Sunday, 26 August 2012

St. Elmo Dining Room and Bar – 22 Fletcher Street, Byron Bay

This post is so overdue, but finally I have the pics so I can show you what we had and tell you about this Byron Bay restaurant.

First of all, I have to say I had my first Espresso Martini here and OMG was it amazing!  Creamy on top and with a big strong hit of sweet caffeine.  I was tired and needed something alcoholic but with a hit and wasn’t red bull and vodka, so this was the beverage of choice.  The drinks menu is impressive so if you have time, stay longer and sample the many cocktails and wines.

This is the Espresso Martini x 2, by the end of the night I think it was x4!  And the Pimms Cup which is Pimms, mint, orange, cucumber topped with lemonade and dry.  Had a sip of this and it was faaresh and zingy!

The menu is tapas style, so we order a heap of dishes, the special of the day was roasted pork belly!!!  They must’ve heard I was coming to town!

First up was the cured meats. 

This is the Morcon Picante - Spanish style salami with guindillas, which are chilli peppers/capsicums.  I loved the big meaty bits and how there wasn't much fat to it.  With some fresh bread, olive oil and a bit of the peppers it was really a great way to ease into the meal. 7/10

Sorry about the blurry pic here, it was on the other end of the table. . .  This is the Jamon Serrano,  Spanish ham with tomato bread.  If I recall correctly this was like a mild proscuitto.  This is why I should write these reviews very soon after it was devoured. Pretty ordinary, 5.5/10.

Impressive photo below of the Ensalada De Lechuga Romana also known as the salad  of baby cos with white anchovies, crisp capers, boiled egg, croutons and guindilla dressing.  I love the fleshiness of the anchovies and the dressing was pretty tasty too.  7/10.

This is another salad we had, and for the life of me I can't remember what it was, and it isn't on the menu anymore.  I think it was goats cheese, beetroot, orange and rocket?  It was an interesting mix for a posh salad. 6/10, I'm not a huge leaf fan.

This was the special of roast pork belly with chickpeas, broccolini and roast potatoes.  We got two of these plates of soft, salty, fall apart pork meat goodness but I still somehow managed to miss out on the crackling to my great disappointment!!!  The servings were rather small despite being full of flavour, so I give this daily special a score of 7.5/10, maybe more or less if I had some of the crackling. . .


Below is the Carrillera De Vaca, slow cooked beef cheeks in caramelised red wine with cauliflower puree, fried bread crumbs and thyme.  This cut of meat is starting to make it's way higher and higher on my list of dishes to order when on a menu and getting closer to pork belly.  When cooked correctly with an abundance of flavour and textures it is awesome.  This in particular had so many levels of flavour, the crunchy bits of bread crumbs and thyme were so good in amongst the rich red wine sauce and the shreds of soft beef.  This was the highlight of the night.  8.5/10.


Chorizo con judias negras y pimiento de piquillo - which basically is pan fried chorizo with piquillo peppers, black beans, cider and almonds.  The chorizo wasn't very salty which is a good thing, I hate chorizo when it's too salty you can't taste anything else.  The black beans made this a more substantial dish.  The piquillo pepper is from northern Spain and tastes more like capsicum rather than a chilli.  7/10.


We had to have a seafood dish so we had this, mussels and clams with some type of aioli on top.   It's the first time I've had mussels with aioli.  Usually it's on the side with my pomme frites.   It was good though, the creaminess of it went well with the seafood creaminess of the plump orange sea morsels.  The clams are harder to get out and not as satisfying as the mussels.  7/10.


After a few drinks each and the assortment of Spanish inspired dishes we were too full for dessert.

St. Elmo Dining Room and Bar is a nicely decked out space with the feature bar,  moody lighting and dark wood tones dark enough for romantic dates yet light enough to be able to see what you are eating.  I would recommend this place for a nice evening out in Byron, although I think it's a bit overpriced for what the food was in comparison to Sydney restaurants, but hey we were away for the weekend.

St Elmo on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Paisley - I love it!

There are so many things that I love and never get sick of in the world of fashion.  One of those things is paisley. Paisley prints never go out.  Each season designers create new takes on the age old motif.  Here are some cool images from my many folders of research. 

Jill Sander

Stella McCartney


Simple paisley
Simple & chic

J Crew

Mara Hoffman

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Lee Central Park Chinese Restaurant - Unit 18A - 20A, 4 Central Ave, Thornleigh

It’s my Grandpa Lee's 93rd birthday and we are eating out at his favourite restaurant, the name is just a coincidence. I think I mentioned this in one of my previous posts, but Lee Central Park Chinese is one of those restaurants we have been going to for an easy 10 years. It’s close to where my Grandpa lives and where I grew up. When you’re onto a good thing why change right? I used to be so sick of this place but as I ashamedly say, I go back home less often than I should, so now I look forward to making the trek over the bridge for some good old Chinese fare. Although I’m thinking next family get together I need to take everyone to the newly opened Mr. Wong. Which funnily enough is my other grandpa’s name! 

Anyway after all these years I’m going to actually think about what I am eating and try to write about the dishes (that I have eaten so many times before) constructively and try and convince some readers to try this Chinese institution in the Hills. 

Ok, so I’m writing the rest of this later in the week. Do you know that at most proper Chinese restaurants you get a free starter soup? What we had was a clear soup of pork bones with carrot. Apparently very nourishing. I love this soup. It’s so simple and tasty with the soft carrot and bits of fall off the bone pork meat. (Sorry bad photo, I forgot to take it at the start). I don’t know how such good flavour gets into this slightly cloudy liquid of goodness. Must find this out from my mum. 

For some reason we decided to order another soup . . . oh, it was a freezing cold night, that’s why my dad wanted it I guess. Glad he did, as it was a yummy brown thick liquid, which consisted of shredded duck meat, dried scallops, bamboo shoots, tiny strips of black fungus for some crunch and shitake mushrooms. It’s the “non” shark fin version of shark fin soup. I love this soup with red vinegar. It’s the best! You need the sharpness to cut through the salty thickness of it all. Seriously if you haven’t had shark fin soup and the thought of it repulses you then you need to try this duck one instead. It’s delish and a 3rd of the price. I rate it 8.5/10

As always we order a whole heap of dishes to share. I don’t get people who go to Chinese and Thai restaurants and only order 1 dish to themselves! It’s crazy. The idea is to share people! Although I understand there are food conditions. Anyway we order the following. . . .

Battered pork ribs stir-fried in plum sauce (the non Western version of sweet and sour pork) – Love this as the bones in the ribs make it a tastier version of just pork chunks. Sweet but salty and the chunks of capsicum and pineapple give it some crunch and a feeling of a little healthiness in there. 7/10

Tofu hotpot with cabbage – Subtle flavour of oyster sauce and garlic. I like the big chunks of cabbage and the fried tofu that have gone all soft from the cooking in the mini clay pot. This tastes better with chilli sauce. 6.5/10 

Wasabi beef – A kind of new addition to the Chinese menu. New as in 5 years ago it appeared on menus after eating Chinese my whole life. Thanks Japan. This version was a good version, salty and the right amount of hotness from the wasabi. Also the meat was soft and not chewy at all, which it can be at other places. 8/10.

Stir-fry of sugar snap peas and scallops in XO sauce – Love the freshness of the peas, totally cooked perfectly and the scallops were pretty juicy too. Only thing wrong, there wasn’t enough hit of the XO sauce. I added chilli sauce. 8/10 

Braised barramundi with re-hydrated tofu sheets and pickled cabbage – This is a dish you have to try. It’s a whole barra steamed with a black bean sauce. In this sauce is the tofu sheets which is a weird texture to describe. I suppose it’s like a slightly chewy piece of rice noodle, but it’s tofu. I don’t know you got to try it. This along with the sweet salty cabbage is great; oh I shouldn’t forget the fish. You’d think the sauce and all the other elements would over power the fish, but all the flavours and textures work so well. This version is great, but there is another version with bitter melon that I love too. 8.5/10

Honey prawns – Ok, so I admit Asians do order the Western dishes too. And I admit this was my choice for the dinner. I was craving some sweetness and I know that Lee Central do good honey prawns. The batter is light and crunchy coated lightly in the sticky honey and the prawns are a good size. 8/10.

Snow pea sprouts with shitake and abalone mushrooms – We always have to have a vege dish. This kind of braised vege is with a garlic and oyster sauce of course and slightly thick from the corn-flour addition which Asian food is so known for. Some chefs are pretty heavy handed with this which totally turns me off, but that’s another story. The mushrooms on top are a good addition and add more flavour to the sauce. The abalone mushrooms have a very strong flavour and are quite chewy, just like abalone! 6.5/10

White fungus sweet soup – This is free too, but we were still all a bit disappointed when this big bowl came out. We were all hoping for red bean soup dessert. Oh well. It’s a pretty sweet clear soup with chunks of clear jelly-fish like fungus. Again this sweet “soup” has good health properties. This one is supposedly good for cleansing the liver. I so need a liver detox but I only eat 3 mouthfuls, I just don’t like it. 4/10

For my Grandpa's birthday we specially ordered the Longevity buns.   They are meant to be peaches which traditionally represent immortality and long life.  They are bouncy fluffy balls of dough, tastes like the BBQ pork buns from yum-cha but with a lotus sweet bean paste in the middle. I was so full, but I had to eat it to be polite.  

Not sure how many people who read this will go to Thornleigh. But if you’re going to be in the area give it a go. It is a good reliable Chinese restaurant at reasonable prices.  Mains from $17 up to $100 for the market price of seafood by the kilo.  It’s good that the owners know how to be hospitable to both the traditional Chinese customers and numerous tables of Westerners too who are enjoying themselves, which is great to see.

Lee Central Park Chinese Restaurant on Urbanspoon
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