REVIEW: LUXE Woollahra

Originally published by Two Thousand in 2014

Queens Court used to be home to Bills of Woollahra. Every Sunday morning, tourists would flock to the cafe to see Woollahra residents in their most natural habitat, ordering Bills’ famously overrated scrambled eggs and the obligatory plate of fries for the table as they complained about their fat sons losing their rugby matches that morning.

Last year Woollahra got a lot less Woollahra-y when Bills shut its doors. In its place we got Luxe, the little franchise that could, who years ago was just a sandwich spot in Bondi Junction. Now Luxe has two Bondi locations, a cafe in Newtown and this new Woollahra bar and cafe.

Fill your plate from the mountains of salads at the bar, then order some meat from the kitchen. The lamb kebab, skewered with rosemary, looks great, but isn’t big on taste. The kingfish comes grilled and surrounded by veggies, couscous and harissa in a proud bowl of excellence.

At the end of the mostly healthy menu sits an awesome surprise – the deep fried apple pie, an absolute must for anyone who has ever dreamed of a Macca’s in Woollahra.

REVIEW: LP’s Quality Meats

Originally published by Two Thousand in 2014

It’s so disappointing to see the state of ‘American BBQ’ in Sydney. How could we have treated one of the world’s best cuisines with such disrespect? Instead of it being celebrated we treat it with an ‘avoid at all costs’ mentality whenever we see it (and its more misused associate: ‘pulled pork’) written on a menu, entirely due to it becoming a buzzword used by restaurants who didn’t know the first thing about the practice of ‘cue.

When Luke Powell, the ‘LP’ behind new Chippendale restaurant LP’s Quality Meats, announced that his new spot would specialise in smoked meats, he was quick to point out that he would not be serving American BBQ – and as mouth wateringly good as the smoked meats on offer at LP’s are, it’s a real bummer because LP’s Quality Meats could well have been Sydney’s first genuinely good American BBQ joint (they even have a Southern Pride smoker!).

That said, the smoked meats on offer aren’t too far from American fare. In fact, the beef short ribs, soft and tender with an impressively pink smoke ring, rival the beef on offer at Franklin BBQ, the current reigning champ of the best BBQ in Texas. Equally impressive is the chicken, which is smokey as hell without being dry at all.

Less American are the cured and cold cuts on offer – the coppa di testa and bierwurst are delicious, but neither were as memorable as the belly ham. LP’s few vegetarian options are the sides, best of which are the kale with chickpeas and the extremely addictive mashed potato and gravy.

Pouding Chomuer is LP’s solo dessert offering, for good reason too – it’s incredible. Simple, rich and great to look at, it sums up everything on offer at LP’s Quality Meats. We can’t wait to return – even if they start doing pulled pork.

Jonkanoo Canteen at Goodgod Small Club

Originally published by Two Thousand in 2014

For three years I ran a restaurant inside Goodgod Small Club. Up until last weekend, we were called The Dip and we were one of just three million spots in Sydney with an American diner menu. After a monumental send off, The Dip died and just three days later Goodgod had welcomed a new eatery to its tropical insides.

That eatery is Jonkanoo Canteen, a more casual version of the Jonkanoo restaurant in Surry Hills, which opened at the start of this year with a huge menu boasting dishes from Trinidad, the Bahamas and Haiti. Jonkanoo Canteen’s menu is broken into five categories – all of which feature the word ‘ting’, which is fun for people who like abbreviations that don’t really save any time. ‘Small Tings’ offers fried plantains, jerk wings and oysters – making Goodgod Sydney’s first nightclub where you can enjoy an oyster on the dancefloor. In ‘Jerk Tings’ you’ll find a selection of deliciously spicy and smoky jerked meats, marinated for days in head chef Damion Brown’s secret family sauce. Those looking for something a little more burger-y will be happy with a Cubano or fish torta, found under ‘Bread An Ting’.

All of Jonkanoo Canteen’s dishes go great with their huge selection of Caribbean hot sauces – or you can douse your entire plate in their homemade ‘Jamaican gravy’, which is made in rum bottles with malt vinegar, scotch bonnet peppers, pickled vegetables and rum. It might not be gravy but it goes great with chips (you’ll find those under ‘Small Tings’ as papas fritas).

Goodgod has made sure Jonkanoo Canteen feels extra welcome with a few new licks of paint. The front bar now looks more vibrant than ever, with colourful lights, huge bench seats and hand painted decorations surrounding the dance floor. Next time you’re shaking your butt at Goodgod, make sure you do it with a Jamaican oyster in your hand.

The Dip, Everlasting Hot Dog Recipe

Originally published by Two Thousand in 2014
Intro by Hayley Morgan

Haven’t you heard? Levins and Bianca have decided to shut up shop at The Dip. Saturday July 12 is their last night, which is sad but also a time for cool celebrations and the return of the best specials they’ve ever chalked up: the Watermelon and Bacon Burger, the Ribwich, and the Gangsta Boo. Next Tuesday July 1 they’re even laying out a Greatest Hits Banquet! There’ll be Pulled Pork Nachos, the Young Cheezy, the DFC, Mac & Cheese Balls, Deep Fried Pickles (aka a reason to live), Lev’s Dawg, Chili Fries and ice cream for dessert (we can’t tell if the Chili Fries and ice cream are two separate things, but wouldn’t be surprised if they aren’t). To celebrate the life of The Dip, Levins has shared the recipe for an everlasting hot dog. It’s poetry, man.


1 heaped tablespoon of Levins
1 jar of Bianca
0 grams restaurant experience
40,000 kosher frankfurts
40,000 hot dog buns
10,000 litres American mustard


In a small Kings Cross nightclub, introduce the tablespoon of Levins to the jar of Bianca. Combine together until a relationship develops.

After 3 – 4 years, remove Levins and Bianca from Kings Cross and use their 0 grams of restaurant experience to open a restaurant inside a newly refurbed Small Club in Sydney’s CBD.

Take one kosher frankfurt and explain to a customer that while you use delicious kosher frankfurts for your hot dogs, you’re not actually Jewish. Try to hide the fact that you sometimes wrap the frankfurts in bacon from your kosher butcher.

Burn your hand repeatedly as you steam a hot dog bun in a dodgy dumpling steamer. Refuse to upgrade to a better quality steamer at any point in the future. Tell your permanently burnt fingers that a steamed bun is absolutely worth it, even though every idiot blogger complains about the buns being soggy, not crunchy like the hot dog buns at fucking Snag Stand.

Drown all your sorrows in American mustard.

Repeat steps 3 to 5 40,000 times. Be regarded as a hot dog king. Name the most popular hot dog on the menu after yourself. Have permanent mustard breath. Talk about hot dogs on national radio. Release a book about hot dogs. Talk about the book about hot dogs on international radio.

Become a hot dog. Begin to eat yourself. Regrow each bite infinitely. Be everlasting.

REVIEW: New Star Kebab

Originally published by Two Thousand in 2014

Sydney is a massive city. Like really big – over 600 suburbs make it up. But if you look at our directory, or map out the restaurants featured on other websites, you’ll mostly see the same ten suburbs over and over. Focusing on new restaurants and bars means returning to the same postcodes, as a new pop up pops up where that old pop up used to pop. Sydney’s most popular suburbs open and close their restaurants pretty frequently – while the further away from the city you go, you’ll find restaurants and food vendors who have been around for so many decades that they’ve become an institution. Yet these are the spots that you’ll rarely find on websites like ours that are supposed to direct people to the greatest places to eat in their city.

So from now on we’re gonna start looking at some of the best spots to eat when you’re in a postcode that isn’t 2010 or 2042. I’m talking about 2166, 2142 and 2144 – the last of which is the postcode that we’re eating at today. Fire up your Opal Card, we’re headed out to Auburn for some cheap and amazing Turkish food.

Auburn’s main street is so happening that they named it after themselves, and a common site on Auburn Rd is charcoal smoke billowing onto the footpath. The smoke comes from several Turkish restaurants, and New Star Kebab is in the middle of the three most prominent billows of smoke, in between Sofra Kebabs and Brothers Kebab (further up the road you’ll find the Turkish restaurant Mado, which we’ll write about really soon).

I’ve eaten the mixed shish plate from New Star Kebab at 11am, 3pm and 12:30am. This place opens every day at 7am and stays open until at least 1am every night – busier nights will see it stay open till 2 – and it’s always the same legendary staff behind the counter, serving the same incredible food.

The mixed shish plate is a thing of beauty. Three skewers of meat (chicken, lamb and minced beef, all expertly cooked over charcoal for all to see) sit atop a pile of various salads and a stack of freshly made Turkish bread. There’s a huge oven out the back of New Star that cooks hundreds of soft, fresh loaves of bread each hour. If you watch the dude on the grill you’ll notice that he doesn’t use tongs or an oven mitt to handle the meat – he grabs it with a piece of bread, sopping up all those good juices before smacking it down on your plate to soak up even more of those aforementioned good juices. The salads are great too, as are the grilled tomato and grilled jalapeño – which is usually mildly spicy but one time I couldn’t talk for about three minutes after I was caught off guard by a rogue grilled chilli.

In the instance that you get burnt, fret not – by the counter you’ll see a huge vat of drinking yoghurt, perfect for dousing off rogue spice. Next to it is an equally big vat of a sweet lemon drink, and both of these beverages are served in gigantic mugs proudly bearing the New Star logo.

There’s a lot more to explore and love on New Star’s menu, from numerous delicious vegetarian boreks and pides, to pizzas the size of a child, covered in enough shawarma meat to kill off eleven hangovers. Pull up a plastic seat sometime and breathe in that sweet charcoal smoke.

Where 15 Auburn Road, Auburn
When Mon-Sun 7am-1am
How much $23 for a mixed shish plate, less than $10 for almost everything else
Contact 9643 8433

REVIEW: Brooklyn Social

Originally published by Two Thousand in 2014

Neon lights. Deep fried everything. Old tour posters on every wall. A jukebox blaring out a mix of rock classics you’ve never heard before and rock classics you never need to hear again. Welcome to the tried and true combination that you’ve experienced fifty times in the last few years, but it’s hard to be upset when it’s presented as neatly and as cheaply as it is at Brooklyn Social.

Surely to become the number one destination for awkward first dates, Brooklyn Social is a dive bar without any dive whatsoever, instead offering a huge clean space, colourfully lit by various neons in each corner of the room. The cocktail list is massive, divided into sections named after the different boroughs of New York. The cocktails range from “a slight improvement on a classic” to “this is not a gin sling”. Opting for a big cold pint of Brooklyn Lager might be the better option.

The menu is put together by Chur Burger chef Mikey Canavan and is typical American fast food fare. Onion rings, fried chicken, and a cheeseburger bigger than the SLR that the guy next to me is using to take a picture of it with. No huge surprises – except for how cheap everything is. A big basket of perfectly fried chicken tastes even better when it’s ten bucks.

Brooklyn Social is one of those spots you could take almost anyone, and in this weird area around Central that’s a great thing. Did I need to hear ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ as I ate my curly fries? No more than I needed to be eating curly fries in the first place. Come have your next awkward first date here soon.

REVIEW: Afran Lebnan Bakery

Originally published by Two Thousand in 2014

Pizza for breakfast. When you live out west, every day could potentially begin with those three glorious words. My place in Granville is within walking distance of five Lebanese pizza spots – and another ten are a short drive away in Merrylands or Guildford. Lebanese pizzas (aka manoush) are thin, crispy and typically eaten early in the morning. Most of the spots that sell them open at 6am and close before 2pm.

I’ve eaten at every single manoush joint I’ve come across and while the differences between each spot are subtle, they all have their signature touches – or their signature fuck-ups – and after carefully adding and deducting points for each delicious signature or unfortunate fuck-up, I have come to the conclusion that the best manoush spot is Afran Lebnan Bakery in Granville.

Names aren’t really that important to spots like these, making them near impossible to google. The sign outside says ‘Lebanon Bakery’, one of the chefs tells me this place is called ‘Brothers Pizzeria’ and a sign on the outside of the huge pizza oven reads ‘Afran Lebnan Bakery’.

Nobody who eats here cares about the name. They come here for the consistency. They come for the perfectly crispy base on the lahm bajeen manoush, slightly blackened and covered in a thin layer of minced lamb, onions and spices. The plain manoush, a staple of every good manoush joint, goes through the oven with a thick smear of za’atar, a Middle Eastern spice mix with sesame seeds and olive oil. When it comes out you can cut it up like a pizza, or roll it up with tomatoes, mint and olives.

The spinach triangles are great too, the dough both soft and crunchy depending on where you take your bite, but greatest of all, and this is consistent across all manoush joints, is the price. A plain manoush will set you back two bucks and a spinach triangle is three-fifty. The most expensive thing I order is the lahm bajeen, which is five bucks. Chase it with a fruit juice from a bottle with a loud Arabic label.

Manoush is as delicious as it is mind-blowingly cheap. In this tough post-recession world where a one bedroom apartment costs twice the total of what you and your partner earn over the course of your entire lives, it’s good to know that important childhood dreams like ‘pizza for breakfast’ is a very achievable reality.

Where 29 Good Street, Granville
When Mon-Sun 6am-4pm
How much $2-$5 per manoush
Contact 02 9760 2099

Three Williams’ spring breakfast menu

Originally published by Two Thousand in 2014

“Oh yeah, the mushrooms are sick!” exclaims our waiter, after being asked how the mushrooms were. It’s the exact answer I needed to hear, as all morning I’d been wanting to put something truly sick in my mouth and marvel at its sickness. Obviously we were ordering the mushrooms.

The apparently sick mushrooms are one of the new-ish options on the recently updated breakfast menu at Three Williams in Redfern. The mushrooms are marinated in balsamic and a little bit of truffle oil (which thankfully does not overpower everything else in the entire cafe) and are served on toast with a big dollop of ricotta. After a few bites it’s clear that our waiter knew his stuff – the mushrooms were pretty sick.

Things heated up when a plate of french toast was placed on the table. A massive piece of crunchy fried bread, surrounded by caramelised bananas, hazelnuts and belgian chocolate. It was decadent, it was rich, it was… sick. Much sicker than the mushrooms. Why didn’t our waiter tell us that the french toast was also sick?

As I finished my impressively pink raspberry and coconut smoothie, I opened my Yelp account and told my fellow Yelpers to beware of the waiter who’ll only tell you that the mushrooms are sick when there are clearly other sick options on the menu too.

Send Your Ex Gerberas

Originally published by Two Thousand in 2014

Inspired by Ship Your Enemies Glitter, the most captivating campaign of 2015 so far, Sydney florists Bloombox Co have started their own campaign just in time to ruin someone’s Valentine’s Day. Absolutely fuck up the day of the person who fucked up your heart by sending your ex a bunch of fugly gerberas.

I received a bunch at the beginning of the week. Having never received flowers before I was at first stoked, smitten with the identity of the mysterious flower sender. Smit turned to shit as I was suddenly surrounded by the giggles of my work peers. “Are those gerberas?” laughed my co-editor Claire, who until that day I assumed was my friend, as she lead the office in a chorus of cackling and finger pointing. I ran from my desk, fighting back tears and still clutching the obscene circus flowers. Which ex had sent them to me? Why did she also go one step further and arrange for a tiny car full of clowns to pick me up?

I’m now writing this from the empty lion cage, backstage at Bentley’s Travelling Circus. It’s the only place I can get good wi-fi reception. I have to get out before Rufus the lion returns from his rehearsal, which is fine because I’m needed in makeup in five minutes anyway. They’ve got me walking the tightrope tonight. Worst Valentine’s Day ever.

REVIEW: Hawker

Originally published by Two Thousand in 2014

The Summer of 1998. 4:30pm. Gerringong Beach on the South Coast, home to about twenty swimmers, four of which are myself, my Dad and my sisters. I was probably wearing a rash vest. Said twenty swimmers suddenly drops down to five swimmers, who have stopped swimming and started walking towards the shore as quickly as possible. Dad’s ushered his daughters to the sand but left his son Home Alone in the water. Just call me Levin McAllister. I slowly make my way towards them, ignoring their urges for me to hurry with a loveable pre-teen attitude that I’d just developed over summer. Ten metres to go and I step on something. Something, big, slimy and strong. I lift my other foot up and put it down on the same big slimy strong thing. It’s a stingray.

The Summer of 2015. 1:15pm. Chinatown in Sydney’s CBD, at Hawker, the new restaurant by the Malaysian team behind Mamak. Where Mamak serves Malay/Indian eats by way of rotis and curries, Hawker pays homage to the hawker street markets of Malaysia. The best part of a visit to Mamak was watching through the open kitchen at the roti’s being made, and Hawker’s kitchen side views include bread bubbling away in oil-filled woks, pancakes stretched over a griddle and huge wings of fish on the grill. What kind of fish? Stingray.

Hawker condenses the fun and noise of a night market into a clean and open dining space, surrounded by photos of a fun and noisy night market. There’s no rice, but plenty of noodles, found swimming in the sour, fruity Assam laksa or surrounded by prawns and cockles for char koay teow. KL hokkein mee appears on the menu, making Hawker one of the first places to offer it in Sydney. It comes to the table looking promising, the noodles dark with soy sauce and hiding a handful of wok fried treasures within, but is unexciting to eat, a surprisingly bland concoction featuring blackened cabbage as the only standout flavour.

The real treats on the menu are all listed as snacks, the sweet yam bean filled, fresh popiah spring rolls with chilli paste is an absolute must get and the lor bak – a selection of deep fried pork sausages, prawn cakes and taro fritters is as fun as it sounds. The snacks section is also home to the ikan bakar – a.k.a the reason I was terrified and excited to visit Hawker – grilled stingray.

To call it a snack is underselling the ikan bakar by a mile. The bright red triangle of stingray, the size of your plate, is quite daunting at first, and quite difficult to begin eating with chopsticks. It’s best to tuck the sticks behind your ears (ladies LOVE it) and get stuck in with your fingers, tearing into the charred sambal crust to reveal long lines of milk-white tender meat. It’s the kind of spicy fish that goes great with a can of beer, which you can pick up at the bottl-o around the corner. Try to eat it all before someone at your table makes a Steve Irwin joke (if they bring Bindi into it they have to cover the bill).

While the best savoury option is easily the grilled stingray, the desserts at Hawker are definitely worth your time, especially the apam balik, a shell of crispy pancake with crushed peanuts, butter and a small smear of creamed corn, which takes you by pleasant surprise each time you bite into a piece. If you forget to get beers, a jug of cold milo or barley water and syrup is almost as good.

While not as immediately appealing as Mamak, Hawker is worth the visit just to try the grilled stingray. It’s such an unexpected hit that I can’t recommend enough. Before this meal I didn’t realise you could do anything with a stingray besides awkwardly run away from it while wearing a rash vest. Who’s up for a trip back to Gerringong?