North Shore

Long Luxurious Night at La Grillade Crows Nest

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Tucked away behind the Lower North Shore terrace, La Grillade has been the gourmet retreat for the social set and often the romantic dinner spot. This iconic venue is operated by husband and wife team, George and Ann. You may be familiar with this couple at The Little Snail  where French style cooking combined with friendly service meets personality and charm for each table.

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Such a cosy restaurant at La Grillade

Dining at La Grillade you will expect food as being exotic and sophisticated at realistic prices. For instance we opted for a set priced menu at $63 for 3 courses (for an entrée, main and dessert) with the full a la carte menu to choose from including snails and prime steaks, which are a key feature of La Grillade’s menu. But if you fancy something a little more meatier than it is your mission to order the 14 hrs slow cooked lamb shoulder for two (additional $20).

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What’s on the menu?

For entrée I was happily digging in to the platter of garlic-drenched escargots. The snails in the shell came in one dozen and sizzled in garlic parsley butter that may have overpowered the the red wine. My personal recommendation is to also order a few slices of plain bread so you can watch the puddle of butter and bread marry together like a edible sponge.

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Snails in the shell

I was busted for taking a small scoop of someone’s duck liver pate that contained green peppercorns, port jelly and croutons. That teeny tiny bowl of pate had us glancing at each other. Port jelly was one of my absolute favourite things. The flavours was sweet and very aromatic with red wine. As for the pate it was super SUPER SMOOTH.

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Duck Liver Pate 

If you are not so keen to ordering a duck liver pate then perhaps the rillettes of pork is an option. Traditional rillettes of pork with a hint of orange and tarragon fell far short of doing the generous quantity. The rillette was tasty and it was stuffed with a lot of shredded pork meat and cooked slowly in fat until it was tender enough to be easily served to form a paste.

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Rillettes of Pork

I thought I’d have issues with this entree but it was alllll good with the a generous portion of crispy pieces of croutons to balance it off the taste of pork love making in my mouth.

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Our starter wasn’t complete till we chosen the golden fried calamari which came with chilli, salt and pepper with garlic aioli. I love the calamari’s strong flavour and utterly unique texture; it’s nice and meaty but soft in the center, and when the coating is lightly fried, it is utter perfection on a plate.

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Golden Fried Calamari

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Love the setting at La Grillade

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True French style courtyard dining

Moving on to mains came this sexy ENORMOUS piece of lamb shoulder (for two) (additional $20 for set priced menu) that’s been slow-cooked for 14 hrs straight. It looked like a GIGANTIC slab of meaty goodness, just sprinkled with deliciousness from the crispy herb bits which then drowned in the Junee’s finest lamb sauce. It may look small in the photo but oh boy was it filling for three dinosaur stomachs. If you are not in a rush and want to spend the final minutes with this shoulder then now is the time to order a glass of red to accommodate this dish. A lovely falling-off-the-bone moment was witnessed and for the taste and texture it developed a deep, rich flavour that melts in the mouth.

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14 hrs Slow-cooked Lamb Shoulder (for two) 

And because we love meat so much it is very important to decorate your main with some glossy steamed vegetables that has been generously tossed with olive oil.

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Steamed Vegetables

Say goodbye to boring duck breast because the one in La Grillade was pretty damn tasty as it has been twice cooked and decorated with pink flesh then glazed with sweet and sour cherries. The duck breast wasn’t a challenge to eat as I believe it’s the meatiest and best eating part of the duck. Okay…there may be some signs that these breasts were dry, but that didn’t stop me! This dish was easily finished because of the sauce, delicately sweet.

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Duck breast

To complement any meaty mains we ordered the creamed potato ($8). The texture was mild, thick and creamy, and this was a pleasant change from vegetables. There was no river of gravy in sight but I totally approve how delicious this was because none of us wanted to share.

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Creamed Potato ($8)

The rib eye (400gm) was just so mindblowingly good here that it was only right to have it cooked to medium rare. You can tell this slab of prime beef, dry aged was lightly smoked and grilled. It was seductive to see the pool of beef juice and served with Paris butter and veal glaze. There was so much tenderness in this beef that I managed to sneak a few more slices back to my own plate. Oh that evil grin begins!

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Rib Eye (400gm)

Can you handle dessert after all the above?! Well YES FOR ME. We chosen the baked lemon cheesecake because we saw the word “cake” at the end of cheesecake. Teehee. I must say this was a very ordinary dessert, nothing that fancy my pants other than the slight sour lemon flavour and silky smooth texture of the cheese.

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Baked Lemon Cheesecake

If you can’t handle a super heavy dessert then the coffee profiteroles Kahlua anglaise would be a good pick, which are stuffed full of sweet coffee creme covered in a profiteroles patissière and are placed over a small pond of mild Kahlua sauce.

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Coffee Profiteroles Kahluaanglaise

We weren’t going to leave a French restaurant without having the crème brulee. Although for some reason, a bowl of custard isn’t seen as an appropriate dessert for a grown adult, but stabbing our way through a perfect golden sugary layer and into the smooth custard can be an excuse to having this.

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Crème Brulee

Can you see how this decadent dessert is with the vanilla custard and tops it with a layer of crisp caramelized sugar…Hmmm I feel fat.

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That brulee…

By now I’ve reached exploding point and it felt like I was ready to roll out of here, but first let me just finish our last dessert- rich chocolate mousse. It was a perfectly fine mousse even though it wasn’t anything super special. Not only did it manage to convey both indulgence and comfort it was a heaven in a dish for all you chocolate fans out there.

Well I was feeling a tad heavier than I was before I visited La Grillade. Best to go for the set menu as I feel it’s more worth it when you calculate in your mind the original price for each dish. I will definitely come back for dinner again an try my luck on the rest of the menu.

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Rich Chocolate Mousse

Photos by Vanny Tang

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Four Friends – Take me to Asian High Tea

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Sydney’s fascination with Chinese New Year eateries are becoming far more wacky and interesting . I honestly don’t know think that’s a bad thing, given that my taste buds HEART to try new flavours and my eyes like to capture that moment of “love at first sight“. Indeed to celebrate the Lunar New YearFour Friends have sourced many chocolate recipes from all over the place and have come up with introducing something delightful and different. High tea with Katze, the owner of Four Friends Cafe in Crows Nest decides to take a leap in faith to try out something that they have not partaken in before, their Monthly Multicultural High Tea. A family business that illustrates the definition of courage, hope, love and happiness is kind of a BIG contributor to creating this cafe. With respect to this Spring Festival, Katze takes the opportunity to design Asian fusion flavours to the table. I have to admit, I didn’t know what would be installed for us, but I knew it would be beyond original. She did however state “Bring a plate of Asian food and tell me why you picked it…”. Unfortunately on my end I failed to bring a dish as I didn’t want to upset peoples stomachs. Teehee. 

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Asian themed high tea 

Let’s see up close what Katze and Jimmy whips up…

Our bamboo steamers arrive with dry ice flaring at the bottom to look dangerously cool. For what it’s worth, that’s pretty rare and impressive for presentation wise. Brownie points for dry ice magic. As we take the top lid off, I hear a bit of ” WOOOOO and AHHS”, I believe this is a positive sign that Katze and Jimmy has done an excellent job challenging their minds to make such complex delights to satisfy our tummies. This Asian fusion collaboration has got me crooking one pinkie finger and sipping fine sparkling tea. It is not your typical high tea, that’s for sure. Rather it is delicately made with meaning behind it. Almost each sweet section represents some sort of luck or happiness.

The sweet tier includes:

Deep fried sesame ball that instantly disappeared with traces of sesame seeds around the table. The glutinous rice ball is heavily coated with sesame seed, it’s not the usual food that one would eat for high tea, but it’s ASIAN THEME.
Dry ice Jasmine Ice Cream to be continued…I highly suggest you keep reading…
Oolong tea ganache truffle gets it right with my taste buds. I love how the oolong flavour ganache and milk chocolate melt together in my mouth. I can tell Katze putted a lot of oolong tea leaves into this chocolate because I could smell the aroma of oolong before it reached my nose.
Pan fried coconut soft cake tastes delicately sweet and intense coconut flavours. I quite enjoy the soft sticky gooey texture with equal amounts of crisp.
Pan fried brown sugar soft cake are similar to the coconut soft cake but this one is more traditional and is far more sweeter.
Sweet olive jelly I’d say is the ultimate traditional dessert. It contains organic sweet Osmanthus flower tea, sweet olive and goji berries. Though many may not fancy this jelly cup as much as I did because of it’s interesting unique flavours of sweet and sour blended together, but the inflated goji berries are quite a treat. Especially when it’s drenched in osmanthus tea.

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Sweet Tier

It was very generous of Katze and Jimmy spending their New Year’s Eve preparing our tea party. I secretly enjoyed the Deep fried cheese wonton not because it represents red pocket, but it was VERY crunchy and wrapped with melted cheese. The cheese overpowered the spring roll wraps, but I liked it like that.

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Deep fried cheese wonton

I managed to take a quite snap of the dry ice before it got covered in smoke. Just closely look how quick it freezes the silver bowl. Dry ice can be fun and can create tasty results.

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Dry Ice

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Add H2O + dry ice and you get magical steam flowing out.

Roses tend to be always perfect for every occasion, including afternoon tea. So the Egyptian rose tea is inspiringly aromatic with medium flavour of roses with a hint of fizziness to create a refreshingly experience. It’s unlike anything I’ve seen on the market-fragrant. A very enjoyable tropical fruit and deeply feminine drink that I really wanted to ask the other guests if anyone didn’t want their cup of tea then I’ll take one for the team. Haha.

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Sparkling Egyptian rose tea

Frozen carbon dioxide makes quite an interesting substance to use for science experiments and don’t forget observation. But did you know dry ice can make really good ICE-CREAM?

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Let’s bring science to the table.

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Can you believe Jimmy’s whipping up ice-cream for us using dry ice?!

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Jimmy and Katze creating a potentially dangerous delicious ice-cream. 

Whilst we engage on eating Jimmy and Katze decides to deconstruct their kitchen and bring appliances upstairs but also a large white foam box and contain it was dry ice. It didn’t take long till we pause nibbling on our treats and move closer to them and observe with our eyes wide open and our mouths gasping every few seconds as the dry ice smokes out of the bowl and onto the table. All of the guests including myself were thrilled and excited to see what they were making. I mean thick pink gloves, a box of dry ice and a silver mixture. Nuff said. Finally, Katze starts scooping chunks of Jasmine ice-cream onto the empty plastic cups that was provided in our sweet tier. At first we looked like guinea pigs sniffing the cups and doing little teaspoons with our spoons to identify the flavour. Luckily, Amy from Milkteaxx managed to guess this one right, otherwise her blog name wouldn’t be still standing here today. ONLY KIDDING AMY! 😛

We were quite fascinated to how this Jasmine ice-cream managed to not melt as quick compared to N2 Extreme gelato and the answer was simple, Katze uses cream rather than milk. Though I didn’t ace my chemistry subjects back in high school but you don’t need much koalification to make dry ice ice-cream, do you?… 😛

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Dry ice Jasmine Ice Cream 

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Sweet olive jelly

Wooohooo this Vegan Salad managed to get in my belly twice! This salad isn’t boring and is one heavens of a delicious tasty savory cup worth sharing. It contains spaghetti strings of vegan tofu made from soybeans, chopped cucumber and a hint of sweet and sour dressing. It’s pleasant on the palate for light and fresh taste.

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Vegan salad

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Oolong tea ganache truffle 

It was time to show off some of the guests who brought homemade goodies! And first up Hilda’s homemade pork spring rolls. Look how evenly golden brown these rolls are! Yes, I ate quite a few….just a few….TEE-HEE

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Hilda from The Chronicles of Hilda makes homemade pork spring rolls.

Move over homemade savory because Deepa’s Chocolate Dumplings are in town! I am a HUGE FAN of CHOCOLATE and DUMPLING…Why didn’t I think of this?!

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Deepa from One Small Pot creates Chocolate Dumplings.

Back to homemade savory and Annie brings to the table Vietnamese Spring Rolls, fancy some of that? Or ALL OF THAT? Yes, I do, I do!

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Annie from The Random Foodie wraps up a traditional homemade Vietnamese spring rolls.

No wait, there is one more guest who brings something sweet and it’s Stephanie. A mix of seaweed, sweet potato and coconut milk. It’s a simple Chinese dessert that can be served either hot or cold.

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Stephanie from A Little Bit of Tang brings Sweet potato soup from home.

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Rare to see an Egyptian rose in a cup. Fingers crossed Four Friends can put this in their beverage menu. 

We were near towards the end of our high tea and Katze prepared a special lucky dip. She told us to all write our names down on a piece of paper and she will collect it then draw a lucky name out and that person can claim their prize. I remember telling Amy to write my name because I didn’t have a pen, guess that’s a sign of bad luck but who would of guessed my dear friend Amy gave me luck and I managed to receive 50% Group Dining. Hip Hip HOORAY! Guess who will I be bringing ? :p

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Before we left, we all ended up downstairs staring  at the clear glass and on the other side it was filled with handmade chocolates that Katze makes for Four Friends. No way was I going to skip chocolate, just NO WAY!

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Four Friends chocolate box

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A selection of Four Friends chocolates. Chocolates range from ($2 – $2.50(cat, robot, spoon, teddy lollipop) ) per piece.

Four Friends also offers a selection of tea leaves to take home for ($8) a jar and guess who decided to take THREE home? 2 x Berry fairy and 1 x Celebration. Tea leaves are CALLING.

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Berry fairy fruit infusion tea jar ($8) 

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Celebration infusion tea jar ($8) (Please note: Celebration tea leaves are not for sale, however if you nicely ask Katze, I am sure she wouldn’t mind. Don’t tell her I you! :P)

If you are keen for high tea and love something different then Four Friends is the place to be. There is a range of delicious handmade chocolate to decent macarons but if you’re after Asian high tea then you better get here quick! Because next month is a new country theme. Did I forget to mention the price… well it’s $45 for TWO PEOPLE including a cup of tea each. That’s ridiculously a bargain for all of that! And you get dry ice jasmine ice-cream. Hello…what are you waiting for?! GO GO GO

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Four Friends High Tea (To celebrate February is Asian theme. Guess what country Four Friends is doing for March?) 😀

My previous visit at Four Friends can be found here or here. You can visit Four Friends Facebook or Instagram.

Disclaimer: Nessy Eater attended High Tea courtesy of Four Friends Cafe  (opportunity provided by polkadotPR). Opinions are however, Nessy Eater’s own.

Photos by Vanny Tang

Like to know more about Nessy Eater food adventures?

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