It literally started storming halfway on our way to Marque from our hotel on foot. While we took cover at periodic intervals on the way to Marque, we got a little wet from the rain (me in my dress, T in his suit) by the time we arrived. We stepped into the dimly lit and elegant restaurant, and things only started to get better that led to a fantastic night of unforgettable food and service. We were greeted by the host who saw that we were obviously wet from the rain and calmly offered directions to the restrooms if we wanted to dry ourselves with towels before getting seated.

Headed by Chef Mark Best, Marque offers only a degustation menu. Why would anyone not want a degustation meal anyway at a restaurant where the chef was awarded Best Chef of the Year by the Sydney Morning Herald? We enjoyed every moment at Marque and are still reminiscing the food, both in taste and presentation. I just want to say that we really, really liked Marque.


Amuse bouche

Potato mille feuille with foie gras butter and bonito

Meant as a play on the delicate nature of mille feuille pastry, the very thin slices of potato creatively reflected a delicate crisp that one would expect when biting into mille feuille. Sandwiched in between the potato slices were foie gras butter and bonito.

1st course

Blue swimmer crab, almond gazpacho, buttermilk, almond jelly, and popcorn

After the server placed this at the table for T, I lamented, "Now I'm a little jealous". Our server could only playfully reply, "But you can't have it!" No thanks to the shrimp and crab allergies that I recently developed (yes, in adulthood).

Tomato gazpacho, cucumber, strawberry

I didn't stay envious for long. The kitchen prepared a beautiful gazpacho dish for me. I don't remember the last time when gazpacho impressed me as much as Marque did.

2nd course

Marron crayfish, tomato jelly, and tomato leaf

The Australian crustacean was delicately presented with just enough accompaniments without distracting the true taste of the crayfish.

3rd course

Dutch cream potato, sea urchin, bone marrow, and coffee

To have our favorite items combined together to make a dish was more than a delight. Sea urchin + bone marrow + coffee. Who knew that each of the items that we love would make a perfect marriage of tastes. Clearly, Chef Mark Best knows best (no pun intended).

4th course

Bar cod, Vadouvan Indian spice, kaffir leaves, lemon puree, and fish floss

The petite piece of fish was seared while maintaining a great moist texture inside. We also really liked the play of slight Indian influence from the spice and kaffir leaves.

5th course

North American muscovy duck, dill puree, beer infused cream, pickled strawberry, and onion

Another solid course, I remember enjoying this duck so much I didn't want it to end.

6th course

Wagyu beef, tendon, brocollini, and jus

Clearly the wagyu beef was the star of the night, hands down. Served rare, the wagyu beef was served in a generous slice and almost filling up the entire plate. We have had a lot of rare beef served as tartare or carpaccio, but this piece of wagyu beef at Marque was really something that blew us away. The piece of meat was tender, fresh, and pure at best, with the melt-in-your-mouth texture.

7th course

Egg custard with Bourdeaux dessert wine and dark caramel

We dug deep into the egg shell with our spoon and each spoonful of egg custard was perfectly coated with dessert wine and caramel. Even this pre-dessert item was indulgent.

8th course

Frozen chocolate mousse, banana pearls, coffee ice-cream, and parsley

Chocolate, banana, and coffee may not be a unique combination of flavors and in fact perhaps a little overplayed but Marque knows how to do it differently. The chocolate mousse was coated with malt powder and the banana pearls which basically melted right away in the mouth made me happy like a kid.

4/5 355 Crown Street
Surry Hills NSW 2010

2012 Australian Gourmet Traveller Restaurant of the Year
2011 TimeOut Sydney Best Restaurants
2011 Sydney Morning Herald Restaurant of the Year
2010 Sydney Morning Herald Chef of the Year, Mark Best
2010 Australian Gourmet Traveller Restaurant of the Year Finalist
2010 Restaurant & Catering Association of Australia Restaurant of the Year
2010 San Pellegrino & Restaurant Magazine UK Top 50 Break through award



Word has it that Bill Granger pioneered the breakfast culture in Sydney. The breakfast culture is so visibly strong in Australia from what we observed in both Sydney and Melbourne that we do not know where it began first: Sydney or Melbourne? This question in itself is probably a contentious once since Sydney and Melbourne are known for their competitive and love-hate relationship with each other. In this post, we are only talking Sydney (more amazing Melbourne breakfast meals coming up).

As travelers, we had the luxury of visiting dining destinations on weekdays which somehow helped in alleviating wait times for a table. It was raining lightly and we brisk walked to Bill's. This particular location in Darlinghurst is the original location and there are other branches in other neighborhoods as well. It was a Monday morning and we were not fully spared from waiting for a table. We were told it would be a 15-minute wait. Ahh, a 15-minute wait was nothing. Finally we sat down among white walls with hints of spring colored decor on the wall, and a ton of natural sunlight.

The place was busy and with only two servers for the entire time, it took awhile for us to put our orders in. Once our Callebaut hot chocolate and latte arrived, it made the wait a little more worthwhile. The hot chocolate was prettily presented, I almost wanted to drink it just like that without stirring. But that wouldn't be drinking hot chocolate, would it?

Bill's scrambled eggs are reputed to be "the best in the world" and they were pretty darn good. It was very light, fluffy, and almost airy. The bacon and sourdough toast completed the whole best-scrambled-eggs-in-the-world experience.

The cured ocean trout was very impressive with its fresh taste and seasoned with just enough chopped dill and sea salt without taking away the authentic focus on the cured ocean trout. The poached eggs were perfectly prepared and served on egg cups. A big fan of butter on toast, the generously buttered sourdough toast was made even more of a treat from being dipped into the runny poached eggs before we took a bite.

The only one thing we would want improve is the slow service. While we appreciated a laid back and relaxed brunch, service was really really slow that morning. Granted, it was a busy morning and there were only 2 servers that time.

That said, Bill's does some really wonderful tasting breakfast and who can say no to eating breakfast foods at any time of the day? As if our Bill's experience wasn't enough, I actually went seeking out Bill Granger's cookbooks at bookstores after our breakfast at Bill's.

433 Liverpool Street
Darlinghurst 2010


Single Origins Roasters

The plan was to head to Single Origins Roasters and then spend the rest of our afternoon at Bondi Beach. All started out well except that while we were in the middle of sipping coffee at Single Origins Roasters, it started to pour buckets. There was no sign of the rain improving. A quick look at the weather forecast on our iPad did not lighten things up either. It was going to be wet the entire day. Why didn't we figure this out earlier? We were a tad bit disappointed but Single Origins Roasters made it all better. We sat there and realized that we could actually spend the entire day at Single Origins Roasters and be happy. Best coffee in Sydney, period.

Single Origins Coffee is a Sydney institution in its own right. We read about how some of the employees have the too-cool-for-school attitude but on our visit, everyone was friendly (OK, maybe except the barista whom I don't remember seeing smiling). The tiny wooden tables and chairs with some spilling onto the sidewalk added to the charm. As if the coffee aroma wasn't good enough, freshly baked pastries sat on the counter waiting to be consumed.


The siphon coffee took awhile to arrive, as expected. We first had siphon coffee in San Francisco when the barista there recommended us to drink it black without milk or sugar. At Single Origins Roasters, we were given no such recommendations but decided to enjoy it the same way. We had been drinking so much espresso-based drinks the past few days that the siphon coffee was an absolute delight. The taste was delicate and light, yet flavorful.

The best thing besides coffee were the Lamingtons. We briefly chatted with the server that we were visiting from Chicago and that it was our first time trying a Lamington when she said, "You know the famous food blogger that everyone follows? David ... something?" I piped up, "David Leibovitz", to which she replied, "Yeah, THIS was the Lamington he wrote about".

I'd really like to say, darn, the Lamington was really really good. Who cares if T and I didn't get to go to Bondi Beach anymore on that rainy day? Lamingtons are made out of butter sponge cake and coated with chocolate and dessicated coconut. The ones at Single Origins Roasters had a layer of strawberry jam in between the sponge cake. Lamington is a traditional cake in Australia and every school girl is said to have had baked a Lamington at least once while growing up. I think my next quest is to find a good recipe and bake it.

Single Origins Roasters
60-64 Reservoir Street
Surry Hills 2010

Pasteur Vietnamese

Australia really is quite a place to get authentic Asian food. Given its strategic location smacked in the Asia Pacific region combined with a huge influx of immigrants from its neighboring country, Australia is far from being deprived of Southeast Asian cuisine that stays true to its authentic roots. Sydney is home to a large proportion of population that are of Vietnamese descent. While most of the Vietnamese restaurants are centered in the suburb of Cabramatta, luckily for those who do not wish to venture out of the Central Business District there is Pasteur Vietnamese Restaurant.


As always, the way to judge pho is by its broth since, well, broth is everything when it comes to pho.   I really like the broth turned out. Despite its darker color, the taste was not too intense and there was a very nice balance if I had to rate it between light and heavy tasting. I actually found the taste to be somewhere in between what one would call northern pho (light and clear broth) and southern pho (darker broth with an emphasis on herb spices), both which I've had in San Francisco. If I could only say a few words for Pasteur's pho, it would be that I really really liked it. The bowl of piping hot noodles with broth was a winner with the tendon, brisket, steak, beef balls, and tripe.

The special combination of grilled pork with broken rice was a delight on its own. The portion was more than huge but it was so tasty that T tried his best to stomach as much as he could, never mind the jetlag that sometimes has its way in affecting our appetites.

Pasteur Vietnamese
709 George Street
Haymarket 2000


The Commons Local Eating House

The Commons is everything what its name is: a local eating house. It goes back to the basics of using fresh seasonal ingredients and having a meal without any pretensions. I think Jamie Oliver will love everything that The Common represents. The farmhouse setting and rustic wooden tables and chairs add to the charming vibe of this place.

Word has it that The Commons was born out of a group of friends who wanted a place where friends could gather for a simply good meal in a down-to-earth environment. Or simply, they wanted to have another way of dining and drinking in Sydney. The sandstone wall in a farmhouse setting completes it all. We can't say enough how much we loved this place.

I want to call the poached egg (that came with the corned beef hash) magical because clearly they were, well, magical. I am very particular about getting eggs prepared perfectly even when it comes to making soft boiled eggs at home, even if it means getting a tad bit annoyed when I sometimes accidentally overcook my eggs by a minute, resulting in a less-than-perfect egg. I had no idea it was even possible to make poached eggs this perfectly but clearly The Commons achieved it. The egg appeared solid oval on the outside although extremely delicate and when I took a bite into it, the egg white and yolk were still in semi liquid form which literally melted in my mouth. The very thin outer layer of the egg was just solid enough to keep the egg white and yolk liquid encased. The corned beef strips and hash were well seasoned and accompanied with cherry tomatoes that were soft and juicy enough that they burst just as I bit into them.

And oh, those BBQ pork ribs. I generally am not even a fan of ribs but once I tried some of it (T's choice), I couldn't stop raving about it while we finished up our meal. The meat was tender, almost falling off the bone, and the glaze was just perfect. The roasted corn on the cob was a very nice rustic and delicious touch to it.

Sitting down with friends for a simply good meal is one of the best things ever, and The Commons gets it.

The Commons Local Eating House
32 Burton Street


Bourke Street Bakery

If there is any indication to what a great place this Sydney institution is, it would be the fact that people were standing in line to purchase pastries at Bourke Street Bakery even when it was not considered prime time. We got there at about 3:30pm and perhaps everyone else in the neighborhood of Surry Hills decided to head to Bourke Street Bakery for an afternoon pastry and coffee that day. Or perhaps, no one really needs a reason to visit this bakery. In fact, everyday is a good reason to visit for deliciously baked goods.

Bourke Street Bakery does not boast a huge space. In fact, most of the store space is taken up by the kitchen and counter where the artisan breads and pastries are. Inside, there are only three small tables if you don't mind how close you will be to the next table.

The chocolate croissant was flaky and light. It was very good and I didn't feel guilty indulging in it although we got to Bourke Street Bakery right after our lunch at The Bentley. Who could forgo an excellent croissant?

The oatmeal cookie was uniquely baked and was only just a little thicker than a ginger snap. The coffee was pretty darn good as well. If only we had space for the ginger creme brulee tart.

We actually really liked how tight the space was inside Bourke Street Bakery and thought it only added more character to the place. Grab a pastry (or two) and coffee inside and step outside to enjoy the sun while sitting on their rustic stools. Besides the pastries, the next best thing I liked about this place was sitting on the stools and using the tables that looked like they had been recycled and now reuse. No pretensions but just a great down-to-earth feel while enjoying the pastries.

Bourke Street Bakery
633 Bourke Street
Surry Hills 2010

2011 CNN Top 10 Best Sydney Bakeries
2009 Top 5 Patisseries Sydney Food Awards