2042 CAFE & DELI

Cuisine: Modern Australian

The room evokes the feeling of a small country town cafe with its dripping wax candles and rustic furniture. Down the back is a small deli, which fights for attention with the seasonal menu. We kicked off with asparagus and poached eggs $15 and Petuna smoked salmon with beetroot fritter $17. Simple and delicious, the asparagus was perfectly cooked and the fritter, covered generously with smoked salmon, vanished as it hit the table. Fig, prosciutto, rocket and polenta salad $17 was more a layered sandwich than salad but delightful nonetheless. There is a heavy presence of meat on the mains menu, the fish of the day being the only seafood option. Service is eager and chatty and there’s a good selection of classic cocktails. Good for a quiet night out.

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Cuisine: Modern Australian,Mediterranean

From the antique wooden doors suspended from the ceiling to the monochrome seat covers, it’s clear why this place nabbed an interior design gong for its emphasis on recycled wares. The seasonal menu by ex-Claude’s chefs Jo Ward, Claire van Vuuren and Mitchell Grady delivers, too. Start with the house favourite of polenta chips with gorgonzola sauce $9, then perhaps share a socca, a chickpea and Persian feta pancake $15 and king prawns and pippies in XO sauce $29. Finish with a deconstructed dessert in which raspberry jelly sidles up to cheesecake under a sprinkling of spiced crumbs $12. Beer lovers can hook into long-necks, an amusing sight in a sea of fringes and skinny jeans. There’s often a line-up for tables, but this is one queue you should wait out.

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Cuisine: Modern Australian,Mediterranean,Vegan/Vegetarian,Malaysian,Chinese

If you’re vegan and gluten intolerant (the mock duck and mock chicken are made from gluten), worry not because wheat-free and low-gluten options are clearly marked. But all vegans will fall on this food with joy. The huge menu is full of inventive and flavoursome Thai food, the recipes perfected in cooking for temples across town. Maybe start with the selection of entrees for four $24.60 before trying an old favourite five spices mushroom tempura $15.80 and Szechuan-style eggplant $15.80. Roast “duck” curry $15 is terrific, while sticky rice with durian $7.50 in season is one for the durian lover. You can also go the self-serve buffet route: you pile your plate with whatever looks good and they charge you by weight. Very cheap. It’s pretty laid back, but the food is worth the wait. Also a branch at 538 Pacific Highway, St Leonards, Ph 9439 6533.

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Cuisine: Modern Australian,Mediterranean,Vegan/Vegetarian,Malaysian,Chinese,Thai,Vegan/Vegetarian

Here’s another vegan restaurant, so nothing with a face, no garlic, no onion, but you can bring a bottle of wine. And another good thing for most diners is they can order fish gut soup $6.50 and know there’s not a trace of fish gut. All the pads are lined up, including pad prik king with gluten “duck”, lime leaves and curry paste $15. There’s green, red, massaman and penang curries, among others, all $15 and all with soy meat. Papaya salad $15 and the crispy duck in the duck salad is scarily duck-like visually and texturally. There is, of course, a long Buddhist tradition of vegetarian food in Thailand (and Vietnam, for that matter), so these recipes are tried and tested. And they taste terrific.

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Cuisine: Modern Australian,Mediterranean,Vegan/Vegetarian,Malaysian,Chinese,Thai,Vegan/Vegetarian,Halal,Malaysian,Sri Lankan

There are two of these places in Newtown, the other at 277 King, and a third in Neutral Bay. If you like their indiscriminate and eclectic mix of southeast Asian and Subcontinental dishes, go to the website and check out the other eateries. We’ve invariably eaten well here and it’s fun to stack the table with, for example, nasi lemak $10, lamb kurma $12.90, goat biriyani $12.90 and fish-head curry $12.90. With such a wide-ranging menu, they’re bound to make the odd glitch but, hey, it’s good fun, it’s cheap and they have a good range of beers from the same places as the food.

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Cuisine: Modern Australian,Mediterranean,Vegan/Vegetarian,Malaysian,Chinese,Thai,Vegan/Vegetarian,Halal,Malaysian,Sri Lankan,Pakistani

Taka tak, taka tak — music for offal lovers from a chef wielding sharp-edged spatulas on a hot tawa, chopping up your choice of kapooray (testicles), gurday (kidneys) and dil (heart) with onions, chillies and freshly ground masala for this Lahori speciality $19.90, available also in chicken, lamb and vegetable $14.90. A dhal fry of al dente lentils in a tangy, thin sauce with green chillies and tomato $9.90 is a must-try, as is tandoori fish coated in a sublime cumin-accented gravy $9.90. It’s small; decor courtesy of an accident between a lava lamp, velour couch and plastic garden furniture; lighting is by Harsh and Co.; the service has enthusiasm if not finesse; but it’s a welcome addition to Subcontinental Sydney dining. 

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Cuisine: Modern Australian,Mediterranean,Vegan/Vegetarian,Malaysian,Chinese,Thai,Vegan/Vegetarian,Halal,Malaysian,Sri Lankan,Pakistani,Seafood

Kingfish Bistro evokes familiarity, thanks to the hostess’s warm greeting and the blackboard scribbled with specials. Everything shows attention to detail, from the complimentary starter to the water served in quirky recycled bottles. The menu is no different: entrees include Sydney rock oysters, red-wine vinegar and shallots, $13 for half a dozen or $25 for a dozen, and garlic prawns with parsley, butter and extra-virgin olive oil served in a claypot $15. For mains, the special North Queensland barra fillet with hand-cut chips and shallot butter sauce $27 is a winner; duck confit with spring onion mash, maple-scented greens and a sherry orange glaze $25 is homely yet gourmet. The night ends with chocolates on the house, a fine way to top off the meal.

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Cuisine: Modern Australian,Mediterranean,Vegan/Vegetarian,Malaysian,Chinese,Thai,Vegan/Vegetarian,Halal,Malaysian,Sri Lankan,Pakistani,Seafood,Modern Australian

A place designed for intimate dinners with loved ones, or small groups of old friends, Linda’s is the neighbourhood restaurant you’d love to have in your own ’hood. Settle into the soft pink room and get stuck into some of Linda’s well-cooked comfort food. Salmon tartare with wasabi cream, salmon roe and potato pancakes $17 is not a bad place to begin before moving on to something like slow-roasted pork belly with spiced plums $28. Linda dotes on her desserts and you might forgo the entree for a warm ginger cake with butterscotch sauce and sticky-date icecream $12 — but then you may as well do both.

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Cuisine: Modern Australian,Mediterranean,Vegan/Vegetarian,Malaysian,Chinese,Thai,Vegan/Vegetarian,Halal,Malaysian,Sri Lankan,Pakistani,Seafood,Modern Australian,Maltese

The good thing about this joint is that nothing changes — even the chandeliers are still hanging in their same old spot — except the passing parade. You want pastizzi? There are 17 of them, $1.80 each, and they’ve been miniaturised without losing any flavour. Try pea, lentil, cherry or chocolate; sit inside and eat or have your selection out of a bag on the street. Then there are the full sit-down meals, also available to take away. We tried very good whitebait fritters $15.90, served with a well-dressed salad, and a hugely satisfying penne della nonna of eggplant, capsicum and onion in a napoletana sauce $14.50. There are veal and chicken dishes $21–$24 and, if what we had is any indication, they’ll be far better than you expect. The whole family can enjoy the passing parade.

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Cuisine: Modern Australian,Mediterranean,Vegan/Vegetarian,Malaysian,Chinese,Thai,Vegan/Vegetarian,Halal,Malaysian,Sri Lankan,Pakistani,Seafood,Modern Australian,Maltese,Modern Australian

Rubyos defines its menu thus: “To graze — to eat a variety of appetisers as a full meal.” Replace the American appetiser with our entree and that’s what you do here. There’s hot grazing and cold grazing for lunch and dinner (as well as a standard breakfast menu). So get grazing. How about crunchy carrot, chickpea and apricot felafel $14.50 with parmesan and polenta-crumbed veal backstrap $11.50? Or go the cold graze on a salad of slow-cooked pork belly $16 and ceviche of deep-sea scallops $20. For those who can’t make up their minds, there’s Rubyos’ appetiser plate $23.50 and to wash it all down a good selection of beers, wines and cocktails. It’s grazing, OK? — not tapas.

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