When it comes to birthdays, I usually like to keep things low key. A dinner here and there with my different groups of friends, but I’m not so much the type to throw big parties any more. Those days have long gone! This year was a milestone birthday and one I was definitely keen to avoid, but it seems my loved ones had a completely different train of thought. There was plenty of food of course, but also a surprise party at The Old Crow which completely caught me off guard.
Birthday meals can often be the most special. I kickstarted my eating celebrations with brunch at Hermosa Cantina the day before. Not only was it some tasty food, it was valuable time with Jeremy before he whipped off to work that night. I’ll spare you a full blown review of each dish, let’s consider this a mainly eye candy focussed post!
Smoothies: bounty with cherry, coconut and dark chocolate ($10.50) and caramelised banana with oats, cane sugar and oat milk ($10.50).
M.Y.O corn tortilla with smoked salmon, curds, salsa, soft herbs and pickled red onion ($17.00). This was my favourite of what we ordered, with the flavours well balanced and delicious.
The baked smokey Spanish beans came with crispy pork belly, soft eggs and corn bread ($18.00). It was bright and generous, with the eggs perfectly cooked. The corn bread is definitely a winner here as I mentioned in my first post on this venue.
But like I experienced on my first visit, there is definitely a consistent approach of under-seasoning to their dishes. While I know we shouldn’t have too much salt, their food definitely is lacking in that department (except for my crunchy pork which was perfect!).
On my actual birthday my mum was commissioned by my friends to distract me for the day in preparation for my surprise that night. We did a bit of retail therapy and then swung past The Standard for a quick lunch. This is definitely one of my favourite places to eat, and I was pleased to note that even though they were all booked out for the day, they managed to squeeze us in. And even better timing, there were some new menu items we could try too!
The white anchovies with buffalo yoghurt, smoked tomato and sourdough croutons ($12.00) was a real delight and another way for Chef Chase Weber to showcase his deft hand at molecular gastronomy. Salty, creamy, crunchy, sweet. This is definitely a welcome addition to their menu, it’s really delicious and lets the ingredients shine.
We enjoyed each bite of this as well as the repeat dishes of the beef carpaccio and yellow curry which I’d tried at the bloggers lunch earlier this year.
Both of our favourite dishes for the lunch was the crisp eggplant salad with grapefruit caramel, pea tendrils and chilli ($18.00). This was an absolute knock out, with the punchy herbs, giant serving size and of course that creamy crunchy eggplant. The scattering of fried garlic on top was a welcome additional flavour element.
I’ll definitely be ordering this again next time I visit this place.
That night after a couple gin and tonics at Enriques, mum took me over to The Old Crow for dinner where my closest friends were lying in wait. I’ve never had a surprise party thrown for me before so you can only imagine my reaction! Especially since they’d all been avoiding me, making me think they were too busy to catch up that day. A little bit of torture for a very sweet result.
After the shock of the evening passed, we concentrated on the food and the company. The $55.00 banquet menu is great value with shared starters, an entree of your choice and a main of your choice. The starters of spicy hush puppies, brussels sprouts with chilli jam, pine nuts and buttermilk, crispy piggy bits with hot sauce, celery & blue cheese, and house charcuterie with pickles all went down an absolute treat. Oh those sprouts, how I could eat them every day and never tire!
For my entree I chose the pressed lamb belly with piccalilli and kimchi mayo. The meat was so unctuous and delicious, melting in my mouth. It was my favourite dish for the evening and I was actually quite full after eating it.
Others around the table ordered the octopus with smoked potato, fennel and citrus, and the smokey eggplant & ricotta rotolo with sugo, basil and parmesan. There was an overwhelming consensus that the dishes here just continue to get tastier and tastier.
For our mains, most people around the table ordered the smoked beef short rib with bacon & braised carrots, the chipotle lamb shoulder with cauliflower puree & pickled okra or the Angus beef flank with onions, horseradish & red wine sauce.
I chose the creamed corn with mushrooms and fresh cheese curds which is a dish that has all the elements of my favourite flavours. I adored it, but couldn’t quite finish since I was so full! But the flavours were so smokey and creamy, and the absence of meat wasn’t noticeable since there was such generosity to the serving.
When it came to cake time, there was another surprise in store (and more surprises with my amazing presents!). From the skilful hand of Marnee over at Sugar and Nice came a four tiered magnificent cake of midnight chocolate, salted caramel, peanut butter, redskin icing, nerds and crunchy peals. Yes, it sounds crazy but the flavours all worked and tasted wonderful. And isn’t it just GORGEOUS!
I just had to share these snaps of my birthday presents – everyone was so generous and spoiled me rotten. I definitely was not expecting such incredible gifts, but they softened the blow of hitting this terrifying milestone.
While I had some other birthday meals later in the week, I decided to take some time off from snapping pictures. But my dinner with Jeremy at Rockpool was a special affair, so I made an exception. The complimentary bread and butter is enough to make the drive here worthwhile, but then our entrees cemented our decision to come here.
Jeremy’s live vongole clams steamed with serrano ham, white wine and flageolet beans ($30.00) was fragrant and a delicious display of classic flavours. We both agreed though that my choice of the steak tartare with chips ($25.00) was the standout though, thanks to the extremely fresh meat and the cumin mayonnaise mixed throughout. It’s the kind of dish you would return for over and over again.
Jeremy’s main was the David Blackmore’s wagyu short rib and brisket pie with chipotle chilli and celeriac puree ($45.00). It came out looking quite simple, but the aroma was incredible – as was the burst of flavour. The pastry was impressively flaky and buttery.
My choice of the semolina noodles with crab and spicy prawn oil ($40.00) was a taste bomb. The prawn oil was complex and rich, clinging to the al dente noodles. The crab meat was sweet and well cooked, working well with the soft, sweet cherry tomatoes. This was literally one of the best pasta dishes I’ve ever had.
And with our side order of the mushy peas with slow cooked egg ($12.00), it was a perfect meal and perfect end to a wonderful series of birthday meals. It’s a truly wonderful feeling to know how loved you are by the people most important to you, so I’m feeling more than ever that I am truly rich in my life. I am a very lucky girl.