Put the crockpot back in the cupboard and start podding those broad beans. Spring is here and it couldn't come soon enough. A COVID lockdown is challenging during any season, but takes on a special kind of grimness when the days are short and cold and you've reached peak casserole by the Queen's Birthday.
With due respect to all the wonderful braises, curries, stews and lasagnes (so many lasagnes!) and soups we've been enjoying over the past three months, the Good Food team is highly excited to fire up the barbie and get stuck into spring produce. Who's for lemony chicken with young peas and asparagus?
It seems dining out is off the table until at least October, but there are many ways to keep supporting restaurants, bars, cafes and producers as the weather warms up. Here are some of the best takeaway and delivery options to celebrate a change in seasons, noting the list is only a snapshot of the delicious options available from Emu Plains to the eastern suburbs. Get behind your local hospitality business today and celebrate the season of new life in the process.
Enjoy Bills hotcakes at your own breakfast table or in bed. Photo: Wolter Peeters
For brunch without the wait for a table
Oh, to argue over the Good Weekend quiz in a cafe serving macchiatos and hotcakes again. In the meantime, Marrickville's Black Market Coffee (24 Cadogan Street) is delivering fresh-roasted blends and single origin beans Sydney-wide, while keeping inner-west caffeine fanciers happy with drive-through cold brew, okonomiyaki and AeroPress filter supplies.
For an almost-virtuous breakfast, Poly and Ester chef Mat Lindsay is wood-firing granola flavoured with brown butter, vanilla, honey and cinnamon and it's available for pick-up or delivery within 7 kilometres of Poly (74-76 Commonwealth Street, Surry Hills). Be sure add a wonderfully blistered potato and cheese borek to your online cart when ordering.
Bills is open for takeaway at all four outposts (Bondi, Double Bay, Surry Hills and Darlinghurst), which means those ricotta hotcakes and that avo toast can be scoffed at your own breakfast table or in bed. Silver linings, et cetera. Meanwhile, Bathers' Pavilion (4 The Esplanade, Balmoral) is flipping its own signature pancakes in a take-home pack with maple syrup, fresh berries and whipped cream. Blackwood Pantry (shop 5, 33 Surf Lane Cronulla) has the shire covered for delivery of mid-morning hits such as truffled scrambled eggs, healthy salad bowls and poached rhubarb porridge.
Guildford has been blessed with straight-from-the-oven manoush at Yum Yum Bakery (273 Guildford Road) for more than 30 years, and the flatbread specialist continues to serve its much-loved awarma (confit lamb) and runny egg pizza through lockdown. We're also big fans of Yum Yum's special COVID edition breakfast box bulging with manoush, shanklish, zaatar, labne, ful and mixed pickles. It will feed five people for $75.
Would you like a Bloody Mary with all that? Go on, then. Bills' four locations and Porch and Parlour (17-18/110 Ramsgate Avenue, North Bondi) are on the case for takeaway bottles of the spicy punch. And if you really want to say goodbye to the cares of the week, PS40 (40 Skittle Lane, Sydney) is delivering its breakfast negroni – buzzing with flavours of banana bread, tonka bean and coffee – to suburbs 15 kilometres from the CBD and beyond.
Ester's potato bread demands caviar and creme fraiche. Photo: Supplied
For your daily bread and pasta
Like online dinner parties and whipped instant coffee, home-baked sourdough hasn't quite taken off this lockdown like it did during the pandemic's first wave. No mother, no problem, as myriad restaurants are baking wonderfully crusty loaves ready for whipped ricotta and peas, or the moment of zen that comes with lots of butter and a bloody good anchovy.
Check the Ester online store again for malted wholewheat sourdough, not to mention craggy potato rolls that demand caviar and creme fraiche if there's cause for celebration. Sixpenny's Stanmore general store (83 Percival Road) now accommodates whole cake delivery up to 25 kilometres, and pre-orders can be placed to pick up the three-hatted restaurant's house sourdough and a malted barley and rye bread bolstered by Yulli's Brews porter.
Assorted loaves are also on the counter at Bentley Group Market, held every weekend at Ria Pizza + Wine (71A Macleay Street, Potts Point). Pick up tomato and olive focaccia with Brent Savage's vegan lasagne and something light and reddish from Nick Hildebrant's cellar.
Cafe Paci's (131 King Street, Newtown) potato and molasses bread makes a cameo in its pick-up-only dinner packs (Pasi Petanen broad bean and artichoke casarecce, hello). In Surry Hills, Porteno and Bastardo (50 Holt Street) have combined forces to create an online store spruiking Humble Bakery sourdough and cresta de gallo pasta with slow-cooked zucchini, garlic, chilli, marjoram and parmesan. It's brilliant gear.
In further carb-on-carb good times, wood-fired pane fresca is available for pick-up from CicciaBella's Parramatta trattoria (153 Macquarie Street), ready to ride shotgun with rigatoni alla norma. Ormeggio at The Spit (D'Albora Marina, Spit Road, Mosman) is baking Alessandro Pavoni's rosemary and sea salt focaccia for pick-up and local delivery, and it's darn perfect for swiping through the fine-diner's busiate marinara or wild boar ragu.
Meanwhile, Marta (30 McLachlan Avenue, Rushcutters Bay) chef Flavio Carnevale continues to set his alarm for 2am, six days a week, to make sure locals are sorted for crunchy-crusted ciabatta, springy schiacciata (topped with zucchini flowers and mozzarella, perhaps) and a heady selection of diet-slaying Italian pastries. We see you, limoncello custard sfogliatelle.
Pub Life Kitchen chef Jovan Curic is dishing out takeaway meals in Ultimo. Photo: Wolter Peeters
For a backyard or verandah barbie
Korean or Japanese? Snag, steak or burger? Sydneysiders can have a choose-your-own-adventure barbecue party this spring with multiple restaurants slinging home-grill packs that only need a sunny afternoon and a heat source. (Preferably charcoal, but gas will totally do the trick.)
In excellent news for marbled fat fans, Haymarket's Korean barbecue pioneer Kogi (9-13 Hay Street) began delivering across inner and western suburbs last week. Marinated beef ribs and bulgogi scotch fillet are listed on the carte, but we're most keen for the $250 wagyu family pack also featuring kimchi pancakes, gamjatang (pork bone) stew, banchan and fried chicken. Ooft. Portable grill hire is available for $30.
Sear Korean BBQ is a mobile service with hibachi hire, plus buttery Rangers Valley wagyu and tiger prawns for delivery to anywhere in the Sydney metropolitan area. Punters in possession of their own hibachi will be happy to know Chaco Bar (186-188 Victoria Street, Potts Point) has created a cracking grill-it-yourself yakitori set for $80, starring corn-fed chicken thigh, Bangalow pork belly, tsukune and other tasty things on sticks waiting to be enhanced by house-made shichimi and yuzu-kosho mayo.
LP's Quality Meats (12-16 Chippen Street, Chippendale) is the benchmark for snags, including cotechino and pig's head sausage, that mean serious barbecue business. The store is open for retail snorkers and sandwiches every weekend, and ready-to-eat boxes (beef brisket, smoked chook and herby potato salad, say) can be pre-ordered for a Friday night spread.
In burger land, it's all about Pub Life Kitchen's (265 Bulwara Road, Ultimo) kits featuring potato rolls, American hi-melt cheese and aged Whole Beast Butchery beef. Online booze provider Drnks is delivering the packs across inner metro Sydney. Meanwhile, the champions at Burgerhead are hosting weekly virtual cook-along sessions with burger packs delivered as far as the Central Coast and Wollongong, or available for pick-up at Penrith (shop 17, 98 Henry Street) and Botany (1427 Botany Road).
For steak, the one to rule them all is Firedoor's David Blackmore one-kilogram 150-day dry-aged full-blood wagyu rump on the bone. It's available as a $149 add-on to the Surry Hills restaurant's Friday feast boxes, sold for delivery through Harvest Bites. Restaurants including Nour, Nomad and Hartsyard are also rocking meals via the same online store and every purchase goes towards helping OzHarvest's work in food relief and feeding people in need.
If cooking from scratch isn't on the cards, consider turning your home into a steakhouse for an evening of martinis, oysters and mustards instead. Bondi Oysters will send unshucked Sydney rocks to most metro suburbs and Continental Deli Bar & Bistro "mar-tinnies" are available via P&V Merchants online bottle shop for statewide delivery. The Providoor platform has multiple fancy beef options, each with its own little biography. Chophouse's $170 feast for two spotlighting dry-aged pasture-fed T-bone from Matt Moran's family farm, for example, Icebergs' 150-day grain-fed boneless rib-eye crusted with Olsson's sea salt, and Rockpool Bar & Grill's wood-fired Cape Grim sirloin with horseradish cream. The steaks only need a quick finish in the oven so have at it.
Middle Eastern lamb feast from Kepos Street Kitchen. Photo: Supplied
For a long weekend lunch
If we're talking spring lunch, we're talking lamb. At Fred's (380 Oxford Street, Paddington), where chef Danielle Alvarez's produce-first cooking can make it feel like spring on the coldest day of winter, customers can collect slow-roasted lamb shoulder with a pomegranate-honey glaze, spices and spuds. It will feed at least two for $150 and includes a cabbage and fennel salad, and black lime yoghurt with pickled chillies. Sunday lunch indeed.
A Middle Eastern lamb feast is also the right idea, and Kepos Street Kitchen (96 Kepos Street, Redfern) offers delivery as far north as St Ives for its mezze boxes and meal packs including coriander-crusted lamb shoulder, cauliflower salad, hummus and pita. Further west, Emma's Snack Bar (59 Liberty Street, Enmore) is set up for lamb skewer delivery across the usual third-party platforms, as are local heroes Kabul House (186A Merrylands Road, Merrylands), Jasmins (29 South Street, Granville) and Frank's Lebanese (16 Smart Street, Fairfield).
Regarding non-lamb lunch adventures, northern beaches residents have a tough choice on their hands: the Melanda Park roast suckling pig Sunday special from Pilu at Freshwater complete with caramelised onions, duck-fat potatoes and truffle maccheroncini, or the beachside restaurant's beautifully bronzed, blushing pink beef Wellington? Decisions, decisions.
In the seafood stakes, we can't get enough of Chase Kojima's handpicked sashimi boxes at Simulation Senpai (1 Little Pier Street, Haymarket) and the hunky lobster and king prawn rolls at Bart Jr. (92 Pitt Street, Redfern). Catalina (Lyne Park, New South Head Road, Rose Bay) continues to push the seaplane out with its $330 hand-picked whole mud-crab box packed with oysters, poached king prawns and house-cured salmon. Add a decadent lemon tart with mascarpone and raspberries for $150.
With yum cha off the cards, there's also a lot to be said for a table heaving with dumplings, tea and cheap beer. If heaven is a place in Haymarket during lockdown, it's Thai Kee IGA (9-13 Hay Street, Haymarket). The sprawling supermarket stocks more hard-to-find Asian staples than you can shake a youtiao at, but the best stuff can be found in the "Restaurant Range" section where Rising Sun ramen kits share freezer space with Chaco Bar karaage and Ho Jiak roti. Taste of Shanghai and Din Tai Fung command six shelves between them for xiao long bao, pork buns, har gau and wontons. Ommi's Food and Co represents with pork and kimchi dumplings and truffled sheng jian bao. Best of all, Thai Kee delivers to most Sydney suburbs.
Also consider following Neil Perry – the hardest working veteran chef in Double Bay – on Instagram if you're not already. Perry's "At Home" kits are available for next-day delivery through Providoor, but locals can drop by Margaret (corner of Guilfoyle and Bay Streets) to collect specials such as Spencer Gulf prawn cutlet rolls, red-braised pork belly, and a beef and Guinness family pie filling enough to feed six.
For spring produce to get you excited for cooking
Brassicas, potatoes and beetroot: we love you. But we're also pretty chuffed to come out of winter and put some bright green goodness on our plate instead. Few home-cooked meals taste as good as the first few of spring, when broad beans are starting to pop and new-season asparagus means poached eggs and hollandaise.
Many restaurants are providing produce boxes through lockdown, helping NSW growers survive the pandemic by putting first-rate vegetables in home kitchens. For Paddington pick-up, Fred's offers Newcastle Greens organic boxes that have recently included watermelon radish, heirloom turnips, spigarello and exotic mushrooms, while Angelo's Cabarita (Prince Edward Park, Phillips Street) has created $40 fruit-and-veg packs for the good people of Canada Bay. Speaking of good people, for hospitality workers with reduced income under COVID restrictions, minimal-waste bar Re (2 Locomotive Street, Eveleigh) will provide a "Hospo Veg Box" with six days' worth of fresh food for $50.
For more produce box options, Harvest Bites sells boxes chock-full of NSW-farmed goodness for delivery, subscription or Alexandria pick-up. And for anyone after excellent Asian greens, there's gold standard bok choy, curry leaves and gai lan at Season's Fruit Market (217-219 Thomas Street, Haymarket), the longtime supplier to many of Sydney's best Cantonese restaurants. Delivery is available to most suburbs and Season's boxes start at $39 with classics such as choy sum and bean sprouts, plus a few seasonal surprises – perhaps okra, Japanese eggplant or snow pea sprouts.
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