Sydney, Sydney - Inner City

The Rabbit Hole Organic Tea Bar

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A cafe without coffee in Sydney?  Welcome to The Rabbit Hole Organic Tea Bar!

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Recently opened in the inner city suburb of Redfern, this place is all about tea.  All the tea here are blended in-house, with the theme of tea evident from the sculpture in the middle of the cafe that is made from teabags, to the installation of beer taps to deliver sparkling tea, and even to the food items on the menu.   The cafe is a conversion from an old warehouse, with white-washed, exposed brick walls and splashes of gold in its fittings, which makes a very contemporary and artistic setting.

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The artistic nature of this cafe is also reflected in the use of gold cutlery, a chemistry flask to serve sparkling water, as well as using playing cards as indicators for orders.  The cups all have a small rabbit tail on the side, which ties in well with the name of this cafe.  These are all very trendy and nice small touches.

We came here on a weekend during lunch time and the place was packed.  Food and drinks were ordered first from the counter, and a playing card was received which we have to place on our table to allow the wait staff to bring out the order for us.

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Rabbit Hole Chai Latte ($5.50)

This was made with their signature chai.  It was rich with subtle flavours from the spices, with a hint of honey providing an appropriate amount of sweetness.  Unlike other places, cinnamon flavours did not dominate the tea, and we were able to taste the other subtle flavours from the spices used in the tea.

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Matcha Latte ($5.50)

This was a bitter-sweet experience, with the right amount of matcha to provide the right balance between bitterness and sweetness.

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Green tea soba noodles with ginger-sesame chicken & pickled carrot ($16)

This was a nice Asian-inspired salad, with nice sesame and ginger flavours throughout.  The pickled carrot provided some vibrancy and freshness to the dish.  The soba noodles were cooked to perfection. We would have preferred more ginger flavours in this dish to give the dish some more “kick”.

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Pork with spicy mango, red cabbage and cucumber slaw on milk bun ($14)

The bun, with the use of mango jam, was sweet and soft.  The cabbage and cucumber slaw was fresh and crunchy, while the steamed pork provided the backbone to counteract the sweetness from the bun.  This dish was enjoyable, and although it was more on the sweet side, we felt that it was a healthy kind of sweetness due to their abundant use of slaw in the dish.

 

Overall, this place works.  The setting, the drinks and the food are all of a reasonable standard.  It is refreshing to see a different type of cafe being opened up in Sydney, and hopefully this place can help change the attitude of people towards tea in Sydney.

 

The Rabbit Hole Organic Tea Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Rabbit Hole Organic Tea Bar

Website: http://www.therabbithole.com.au

Address: 146 Abercrombie Street, Redfern

Phone: (02) 9310 2207

Opening hours: Tue to Sun (except Thurs) 9am to 4pm; Thurs 9am to 6pm

Accepts all major credit cards

Australia, Sydney, Sydney - East, Sydney - Inner City

Waterman’s Lobster Co

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Lobster was once seen as a poor man’s food.  But nowadays, it is seen as an exotic delicacy.  Greg Elwell, writing for the Oklahoma Gazette, summed up the current social attitudes to lobsters perfectly when he wrote:

“Lobster is fancy. If you imagine a lobster talking, it probably has a British accent. Draw an animated lobster and I bet you’ll include a top hat, a monocle and an opera cape. That’s fancy.”

Even though lobster is now seen as a meal for the rich decadent, the best way to prepare it is still using one simple ordinary household ingredient – butter – and lots of it.  Now, imagine a place that serves up lobster, doused in butter, in a soft buttery roll.

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Waterman’s Lobster Co, located in a laneway in Potts Point, is that place.  With an option to sit outside on tables in the paved walkway, or sitting by a long bar near the window or at the bar area inside the restaurant, or on tables inside the restaurant, a meal at this place can be as casual, formal or romantic as you would like to make it.

Now let us review the food, starting with their specialty…

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Lobster Roll – Connecticut Style ($18)

The bread roll was lightly toasted, so it was crunchy on the outside but soft on the inside.  The roll was filled with large pieces of lobster warmed with butter.  The saltiness of the butter brought out the subtle sweetness from the lobster, and this was a very tasty and enjoyable roll.

Apart from lobster, scallop is also on their menu…

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Scallop Roll with Pea Puree and Pork Floss ($17)

The delicate sweet flavours of the scallops matched perfectly with the pea puree, while the saltiness of the pork floss added a layer of complexity to the flavours of this roll.  Again, a very tasty and enjoyable roll.

How about a side of chips to go with each roll…

Side of chips ($5)

The chips were crispy, nicely seasoned and spiced with a hint of paprika.  A good compliment to the rolls.

How about other dishes?

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Kingfish Tartare with Seaweed and Raddish ($17)

This dish was visually appealing and the fish was fresh, soft and full of nice citrus flavours.  The hint of spices provided a good kick to the flavours of this dish.  A classic dish that was done elegantly.

Now for a beer to wash down all the goodness…

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Sierra Nevada Rye IPA ($9)

A beer with strong malt flavour, with hints of citrus and herbs.  This beer had a strong aftertaste, which was too harsh to accompany the delicate food we ordered.

 

Watermans Lobster Co is a good place to go in the area at any time of the day.  Their dishes are of a high quality, using fresh produce resulting in tasty flavours in all the dishes.   With their reasonable prices, we can all experience lobster here without breaking the bank.

 

Waterman's Lobster Co Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Waterman’s Lobster Co

Website: http://www.watermanslobsterco.com

Address: 5/29 Orwell Street, Potts Point

Phone: (02) 9380 2558

Opening hours: Mon to Sat, 12pm to late; Sun 12pm to 6pm

Accepts all major credit cards

Australia, Sydney, Sydney - CBD, Sydney - Inner City

Chicken Institute Part 2

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After the horrific experience at Chicken Institute two weeks earlier (which we have posted here), we went back to the place to try their infamous chicken.

This time, we made a booking in advance, and when we got to the restaurant, we found the place to be empty.  There were no people waiting, and there were empty tables everywhere.  Maybe other people had the same experience as us last time and decided it was not worth the wait or hassle.

We noticed that this time around, they had an extra wait staff serving the customers.

Looking at the menu again, we noticed that the choice of drinks were very limited.  Jono wanted to order a soft drink, but we were told that soft drinks were not available individually, and we had to order one of the Fizzy Sodas on the menu (which ironically were made from soft drinks).  The cost of a Fizzy Soda was $6.

Now onto the food.

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Steam bun – eggplant schnitzel, chipotle dressing and tangy cucumber ($6 each)

The eggplant was very crispy with a good kick of spiciness and smokiness from the dressing which was immediately soothed by the cold sweet cucumber.  However, the bun was not as soft and fluffy as expected, and the bun seems to be a tad undercooked.

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Spicy cucumber kimchi ($7)

The use of fresh ingredients was evident in this dish, with a good spicy taste complimenting the fresh vegetables.  However, at $7 for a small bowl, we felt this was a bit overpriced.

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Damn good fried garlic chicken – garlic caramel glaze, garlic chips, lime ($24)

The exterior of the chicken was very tasty with nice garlic flavour and the use of the small pieces of garlic chips enhanced the flavour of this dish.  The chicken flesh was soft and nicely seasoned.  A nice dish.

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Damn good sticky chicken – sweet, spicy, sticky sauce, crushed peanut, shallot ($22)

The chicken was marinated in a very unique style, resulting in all pieces of chicken being marinated on one side only while the other side was not marinated.  The chicken was cooked to perfection.  The sauce was very different from any other sauces we have tried in Korean restaurants and the sweetness and spiciness of the sauce struck a good balance.  The peanuts added a complexity to the flavour of the dish.  Tasty!

 

Overall, the chicken dishes here were very good, and the side of radish that accompanied each bucket serve of chicken was a nice touch.  However, the standard of the chicken here is not that much better than a number of other Korean places in Sydney, and we would not be waiting in line for the chicken if we ever find ourselves here again with a long busy line of customers.

 

Chicken Institute Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Chicken Institute

Website: http://www.chickeninstitute.com.au

Address: 61 Fitzroy Street, Surry Hills

Telephone: (02) 8095 0166

Opening hours: 5pm to 10pm, Tues to Sun

Accepts MasterCard and Visa (minimum spending amount applies)

Australia, Sydney, Sydney - CBD, Sydney - Inner City

Chicken Institute Part 1

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We have heard so much good things about the chicken at this place so on a cold winter Tuesday night, we decided to visit this place to try out their infamous chicken.  Due to the unusual events which unfolded, we will set out in a time line format of what we have experienced at this place that night.

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7.45pm – We arrived at the restaurant.  We noticed that the space was very small and it was already overcrowded.  The interior was simple, with wooden shelves, wooden floor boards and a counter made of galvanized iron, which gave the whole place the look and feel of a chicken barn.  We were asked if we had booked (which we had not) and were told that apart from another couple who were waiting in front of us, we would be after them.

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7.45pm to 8.15pm – As we were standing near the entrance to wait, we noticed how close we were in proximity to the people who were dining.  There were no room for people to stand and wait.  Within half an hour, there were over 10 people waiting for a table.  We noticed that the service seem very chaotic, and customers were complaining of wrong orders and slow service.  There were only two wait staff servicing more than 30 customers.

8.15pm – We were asked whether we minded sitting in the back area, which we happily agreed.  The back area was an open courtyard, with minimal lighting.  There was one big table and one small table, which would sit about 10 people maximum in total. It was quite cold and chilly in the area and there was only one heater there.

8.15pm to 8.45pm – No wait staff came to take our orders, despite us requesting them to do so on several occasions.  We also requested someone to fix the heater as the heat was quickly diminishing.  Again, no one was able to assist.

8.45pm – Finally, one of the wait staff came to take our order.  We ordered two chicken dishes, along with some side dishes, and two drinks.  Despite the freezing night, we were looking forward to the taste of their infamous incredible chicken.

8.45pm to 9.15pm – We heard yelling from the kitchen between the chef and the wait staff.  They were arguing in Korean which seem to relate to the wrong orders.  The screaming was quite loud, and was piercing through an otherwise quiet night in the back courtyard.

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9.15pm – The first drink arrived.  As we were already so cold from sitting in the back with the heater not working properly, we didn’t really touch the icy drink.

9.15pm to 9.45pm – We were still waiting for food and the second drink, and we were becoming more and more hungry.  It had been more than 2 hours since we set foot in the restaurant and we were still unable to taste any food.

9.45pm – Being cold and hungry, we decided to tell the wait staff that we were no longer willing to wait any more, as we were shivering and starving.  The wait staff enquired with the kitchen and allowed us to cancel our orders and leave.  They were also apologetic for our experience.  However, before we left, we were still asked to pay for the drink that was on our table which amounted to $6.50.   As we were leaving, we heard some customers on another table complaining about the level of service to one of the wait staff.

We left the place cold, hungry, angry and disappointed.  We were baffled as to how a restaurant is able to be run like this.  Even if the chicken is amazing and out of this world (which we would never know unless we return to try them), their service (or lack thereof) will be a major impediment to anyone returning to this place.

We actually went back two weeks later and tried the chicken.  Read our post here.

Chicken Institute Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Chicken Institute

Website: http://www.chickeninstitute.com.au

Address: 61 Fitzroy Street, Surry Hills

Telephone: (02) 8095 0166

Opening hours: 5pm to 10pm, Tues to Sun

Accepts MasterCard and Visa (minimum spending amount applies)