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Virginia Jen

Virginia Jen

Listings and reviews (8)

Flour and Stone

Flour and Stone

5 out of 5 stars

Is it possible to build a business off the back of a lamington? When it's the arctic flurry of shaved coconut embellishing a hefty cube of chocolate-coated vanilla sponge, soaked in panna cotta and shot through with crimson berry compote at Nadine Ingram's Flour and Stone bakery in Woolloomooloo, the answer is yes. Ingram, with her community-driven, small-batch approach, has taken the most deceptively simple baked goods and raised them to cult-like status, thanks to an unwavering commitment to precision, quality and flavour. Since it was established in 2011, Flour and Stone has become a Sydney institution with queues out the door - and they’re still a regular occurrence even with an extra space added two doors down. It’s hard to imagine how a team of 22 fit behind the tiled wall when you sneak a peek from the communal 8-seater at no. 53, the new annexe. A high table, a pair of outdoor settings and a banquette seat provide extra dining space (but nowhere near enough to sate demand). The room is decorated in colourful Dave Teer artworks inspired by Old-fashioned vanilla cake, but the real eye candy is the display cabinet packed with madeleines, lemon drizzle cake, brulee tarts, and chocolate, raspberry and buttermilk cakes. Do not discount the savoury treats though. Spanakopita ferries a textbook-perfect spinach and feta filling between layers of delicate puff pastry; crisp iceberg lettuce plays a surprisingly significant role in the success of a chicken ciabatta sambo with

Hartsyard

Hartsyard

4 out of 5 stars

What’s in a name? If the moniker is Hartsyard, plenty. Back in 2012, Hartsyard sparked Sydney’s soon red-hot desire for fried chicken, buttermilk biscuits and sausage gravy followed by one of Andy Bowdy’s extravagant soft serves. Owners Gregory Llewellyn and Naomi Hart plus Bowdy have since left the premises paving the way for now co-owners, partners Jarrod Walsh and Dorothy Lee, to make this beloved piece of Newtown real estate their own. Only a lick of paint, tattoo-inspired artwork by local artist Isabel Williams and patterned cloth napkins hint at the changes that have taken place. Walsh was head chef when the restaurant broke away from battered poultry and Americana fare in 2018 and turned its hands to seasonal vegetables and seafood. Hartsyard’s third iteration runs with this thinking and brings more meat-free possibilities to the table. Version 3.0 plays a strong snack game. Fried cheese is essentially a mini toast under a flurry of shaved Gruyère and Gouda, shot through with a punchy horseradish sour cream. The toast itself is a mixture of Gruyère with tapioca, left to bubble away overnight with the result being a light and tacky almost cracker. A baby cuttlefish skewer lays it bare, drenched in inky chermoula, a heady North African spice blend that works beautifully with the mollusc’s fresh mineral quality. Give the gleaming peppers a go, too. Slick with oil, edges pleasingly charred, they’re packed with yoghurt and tangy yuzu kosho, a salty and sour hit in one bite.

Outfield

Outfield

4 out of 5 stars

From the outset, Outfield is a charmer. Sitting pretty on a grassy knoll in Ashfield’s Yeo Park, the former healthcare centre is a mid-century gem – all horizontal rooflines, mission-brown brick walls and porthole windows. The prime spot, though, is outdoors, where families gather under umbrellas and slatted tables or on provided striped picnic rugs beneath the trees, watching kids having a bat on the astroturf pitch. The forest-green iron chairs might be more at home in a backyard than a Sydney café, but they embody Outfield’s unassuming and community-driven approach while also laying down the game plan for the clever thinking in the kitchen and behind the coffee machine. Owners Caleb and Belinda Maynard unveiled their update to the long-empty space in April of 2019. And while the building works the suburban nostalgia angle, the dishes are all present-day finesse. For instance, the King of Spin – the nickname of one of Australian cricket’s favourite sons, Shane Warne – features fragrant lemon myrtle-cured kingfish and a garden-fresh herb salad, pretty pickled radishes, a smear of sour labneh and a poached egg. It’s a healthy dish that would’ve done a better job of keeping Warnie’s weight in check than those infamous diuretic pills.  The menu is split up into healthy-ish open toast, rolls, salad bowls and specials presented brightly on the plate. If you’re looking for a clean start to the day, give the bowls a turn of the wrist. The bowls offer winning combinations of interes

Kurumac

Kurumac

4 out of 5 stars

It’d be easy to dismiss this stained glass and grey façade on Marrickville’s Addison Road, best known for the namesake Sunday markets and the 428 bus. Only a pair of well-crafted timber benches out front offers a hint of the considered approach being taken behind the door. Step into Kurumac, and you’ll discover a relaxed and refined space of built-in ply seats, matte black tables and a few choice artworks that soothes instantly, forming a neat zen backdrop to Japanese café fare. And the locals have taken notice if a queue on a stinking hot day waiting for a steaming bowl of ox tongue ramen in a beef bone broth is anything to go by. Owner Eugene Leung has brought his East-meets-West hits enjoyed by Kirribilli locals at Cool Mac for the past decade to a suburb with a penchant for craft beer, pet-nats and pho. Staples are covered with experienced ease here: co-owner Dika Prianata pumps out Campos coffee behind a white La Marzocco, alongside pastries from the Bread and Butter Project. The drink of choice, though, is a milkshake made with Mapo’s hojicha gelato, which delivers sweet childhood delight backed by a robust roasted tea flavour. Where Kurumac comes into its own is when things turn fully to the Land of the Rising Sun. Chef Jun Okamatsu’s primarily all-day menu remixes home-cooked Japanese dishes with quiet sophistication that’s still approachable. A breakfast toastie takes the form of spicy cod roe on melted cheese atop a thick slice of shokupan, a traditional subtly swee

Alevri

Alevri

4 out of 5 stars

It doesn’t look like much. In fact, most of it is hidden within a foil case but for a blistered béchamel top. Cut through, and you’ll find béchamel sauce just underneath, as well as soul-comforting minced beef, eggplant and potato mingling happily within a flaky pastry shell. It’s Alevri’s moussaka pie, already a cult classic and at only $8, a worthy investment and contender to the humble meat pie. Hold the tomato sauce though – this pie stands and delivers on its own. The concept of a moussaka pie isn’t all that surprising when you discover that one of the masterminds behind this slick, industrial bakery and eatery on a Dulwich Hill corner also came up with Nutella freakshakes. Having opened several Tella Ball cafés on the back of that dentist-visit-inducing idea, Akis Daikos, along with his wife Kathy, has turned the spotlight on traditional homemade Greek baked goods with a twist. Hordes of in-the-know locals have been flocking to this concrete-floored space, awash in pale timber and black-and-white branding, pumping high-energy beats alongside traditional instrumentals ever since it opened in August of 2019. All it takes is one look at the central counter cabinet to see why. For those unfamiliar with Greek cuisine but curious and keen, the presented 23 sweet and savoury pastries, pies and breads – all made by hand on the premises – might be a little intimidating. Add baklava cheesecake, a pita cheeseburger and tsoureki-meets-apple-strudel to the mix and things get a littl

Chuuka

Chuuka

A fusion of concepts and flavours is what you’ll discover at Chuuka. Set in the heritage-listed former home of Flying Fish at the end of Jones Bay Wharf, the restaurant brings together the talents of two marquee chefs who have lit up Australia’s Asian food scene: Sokyo’s Chase Kojima and Melbourne’s Victor Liong, of modern Chinese diner Lee Ho Fook. The duo riffs on one another, combining Japanese and Chinese ingredients in traditional dishes with intriguing twists. (Chuka cuisine, after all, is a canon of Sino-Japanese cooking; as for the extra ‘u’, we’re not sure what it means.) “A taste of something new” is the philosophy here, but there’s also a hefty dose of nostalgia thrown into the mix. Bring your preconceptions of both cuisines and be prepared to have them stretched, challenged and subverted. What otherwise looks like classic lemon chicken owes its plucky sweet-and-sour sauce to yuzu, with dried chilli giving the dish an undercurrent of heat and spice to match the crisp batter. King brown mushrooms with rolled rice noodles drenched in sesame oil and dark soy, meanwhile, recall the fried-to-order version often found on a rickety trolley at yum cha. Crisp-fried ebi prawns come with a viscous butter-rich sauce ready to be mopped up by soft, warm milk buns, somehow both sweet and savoury and similar to those on display at Asian bakery chains.  There are also splashy flourishes that speak of Sydney dining today: fancy roe service to start, a comprehensive cellar stocked wi

Goryon-San

Goryon-San

3 out of 5 stars

A breeze catches the noren curtains at a corner block in Surry Hills. It also takes hold of the wafting heat emanating from the embers in grills at the bar. Pendant lamps spotlight a display of pre-prepared skewers, and diners – most of whom appear familiar with this take on izakaya dining – have reserved a front-row seat to the theatrical promise of smoke and fire within this lantern-like stage. A conceptual izakaya from Tokyo, Goryon-San offers Hakata-style kushi-yaki, grilled skewers of meat seasoned with salt and layered with onion bulbs rather than leeks. There’s also a section of the menu devoted to pork belly wrapped around pretty much anything. And, of course, there’s an extensive list of craft beer, sake, umeshu and whiskey (and shochu, and cocktails, and Calpis), without which an izakaya wouldn’t exist. Signature yasaimaki (vegetables packaged in pork belly) are a great place to start on the lengthy menu. The LPB skewers will have you wondering how so many lettuce layers can be so tightly wound within a strip of pork belly. The meat lacks the smoky flavour you’d think would be imparted from the grill, but the crisp texture still satisfies. Better yet are the sukiyaki skewers, bitter kale and tender enoki mushrooms offset by a blackened, salty-sweet teriyaki-marinated pork belly exterior where the grill’s subtle smoky heat is more pronounced. Two skewers in and you discover what the pinched-in vessel on the table is for: as a waiter demonstrates, this is where you pl

Cherry Moon General Store

Cherry Moon General Store

4 out of 5 stars

It’s Sunday morning, and a crowd gathers under a candy-striped awning on a quiet stretch of picture-pretty Annandale. A mural of baked goods, condiments and preserves is a promising sign of things to come. It’s a justifiably happy portrait of Cherry Moon General Store, a venture between chef Kimmy Gastmeier and fermentation enthusiast Aimee Graham, with a helping hand from the seemingly ubiquitous Mary’s Group. There’s an air of chaotic excitement among families and friends keen for a mismatched chair at the communal indoor tables inset with kangaroo grass, amaranth and seedpods Gastmeier found in the Northern Territory. A hanging shop sign is adorned with Gastmeier’s grandmother’s handwriting and native blooms. Bric-a-brac Gastmeier purchased with her first paycheck (she has worked at Rockpool, Tetsuya’s and Nomad) lines the shelves alongside bags of 212 Blu’s Loggerhead coffee beans, which are also expertly brewed on the premises.  Cheeses, Mailer McGuire kombucha, housemade pickles, seasonal jams, ice creams and even smudge sticks prove that the ‘General Store’ portion of the name (Cherry Moon is a nod to Prince) is no afterthought. Meanwhile, the open kitchen is busy putting together breakfast toast and granola, with smoked butter croissants, filled-to-bursting sandwiches and sausage rolls also on offer. At $8 a slice, the daily pizza and focaccia are impossible to ignore, particularly when there’s a tempting wild mushroom and rainbow chard number up for grabs. Lavender P

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