The Swimmers Club, Rose Bay

Date of Visit: August 18 2013

It’s a beautiful sunny Sunday and the plan was for a drive to Rose Bay for a lunch at The Sailors Club. I guess we were not the only ones with the same ideas as the restaurant was fully booked.  So without a booking we were asked whether we would like to put our names down for a 3:30pm sitting (a 3 hours wait) or to go downstairs to The Swimmers Club for coffees and more casual fares.

The Swimmers Club is a revamp of the old Rose Bay kiosk.  It has been done up very nicely, a sleek shed with motorised shades to block out rain, and sittings along the dining bench along the deck. It was packed, but we managed to get seats at the dining bench.

It was very idyllic sitting under the sun –  catching warm sea breezes, watching activities on the sea and checking out people walking along the shores.   Occasionally a sea gull would swoop in to perch on the balustrade, probably looking for a bite.  All-in-all, a fantastic place to while away the hours – however, not if you are hungry and waiting for ages for food to arrive!

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The Swimmers Club kiosk

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Rose Bay Marina

When food finally made their appearance after a very patient 40 minutes wait, I am sad to pronounce it ‘subpar’.

The omelette was more like a fritata with potato and extremely salty. The lamb pie was a ball of tough pastry with  only a tiny chunk of lamb in it, and very sweet with sautéed tomato/capsicums/onions  mix – incidently also cameoing as a side.   The bread and butter pudding slice was quite inedible and the worst I had ever tasted – I couldn’t comprehend the taste, except it’s custard-ly sweet, doughy, not fresh and topped with oily stale bread chunks with a sprinkling of icing sugar for deco.

Nevertheless, the saving grace was the coffees and the views.  I won’t say never, but if I come back next time, it will only be for coffee.

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omelete

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lamb pie

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lamb pie

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bread and butter slice

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Rose Bay promenade

 

The Swimmers Club:  594 New South Head Road, Rose Bay, NSW

Simple Fare, Stylish Environ @ AMCE Bar & Coffee, Troika KLCC, Kuala Lumpur

Date of Visit: July 2 2013

The KL property market had a soft-landing back in late 2000. I was not suprised when Malaysian property developers kicked off their sales launches in Hong Kong since there are many Malaysian expats living in Hong Kong. High-end properties in KL are very much cheaper compared to Hong Kong, and it was envisaged that most Malaysian expats would be looking to retire back home in Malaysia where the cost of living is lower. In a nutshell, that was how Troika came into my radar. I went to its launch at Mandarin Oriental to see the Norman Foster design, unfortunately the wasted spaces and dead corners did not excite. There was no mention of sky-dining at all.

Now what excited me about AMCE was its sharp interior from the same designer who did the clever interior for Melur & Thyme (my lunch experience here). Since my associates and I were in the vicinity with 2 hours to kill before our next appointment, we dropped in for a coffee and a quick bite.

Incidentally, in Greek, ‘Amce’ means ‘the best’. At the moment, AMCE is the best cafe in the prestigious KLCC condominium area, simply because it is the only cafe – unless one wants to trek across the KLCC Park to the Convention Center or to Suria KLCC on the other end.

What drew me to the design was its functionality in using natural lights, circulation and ease of assembly (and dismantling since it is in a residential block). Central to the design is the service booth which functions as reception, drinks and sometimes buffet display area. One’s experience begins from one’s entry through the heavy brass doors, being led by service through the double-volume atrium lined by light weight I-beam structures with over hanging pseudo-street style lamps which gave a feel of instant retro-industrial ‘oomph’.

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Reception

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An otherwise, basic fit-out highlighted by I-beams and overhanging lamps.

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Side-walk Cafe

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Service area

Mirrors are suspended on the ceiling affixed on steel girdles for added drama. Oxidised mirrors also lined the length of the wall. One would certainly enjoy a surreal experience with soft lights bouncing off the ceilings and wall under dim lightings. When dinner service comes around, the tinkling soft background music would perhaps make a romantic experience a well.

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Upper part of the split level bistro

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Private booths

There are little touches of details noted throughout the bistro. I especially liked the details in the light bulbs and custom-made tables with plumbing pipes for legs. The colour palette is muted with dusty pink banquette, grey steel, natural coloured timbers and white/ patterned tiles.

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The cleverness of the designer is further displayed at the end of the bistro, where one can find a Mondrian-esque decorative art on the brick wall using only the chasing of plumbing pipes.

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Plumbing Wall Art

Between participating in chit-chats with my associates and appreciating the bistro fit-outs, I had a cup of tea (Cherry Marzipan which smelt very good and something different to my usual order of Mint tea) whilst my associates enjoyed their hot coffees.

My quick bite was Japanese Scrambled Egg Salad with Miso Mayo (RM29) which sounded interesting but tasted very average. It was slightly overdone with rubbery texture. However, this is an easy DIY if I were to recreate at home.

Recipe for Le Chica’s Japonaise a la Scrambled Egg Salad
Pick up a pre-packed mixed salad (whichever that takes your fancy) from the supermarket
Scramble 2 eggs (my preference is to crack 2 eggs into the pan with a tablespoon of cream and give it a quick whirl)
Mix a tablespoon of mayo with a teaspoon of miso paste for dressing
Assemble

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AMCE’s Japanese Scrambled Egg Salad

Other interesting bites from the menu which I can attempt at home from looking at the ingredients listed on the menu are:
Mango Yoghurt Chilled Gazpacho (RM21)an easy-peasy blizz for my Vitamix using fresh mango, lemon, yoghurt, seasoned with white wine vinegar, decorated with a sprinkling of shallots and a touch of tomato salsa.
Strawberry Pomelo & Rocket Salad (RM21) which one of my associates had. My DIY at home would be a quick assembly of rocket salad, some slices of red radish, strawberries, pomelo, citrus segments with a touch of balsamic vinaigrette.

Service busied themselves with setting up for the lunch but still kept an eye on us in case we needed service.

Personally, a dining experience is never complete without a tour to the restrooms. There are 3 stalls of unisex toilet, each fitted with a timber door with vintagey opaque glass. Overall, it looked retro and perhaps a hand-pulled flush toilet would complete the vintage feel.

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Wash area

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Inside the stall

If you are residing nearby, no doubt you would have been there many times and might had even made AMCE one of your locals. For a visitor to the area, just drop in for a cuppa to soak the ambience.

Leisurely Lunch @ Kepos Street Kitchen

Since my Blog is titled ‘Out For A Long Lunch’, it is only appropriate that I chat about my first lunch outing in 2013.

Today’s lunch was a salad at Kepos Street Kitchen (KSK), Redfern. Redfern?!! Yes, the infamous Redfern area notorious for drug addicts, drug raids, intoxicated and homeless sad souls, but hey, there is also the ‘Paris-end’ of Redfern, where expensive new developments (e.g. an ‘entry fee’ of a minimum of A$300,000 for a 1-bedder) have mushroomed up, chocking traffic and violating the ozone layer even further from the burning car fumes every weekends. This posh end is unofficially been dubbed ‘East Redfern’.

Well, KSK has become one of our canteens in the Eastern Suburbs since it opened probably 3 months ago. The site was previously occupied by ‘Strangers With Candy’, but the owner/ chef had relocated and moved to Berry (country New South Wales) where he has set up another joint called ‘Two Skinny Cooks’ with its own bio-dynamic organic farm. I have visited this new joint and found his offerings rather good, especially his pâté and the Ploughman’s lunch featuring cold cuts and the lots. I shall upload some pictures and write a few commentaries as fillers for my future posts.

Excuse my digression. Back to KSK. I ordered the ‘Wood smoked salmon salad with olives kipflers soft boiled egg za’atar’ ($18). I simply adored poached eggs and knew that smoked salmon will pair very nicely with a glass of cold crisp white wine that I intended to order. Today being a scorcher of 30 degrees in Sydney, I felt a pang of sympathy for my FB mates in Melbourne, their mercury hit 41degree! Wow! I’d be burnt to crisps there! Then I remembered that I have a training session in the afternoon. Sucks, so tap water instead. Boo..

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Yes, do note the perfectly soft boiled egg with oozing orange just-about-done yolk, so delish! Perfectly cooked eggs be it poached, boiled, fried or scrambled is the distinction between a cook and a chef. And I have to mention that the owner/ chef here has worked in many award-winning restaurants. I will have to do some digging around and list his accolades in my future posts, but for now, I can only say that he worked in the Balmoral Bathers Pavilion prior to KSK.

How was the wood smoked salmon salad? It was good (of course) but also different. The difference was from kick and crunchiness from the za’atar, synonymous with many Middle-Eastern cuisine. The al-dente baby kipflers, crunchy sesame, salty olives together with the kick from dried herbs and the soft smoky salmon made it very filling combination. (Post Script: Even though light for the average diner but was a bit heavy for me, held me back from assaulting my bike in the gym later)

Oh, my companion diner had ‘Baked eggs (2) in tomato shashouka’ ($14)

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The tomato shashouka (hope I got the spelling right) is something like the American’s chili con carne. Nice and bubbly baked eggs straight out of the oven!

Too simple and easily contented, thus setting up my bar for the Michelin starred restaurants in Tokyo I have booked to sample next month after my Tokyo Marathon.