The day I had been dreading weather-wise was finally here. Fortunately, I had planned around it with some indoor activities. First up, lunch at Tiny’s Sandwich Bar. A cold sandwich with one of their boozy shakes sounded like the perfect way to beat the heat.
It was a good thing I had booked a table as the place was full with workers on their lunch break. I’m a sucker for a ham sandwich and the Number 1 – with shaved honey ham, lettuce, shallots, cucumbers and dijonnaise on Vienna bread was an easy choice. A great combination of flavors that were all held together with the thick and chewy bread. For the milkshake, I asked my server which one she preferred and immediately replied with the Cherry Jack – Jack Daniels whisky, cherry liqueur, vanilla ice cream and marischino cherries. Aussie shakes were similar to most I’ve had in Europe, which are more frappes than shakes in terms of thickness. This was a dangerous drink but oh so good.
Next, I decided to treat myself to a long overdue Thai massage – in this case a combination Thai and Swedish massage with hot stones and some reflexology throw into the mix. 90 minutes later, I emerged a new man and made the short trip back to the hotel to flee the now 100 degree weather with 20 mph winds of hot air. A/C never felt so good.
One of the things I like to ask servers/chefs/bartenders when visiting a new city is to ask them where they go on their day off. For Sydney, the consensus pick was Uncle Ming’s. Lucky for me, it was located a mere 3 blocks away so after the sun went down, I made my way downstairs, past the suit shop and through the curtains to a very, very red room.
I love this kind of place, if not quite this red, so I took a seat at the bar and ordered a Tsingtao Dark Ale, which I didn’t even know they made. They have a simple but enticing small menu of Chinese and Japanese small plates. I figured I needed at least one more local thing so selected the tempura local prawns and the 5 spiced pork and peanut dumplings. My server had enthusiastically recommended having the honey sesame dipping sauce with them, and she was right. As Guy Fieri likes to say on his show, they should bottle that sauce. It was outstanding, especially with the perfectly cooked prawns. The dumplings, while good, suffered the same problem I had with my previous Sydney dumpling order – too much wrapper. Still, the honey sesame sauce helped cover over that flaw.
I joked with my server if she had to readjust her eyes when leaving such a red place. She laughed and said she’s used to do it by now but at first it was a problem. The kettles above the bar were used for a truly genius idea – shared cocktails for the table which patrons can then portion out themselves like serving tea. There was also a cocktail that was set on fire to give it a smoky taste. I also particularly got a kick out of the etchings on the glass fridges which featured the legends Bruce Lee, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Chuck Norris, who inexplicably was in his Invasion USA outfit.
I had been researching gelato spots near me and had narrowed it down to two. I asked my server which she preferred and without hesitation said “Messina” She, in fact, loved it so much she still seeks it out even though she’s in a different neighborhood now.
I walked down the now familiar George St but this time turned toward St. Martin Place. Along the way, I passed by the main Post Office and Monument to the Fallen, and eventually arrived at a very stylish plaza, which had a few restaurants and bars on one side, and my destination on the other.
With over 40 different flavors, including special weekly one-offs, I was a kid in an, err, ice cream store. Originally, I was going to get my standard pistachio but I saw they had one that combined 2 of my ATFs – pistachio praline. After that taste, I asked for one of the other flavors that stood out to me, one of their limited specials – Melt in Your Moscato – Vanilla clotted cream gelato with strawberry purée and chunks of strawberry shortcake. It was the clear winner.
I took a seat outside, listening to two models complaining about the declining sales of their NFTs, and enjoyed this outstanding gelato, which tasted pretty much exactly as the description implied – delicious. I had thought that it would be too rich to get another scoop but I saw they had a “tiny” option so I felt I would regret it if I skipped the pistachio praline. My server ended up giving me a generous serving and once again, I headed outside to eat this fantastic combination of pistachio gelato with pieces of praline and caramel, which tasted exactly like the Pralines n Cream of my childhood.
I waved the white flag and started my walk back, this time going straight up George St, which while not as packed as Saturday, was still teeming with patrons. It had finally turned a bit cooler so I enjoyed taking in the night air one final time in Sydney. Tomorrow would be the last hurrah, and the expected 10 degree drop in temperature would be most welcomed as I finally make my way to Bondi Beach for a proper send off to my Australian adventures.
Love this! ‘One of the things I like to ask servers/chefs/bartenders when visiting a new city is to ask them where they go on their day off.” Both Uncle Mings and Messina sound incredible.
I told them about the Red Room as being the closest thing to this much red I had ever seen in a bar before this put that to shame.