Hartsyard Revisited

Finding myself with a shiny new haircut at 5:50pm on a Wednesday night in Newtown, all dressed up with nowhere to go, I suggested Hubby meet me for an early dinner somewhere.  Not a hard sell! The only condition was no booze, as Hubby is doing Dry July and I’m being politely sympathetic.

Given it was midweek and so early, and we’d be saving money by not drinking, it dawned on me that a return visit to Hartsyard could be the go.  Although it was only a Wednesday, they were fully booked, and a number of tables were already well into their meals by 6:10pm!  But there was still ample space at the bar or communal bench.  Yay!  We went for the latter.

The smaller plates are labelled ‘Seed’, and the larger are ‘Feed’.  And as I said in my original post here, everything on the menu is appealing but everything is deceptively rich: ‘Seed’ ain’t birdfood, folks!  Before our last visit I’d been nastily ill and not eaten for a week, so I was able to tackle the lion’s share of two Seeds and two Feeds, only meeting my match with the killer poutine.  This time we weren’t starving and so were more restrained with our ordering: two Seeds and just the one Feed.  It’s the sort of menu where I trust that everything will be good, even dishes I would otherwise be less attracted to, and so I’m happy to take suggestions from the waitstaff.  This time we were recommended a Seed special of steak tartare, ground to order and seasoned with house-fermented chilli paste, and served with oyster cream, hot potato chunks, grilled pickled onions, cress, shaved horseradish and a leek crisp.  Want that one!

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But our other Seed came out first: a pile of whole broadbeans cooked over charcoal, with chipotle romesco sauce and lemon jam.  I’d had whole broadbeans once before in Japan – I call them ‘dinosaur edamame’ (pictures here).  The chunky, piquant sauce was an excellent accompaniment, but the lemon jam to me seemed odd.  I was imagining something more like preserved lemons – something salty and tangy, to go with the spicy capsicum sauce and enliven the waxy, creamy beans.  No – this was very definitely lemon jam.  As in sweet.  As in, would be a lovely filling for a sponge roll.  Totally didn’t do it for us with this dish.  So we ignored the jam and instead applied the house-made hotsauce (bottle provided on each table) for extra oomph.  And although given an extra plate for their disposal, we found the pods were cooked so well they were perfectly edible and tasted like (massive) snowpeas with added smoke.  Nothing wasted apart from the tops and tails!

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Then we got the beef… and practically inhaled it, it was that good.  Honestly the nicest steak tartare I’ve ever eaten (and Hubby’s first, so he will now hold all future tartares to a very high standard).  The single sheaf of leek was mad - fried or perhaps baked to a crispy shard.  More leek crisps in my life, please!  The raw beef was beautifully seasoned and spiked with just the right amount of chilli heat, tempered by the mayonnaise (I couldn’t taste oysters but never mind, it was still nice) and balanced by the smoky onions and potatoes.  We immediately wanted to order it again, but sensibly didn’t.

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They pace the dishes well at Hartsyard, so you have enough time to reflect on the amazing thing you’ve just eaten before being amazed all over again by the next dish, but not so long that you get hungry and antsy.  But the one missing thing which would enhance my dining experience at Hartsyard is BREAD.  Something to palate cleanse.  Not to fill up on – just a plain taste to nibble on, in between the flavour-charged creations, and reset my tastebuds for their next adventure.  Maybe next time I’ll bring a dinner roll in my purse ☺

Similarly, the retro soundtrack is great fun, but almost too much fun.  It’s totally hits-filled, and you are constantly in a state of alertness with every LOL track and anticipating what hilarity will follow.  We got ‘Dancing in the Dark’, ‘Don’t Worry Be Happy’, ‘Rapture’, ‘More Than A Feeling’… literally every song was a karaoke classic and it became almost distracting.  They need some less fun, less recognisable, more ambient tunes in the mix, to give your ears a break from the ‘80s disco funtimes.  LIKE BREAD: something plain in between the hit dishes.

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Our final savoury hit was the whiting from the Feed menu.  Two generous pan fried fillets served with an enormous quantity of whipped yuzu mayonnaise and a truckload of furikake or ‘crunchy salty Japanese sprinkly things’.  Can’t say much more than YUM, PERFECT.  Oh nearly forgot: it came with a little jar of house-made white kim cheeI loathe kim chee, but as I happily suspected (this not being a Korean restaurant) Hartsyard’s kim chee didn’t taste terribly authentic and therefore didn’t offend me!  It was just lightly pickled cabbage and radish, barely spicy, not at all stinky.

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Having imbibed only sparkling water (bottomless – they have a sodastream) we decided to lash out on pudding.  The famous ‘HY Softserve of the Week’ was banoffee pie flavour, which had to be done.  It was utterly delightful: the banana icecream tasted like whole pureed frozen bananas, with chunks of fresh ‘nana in there too; plus dulce du leche and bits of crunchy chocolate biscuit.  Dipped in chocolate, sat on a mound of whipped cream, surrounded by flaked chocolate.  And the softserve went all the way down the cone.  Niiice.  Needed to be shared – I don’t believe anyone could eat a whole one of them after the super-rich Seeds and Feeds.

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All in all, we had the perfect amount of food with a wonderful variety of flavours and creative combinations of ingredients.  Thank you Hartsyard for another splendid meal!

Hartsyard on Urbanspoon

 

At Least Once a Fortnight (Work-Related Bargain Meals™ Edition)

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…I get the $5 coffee+muffin special from the guys at The Canopy on Liverpool Street, who get my name wrong every time, every though I spell it for them (it’s not MOLEY, guys).  But the deal is great and the coffee is perfectly nice; made nicer by dipping into it the fresh, warm, buttery muffin (this one was dark chocolate and raisin).

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…I stop at Sushi Hub at Railway Square on my walk to work for a more unusual but much healthier inarizushi breakfast (these were mixed mushroom, but usually I get plain – just $3 for 2 pieces!) which I then virtuously complement with green tea and a winter vitamin.  And a sun flare.

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…I get my favourite vegie rice noodle soup (with chilli & extra soy sauce) from Wong Kee in Chambers Arcade. Packed with brocolli, cauliflower, snow peas, bean shoots, mushrooms and bok choi.  Sprinkled with fried shallots and squeezed with lemon.  $7!!  I could easily eat this for every meal, every day.

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…I hike up the hill to Gelato Messina for a less sensible lunch: two scoops in a cup for $6, happily devoured by the time I’m back at the bottom of the hill.  This combo was a snazzy Mandarin Sorbet and the slightly odd Ginger Ninja - a not-exactly-salty-but-distinctly-savoury miso caramel & ginger gelato with gingerbread snaps.

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…I try to make time for an after-work vino with friends, preferably at my new #1 favourite wine bar Fold on Liverpool Street, where this veritable feast of double brie and accoutrements costs a mere $12! (glass… or carafe… or bottle… of French rosé sold separately ☺)

Chur Burger, Albion Street

Every foodie type in Sydney has been to Chur Burger already, I know.  Now I have too!  And I loved it too!  Keeping in mind, though, I’m not a “burger person” – what I loved was the fish burger and the sweet potato fries. And the spotty grease-proof paper they serve the burgers on.  If you want a review of the regular burger and chips you’ll have to read one of the 8,000 other Sydney food blogs…

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Le menu.

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Gratuitous photo of milkshake.

My friend and I shared the famous salted caramel milkshake made with some fancy type of vanilla, but we couldn’t finish it – or rather, had we finished it, we would have been sick.   It was very nice though I can’t say I detected saltiness, just caramel sweetness.  Much sweetness.  So sweetness.  (Must be the fancy type of vanilla.)

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Chur burgers, bro!  With sweet potato fries.

My fish burger was incredible – everything about it was perfect. And I finally met a brioche bun I didn’t dislike – these ones were very buttery and yeasty and with some substance to them, not just overly sweet and foolishly fluffy. PROPER brioche. Nice sourcing, Chur.   The fish was perfectly cooked, everything was super generous and the balance of flavours, textures and components was just right.  I especially enjoyed the lightly pickled cucumber ribbons – so dainty!  My friend gave his pulled pork burger “a hipster 8/10″ for the meat, and we both loved the sweet potato fries which were a nice balance of crispy and soft, and strongly (in a good way) seasoned with lime. Sharing both the huge serving of fries and the milkshake was definitely the way to go.

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I will go back and eat this again very soon – bugger all their other types of burgers.  Also, see sun flare (#nofilter).

My pal and I had a great vantage spot against the back wall, and we particularly enjoyed watching the efficient kitchen production line.  The service was friendly and quick, though would it kill the staff to wear vaguely identifying clothing?  I’m not advocating for uniforms and “Hi my name is…” badges, but at least wear all black.  It’s most confusing when a random girl in a beanie suddenly appears at your side with food.  Plus you don’t know who to ask stuff, like where the elusive water jugs were.

We arrived at just before half twelve on a weekday, and Chur was about 2/3 full, and by the time we left at just after 1 o’clock there was a queue out the door (surely you’d just time your lunch better..?).  The crowd was an amusingly ill-fitting mix of the super cool local types, the ‘suits’ who work nearby (myself included, though not in a suit that day), and those who’d clearly read Time Out and wouldn’t otherwise be in Surry Hills.  A trio of middle-aged tourists in a lurid mixture of fleece zippered jackets and puffa vests sat opposite us: the antithesis of hipster instagrammers, but all dutifully taking photos of their food.  Like me.  And everyone else in the place.  Smartphones unite us forever

Chur Burger on Urbanspoon

A Pleasing Breakfast

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Still house-sitting and enjoying splendid surrounds – and gadgets!  I braved the Nespresso machine and made us each a very respectable long macchiato (using ‘ristretto’ pod thingies – I’m sure there’s a variety of different types).  I think I’m sold on these slick and super simple espresso machines!  No mess no fuss – and not a bad drop!

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Bacon and black kale, together as they should be.

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…and then popped on toasted ciabatta with hummous and a squeeze of lemon. Even better!

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The whippet was not invited to share the bacon, and sulked in the sun.