30 October 2009

Buena Vista Café Bar: Hidden lunch spot with great views, Sydney (8 Oct 2009)

Supreme Law Courts Building
Level 14, 184 Phillip Street, Sydney NSW 2000
Discovered Feb 2012 it's now CLOSED

Lunch with a view

On level 14 of the drab and dreary looking Supreme Law Courts Building which is currently undergoing building renovations you'll find a budget breakfast and lunch spot with spectacular views of Sydney. The food itself is pretty basic cafe/bistro style dishes for around $20 including some more reasonably priced pre packed sandwiches and you can also order wine and coffee. To enter the building you have to go through security on the ground floor and any cameras have to be handed in so luckily I had my mobile phone with me to try and capture some food blogging shots — hence the bad quality :-(. So if your looking for a quieter alternative to the food courts or wanting to book a table for a large group then this could be a place worth considering and you get to enjoy great views of Hyde Park and Sydney Harbour.

Steak sandwich with fries and glass of wine $19.90

Pumpkin salad (I think it was about $16)

Glass of white wine with lunch meal

Views over Hyde Park and city

Woolloomooloo and harbour view

Dining area

Service counter

Lift advertising

Lunch special menu

Ground floor advertising

Law courts building

Law courts building from The Domain

Buena Vista Cafe Bar on Urbanspoon

25 October 2009

Aria Restaurant: SIFF 2009 Let's Do Lunch, Sydney (7 Oct 2009)

1 Macquarie Street, East Circular Quay, Sydney NSW 2000

Good service and food

This will be my only chance to enjoy a SIFF Let's Do Lunch this year due to running out of available time so I'm glad I managed to book a table of 12 early in the month before work got too hectic to escape for a special lunch. My first choice was actually Quay Restaurant but it had already booked out for the whole month just after the SMH had released their program — well done to anyone that made it there, hope it was good. I was actually quite hesitant in booking Aria because I've had 2 unimpressive Let's Do Lunch experiences a few years ago. One time our table of 8 waited for nearly an hour before our mains arrived, it was ridiculous, and because of it some people actually had to head back to work because they run out of time. They brought us complimentary truffled mash to try and keep us from starvation — not sure what was happening in the kitchen that day. On both occasions I felt uneasy with the service which I found a bit snobbish which unfortunately seems to happen in many fine dining establishments — why do some waiters treat you like a second class citizen and make you feel so unwelcome and an inconvenience?

Today was a different story, our service when arriving and being seated was welcoming and friendly enough and also during the dining service. I even remember when booking the 12 noon reservation via phone that the woman taking the booking had a pleasant phone manner — perhaps going from 2 hats to 1 hat in the 2004 SMH Good Food Awards did make a difference and made them a better restaurant. The amuse-bouche was a delightful start to the taste buds. Everyone was pretty happy with their main of Roasted Fillet of Barramundi which was cooked the way you'd expect with crispy skin and moist flesh. The table shared a few side dishes which were popular and in the end was quite a filling meal.

Some of us were tempted by the petit fours to have with our coffee which they enjoyed but I was more keen for a dessert and thankfully my work colleague I was sharing it with picked the famed chocolate tart that was the final dessert challenge on Masterchef and one that I've noticed a few bloggers like Eat Show and Tell, Leave Room for Dessert and The Informal Foodie have tried to make. The Valrhona Chocolate was a very yummy and satisfying dessert which for $20 I think is great value compared to trying to attempt to make it. I would probably consider dining again for a special occasion and trying other dishes but I'm still not a fan of the limited view you get depending on where you are seated compared to the open plan of Quay Restaurant.

Amuse-bouche of potato and leek

Complimentary bread

Roasted fillet of barramundi with fennel and calamari risotto $35 (including wine and coffee)

Truffled potato mash $15

Salad of pumpkin, asparagus, golden beetroot and feta $16

Golden beetroot close up

Steamed broccollini with toasted almonds $15

2008 Brown Brothers' Vermentino wine

Petit fours $5 (3 types)

Valrhona Chocolate: Rich chocolate délice with chocolate sorbet $20

Happy Simon

Dessert leftovers = nil

Cappuccino – was good and not too bitter

Sugar cubes

Let's Do Lunch menu and side dishes

Dessert menu

Table for 12

The dining room view of Sydney Opera House

Money collecting time

The bill

The toilet hand towels – noice!

Street entry to Aria Restaurant

Big Bite on Pitt: Sandwiches, Sydney (6 Oct 2009)

Lobby, Shop 3, 250 Pitt Street, Sydney NSW 2000

So big I couldn't finish it

This very popular sandwich shop was mentioned on page 23 of The Sydney Magazine Special Food Issue Oct 2009 by a reader as one of their favourite take away lunch spots. I tried their favourite Chicken Schnitzel sandwich which was huge and I really couldn't finish it all — I could have easily shared it between 2 and still had a fulfilling lunch. Even though the queue when ordering was quite long the service was quick enough to get me served within 10-15 minutes. It reminded me of North's Complete Sandwich with the fresh lettuce piled high in the display and lots of ladies behind the counter making all the orders. Most big sandwich shops wrap their sandwiches in foil which seems to be a signature look.

Other big sandwich shops:
Big Bite on Pitt - Pitt Street, 6 Oct 2009
Olive Italian Food Bar - Strand Arcade, 14 July 2009
North's Complete Sandwich - Bridge Street, 14 Jan 2009
Little Vienna - MLC Centre Pitt Street, 12 Jan 2009

Chicken Schnitzel with basil oil, lemon and chive mayonnaise, roma tomatoes, mixed lettuce, rocket, snow pea sprouts $8.50


Plenty of lettuce ready for sandwiches

Front of shop

Street entrance to arcade

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Big Bite on Pitt on Urbanspoon

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