Blood and guts

My own Hannibal Lecter moments recently were better than I could have imagined: its body crushed, the guts and brains spread across my tongue, and down it went. But mostly it was the spice I could taste. Best chased down with a sip of wine. My first cricket.

Time to rant about a couple of my favourite restaurants, with interesting servings of things I wouldn’t normally seek out. But that’s the sign of a good restaurant, isn’t it? At least it is, when I keep coming back. I’ll get to the crickets, but first, let’s talk blood sausage.

Ester is a great example of modern Australian dining – creative, sexy, confident. I’ve had trouble convincing CrazyCatLady to return after their Omnivore night (the duck hearts were an organ too far), but the regular menu is more friendly and accessible, while still being creative and original. You’ll be rewarded by stretching your palate – give the blood sausage sanga a chance. Yes, a lot of us love blood sausage, but I’m constantly surprised by how many people are still squeamish. There’s an intensity of flavour to blood sausage which reminds me of a Bunnings sausage sizzle, cooked by a heavenly host of angels. Just eat the damn sausage.

Blood sausage sandwich

Blood sausage sanga – bloody beautiful

As Lethlean reviewed in The Australian “Ester is a knockout in just about every sense that matters“. With food this good, fine dining isn’t dying – we’re just losing the Swarovski and white linen. The duck terrine I had recently was among the best I’ve ever eaten, and the wine list is wonderful and exciting. I’m lunching there soon with MrAlpha and MissAlpha and I’m sure their paleo proclivities will be satisfied as well.


Ester: wine, duck terrine, raw fish & salted caramel

Another new favourite venue is Stanley Street Merchants. Some may consider its location just metres from my gym a cruel twist, but I think it’s a gift from the gods. I was pleasantly surprised when the BookWorm was happy not only to gorge on several courses of sweets, but game to try a dessert of marshmallow toasted with charcoal, dried berries, flowers and ants. Crickets are also on the menu – my tip is try them in a group if you’re squeamish as there are quite a few in a bowl. 

Crickets at Stanley Street

Crickets at Stanley Street

We couldn’t help but snap pictures of little ants caught in marshmallow. It’s fun food, which adds to the overall experience. And it’s not just lunches and dinners here: my favourite things at Stanley Street have nothing to do with bugs. The St Ali coffee is decent – the best coffee in the area – and the house-made doughnuts are delicious. If anything keeps my coming back, those little doughy balls of goodness will… Apart from the bugs and sweets, there’s a good wine list and some nice regular dishes – the chicken, in particular, smells great.

Marshmallow with ants at Stanley Street

Marshmallow with ants at Stanley Street

But get there soon – Stanley Street is only open for another five weeks or so. Like a phoenix, let’s hope they rise from the ashes later in the year (and maybe put phoenix on the menu).

Doughnuts at Stanley Street

Doughnuts at Stanley Street

Did eating crickets at Stanley Street Merchants lead to a life-changing epiphany? Not really – my memory is a lot of spice, a lot of crunch. And much as I love the sanga at Ester, after one serve, I’m happy to veer into more “regular” eating. But I wouldn’t be put off ordering them again, and recommend you try Ester and Stanley Street – even with the slugs and snails (or thereabouts), they’re still sugar and spice, and everything nice.


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Categories: Food, Sydney, Uncategorized, Wine


coffee, food, calculated rambling


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