• Another trip to the sunny harbour: discovering more Sydney eateries

So last week, I had to fly to Sydney for work.  Extending this to a social weekend, I yet again discovered new parts of the city which I am becoming to like more and more.  With the weekend spent kayaking in Berowra, swimming at Bondi and visiting the Annie Leibovits exhibition (all in perfect weather) I also had time to visit a few restaurants on the way.

Cargo Bar

After a full-on day of workshops, we were required at a team dinner/drinking session at Cargo Bar on the water.  Entering the venue, I was confronted with a large space that could fit one hundred people in just one corner.  Even on a Wednesday night, it was busy.

There were several beers on tap and even more in bottles.  We ordered the pumpkin pizza, margherita, antipasto and chips.

The food was rather nice.  The pumpkin pizza did not look enticing with layered orange slices of pumpkin (not roasted enough to golden) and cubes of fetta.  It tasted very nice but I was the only one who tried it.  The margherita was done with lots of whole basil leaves, squashed roasted tomatoes and of course cheese.  It was also quite tasty. The antipasti had a variety of grilled vegetables and hummus.  The chips were well cooked.

The venue was very noisy and stuffy after a hot day.  But the relief of the harbour was not far away.  There seemed to be several tourists at Cargo Bar.  Overall, it was a descent spot for a large group.  It also had functions upstairs.

Zeta Bar
Last time I visited Zeta Bar, I was with my ‘cool’ uncle and had to change my shoes before they would let me in (luckily I had a suitcase full of clothes and shoes in hand).  This time, I still had my suitcase but they deemed I was dressed appropriately enough to enter.

We stumbled across Zeta Bar wanting a drink and catch up close to the city office.  Finding a spare seat and looking at the menu, we relaxed and ordered drinks and dips.  My cocktail was delicious.  Refreshing but different.  There are so many cocktails on the list here, that you are bound to find one you like.

I was so excited when my friend from school suggested we eat at Yulli’s – a purely vegetarian restaurant in Surry Hills.  I rushed over after a busy second day of workshops and struggled to choose a beer from their extensive list of locals.  I asked the waitress for her recommendation, something not too heavy and creamier – it was obvious I had no idea about beer.   Still she chose me one of the popular ones and it was tasty, but not really my style, which I have to learn to describe.

On the menu, there were so many delicious sounding dishes that I voiced my favourites and resigned myself to letting my friend order, as not to go overboard trying everything.

First up were the dumplings.  Presented nicely, these bite-sized snacks were filled with cabbage.  They tasted nice but without an array of vegetables or authenticity, they were not as good as dumpling houses back home. 

Next up we had zucchini flowers filled with ricotta and hazelnuts.  They were served hot and crispy.  The flavours were brought out with the accompanying sauces: chilli mayonnaise, wasabi mayonnaise and balsamic.  Delicious.

The Vietnamese crepe was next.  Filled with lots of fresh veggies (mainly mushrooms) and served with a tangy sauce, it was tasty but not as good as those served on Victoria Street in Richmond. 

The haloumi bagel was something that I had requested and been told was hard to share.  We managed.  Like a burger with chips the bagel was spread with hummus then towered with caramelised onion, mushrooms, avocado, salad and of course haloumi.  Served with well cooked chips, this could have been a satisfying meal in itself.

The last main dish, and possibly the tastiest, was the pumpkin polenta.  The polenta and pumpkin had been blended together to create a smooth but firm texture.  It was topped with a salad of green mango, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and chilli.  This was the favourite dish for the rest of the table.  All the ingredients exploded with flavour, the texture was beautiful and I was inspired by the difference of the combination.

For dessert, we shared the white chocolate and caramel slice.  With a crunchy coconut base and lots of sugar, it was very enjoyable with ice-cream on the side.

The food at Yulli’s was delicious. I would recommend not ordering the Asian style dishes which were done well but were nothing in comparison to the amazing flavours of the others.

Perhaps this restaurant can be summed up best by the words of my non-vegetarian friend:

“I love the food here, then I realise that I haven’t even had any meat!  This place is the only place in Sydney that has the atmosphere of Melbourne.”

Inspiring meat eaters to enjoy vegetarian food?  That is what this blog is all about.  I will definitely be returning to Yulli’s next trip.

Maya Tandoori
Maya is a fall back eatery when I am in Sydney.  When I say fall back, I don't mean it is a last resort, only that this is where we gravitate when we are stuck for new ideas.

An Indian, vegetarian, well priced eatery, Maya’s food is authentic and delicious.  We shared a thali.  I liked the paneer curry best with its spicy sweetness.  The naan is good.  We also had polenta, which was too dense to enjoy fully.  The samosa is tasty.  The dosai is well made.

The Bunker
This trendy brunch spot is more for show than substance.  I enjoyed sitting outside in the sun, even though the stools and tables were low and shared.

The coffee was strong but slightly metallic.  Tea is served in a cute tea pot and English style cup.

I ordered the mushroom, tomato and cheese melt.  It was fine but nothing interesting compared to what I could whip up at home.  It could definitely be spiced up with some herbs or chilli.

The boiled eggs (whilst simple) were nicely presented.

It seemed this café did the simple well, but was nothing exciting other than a spot in the sun on a perfect Summer’s day.

Vespa Caffe Ristorante
On the way to our kayaking trip, I met my friend in Gladesville and we had a quick brunch at Vespa's where her brother works.

The menu was filled with bacon and ham but they were very open to vegetarian versions suggesting swapping it for mushrooms instead.  I ordered scrambled eggs with hollandaise and mushrooms.   It was very tasty and a good dose of protein to keep me going for a busy day kayaking.

Souk in the City
My friend’s favourite restaurant, we met here on a Saturday night for a sociable dinner.  I could not help but laugh as they threw rose petals over us when we entered.  We were then seated facing the entrance so we could similarly laugh at others' reactions from this gimmicky action.

The cocktail list was enticing enough to get us drinking.  I ordered the ‘Moroccan Spice Sticky’ with an interesting blend of orange and chili.

I do not eat Moroccan food often and enjoyed the flavours and style.

For entrée we shared the grilled haloumi salad and the mezze platter.  The flavours of the salad were very pleasant.  The dips on the mezze were delicious.

For main course we ordered the seven seed cous cous with falafels, mchancha and lentil cakes (the three vegetarian options for main).   The cous cous and falafel combo was presented with care but the falafels were a little dry.  The flavours, however, were lovely with dried soaked apricots, olives and potato.

The lentil cakes were like crispy pan fried veggie burgers in a more elegant form.  They were served with hummus, salad, cauliflower and an impressive display of friend carrot strips.

For dessert, we shared the tasting plate.  The five tastings were delicious and went down well with a generous glass of Penfold’s port.

The atmosphere was a little noisy, but the setting was pretty with rose petals, Moroccan lamps and a dark interior.

The service was very friendly, although we had to wait a while to get the waiters’ attention at times.

Abang Sam

On the way to the airport on Sunday we stopped off for a quick dinner at Abang Sam.  We ordered the rojak with coconut cake and vegetables and a vegetarian version of char kwey teo.  Having recently returned from Malaysia, I was probably not the easiest critic.

Rushed for time they made our food quickly upon our request.  The rojak was overly fried with tofu and coconut clusters that seemed to have been cooked early and dried out by the time they added the spicy peanut sauce and then served it.  The char kwey teo (although requested to be vegetarian) contained dried shrimp.

Whilst it was good not to jump on the plane with a full stomach, this meal was the least impressive of those had in the harbour city.

The details

Cargo Bar
3 Lime St
Sydney 2000
02 9262 1777 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            02 9262 1777      end_of_the_skype_highlighting

Cargo Bar on Urbanspoon

Zeta Bar
Level 4, 488 George Street
Sydney 2000
02 9265 6070 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            02 9265 6070      end_of_the_skype_highlighting

Zeta Bar on Urbanspoon

417 Crown Street
Surry Hills 2010
            02 9319 6609      

Yulli's on Urbanspoon
Maya Tandoori
472 Cleveland Street
Surry Hills 2010
            02 8394 9799      

Maya Tandoori on Urbanspoon

The Bunker
399 Liverpool Street
Darlinghurst 2010

The Bunker on Urbanspoon

Vespa Caffe Ristorante
209 Victoria Road
            02 9879 0366      

Vespa on Urbanspoon
Souk in the City
431 Bourke St
Surry Hills 2010
            02 9357 7577      

Souk in the City on Urbanspoon
Abang Sam
Shop1, 214 Anzac Parade
Kensington 2032
            02 96626554      

Abang Sam Malaysian Family Restaurant on Urbanspoon