"After years of continuous eating,'A Girl has to Eat', a self-confessed food lover and eat-aholic, has been spurred on to create her own food guide & blog. Read about her fabulous (and sometimes not so fabulous) culinary adventures in her restaurant reviews. This and more!"

Attica Restaurant – San Pellegrino No. 21 Best Restaurant in the World, 2013

Posted on Monday, 10th February 2014

In an age where foraging for ingredients is the vogue, Attica Restaurant in Melbourne has won out as the Australian restaurant which does this best. Chef Ben Shewry often wakes before dawn to forage for ingredients by the seashore. He also grows his own herbs and vegetables in his two gardens, one of which is situated behind the restaurant, the other in Ripponlea Estate in Melbourne. Foraging and cultivating such beautiful produce for use in his inspired cooking has earned him and Attica many awards including Chef of the Year 2014 and Restaurant of the Year 2014 from The Age (an Australian newspaper). In 2013 Attica also came in at No. 21 in the San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants list.

The décor at Attica Restaurant is understated yet comfortable. There’s an air of expectation as you walk into the dining room. You can sense a purposeful energy in the way the waiting staff go about their business, as if the staff know that they onto a good product and that they truly believe in it.

While we perused the menu – an 8 course-tasting menu for $190 (about £102) – we were treated to some gorgeous homemade rye bread topped with wattle seeds, a rich Jersey home churned butter, and an incredibly delicious macadamia purée topped with a smoked macadamia oil and quandong (a natrive Australian fruit) powder. The combination of the two made for a thrilling taste sensation.

Attica Restaurant - The bread

Attica Restaurant – The bread

Next were the amuse bouches, the first of which was an unusual mushroom leaf to be dipped in a fermented corn juice with forest anise. The leaf is a native of Papua New Guinea and apparently only 25% of people can taste its mushroom flavour. We weren’t one of those people, but the leaf was fresh and inherently interesting when eaten with the intense, almost hollandaise like nature of the fermented corn juice. Alongside the leaves were some pickled chantenay carrots which were crunchy and sharply acidic.

Attica Restaurant - Mushroom leaves, corn puree and carrots

Mushroom leaves, corn puree and carrots

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No. 8 by John Lawson at Crown Melbourne

Posted on Thursday, 6th February 2014

No. 8 by John Lawson is an upmarket restaurant offering modern Australian cooking using prime local ingredients in an urban setting. The restaurant is located in the Crown Melbourne, a multi-entertainment complex with a hotel, a casino, bars and a plethora of dining options including Nobu and Rockpool Bar & Grill by Neil Perry.

As the name suggests, the Executive Chef of No. 8 is John Lawson. Essex born, Chef Lawson has worked in some notable restaurants including the two Michelin starred Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons, Aurora in London’s five star Great Eastern Hotel and Daniel Boulud’s three Michelin starred fine dining restaurant, Daniel. Chef Lawson was also part of the opening team for Gordon Ramsay’s New York venture at The London and was the Executive Chef at Maze Melbourne before it closed.

Our first starter was a foie gras and chicken liver parfait with sweet mulberries and toasted sourdough ($24 – about £12.90). It was beautifully creamy and flavoursome with the mulberries working well with the parfait. The bread was good, but some buttery brioche might have worked better than the sourdough.

No. 8 by John Lawson - Foie Gras

Foie Gras

Two generous pieces of Portland black and blue tuna (£22 – about £11.80) had been gently seared and were thick, meaty and tasty. Accompanying the tuna was some black garlic, yuzu jam and aged soy which were pleasant. There were also slices of daikon (radish) for a touch of tang and some almond mushrooms, so called as they tasted like mushrooms soaked in amaretto. These added an interesting touch to the dish.

No. 8 by John Lawson - Tuna

Tuna

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Glass Brasserie Hilton Hotel Sydney

Posted on Monday, 3rd February 2014

Glass Brasserie is The Sydney Hilton Hotel’s signature restaurant by Australian celebrity chef and restaurateur Luke Mangan. Chef Mangan cultivated his craft at Michel Roux ‘s 3 Michelin starred Waterside Inn, leading to the contemporary French influence that marks his cooking. Chef Mangan operates a string of restaurants in Australia and Asia, and in addition to having written best-selling cookbooks and a string of TV appearances, Chef Mangan famously cooked at the wedding of Crown Prince Frederik and Princess Mary of Denmark. Glass Brasserie has won a number of awards including the much coveted ‘One-Hat’ from the Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Food Guide.

Glass Restaurant holds an impressive 240 seats and has been lusciously refurbished in dark glossy tones by the highly claimed New York designer Tony Chi. Glass Brasserie is comfortable and glossy. It makes for a restaurant well suited for power lunches, especially as The Hilton Hotel in Sydney is a hub for business meetings and corporate travellers.

We went for the degustation menu ($140 – about £76.40), beginning with an amuse bouche
 of pumpkin soup with croutons and feta. It was really lovely with a pleasant sweetness. The croutons and feta added a nice contrasting touch to the soup.

Glass Brasserie - pumpkin soup

Pumpkin soup

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The Dining Room Restaurant, Park Hyatt Hotel Sydney

Posted on Monday, 27th January 2014

The Dining Room Restaurant in The Park Hyatt Hotel occupies one of the most prime positions on Sydney Harbour. It sits under the Harbour Bridge and is located directly across from the Opera House, thus offering an incredible bird’s eye view of this timeless Australian institution. The Dining Room is the Park Hyatt Hotel’s signature restaurant, one of the most luxurious 5-star hotels in Sydney. The restaurant’s decor is every bit as sumptuous as the hotel (helped in no small part by the beautiful views) and comes with a revamped menu following the recent appointment of its new Head Chef Franck Detrait who joined in October 2013. Chef Detrait has cooked in many notable restaurants in France including the one-star Michelin restaurant Vendôme in Paris where he worked closely with the highly acclaimed Jean-Francois Rouquette.

The Opera House at Dusk, from The Dining Room Restaurant

The Opera House at Dusk, from The Dining Room Restaurant

The tasting menu was great value at $95 (about £51) and was hard to pass up. But first we celebrated the beauty of Sydney Harbour with some Sydney rock oysters ($5 each – about £2.70) which were fabulously fresh. The delicious shallot vinegar dressing was also well judged for both sweetness and acidity and complemented the oysters nicely.

The Dining Room - Sydney rock oysters

Sydney rock oysters

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Altitude Restaurant Shangri-La Hotel Sydney

Posted on Monday, 20th January 2014

As the name suggests, Altitude Restaurant is perched high up in the sky, in this case the 36th Floor of the glamorous 5-star Shangri-La Hotel in The Rocks Area of Sydney. With its floor-to-ceiling windows, Altitude offers some of the most amazing panoramic views of Sydney Harbour imaginable.

Night views from Altitude Restaurant

Night views from Altitude Restaurant

But it’s more than just the views that make Altitude Restaurant a knockout destination. The restaurant has won numerous accolades including the Australian Hotels Association (AHA) 2013 restaurant of the year award. Before heading up the kitchen at Altitude, Chef Matthew McCool ran the kitchen at the renowned Aria Restaurant at The China World Hotel in Beijing. And prior to his Beijing stint, Chef McCool spent a number of years fine tuning his craft at some famous London restaurants including Bank, Chez Bruce, Tom Aikens and Gordon Ramsay’s Maze.

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Gowings Bar and Grill Sydney

Posted on Monday, 13th January 2014

Gowings was an Australian department store chain that specialised in men’s casual clothing and camping gear. Opening in 1868, it became an Australian institution with its iconic ‘Gowings’ building on the corner of Market and George Street, Sydney. Sadly Gowings went into administration in 2006 and so Gowings the department store is no more. Today, TopShop occupies the ground floor space that was once Gowings. However the name continues to live on in the guise of Gowings Bar and Grill which is part of the QT Hotel.

Gowings Bar and Grill is neatly perched above TopShop and is styled as a contemporary European brasserie with an edgy modern design. The restaurant holds a One Chef’s Hat as awarded by The Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Food Guide. The menu features a selection of raw fish, chilled crustaceans and salads, as well as rotisserie birds, wood fired oven cookery and steaks from the grill.

Gowings Bar and Grill

Gowings Bar and Grill

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Flesh and Buns

Posted on Monday, 6th January 2014

Flesh and Buns is the latest Izakaya restaurant by the people from Bone Daddies, the successful ramen restaurant founded by chef Ross Shonhan who previously worked at Nobu and Zuma. The concept of Flesh and Buns centres around hirata buns, folded steamed buns commonly filled with pork. Here, you have a choice of different fillings, all of which are accompanied by salad, a sauce and pickles. You create your own buns here, filling them however you wish. And as a precursor to the buns, there are also a choice of raw dishes, snacks and small dishes.

Flesh and Buns has a common appeal. Not only is its concept of ‘flesh and buns’ original, the décor is funky and appealing with a buzzy vibe. The centrepiece of the restaurant is a long sharing table, and circling the table are cozy booth seats and round tables.

We kicked off with a tuna tataki with grapefruit, dry miso, coriander (£10) which was truly lovely. The tuna was fresh, the use of dry miso added depth, and the coriander provided a fresh fragrance to the dish. There were also little beads of dried rice which gave the dish a crunchy finish.

Flesh and Buns - Tuna tataki

Tuna tataki

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Malta Vacation: Indulging In Maltese Food

Posted on Thursday, 2nd January 2014

One of the highlights of a holiday to Malta is the food. The island has been occupied by many cultures throughout its history and all have left their mark in the food, making it a vibrant and unusual cuisine. These occupiers included the Italians, the Spanish and the British; there is also a strong Arabic influence in Maltese dishes. Historically, the Knights of St John were based on Malta. These men came from across Europe and brought their native dishes with them, some of which were adopted and adapted by the Maltese. For example, the Maltese dish aljotta originates from the French fish soup, bouillabaisse.

Have you decided on Malta for your next trip abroad? Your last minute holidays to malta is something that you will cherish because of the country’s rich culinary tradition.

Cucina Povera

Much of Maltese cuisine is based on traditional food cooked by poor people. This is called ‘Cucina Povera’, which translates to ‘poor kitchen’. One common Cucina Povera dish is even called ‘Widow’s Soup’! As such, Cucina Povera recipes usually contain seasonal and fresh vegetables, cheaper cuts of meat and perhaps some local cheeses.

Italian-style Food

Due to the Italian history of the island and its geographical closeness to Italy, traditional Italian dishes such as pasta are very popular on Malta. Much of the Italian influence in Malta’s food comes from nearby Sicily.

Fish and Meat

As an island, seafood is a regular source of meat for the Maltese. A fish called Lampuki is served, sometimes grilled and sometimes in Lampuki Pie. A type of rabbit stew cooked with peas and wine, known as fenkata, is also commonly served. Bragioli is stuffed beef with a tomato and herb sauce.

Snacks and Appetisers

Try bigilla (broad beans with garlic) and hobz biz-zjet, which is bread with oil. In short, Maltese food is varied, exciting and one of the main reasons to look forward to your holiday to the island! Make sure you try plenty of different dishes to explore the range of Maltese cuisine.

Note: This is a guest sponsored blog post.