People do some pretty bold and daring things for charity. They’ll grow a moustache, shave their head, even cycle around London in a guerrilla suit (nice work Miss Freakie). Coming up with fun and innovative ways to motivate and inspire people to donate is always challenging but three Sydney boys Carl, Simon and Jeremy have found a way to do their part. Next month they’ll be driving across the outback from Brisbane to Darwin in a 1983 Mercedes they paid less than $1,000 for to help raise money for cancer research.
Now, if these three boys can live out of their car for a week and cross the desolate outback in a beat-up old ‘shitbox’ we thought we’d host a Secret Foodies dinner and help them raise money. Garden Brasserie in Neutral Bay opened just shy of a year ago and there is definitely nothing dry and desolate about this place. Instead you’ll find a living, growing garden climbing the main wall and plenty of cocktails to wet your whistle. It was here, nestled in the ‘tree-house’, upstairs in the split-level bar/restaurant that 50 foodies came to say hooroo before the boys go bush.
It’s a buzzing Thursday night and the light and airy open plan restaurant downstairs is already at capacity. White birdcages hang from the ceiling enclosing lights bulbs for a quirky touch. The vibe is relaxed with after work drinkers and diners. Secret Foodies guests make their way up the green Astroturf covered staircase and are met with cocktails on arrival, a ‘Kyoto Gardens Martini’ or ‘A Pash n the Garden’. It’s a more intimate setting with dimly lit lamps and tea light candles, dark wooden furniture and martini glasses lining the bar.
Marinated olives, bottles of red and white wine and our signature Secret Foodies masks are waiting at the tables. Guests take their seat and after a few welcome introductions a banquet of share plates start arriving. To start, duck liver parfait with sauterne jelly and grilled sourdough. The pate is presented in small jars with crisp, cracker like bread beside. It’s a great touch and I enjoy knifing the pate out before passing the jar.
We try padron peppers stuffed with morcilla sausage flash fried with sea salt. Then, grilled polenta with char grilled corn and guindillas salsa that don’t compare to the crispy, golden polenta chips we ate at Bloodwood but I do like the char-grilled affect and salsa. There is a heavy Spanish influence in the menu with jamón serrano and leek croquettes with gorgonzola cream saucecroquettes, that I know guests near me loved but I found a little boring. The empanadas with pulled pork belly, chipotle and pico de gallothe were fantastic though and one of m favourite dishes.
empanadas with pulled pork belly, chipotle and pico de gallothe
We share dusted calamari with chilli and lime aioli that lacks colour and inspiring presentation but is nice and tender. I could have easily eaten all of the baby spinach salad with pumpkin, goat’s cheese, piquillo peppers and pine nuts and will be replicating it at home.
baby spinach salad with pumpkin, goat’s cheese, piquillo peppers and pine nuts
For mains we share twice-cooked crispy chicken wings with smoked paprika, lemon and chipotle sauce and delicious char-grilled Angus beef with chimi churri and sherry jus.
delicious char-grilled Angus beef with chimi churri and sherry jus
Keeping with the Spanish theme we have churros with dulce de leche for dessert. The long churros sticks are golden brown, soft and fluffy on the inside and perfect for dipping in the chocolaty goodness that is rich and creamy.
Miss Freakie and I finish the night with a frangelico and fresh lime on ice and relax while guests continue their night at The Oaks. It’s a tough life being a professional foodie but someone has to do it. We don our masks and shoot back over the bridge like foodie crusaders ready to tackle our next foodie adventure. All we need now is a cape and an 83 Merc and we’re sorted.
Garden Brasserie is fun and unique. Restaurant Manager James and the team are friendly and outgoing. Head chef Adam Howe has worked in restaurants both locally and internationally and is also behind Cantina Bar and Grill in Darlinghurst and Bedlam Bar and Food in Glebe. Garden Brasserie is not a destination for fine dining. Instead, try their signature cocktails and snack at the bar or gather your friends together for lazy afternoon snacks and drinks. Host a birthday or special event and expect a relaxed evening of quality share style food and great cocktails at a decent fare. Neutral Bay is booming with new restaurants and bars so if you’ve needed an excuse to check it out, look no further.