Today is Australia Day, the official holiday to celebrate …… ok, like most Australians I actually have no idea what it’s meant to celebrate. Wikipedia tells me it is the following:
Australia Day is the official national day of Australia. Celebrated annually on 26 January, which marks the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the First Fleet of British Ships at Sydney Cove, New South Wales, and raising of the Flag of Great Britain at that site by Governor Arthur Phillip. In contemporary Australia, celebrations reflect the diverse society and landscape of the nation, and are marked by community and family events, reflections on Australian history, official community awards, and citizenship ceremonies welcoming new immigrants into the Australian community.
So that is good to know, but unfortunately for our indigenous Australians that means today was Invasion Day – the day their home was changed forever. I personally take a fence-sitting position on this one so to celebrate Australia Day I’m going to go a different path. The travel path.
I’ve noticed just how popular Australia has become as a tourist destination the past few years, and over this last festive season I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many Americans visit Australia. That tells me our little island is garnering attention and I should share some of my favourite haunts. To start with I’m going to talk about eating, because we all do it.
I’m revealing to you the three eateries you can almost always find me picking up a snack or having a meal. A little secret between you and I, eating at these places are not only delicious but they offer great healthy food (if you choose accordingly) so eating out doesn’t have to be a sin. Enjoy!
This adorable little bakery is more than meets the eye. You could mistake the owner, Jessica, for a supermodel but she hides a hidden talent for turning traditional recipes of baked goods into delicious plant-based delicacies. It’s this talent that manifested as Mad Hatter Cupcakery in 2012 – selling her cupcakes at pop-up locations all around Sydney. Most recently Jessica opened MH Studio – Australia’s 1st Plant Based Patisserie.
At MH Studio you will find scrumptious cupcakes in flavours like Tiramisu, Red Velvet and Lemon Meringue as well as a seasonal menu. Croissants, cinnamon scrolls, chocolate tarts and even macarons are on the menu. My favourite creation of Jessica’s is the Cold-Pressed Coffee made with Bonsoy. You’d never know all these treats were vegan if no one told you.
MH Studio, 24 Flinders Street, Darlinghurst
Abdul’s Lebanese Restaurant
Don’t let the typical takeaway kebab store facade fool you, this Lebanese restaurant is where you will find the freshest, most delicious, authentic grub in Sydney. It has been a proud Sydney institution since the doors opened in 1968, with regulars who date back just as far and a favourite food choice passed down through generations. It’s one of those places you’ll only ever discover by word-of-mouth. My parents were eating there before I was even born, and it has been my favourite restaurant since I was a few weeks old.
The menu hasn’t changed much in those 40+ years. It’s classic Lebanese dishes done to perfection. Their falafel are crunchy on the outside, fluffy on the inside and always piping hot; Hummus so creamy you will want to spread it on everything; the garlic dip … OMG, the garlic dip – it’ll leave you dateless for a year but you’ll still want to eat it by the spoonful.
The restaurant has a double shopfront – one side is takeaway and the other a restaurant. You can pop in and grab a kebab or containers full of your favourites. I always choose the latter because moving after eating an Abdul’s meal is quite a struggle, I need to do it in my own home. My standard order is a pack of their super soft lebanese bread, hummus, tabouli, coriander potato, beans in tomato, cabbage rolls and ALWAYS a serve (or 5) of their homemade lemon juice. If I’m being naughty, and I usually am, I grab some of their incredible sweets – the baclava is my favourite.
Abdul’s Lebanese Restaurant, 563 Elizabeth St (cnr Cleveland St), Surry Hills
Kitchen by Mike
I guess you could best describe this establishment as a canteen but it’s way more hipster than that. Formerly an Executive Chef at Rockpool, Mike McEnearney was looking to create an establishment that served good food with a good vibe. They share a roof with Australian design company Koskela, who did a wonderful job at making the large open-spaced eatery part rustic, part homely and part eclectic.
Simple, fresh and creatively presented – the menu is based around what they find at the markets each day. Lunch is definitely the most popular meal at this “cafe” but they do offer breakfast as well. Certain dishes are almost always available, such as their Raw vegetables, sprouts, quinoa & poached egg for breakfast and the margherita pizza at lunch. You will always find a mix of salads, meat and/or fish dishes and a selection of gourmet ingredient filled tartines, wraps and rolls. My tip, avoid peak meal times weekends otherwise expect to line-up for an average of 30mins.
Kitchen by Mike, 85 Dunning Ave, Rosebery
Have you eaten out in Sydney? Are you tempted to try any of these establishments? Let me know by commenting below!
Images: sourced from official websites