Sunday, August 28, 2011

Bar H, Surry Hills

I had been mulling about whether I should give Bar H, and it's current Asian inspired offerings a try or not for a while, so when a Spreets offer for Bar H came along, I guess I took that as an encouraging sign.  A couple of Friday night's ago, Cheesecake Boy and I were huddled up together on a window seat, looking out at the terribly rainy and windy conditions outside, having drinks and enjoying our food in the cosy and intimate surroundings of Bar H.  Our deal consisted of four courses, that came with a choice of any two beers or glasses of wine for $69.  Due to the horrid weather, we dashed off to Bar H extra early, and made it to happy hour.  Where a selection of beers were $4.50 each, the house wine was $5 and certain cocktails were $10 each.

Cheesecake Boy went for a Tiger beer to start the night.  Usually this would be $7 a glass, but at $4.50 during happy hour, I thought this was a bargain.

Tiger on tap, $4.50 (happy hour special)

Now if you've been reading this blog for a while, you may realise that I do like things on the gimmicky side at times, but I can be a practical too.  However, Friday nights are about fun, so when I saw the Blue Chaser cocktail on the non-happy hour menu.  I knew that this warm cocktail concoction of apple cider, Appleton Estate VX Rum, mixed sweet spices and citrus oils served in a teapot was going to be perfect to keep me warm that chilly night.  The teacups also had a piece of star anise at the bottom,  and as the teacups were small, it felt like a never-ending cocktail. 

Blues chaser, $15.50

Our first course of crispy pork wontons with sweet chilli sauce were to share.  I've ate plenty of crispy wontons in the past, and can easily say that these were some of the best that I've had.  Perfectly crispy pastry, and a juicy and sweet pork and shitake mushroom filling that really packed a punch.  The sweet chilli sauce, was sweeter than expected and very sticky, we didn't think that the chillies added any spiciness whatsoever.  However, it did not stop Cheesecake Boy from continually taste testing the sauce after the wontons were gone.

Crispy pork wontons with sweet chilli sauce, $3 each

The pickled cucumber and shiso salad was our second course.  If I saw this salad on the menu, I would never have ordered it, but this dish was really lovely.  The  cucumber and black fungus salad was very sweet, slightly tangy, but refreshing all at the same time.  The black fungus provided a nice crunch against the soft pickled cucumber.  This salad really whetted our appetites and got the juices flowing.

Pickled cucumber and shiso salad, $10

For the third course there was an option between a grilled calamari salad or the deep fried tofu with caramelised tomato.  I'm crazy about tofu, so it was an easy choice.  My only gripe with this dish was that the tofu was not quite crunchy enough, but the tofu was luxuriously smooth and  creamy inside.  Cheesecake Boy loved the depth of sweetness of the caramelised tomatoes, and the lovely juices of the tomatoes just popped in our mouths.

Deep fried tofu with caramelised tomato, $15

The last course we chose was the red braised beef short rib with black bean and chilli over the ginger and shallot spatchcock.  This course was accompanied with a side of roast pumpkin with cumin, lemon and sage and a serving of rice.  

Back to the red braised beef short rib with black bean and chilli though.  This was really the dish of the night for both of us, and it's unfortunate that this dish is not available on the standard menu, as I would definitely come back for these tender beef short ribs.  I am usually very hesitant to try black bean dishes, as I find black bean sauce has a tendency to be very salty and can be quite overpowering at times.  However, the black bean and chilli sauce was glorious, slightly salty, but perfectly heighten by the addition of the right amount of sugar.  It was the right mix of salty and sweet and against the short ribs, the natural flavours of the beef still shone through.  I wish all black bean sauces were like this one.

Red braised beef short rib with black bean and chilli

The side of roast pumpkin with cumin, lemon and sage tasted different to what I had expected.  The cumin was very subtle, but the combination of the lemon and sage gave the pumpkin a taste that reminded me of fish sauce against the soft and fleshy pumpkin.  I loved the addition of roasted pine nuts.  However, with the skin still intact, it was not the easiest dish to eat.  Especially, when you are in a super lazy mood.

Roast pumpkin with cumin, lemon & sage

Desserts were not part of our deal and had to be ordered separately.  There were a selection of sorbets on offer, but when Cheesecake Boy heard the combination of orange and passionfruit he knew that was his calling.  The sorbet here is housemade, and it was divine.  It was the perfect balance of sweet and tangy orange and passionfruit goodness. 

Orange and passionfruit sorbet, $4.50 per scoop

Apparently the sticky rice and red bean donuts are new to the dessert menu.  I love sticky rice, red bean and donuts, so even though Cheesecake Boy did not seem overly keen, I was going to get them anyway.  For me these flat donut discs are a perfect way to end any meal.  They were wonderfully covered in coat of sugar, and the filling of sticky rice and red bean was very subtle, and not at all overly sweet.  The sticky rice gave the donuts a lovely bite against all that yeasty softness.  The accompanying ice cream was a combination of vanilla and star anise.  Now I loved the plain, but sharp flavour of vanilla coming through, but the delicate notes of star anise did not work for me.  This dislike for the star anise, was more of a personal rejection, as the texture and creaminess of the ice cream was just right.

Sticky rice and red bean donuts, $10

Bar H may very well be my new after work drinks and nibbles spot.  It is the perfect little after work haven, when you don't want to go home, and need a drink or two to wind down with some sensational morsels to choose from.  However, Bar H is really just a great place for any casual eat.  The quirky hot teapot cocktails and sugary donuts are just an additional plus.  

Dining away, Dumpling Girl.

Bar H
80 Campbell Street
Surry Hills NSW 2010
Ph: (02) 9280 1980

Bar H on Urbanspoon


Mel said...

I went here a few months ago on a Spreets voucher and LOVED it (tho I did find the beef short ribs a bit too salty, so good to hear yours were fine). I like the sound of a hot cocktail - I had no idea such a think existed.

Tina@foodboozeshoes said...

I haven't been since they turned Asian... a bit of a shame as I liked it in its original form and was going to return soon... Will still check out the new H soon :)

sugarpuffi said...

love cocktails in teapots. the pickled cucumber looks really delicious and refreshing

Dumpling Girl said...

Hello MissPiggy, we really enjoyed it too. A shame about your beef short ribs, I was apprehensive about the saltiness but it wasn't that salty when we tried. The cocktail was perfect for that chilly night.

Hi Tina, I wish I got to try its original form, but I definitely enjoy the Asian offerings.

Hey sugarpuffi, the cocktail was really cute, and the salad was great.

joey@forkingaroundsydney said...

This is just across the street from Cafe Ish. :-)
The tofu with tomatoes sound divine, and the rest of the food looks mighty tempting. Might duck in one day for snacks.

Dolly said...

red bean donut.. mmh.. yum.. i love redbean :)

Dumpling Girl said...

Hello Joey, oops forgot to mention it's opposite Cafe Ish, definitely worthy of ducking into I say :D

Hi Dolly, I'm crazy about red bean too. They were really nice.

Keely aka The Richest Girl in Bondi said...

Yum - I've never tried a hot cocktail! And it would've been perfect on a rainy day. The deep fried tofu looks amazing, sounds well worth a look.

Dumpling Girl said...

Hello Keely, it was my first hot cocktail, and you're right perfect for a rainy day. The food really was lovely, so check it out if you're ever in the area.