4Fourteen – Surry Hills, Sydney

130722 4FourteenI adore Surry Hills. It’s that little part of Sydney that reminds me of the best parts of Europe (and Melbourne) that have you strolling down paths of history rather than streets. No matter what pops up here … the latest bistro, bar, boutique or organic market store … it beats with that truly eccentric pulse that only few places inherently lay claim to and many others spend copious amounts of money trying to recreate.

130722 4Fourteen Bar

As much at home and with deserved conceit is 4Fourteen. For those who watched the last series of My Kitchen Rules and developed the same grudging admiration for Colin Fassnidge as I did, one bite of his ham hock croquette would qualify your belief and the contestants’ worst fear – he knows what he’s talking about. Add a dollop of mustard creme fraiche and he becomes as lovely as his Irish lilt.

130722 Dory

This is a sharing restaurant and I highly recommend going with a friend. The entrees are singularly offered to encourage a smorgasbord of personally selected delights. If you make it to the mains, they are generous.

We tried the mirror dory and leather jacket with citrus fennel stew.  Restaurant quality with home-cooked goodness. Think melt-in-your-mouth poached dory, textured and almost wildly Spanish-flavoured leather jacket, silky pearl couscous, just crunchy broccolini and the most perfectly sublime broth  – with a couple of heavenly clams for decadence.

Then there’s dessert. Which I don’t normally eat. But I was intrigued by “The Bounty”. This is not a ship … but it could sink one. Or inspire Captains and Pirates to fight to the death for the joy of eating one. Think bounty bar – whipped into the puffed perfection of a chocolate mousse, little dollops of coconut ice-cream dusted with cocoa, slivers of toasted coconut and crisp almost-salty tuiles.130722 Bounty

This is one of the few restaurants that I will without doubt go back to again and again. Even if I have to go it alone. Against my own advice.  Eat it all myself. And work my way through the entire menu. Every season.

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Motion Bar and Grill – Brisbane City

Brisbane has been unseasonably wet this winter and faced with another grey day and a cabin-fevered husband, last Sunday I did what any good wife would do. I scrolled through my “restaurant bucket list” and off we went to Motion Bar & Grill at the Marriott in the city. Perfect.

Valet parking (free) and a charmingly assisted elevator trip up to the restaurant – a great start.

Marble flooring, grand colonial windows, linen napkins and proper wine glasses. Even better.

Sunday lunch specials (3 courses for under $35) and you’re inclined to do what we did – kick back, order a bottle of wine and while away the afternoon with good food and company.

130630 Motion Mussels

Beautiful spiced tomato and garlic aioli with green-lipped mussels (although I usually prefer them a little smaller).

Love the punchy little apple remoulade with the crispy whiting and the truffle mash with the bratwurst is silky subtle perfection. 130630 Motion Whiting Apple & Celery Remoulad

The real winners here though are the desserts. I adore panna cotta and Motion’s black sour cherry version is sublime. I am not a fan of frangipane, but my husband ordered the warm-baked blueberry tart and I would actually go back for it.130630 Motion Blueberry Frangipani Tart with Anglaise