Sunday, September 25, 2011

Cherry @ The Star

Whilst I'm not much of a gambler, I couldn't resist a late night visit to the newly reopened Star City casino, now named The Star

After getting our IDs checked at the door, we were allowed onto the brand new casino floor. It was just before 11pm and the floor was already buzzing. The $870 million facelift has done wonders for the previously tired and tacky looking casino. The entire building has been reorientated and given a new harbourside frontage of clear glass that forms a giant screen with visual displays.

It wasn't long before I found Cherry, the new cocktail lounge located on the ground floor of the casino. Two sharply dressed security guarded the entrance to the lounge, my sense told me the dress code is along the lines of smart casual. 

With a massive oval shaped bar as its centre piece, Cherry has a fun and classy feel to it. You can order a drink at the bar from all sides of the room, or if you are feeling lazy, simply wave down one of the pretty waitresses from your table. They are easy to spot as all of them are uniformed in a metallic silver grey halter neck dress with a red belt. There are also plenty comfy seats around the room for you to rest your feet. The cocktail menu is nothing but impressive, a quick look revealed only quality liquor went into the mix. The boys behind the bar are not only friendly and helpful but also got some mad flaring skills, so make sure you order a cocktail and get them to show you a few of their fancy moves. 

The music is mostly a mix of house, lounge and electro jazz, the crowd seems to be rather fluid, just when you think the place has quieted down, a rush of new people would walk in and the whole scene becomes alive again.

And according to a reliable source, Leonardo DiCaprio, who's in town filming Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby is known for dropping in for drinks on Friday/Saturday nights. Star spotting anyone?

Launched as Sydney's new one-of-a-kind leisure and entertainment venue, if the rest of The Star, which I have yet to see, is as good as Cherry then they definitely will have my patronage.

Cherry: Level G, Casino, The Star, 80 Pyrmont Street, Pyrmont, NSW 2009  Cherry on Urbanspoon

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Extreme Cabaret @ Zeta

Want to experience the sexy mystique of the 19th century underground and be entertained by live and extreme and somewhat freaky circus acts? If your answer is yes, then grab your friends and head to Zeta Bar.

On Friday nights, for a limited time, this chic party venue is transformed into a colourful, weird but wonderful space where patrons can enjoy prohibition-inspired cocktails created by Grant Collins, the ringmaster of cocktails; nibble on some delectable alcoholic treats and be entertained by juggling dwarfs, snake charmers, contortionist and burlesque performers.

Rather eat than drink your cocktail? Then try the Extreme Imbibe (gin, absinth, pressed citrus juices, poison bottle imbibe of absinth, fizz powder and injection of champagne) which is served smoking on a platter.

Need entertainment between the live acts? Why not start your own tea party? The Smoking Prohibition Ice Tea (vodka, gin, light rum, cointreau, citrus juice, coke) is served in an antique tea set with a side of screwdriver marmalade.

My favourite cocktail for the night would have to be the Zeta Moonshine (spiced rum, bison grass infused vodka, honey, cointreau, free pressed lemon & apple juice), it is served smoking into a beer bottle wrapped in a brown paper bag.

So think Moulin Rouge meets Underbelly, this is one lurid fantasy world that is sexy and devilish, it will be an unforgetable Friday night out on the town.

Zeta Bar: Level 4, 488 George Street, Sydney, NSW 2000  Zeta Bar on Urbanspoon

Sunday, September 4, 2011


REDOAK has been voted the best beer cafe in NSW for the last 2 years and if you like beer, then this boutique beer cafe is a stop you'll want to make. 

Even though I'm not much of a beer drinker I have always enjoyed my time there. I even have a favourite, the Honey Ale, one of their specialty beers. It is a light bodied pale ale infused with Tasmanian Leatherwood Honey. It has a delicate leatherwood and musk aroma and flavour, followed by a slight bitterness and dry mouth-feel.

It doesn't matter if you are having wine or beer, drinking and eating always go hand in hand. The tasting boards are a great way to try out the different beers on offer. It also gives you a taste of the magic of matching beer to food. Almost all the food on the menu, including dessert, comes recommended with a matching beer or cider. 

On one of my many visits I had the Organic Lamb Sausages (organic lamb, fennel and Aussie Ale sausages with lemon pepper and parsley potato mash, Oatmeal Stout jus and a shaved fennel salad, served with a complimentary beer Aussie Pale Ale), it was simply delicious and the pale ale brought out the flavours of the meal perfectly.

If you are looking for a snack then you cannot go wrong with the hand-cup chips, they are some of the best chips I've ever had.  

Whether you are heading there for a meal or just a few drinks with friends, it's best to make a booking. This place gets very packed on the weekends and especially after 5pm on a Friday when the working crowd carries on the tradition of after work drinks.

REDOAK: 201 Clarence Street, Sydney, NSW 2000  Redoak Boutique Beer Cafe on Urbanspoon

Thursday, September 1, 2011


Tokonoma, the third of Toko establishments in Sydney, is undoubtedly my favourite Japanese restaurant. As soon as I walk through the blink-and-you-miss-it wooden door with a massive, red circular window insert I can feel my body relax, it is such a beautiful space. It's a more elegant version of the Toko bar & restaurant next door; the dim lighting, use of timber, leather and fabric throughout the whole place makes you feel right at home. 

While it is famous for its extensive range of sochu, Tokonoma also has a list of cocktails, spirits, wine and bubbles that will keep you happy. The service is top notch, each and every time. New dishes would appear on cue as soon as the empty dishes are cleared away from the table. 

We had a party of 7 tonight so we were seated at one of the circular banquette lounge booth. While there was just enough room to fit all of us, it didn't feel crowded but rather cosy and intimate. We kicked the night off with a bottle of vintage Moët and nibbled on edamame, which comes in the traditional form - with salt, but I prefer the spicy version since I love chilli in my food. Mind you, the chilli in it is very subtle even my friend who's not keen on spicy food loved it.

My cocktail choice of the night was the Lychee & Jasmine Mojito (fresh mint and lychees muddled with jasmine sugar, lime and matusalem platino, served long with jasmine tea and soda). Consider I love lychee, jasmine tea and mojito, this is one concoction I could not pass on. 
hotate no jalapeno amazu zoe
Many dishes were ordered during the night, while they all sent my taste buds to heaven, if I had to choose, then hotate no jalapeno amazu zoe (grilled scallops topped with sweet pickled apple and jalapeno garlic) and ami yaki ro-su to wafu sauce (scotch fillet steak served with wafu sauce & garlic crisps) are a must. The scallops were done to perfection and the steak cooked to medium rare was so tender it reminded me of the melt-in-your-mouth Florentine steak I had in Florence. 

Whether it's for a romantic date or a group outing, Tokonoma will not disappoint.

Tokonoma: 490 Crown Street, Surry Hills, NSW 2010  Toko on Urbanspoon


Exactly a year ago today I was in Paris, it was my 3rd trip to the city of light, and I was just as thrilled to be there as if it was my first time. There is something about a city like Paris that draws you in and holds you captive. 

After enjoying a meal and show at the world famous cabaret, the Moulin Rouge, we headed next door to O'Sullivans by the Mill, a popular Irish pub, to party the night away. There was a lot of dancing and mingling with the locals.  At some stage during the night the bar was lit on fire when a round of Jägerbomb was served. Just make sure you don't stand too close to the bar when they do it, or you might end up with singed eyebrows. 

Paris is well known for its culture, pick up a Paris museum pass if you are spending a few days in the city, it'll give you free entry to over 60 museums and monuments in and around Paris. And if you time your visit right, you can check out the major galleries such as Musee d' Orsay, the Orangerie, Musee Picasso, the Louvre and many others for free. All the national museums are free on the first Sunday of each month, but be prepared for the crowd. 

For those wanting to experience something different, Catacombes de Paris is a must. This underground ossuary holds the remains of 6 million people. To reach the ossuary entry we had to descend about 20 meters of spiral stone stairwell, and walk through a long, dark and twisting hallway of mortared stone. The inscription at the entrance reads Arrête, c'est ici l'empire de la Mort (Stop, this is the empire of Death). This place is definitely not for the faint hearted.