Saturday, September 26, 2009
Cottage Point Kiosk is not to be confused with the Cottage Point Inn. Both are very close in location, but both offer very different dining experiences albeit both with equally sensational water views. I have been to the Cottage Point Inn in my pre-blogging days, and had a beautiful relaxed lunch enjoying the fine food and watching the sea planes gliding in to drop off and pick up diners. On my more recent visits to the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, I have made a few visits to the more casual Cottage Point Kiosk. To find both, you need to turn off Mona Vale Road into the National Park, and the signs point you to Cottage Point. Once you find the end of the road, you are there. Parking is in the street, and the street is steep. A few houses surround this area and the Ku-rin-gai Motor Yacht Club is also between the two eateries. From here, you can see only glimpses of water through the trees, but once you start walking down the stairway, the view opens up to beautiful watery vista. The kiosks is an old weatherboard house build in the early 1900's with a small courtyard with outdoor seating and a boat shed underneath. A few steps take you up to the sheltered, but sunny verandah. Its a unique setting hidden down by the water. The Kiosk also trades as a general store, but what surprised me was the quality of the food. They smoke their own smoked salmon on the premises, they also have daily specials such as Barramundi Fish Curry or Ocean Trout Terriyaki. We perused the menu and took a seat on the verandah, however, today I had picked to come during the worst dust storm Sydney has had since 1939! The view was still stunning, just not as blue as it usually was. I have mostly visited during the week, so it has always been peaceful, and today was no different. I was there with the lad, one other table had a local with two tourists showing them the area, and down in the courtyard, the local boaties came to eat their packed lunches and have a great cup of coffee from the kiosk. There was a bit of rumbling when one brought his dog down, and the resident 3-legged seadog got a bit territorial and gave chase. He was old and mangy and obviously a little cranky, but didn't mind us talking to him at all. This morning, the lad and I had been exploring Akuna Bay Marina and were disappointed to see that the dust storm had kept the cafe closed, so by the time we got to Cottage point, we were really quite hungry. The lad wanted his usual egg and bacon role (really big and yummy) $10.50, and I decided to have the thai fish burger and was abolutely blown away with the freshness, flavour and SIZE of it. I think my plate was about 40cm wide, and with the chips (also crunchy and delicious) it filled the whole plate. I wasn't prepared for the size, but as it was a bit costly at $24.50, I was quietly happy that it was. Both of us started eating with gusto. We ate, and we ate, and we ate until the lads plate was clean. I managed my burger, but even together we couldn't polish off the chips! We sat there groaning with delight and despair. There was nothing left to do but to sit and watch the boaties go back to work, watch the birds flying low (I think the dust affected them a bit) and listened to the waves lapping quietly alongside the pontoon. As the kiosk is open 7 days, I'm sure it gets more crowded than this, and I imagine brunch would be popular. They also serve a very generous devonshire tea (the tourists had to take a doggy bad, the scones were so big). Even though the location is within the national park, the turn off to Cottage Point is just before the barrier gate, so there is no cost to get in if you are coming down from Mona Vale Road. From all of the seats you enjoy the views of the water and surrounding bushland. It is a truly beautiful spot. The style of the house is quaint, and they have photographs dating back to 1885 around the verandah, so it has been a local icon for many years. I love this place, and will definitely come back. I wouldn't call it a cheap eat, but you certainly get a good feed in a non-fancy atmosphere. Good food, fresh air and great views..what else could you ask for? Cottage Point Kiosk can be found at 1 Notting Lane, Cottage Point. 9456 3024. www.cottagepointkiosk.com.au Happi eating!
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Chatting in the office, we realised that one of our own was soon to celebrate a significant birthday. Lunch was obviously in order, but with the pickings a little thin in Chatswood, and the fact that we had tried most available places, where would we go? After a little brainstorming, we came up with Rocket Fine Dining Restaurant. It is quite an unobtrusive restaurant, set just above street level, close to the station so it is one of those places you walk past every day, know its there, but as you can’t just peek in, you’re not sure what a quiet little gem it is. We checked the website, http://www.rocketrestaurant.com.au/ and soon realised that we were on the right track. Just like our beautiful “B”, who’s birthday it was, it seemed elegant, understated, and very good quality! All agreed very quickly (there are many enthusiastic foodies in my office) and a booking was made. The day arrived and we were greeted at the door immediately by the maitre d and then wisked through the tasteful and understated decor of the main dining room, to a bright private room glassed off from the main area, and with huge windows looking over the streetscape. The restaurant had a lovely calm ambience, and surprisingly, had three large groups dining there today (a Tuesday). As each person trickled in, they were attended to immediately. Each was seated, drinks ordered and poured, menus out all at a very attentive and swift pace. We all checked for what we would order, then presented our gift to B, and whilst lively laughter ensued, we made our lunch decisions. The menu was quite compact, but nicely balanced. As the meals started to arrive, there was a hush of anticipation, amongst us we had ordered a Warm Salad of Beef Cheeks and Roasted Beetroot, with Rocket, Sweet Potato Crisps and Beetroot Jelly. That looked and tasted sensational. I was sorely tempted by this but ended up with the Angus Beef, with a Confit of Potato and Horseradish Cream, done medium rare. Perfect. "BBB" (not to be confused with "B") had Roasted Flinders Island leg of Lamb with Desiree Potato and Green Olive Salsa, another winner. MOST had the Roasted farm Barramundi with Mushroom and Herb Salad, Leek Puree and Red Wind Dressing. I think it was a toss up between the Beef Cheeks and Barramundi being the best meal myself but all meals were great and not a skerrick was left on any of the plates. We added some Darling Mills Mesclun salad and the mains were complete. The service was attentive and on-th- ball (which isn't always a given, but SHOULD be in a Fine Dining Restaurant), all dishes were cleared and once again menus appeared. Not all could fit in dessert, but some of us challenged ourselves (he he he). The "mad greek" had a baked Vanilla Custard and Blueberry Puree with Sable Biscuit and Lemon Sorbet. That looked divine and I did notice not even a drop was left on her plate. I had Warm Chocolate Pudding with Armagnac Poached Prunes and Dark Chocolate Sauce..hmmmm, and the absolute winner of the day was the Rasberry Souffle with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. They were carried into the room in all their bouffant glory, then placed lovingly on the table (so as not to deflate them), then the rasberry coulis was poured into the centre of the souffle while we all salivated in anticipation. Not a WORD was spoken from the souffle crowd until their plates were clean. With such a group of talkers amongst us, this was by no means an easy feat! Coffees and Teas all round, then back to work, totally full and happy. To leave, we once again walked through the quiet of the dining room, only one large group remained, and we were cheerily waved off by the chef in the open kitchen and other staff. What a surprise it was to have this type of restaurant nestled amongst the buildings. I just hope we have another occasion as an excuse to revisit soon! Found at 1-5 Railway Street / Cnr Help Street Chatswood, you just go up the escalators and find yourself at the front door. 9411 8233. Happi Eating!
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
The Malaya, I'm sure you've all heard, has been around for YEARS, and years and YEARS. My father used to enjoy meals at the Malaya in its early days (I think it may have been at North Sydney back then) and I'm talking at least 20 years ago, probably 30. I used to visit regularly when they were down near Central, and had many a great meal, and used to buy the ready made Laksa sauces to replicate the experience at home. What a feat, to have been going for that long and only getting bigger and better because of the consistency of the quality served and the growth in popularity. Amazing for Sydney really. Now, I was to meet the girlies down at King Street Wharf for dinner and I was absolutely gobsmacked by the sheer size of the dining room when I walked in. There was literally thousands of people in there (or so it seemed). I wondered how they would manage to dish up good food to such a large amount of people. Immediately on arriving I was met with a familiar face, I remembered the owner from the last location so I was pleased to see the continuity and the same smiley welcome I had remembered. The restaurant overlooks the shiny lights of Darling Harbour, and has a high glass wall with an opening at the top to allow for the sea breezes to waft in. It was a beautiful balmy spring evening so it added to the ambience (if you can call a bustling restaurant of noisy diners ambient). There was tables set for large groups, and romantic tables for two, and even though half of Sydney was in there tonight, we managed to hold a lively conversation without yelling at each other. It was quite comfortable surprisingly. Now my two girlies were regulars here, so had the menu sorted before I arrived. When the trainee water came to take our order , a cute young frenchman, we were ready with out entree order. Only one thing was missed, and our extremely capable back up waitress (she was incredibly efficient and on the ball), sorted the issue and fast tracked it for us and we didn't even realise the blip at the end of it. I must say that for such a huge place, the service was really on the ball. Pleasant, efficient and really sharp. Quite a surprise but obviously is a big part of why it works. The other is of course the food. The open kitchen is huge, and the staff are hard at it from wo-to-go churning out great curries and stir fries. Every so often a dramatic big flame ignites and is put out quickly, whatever that dish is, the chef probably has less eyebrows than he originaly set out with each night! So, what we ate for Entree was : Seafood Rolls (minced scallop, king prawn and shallot deepfried in pastry with sweet chilli sauce, I was also pleased to see that Otak Otak was still on the menu. This is one of my all time favourites, it is white fish fillet minced with chilli and spices (and quite hot), wrapped in banan a leaf then bbq'd. They look great and taste great too. My friends hadn't tried this one before so it was a treat to have it again. Then we shared the Spricy Prawn Cutlets (no picture..we ate them so fast I didn't get time!) which was prawns coated in curry spice and breadcrumbs then deep fried. That out of the way, we moved on to mains. Prawns steamed with ginger, shallot and soy sauce servied with asian greens. This was the STANDOUT for me. Sweet, gingery and beautiful. I couldn't have eaten this all night with nothing else. Nasi Goreng - sensational is all I can say, Chicken, but now I'm not sure which one we ordered, Singapore Curry with fish and as the menu says, using the same recipe since 1963 using tomato and eggplant. I guess when you're on a good thing stick with it. This wasn't my favourite flavour of the evening but was certainly nice. I think that it was the last dish of the night and we were all so full, it didn't get fair attention. Once we had finished, we didn't really have room for dessert but as I'd been told there was little ice cream surprise balls (or petit fours) available we decided to have 2 each to finish the meal. It was a great surprise to have a bite and discover what flavour was inside each, you can never tell until you break through the chocolate coating. Coconut? Cinnamon? Vanilla? Strawberry? All were yum, so I look forward now to having them again in the future. Although I have to say that when I used to come, every meal was a hit, this time one or two of the meals didn't quite hit it for me, but were still nice enough. Still a great experience, just a more WOW one these days and I managed to get parking in the city street, but I think that may be discouraging for some as its a busy end of town. The Malaya can be found at 39 Lime Street, King Street Sydney.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Why is it that beachside location, captive audience, and GOOD QUALITY fish and chips DON'T necessarily mix? To me it makes perfect sense that if you are by the ocean, then fresh fish would be immediately available and that living in that location, it would be the best opportunity to support local business (ie fishermen/fishmongers). Why then does is seem to be that it is not always easy to find a nicely battered piece of fresh, flakey fish, (enough already with that gluey, gluggy batter and soggy, oversalted chips!). I love being by the water, and I have to say am a bit of a sucker for fish and chips, so more times than I care to accept, I've been swindled into buying some very unremarkable fish and chips. Now, I think I've found the best chip in Sydney at the Five Dock Club, and I was pretty happy with the battered fish at Wamberal on the Central Coast, but I was a bit peeved by the average fish and chips on offer yesterday at a cafe just near Narrabeen Caravan Park, and right on the Channel. I have to say that the fish and chips in question were kids meal, but as I've said before, just because they are kids, doesn't mean you should try to get away with dishing out mediocre food. My kids, especially the lad, really like fresh fish and know a bland fish fillet when they see it! It cost $12.00 which is a bit steep for a kids meal in the big scheme of things but as we had had a very active day in the water, building sandcastles, collecting shells and swimming we were all in need of sustenance and we HAD to walk right by the outdoor seating of Ocean Bay Cafe and Restaurant to get to our car. I had no chance of getting past it with two hungry kids in tow. I've passed this place before, and it has a really casual air about it and really just beckons you to sit down and enjoy the salt air. The outdoor seating is always full and it overlooks the carpark and the sands of the lake under the shade of some huge pines. Being just across the road from the very popular Caravan Park, I'm sure it has a lot of traffic in the holiday season. Its a great spot to have a coffee, and they also do functions. Last time we were here they had a singer belting out tunes practising for the evenings gig, and with the glass doors open onto the carpark we got to enjoy the music as we wandered past, all sandy from our day swimming. We happily sat outside and ordered - it had to be fish and chips for the kids and milkshakes in those big old fashioned aluminium cups again. I wasn't as hungry as the kids so had an entree size Salt and Petter Squid which was cooked nicely, but the outside wasn't as crisp as I would have liked, it did have a lovely flavour though. It came with a side salad of rocket, parmesan and red onion which had a really nice sweet dressing that set off the bitterness of the rocket beautifully. It was just enough to fill me and was $17.50 so not a bad choice. The chips the kids had were crunchy on the outside and fluffy in the middle, but I think the fish fillets, although looking golden and lovely, turned out to be the thick gluey batter type which I'm sure they buy in bulk rather than battering their own which was a pity. The location was great and it ended the day perfectly by prolonging the beach experience for us all. It had been a beautiful spring day so we were happy to stay out in it. They also serve Pizza and we saw a few going past on trays which looked sensational, so I think it might just be a case of us either stopping for a milkshake or pizza next time and not for the fish and chips. You live and you learn though don't you? The decor is mostly white with accents of blue and along the walls inside there is beach themed canvases which were mostly photographs taken of the Rock Pool and beach scenes. The large windows also made it airy and light, so it had a typical beachside feeling about it. After eating, and having used up all of our energy, we piled into the car, dusted the sand off our feet and then promptly took off in the wrong direction, but rather than this being a problem, I was really happy to find that just on the other side of the bridge there was a fantastic looking, modern cafe called "Lifesavers" which was directly across the road from the Narrabeen Surf Club so I'll be sure to walk up the road a little further and put them through their fish and chip paces next time I'm down this way!! How I love turning a negative into a positive - Happi Eating! Ocean Bay Cafe and Restaurant can be found at 1 Narrabeen Park Parade, Narrabeen 2101. 9970 5599