REVIEW: Work in Progress @patrickfriesen

Originally published by Two Thousand in 2014

Before you ask, no, I did not just accidentally hit publish on an article I’d just started about Twitter. The name of this restaurant is ‘Work in Progress @patrickfriesen’. Work in Progress is the Merivale owned bar in the CBD and for the month of March they’ve enlisted chef Patrick Friesen to take over. Friesen’s Instagram handle is @patrickfriesen, a username he shares with this Twitter user, who describes himself as “a follower of the teachings of Jesus”. Maybe Merivale knew about this other @patrickfriesen and were hoping the connection would bring a more wholesome crowd to their new pop up. Maybe this is all a big ploy to get Friesen more followers than fellow Merivale chef Dan Hong. The name is a little baffling, but being a little baffling is something all Merivale venues do well.

Luckily, Merivale also do well when it comes to hiring chefs who cook great food. You may have eaten a @patrickfriesen dish at Ms G’s or at Papi Chulo, where he’s been head chef since it opened. Similar to Hong, a lot of Friesen’s food could be described as ‘stoner’, and his Work in Progress menu is a celebration of late night Asian snacks, bowls of noodles and fried chicken. A little refined and perfect for those in need of munchies.

They will have to battle through the usual Merivale missteps, including a fit out that looks like the title page of an angsty high school student’s art folder, and an iTunes playlist that tries so hard to please everybody that it pleases nobody. But, these things are easy to overlook with a bowl of wontons in your hand, brilliantly flavourful with pork and pepper and a good chew on the wrapper. Agedashi tofu is served covered in mayo and bonito flakes, as sweet as it is salty.

It only gets better – egg noodles covered in snow crab or duck, the latter soaked with spicy Sichuan and a dessert of fried chicken – Korean style of course, served with ginger or chilli. The Pnomh Penh wings are the best of the fried bird on offer, complete with extra zingy lime and white pepper sauce. That Cambodian combo rarely gets featured in fast food, and it’s great here.

Patrick Friesen has put together a killer menu and it’s clear that he loves the food he’s paying homage to as much as his Twitter doppelganger loves the teachings of Jesus. It’s the kind of spot that deserves a permanent location, like a low-key Mr Wong hole in the wall or something. Just change that soundtrack, for the love of all that is deep fried.

Review: Chicken Institute

Originally published by Two Thousand in 2014

Korean fried chicken. It’s crunchy, it’s delicious and it’s rapidly become the most readily available fried chicken in Sydney. Gone are the days when ‘Southern fried chicken’ was found on every second menu, in the last year Sydney officially replaced Kentucky with Korean and the new KFC has taken over. The original classic Arisun’s has started to expand, and Chinatown now comes close to rivalling Strathfield with its growing population of KFC joints.

The head chef of Paramount Coffee Project has just opened a new restaurant which proudly boasts Korean fried chicken on the menu (so proud that it’s referred to as ‘damn good chicken’ on the menu. The restaurant’s name is Chicken Institute. After eating a wide range of Korean fried chicken, both wonderful and sub-par, I was keen to eat at a restaurant with a name that suggests “ok motherfuckers, you wanna learn a thing or two about chicken? Enrol in a course at the goddamn Institute of Chicken and get KNOWLEDGED”. I bought a new set of exercise books and set out to get my PHD.

While far from bad, a meal at Chicken Institute doesn’t leave you with the feeling that you’ve learnt all there is to know about fried chicken. Instead you actually feel like popping into the kitchen with a short list of improvements that could be made to the menu like the cocky self appointed fried chicken expert you were born to be.

The ‘damn good fried chicken’ comes in four different flavours – original, sticky, peri peri and the caramel glazed fried garlic chicken. While the flavours are good (almost damn good), $20 – $24 gets you a silver bucket with four boneless pieces of fried chicken thigh. No wings, drummies or breast. Why would an institute offer such a limited syllabus of chicken pieces? And deny their students the glory of eating meat off the bone? The bright neon pieces of pickled radish on the side get a few bonus marks though.

Elsewhere on the menu are dishes similarly let down by a few oversights. The bibim-bap is way too healthy, a bowl of pretty raw vegetables with bland red rice and pearl barley. You’ll use every bit of the that fried egg and kim chi to try and make the dish more flavourful. Kimchi poutine is considerably better (and considerably less healthy), its mix of fries, kimchi, sauce and cheese is the closest thing Sydney has to the spectacular ‘Ooey Gooey Fries’ at Chego in LA, however it would come even closer if a melted tasty cheese was used instead, the small scattering of grated hard cheese barely registering a cheesiness at all.

Most is forgiven when dessert offers you a cute goldfish shaped cake filled with ice cream, peanuts and condensed milk, complete with a glove in case you feel so inclined to pick the fish up and eat it with your hands. Just try not to take that glove to the kitchen and challenge the teachers at the Institute to a fried chicken duel.

REVIEW: Arisun Express / Azoto

Originally published by Two Thousand in 2014

Arisun in Chinatown is a place you can spend three hours in. Eating fried chicken, drinking jugs of beer, arguing with the staff before walking out exclaiming “don’t change a thing!” and genuinely meaning it. It’s a perfect venue, far more entertaining than the Entertainment Centre around the corner. A drunk uncle of a restaurant that you can’t wait to visit again, even though he never remembers your name.

For me, Arisun is a commitment. One does not simply order half a chicken and call it a night. I’m in it for the long haul – ordering their biggest, coldest jug from the get go and then upgrading to a ridiculous beer tower within twenty minutes and demanding they fill another tower with fried chicken. My favourite style of Arisun chicken is the one that comes with a three day hangover, but I can’t eat it as much as I used to. I’m a father now. I need something a little less encouraging.

Enter Arisun Express, Arisun’s hopefully extremely successful attempt at toppling the Colonel’s KFC empire. Here you can order a whole Korean fried bird – or popcorn chicken style, small pieces of deep fried Arisun nuggets in a variety of glazes. Arisun veterans will be happy to know that the classic soy glaze is as good here as it is down the road, but the sweet and spicy glaze might have it beat, with a double crunch from the batter and bright red sugar that candy coats each bite sized bit.

There’s more in their cups than just chicken – this is Arisun after all, home to a lovely selection of joyously drinkable Korean lagers, best served as cold as possible. In fact, you can get your Hite served frozen! Your schooner comes topped with a cute spurt of beer slushie. On its own, the frozen beer will make you recall that time you left that six-pack of Carlton Colds in the freezer too long, but tilt your glass towards you and drink your beer through the icy froth for a wave of frostiness. Very cool.

In Arisun’s same little box of World Square real estate is Azoto, Chinatown’s second liquid nitrogen based gelato bar – something we clearly needed two of. While the fun desserts look great, the ice cream itself isn’t as good as it is at N2 and when there’s frozen beer on the menu, why would you order ice cream?

Arisun Express is an awesome addition to Liverpool street. At best it’s a quick and easy alternative to a weekend killing Arisun bender on a Friday afternoon, at worst it’s a cup of fried chicken that you can eat on the walk to Arisun, a warm up for the real thing.


Originally published by Two Thousand in 2014

I was sad when I heard that Seapunk died. I was just about to dye my mohawk turquoise when Rihanna performed Diamonds on SNL surrounded by dolphin gifs. Overexposed, Seapunk was dead and buried before I could even ride the wave. But, the breeze of change blew through Sydney this week, announcing that Seapunk had made its return – in ice cream form.

Aqua S is a sky blue ice creamery in the Regents Place shopping mall on George Street. Sick of gelato? There’s only soft serve ice cream here. Bright, colourful and creamy soft serve. The star of the show is Aqua S’s signature flavour – sea salt, which comes freshly piped out of the soft serve machine an irresistible shade of blue. It tastes as good as it looks too – sweet, creamy and subtly sweet. The other flavours on offer will change every fortnight, at the moment you can get a sour lemon iced tea and a rich biscotti flavour.

You can get the flavours on their own, but, that wouldn’t be very fun. Where Aqua S excels is with their toppings. You can have your soft serve cone dipped in pop-rocks, twirled with fairy floss, covered in caramel popcorn or topped with a toasted marshmallow. Eight bucks gets you the ‘all you can eat’ option of every single topping, a beautiful mess of freezing cold sugar that is sure to take over your Instagram feed in 2015.

The walls have been painted to look like clouds and it always smells like popcorn. It’s what I always imagined heaven to be like. Nobody tell Rihanna, she’ll wreck it for everyone.

REVIEW: Rupert & Ruby

Originally published by Two Thousand in 2014

Since Kickstarter launched I have personally help crowdfund a book I haven’t read and an iPhone gaming accessory that I crammed into the back of a drawer with my least favourite socks after about 30 seconds of trying to make it work. Rupert & Ruby is a new cafe on Stanley St, and the first instance of crowdfunding that hasn’t made me seethe with regret.

Rupert & Ruby is the latest occupant of Icon Park, the space that use crowdfunding to finance new tenants, raising the necessary funds needed to open a new restaurant or bar space. The Rupert part comes from Bondi restaurant Fat Rupert’s, while the Ruby comes from Ruby’s BBQ, an American barbecue pop up named after the wife of the Fat Rupert’s head chef, Eli Challenger. Eli has a passion for barbecue and Southern cooking, and Rupert & Ruby is a cafe where almost everything on the menu has a little nod to the South.

There’s a smoker at Fat Rupert’s, and much of the menu at Rupert & Ruby utilises that cast iron flavour machine, with the smoked chicken salad and the smoked vegetable gratin both benefiting from a welcome hit of schmoke. Even the Big Poppa burger gets a little fire – the meat in the patty is a mixture of chuck and smoked brisket. It’s a completely different texture to what you’re used to in a burger – it may have been even better with a little more fat through the patty. You can easily make up for that lost fat after your meal with dessert – a maple cheesecake with chocolate bacon and popcorn – or even before your meal with breakfast, waffles with fried chicken and ice cream. You might want to crowdfund a bigger belt after eating here though.

REVIEW: Bowery Lane

Originally published by Two Thousand in 2014

Deep inside Suitsville, where parking costs $75 an hour and holding your phone in front of your date for the entire meal is totally ok, sits Bowery Lane, a sprawling, vaguely American complex comprised of a coffee counter, a takeaway sandwich nook, a bar and a restaurant, which is now open for dinner every night of the week.

The fit out is welcoming, long tables for larger groups and intimate booths perfect for dating couples or a romantic reviewer/photographer duo. The American inspired menu mostly lives up to the detailed descriptions, the enormous and meaty share plates definitely being the highlight overall, with a number of diners looking longingly at the neighbouring tables tucking into wagyu short rib or pork collar while they contemplate their soft shell crab burgers.

Bowery Lane’s forays into more trendy, “fun!” dishes is less successful, their decision to serve rare tuna on a tough brioche bun is confusing, although far less confusing than serving their best dessert, cookies and cream, in a jar and then on a huge plank of wood. If there was an award for the most 2014 presentation of food ever, we would have a winner.

Where Bowery Lane stays true to its name is behind the bar. There’s an impressive list of New York’s finest beers, from Brooklyn Lager to Sorachi Ace, both rarely found at any of Sydney’s Americana hotspots. All beers are served in a glass, not a jar, and without a plank of wood beneath them.


Originally published by Two Thousand in 2014

I tried baking my own bread once. As I ate it, a solid 400 hours after I started the recipe, I thought to myself “I will never try this again”. As much as I love home baked bread, I love the spare time that comes with not baking it myself infinitely more. This embarrassingly lazy philosophy applies tenfold when it comes to making my own pasta. I would sooner eat the thick dust layer which has accumulated on top of my never-used pasta maker than I would even consider opening its box.

Thankfully there are people in the world who are really doing their bit, making pastas of all shapes and sizes from scratch so that losers like you and me can live the luxurious life we don’t deserve. One of these good souls is Mitch Orr, who you’ll find in the kitchen at ACME, the newest restaurant on the last corner of Bayswater Road.

ACME is a joint venture, an acronym started by four friends (Andy, Cam, Mitch and Ed) who you’ve probably seen behind the bar, in the kitchen or serving you coffee at various restaurants and bars around Sydney. Mitch in particular has jumped from kitchen to kitchen since his days at Duke Bistro, honing his pasta skills during stints at 121 BC and Buzo, where his monthly pasta degustations became the stuff of stomach-aching legend.

Some of the dishes from those degs have made their way onto the ACME menu, which contains seven pasta mains, each using a different type of perfectly made pasta. Stand outs include linguine with black garlic and burnt chilli, which tastes like an homage to mi goreng, clearly the height of luxury that all noodle dishes should be compared to. Also fantastic is the rich goat, nduja and olive ragu with wholemeal bucatini, and the malloreddus, which makes up for how hard it is to pronounce by being paired with prawn and old bay seasoning.

Before you even get to the pasta, make sure you order a few pieces of rockmelon and prosciutto, which elevates a simple Italian staple by coating the rockmelon in a dehydrated prosciutto crumb. It sounds fancy, but you still eat it with your fingers, just like you do the baloney sandwich – a fresh baked potato roll stuffed with mortadella and a terrific relish – and what is probably the best dish on the whole menu, the asparagus with brown butter. Just try not to lick the plate once you run out of asparagus. At the other end of the menu are three desserts, one has bacon, another hazelnut and the final a nashi pear sorbet, covered in rosemary meringue and the perfect cleanser after a heavy meal.

The drinks menu keeps it simple too, a few beers and champagnes, a changing selection of well chosen local and imported wines and four cocktails, one sweet with yuzu and shiso, another heavy with mezcal and lemonade. Best is the refreshing celery with rye whiskey and soda.

Service is friendly and personal, open like the ACME space itself. You can see right in to the kitchen and watch Mitch check Instagram as you eat your meal. The fit out is simple and stylish, welcoming and clean.

ACME is the perfect place for those of us who can’t be bothered to make their own pasta from scratch. Unfortunately, for those of us who can’t even be bothered to go out, they don’t offer home delivery yet.

60 Bayswater Rd, Rushcutters Bay

Tues-Sat 5-10pm

How much
$12-$24 for a bowl of incredibly good pasta

02 8068 0932

Related links
Acme website

REVIEW: McClure’s Pickles

Originally published by Two Thousand in 2015

It’s a coming of age thing. When I was a kid the first thing I’d do after buying a Macca’s cheeseburger was take the pickle off and banish it to the furthest depths of the wrapper. As a teenager I worked out that if you put the pickle disc in the middle of the wrapper and then tugged at the edges it would shoot into the sky and get perfectly stuck to the ceiling. Now when I get a cheeseburger I’ll ask for extra pickles and then complain that there’s not enough of them on there.

If there is a hierarchy of pickles in 2015, McDonald’s thin circular efforts are pretty close to the bottom. At the top though? The king of modern day pickles has gotta be McClure’s. A few years ago they were just another infinitely better version of a thing that you could only get in fancy delis across America, but now the Brooklyn / Detroit based jars of greatness are pretty easy to find here.

These pickles are addictively crunchy, the kind of pickles that you can eat an entire jar of in one sitting without having just endured a painful breakup while living in a sharehouse with no job. The Sweet & Spicy pickles in particular are a quite life changing – the sweet smelling brine is alluring enough to convince even the lamest pickle sceptics to try one, who will then be rewarded with a mouth full of HOT HABANERO FIRE! Suck it, pickle sceptics! You’re the worst! Go order a McChicken!

Where McClure’s really shines is in their range of potato chips. The Garlic Dill Pickle flavour legitimately tastes like you’re eating a pickle with each chip – and if you go so far as to eat an actual pickle with your pickle flavoured chip it tastes like you’re eating TWO pickles with each chip! Science! For the ultimate pickle experience you can then dip your double pickled chip into a jar of McClure’s relish and wash the whole thing down with a bloody mary made with McClure’s considerably spicy bloody mary mix. Cheers to you and your now non-stop garlic vinegar breath. Who needs pashes when you got pickles?

How much
$17.95 a jar

Related links
See the full list of Australia retailers here

REVIEW: Redfern Continental

Originally published by Two Thousand in 2015

Menthol ciggies. Hours of brand new Joyride demoes. A paper bag half filled with mini cheeseburgers from Hungry Jacks. These were just a few of the great reasons to visit Dixie’s apartment, which up until a month ago was the hottest venue on Redfern St. A stone’s throw from Railz, Dixie would welcome all guests with a living room filled with mattresses and a PS3 filled with must-watch Don Bradman’s Cricket replays. It was the ultimate late night Redfern destination, until Redfern Continental opened up across the road.

The new venue from the team behind Arcadia Liquors boasts little in the way of cricket simulation gaming (not even Shane Warne Cricket ’99 gets a look in) but it has finally brought a decent schnitzel to the streets of Redfern, available in both the veal and chicken variety, the chicken being the juicier and therefore better of the two. The whole menu has an ‘Eastern Europe comes to Redfern’ vibe, where bratwursts with sauerkraut go hand in hand with a must-try lamb parpadelle.

You can see Dixie’s apartment from the street seating out the front and reminisce about the time that you bundled up his piles of unopened mail from the S.D.R.O. and threw them over his staircase – or you can head out the back of Redfern Continental for a drink in their awesome kind-of-secret cocktail bar. Dixie’s apartment may have a secret second bathroom that’s filled with cardboard boxes and without working lighting, but behind a plain door at Redfern Continental is a bar that drunker visitors may not even realise is there until their third or fourth visit. While the main restaurant is open, bright and busy – the bar out the back is dark, cool and has been described by writers who never went to Eastern Germany in the 1980’s as having a ‘1980’s Eastern German feel’.

I once got felt up by an Eastern German man in his 80’s at Dixie’s apartment, and while that never stopped me from coming back for many a kick-on at 4:30am on a Monday, Redfern Continental’s mix of weissbier and pasta might become my new Redfern St local.

180 Redfern St, Redfern

Mon-Sat 7:30am-12am, Sun 7:30am-10pm

How much
$20 for a schnitzel n sides

Things on sticks at the Easter Show

Originally published by Two Thousand in 2015

A typical interaction between my mother and I while at the Easter Show in the early 90s:

ME: Mum, can I please have a Dagwood Dog?
MUM: No.
ME: What about a Pluto Pup?
Mum: That’s the same thing!
ME: Well can I have one?
MUM: No!

Cue a young me crying into my sick new Coca-Cola tote showbag.

When you mention the Easter Show to me, two smells come to mind: the smell of ‘farm’ (a weird combination of hay and horse poo) and the smell of deep fried hot dogs on a stick. Both of those smells belonged to objects I had never tasted, the former I was fine with, but the latter was something I was desperate to eat for the first 15 years of my life. When I finally went to the Show sans parents, it was on. I ate a sticked hot dog from every stall I walked past and they tasted like sweet rebellion.

Hot dogs aren’t the only thing with a stick shoved up them at the Royal Easter Show in 2015. In fact, it’s simple to give yourself an on-stick-only degustation, complete with starters, mains, dessert and an amuse bouche of a toffee apple.

Here’s a small sample of the sticks on offer at this year’s Show:

Hot Dog on a Stick

Call it a Pluto Pup, a Dagwood Dog, a corn dog – if you were to eat one from every seller this year you’d have over 30 of them in your stomach plus two to three tapeworms. I choose to eat my sticked hot dogs from The Original Cheese on a Stick, who only serve dagwood dogs and cheese on a stick, deep frying them to order. Never get one from the spots with over 20 things on their menu, those dogs have been sitting soggily for a good 6 hours and even the longest re-dunk in the deep fryer won’t kill the ebola that’s been festering inside them.

Cheese on a Stick

It’s a scientific miracle! A long cylinder of battered cheese with a stick in its bum. The cheese is completely tasteless, so what you get is a stick of batter that tastes like all the hot dogs that’s it’s shared the oil with.

Chips on a Stick

One of the greatest things to happen to festival food in the last decade is also prominent at The Easter Show. A sprialled potato, lightly battered, deep fried and coated with a vaguely flavoured salt. Break a circle of potato off one by one or eat the whole thing like a corn on the cob.

Cake on a Stick

The newest stick to the Show is a deep fried ribbon of cake batter. It looks like shit and tastes like an unemployed doughnut.

Waffle on a Stick

Nothing special here. A long waffle, which is actually pretty easy to eat with your hands, is made slightly harder to eat by being stuck upon a stick. Some spots were selling these with some cool toppings though.

Waffle Dog

Instead of eating a delicious deep fried Dagwood Dog, these jerks decided to encase a frankfurt in a waffle stick. It’s only good if you get a fresh one! Otherwise you’ve got a floppy warm frank in a soggy shit cake.

Choc dipped banana

There’s always money in the banana stand.

Choc dipped strawberries

These lose points for not being deep fried in any way but they’re almost the Easter Show’s take on a salad so eat a few of these when your stomach starts to hurt. The sprinkles will make you feel better.

Oreo on a Stick

An Oreo, covered in chocolate, on a stick. The stick is as redundant as covering something that already tastes like chocolate with chocolate.

Nutella on a Stick

Surprisingly, this is not just a paddle pop stick that’s been dipped in a jar of Nutella, rather it’s a waffle filled with Nutella on a stick. Sold from the Italian spot that was playing a playlist of songs that they had found on YouTube by searching “Italian music”.

END VERDICT: These ten things on sticks went downhill after the Dagwood Dog. You could sample all that the sticked food world has to offer, or you could just eat ten Dagwood’s and puke in a Bertie Beetle Bag for just two extra bucks. Best Easter Show ever!