Obey the Rumble Weekend 26-29th September
Too often I sidestep The Rocks. It’s picturesque but it gets pretty touristy. Too many fanny packs and tour groups. Too many stuffed koalas, harbour bridge postcards and Ken Done prints peeking hopefully out of shop fronts for my liking. But to avoid the area entirely would be to miss out on some pretty awesome food and drink. So this weekend take a deep breath and choose to ignore the Australiana clutched by hoards of American exchange students as you move between these venues. It’ll be worth it.
Thursday calls for lazy evening drinks at the Lowenbrau. It’s finally outdoor drinking time and this is a good place to knock back litres of beer (or bier, to be accurate) and shoot the breeze. Sample their collection while you nibble on some freshly baked pretzels, which you may want to use to mop up the super tasty potato salad (Kartoffelsalat). Make sure to try the refreshing, kind of sweet Löwenbräu Original and my personal favourite, the Franziskaner Hefe-Weissbier Dunkel – an amazingly malty, toffee-toned gorgeous coloured miracle of a beer. Meat lovers should try their speciality baked pork knuckle, served with potato and sauerkraut (Knusprige Schweinshax’n). If you’re still in the mood for a tipple after dinner or you need a spot of whisky after all that beer, stroll down to the Orient Hotel and soak up the ambience, or embrace the lack thereof. Hopefully there’s some good live music that night. If not, you can always count on someone tone-deaf to sing karaoke.
Lowenbrau, Cnr of Playfair & Argyle Streets, The Rocks
The Orient Hotel, 89 George Street, The Rocks
Splurge night. Dress up and swish into Rockpool. The food here is jaw-droppingly awesome, as you would expect from the 3-hatted baby of Neil Perry. Be prepared for some very attentive service and thinly-veiled disappointment should you rebuff the sommelier’s expert services. The wine list is staggeringly extensive and sweat-inducingly expensive but you can find a decent drop or two without breaking the budget. I had a vegetarian canapé whipped up for me – all I remember is this amazing almond purée that was over far too soon. The goat’s cheese lasagne with apple, kipflers subtly infused with lavender and fried breadcrumbs is potentially the best goat’s cheese-related dish I’ve ever had. Rich, tangy, perfumed, heavenly texture. My dining buddy enjoyed the South Australian lamb with tea-smoked vongole, soy beans and celery. I’d advise leaving room for dessert – perhaps you’ll want to experience their signature dessert, the date tart. Gorgeous. Kind of a mixture between the slightly oozy, custardy texture of a Crema Catalana and the chewy, fudgy sweetness of a pecan pie. Divine.
Rockpool, 107 George Street, The Rocks
Okay, so Felix is technically just outside of the Rocks but it’s only a short stroll away and so I’m including it here. The place a lot of my friends keep meaning to try but haven’t gotten around to yet, it’s a heaving restaurant styled like a French bistro and ideal for a dinner party or date night. The waiterly pace is pretty fast but don’t feel pressured to rush your choices. Oysters got top marks with my posse, as did my warm brie, pea and leek tart. Aside from maybe having a splash too much salt, it was delectable. The sweetness of the peas, the salty creamy slices of brie laid lovingly on top. So good. The steak frites with herb butter is a solid choice for those not wanting to experiment, and a lovely lighter option is the nourishing snow crab, prawn, quinoa, eggplant and pickled beetroot salad. For dessert the profiteroles with chocolate and pistachio were scrumptious and proved worthy of their popularity (the kitchen seemed to be shooting them out pretty much non-stop). My choice of the banana parfait with rum caramel and chocolate cremeaux was sophisticatedly delicious.
Felix, 2 Ash Street
La Renaissance is the perfect spot for a morning tea with mates or a solo afternoon in their sun-dappled courtyard stretching out a creamy cappuccino while you do some writing. Come in the mornings for black coffee and a couple of pastries (I say a couple because it’s nearly impossible to choose between their pain au chocolat and their amazing pistachio-chocolate scroll). In the afternoons follow the warming cheesy smell of their savoury, oh-so-satisfying quiches wafting through the air and plonk yourself down for some eggy, buttery-pastry goodness. Mushroom Provençale is a winner. If eggs aren’t your thing then sample a baguette stuffed with salmon, salty capers and a light creamy cheese. There’s just nothing better than a fresh baguette. Before you leave, get a rainbow-selection of their beautiful macarons to get you through the week.
La Renaissance Patisserie, 47 Argyle Street, The Rocks
- Lucy McNabb