Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Review: Tamber's Diner, Baltimore, Maryland USA

While on holiday in the US we pottered out to Baltimore, to visit some old internet friends and take in the kind of sad Poe shrine. While we were there we got taken to the marvellous Tamber's Diner.

Tamber's is what you think of when you think an American diner... kind of. The kind of is primarily because this is a university town, it's a little more ecclectic than your average US city and it's filled with frat boys and dorm room stoners. That means that Tamber's is the kind of diner you can walk into drunk and say "I want ... a cheese burger... and some paratha ... and a slice of pie" and they actually bring it to you.

Welcome to Tamber's Indian/American Diner experience...

Samosas with mint yoghurt and tamarind sauce $3.95USD

Reuben sandwich with fries and coleslaw $8.95USD

Onion pakoras $3.95USD

Chilli cheeseburger $8.95USD

Onion stuffed Naan $2.75USD

Palak paneer $9.95USD

Country fried chicken with Mac'n'Cheese $8.95USD

Bacon cheese burger $8.95USD

Onion rings $5.50USD

Pumpkin pie $3.95USD

There's not much point in me running down every dish, it's good hearty diner food and everything it looks like...not excellent, not fancy, but warming and homely. The major amusement was the company and the mix of dishes. The Indian food was surprisingly good, but then most of the management of the staff seemed to be Indian so I gues that's not altogether too shocking.

The service was kind sweet and attentive, the food warming on a cold winter's day and everything we wanted. The Pumpkin Pie was a real American diner highlight and I'm glad we found somewhere that had it at Christmas time.

Apart from the seemingless endless aray of cheap service labour in the US the thing that boggles me is the unlimited drinks. It's enough to do serious damage to a caffeine junkie like myself. Less than $3 and I think I drank about two and a half litres of diet coke, little men just kept appearing with jugs, my friends drinking coffee had much the same. Hard to beat!

Tamber's Restaurant

3327 Saint Paul Street (at 34th Street)
Baltimore, MD 21218 USA

Phone +1-410-243-5777

Casual dining atmosphere
Family friendly

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Review: Signorelli Gastronomia, Pyrmont

As many of you will know I recently got a job in Pyrmont, which means that I'm actually close to other foodies to take out for lunch. To top this off I get provided with food at work so I don't mind splurging on the occasional dining out experience ... enter the Pyrmont Lunch Club in all its glory.

Signorelli Gastronomia is a foodies delight where you can dine, shop or even learn to cook in a sea of gourmet offerings. The very Italian staff and food are not my usual tastes but they are worth stopping for, especially after a bad day and when the Season suits your tastes.

There's a number of light offerings if you're after a more casual affair, charcuturie to make the mouth water or you can even watch the chefs prepare your pizza on the in kitchen cameras. We're no casual diners though and it's winter so it's time to lap up the seasonal fare with gusto and a side order of vino rosso.

Ham hock and foie gras terrine $18

It's not a large lunch dish on it's own but I never met a liver I didn't like. This dish is very salty, especially with the pickled vegetables so don't be light on the water but this is the perfect late Autumn dish and worth a try when available. Not for the feint hearted the terrine is hardly light on fat, the bread fried, the vegetables picked and the dish basted with butter.

Osso bucco Milanese $30

Another good hearty seasonal favourite with its rich tomato sauce and slow simmered meat but not the best rendition I've encountered and certainly not for the price tag. For me the risotto is too cheesey and you can see the plasticising film on the surface, a little more stock might have done the chef a favour.

Open Lasagne $16

Not your average lasagne al forno this dish has the perfect textured noodles, shredded oxtail and a light perfect collagen filled stock; definitely a return visit for this lactic intolerant.

Fettucine with braised goat, Jerusalem artichoke and chilli $18 / $26

Goat you say? Jerusalem artichoke? You had me at hello. The light chilli laced jus on the noodles doesn't overpower the delicate flavour of the goat, the pasta is perfectly al dente and the artichokes melt in my mouth. A perfect warming winter meal and a wonderful order.

Signorelli Gastronomia for me can be a little hit and miss. Their meat, cheese and wine selection are enviable and any gourmande would be well to spend their time browsing the shelves and the fridges in their retail section. The meals are very seasonal and in short runs depending on the quality of available ingredients and the appropriate weather; this means that finding the excellent dishes can be difficult when you're not sure if the winning items will be back on the menu on your next return. When they do get the dishes right though they're stunning and compiled of excellent fresh ingredients.

For a fairly small restaurant the service can be delayed at lunch, a very early or late seating would be advised. Keep an eye out for their Master Class offerings which change with the seasons.

Signorelli Gastronomia
Ground floor of Accenture/Google Building
48 Pirrama Rd
Pyrmont NSW 2009

Phone: 02 8571 0616

Formal dining atmosphere
Gourmet retail store attached
Very busy at lunch due to local business parks

Monday, July 12, 2010

Review: Darley St Bistro, Newtown

At some magic point the Botany View Hotel underwent a major reconstruction and went from a dodgy old man pub with tiles on the wall to the place to be in South Newtown. There's the lively poker games and rowdy trivia nights and Sunday night live music... but more than that there's the Darley St Bistro.

I was convinced to go by a friend with a bit of intrepidation in my voice. This pub is about 2 doors up from me in Newtown and I still had no compulsion to go based on the looks. Boy was I surprised, the food is eye rolling, plate pointingly good and has now become a staple in my eating landscape. The only unfortunate thing I can say about the Darley St Bistro is that the rest of the neighbourhood seems to have found it too and getting a table at prime dinner time is now a nightmare.

Nonetheless it's definitely worth a try, especially if you can get there at lunch when you're more likely to get a comfy seat outside. Every meal we've tried here has been good, but do try something that's not just standard pub fair... it's far too good.

Home made gnocchi with chorizo, arugula and basil oil $14

Now when you order gnocchi at the pub, you kind of expect mass produced hard nuggets to appear. These soft delicious and butter fried gnocchi were a real surprise. Swimming with fresh arugula and slices of crisp fried chorizo. A great meal on a warm Sunday afternoon with a pint.

Confit of pork belly with broccoli and sweet corn mash $24

Sweet soft pork belly with a crisp top and a chili jam are presented with sweet creamy soft corn mash that cuts through the fat. You'll never be so happy to stop caring about the fat intake.

Chicken Burrito with Guacamole $20

You might think this is "just a burrito" but as the chef said to me once "it's made with a bit of love." Newtown is quite light on good Mexican but this kills my cravings ten fold and leaves me salivating for another for days. Filled with rice, just the right amount of chilli sauce and cheese and crisped in a soft tortilla it's topped with a creamy chipotle sauce and served with guacamole and sour cream.

Pumpkin canneloni with blue cheese sauce $16

The filling of these canneloni is soft and sweet delicious, but full of veges and light enough to make you feel good afterwards. The edges of the canneloni are crisped and caramelised and the soft blue cheese sauce cuts through the sweetness with its acidity. Be warned though, this is a large serving, don't be scared to give up.

Corned beef with mash, honey mustard sauce and greens $18

This is not your grandmother's corned beef! The meat is soft and shreds perfectly under a fork, it's only barely pickled but tangy enough to excite. The mash isn't anything special but you will chase the sweet acidic sauce with it. Topped with one of my favourites - asparagus. Just perfect.

Lemon Myrtle Cheesecake $12

It's highly unlikely you'll have space left for dessert, but if you do they're definitely worth it. No boring neufchatel French cheese cake this packs a punch with the citrusy taste of Lemon Myrtle, an Australian native seed that adds bite and texture to a dense creamy dessert. Recommended.

As if this wasn't enough the Botany View also stocks a range of premium beer and cider on tap. $16 for a jug of Bulmers? Yes please. Get yourself down there, there's no excuse for eating at The Townie when this food is on offer barely 10 mins walk away.

Botany View Hotel

Dinner: 7 nights 6.30pm - 9.30pm
Lunch: Fri, Sat and Sun 12pm - 2.30pm

597 King Street Newton
PH: 9519 4501
Fax: 9517 9004

Pub atmosphere, fully licensed
Children welcome upstairs in family eating area only

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Review: Khamadhenu, Newtown

Khamadhenu is the restaurant so popular they had to put two of them on King St. With so many Asian restaurants in Newtown it's easy to overlook such a restaurant but don't make this mistake. This is without a doubt one of the best curry houses I've been to, the service is immaculate and the food fresh, light and complex.

Aloo masala dosa $8.00

I love how readily dosa are available in Sydney. The paper thin pancake is filled with a mild spiced vegetable curry and served with a tomato chilli dipping sauce and a coconut jam. It is perfectly crisp and light, the sauces so good I stash them for eating with my rice and the curry light and sweet but with complex spices that can each be tasted.

Beef Vindaloo $12.90

Now we purposely don't ask for ludicrous heat but this was quite a moderate vindaloo. Again the thing that I am amazed about with the curries here are how much I can taste each part of the complex spice mix. The sauce is creamy and light on the toungue with ground nuts and smooth tomato sauce. I moan appreciatively as I eat it.

Lamb Saag $12.90

I have a weakness for saag, a sauce made of minced Spinach, it's so creamy without requiring any dairy and the lightness compliments the tender meat perfectly. This is an excellent rendition and I devour the entire place despite being incredibly full by the end of the meal.

Garlic naan $3

The naan are made perfectly, fresh and light and obviously straight from the tandoor. Many naan in Australia tend towards the heavy side but these are not and have an almost roti like texture. You can spot the arm of a good chef by the fact that these are perfectly crisp without any sign of being overdone, a hard feat to pull off in the difficult to manage tandoor heat.

Lemon Rice $4

Having both bread and rice is a little of an extravagance but it looks too good to pass up. Nonetheless I am not able to eat all of it. Mixed with nuts, cardamom and seeds this lemon rice is deliciously fragrant and adds texture to an already gorgeous meal.

Khamadhenu is highly recommended, excellent quality meals at affordable prices. There are meals to suit all allergen sufferers and eating choices. They deliver as well as having 3 branches in Newtown and Neutral Bay however avoid dosa and fried dishes for delivery to avoid disappointment.


377a King St Newtown
02 9557 2186

Neutral Bay
12 Waters Rd, Neutral Bay
02 9953 9999

171 King St, Newtown
02 9550 2611

Casual atmosphere, family friendly
Reservations not required but recommended for busy nights