July 28, 2010 § 3 Comments
Sydney is a great walking city. We may be behind Perth’s bicycle tracks and shy to Melbourne’s public transport and trams, but we come into our own with the humble pedestrian. I think it’s a combination of the ease of our terrain – sometimes undulating other times flat and smooth and never too hilly – and the sheer variation of the landscape, no two suburbs are the same, that makes it an easy and fascinating place to wander. I remember once when I was younger and my mother and I walked from Double Bay, through Edgecliff and Kings Cross, into Paddington and down Oxford St, across Hyde Park, through the city and over to Newtown. It was a monstrous walk for a pair of eleven year old legs but I didn’t notice my exhaustion as my mind and eyes were caught by well-dressed Eastern Suburbs women, lithe bodied gym trainers, espresso sipping art students, drag queens, homeless bench sleepers, the working elite and finally the tattooed, incensed, hybrid of personalities of King St – where I promptly collapsed and called for a salad and cheese sandwich.
I think it’s also a good walking city because it’s filled, FILLED, with great places to eat…and all this trekking will no doubt leave you famished. Last Wednesday NB and I spent the day walking around the city, from Martin Place to Pyrmont, back onto George St and over to Surry Hills, headed up to Darlinghurst and then to the Cross. Throw into the mix three gym classes and by that evening I was starving!! This is how I ended up at Agave Mexican restaurant on Crown St.
Well actually, we planned to go to Agave and thought it was on Crown St – so we head back from Kings Cross, down Oxford and across into Crown…four blocks, five blocks. We began to question our destination. NB had eaten there once before but it was dark (and cold) and we were nearly at Billy Kwong, which we thought was near the end of the line. We make a hard left and hit Bourke St. Nope. We end up back on Oxford. We end up back on Crown. Second time lucky (walking up an appetite), Agave is nearly opposite Billy Kwong!
But good things come to those who wait and as soon as we entered the dimly lit, warm-wooded sunken dining room I knew that it had been worth the detour. A part bubbly/part sultry/ part hippy Brazilian waitress showed us our seats and left two paper lime-green menus. Apart from the odd late night burrito from Guzman Y Gomez, which is really Tex Mex not authentic cuisine, I had never really eaten Mexican so I left the ordering up to NB – who has spent several months living in the country – and instead listened surreptitiously to the raunchy conversation of the two Americans sitting at the table next to us.
The waitress passes by, carrying a tray of luminescent margaritas and I wished I didn’t have to teach pilates at 6:30 the next morning. Upon returning we caught her eye and NB did his Spanish thing!
It wasn’t long at all before the food began to come out. I’ve never been keen on courses, I like everything to come out at once and then people can pick and taste as they choose, instead of filling up on the first dish before the others get their chance to shine. At Agave when you ask for it all together it really does come ALL TOGETHER, so if you’re planning on ordering a few dishes try to snare a slightly larger table!
I’m glad I left the decision-making up to NB as the whole menu looks delicious and I would have spent hours deciding what to have. As it were, I was thrilled with our first delivery (probably my favourite dish of the night) of Molcajetes – a giant stone mortar filled with rice, seared beef, vegetables, guacamole, fetta, salsa and tortillas. The meat was seasoned with a delicious spice blend, the tortillas were warm and wrappable, the fetta came in long sword-like shards and the rice had absorbed all the delicious flavours of everything above – leaving you with do it yourself fajitas.
This is the MUST HAVE dish!
I was two bites into my fajita when the rest of the table was filled up with food.
I forked delicious pan fried garlic mushrooms with guajillo chile (HONGOS AL AJILLO $9) and grilled chorizo in roasted tomato and chipotle chilli jam (CHORIZO ASADO $12), proving to NB that yes I do eat chorizo!
Our other main sized dish, seared king prawns with garlic, chipotle and arbol chillies (CAMARONES A LA DIABLA $26) was much hotter than I thought, and while very good was probably my least favourite of the night – the chilli leaving it hard to taste much else.
We also had a slightly strange salad of slow-roasted shredded lamb w lettuce, raddish, tomato and cheese (SALPICON DE BORREGO), which was like a Mexican version of coleslaw. I might not order it again but it’s worth a try and I loved the crispy arbol chile totopos that it was served with!
What I loved about Agave was that every flavour was distinct and no two dishes tasted the same. It was good clean food and not the kind of Mexican that you wake up the following morning with a hangover and mass cheese regret. I would definitely recommend this place, and know I will be back to share a bowl of guacamole with blackened totopos ($15), panfried octopus ($16), another serve of molcajetes, and let’s make it Friday night so I can test these cocktails!
July 7, 2010 § 2 Comments
If you were about to start a week of vegetarian eating what would be the logical thing to do? Stock up on tofu, eggs, soy beans and other high protein ingredients? Stockpile your favourite vegetarian recipes? Make a reservation at Govindas? Of course not! You would stuff yourself to the brim with sausage, rib, pork belly…
Well I would, and it was this thought that saw me, NB and our friends lining up outside Churrasco Brazilian BBQ on William St, Sydney last Saturday night.
This place is so busy that when we called on Wednesday to add 2 more people to our group they said it would require a cancellation (fortunately there was one). The restaurant only takes two seatings a night, one at 6pm and one at 8pm – I would suggest going to the later session so you won’t feel pressured to leave and make room for the hordes of carnivores chomping at the bit outside the door.
Upon entering the restaurant there are 4 tables of six and one long row – walk around the corner and a cavern appears before you with three tables that would have been seating (probably) 40 people each. We made our way to the centre of the middle table and at once realised that conversation would be difficult with anyone who wasn’t sitting directly next to you – the tables were large and the noise was raucous.
First things first – are there any vegetarians dining tonight?? Umm no…that’s why we came to a house of meat…
Our Brazilian waitress seemed to be new on the job, and somewhat new with her command of the English language. 15 minutes of hand gesturing later we think we have ordered our drinks.
Once seated your group is presented with a constant supply of rice, sour cream potatoes, black beans and guacamole (included in the $35 all-you-can-eat package). The deal is simple, you keep your little card GREEN for “Yes please I still feel anaemic” or flip it to RED for “No thankyou, I think I will give birth to a calf”. And then you simply take the offerings…chicken sausage, wagyu, ribs, pork belly, chorizo, chicken hearts, sliced eye fillet, lamb rump…we also ordered a salad to share ($10.50) and combat the animal within, but while it made my mind feel better I think it was really a token gesture.
Our drinks arrived, scattered, throughout the meal. DF’s diet coke came out faster than you could say sucrose, my caprioska (shaken with kaffir and ginger) and AB’s strawberry and lychee cocktail were hot to follow. The remaining drinks came sporadically with some confusion, much like the waitress, until we began to joke that she had given NB’s pinot noir to another guy (woops – she did!).
The good thing about constant meat is that, for me anyway, you know when to stop…unlike thai or chinese when I never believe that too much of a good thing really is too much.
We finished with grilled pineapple (a nice touch that reminded me of holiday hamburgers) and meandered rather than rolled back into the cold night air. I even had room for a mouthful of ice cream back at Chateau Strawbs.
So, Churrasco? I highly recommend that you go – more for the food than the service, and maybe not every Saturday, but at least once… and definitely before a week in The Veggie Patch.