Corn fritters with avocado salsa at Bill’s, Surry Hills
This is the taste of Sydney. It’s one of the signature dishes at Bill Granger’s cafes for a reason. It’s as life affirming as a swim off Bondi or a cup of tea made by your mum. The morning I ate this I was not doing well. I was recovering from a hen’s/ bachelorette party. You see, my bride-to-be is a doctor and only requires three hours sleep to function. I am somewhat different. We descended from our room at the Adina on Crown to Bill’s just before the crowds. I fell upon juice and coffee like it was manna from heaven. These corn fritters didn’t last long either. The outside is nutty and crisp, the inside pregnant with corn and light on the dough. The roma tomatoes are blisteringly sweet and the baby spinach that bedded down with them made me feel a little better about the punishment I’d put my body through just four hours before.
The dish of salsa is an optional extra. It’s worth getting; both for the cooling textural contrast, and the fact that in my mind, any breakfast in Australia doesn’t hit the mark without a little bit of avocado. One plate of this and you’ll feel like a whole new person. I promise.
359 Crown Street
Surry Hills NSW 2010
+61 2 9360 4762
Slow roasted spiced lamb, pumpkin and almond bruschetta at Revolver Cafe
Generous on almonds, verdant with mint and tricked up with tomatoes and an impossibly silky pumpkin puree. That on its own would have been good. But then add flakes of lamb, slow roasted and soft as a squeeze from an infant.
Revolver, in the quiet green flecked streets of Annandale was new discovery for me. The first time I went, I had this lunch dish. I’d dashed from the hospital after meeting a gorgeous new addition to our circle of friends (greetings Harriet). I was late to meeting another wise pal and her irrepressible son. Oscar and I shared this bruschetta (though I think I ate the lion’s share of the Sonoma soy and linseed at the base). The second time I went to Revolver was for brunch. And the third was for macchiatos with my favourite Sydney food critic. If this is where Simon Thomsen heads for coffee- you can bet it’s good.
291 Annandale Street
Annandale NSW 2038, Australia
+61 2 9555 4727
Eathouse Mess at Eathouse Diner
The sign outside says ‘Eat Here’. It’s good advice. The Eathouse Diner is on a corner in Redfern that I once trudged past every day on my way to work. It’s a good thing the diner wasn’t there a year ago. Otherwise I would have left Australia a darn sight larger than I did.
Eathouse is casual and charming, with a bright red formica bar and firm no bookings policy. The wine, cocktails and beer (including The Hungry One’s favourite Estrella Damn) flows easily. But it’s the desserts that really caused us to swoon.
An Eathouse Mess is tidier than you might expect- it’s closer to a pavlova sandwich than the drossing pile of meringue, fruit and cream of an Eton-made, school-boy dessert. The meringue is fluffy on the inside and shatteringly sweet at the edge. There’s plenty of passionfruit slopping about for acidity and strawberries for sugar. It’s a tidy pavlova on a plate. It’s childhood nostalgia you can tackle with a fork. It’s a good dessert in a great place, in a part of town that’s getting fancier by the day.
306 Chalmers Street
Redfern NSW 2016
+61 2 8084 9479
Corn pudding with Agave at Rojo Rocket
All morning I had been thinking about an ice cream and a walk on the beach. That was what I was sure would help. We’d arrived at Rojo Rocket, high on the hill behind Avoca Beach, for lunch the morning after a fairly enormous wedding. We were steeling ourselves for the hour and a half drive back down into Sydney. I was dreading it. A large plate of guacamole was the first thing to help bring me back from the brink. A salted margarita also played a part (The Hungry One kindly offered to drive). We weren’t planning on dessert- but the staff were keen for us to try something, so they brought over this pudding. In hindsight, I don’t even think we paid for it. Next time we will. Here sweetcorn lives up to its branded promise. The base is chewy; a cross between flummery and bread pudding. The agave gives a lurid pink citrus sweetness to the sauce. With gently melting ice cream and some cinnamon tortilla crisps, it hit the sweet spot. And unlike an ice cream on the beach, there was no grit from sand and it didn’t melt all over my hand. Chalk that up as a win.
366 Avoca Dr, Avoca NSW 2577
+61 2 4382 2255
The full rack of pork ribs, at Hurricane’s Grill
This was not my first choice of brunch. But it was The Hungry One’s. He’d just got off a 28 hour economy seat commute to Sydney- and didn’t have his wife’s adjoining seat to colonise with his long limbs. His first request after a shower was a coffee. After that, a walk on Bondi; we ambled down to the north end and quietly said hi to the spot where his Mum’s ashes were sprinkled. And then, we went to Hurricanes.
A full rack of ribs at Hurricanes is not modest, delicate or even decent value these days (over $40 for ribs, are you serious?). The space is curious during the day- there’s a television broadcasting the tennis in one corner, the sound clanging chairs against hard floors, and the light clashes off the tables like sunshine off a cheap necklace. Yet, for The Hungry One, it’s all about the way the meat relaxes off the bone; it’s as drippingly tired as he feels. The sauce is spicy and sweet, glossed and gelatinous all over the bones. It’s trashy. It’s messy. You don’t even get a finger bowl, just a moist towelette. It’s where he took me on one of our first dates. And for The Hungry One, it’s the taste of home.
130 Roscoe St, Bondi Beach