Review: Mr Crackles, Darlinghurst

Is it just me, or has absolutely everyone in Sydney fallen in love with Mr Crackles in Darlinghurst? Food bloggers can be hard to please, so when every single food blogger in Sydney raves about a new joint, you know it’s going to be good.

K and I made it to Mr Crackles late on a weeknight, and had a quick dinner standing up at the small bench in the shop. Take-away was the most popular option though, with most people choosing to take their crispy pork crackling away with them to savour in a moment of pure bliss.

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Cup of crackling, $5

We started with a small side serve of their famous pork crackling to share between the two of us. While it’s not the healthiest of food choices, I instantly regretted choosing to share with K, as I wanted to eat it all myself! The crackling is amazingly crispy and crunchy, while still retaining that slight stickiness that makes it stick to your teeth. The flavour was incredibly intense – slightly salty, slightly smokey, and all goodness.

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Chilli cheese fries, $10

We ordered another side to share of the chilli cheese fries. While the fries themselves were lovely and crunchy with a good amount of salt seasoning, the chilli con carne mix on top was, unfortunately, much too salty to eat comfortably. The balance of flavours just wasn’t right – the salt content was too high, the chilli factor barely present, and it lacked the vegetable mix that usually forms the ideal base for a chilli con carne. A disappointing dish.

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Sloppy Joe with onions

As a child, I was an avid reader of American school tales – all of which inevitably included cafeteria scenes with kids talking about the sloppy joes they were eating. As my first taste of a sloppy joe, I have to say that I was disappointed. The mince mix was strangely presented in a hot dog bun rather than a burger bun as I understand it’s normally done – and the mix itself was similar to the chilli con carne in that it was too salty without enough spice. Quite frankly if I was after a hot dog, a sausage from Bunnings on a Saturday would have been a better and cheaper choice! Not what I expected from my first sloppy joe.

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Crackles Classic: crisp skinned slow roast 5 spiced pork belly served with Vietnamese salad in a roll, $12

Now this was more like it! After two disappointing menu choices, we hit the jackpot again with the pork belly and crackling banh mi. While lacking some of the best bits of a Vietnamese banh mi (the lard! the pate!), the rest of the banh mi was surprisingly true to style – the julienned vegetables, fresh herbs, chilli sauce, and crispy bread made it a real delight. And the crackling. Oh my god the crackling.

Overall, I rate Mr Crackles a 7 out of 10. Their crackling is simply incredible, however the other items on their menu let them down. I wouldn’t bother going back for a full meal, however I may possibly return to get a small cup of the crackling to have as a snack!

Mr Crackles on Urbanspoon

Review: Father’s Office, Melbourne

There’s a part of me that’s always been seduced by the perceived glamour of America in the 1920s with its flappers, the Charleston, underground bars and beautiful Art Deco designs.¬†With this in mind, I went to Father’s Office with some girlfriends when I was recently in Melbourne – a restaurant bar that’s been designed to mirror the decadence of 1920s America, decorated along the lines of Baz Luhrmann’s Great Gatsby.

On arrival, I was overwhelmed by the sheer amount of people lined up waiting outside to get in to the popular bar. Word to the wise – if you don’t feel like waiting outside in the chilly Melbourne winter to get into Father’s Office, simply make a restaurant reservation and they’ll let you straight in and upstairs to claim your reservation. As soon as you’re done with your meal in the restaurant, you can move directly into the bar and drink the night away!

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There are fantastic touches throughout the whole restaurant, all designed to enhance the 1920s vibe. From stools created out of “bootleggers” crates of moonshine to the menu designed in the format of a 1920s newspaper with a feature profile on Al “Scarface” Capone, Father’s Office doesn’t miss a single detail.

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The gorgeous mural towards the back of the restaurant is lit up by fantastic geometric Art Deco lights with frosted glass – the perfect touch with a bevy of bathing beauties. Feminism and women’s right to be treated as more than just a piece of meat wasn’t top priority in those days!

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The Mob Hit cocktail, $14

I order the “Mob Hit” cocktail to start – described as “Plantation Dark Rum, Aperol, Fresh Rasberries, Fresh Lime, Sugar, Ginger Beer. A long, complex and refreshing drink that has a Tommy gun blast of Plantation Rum and ginger beer, where the bullet holes bleed raspberry and Aperol”. Isn’t that just fantastically descriptive – you can really visualise the floating rasberries as bullet holes! This cocktail had a real bite and kick to it, though I found that I couldn’t really taste the ginger beer as it was overwhelmed by the freshness of the rasberries, lime and mint.

Word of warning – my friend ordered the same cocktail about half an hour after I did, and hers didn’t include the gorgeous umbrella of mint leaves and her rasberries had been substituted for strawberries. It looks as though there may occasionally be a supply and demand issue with this cocktail, so get in early before supplies run out!

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House made polenta and parmesan chips, served with a Napoli relish, $7

How cute is the presentation of these chips? I really liked how uniform and precise each chip was – not one was out of place, and they were all consistently the same size, colour, texture, and taste, showing the real attention to detail here. While the chips themselves were a little plain and could have done with more parmesan in the mix, the Napoli relish really added the flavour hit the chips required.

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Seafood chowder: prawns, mussels, calamari, white fish, carrot, onion and celery simmered in a creamy fish veloute and topped with a puff pastry lid, $10

The seafood chowder was surprisingly large and filling even though it was on the starter menu – you could very easily eat this in place of a main meal with a side and a dessert to follow, and still be extremely full. The chowder itself was very creamy and tasty, unfortunately much of the seafood had been overcooked. The mussels were very chewy and hard to swallow.

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Traditional NY style blended cheesecake baked and served with Chantilly cream and fresh strawberries, $8

I shared this cheesecake with a friend – it was wonderfully dense, smooth, and creamy with just the slightest hint of typical cheesecake tartness. The quenelle of Chantilly cream was light and airy, and the strawberries perfectly sweet. This is a definite must-try dessert!

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Traditional Coney Island cinnamon doughnut balls drizzled with Australian wildflower honey, dusted with icing sugar, and served warm, $6

The doughnuts on top are definitely the tastier ones – unlike the doughnut balls on the bottom of the bowl, they don’t sit in a puddle of honey and go soft though they still have the sweet honey flavour. Surprisingly for a deep-fried dessert though, the doughnuts don’t sit too heavily in one’s stomach, and are quite light and airy.

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As we leave the restaurant, the crowd in the bar has thinned out somewhat as the after-work crowd leaves. There are still people queuing up outside to get into the bar though, as the Friday night crowd starts to move in. It’s definitely the place to be for a drink or two or three, and is making its name in the list of themed Melbourne bars.

Overall, I rate Father’s Office a 7 out of 10.¬†They’ve found a theme that really works for them, and their bartenders mix a mean cocktail. The food while consistent, isn’t amazing enough to warrant a special visit.

Father's Office Speakeasy Bar and Restaurant on Urbanspoon