Having your exams finish early is always a joy, but there are also the downsides. Less time to study being one… the other being that there’s no one to celebrate the end of exams with!
Luckily this semester I didn’t have to wait long. Girlfriend Lara Croft also had her last exam for her degree this week, and so we had organised a little outing around the city during the evening for celebratory dinner and drinks.
The rain was sprinkling on and off, as it had all day. We started off with $10 Mojito cocktails at one of my favourite bars in the Sydney CBD: La Bodeguita del Medio.
It’s a little-known Cuban bar behind the QVB and on a Friday night the upstairs bar was crammed full of suits, everyone sucking down on one of their legendary Mojitos, which are $10 every day. A good ratio of mint, lime, sugar, soda and RUM. Their White Sangria, which is about $25 a jug from memory, is also the best I’ve ever had. They serve quality Tequila (not sure of the brand) in glasses slightly larger than shot glasses, where you sip on it. It’s legendary stuff, not the dishwashing liquid that you take with lemon and salt.
However we only had a Mojito each tonight, and watched the bartender as he generously poured white rum into each – it definitely was more than two drinks, judging by our uneven gait a little while afterwards! Downstairs had Cuban music playing and while the dim lighting was intimate, it was a little loud for good conversation, so we left the venue to head just a little further back the way we came to Nazimi, a Japanese restaurant.
You traipse down the short flight of stairs to the restaurant, just a little below ground level. The interior is very authentically Japanese, with the Japanese patterned wall-hangings and ornaments. The restaurant was about three-quarters full, surprising for shy of 6.30pm, although it was a Friday night. After an inquiry as to whether we had made a booking and receiving a negative from us, the waiter had a cursory look around at the remaining tables (all of which had ‘Reserved’ plaques on them), before removing one with a flourish and inviting us to sit down and bringing us the laminated menus.
We decided to have a couple of dishes to share instead of being stuck with the dishes we had each ordered, so me being the foodie, I got to wear the pants this time I ordered one Soft Shell Crab Agedashi, one Karaage Chicken, and one Salmon Avocado Roll, as well as hot green tea for the two of us. The green tea was the perfect temperature and so was a lovely green. I was delighted to see that not only did we have the cutest little cups and teapot, but that they had used tea leaves instead of tea bags or powder.
The Soft Shell Crab Agedashi ($10.80) came out first, some large pieces of silken tofu covered in batter and gloriously fried, sitting in a pool of light soy broth, with some similarly gloriously fried portions of crispy soft shell crab on top and a large scattering of Bonito flakes on top, hissing softly and curling in on themselves.
Next to arrive was the Karaage Chicken ($7.80), pieces of succulent chicken thigh that had been lightly battered before being fried. It was served with a honey mustard sauce which neither of us particularly favoured – while it was sweet, it had a lingering aftertaste that reminded me of wasabi but without the heat. We ended up dipping the chicken into our little dishes of soy, which we preferred.
To appease the sushi-loving Lara Croft and my own salmon cravings, the last dish to arrive was the Salmon & Avocado Roll ($13.50): eight pieces of fresh salmon sashimi and creamy avocado wrapped in an inside-out roll, topped with more salmon sashimi. The salmon was wonderfully rippled with fat, so the pieces weren’t uber lean nor the gelatinous pieces of belly which I’m not a fan of. The pieces were large and I couldn’t stuff the whole piece in my mouth without looking like a total pig, so of course it fell everywhere when I tried to split it into smaller bites. Messy, but so satisfying and it elicited generous compliments from the both of us.
After paying the bill, we were thanked profusely by the waiters and waitresses in the delightful way that so many authentic Japanese restaurants do, in Japanese with a little bow. It was finally time for dessert, and with us being at Town Hall, we decided to work up an appetite by walking the distance to our favourite haunt, Baroque, in The Rocks. By this time the rain was pouring down but it did little to dampen our spirits.
We arrived at Baroque a short time later, with our jean bottoms thoroughly puddle-dipped. At the moment, you can drop by for just dessert, although seating for dessert is strictly outside. While the outside has a generous awning and large, comfortable chaise lounges, armchairs, leather sofas and the like with cushions and outdoor heaters aplenty, the breeze and rain still made it a bit nippy and not 100 per cent cosy. It would be much nicer when the weather improves!
Service was busy tonight, which is good as I had heard they had been fairly quiet as of late. After some deliberation I had an old favourite of mine, the Pompadour: Raspberry mousse, passion fruit cremeux almond nougatine ($10) and an Apple Thief Cider ($8).
While Lara Croft also had an Apple Thief Cider but opted for the decadent Zulu ($12): Valrhona ‘Araguani’ chocolate mousse, salted caramel and dark chocolate ganache, with a mini chocolate macaron, although she opted for a Salted Caramel Macaron instead because she has a weak spot for them.
Both desserts came lavishly decorated with crumble, a (very quickly melting) quenelle of ice cream, drops of the lightest vanilla custard and orange gel.
Polishing off as much of our icy cold cider as we could, we declared the end of the night…almost.
Surely you didn’t expect me to leave empty-handed? Six macarons were a must. From left to right, I chose a new flavour, the Orange, Lime & Coconut, two of the Jasmine as The Sister and I always squabble over it, a Passionfruit, one Strawberry (which I’ve never seen at Baroque), and a classic Salted Caramel. All were divine, but I expected no less!
The perfect night to christen the beginning of my holidays xx
La Bodeguita del Medio
125 York St, Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9264 4224
141 York St, Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9283 2990
Baroque Bistro & Patisserie
88 George St, The Rocks NSW 2000
(02) 9241 4811