District Dining + Gastro Park = Brilliant Sydney Restaurants

Recently I’ve been to two new (well, new for me since moving back to Sydney) restaurants that do have an inkling of the Melbourne charm I do miss. They are District Dining in Surry Hills and Gastro Park in Potts Point.

They have a similar feel and atmosphere – cool and sophisticated but relaxed enough so you can have a loud laugh and one too many drinks (although I’m sure they both do practice responsible service of alcohol) without feeling like the naughtiest girl in the class.

Our table of 7 shared all the dishes – some are designed as share plates, others are mains we shared anyway … we are that kind of family…no-one wants to miss out! We did have to order quite a few dishes to satisfy our healthy appetites although none were a disappointment. Special mentions go to the chicken wings and the roasted lamb dish although these are no longer on the menu as it changes regularly, which I like. Keeps it fresh and exciting!

Gastro Park also changes its menu according to what’s in season. M and I shared a dozen natural oysters (very fresh), scallops with carrot butter – they come seared but we asked for them to be cooked right through which they happily obliged – and the Crispy scaled snapper, smoked potato puree, calamari crackling, ink sauce; washed down with some Grey Goose.

All dishes at both venues were done very well. The warm atmospheres and endearing staff were helpful and attentive but not as though they were also dining with you.

Highly recommend both places but do book – they can get very busy, especially this time of year.

As usual, all the food was devoured before I remembered to take any photos… which is why I’ll never be of the food blogging ilk! Have included some pics below from the websites of these venues.


District Dining: 17 Randle Street, Surry Hills
Sydney, NSW 2010. p: (02) 9211 7798
Gastro Park: 5-9 Roslyn Street . Kings Cross
Sydney 2011 . NSW . Australia . p: 02 8068 1017

End of an Adventure, Beginning of an Old New Story

When I started this blog it was to document my adventures of moving from Sydney to Melbourne. I’ve written about my excitement, nerves, fear of possums, amazing food experiences and the wonderful Melburnians I’ve been lucky enough to meet.

And now I’ve come full circle and will be moving back to my home town.

I knew this move back would come around eventually but I admit I am surprised it has come this soon. An opportunity has come up in our Sydney office so I’m grabbing it while I can and packing up to head back home. These past months I’ve been in Sydney more than I’ve been in Melbourne and so it now makes sense for me to settle back in old Sydney Town.

Farewells are always so bitter sweet and it’s with fondness and happy memories that I pack up my Melbourne life. When I have more time to reflect (after the packing has been done and the moving has been sorted) I’ll record a more thoughtful post.

In the meantime I’m madly packing and booking a number of services. My darling mother is coming to visit and help – she will be there to meet all the moving people and cleaners and car sales people while I’m at work…bless mothers.

I am excited to be moving back home to my family and friends and new found love. Although I’m moving back to an old familiar setting it will be a new adventure that I’m excited to embrace.

Tetsuya’s – 529 Kent St, Sydney (And Why We Booked Last April!)

I’ve been waiting for last Saturday night to roll around since we made our booking back in April this year. Tetsuya’s did not disappoint.

C, D, L, K and myself checked into the Meriton on Pitt St – awesome location and comfy apartments – and prepared ourselves for the eleven course degustation we were about to savour.

It was sensational. Tucked away in what looks like a house, we were greeted by attentive, friendly staff who showed us to our table overlooking the Japanese-styled garden and water feature. The atmosphere is like being at someone’s grandma’s house – a subtle ambience brought to life by the energy of the diners.

We started with some cocktails (I had a vodka martini) and began the indulgence with gusto … and this way just the butter whipped with ricotta and truffle!

What followed was a dance of flavours, textures and an experience that I’ll cherish forever, if only for the joy of being with some of my dearest friends experiencing a culinary delight we’ve been anticipating for a long time.

The menu changes seasonally but his signature dishes are a constant. You can find out more about Tetsuya and his famed restaurant on their website: http://www.tetsuyas.com/page/the_restaurant.html

I’ve included some pics so you can see what we ate: kingfish, scampi tail, mulloway, quail, perch, ox-tail, ravioli, beef rib-eye, and desserts aplenty.

We were also treated to a tour of the kitchen and venue – there are a number of rooms available for dining including a more private area for larger group bookings. It was a privilege to meet the chefs and check out their induction cooking technology and decked out kitchens. There is also a ‘chef’s table’ in the kitchen that will be available next year… so we’ve been told… so do enquire if this takes your fancy!

For a special occasion spread over a four-hour fare, I definitely recommend Tetsutya’s. Just make sure you book in advance!

Sydney Sojourn: family, friends, love, joy

Last weekend I went back up to Sydney to visit family and friends and had a fun-filled two days. I arrived Friday night and went to meet by bestie at Quay Grand in circular quay – stunning location – to catch up on the last few months since I saw her last. A couple of friends dropped by and we never actually made it out … must be getting old but the thought of hitting the Cross in the rain after midnight not so appealing anymore!

On Saturday I met my sister to take her shopping for a birthday present at the newly opened Westfield Sydney. It was busy, shiny and new and we were not in the mood to shop so headed to Sky Phoenix for yum cha nearby. It was ok but would not recommend it – food was average, prawns tasted slightly too prawny and not a massive range of items trolleyed past.

Then we hunted down a shirt, the winning garment found at Country Road, for our younger brother who is going to a school formal soon. We met up with one of my sister’s friends for a Devonshire tea followed by hot chocolate made with peppermint tea (sounds strange, but it works!) at a charming place in the city called The Tea Centre. It’s adorable and has all things tea – a must visit and the scones were perfect.

I headed home and was picked up from by my brother on his L plates and our mum who was caught between joy to see me and nerves from my brother’s Learner driving. Settled in for a lamb roast with the whole family; such a treasured rarity these days to have everyone together.

Sunday morning I took another bestie C and my god-daughter to Bondi Junction Westfield to shop for my god-daughter’s birthday present. I’m the kind of fairy god-mother who like to encourage ‘educational’ gifts over useless plastic toys… yes, I am THAT person! We headed to Borders and in the kids section Miss C found a kit to make giant bubbles. God-mother approved… I wish I had more time to stay and make them with her!

Headed home to pick up siblings for attempt at yum cha number two for the weekend. We went to a tried, tested and loved place in Kogarah where we indulged like only my family can! Sister went to work and brother went home to study for uni exams so I headed out for a pedicure.

Arrived home and packed up to head back to Melbourne but not before heading out with a friend for an early dinner. Friend picked me up then we swapped car for motorbike and whisked away to Doyles for a lobster mornay. Next stop, Sydney airport and back on-board.

A packed weekend full of family, friends, love, joy and all the things I hold nearest and dearest.

Skydive the Beach (Wollongong NSW)

Jumping out of a plane at 14,000 feet and free falling for 60 seconds brings on a rush that you can not describe to someone who doesn’t know what it feels like to skydive. But I can tell you it is sensational. This is the second time I’ve jumped but the nerves are still there and the excitement was perhaps even greater this time because I had an idea of what to expect.

I went to Sydney for my best friend M’s birthday – she picked me up bright and early from Sydney Airport and we went straight to Skydive the Beach in Wollongong, about an hour drive south. We were late (in true M style) and had to push the jump back but it gave us plenty of time to scope out who we would be strapped to the front of, make jokes and begin the festivities of the weekend.

After our 30 seconds of training and changing into the suits and harness (I wonder if I can get a suit dry cleaned in advance later … it weirded out my OCD side) we hopped on the minibus and drove out to board the smallest plane I’ve ever seen. I really wanted to be harnessed to Kevin (my dive person) as soon as we were in the paper aeroplane, just in case. The best part of the plane ride up to 14,000 feet was the full circle rainbow we saw.

M jumped first – I’ve never seen her look so terrified that my protective instincts must have kicked because when it was my turn to fall out I was not as scared as I thought I would be. It is very loud and cold but the rush from the 60 second free fall is enough to take your focus away from anything else except the amazing feeling of freedom, flying and falling. With head and body arched back and arms out in front it is like no other feeling.

The chute opened with a jerk that was quite uncomfortable (reads: my boobs were squashed in the harness and it hurt) but Kevin loosened something and it was all good although I was curious as to how he would “make me feel more comfortable” at 10,000 feet! You also get to take the goggles off at this point which is also awesome.

The drift down is incredible – it is peaceful and smooth apart from the twirls Kevin decided to throw in until I threatened to vomit in his face.

I had a turn at steering the chute – something I am not keen on but that I was assured was “part of the experience”. I do not want to be in charge when skydiving. The landing was smooth but the ground does suddenly rush towards you the closer you get to landing. As the ‘passenger’ I lifted my feet parallel to the ground (possibly a little early but I didn’t want to risk broken legs) then stood up as Kevin’s feet hit the ground. And that was it. Skydive accomplished.

Skydiving is one of the most amazing experiences and something I would like to do again. My brother has expressed his desire to go for his 18th birthday… Mum is going to kill me!

I don’t have any pics (although now I kind of wish I did) because last time I got them I looked at them once then hid them in the back of the cupboard for fear of anyone seeing them. Ever. Looking like a Wallace & Grommit character is not something you really want public although that may have been due the incredible fear I had at the first jump. Reckon I’ve got it sussed now though and will get pics next time…

Skydive the Beach was a great company to jump with – very professional, organised and fun. Appealing to my geek side I was excited to find them on Twitter and you can Like them on Facebook too. I would recommend them for Sydney thrill seekers.

Here is a pic from their website: