Friday, March 16, 2007


Stir Crazy Thai
Shop 5, 1 Broughton Street, Kirribilli
(02) 9922 6620

Tiny cramped loud canteen-style place serving huge portions of delicious spicy food. BYO alcohol, and don't expect a leisurely pace - you will be handed the bill as soon as the last mouthful off food is eaten. Cheap and well worth the walk across the Harbour Bridge.

Nick's Seafood Restaurant
The Promenade, Cockle Bay Wharf, Sydney
(02) 9264 1212

Nick's at Cockle Bay Wharf is one of half a dozen restaurants in Sydney owned by the same group. The focus here is on fresh seafood. The restaurant is pretty large and can suffer a bit from large family and work parties in the evenings. But there is ample outdoor dinig with views of Darling Harbour (a great place to people-watch) and the service is excellent. The crab ravioli starter is sublime, the seafood chowder is OK but not the most fantastic in the world, the vongole and crab meat pasta is wonderful but filling, and the fresh grilled fish (any fish) is fantastic. I have never eaten anything but seafood here, but they do have other dishes on the menu.

Jordon's Seafood
197 Harbourside, Darling Harbour
(02) 9281 3711

A bit of a Sydney institution, Orlando and I dined here years ago, on the famous three-tiered seafood platter. Last time I tried the bouillabaisse even though my waitress said it was "too big for a female to eat". And it was: an enormous platter of shellfish and other seafood, the centrepiece being a huge steamd crab. Delicious, but don't eat for two days beforehand. The fish and chips here are pretty good too.

Vegetable Meme

Another Outspoken Female from "Confessions of a Food Nazi" tagged me for this meme.

1. Is there a vegetable you hated as a child, but came to love as you got older?

Tomatoes, believe it or not. I couldn’t manage to eat even one slice of the very first pizza I ever ordered because I could not stomach the tomato base on it. I still can’t eat raw tomato (unless marinated in oil and garlic like a bruschetta) but I simply could not live without cooked ones in all their forms.

2. Most underrated vegetable?

Cabbage. My childhood was spent eating overcooked cabbage boiled for hours in bacon or ham water (the traditional Irish way of cooking it) and it was years before I discovered it as the versatile, delicious vegetable it is - cooked or raw.

3. Name one favourite summer vegetable dish.

Tuna Nicoise. Done the cheater’s way with tinned tuna (don’t ask me why, I just prefer it that way). With lots of black olives and new potatoes and green beans and proper cos lettuce (none of your new-fangled rocket or mesclin).

4. And one for winter?

My vegetable curry.

5. What vegetables are in your fridge and freezer right now?

None in fridge. We have been away for the weekend. Baby sweetcorn and garden peas in the freezer. Pathetic.

6. Is there a vegetable you really like but don't make much yourself?

Pumpkin. It seems to be Australia’s national vegetable but we just don’t eat much of it in Ireland/England. I learned to make a good pumpkin soup when I was here years ago on a serious budget, but haven’t touched one since in my own kitchen. Maybe this winter will be a new beginning.

Stir Crazy Thai

Stir Crazy is a tiny loud local Thai place nestled in between about a dozen other eateries in Kirribilli – Thai, Chinese, Japanese, seafood, pasta. They don’t take bookings and the place is tiny. Prospective diners stand around outside on the pavement alongside the open-air diners crouched over their food on stools.

Inside it is cramped and loud; the waitresses waver between friendly and harried but they do their best. But the food was fantastic.

I ordered a vegetarian stir-fry – hot, I told the waitress – and Orlando ordered the chicken and beef stir-fry. They arrived in shallow bowls on banana leaves, steaming hot, incredibly spicy and quite sweet. I devoured mine with a sprinkling of steamed rice.

As soon as we were finished the bill was thrust under Orlando’s nose – no standing on ceremony here. For two huge dishes of food the total was $32. Brilliant value; so much so that we ate there again only two days later.

Mecca Bah

It’s a bit inconvenient going to Mecca Bah on a busy weekend evening, as they don’t take bookings. And Docklands is not the best place to be wandering aimlessly waiting for a phone call from the restaurant after putting your name down.

So we took the opportunity after seeing the matinee show of Billy Crystal’s 700 Sundays, to pop down to Mecca Bah early and put our names down for dinner. We weren’t disappointed, and barely had time to sip a G&T in the achingly hip Fix Jamm Room before we were summoned to our waterfront table.

With three out of four at our table seriously watching our weight, we chose carefully (for the most part). Everything being served to the tables around us looked and smelled divine.

I started with boureks, tiny triangular spicy lamb parcels on a bed of fresh yoghurt. I savoured each mouthful and was careful not to overpower the melt-in-your-mouth lamb with too much yoghurt. Others had bastilla, little chicken pastries stuffed with tender chicken fillet, or a dish of tiny falafels. It was a good start.

For the main course two of us had the spicy lamb meatball tagine, one had harissa spiced Turkish pizza, and one a dish of beautifully cooked calamari.

My tagine was rich, spicy, warm, filling and utterly delicious. It was served with a bowl of feather-light couscous but I only needed a spoonful or two to soak up the last of the sauce. Orlando’s Turkish pizza was oblong-shaped like a little boat. It was filled with spicy shredded lamb, and topped with fresh rocket and a drizzle of yoghurt. The calamari was lightly cooked, spicy, and sensational.

There was plenty to watch out on the water as we dined and watched the light fade: we each chose what leisure cruiser we would buy with that elusive lottery win, and wondered what these people do for a living.

Everything was washed down with a generous glass or two of Mountadam Shiraz from the Barossa region.

Mecca Bah, 55a Newquay Promenade, Docklands

(03) 9642 1300