Pimp My Plate #13 – Dee Why

PIMP MY PLATE is my weekly series of reviews of cafés and restaurants in city and regional areas. My food challenge to have my lunch-or-brunch plate pimped for $18 or less. *In November 2016 BUTTERCUP reopened as JB & SONS


I was on my way to review a different café in Dee Why when I drove past BUTTERCUP and spontaneously decided to find a park, and review it instead.

BUTTERCUP is a just short walk from Dee Why beach. Unlike the other cafes it doesn’t have a beach view, but it has a beachy colour scheme, and you are greeted with a sunny smile. Besides, today’s view of the beach offered a grey blur, with large clumps of seaweed marooned on the sand – a great day to be indoors.

Inside the café-bar-restaurant the vibe is friendly and welcoming and relaxing, and isn’t that what the beach experience is all about.

I scanned the menu and ordered two items from the range of Snacks: Smoked Cauliflower Nuggets, and Salt and Native Pepper Squid. Add a side of Salad Greens and you have a hearty meal.

Deep fried Cauliflower floret fritters (try saying that fast!) are a thing at the moment and for good reason.

Smoked? I must try them.

Smoked Cauliflower Nuggets with Lemon Pepper Mayo ($9) are pieces of cauliflower dipped in beer batter, using Baldwin & Simspons Lager from nearby microbrewery, Brookvale Brewery.

These ‘nuggets’ have a nice chewy mouth feel, and an intense smoky flavour.

‘Liquid smoke?’ I asked, ‘No, we smoke them ourselves’. With a smile, I’ll leave that there.

The reality is that BUTTERCUP do all their own pickling, curing, and smoking, with the aim of serving ‘hearty food inspired by country Australia’. A nice point of difference for an urban café. Yes, Dee Why is urban, and heading close to urbane.

Did someone say chilli? The little pot of vibrant red House Chilli on my plate of Salt and Native Pepper Squid ($12) is a standout. This ‘house’ chilli pickle is packed with plenty of flavour and fire – my kind of chilli condiment.

I find ordering squid is always a lottery. I’m glad to say that’s not the case here – the pieces of squid were so tender that my knife cut through them like butter, and it was a joy to eat. And their use of Native Pepper instead of black peppercorns was a nice variation. I want more of this, and I’ll be back!

Native Pepper is an Australian native shrub, also known as pepperberry, or mountain pepper. It typically grows in gullies and rainforests in Tasmania, Victoria, and some parts of NSW. The dried leaves and berries are used as a spice in food and drink recipes and it’s considered a ‘bushfood’.

I recommend pairing it with a plate of Salad Greens ($7) for a hearty and good value meal.

Another must-try-because-I-didn’t is the Charred Broccoli with Confit Salmon, Peas, Dill, and Chilli ($17), which would also make a nice lunch.

The bar is fully stocked, and some Thursday evenings the bar offers a $10 cocktail special.

There’s a lot to like about BUTTERCUP and as autumn leaves fall, and bikinis and beach towels are replaced by woolly jumpers – or wetsuits – it’s reassuring to know a place to hibernate indoors with some heart-warming food, and cocktails. Who needs a beach view in Winter?

RATED: Pimped!  FOOD: 4/5
VALUE: 5/5  ATMOS: 4.5/5  VIBE: Talk.Eat.Drink.Relax.
BUTTERCUP – 154-158 Pacific Parade, Dee Why, NSW (7 days)

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Pimp My Plate #12 – Mona Vale

PIMP MY PLATE is my weekly series of reviews of cafés and restaurants in city and regional areas. My food challenge to have my lunch-or-brunch plate pimped for $18 or less.

ROUGH & BARE Wholefood Kitchen

If you’re heading in a northerly direction towards Mona Vale Beach, take your tastebuds on a detour, and make a quick left turn off busy Pittwater Road into Waratah Street. Take another right turn and you’ll find ROUGH & BARE squeezed down the end of Bungan Lane.

It’s a detour for your consciousness as well as your tastebuds, because this kitchen is as committed to sustainable farming practices, as it is to serving fresh produce.

The philosophy of ROUGH & BARE is to ‘create meals the way nature intended – stripped back, nourishing and wholesome.’ And to ‘serve the best quality, organic, pasture-fed and wild caught food’. Yes, please!

ROUGH & BARE are catering to a healthy clientele with a menu ‘rich in ingredients like meat, vegetables, nuts, seeds and fruit’ rather than catering exclusively for a gluten-free or vegetarian clientele.

That energy flows into their hospitality too – staff at ROUGH & BARE are friendly, happy, happy to please you, and professional.

Their menu plates hover around $20 + so I chose the option nearest my budget, the Heirloom Vegetable Salad, with Seeded Crackers and Salmon Pâté ($19.90), although I wasn’t really in the mood for a salad, after a tough yoga session that morning.

That is, until I saw my plate of harvest of heirloom vegetables arrive, looking as vibrant and fresh as if they’d been plucked out the soil only minutes ago.

The salad was sensational – a colourful harvest of young heirloom carrots, white and red radish, sliced fennel bulb, and cucumber – served with two dips: beetroot, and sweet potato. The vegetables were fresh, crunchy, hydrating and satisfying.

Their Seeded Crackers are the ‘bizness’ and are made on site. Smeared with salmon pâté they are an instant palate pleaser – crunchy, chewy, and textured, using a delicious mixture of activated nuts and seeds including buckwheat, chia, millet, quinoa and sorghum. It’s worth a drive just to eat these!

I also ordered a Golden Latte ($6.50), containing turmeric. It arrived with a tiny bowl of honey, and a complementary bliss ball. Thank you!

Now to my score … the only thing that pulled my dining experience back from a top score were the flies. No one likes being buzzed by flies while they eat. It was an unseasonably hot day and every window and door was open. Maybe they don’t use an electric bug zapper for philosophical reasons, and I wasn’t going to get into a debate about that when everything else they do is so right. It’s worth taking a look at their website to read more about the ingredients they use and their food philosophy.

This café will become a must-stop whenever I’m in the Northern Beaches area – the beach may have to wait.

RATED: Pimped!   FOOD: 4.8/5
VALUE: 4/5   ATMOS: 4/5   VIBE: Fresh is best
ROUGH & BARE Wholefood Kitchen – 1/1 Bungan Lane, Mona Vale, NSW

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Bejewelled ‘Tabuli’

BEJEWELLED ‘TABULI’ – my version of a traditional Tabouli recipe
which uses burghul wheat. To change it around a little and create more interesting texture and colour, I’ve used lentils and barley instead and renamed it ‘tabuli’. You can buy the Beluga lentils – which are quite tiny and round compared to the more common flat style – from your local health food store.

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Bejewelled ‘Tabuli’

(serves 6 as a side salad, T=tablespoon)

You can serve this ‘tabuli’ as a side salad, or add cooked fish, chicken, or meat, for a filling lunch or dinner.


1 cup cooked Organic Black Beluga Lentils
1 cup cooked barley
1-2 tspns each of salt and freshly ground pepper
Handful of fresh mint leaves
2 cups fresh parsley leaves
2T extra virgin olive oil
2T fresh lemon juice
Handful of shelled green pistachio nuts
8 mixed colour cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters
4 shallot stalks finely sliced, green part only (use scissors)
½ pomegranate with seeds removed*
100g Persian style goats feta, crumbled

*To easily extract the pomegranate seeds, hold the pomegranate upright, and using a small sharp knife cut a circle around and then extract the top piece (see photo). With this removed you see the upright white ‘ribs’ around the inside of the fruit. Cut down through two of these, then peel back the segment and extract the seeds, discarding any of the papery membrane.

How to prepare the ‘Tabuli’

First rinse and cook the lentils and barley.

Add lentils to 3 cups of hot water and bring to the boil for 3 mins. Then reduce heat and simmer at medium-low heat for 20-25 mins until tender but firm.

Bring 6 cups of hot water to the boil, and add barley. Bring to the boil for 3 minutes then reduce heat and simmer at medium heat for 25-30 mins until tender and chewy but firm.

When the lentils and barley are cooked, drain them into a fine mesh colander and rinse under cold tap water. Drain again, and set aside to cool. Combine both in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Remove the stalks from the mint and parsley and put the leaves into a food processor. Pulse until leaves are finely shredded but not pulverised. Or you can chop these finely by hand using a sharp knife. Add the chopped mint and parsley through the lentil and barley mixture and stir through.

Then stir through the oil, lemon juice, pistachio nuts, tomato pieces, shallots, and pomegranate seeds.

Before serving, crumble the goat’s feta across the salad and lightly mix. Enjoy!

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All images © Awia Markey