MEET on Darby Street is turning up the heat over the long weekend with a Latin fusion of Mexican and Brazilian flavours.
"Our inspiration was to research the different regions of Mexico and find some flavours that would both be a good match to our style of cooking and new to customers. Mexican cuisine is a lot more than tacos, burritos and quesadillas and we are really excited to explore these ideas and put this menu together," MEET owner and chef Luciano Cruz told Food & Wine.
"The idea is to use their flavours and cook it our way, over charcoal and natural wood in an open fire.
"We will have a DJ at the bar from 8pm to midnight for those who, after dinner, want to sip some cocktail specials from our mixology specialist Evan Bennett, such as Paloma, Rosita and El Diablo."
On the all-you-can-eat Mexican churrasco menu ($59) are dishes like smoked brisket chilli con carne, Oaxacan-style BBQ pork ribs, chicken thigh in Ancho marinade and lamb barbacoa, plus too many sides to list here.
Books are now being taken (October 3 to 5). Sounds like a good night out.
Spring into Schilly Thai Fusion
Spring has sprung and casual eats in the sunshine is very much the flavour of the day. The Corner at Charlestown Square fits the bill, where Schilly Thai Fusion is just one of the cuisines that can be enjoyed on the grass while listening to live music.
You might be familiar with the big red food truck called Schillykick. Owned by husband and wife team Lou and Rocki Suksamosorn, its menu includes delicious and thought-provoking Thai-fusion tacos. These days, they also have a permanent shopfront at The Corner, Charlestown Square, called Schilly Thai Fusion.
"We started Schillykickk in a marquee at the local farmers markets just as a casual Sunday gig in March, 2017," Lou told Food & Wine.
"We then invested in a food truck the following year and ran it as our full-time gig. We had an opportunity to have our truck at The Corner over Christmas when they opened. This led to opening a shop there, which was perfect timing as we were already looking for a space to have as a permanent set-up."
Lou has worked "in various hospitality roles here and overseas for the past 15 years" while Rocki grew up around food in Bangkok, where his parents owned a restaurant. He completed his formal chef training in Melbourne.
Customers can expect the unexpected at Schilly Thai Fusion. Lou and Rocki don't follow the Thai restaurant template.
"You definitely won't find any pad Thai on the menu," Lou said.
"We try to create unique flavour and food combinations but mainly only use Thai and South East Asian ingredients. The inspiration for this is Rocki's passion to bring modern Western food alive with the diversity in which Asian ingredients can be used. The menu grew organically with that in mind and the Thai Tacos were something we enjoyed making and eating at home. But since opening the restaurant, the Southern fried chicken roti wraps have quickly become our most popular item on the menu."
The restaurant's fit-out has a trendy street-food vibe and Rocki has been excelling himself in the kitchen of late, with all sorts of unique flavour combinations finding a place on the menu. For example, for a short time Peanut Butter & Jelly Roti was being offered: fried tenders with Schilly's satay sauce, cranberry jam, roasted nuts and marinated cucumber wrapped in a flaky paratha roti. Ramen dishes also flew out the door.
Lou says opening in mid-March just as COVID hit has been "a bit of a rollercoaster".
"We quickly had to change our business plan to delivery and pick-up only. With all our market experience and already having contacts with packaging companies and so on it wasn't a massive blow, but it was definitely disheartening walking into a brand new restaurant every day with all the tables and chairs packed away.
"However, it was actually a really great time to share our food with a whole new audience we possibly would never have reached if we hadn't offered those services. Since then we have been able to open our doors and offer a sit-down experience as well as home delivery and take away.
"We can't thank you enough, those who have supported us since opening. We feel the worst is behind us and look forward to a super busy spring trade."
You can now enjoy Schilly Thai Fusion seven days, 11am to 9pm. It's licensed and on Taco Tuesday, three tacos and a pint will set you back just $21.
Burger of the week
Now this is a burger worth mentioning. Rascal's Burger of the Week is "The Sukimama" - Wagyu patty, cheese, two hotteok (handmade kimchi and cheese stuffed pancakes), crispy flat Sukimama pork and beef dumpling, kimchi and pear slaw, sweet soy dressing, onions and pickles.
Rascal's Tim Montgomery says it's "possibly our most delicious and exciting collaboration. We have teamed up with Sukimama, Newcastle Korean street food and dumpling royalty, to create a truly unique burger experience".
"This is a collaboration that was going to happen just before COVID-19 so we're terribly excited that it's finally happening," Sukimama's Suki Kwon told Food & Wine.
"Rascal will also have Korean beer and Korean rice wine Soju to complete the whole experience."
Be quick, though. It's only available at Rascal until Sunday.
Pork Ewe platters
Pork Ewe Deli at Mayfield has partnered with The Cru Bar & Pantry at Brokenwood Wines in Pokolbin and is curating their cheese boards. On offer are The Hogs Head Grazing Platter and The Barrique Cheese Board. Book ahead to dine in via Brokenwood's website or pop in to pick up a platter.
Congratulations to Emerson Rodriguez, whose Lovedale restaurant Emerson's is celebrating its 10th anniversary this week.
Mystery meal returns
Moreish Mystery Mondays has returned to the Commonwealth Hotel at Cooks Hill. Pay $35 and you get a mystery three-course meal (plus bread) designed by the resident chefs. Monday's dessert was orange cheesecake with raspberry caramel and pistachio popcorn, blood orange sorbet and Persian floss. Worth a look.
Read more: New owners overhaul a Cooks Hill institution
Freebie of the week
Get inspired and discover your own unique style of baking with Instagram sensation Caroline Khoo, founder of online desserts boutique Nectar and Stone.
I'm Just Here for Dessert is generously packed with the recipes, techniques and clever styling tips behind some of her most popular creations. Master the basic skills and recreate these stunning confections, or use the concept-building processes in each layer of this book to help you uncover your own unique style.
I'm Just Here for Dessert is out now through Murdoch Books, RRP $39.99. Food & Wine has a copy to give away. To enter, send the words "I'm Just Here For Dessert" with your name, address and number to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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