the steak sanga, the meat is minute steak with a sunny side egg, bacon and a healthy dose of barbeque sauce on top, served opened on Turkish bead with lettuce tomato, cucumber and beetroot slices. Chips stock up the still hungry. The Bite burger on the other hand comes with wedges instead straight from the packet, the meat to bun ratio is poor with the beef pattie sitting on a fat white roll, again served open with a good dollop of tomato sauce and seeded mustard with the same salad. Eggs benedict is a tame affair, the eggs well poached, the hollandaise sauce lacking zang and zing.

Good enough for the locals who flock to the outdoor tables on those sunny days and whilst it doesn’t impress yet not much to fault, Urban Bites could very well by the epitome of the Newtown eatery.

2 / 5 yums!
Where? 58 King St, Newtown, NSW
What? Under $18

Left to Right : Juices, Steak sandwich, Bites Burger, Eggs Benedict

Saturday 8 November 2008

Una’s (now Essen)

Quality is the food that bounces off the menu which takes a snapshot of the flavours from Austria, Germany, Switzerland and Hungary. One can start of with the assortment of schnapps and on special occasions the imported spirits arrive via novelty toy medical vehicles (signifying that you could quite possibly end up in a medical institution having your stomach pumped after shotting the devil’s liquid), chasing it down with beers also from a foreign land. You could go the goulash or pork knuckle, but what all hungry souls seeking something to soak up the booze are the varieties of schnitzels. The vienna (veal) and chicken are choice, thinly crumbed and deep fried to a crisp but remaining reasonably moist inside. The jaeger versions come topped with a creamy rich mushroom sauce and all come with a rosti, shallow fried strands of thickly grated potato cris-crossed into a thick hash brown. The food contains plenty heart (though not from any animal), and you’ll need a good one yourself to handle the plate size proportions.

2.5 / 5 yums!
Where? 135 Broadway, Ultimo, NSW
What? Under $19

Thursday 6 November 2008

Taj Agra

Few Indian restaurants I’ve been to that have attempted to go Establishment or Boutique upmarket have impressed. Overpriced and undervalued for listless, tasteless curries which can be found at your local food court. Give me the cheap and nasty any hour, any day of the week. Sit me on a freakin milk crate and make me eat off my lap, will come with own stainless steel if the food is awesome.

Hungry, tired and sick of Oriental food, Taj Agra was one of the few things in Dickson my party were willing to try. What’s wrong with Ethiopian I ask?

Upon entering through the purple framed glass doors, things didn’t feel quite right. Things were too comfortable, the neutral tan tones splashed on the walls, off white suede upholstered chairs, sharp and clean wooden table tops, wine glasses ready and waiting. It was too much, and too late, we had already been shown our seats.

The usuals appear, from your vindaloos to rogan joshs, butter chickens to kormas and briyani. If the mainstream Indian doesn’t appeal, there’s the Pakistani section to tickle the fancy, though the ordered Pakistani lamb dish used meat that was gristly and seemed about as old as your grandfolks. The rest is pleasant enough though the garlic naan almost charred to the point that could have set off smoke alarms. The price certainly did the customer no favours either; paying a price that did not represent value for the portions presented.

A massive generalisation: places like this share the Establishment flaws, pretending to be something it ain’t with an exterior that hides a distinct lack of substance. Pass me that milk crate from Hyde Park anyday.

1.5 / 5 yums!
Where? 35 Woolley St, Dickson, ACT
What? Mains Under $16

Tuesday 4 November 2008

Spicy Sichuan Restaurant

Should have the direct line for the fire brigade programmed into the speed dial and it would be a good idea to ensure your health’s insured before stepping into this restaurant. Ok, it’s not that bad, but there’s a major risk of ring burn downstairs if you have too much of the hot stuff. Have a carton of full cream Diary Farmers ready.

It is the cuisine from Sichuan they serve up here, renowned for their fiery flavours. The place has a regal Chinese feel to it, and no expense is spared with the grand murals, glass covered table tops with the Asian trimmings fit for an Empress. Certainly living up to the restaurant’s name, the food is spicy, with most things tasting of hot from the chilli, dried chilli, chilli oil and anything else you can think of with chilli in it. Stir fried bitter melon, stewed beef, vermicelli and the connected fried pork and chive dumplings provide some respite to the barrage of spiciness.

But it’s the strangely named “Multi Flavoured Chicken” that’s one of the reasons people flock. Sliced chicken on the bone drowns in a scarlet pool of oil, chilli, garlic and other secret ingredients garnished with roasted peanuts and sliced spring onion. I’m not going to lie to you, whilst the chicken annoyingly has far too much skeletal tissue, the red liquid is extremely tasty. Tasty in the evil kind of way because if you drank the stuff, it’s a guaranteed way to clog up the arteries. Doubled cooked pork is untrimmed but that’s a good thing, the fat glistens and adds extra flavour as it’s stir fried in another tasty yet mild (in comparison to most) chilli oil mixture. A must is the “would you like any meat with your dried chilli”, the lightly coated fried chicken littered with what T likes to dub “bastard bombs”, little Sichuan peppercorns and ginger shoots. It could be a window to weight gain but that’s unlikely to happen as those little bombs cause a numbing tingling sensation that may cause fears that you may never taste again. Either that or because you’ve become senseless and delirious from the heat, you’ll just eat more.

Repeat visits won’t hurt your bank balance as it’s reasonably good value, but something else might be hurting in the region most people keep their wallets.

3 / 5 yums!
Where? 1-9 Glebe Point Road, Glebe, NSW
What? Entrees $10, Mains $20

Monday 3 November 2008


You could go to France for a quality baguette but there’s Victoire in Balmain. A plane trip to Indonesia for Ayam Goreng but there’s 99 in Kingsford. Why wait for the loo at home when you could relieve yourself on a mansion fence on St Georges Road? You could travel far to get something, but why not go local?

Silvas is one such local, the place that causes all the surrounding inner west suburbs to experience the kind of jealously felt by the kid without the LCM. As intense is the peri peri sauce, lovingly basted over the poultry meat that’s got a false teeth chompy red chilli, garlic and lime kick which is somewhat neutralised by fried chips and a fried rice Portuguese style. Something with a bit of barbaric Neanderthal, the very meaty, thickly diced beef marinaded in madeira and charcoal charred is presented on a hanging skewer dangling teasingly at eye level. “EAT ME” it beckons so you do as ordered.

You can go to Nandos, Oporto, Ogalo or some other sell out Portuguese chook franchise to get your fix but there’s nothing like the local that’s so close, you could roll out of bed to find to find your lips pressed against food worthy to be exchanged for your cash.

3 / 5 yums!
Where? Shop 1, 82-86 New Canterbury Rd, Petersham, NSW
What? Chicken $18 or cheaper take away

Left to Right : Portuguese Chicken, Madeira Beef
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