Pimp My Plate #32 – Will & Steve’s pop-up restaurant, Rozelle, NSW

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Salmon Tartare with peas, apple & fennel remoulade

Can Will & Steve’s pop-up restaurant PIMP MY PLATE?

 

‘The gourmet pommies pop up at TRAMSHEDS’

Anyone who watched Australia’s TV cooking show My Kitchen Rules last year will remember the charming and affable Will & Steve, or as they call themselves, ‘the gourmet pommies’.

Hailing from Britain, Will Stewart and Steve Flood were the winners of the 2015 series of My Kitchen Rules, and first met when they moved to Australia with the same investment bank.

When circumstances changed in their financial careers, the pair decided to fully embrace their foodie side, the catalyst being when Steve applied for them both to appear on the show. It was a good move.

Since their TV win, Will and Steve have continued their career in food, lifestyle and media. And for the last 12 months the pair has been busy producing their first cookbook, appropriately named Will and Steve, Home Cook, Aspiring Chef.

Tonight’s event is one of four pop-up dinners hosted by them, to meet some of their fans who share their love of good food, and to promote their new cookbook by serving us a 3-course meal from it.

The venue is Sydney’s new dining hub TRAMSHEDS at Harold Park. The atmosphere here is a bit like dining in a restaurant inside a restaurant. The freestanding kitchen space and tables are positioned in the busy Artisan Lane area.

It’s Saturday night and all around us, the whole of TRAMSHEDS is buzzing, while we sip champagne at our tables, in anticipation. Diners from other bars and restaurants walk by, glancing across at our tables twinkling with glassware and tea lights.

Will and Steve are happy to pose for selfies and answer all our questions, before, during, and after plating and serving. Both are energetic personalities – Will loves to engage and share a laugh, and Steve is passionate about food. And both are generous with their time throughout the night.

With a glass of champagne in hand we watch the boys’ hard work that usually happens behind-the-scenes in a kitchen. Their rhythmic precision is enjoyable to watch, and despite them having only one person to help them prep and plate, Will and Steve manage to make the work appear effortless.

Then our entrées arrive, a pretty pink and green plate of Salmon Tartare with peas and pea foam, and apple and fennel remoulade. It’s a light and refreshing start, served with slivers of crunchy black sesame seed lavoche on the side.

The main is a juicy and beautifully crispy piece of Pork Belly served with Colcannon, heirloom carrots, and apple cider juice. The only improvement on this dish would be a sharper knife to glide through that crackling and maintain the architecture of the pork. But sharp knives are a rarity in restaurants these days.

Dessert is a Chocolate, Beetroot and Milk Crunch with dramatic plating with a dark red sauce embellishment that is part strobe effect and part ‘how to get away with murder’.

As we finish each course, we flick to the corresponding recipe page in cookbook. It’s beautifully produced and also features fresh reinventions of classics, including The Perfect Steak with truffle butter and parsnip chips; Lobster Rolls with mango salsa; White Pudding with apple chutney; Sarnies (British slang for sandwiches); and a Maple Pumpkin Tart with sweet dukkha and yoghurt – a must-cook alternative to serving pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving.

Will and Steve are now touring around Australia to promote cookbook and share their passion for fresh flavours that showcase Australian produce. Will and Steve’s website also features their recipes so take a look and be inspired.

 

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RATED: Pimped!  FOOD: 4.5/5   Fresh flavours
VALUE: 4/5   VENUE ATMOS: Industrial modern   VIBE:  Friendly and generous

http://www.willandsteve.com.au

Visit me on facebook at Awia’s Kitchen or twitter: @pimpmyplate   @awiaskitchen

 

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Pimp My Plate #30 – TRAMSHEDS, Forest Lodge, NSW

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Like so many other Sydneysiders, I ignored the inkblot sky and threat of rain to visit THE TRAMSHEDS – Sydney’s newest foodie space, housed inside the former Rozelle Tramway Depot, originally built in 1904. 

TRAMSHEDS is being touted as ‘A community of Food and Learning’ and today was their Opening Day – a palpable buzz of hungry shoppers, lots of cameras from phone size to full frame. Store vendors scrambled to keep up with demand while juggling brand new ordering and catering systems, as customers kept filling tables.

On offer is an array of artisan bread, pasta, organic produce, a butcher, and lots of cafes and restaurants. Providores share a large space full of natural light and industrial height ceilings. There are lots of hard surfaces but it’s not noisy.

My take-home bag of goodies to eat later included: a loaf of Sourdough bread ($4.95 which is unheard of in price) and several pastries from Supamart; and a jar of Tasmanian Pickled Octopus ($15) from Fish & Co.

My sit-down Lunch was a plate of Prawn Cakes from FISH & CO. ($21)

A fun day out with lots to eat.

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RATED: Urban edge  FOOD: 4/5
VALUE: 4/5   ATMOS: Industrial chic  VIBE:  Eat, drink, and be merry – esp after finding parking!
TRAMSHEDS – 1 Dalgal Way, Forest Lodge, Sydney, NSW
Open 9am-10pm most days

Pimp My Plate #16 – Sydney, NSW

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.

Say ‘Yes’ to the good stuff!

About Life instore Cafés

Australian wholefoods store About Life began its life in 1996 as a juice bar “juicing up a storm” in Sydney’s Rozelle. Twenty years on, they are busily expanding and opening new stores, while some big name competitors are busy closing their doors.

About Life stores are the go-to for inner health. Their product range is extensive: dried fruits, activated nuts, meat, free range eggs, dairy, breads, fruit and vegetables, baking goods, health and beauty products and more.

They are very similar to the Wholefoods chain in North America, and both stores offer as many holistic consumables as your budget allows.

As part of their ‘food promise’ you can shop for products that have no artificial preservatives, flavours or colours; no  hydrogenated oils or parabens; and their fresh meat and proteins contain no antibiotics or growth hormones.

Each About Life store also includes a café, a self-serve food bar, and a catering service, although co-owner Jodie Stewart has said “the supermarket is still our core market.”

There are currently six About Life stores, and a new store opens in Crows Nest in June.

I visited three locations to try their café menu, which is the same in each store. It offers plenty of choice for breakfast, brunch, and lunch – you won’t go hungry. Meals are classified as Vegetarian, Vegan, Without Gluten, Without Dairy, Supercharged, or Paleo.

Only one meal item exceeded my PMP budget of $19 – the Wholefood Breakfast which included eggs and a regular organic coffee for $19.50. With most stores situated in prime retail locations, I was surprised by such reasonable pricing.

My Pink Raspberry Chia Pikelets ($10.90) were served with coconut vanilla yoghurt, raspberry chia jam, and coconut veganola (a grain-free alternative to granola, made with nuts, seeds & fruits). The pikelets were a soft spongey pink, with a tang of yoghurt, and a crunchy topping of assorted seeds.

The Edible Garden ($14.90) features a black tahini soil, with two poached free range eggs, tahini dressing, and pickled vegetables. I ordered this out of curiosity. The vegetables had texture and crunch, but the ‘soil’ was a little dry and bland.

Barra Bento ($15.90) was the star dish – a piece of barramundi glazed with miso, ginger, and sesame, served with a delicious nutty flavoured brown rice salad, with kimchi for crunch. Texture and flavour in every bite.

The Superfood Burrito ($14.90) contained cacao chilli beef with corn salsa, chia seeds, avocado, and coriander (cilantro). This could have been a hit if the burrito had been heated through.

I ordered Ginger Turmeric Latte ($4) made with hot coconut milk and cinnamon. I find these a pleasant alternative to chai or caffè latte. And I must go back and try their Raw Caramel Latte ($4.50) with raw tahini caramel sauce.

My Flat white coffee ($3.70 small, sit-down) is made from certified organic and fair trade coffee, and has body and flavour.

Other drinks include Smoothies – Superfood, High Protein, Raw Green, Rainbow, or Anti-Inflammatory. Or choose from Wellness Tonics, Herbal Tinctures, Vegetable Juices, or Fruit Juices. Sweets include a variety of raw cakes and vegan desserts.

The About Life café menu is imaginative and offers plenty of choice – perhaps too much.

Each store I visited utilized Pay as You Order counter staff as wait staff. Understandable and practical if you are not offering full restaurant – or dedicated café – service.

But multitasking means that the delivery of food to the table can be slow, which is not ideal if you’re on your lunch break.

At some locations the coffees arrived lukewarm (never acceptable) and so did the food. Or in the case of the meat-filled burrito, not heated at all.

It’s also tricky to manage multiple plates on those tiny fixed-to-the-ground football shaped tables – whose idea were those? – forcing diners to sprawl across multiple tables.

But let’s not miss out on the good stuff because of the annoying stuff…

The smart move is to order take-away if you’re on a deadline. Grab-and-go is faster. Reheat your food back at the office and enjoy eating it at a larger table or desk!

If you eat in, simply ask for your meal to be served hot, if that’s the optimum way to eat it.

About Life cafés offer high-grade fast food using organic ingredients, at very reasonable prices.

Stores tick all the boxes trying to provide healthy products for everyone – from apples to veganola.

A tip? Don’t leave the store without buying some bulbs of Australian-grown garlic.

RATED: Pimp my health!  FOOD: 3/5
VALUE: 5/5   ATMOS: 3/5   VIBE: We really care about your health – and I believe them!
ABOUT LIFE – Store locations: (NSW) Surry Hills, Bondi Junction, Double Bay, Rozelle, Lane Cove, Cammeray, and Crows Nest. (VIC) Port Melbourne. (7 days)

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Visit me on facebook at Awia’s Kitchen or @pimpmyplate:)