Eating out around Sydney: at our local and an exotic new find

I attended a house party recently, hosted by old friends we hadn’t seen for a while. Thanks to social media we kept in touch, and somehow we all knew what everyone’s was up to. As a result conversations were easy, picking up where we left off. Some of the guests we knew well, others we knew off and funnily many knew off us. One of them approached me and exclaimed “ I hear you’re a good cook! Would love to taste your food…!” Of course I was very flattered, and thanked the lady for the compliment adding that while I love cooking, I love even more eating other’s cooking while “off duty”. 

That reminded me of the recent few weeks in Sydney, in-between road trips, spent celebrating the many family birthdays that fall within days of each other. Normally there would be feasts at the house, with a dinner table overflowing with food and guests milling about. However this year, with most people busy mid-week and Mr T and I preparing an impending trip away, we ended up eating out more than we usually do. 

We particularly enjoyed trying out one of our local casual haunts and the kids surprised me with an exotic night in the city.

Our Father cafe , Burraneer

Full disclosure: this family-run cafe is around the corner from our house and our son, Marc, works there as a barista. 

Ever since it opened in September 2019, this place has had locals queuing for their early morning coffees, brunches and mid-afternoon pick me ups ( located across the local primary school, I wish it existed when our kids attended…) Interiors are modern, chic and filled with natural light. Dare I say, the pastel coloured walls make for great Instagram shots.

Photo credit: Our Father

It wasn’t until Marc started there that I took interest, lured mostly by their coffees which they take very seriously. They are always working on different blends and rotating the offerings of single origins. They even held a barista competition which was a lot of fun to watch ( actually they call it a smackdown !)

My first meal was in April, for my birthday brunch. The staff were so nice, greeting me as “ Hello, Marc’s Mum, Happy Birthday!”. So many of them, so cheerful and all so young, I don’t think anyone is over the age of 25 or 30.

First order was for a piccolo for me and a cappuccino for Mr T. Food followed. 

Mr T loves his eggs, so had the open omelette: Folded eggs, prosciutto, chimichurri roasted mushrooms, salted shaved ricotta & toasted focaccia. Anne could not go past the salmon bagel, loaded with smoked salmon, lemon cream cheese, cabbage dill Salad on a seeded sourdough bagel. She even added a poached egg for extra oomph!

As for me, it was their signature Bacon and Egg roll, which Marc always raves about and now I know why: the combo of a chilli fried egg, grilled bacon, their house tomato sauce and hollandaise on a warm bun is hard to beat.

I have been back a few time since then, joining the coffee afficionados and enjoying the warm community vibes that always exudes from the team. Then again, I am biased.

Jambo Jambo Africa

Marc and Anne warned me  “ Do not wear white for dinner! ”

That was my only clue for the birthday surprise they prepared for me. We all packed in the car, Mr T ( who was also clueless, apparently he could not be trusted to keep a secret from me ), myself, Shelley and Tania ( who were in the surprise, because Marc had to tell someone after all ).

It was a 45 minute drive in the rain to Glebe, near the city and this small Ethiopian restaurant called Jambo Jambo. None of us have ever tasted Ethiopian cuisine, so we were really curious and excited.

The fun started when Joseph, the owner, came over and explained that the food comes on a large communal platter and is to be shared and eaten with our hands. Shelley tried her hardest not to squirm, while Marc couldn’t wait to dig in! Mr T was intrigued by the drinks menu, featuring beers from South Africa, Namibia and Ethiopia while the girls and I ordered a bottle of South African Rose.

The menu is fairly simple, with a couple of options for starters and a selection of meat and vegan curries/stews for main served atop injera bread. Dishes can be ordered separately, or as part of a platter. If ordering a platter, the order then includes a couple of entrees, dessert or coffee.  Because we had no idea what we were in for and we were ravenous, we ordered a platter with everything.

We began with the entrees. One of them was Kitfo, which is made of raw minced topside beef mixed with hot Ethiopian chilli called “mitmita”, spiced butter, and served in lettuce cups. You wrap the lot and eat it as you would a taco or san choy bow. Everyone loved this. The other entree choice was Sambusas, small deep fried pastries filled with lentils, onions, green chilli and garlic. They are served with a small pot of honey for dipping. These disappeared in a flash, they were so tasty!

The main was a giant platter lined with injera, a spongy, thin bread which also serves as the base. It is made of fermented teff, a fine high-fibre grain grown in Ethiopia, and sorghum. Gluten free and dairy free, it has a slight tart taste to contrast the rich and sometimes spicy food served on top of it. The idea is to tear off a piece of injera, use it to grab small pieces of food, and put it directly in your mouth. Cutlery is provided though, if needed. The toppings were a combination of vegan and meat based dishes. They included, Doro Wot, tender chicken leg marinated in lemon sauce with special homemade spices. The chicken is then stewed for hours in onions, garlic, ginger and berbere spices. It is served with a boiled egg. We also had Key Wot, another slow cooked stew with goat meat in special homemade spices with onions, garlic, ginger and berbere. The third meat dish was Zilzil tibs, grilled beef cooked in tomato, onions, black pepper, rosemary and special Jambo sauce. It has a much firmer texture than the other stews. The vegan options were super tasty: from Alicha, a tangy vegetable curry with cabbage, carrot, potato, pepper, onions, garlic, turmeric and ginger to Misr Wot, a dish of split lentils stewed with onion, garlic, ginger and blend of herbs and Gomen, my favourite plate of chopped collard greens simmered in a mild sauce of oil, onion, garlic, ginger and blend of herbs. Endless trays of injera bread were supplied, and when Joseph asked us which was our favourite topping, he brought us extra servings of the Key Wot which we all adored.

Dessert was a choice of freshly roasted Ethiopian coffee or ice cream. As the kids had brought a passion fruit tart, we skipped the ice cream and some of us went for the coffee. Not the wisest choice, late in the evening, but the night was still young… as I am!  

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