Hello, world!

Welcome to holdthelettuce.net, the canvas for the edible adventure that is my life. The tale begins in London, UK and will wander around the UAE before heading down under to Sydney and then finally to the USA, where I will be setting up camp permanently!

For me, having travelled pretty extensively throughout my 22 years, travel is inescapably tied to food, hence the decision to finally document these culinary experiences as my gallivanting continues over the next 7 months. In my opinion, there is nothing better than immersing oneself in the lifestyle of a new place by EATING (except maybe drinking…).

Those who say ‘food is for fuel’ are people with whom I wholeheartedly disagree. Eating has been a social activity for too many generations to count and will continue to be an inherent part of our society for the simple reason that people love it and it brings them together.

With that small introduction I leave you to peruse my blog, which will (if all goes to plan) be updated every week with my favourite newly-discovered hotspots, always visited with an appetite and my trusty Eastpak.

Food (and wine) is love.


Best of LA

Welcome to the city of angels! After a great few days in Montreal, Ole Sib and I ventured out to the land of glitz and glam to begin our epic road trip around those old United States, starting with Los Angeles or, more specifically, Marina del Rey. Located just a tad south of Venice Beach, Marina del Rey is an affluent coastal neighbourhood with bars and restaurants a-plenty. We spent a few days perusing the area and strolling up the boardwalk to Venice before switching up locations to stay in West Hollywood and dive into the quintessential LA experience. A melting pot of cultures and people, LA is not for the faint of heart but, when done right, it can offer a taste of what wonderful California is all about. Behold our tasting sessions!

Whisky Red’s: Marina del Rey

If you’re staying in Marina del Rey, the chances are you’re going to want to actually see the marina and there is no better way than by sipping a cocktail in the waterfront restaurant, Whiskey Red’s. It has a beautiful little garden leading up to the entrance and a very chalet chic vibe inside, however you’re wasting your time if you don’t head to the outside terrace to dine. The terrace is spacious and offers a fantastic view of the water, not to mention cosy stone fire pits and fairy lights that are perfect for enjoying California evenings al fresco, as intended. As one might expect given its location, Whiskey Red’s specialises in great seafood and, yep, you guessed it: whiskey. While the menu is slightly on the pricey side, the food is presented beautifully and the ambience is excellent. Besides, Marina del Rey isn’t exactly the place to dine if you’re looking to tighten the purse strings, so you may as well go for the restaurant with the best fire pit instagram photo potential and enjoy a whiskey cocktail while you’re at it.


Pump: West Hollywood

If you’re familiar with the ladies of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (and why wouldn’t you be?) then the restaurants Pump and Sur will surely be on your list in LA. Owned by the infamous sharp-tongued Brit, Lisa van der Pump, these two restaurants are the epitome of glitz and glamour and even have their own reality shows documenting the enthralling drama of the lives of their staff. Ole Sib and I had the pleasure of dining at Sur last time we were in LA and so decided to head to Pump for comparison because we had heard that there was a beautiful courtyard dining area. We were right and it was very picturesque, however we were not important enough to be seated there. On we went to our table in the corner where we had a good, if a little underwhelming dining experience. The food was tasty but nothing to write home about considering the price (yet here I am, writing away). The reason Pump appears on this list (or Sur for that matter; the conclusion we came to is that they are essentially interchangeable unless you’re significant enough to be seated at the best table in the house) is that it is an observational experience unlike any other. Given its location in vibrant West Hollywood and its fame, the clientele is diverse and highly entertaining to watch. From gals out on the town dressed to the nines snapping photos with the waiters to actual celebrities (gasp, in Hollywood?!) the people watching element makes this restaurant a place that really should be experienced if only to get a taste of the strange and alluring idealised world of Hollywood.


Fat Sal’s: Hollywood

Fat Sal’s is a must for anyone seeking creative, borderline crazy, Insta-worthy sandwiches. Known for its giant sandwiches that essentially have an entire meal stuffed inside of them, this is an LA institution that is popular with locals and tourists alike and, when mozzarella sticks are featured inside many of the unique subs, it’s easy to see why it has been so successful. If you’re up for a challenge, try the Big Fat Fatty sandwich, which is stuffed to the brim with cheesesteak, cheeseburgers, pastrami, chicken fingers, bacon, mozzarella sticks, fried eggs, fries (because why would you want these outside your sandwich when inside is an option?), onion rings, chilli, marinara and the signature fat sauce. However, if a gastric bypass isn’t on your wish list then there are plenty of other mouth-watering options at Fat Sal’s to satiate all of your food cravings at once.


Gracias Madre: WeHo

Call me crazy, but after going vegan for one meal at Lola Rosa in Montreal I was willing to head down the plant-based route once more at Gracias Madre in West Hollywood, a restaurant that has garnered attention from the stars since its inception and for good reason. While Ole Sib and I were not high profile enough to secure a seat on the dreamy looking patio (literally, only in my dreams would I be allowed to mingle with the important people out on this magical patio), we enjoyed a delicious culinary experience in this light and airy Mexican restaurant. If you have any reservations with regards to the vegan situation, enjoy a few margaritas while you peruse the options because they really are a treat and then dive into the experience. The nachos are excellent and it turns out cashew cheese (yes, I was sceptical also) is actually a surprisingly tasty substitution for arguably the largest food group in my diet. The menu changes with what is available seasonally and is appealing simply for the fact that it does not just replace traditional Mexican meat dishes with veggie options, but offers interesting creations that revolve around the plant-based ingredients. Besides being another hotspot for celebrity watching, Gracias Madre is a great destination in WeHo and, while you will inevitably still roll out of there, you will feel healthy and virtuous and entertain the idea of going vegan for real for at least 10 seconds until you vacate the premises.


The Nice Guy: WeHo

The Nice Guy is the worst kept celebrity secret in West Hollywood mainly for the fact that you are almost guaranteed a celebrity sighting here. I know, I know, I have raved about Pump and Gracias Madre as pop culture hotspots but The Nice Guy is FOR REAL. Ole Sib and I decided to check out this destination shrouded in mystery (photography is not allowed inside the restaurant owing to aforementioned famous folk) after seeing photos on Instagram of the likes of Kanye West and Justin Bieber strolling through The Nice Guy’s doors. We had no idea what happened inside that fancy entrance but we needed to find out for ourselves. We were ushered through a velvet curtain by the hostess and entered into a very dimly lit restaurant reminiscent of an old prohibition bar. It’s not a particularly big restaurant but it is laid out in a way that separates a lounge area from a bar area and the dining area. The menu is surprisingly extensive for such an exclusive spot and the craft cocktails are delectable. The food here is certainly of a high standard but the real charm to The Nice Guy is that it effortlessly exudes cool, and not in as much of a pretentious way as one might expect. Perhaps it’s the no photography rule or the fact that there are all sorts of nooks and crannies in which to hide one’s identity, but it seems finally there is a place to observe the rich and famous in their natural habitat while masquerading as one of them and enjoying a unique social experience.


Grand Central Market: DTLA

A downtown LA landmark, Grand Central Market is a great place to experience the multicultural flavours that this melting pot city has to offer. With over 38 different vendors ranging from Thai street food to oyster bars and juiceries, it is possible to spend an entire day here and barely scratch the surface (don’t worry, there’s a bar at which to take refuge in between meals). Furthermore, during the summer, Grand Central Market runs a Summer Nights entertainment program with outdoor movies, happy hours and trivia nights and stays open later for the occasion so there’s plenty of time to get your fill. Set up in a giant warehouse downtown, this is a great way to immerse yourself in the LA experience without having to go for a hike or pretend to enjoy kale and is definitely a must visit as a historical landmark and a culinary adventure (not to mention a great idea if committing to one restaurant is too challenging).


As always, comment below if you’ve enjoyed any of these experiences and prepare yourself for the next stop: the fabulous Las Vegas.

Best of Montreal… The North American Adventure begins!

Let the great North American adventure commence! The upcoming posts will be about cities and towns Ole Sib and I visited on our USA-Canada road trip that took place this summer spanning over 30 states and 2 provinces, each one more delicious than the next. Sit back, relax and enjoy the foodie tour of North America!

The Best of Montreal

After a week of paradise in upstate New York’s Adirondack region for a family gathering, Ole Sib and I trundled off to America’s friendly northern neighbour and stopped when we hit the beautiful port city of Montreal. I have been fortunate to visit Montreal a few times thanks to some wonderful friends who attended college there and showed me great hotspots around the city. This best of Montreal compilation is an amalgamation of their excellent recommendations and a few other establishments we stumbled across along the way. Montreal is such a vibrant and diverse city that you could spend weeks exploring different neighbourhoods and, with a high student and graduate population, it is an ever-changing, thriving metropolis that has much to offer by way of food, drink and good times. Without further ado, I give you my best of Montreal.

Restaurant L’Avenue: Plateau

Guys. This might be my favourite brunch restaurant in the whole world. It’s a huge call, I know, but I feel in my heart that it may be the right one. Located on Montreal’s plateau neighbourhood, L’Avenue is hugely popular with locals and tourists alike because of its endless menu and amazing breakfast combos. The menu itself is a delight because it is laid out in the style of an old game show except, in this case, everyone wins! It is hugely appealing simply for the fact that it is possible to have all the breakfast favourites on one plate without feeling like an insatiable oaf. Plus, before the main event they bring out a large fruit brochette which makes you feel like the healthiest bruncher around while you’re sipping your strawberry and watermelon mimosa. If the bang for your buck element isn’t enough to tempt you here (why not, I will never understand) then it is worth the journey simply for the décor. With giant maple syrup cans and motorcycles adorning the walls, L’Avenue exudes a level of cool I can only just manage without running for fear of being noticed as someone inherently uncool. The cherry on top here is the bathroom (weird, I know), which I can only describe as the most psychedelic experience I have ever had. I’ll leave you to figure that one out.


La Banquise: Plateau

Since you’re already on the Plateau if you’ve taken the above advice and enjoyed breakfast at L’Avenue, why not turn your day into a food crawl and head further down the road to La Banquise for lunch? Or dinner, or a late night snack; it’s open 24 hours! One of Canada’s many fantastic offerings to the world is its poutine and at La Banquise it is possible to tuck into no less than 31 mind-boggling variations. I’m talking all the meats you could imagine, veggie versions, Mexican versions, vegan versions… The list is endless! (Until you hit number 31.) Personally, La Dan Dan serves as my ultimate recommendation. This sumptuous platter of delicious French fries, cheese curds, pepperoni, bacon and onions slathered in the meaty nectar also known as gravy was enormous and gluttonous and juicy and flavoursome and, quite frankly, fantastic. Furthermore, La Banquise has plenty of seating and also offers a quaint outside terrace area to enjoy in the summer months. It rates as my top spot for poutine. (And if you’re heading to Canada without thinking of puttin’ some poutine in your mouth, I’m not sure we can be friends.)



Taverne Gaspar: Old Port

After a long day of soaking up the tourist vibes in the beautiful city of Montreal, a great place to spend the evening is in the Old Port, a vibrant and picturesque area with plenty of bars and restaurants. During the day it is possible to catch a food market here or pick up some gifts at one of the multiple souvenir stores that all claim to have the best maple syrup in town. It is far from tacky down at the Old Port, however, with cobbled streets and charming old buildings in what was once Canada’s busiest port as well as a wealth of attractions down by the water; if you’re looking to zip line, paddle boat, see a Cirque du Soleil performance, experience a haunted house, take a Segway tour or do anything that holiday-you would entertain, the Old Port is your place. There is a great range of restaurants here (and some wonderful food trucks – be sure to check out Félix & Norton if you’re a cookie fan) whether you’re looking for a quick bite post-sightseeing or more of a fine dining experience. Ole Sib and I decided to set our sights firmly in the middle of the spectrum and stumbled across Taverne Gaspar, where we opted to sit outside and enjoy the warm summer’s evening. Taverne Gaspar offers an interesting menu of classic pub food but with a twist (be sure to sample their Jack Daniels barbecue sauce. I am a sucker for mac and cheese, which was excellent and only improved by the addition of bacon and peas. The ambience at Taverne Gaspar was relaxed and enjoyable and the imaginative cocktails went down a treat, so it earns a spot on the Montreal hit list for these reasons in addition to the fact that the food is reasonably priced and the location unbeatable.



Lola Rosa: McGill

Having hit some of the major tourist traps of the Plateau and the Old Port, it’s time now to head over to the McGill campus to see how the students live. This is a personal favourite area of mine thanks to my friends who showed me a good time here and because of the fact that I enjoy torturing myself with fond university memories… (The real world ain’t all it’s cracked up to be, people!) It is right in the centre of the city and is perfect in the sense that the thriving commercial downtown area meets with the leafy green avenues of the McGill campus and surrounding residential areas. Plus, it’s close to one of the entrances to Mount Royal so you can work up an appetite or work off those calories; the choice is yours. Upon recommendation, Ole Sib headed to Lola Rosa, a cosy vegetarian restaurant that is a stone’s throw away from the gates of McGill. Now, I know what you’re thinking, why did they go to a vegetarian restaurant when the blog is called holdthelettuce?! Well, yes, while I can assure you I have my doubts concerning leaf-only restaurants, I do trust the judgement of the pal who recommended somewhere as fantastic as La Banquise. What can I say? The trust paid off! We started with a plate of nachos, which were delightful and had a nice twist in the form of shredded beetroot, something that I wouldn’t normally go for but, hey, it was a day of firsts. I followed up with a vegetarian lasagne that was incredibly cheesy and tasty while Ole Sib sampled the pie of the day. Though the food was such a success that I even forgot meat was absent, the real win of the experience was the character of Lola Rosa. The staff was kind and attentive and there was a very homely charm about the restaurant that left us feeling coddled and full and ready for a nap.


Queues de Castor Beavertails (Honourable mention):

If the above culinary escapades weren’t enough to satisfy that sweet tooth, be sure to grab a beavertail when you’re in good old Canada. Located all over the country but founded in Ottawa, this tasty pastry store is famous for its beavertail shaped delicacies upon which is slathered a selection of toppings such as chocolate and banana, apple cinnamon and, my personal favourite, maple butter. They are life changing and a true testament to the gloriousness of this nation. You can also get poutine here. Canada, yo.



So concludes my ultimate Montreal hit list, but fear not, I have merely scratched the surface and intend to discover much more of what the city has to offer upon my next visit, whenever that may be. I hope you enjoy savouring these hotspots as much as I did and let me know your favourites in the comments!




Butter, Sydney, Australia (our farewell to Sydney!)

Warning: this post contains images that may cause drooling.

Brace yourselves, boys and girls, for I am about to recount to you the tale of the most wonderful restaurant concept upon which I have ever stumbled. The place: Butter. The time: fried chicken time. If you have been keeping up with my blog, you’ll be aware that fried chicken is probably my most raved about food because I believe it is terribly underrated (see post: Bridge St. Garage), but for all those newbies out there let the record state that I love fried chicken with all my heart. Interestingly enough, I also love champagne. Perhaps even greater than my love for champagne is my love for sneakers. Enter: Butter, a hybrid sneaker, fried chicken and champagne bar located in trendy Surry Hills.

On arrival, two things stand out at this establishment (things that one has a fair amount of time to ponder while inevitably waiting for a table at this popular joint). The first is the giant glass wall showcasing the best of the best sneakers around, adorned lazily with champagne bottles. I’m talking Jordans galore. The second is the sweet sweet sound of hip-hop music. These snazzy kicks combined with hoppin’ beats and champagne bottles make for an atmosphere reminiscent of what I should imagine an after party hosted by Drake might look like. One can only hope that I discover whether my suspicions are correct in this regard. Once you’ve wrestled your way to a table (try and hold out for the bar at the window for ultimate people watching between the sneakers), the menu will grab you. You have a choice of different amounts of fried chicken (3 pac or size 13s – genius) or a number of other options such as the cheezus sandwich, which has my personal recommendation.

As if the names of the items on the menu weren’t witty and amusing enough for hip hop fans, the heat rating of the sauces you can choose is also original and fantastic. It starts out with naked, then OG (original gangster, if you didn’t know), fire and finally hot AF. I’ll leave you to google the last one if you aren’t a millennial or present on social media but, for the avoidance of doubt, this one is really really hot so tread carefully. I went for the cheezus sandwich with a side of shoelace fries. The sandwiches come with their own sauce so there is no need to choose how hot you’d like it, which is helpful since I don’t trust myself to make the right decision in this situation. The cheezus comes with a delightful honey mustard sauce and coleslaw. I appreciate the tradition of coleslaw with southern cooked meats but will always think of it as a pointless garnish, so I will leave you to decide how the coleslaw rates. Sorry, coleslaw.

Having been fortunate to try more than my fair share of fried chicken and even more fortunate to sample this delicacy in the Deep South aka the home of fricken, I came in with high expectations since this is perhaps the only food I feel almost qualified to be snobbish about. I can happily say that Butter met those expectations with flying chickens, which were juicy and tender while the batter was crispy with minimal grease. A solid show all round it appears, as Ole Sib seemed very taken with her OG 3 pac also.

To conclude, Butter is an excellent establishment to enjoy some good quality fried chicken and feel classy while enjoying the large selection of champagne. Plus, you can rest assured that all your friends will think you’re super cool and you can leave the establishment safe in the knowledge that now you will be the OG of your friendship group since you clearly have impeccable taste in restaurant and sneaker.



The Best of Sydney: Brunch Edition

Dear Readers,

My sincerest apologies for my several month long absence! I was fortunate enough to undertake the trip of a lifetime around those old United States and life on the road was busy to say the least. However, the fruits (and burgers and hot dogs and tacos) of the travels will be documented here on holdthelettuce in their entirety in the coming weeks and months. It was a truly mouthwatering journey and I can’t wait to relive it with you all!

In the meantime, let me finish off the Australian adventures with the following post (and one more after that!) about that fancy mealtime also known as brunch.

The Best of Sydney: Brunch Edition

The world revolves around brunch. Plain and simple. Not only is it the first meal of the day when one can enjoy a beverage sans judgement, but it is also a particularly social occasion that is, dare I say, the most heavily documented meal of the day on social media. While brunch mania has taken hold all over the world (see post: Imperium brunch) the fever is especially high in Sydney, where people take immense pride in their coffee and avocado (preferably sold separately). Thus, in the interest of saving everyone precious time in this fast paced world, here is a guide to my favourite brunch spots in the city.

Speedos Café: Bondi

A beach view, bomb smoothies and Nutella cronuts. Done. Mic drop.

Just kidding. Whether you’re in the city or by the beach already, it is most definitely worth heading out to Bondi to pay a visit to Speedos Café, a little breakfast spot up on the hill overlooking the beach. They have a very diverse menu featuring the classics but also cater to the healthy crowd (looking at you, hikers) that frequents this area so be sure to try their smoothie bowls and milkshakes, if only for the ‘gram. However, for those who found that the hill up to the restaurant required maximum physical effort, reward yourself with one (or three) of the amazing pastries. A word of warning: Speedos is pretty compact and the view-facing tables snap up very quickly so get there early on weekends if you don’t want to end up throwing a tantrum when they’ve sold out of cronuts.


Bangbang Café: Surry Hills

We’re back in Surry Hills, aka the hipster brunch mecca. Bangbang café is a local favourite catering for all meals of the day (they have great burgers – check out their Instagram) but I would be inclined to say that brunch is where it really shines. It’s only a short walk from Central Station and is tucked on the leafy, residential Reservoir Street with a giant open façade that makes for fantastic people watching and soaking up the leisurely morning vibes. Bangbang serves up your breakfast favourites but it has made its way onto this fabled list because of its excellent serving sizes. Here you can order your side of avocado safe in the knowledge that you will receive more than three measly slices and, thankfully, the same goes for bacon. For fear of repeating myself multiple times throughout this post I will stress here that, as above, most of these restaurants are compact in size and very popular so be prepared to set up camp and wait for your reward.




Cyren: Darling Harbour

If you’re looking to impress your friends with some excellent harbour views that don’t include swarms of tourists attempting to get the right photo of themselves holding the Opera House in their hand then hop on over to thriving Darling Harbour. With a plethora of dining options as well as bars, museums and the world’s largest IMAX theatre, this place is bustling but on a smaller scale than that famous harbour down the road (or water). Cyren takes the biscuit as the best brunch spot because it has a slightly classier feel than the other tourist traps around the harbour and has a great outside dining area. The breakfast menu offers more savoury options than sweet so if you’re looking for pancakes, look elsewhere, but if you want to be able to personalise your eggs benedict with four different options then look no further than this waterfront hotspot.



Local Mbassy: Ultimo

There are two words that should make you drop whatever you are holding and dash for the door in the direction of Local Mbassy in Ultimo. Those two words are: red velvet. The trendiest colour and flavour around has infiltrated the menu at this popular joint in the form of red velvet pancakes and a red velvet latte and boy, oh boy are they worth a try. As with many restaurants popping up these days, Local Mbassy has jumped on the industrial chic train but the quirky factor here is the outdoor seating in a small garden area set back from the street. Again, this place gets pretty busy but it’s a great place to get away from the usual Surry Hills eateries and try out some unique breakfast options. (I repeat, red velvet everything).


Reuben Hills: Surry Hills

After that little Ultimo jaunt it’s back to Surry Hills we go! This place perhaps tops the list of the Surry Hills cluster in this post for several reasons. Firstly, it has the industrial chic vibe down to a t in that it is an airy and spacious (which is rare for these breakfast spots) converted garage with some pretty swish neon lighting. Secondly, it has a different menu to your run of the mill brunch restaurants that is the perfect amount of pretentious without being repellent. For example, I will happily try bacon custard whereas something like foie gras ice cream is a less appealing concept. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the music in this place is exceptional. As soon as you enter, a wave of smooth hip-hop greets your ears and all is right in the world. Coffee plus eggs plus Drake equals true happiness.


Haven: Surry Hills

Yes, I know what you’re thinking. Another Surry Hills brunch spot. Well, you just have to trust me on this. Sorry, not sorry. Haven (full name Haven: Tailoring Coffee Joyously) is quite the special place on this list owing to its unique take on coffee. At Haven, you are able to pinpoint the exact kind of coffee you like by using their handy taste chart that allows you to specify the levels of aroma, sweetness, body and aftertaste you prefer. After you have done this, they craft an individual coffee blend that is personalised to you. I don’t know how much more exclusive your coffee-drinking experience can get, folks. As if that weren’t enough, Haven is also known for its Hong Kong style egg waffles served with toppings such as red beans, sesame sauce and Matcha ice cream. Trust me, it works. If that’s not up your street, the regular menu is diverse and brunch is available all day. A dream come true.



So concludes the brunch fest! Go forth and taste, readers, and be sure to report back with your findings and any new spots that deserve a place on this prestigious list.

The Best of Orlando

Dearly beloved readers, today I thought I’d try something a little different and make a post with an amalgamation of several hot culinary destinations to visit instead of one review. The place under scrutiny is Orlando, Florida and the locations are spread out around the city so essentially I’ve given you a guided foodie tour of the City Beautiful (but also check out the singular post on The Briarpatch!). You’re welcome. Here goes!

Seasons 52: Altamonte

A little on the upmarket side of things, Seasons 52 is a fantastic place for celebrations with chic décor and great service. As one could guess from the name, it always has an imaginative seasonal menu with a plethora of tempting choices. The flatbreads make for an excellent sharing starter and this is most definitely a place for making room for dessert, as they bring over a platter of choices ranging from a mini key lime pie to a s’mores pudding. Now perhaps you understand why I suggested that this was a good place for group celebrations because GOOD LUCK being able to choose just one dessert from these options. I believe there is also a great wine selection, however I wouldn’t know since, in an unprecedented turn of events, Papa L wouldn’t let us try his selection because evidently our taste buds aren’t valuable enough. Shocking behaviour.


Boca: Winter Park

Boca has a delightful al fresco dining area on Park Avenue, making it a hotspot for lunching and people watching in the Floridian sunshine (perhaps head inside in the summer months unless intense sweating is your thing) of an afternoon. A solid lunch menu included various gourmet sandwiches, interesting salads and, as fate would have it, on National Grilled Cheese Day, grilled cheese was featured also. This was no ordinary grilled cheese however, as it included Gruyere and blue cheese with caramelised onions and artichoke. The fanciest humble grilled cheese around. If the weather isn’t playing the game, the restaurant is very accommodating inside with a large private dining area reminiscent of a restaurant in the Hamptons attached to the main area. Be sure to check out the lettuce leaves growing on the walls – they use these in the salads!


World of Beer: Lake Eola

While there are several WoB locations in Orlando, the most scenic is arguably the Lake Eola location, which has a wonderful outside deck looking over the city’s most iconic lake. It is the craft beer lover’s oasis, with hundreds of varieties from which to choose. Handy hint: be sure to download the app to check out all the options and select your favourites before they inevitably inhibit you from making any sound decisions after sampling (for the sake of research, of course). For those less hop-enthused, rest assured there are plenty of other options to ensure you keep pace with those merry beer folk. For when the hunger sets in, there is an extensive menu with some great sharing options (suspicious, I know) such as chicken wings, shrimp and a giant pretzel with a plethora of dip choices fit for kings. All in all, WoB makes for a great place to gather the troops for an evening of shenanigans.



Park Station: Winter Park

Having raved about the joys of Park Avenue in the morning light for a brunch experience, it appears that it must be stated that it is also rather lovely at sunset if an evening meal is on the cards. Park Station is a restaurant dealing primarily in American fare and, like most of the other establishments on this street, has outdoor seating. Albeit slightly less extensive than the other restaurants featured in this wonder-post, the menu at Park Station is certainly interesting and diverse. The flatbread was a delectable starter (flatbreads will always be noted on this blog because I have a great appreciation for the fact that they are essentially pizzas that masquerade as starters) and the main course of fish in a caper sauce and seasonal vegetables went down swimmingly (hehe, geddit?). Good food, good happy hour and good vibes, but be sure to sit outside to get the full effect of that wine in the sunset.


So concludes this list of Orlando hotspots, tailored to (nearly) every possible experience one could wish to enjoy in this city. Just kidding; there is plenty more to discover but I’ll be darned if this isn’t a swell place to start.


Briarpatch, Winter Park, Florida

We’ve hopped stateside! A short hiatus from Sydney leads us to Orlando, Florida for the next few posts. Enjoy!

Orlando, Florida: The home of Disney World, Universal and all things synonymous with fun (unless you’re a heartless scrooge). While no trip to Orlando is complete without a visit to these amusement parks, there is much more of ‘The City Beautiful’ to be discovered, unbeknownst to many tourists. The city has undergone something of a renaissance in recent years with its downtown neighbourhood’s revamp into a vibrant and, most notably, pedestrian friendly area. However, the neighbourhood whose praises I will be singing throughout this post is Winter Park, a beautifully dreamy amalgamation of fountains, green parks, boutiques and quaint restaurants. Also home to Rollins College, Winter Park is the playground for college students and retirees alike, living harmoniously in this sun-drenched Floridian oasis.

Strolling down Park Avenue, one is presented with a plethora of dining options with outdoor seating spilling onto the pavement beneath colourful awnings. Upon recommendation, Ole Sib, Papa L and I headed to a restaurant called Briarpatch for brunch with my aunt and uncle in tow – a merry gathering! Sadly we were unable to secure seating outside given our party size and the popularity of the restaurant and its al fresco area, however the inside of Briarpatch was bright and airy, with snazzy light fixtures and modern art adorning the walls. The disappointment of not being able to dine in the sunshine was nothing a couple of blood orange mimosas (a wonderful twist on the classic) couldn’t solve. Next up: the impossible task of deciding whether to head down the sweet or savoury route for brunch, perhaps the only serious downfall of this revolutionary mealtime (see post: Imperium brunch). While the french toast was no doubt trying to woo me, I opted for savoury and chose the California Eggs Benedict, for what is brunch (or life, for that matter) without eggs?

Now perhaps you are wondering what the difference is between a classic eggs benedict and this blonde, tanned Californian version. Let me put you out of your misery. This west coast take on the favourite breakfast dish came with avocado (the most fashionable fruit around) and a chipotle hollandaise sauce that went down like a house on fire with a heap of golden home fries. The bacon was also of the streaky variety, whereas the typical eggs benedict tends to feature ham or back bacon. All in all, Briarpatch’s California Eggs Benedict blew the regular version out of the water. The inclusion of avocado was welcome, because a breakfast instagram post without the familiar green hue of this popular food is quite frankly insufficient in this day and age. Furthermore, while hollandaise does not tend to rank highly on my list of condiments, this smoky chipotle version was a fantastic alternative and went swimmingly with the home fries.

In great spirits and full of eggs, we took a stroll down Park Avenue to soak up the sun (shout out to those Sheryl Crow fans) and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of Winter Park. In the name of full research and because it was so gosh darn good, we returned to The Briarpatch a mere two days later to head down the less travelled sweet brunch route and sample some good lookin’ french toast and my oh my was it worth it. All boxes checked, it can safely be said that Briarpatch is the hottest spot in town for all your breakfast and brunch needs (and the menu looks pretty good for those less hip mealtimes, too!).

Ze Pickle

Ze Pickle, Sydney, Australia

Surry Hills, a bustling suburb of inner Sydney, is a veritable mecca for the foodie in search of quirky cafes and funky restaurants. Falling into the latter category is Ze Pickle, a craft beer and burger joint with an original menu and a too-cool-for-school vibe located in the heart of the suburb. Like many restaurants in Surry Hills, Ze Pickle is decked out like a converted warehouse with exposed brick walls and industrial light features. However, this establishment differs in its sense of character. Neon Pac Man fixtures adorn the walls, but not in a garish way, while one whole wall is covered in burlap sacks printed with marijuana advertisements. If you look up at the ceiling next to this wall, you’ll find a pair of black sneakers hanging by their laces, a signal that, in the real world, means this is a place where one can purchase illegal substances. To Ole Sib and me, our recognition of this just meant that perhaps we were almost cool enough to be in seen in this restaurant (doubtful).

With items on the menu such as the ‘Doughnutfukwitdis,’ (this place is clearly not for the fainthearted parents out there) which features Nutella smoked bacon and a glazed doughnut in place of a bun, ordering was no easy feat. We both settled on the 3AM burger, a wagyu beef burger with maple-glazed bacon, guacamole, ZP house sauce and ‘Kanye’s cheeze sticks’ – a South Park pop culture reference about which Ole Sib enlightened me. I was just enjoying the fact that they spelled cheese with a z and chicken wings as ‘chicken waaangs.’ What a place. Before we tucked in to our burgers, we started with Ze Chips, a visually stunning and gastronomically outstanding plate of fries drenched lovingly in an IPA beer cheeze sauce, ZP sauce and maple bacon. I have no more words to describe this so please refer to the photo below and attempt to contain your drool.

Next up to bat was the star hitter, the 3AM burger. This was possibly the most unique burger I’ve ever had the pleasure of sampling. The maple-smoked bacon had a delicious sweetness that was unusual in a burger but welcome nonetheless, however the feature to write home (or a blog) about was without a question the cheeze sticks. The molten cheese was a glorious shade of orange and flowed out freely from the crispy golden packages nestled within the burger. I wasn’t aware that cheese sticks were a necessary component of a magnificent burger before this experience and yet now I feel that no burger would be complete without them. What a conundrum. The only tiny opportunity for improvement in this outstanding creation would be the addition of more guacamole but with the extortionate price of the avocado only rising (to keep up to date with this pressing issue, Google ‘First World Problems’), I won’t hold Ze Pickle accountable.

One would think that after the aforementioned gluttonous feast had been demolished we would be sent rolling home to vegetate in a preferably horizontal position but, alas, no. We had more land to conquer and it took the form of deep fried Oreos in doughnut batter with toffee caramel ice cream and liquid Nutella. I have previously not been the most eager of food lovers to jump on the deep fried dessert bandwagon but thought it my duty as the creator of this educational blog to quell my nay-saying brain and dive into the deep end (a risky play, given my unequivocal love for Oreos) with this unchartered territory. I was overwhelmed with joy upon realising that this bold dessert only enhanced my passion for Oreos and swiftly pushed the decorative glacé cherries (empty calories, amirite?) away to allow for a more efficient attack. A show-stealing finale in a show full of show-stealers.

We finally called it a day and trundled home in a warm, carb-induced stupor, knowing that we had battled triumphantly against our restrictive stomach walls in the name of culinary research and lived to tell the tale. In long overdue conclusion, if you ever had any doubts about deep fried cookies, let me assuage your fears as someone who has made it through the tunnel and safely out the other side with a fresh perspective on battered sweet goods and possibly 5-10 more pounds of body weight.


Bridge St. Garage (aka the best fried chicken in town…)

Bridge St. Garage, Sydney, Australia

If you’re searching for the best fried chicken in Sydney, look no further than Bridge St. Garage in the city’s CBD. It prides itself on serving ‘good ol’ fashioned comfort food’ with a Latin American twist on American diner classics, such as burgers, tacos and, most importantly, fried chicken. The Garage was one of the first restaurants Ole Sib and I visited upon arrival in Sydney and, ever since, we have been attempting to return to satiate our fried food cravings. However, our quest proved tricky in a city that seems to have an aversion to its restaurants remaining open past blue-plate special times on weekends… Points against you there, Sydney. We were finally successful after two failed attempts (third time’s a charm, I hear) and endless stalking of the restaurant’s tantalising instagram feed.

With no time to waste after having waited months to return to this establishment, we put our orders in with barely a glance at the menu: the fried chicken bucket and a side of fries for me and a pulled pork guacamole burger for Ole Sib. Now let me assure you, readers, that I am no stranger to fried chicken. While burgers and pizza feature heavily in my diet, fried chicken is my ultimate junk food choice, which is a heavy burden to bear given its elusiveness on restaurant menus. Why the noble fried chicken bucket must be reduced to a drunken late night snack or fast food bronze medallist behind those arrogant burgers and pizzas will forever be beyond my comprehension.

Enter the Bridge St. Garage fried chicken bucket, a wonderful assortment of Southern-style wings and drumsticks fried to the purest shade of gold with a perfect crunch to juice ratio (whatever your perfect ratio is, this bucket has it, I promise). They come with three sauces: a blue cheese sauce; a BBQ sauce and a trusty chipotle mayo, all of which can be enjoyed sufficiently given that you get a lot of bang for your buck (bang for your cluck, bang for your bucket… Insert preferred pun) with this choice. While the bucket itself is more than enough to satisfy a hungry stomach, the side of beer battered fries deserve an honourable mention as some of the best fries I have ever had. It turns out most things taste better when beer is involved.

While I raved on about my fried chicken, it appeared Ole Sib was enjoying her pulled pork guacamole burger as the sauce dripped down her arm (when it comes to burgers, the sloppier the better, people). The ordering method for burgers at Bridge St. Garage is worth mentioning here since you order a burger base and then add your choice of protein, which makes for an easily customised experience. Fries are also included with the burger, as God intended.

Despite having eyes only for our food, we both also commented on the décor of the restaurant, which incorporated fashionable retro features combined with an industrial chic vibe. Think subway tiles, exposed cement and neon lighting a-plenty. Couple this with a young man singing old Johnny Cash songs and you have yourself a master class in Americana. I would definitely recommend this as a top destination in the city and look forward to attempting to quash my love for fried chicken in order to try the rest of the good lookin’ eats on the menu. That is, if someone were to let Sydney’s restaurant owners know that occasionally people get hungry after 9pm on a Saturday…


The Argyle

The Argyle, Sydney, Australia

If you’re looking for nightlife hotspots and funky restaurants that will spice up your Instagram feed, look no further than The Rocks, Sydney. This area is popular for the aforementioned features but the main draw is its proximity to the famous Sydney Harbour (which – fun fact – is actually called Port Jackson) where you can take as many Harbour Bridge and Opera House selfies as your little heart desires. Unsurprising, then, that there are so many places to wine and dine in this tourist trap. Once you’ve finished trying to avoid photobombing seagulls at the harbour, The Rocks is the place to be.

The Argyle, located at The Rocks, is definitely one of our favourite stomping grounds thus far and this is mainly because you can do literally everything there. It’s the ideal location to choose for a relaxed beverage on a Sunday afternoon, an all day drinking fest, a nightclub, a restaurant, an outdoor movie theatre etc. etc. etc. The list goes on. It’s a pretty sizeable venue with two floors, the second of which turns into a dance floor for the more hoppin’ evenings of the week, as well as a vast outside terrace with its own bar. The best way I can describe the décor of the inside area is as a retro Hawaiian lounge. The lighting is very moody and there are palm trees and lounge chairs in smaller groups as well as high tables and stools if you’re going down the food route.

Be prepared to question everything you thought you wanted to eat upon arrival when you take a look at the menu. Ole Sib and I went in there contemplating some classic burgers and somehow ended up with a mozzarella and bruschetta bar, cheesesteak egg rolls and fried mac n cheese balls in front of us wondering how we had come this far and questioning all of our life choices up to this one moment of pure happiness. Who needs burgers when you can experience these crazy culinary creations? (I’m sorry, that was rash. I will always need burgers. Please forgive me, burger gods.) Rest assured, however, that there are so many options ranging from wood fired pizzas to burgers to barbecue ribs to salads (no thanks) that there really is something for everyone and for every occasion.

We began our feast with the mozzarella and bruschetta bar. It was presented on a cool wooden platter with sections for each food item. The sections were filled with mozzarella, caponata tapenade, pesto and a crushed tomato sauce. In a create-your-own kind of situation, these flavours came together beautifully on the crusty (another word that is only acceptable when referring to food. See Muriel’s Kitchen post: moist.) Sourdough bread. Bread and sauce and cheese are three of the major food groups of my life and all three were satisfactorily featured in this meal. The journey continued with the cheesesteak egg rolls. I am a big Philly cheesesteak fan but, of course, am used to the more conventional sub roll as the foundation for this iconic sandwich. The egg roll aspect was surprisingly wonderful in the sense that it added a welcome crisp to a usually sloppy experience. A drizzle of sriracha ketchup made for a solid Asian-American fusion flavour.

Ok, everyone. Let’s talk about those mac n cheese balls. Now, before this impromptu gastronomic adventure, I had indeed heard of such a thing as fried mac n cheese balls and could only dream that one day I would be so lucky as to be able to experience them. Thankfully, they lived up to my astronomically high hopes. They were little golden parcels of joy resting angelically on a light bed of blue cheese mayonnaise and on top of each little ball was a delicately placed piece of crispy bacon. Salivation had kicked into overdrive by the time the fork reached its destination on this one. My sincerest compliments to the imagination from whence this glorious idea sprung.

After demolishing the most wonderfully random combination of platters, Ole Sib and I were stunned into silence. What a journey. Whilst we reflected on the good times, a talented musical duo played some welcome acoustic 90s R&B tunes and all was right in the world for a little bit longer…