Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Level 2 Star City
80 Pyrmont St
Sydney NSW 2000
Ph : (02) 9777 9000

Eatability reviewers gave warning. Some say that we should stay away. Almost everyone complained about the price. Those who didn’t probably can afford it regardless. Not a good start. I thought I’d get my act ready in case I need to act a certain way to ‘counteract’ the supposedly bad experience. Of course, not everyone reviewed on the website gave the same account. I concluded that everything about the place- the food, the service and the ambience were probably at best inconsistent. The only consistency seems to be the steepness of the price. Since the venue was chosen, I approached with extremely low expectations, hoping that this will, at least, make the place a little more enjoyable.

Considering the high risk involved, I again went for the safe options. In wine and food. A known Pinot Noir can’t go astray, and if you can stuff up a steak, then you really shouldn’t be in the restaurant business. People raved about the duck fat chips. It’s also what I’ve been hearing about. So I suppose ordering one of those was in…ermm… order…

Most of us chose the safe route and ordered the same steak in 3 different settings: medium rare, medium and well down. Just, you know, to test the skills of the chefs. I suppose it’s really just about timing. Something that was a bit lacking- that timing- in the way that the wait was erring on the wrong side of overly delayed. I mean, yes, a well done steak might take longer to cook, but… hmmm… luckily the company was good. Otherwise the wait would’ve felt much longer. Seriously. Cityrail’s delays are a delight compared to what we endured. I suppose it was a good call to have a bit of pinot to calm the emotions.

Logan Pinot Noir 2007 (I believe) from Orange. $55

Perhaps they took all the criticism to heart and made a deliberate effort to improve? Service was friendly, attentive, and the attractive pixie-hair-styled waitress did her very best to sell us more drinks. Kudos. She deserved a raise on efforts alone.

Now this is me nitpicking and just being plain spoilt, but I believe a restaurant like this really shouldn’t be asking, “So… who’s having the steak?” when they bring the food around. I’d expect that from a $10 special with year 10 work experience girls. If places charging 50% less than they are can remember who ordered what, it’s not much to ask, now is it?

The famous duck fat chips $8

The duck fat chips? Well… they’re nice chips. I just don’t think they’re “phat” hehehe… Sure, I’ve had much worse chips in better places, but I really don’t feel the need to advertise the duck fat fact.

All is forgiven when I sliced off a piece of my medium rare steak (which wasn’t all that much different from the medium), chock full of béarnaise sauce and veal jus, and savoured the heavenly moment. The steak was simply heavenly. There are no other ways to describe it. If Jesus has steak, I’m sure it won’t be far off what I had on the night. This was something completely unexpected and I’m not sure that Sean’s Kitchen is known for their steaks. And considering this isn’t some rip off marbled wagu beef. This was a simple angus 400 gram rib eye. It truly was sensational.

Grain fed Angus rib eye 400g $38- I reckon this was the best value dish in the whole place. Delightfully succulent... especially with the bearnaise sauce and veal jus

Of course, I cannot guarantee that you’ll have the same experience. As the restaurant seems to be consistently inconsistent, meaning it’ll be a gamble every time you go. Quite apt too as it’s situated inside Star City Casino.

Price? Yes, it is expensive. Luckily we had both a $50 gift card as well as 10% off the total bill thanks to one of us being a member of Star City Casino. And of course, there are perks being a member too…

The really really expensive prawns. Yes, they peel them for you, and add a little bit of what looks like thousand island and a tiny slice of lemon, which looks to be mostly skin... for the grand o' price of $32 smackeroonies... I don't care how large they are... that is not $32 worth

Steamed Suzuki Jewfish, with what looks like the stem of a giant mushroom, half a ball of some kind of vegetable and some puree; $36

And the perks are that we managed to weasel ourselves some free churros!!!

So that was a real bonus. We didn’t have to order desserts, just the coffees to go with the desserts. Which, were just a little bit overpriced. If it weren’t for the free churros…. And what churros they are!!! So much fat and sugar, but it was soooo good! They went really well with the dark chocolate dip. I can feel it going straight to my waistline and quite frankly, I didn’t care one bit!

All in all a great night had by all… helped, of course, but our lots and lots of freebies! But paying full price? Probably won’t go… 

And yes... I realise the photo quality is quite poor, even for me. I blame the mood lighting... [Onomatopia]

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A little bit of Esperanto and a big bit of German

Established in 1881 in La Chaux-de-Fonds by the then 19 year old Achilles Ditesheim, Movado (Esperanto for "always in motion") is perhaps best known for what is known as the "Museum Watch", designed by American industrial designer Nathan George Horwitt.

Distinguished by a solitary gold dot at the twelve o'clock position representing the sun at high noon, the original Museum Watch was designed in 1947.  Horwitt's original design featured a plain black face and a white disk at twelve o'clock.  Movado copied the design in 1948. Horwitt sued, and it took twenty seven years for the case to be settled. During this time, it was added to the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in 1960, the first watch to be given such an honour, and at which point it became known by its current name.

In 1975, Movado finally settled with Horwitt for $29,000 and since Horwitt’s death in 1990 at the age of 92 (his last career being that of an organic farmer), Movado has heavily promoted Horwitt and his watch.

I first heard about the Museum Watch when I was fairly young. I'm not really sure how old I was exactly, but I think that I was probably around 10.  The idea of it being the first watch accepted into MOMA appealed to me, and I determined that at some point, I'd get one.

The problem with having a "want" that is always available is that one never really ends up being terribly motivated to take the plunge, and so literally decades passed.....

Onto 2009 and for some reason I thought of it again.  A discussion with Tart Tom lead to the advice that if I was going to get one, why not go for one with a Zenith movement? I had no idea that there were any, but Tom convinced me that if I was going to go down the Museum route, that this was the way to go.

The Tarts often send each other links to watches that they know each other is interested in, and so it was that I came across the Movado Museum that is now mine. With thanks to onomatopia for finding it, and to P, I am now the proud owner of this watch :

Movado Zenith Museum
17J manual wind
Gold plated Bezel / SS Back

Just as an aside, Zenith became a member of the Mondia-Zenith-Movado holding company in 1969 and in 1971, the American Zenith Radio Corporation took a majority stake in the M-Z-M group.

After receiving my new watch, I went in search of a new strap, as the Canadian made lizard strap, though of a sufficient length, was not long enough for my personal preferences.  Happily for me, my favourite watchmaker Max happened to have some Movado straps in his possession.

Even more happily, I got to see the MeisterSinger Granmatik.

What can I say except that it is one big horological bundle of fun! At 52mm it is obviously a ridiculously sized watch and not suitable for probably 99.99% of the population, but unlike some other monster sized watches that I've seen, like the 3 movement dialled Glycine Airman, I found that this one made me smile.

Okay then again that could be solely because I have a soft spot for MeisterSinger one handed watches....

This one uses a ETA2824-2 automatic movement, is 52 mm with a height 14 mm and weighs 135g. It is the only one available in Australia so for those of you who are interested, get cracking!


Sunday, September 20, 2009

312 on a Simona Gator

Just returned to Down Under after a trip to Waikiki.

I was lucky enough to pick up a beautiful Simona Brown Gator strap from one of the local Honolulu Paneristi ... Thought I would take it out for breakfast at the local beach (Avoca)....


Saturday, September 19, 2009

1st Panerai  : A Long Journey

By ChrisL

I have been a watch collector for 6 years (a late starter) and along the way met many colourful and interesting people.  Many of these colourful people happened to own Panerais, but being a movement freak, the idea of paying big bucks for a watch equipped with a basic Unitas seemed to prevent me from taking the plunge.

During the last few years I was lucky enough to go to many watch gatherings and launches; sometimes I actually managed to find my way home again ...

After starting out with a Brietling Colt, then a Montblanc (both of which were soon sold), I acquired an Omega Broadarrow Speedmaster, a Patek Calatrava & a Blancpain triple date moonphase ...

Many used watches were bought and sold along the way, but the Omega/ Patek/ Blancpain combo stayed as the anchor of my collection. I even had a dabble with Rolex (GMT Master II).

Still, the Panerai / Paneristi scene kept hovering in the background, meeting people like Hammer, Bo, Jpvfx, Shaun R, Gaz (amongst others), all of whom were fond devotees of the Panerai, convinced me I had to get one, if only to justify being being part of the scene ... if only they had a more cosmo movement to justify the price.

In 2005, during a tour of the watch factories in Switzerland and after having consumed an entire bottle of wine during a sightseeing trip around Lake Geneva, I trotted into a shop and asked if they had a 177. Yes  there is one out the back the lady replied ....

After trying it on and discovering it was rediculously big for my less then Arnie sized forearm, I promptly pulled out my credit card.  After the invoice had been written out and the card was poised over the swipe machine, the manager came trotting up and advised the watch was already reserved ...

Fast forward to 2009.  Panerai announced the 312 with in house movement, my last reason for not buying a Luminor has been removed.  Come September, the dealer announces that it has arrived.  I'm on my way to Hawaii for a brief holiday and collect the 312 on the way to the airport.

Amongst other activities, the 1st order of business in Waikiki is to meet with some local Paneristi.  Greg Lau has kindly organised an impromptu GTG, and Hammer has emailed a reference ('pound for pound, Chris can outdrink anyone ' ... Thanks Alan ).

So here are a few photos of my 312 and its trip to Waikiki, thanks to all the people who came to meet me.

Jimmy Buffet's Beachcomber Bar

The GTG was a bit of a blur as I hadn't slept for 31 hours and had already prepared myself 3 hours earlier at Jimmy Buffett's Beachcomber Bar but hey, life's not a rehersal .

I also took the Sydney Paneristi banner and its now suitably autographed by the Waikiki crew.  Thanks also to Bernie for the great Simona strap, it's now on the watch ....

Honolulu Paneristi

Wrist shot!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Burlington

6 Burlington St
Crows Nest NSW 2065
Ph : (02) 9439 7888

Monday to Friday for lunch from 12.00pm
Monday to Saturday for dinner from 6.00pm

For the dual reasons of proximity (time constraints) and for-some-unknown-reason-I've-not-made-it-there, we found ourselves finally at The Burlington.  I have absolutely no excuse for not having made it there until this late point. It also took me eons to get to Balzac, but my excuse there was that Randwick just seemed far away.

As is my wont, I'd been obsessing over the menu and wondering how many dishes I could persuade Himself to agree to sharing but when the time came, the dishes on the $35 three course lunch special (no choices) appealed to us.

Croquettes of King Salmon w Garlic Aioli

I am never sure whether I prefer the filling of my salmon croquettes to be smooth or still with some flaky texture. These were of the former variety, with the exterior beautifully thin and crunchy. I am a bit of a lemon fan so my personal preference was for lemon over the aioli to accompany the croquettes.  The aioli was mild, and I suspect that my lemon preference was partly because I wanted a bit of a kick to the delicacy of the salmon filling. 

Sweet Corn & Lemon Thyme Risotto with Sauteed Prawn Tails

Oh this was good....risotto as comfort food that made us both very happy indeed.  Soothing, creamy but light, the prawn sweet and firm, the lemon thyme a hint in the background. I could have eaten a double serve of this quite happily out of sheer desire for more.

Eton Mess

Eton mess, as its name indicates, is a dessert originating from Eton College.  Historically served at the College's annual prize giving picnic on "the Fourth of June" which is apparently actually the last Wednesday in May, it is traditionally made with strawberries or bananas and cream, with meringue being a relatively modern addition.  

This example, as can be seen, contained meringue, some raspberries and a nice bit of crunchy toffee. Summery, and somehow making perfect sense as a dessert to follow the risotto.  He, convinced that 3 courses would be too much for him, had initially asked me to help him eat his dessert.

Needless to say, my assistance as not required.

A final photo of an unexpected thing which though perhaps unimportant and small in the greater scheme of things, was nonetheless a pleasant surprise.

There are a lot of very good value lunch deals around town at the moment and I would definitely rate The Burlington's as one that is worth trying.


Monday, September 14, 2009


172 King St
Ph : (02) 9519 4700

Finding myself in Newtown one recent weekday around lunchtime, I remembered reading @GastroPorn tweeting about one of her favourite burgers at Burgerfuel. Well, I figured, why not?

Despite it not being on the regular menu, the Wagyu Burger seems to be permanently on the "Specials" menu, which makes me wonder why they don't simply add it to the former.

Maybe they think that would make it less "special"? Maybe they want to save on printing costs and don't want to print out new menus? Maybe because one day, it will be replaced as a "special"?  Maybe it is still going through a probationary period?

Then again, maybe I am the only one pondering this conundrum?

What ho! Burgerfuel have figured it out - 12 permanent combinations!

Wagyu Burger with Cheese ($12.90)

Described thus : "1/3lb ground Wagyu beef, melted swiss cheese, caramelised onion, horseradish sour cream, salad and relish", the one element I'd not been certain about was the horseradish sour cream, as I am not a huge horseradish fan.  Fortunately, the horseradish was not overwhelming but pleasant though it was, I'm more of a tomato sauce burger type of person.

Aided by generous servings of lettuce (though I'd wish that they'd been a little bit more interesting on the lettuce choice front), tomato and onions, the beef patty was juicy, the cheese decent and the burger itself of a good size, resulting in some degree of onions and the like oozing out during the consumption process, but not too much as to be messy and a struggle. 

This isn't the best burger I've had in Sydney, but the Wagyu Burger at Burgerfuel is nonetheless a good burger that I'd eat again, and it is worth having if you're in the area. It is without doubt a better burger than the one I have previous had at a cafe nearby to Burgerfuel whose name I'll not mention but it is on the other side of the road, down a bit, before the cinema. That burger was just dire.    

I've never thought of Angus beef as being an aspirational beef.


Friday, September 11, 2009

Peter Speake-Marin GTG 2009


It's not a Tarts GTG without a watch tool of some type present!

A vintage Rolex in need of a strap change from a generic strap to it's new period (late 1930s) strap and buckle.

First attempt at strap changing....and yes that's an MIH...

Peter Speake-Marin's wrist


Piccadilly Serpent Calendar

Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph

Rolex Red Submariner that once belonged to a renowned Australian sportsman

Speake-Marin 1in20

Apologies from the two photographers for not managing to capture all the watches that evening.....there was a lot happening, too much to talk about/ look at, and we are mortified that we forgot the Table Shot!