Friday, April 03, 2015

SuniBrite, Australia

As you know, I like to try out assorted breakfast/granola/nut bars.  I rarely find ones I like, but they are so convenient to stash away in my purse when I'm out and about.  Most protein bars let me down, nut and fruit bars are generally pretty boring, and I never really like granola bars, but breakfast bars can actually make me pretty happy, like the Nature Valley soft baked oatmeal squares.

So I was delighted to discover SuniBrite "Muesli Slices" when I was in Australia.  According to the company, "Sunibrite Muesli Slices are delicious wholesome baked slices made from a combination of high quality ingredients such as whole wheat flour, oats and fruit."  I like soft breakfast bars, I like muesli, so these had potential.

SuniBrite has a decent selection of muesli bars.  The basic bars are muesli mixed with dried fruit, such as apricot or strawberry, and some are yogurt coated, but I never found those.  They also make a "Slim 'n' Trim" line, which seems to have been rebranded "Lite", which are 97% fat free, available in basic muesli, or banana.

SunBrite is owned by Mother's Nature Ltd, same parent company as the "Be Natural" bars that I also enjoyed.
Lite Muesli Slice - Banana.
"SuniBrite Slim'n'Trim Banana Slices are wholesome slices made from a delicious combination of cereals and banana. Not only do they taste great, but they are 97% fat free and large enough to eat when hunger strikes or share with a friend during a break."

They are right about the size, these quite large bars, certainly not wimpy little diet bars.

Ok, to be honest, I didn't expect to like this.  I was trying it really only out of curiosity, and, well, it had the word "muesli" in the name, and I love muesli, so I was curious to see how muesli translated into a "slice".  But I rarely like bars, so, I went into it quite apprehensive.

Even once I opened it, I didn't expect to like it.  The bar wasn't particularly soft (not that it was hard like a granola bar), and the bottom side was studded with flakes, I believe bran.  Like this would be good.  I don't even like fresh banana bread, why would I like this?

But ... it was good!  Inside were chunks of banana, large, somewhat dehydrated, super sweet, almost caramelized-like.  The base was actually softer than it looked, and reminded me a bit like a Nutrigrain bar, just studded with tasty bits of fruit, rather than a strange paste filling.  Even better.

I really enjoyed this.  It does indeed make a perfect on the go breakfast, or snack with a cup of coffee.  For once, I totally agree with marketing-speak!

Update review:
I've had a few more of these since my initial review.  Each and every time, I open a bar, and I think, "wow, I must have been crazy when I said I liked this before.  It is hard and dense, colorless, no aroma ... how could this be any good?"  And then I take a bite.  And I love it all over again.  Yes, it is dense.  No, there isn't much to it besides the grains and banana chunks.  But damn is it tasty.  It is the caramelized banana chunks.  Magic.

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Bécasse Bakery, Sydney

On one of my previous visits to Sydney, I dined at Bécasse, a fantastic French restaurant in the CBD.  It was one of the best fine dining experiences I had in Sydney, so it didn't surprise me that it was named one of the Top 10 Restaurants in Australian, and even counted amongst the World's Top 100 Restaurants.

When we returned to Sydney on this visit, I was thrilled to find that Bécasse had branched out, and now even had a Bakery, located in the Westfield mall food court.  Perhaps not normally where you imagine I frequent, except that it was really close to our hotel, and we found ourselves stopping by for easy meals a number of times.  When you are exhausted, sometimes, you just can't beat convenience!  Plus, the food court really is impressive, not just your classic selection of fast food, including an outpost of Din Tai Fung, which I reviewed previouslyChaTime, for bubble tea, and Chat Thai for fascinating desserts.

And of course, the aforementioned bakery, Bécasse Bakery.  Given how great the restaurant was, and my affinity for baked goods, it should not surprise you that I eagerly sought the bakery out, but of course, I still needed to do my research first.  After I noticed the sign for the bakery, I went back to the hotel to look it up.  I was stumped when I couldn't find a website, not for the bakery, nor for Bécasse restaurant either.  It turns out, there was quite a scandal.  The chef/owner has been banned from running restaurants for two years in Australia, the result of totally having failed to run, from a business side, a restaurant empire he built, including Bécasse.  Um, wow.  He really was a fantastic chef!

Anyway, the bakery has remained operational, because it was sold off to another owner, who didn't change the name.  The display cases were filled with just about every tempting item you could imagine, and I intended to return more times to try other treats, particularly the divine looking Salted Peanut Brittle and Banana Custard Tart, but sadly never found the time.
Marshmallow Cronut. $5.95.
Instead, I got a cronut.  Yes, a cronut.  I know, trendy, overhyped, blah blah blah.  I've had some crappy versions of cronuts in the past few years, like the mass produced "Croissant Donut" from Dunkin' Donuts.  I wasn't necessarily expecting anything great from this, but the item I wanted sold out before my very eyes, and I had to console myself with something.  I was going to get a custard brioche instead, but the helpful person taking my order told me that the cronut was the best.  So, cronut it was.

I had the choice of green tea, salted caramel, or marshmallow.  I immediately ruled out the green tea, because I wanted to share with Ojan who couldn't have caffeine.  I decided against the salted caramel, because that was just a double dose of trendiness, and I couldn't deal. So, marshmallow it was.

It was ... actually pretty good.  The top and outside were perfectly crisp, but inside was fairly moist.  It was absolutely coated in sugar, which was a bit much, and the extra icing drizzle on top really was too much sweet.  Ojan said he would have loved it if there was chocolate in place of the sugar and icing.  The fluffy colorful marshmallows on top were also pretty tasty.

Where it fell down was the filling.  There was a tasty cream filling, but literally only one bite contained any.  I felt a bit cheated.  Ojan felt more cheated since he didn't get any, as I choose the lucky bite.

So, there certainly were issues: not enough cream filling and too sweet overall.  But the dough base was better than expected, and it was nicely done.  I'd try other flavor next time.

$5.95 price however was a bit crazy, but, maybe that is the going rate for cronuts in Sydney these days?
I couldn't resist getting just a small item to take away with me, but, my options were a bit limited since I was going to be throwing it in my bag and not returning to the hotel directly.  When I saw a big fluffy marshmallow near the register, I couldn't resist ordering it.

Remember, say 3 years ago, how I claimed artisan marshmallows were the next big thing?  I stand by this claim, as Sydney seems to have also gotten the memo, just a few years behind us.

It was huge, it was fluffy and moist, pleasantly sweet.  But fairly plain.  Great in a hot chocolate perhaps, but otherwise not very interesting to just eat on its own.  They need to expand into flavored marshmallows next!

[ No Photo ]
Decaf Long Black.

I had a lot of very bad decaf coffee in Sydney.  The idea of treating decaf with some respect has not really hit there.  Not only are there no signs boasting Swiss water processed beans, but instead, you are met with visible distain and grimaces if you order decaf.

Yet ... the one from Bécasse was not bad.  It wasn't great, but it was one of the better decafs I had.  I didn't see any signs boasting the roaster, so I don't know more than that it was decent.  This was super shocking, since I tried the decaf at all the top coffee shops around town, and this was one of the best. Hmm.
Bécasse Bakery on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

The Governor's Table, Sydney

On my recent trip to Sydney, I ate a lot of Thai and Vietnamese food, because, well, they just do it so much better than in San Francisco.  But after a week or so of solely dining on asian cuisine, we finally decided to take a break and selected something different: The Governor's Table.

The Governor's Table serves "modern Australian" cuisine, and is located inside the Museum of Sydney.  I didn't read about the full history, but apparently, there is historical context for the building (I'm assuming some sort of tie-in with a Governor?) and the materials used in the decor are all native "Australiana", highlighting the local resources.  They incorporate Australian ingredients throughout the menu as well, although I was disappointed to see that they didn't serve kangaroo.  We'd have to go elsewhere for that (stay tuned!)

The Governor's Table is a strange mix of formal, casual, and rustic.  For example, many aspects of fine dining are included: our table was brushed off between each course, my napkin was refolded when I got up to use the bathroom, and our bottle of sparkling water was kept hidden away, our glasses only to be refilled by the staff.  At the same time, the service really faltered.  It took a long time for our order to be originally taken, and the lags increased as our meal continued.  The pauses between our courses grew so long, that I'm quite certain we had finished our main dishes, literally had not a single bite remaining on our plates for at least 30 minutes before I finally flagged someone down to ask about ordering dessert.  Part of the problem may have been that our waiter disappeared halfway through, and we never saw him again.  The staff were all dressed in formal uniforms, yet many diners were in t-shirts, again creating a strange casual/formal disconnect.

The food was well plated, and the menu was unique.  Dishes were expertly spiced and well executed, and I can't find a specific fault with anything we ordered, yet I didn't love it.  I can't quite pinpoint why.  The price also did just seem a bit high for pretty much everything, given that it wasn't actually high end dining.

Governor's Table serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily, as well as all day brunch on the weekends.  I hoped to make it back to try their brunch sometime, since , like Bill's, they also serve ricotta pancakes with honeycomb butter, and I was curious to see another version of honeycomb butter, but alas, we ran out of time.  They also serve a $49/pp high tea, that you must book in advance.

I'd return for dinner if someone wanted to, as there were a number of other dishes I was interested in, but I wouldn't go rushing back.
Main Dining Room.
The theme of the space is wood and stone, and it is bright and open.  It is a huge restaurant, with several different seating sections.
Background: Bar Area.
There is a small bar in the middle of the room, with a few counter seats.  Other seating options included a private room and outdoor space, but it was raining, so we were inside.

In the foreground, you can also see the lovely "flower" on our table.  We all thought it was funny that a rather unattractive plant was chosen, but I'm told that all of the plants in the restaurant are native plants, again, highlighting the Australiana theme.
Pepper Mill, Sea Salt, Candle.
Once we ordered, a pepper mill and small bowl of large crystal sea salt were brought to the table, along with silverware for serving our shared dishes, and share plates.  I appreciated the thought behind providing sharing serving silverware, as many places neglect this.

Other decor on the table was a small candle.

The menu is broken up into several sections, starting with "Nibbles & Bits", followed by "Plates", followed by "Large Plates" and "Sides, and finally "Desserts".  Everything is designed to be shared, which explains perhaps why they thought of things like bringing sharing silverware.
Ojan ordered a mocktail.  I didn't catch the description, but it was a sight to behold, one of the most impressive mocktails we have seen.  Frothy, garnished with a leaf of some sort, and a fresh sprig of mint.

Since the bar also makes fresh juices, and they juice watermelon, I wasn't able to try a sip, but he, and our dining companion, both loved it.  They said it was like "a fancy creamsicle", or "a pine-lime splice, but a cocktail", like "drinking melted ice cream".  I really don't know what was in it besides lime and cream, but whatever it was, they enjoyed it.
Seared Yellowfin Tuna, Grilled  Sweet Corn, Avocado, Prawn Oil. $24.
We skipped the "Nibbles & Bits" section, and moved right on to a "Plate": seared tuna.
The presentation was lovely, in particular, I loved the micro greens for garnish.  They were incredibly fresh and crisp too, not just for looks.

The portion of tuna was only 4 small slices, which was suitable for a smaller size appetizer-style dish.  The tuna had a very hard sear on the edge, yet was nicely rare in the center.  The corn was slightly charred, well spiced, and tasted fresh enough, presented as slices, with the kernels still held together by a bit of cob. A unique way to serve corn, for sure.

The avocado was also uniquely served, a mousse. I'm allergic to avocado so I didn't try that component, but the other two diners liked it, and said it was creamy and very mousse-like.

I'm not sure where the "prawn oil" was.

Overall, everything in this dish was fine, but nothing really popped for me.  The portion size was reasonable for an appetizer, but a bit small for the $24 price.
Wood Grilled Asparagus, Burrata, Hazelnut, Dukkha. $24.
We also selected the burrata small plate, because, well, burrata!

The burrata portion was generous, a sizable bulb.  It was certainly too much for one person to consume alone, so I was glad we were sharing it, even though I love burrata.  In this case though, I didn't love the burrata.  It was smooth and creamy, but ... too creamy, if that makes any sense.  It seemed to have more cream than usual perhaps, pushing the mouthfeel towards just spoonfuls of firm cream rather than cheese.  I can't quite explain it, but I didn't care for it.  The dukkha and hazelnut crumb on top however was really flavorful, and I liked the crunch it added.

The asparagus was nicely grilled, with visible grill marks, and a smoky flavor imparted by the wood grill.  There were also slices of radish for garnish on top, which also added a pop of color.

So again, nothing was wrong with the dish, and it was well prepared, but I didn't love it.  Maybe Australian burrata is just different from what I'm used to.  That is the case with yogurt and milk, yet I do love the yogurt and milk in Australia more, due to their higher fat content than in the US.  The price was again just a bit high.
Grilled King Prawns, Mojo Verde, Black Garlic Aioli. $26.
Next, we moved on to another small plate, this time, a warm selection of grilled prawns.

We all exclaimed audibly when the dish was placed in front of us.  Six huge prawns, sliced open and grilled, served whole, with eyes and legs still in tact.  Just like the asparagus, they had visible grill marks and a pleasant smoky flavor.  They were also just really nicely grilled, tender, not rubbery, and well seasoned.  Their grill master really does have some skills.

The prawns were a pain to eat though.  The shells were thin and broke apart as you tried to extract the flesh.  We all complained about how much work they were to eat, and moved on to other dishes.  When we returned to it later, it had cooled, and it actually seemed easier to extract the prawn at that point.  So, protip, eat this last?

The prawns were drizzled with the mojo verde, which I didn't really taste.  I wished they had provided some on the side as well.  On the side was a lemon to squeeze over the prawns for additional acid, plus a pool of black garlic aioli.  The aioli had a really strange taste to it; it wasn't bad, but it was strong and quite different.

So yes, another dish where the execution was fine, but I somehow didn't love it.
Large Plate: Linguine, Calamari, Longaniza, Coriander, Chilli Crumb. $29.
I wanted to try more small plates, like the chicken liver parfait with peach butter and cherries, and the salmon gravlox that I read many rave reviews of, but alas, we moved on to a large plate next instead.

The linguine was just standard linguine, not fresh pasta, but decently cooked, not too mushy, not clumped together.

The calamari was the star, an assortment of different size and shaped pieces, that also seemed to have been grilled.  They were tender and not remotely rubbery or fishy.  If you've been following along with my Sydney adventures, you know we ate a lot of calamari/squid/etc on this trip, and I'm particularly a fan of the grilled version (although the fried calamari in the Qantas First Class lounge is pretty epic).

The longaniza was a delight, basically slices of fancy, flavorful pepperoni.

This dish was a bit spicy from the chilli crumb, which I appreciated, but the sauce of just oil was fairly boring to me.  I'm more of a sauce girl.  Everything was well seasoned though.

I didn't love this dish either, but I can't fault anything about it in particular.
Tippity Tea, Rooibos.  $4.
To go with dessert, Ojan also ordered a rooibos tea.  He was served a full teapot of loose leaf tea, along with little jugs of milk and sugar.  Cute.
Lemon Myrtle Burnt Custard, Fresh Berries, Granita. $15.
Finally, moving on to my passion: dessert!  And in particular, a category of dessert that always appeals to me, pudding!

I expected the "burnt custard" to be like a cream brûlée, but it was much runnier.  I wish I took a photo once we broke in.  It was far looser than a cream brûlée, or even a basic pudding.  The flavor was nice though, which I guess was the lemon myrtle, another Australian ingredient.  The top also had a good crisp layer, and it was clearly freshly brûléed to order, as it was still hot.  The slightly burnt, caramelized, flavor was nice.

It was topped with a berry flavored granita, which I found a bit strange, as I don't think I've ever had an icy component with custard before, and it was a bit odd to have a cold melting item alongside a hot topped custard.  There were also fresh berries (strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries), all of which were fresh and quite flavorful.

I really liked the flavors in this, and enjoyed it, but did wish the custard was a bit more set.  $15 was a bit high for a dessert.
White Chocolate Cream, Puffed Black Rice, Mango, Lime Sorbet. $15.
We also selected a more adventurous sounding dessert.

On the left was a scoop of lime sorbet, perched atop a crumbly butter cookie.  It was quite tangy, and probably refreshing if you like this sort of thing.  The cookie was hard to cut into with a spoon though, and I'm not sure how you were supposed to eat this effectively.

On the right was a scoop of white chocolate cream, very thick, with a somewhat odd mouthfeel.  I didn't really taste white chocolate.  It was perched atop crispy black rice, which added a nice crunch and texture, but was a bit odd.

In the center were two very small slices of fresh, ripe mango.

This was not a cohesive dessert.  I'm not sure how the pieces were supposed to come together.  I'm usually all about finding a magic "perfect bite", but it wasn't possible with this.  And again, the price was a bit high.
The Governors Table on Urbanspoon

Monday, March 30, 2015

Rabbit Hole Bar and Dining, Sydney

During my time in Sydney, I arranged a slew of meals, for groups of varying sizes, catering to all different styles.  We ate a lot of casual Thai food at all the Sydney classics (Home Thai', Chat Thai, or our favorite, Sailor's Thai Canteen), we went for mid-range cuisine at Lumi and Sokyo, and we visited a lot of cafes for brunch (Trio, Devon Cafe, Bill's).  But I also arranged a few far more casual outings, more focused on the drinks than the food, for larger groups.  We had fantastic bar food at Pocket Bar.  We experienced a full on tiki bar at The Cliff Dive.  And ... we also went ... down the Rabbit Hole!

Rabbit Hole Bar and Dining is located in the CBD, quite convenient for our large group staying at a slew of hotels around the city.  It is located, truly, down the hole.  You enter on street level, and immediately go downstairs.  Rabbit Hole isn't just a bar, it is ... a molecular gastronomy bar!

The space is broken up into two rooms.  The first is a large bar and lounge, which is the focus of the establishment.   The cocktails are all high quality, using tons of fresh produce, house-made syrups, spices mixes, and flavored sugars.  But they also have fun with molecular gastronomy in the bar, incorporating foams, jellies, spherification, and even using sous-vide to infuse some liquors.  The food isn't quite as molecular, but this is no normal bar food.  Yes, there are fries, but they are hand cut chips coated in truffle oil and parmesan.  The burger is made from wagyu, served on a brioche bun, topped with brie, and housemade tomato relish.  Instead of wings, you can munch on crispy pork belly bites.  I had seared scallops for my main, and someone else in our group had roasted lamb shoulder.

I think you can see why we wound up here.  It sounded like the perfect fit - fun drinks for the large group, and potentially good food for me.  And, even better, they were easily able to accommodate our large 20+ person reservation, same day!

The drinks were indeed fun, and it worked well for our group, but the food wasn't nearly as good as I was hoping.  I'd go back for drinks, but wouldn't really be excited to eat there again, even though the menu sounds so tempting!
Second Bar Area.
The other side of the space is the more formal dining area, with classic tables and chairs, and a second bar.  It wasn't that busy when we were there, so the second bar wasn't ever used.  I imagine during peak times it is used for drinks to service the dining room?

We were seated in the dining area, since we indicated that we wanted a full meal, not just snacks.  The same menu is available in both rooms.

Since we arrived on the early side, we had the entire dining room to ourselves for the first 20 minutes or so, but it quickly filled up.  Since our party was more than 20 people, they broke us into two tables, to help control the ordering.  Service was fairly good, our needs were mostly met.

Water was provided on the table in old gin bottles, a cute touch.
Interesting decor.
The decor in the dining room is ... different.  Crazy mirrors, candlesticks, and assorted other trinkets were strewn about everywhere.  We did have a mishap with one diner knocking over a candle (yes, a real candle with flame) that was perched on a ledge, spilling hot wax all over himself and his brand new shirt.  Doh.  But um, I can't really blame the restaurant for this, he DID run into the ledge.
Doug Laming’s Margarita $14, Jellied G&T $11.
We started with the most ridiculous sounding drinks, listed on the menu as "shots".

First, the uh, "margarita".  This is the "drink" that I think makes them most famous, and is certainly the most showy of all the cocktails.  Yes, that is it, little pearls, served inside a finger lime.  The full description: "We start with carefully prepared, spherified pearls of Souza Gold tequila and simple syrup matched with Cointreau Caviar. Finger limes add the sour and a small dusting of salt completes this take on the classic. "

I didn't actually try the margarita, but went straight for the jellied gin & tonic instead, because, well, it sounded way too fun.  Basically jello shots?  No better way to get the evening started ...

They describe it: "Eben Freeman of NYC created the original recipe for this. We use No.3 gin to elevate this recipe and serve it on burnt orange oils with candied citrus zest. Take a bite and let this solid alcohol fizz on your tongue like its original namesake."

It was indeed quite fun, and there was something strange about having a jello shot-esque item in a restaurant.  I thought I left these behind in my college dorm!  The flavor wasn't great though, and it was pretty watery.  I think we were all a bit disappointed by this, but were glad to have tried it.

We moved on to some of the more normal cocktails next.
You’ve Gone Nuts. $19.
"Tonka bean infused Sierra Millenario Gran Anejo tequila is shaken with Disaronno amaretto, lemon and our house made peanut and cashew syrup. This drink is finished with Fee Brother’s Walnut bitters and fine strained into a nutty cocktail glass. "

I went for the "You've Gone Nuts" because it sounded unique, but also filled with things I really like.  I've been on a tequila kick lately, not really sure why, but I really wanted a tequila based drink.  Peanut and cashew syrup sounded fascinating, as did the "nutty cocktail glass".

It arrived in a martini glass, with a piece of gold painted chocolate sitting on top, with what I think were shimmery blue coated tonka beans delicately perched inside.  Points for the artistic presentation.

Overall, the drink was fine, but a bit too sweet, and I didn't taste the tequila as strongly as I wanted.  Probably in general, you don't want to taste tequila very strongly, but given that I was craving it, I wanted to.

$19 was right in line for hand crafted cocktails in Sydney.
P B & B.
"Mt Gay XO, peanut brittle, banana, vanilla & lemon"

I also tried a few sips of one of my fellow dining companion's P B & B because it sounded totally amazing.  Peanut brittle? In a drink?  Yes!

This drink was more complex than mine.  The banana was really quite strong on the nose, but the finish was all boozy.  But, like mine, it was also a bit too sweet.  My second favorite drink of the night however.

Interesting drinks for sure, but I wasn't quite happy with them.  I imagine if we'd been at the bar, we could have expressed the desire to have them less sweet, and our asks would have been accommodated, but since we were in the other room, we had no relationship with the bartender.
Hand cut fat chips with house made tomato relish. $10.
We started with a bunch of appetizers, all designed to be shared.  The first selection? Chips.

Australians seem to eat a lot of potatoes.  My potato consumption went up drastically during my time in Sydney.  Thin fries, thick wedges, mashed potatoes, etc, it seemed like potatoes were part of nearly every meal.  Not because I picked them, but because it seemed impossible to everyone else to not order the potato product.  Maybe this was just my peers, or maybe it is an Australian thing?  Some classic meat and potatoes British influence still around?

Anyway, the chips were huge wedges, ridiculously crispy, kinda too oily for me.  The other table also got an order of the parmesan and truffle version ($12), which I greatly preferred, as they had a lot more flavor.  Both were fine, and more exciting than soggy limp regular bar fries, but I was pretty sick of potatoes, and it was my second to least favorite dish of the night.
Crispy, twice cooked pork belly bites, maple syrup & pomegranate. $19.
Next up, pork belly bites, another appetizer.

The plating was impressive, served on a slate, with the maple and pomegranate sauce in puddles, and pomegranate seeds strewn about.  But the pork was really fatty, which I know pork belly is obviously, but normally I like pork belly.  This just wasn't cooked well, so the fat wasn't rendered down at all, and it was just flabby and off-putting.

It also was a bit difficult to serve and share.  We were instructed that all the dishes were intended to be served family style, but we were not brought any serving spoons, and, how do you share something that has sauces on the plate like this?

Anyway, my least favorite dish of the night.
Seared halloumi, pomelo, caramelised lemon, tomato & basil salt. $17. 
Another appetizer: halloumi!

I adore halloumi, and really wish it were available more places in the US.  Luckily for us, we were in Australia, where it was everywhere, apparently including bar menus.

The accompaniments were a bit odd, although, I guess somewhat like a caprese salad, with halloumi in place of mozzarella?

The tomato was the weakest element.  It looked decent, but really wasn't ripe at all.  Since we were visiting in the middle of Sydney summer, this was surprising.  They should have had awesome tomato!

The pomelo was really quite tart, and quite strange to pair with tomato.  I'm not really sure what they were thinking with this, although it makes sense to have some acidity with the cheese?

And finally, the halloumi.  It was fine, but I preferred the grilled halloumi I had at brunch at Trio Cafe a few days prior {LINK}.  This halloumi didn't have quite the sear on it that I like, and it was overly salty.

Overall, just not great, and out of balance.
“Rabbit Hole” wagyu beef burger on brioche with brie cheese and house made tomato relish. $19.
Ok, moving along to main dishes.  Ojan went for the burger.  Apparently it has been ranked in the top 5 burgers in the world by ... someone, I forget who, but it was on a list somewhere.

This had all the makings of an awesome burger.  Wagyu.  Brie.  Brioche.  But ... it was cooked well done, was rather dry, and the brie was just a big clump, and didn't melt at all.  Several others also ordered the burger, and were equally not impressed.

A few people also opted for the lamb sliders instead.  They were slightly better, topped with emmenthal that did melt a little, and a flavorful beetroot and onion relish, plus creamy aioli, but, no one was thrilled with the sliders either.  Likewise, the charcuterie platter didn't draw any rave reviews, although I enjoyed the caperberries plated alongside.

Finally, one person opted for the roast lamb shoulder.  I somehow didn't get a photo, but it was a massive, massive serving.  Which the waiter warned, saying it was meant to be shared by several people, but still, one guy ordered it.  It was the last dish to arrive, long after the others, and since we had so many assorted appetizers, and everyone ended up sharing their other dishes too, everyone was pretty stuffed with this ridiculous hung of meat showed up.  The server said it was 1.2 kg on average.  I don't like lamb, so I didn't try it, but everyone seemed to like it.  What I did try was the caponata on the side, which turned out to by my favorite thing, besides the drinks, all night.  Crazy flavorful.  At $42 though, this was a bit of a pricy dish for "bar food".

Seared scallops, pancetta caramel and green apple. $24.
And finally, the dish I was most excited for: scallops!  Sure, I've never had scallops in a bar before, but this was clearly not a regular bar.

The scallops were technically an appetizer, but, given how many other dishes we were sharing, I knew I was fine just ordering the scallops as my main dish.  After fries, halloumi, pork belly, a few bites of burgers, and assorted other bits from everyone sitting around me, I was totally right.

Sadly, the scallops, like all of the food, weren't great.  Everything looked pretty good, but just wasn't.  The scallops were barely seared.  I really like a hard sear on my scallops, and these didn't really have any crust or coloration whatsoever.  Each scallop was perched atop a slice of apple, which I really didn't care for.  Mushy apple under scallop?  Why?

I did of course adore the pancetta caramel, because it was sticky, sweet, and slightly bacon-y, but overall the dish was a flop for me.  I somewhat wished I'd just eaten more of the chips instead.  $24 for 4 scallops was reasonable I guess.
Elder Mother's Elixir.
"No. 3 gin, St. Germain, coconut, malic acid & orange blossom."

For my final drink, I decided to go for a gin based drink, because, besides tequila, I've also been really into gin lately.  I blame my trip to Tokyo with a few co-workers a few months prior.

Anyway, this drink turned out to be the real winner.  My tasting notes just say "holy crap delicious!"  I could leave this review at that, but, I'll give you a bit more detail.

The most remarkable aspect was the foam, coconut flavored.  It was so light and frothy.  I adored it.  The whole drink was infused with orange blossom, which gave a depth from the slight orange flavor.  The drink was sweet, but not nearly as sweet as the others, and with the froth, the sweetness made more sense, more like a dessert drink than something I'd have with my meal.  And since the only desserts available were cheeses, I did exactly that.
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