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Restaurant Review: Resto Bar

October 28th, 2012

I’m so pleased that Sydney’s newest Argentine restaurant Resto Bar has changed the way I eat Spanish food in Sydney. Being Spanish myself, and having lived in Spain, I find it very hard to find good, authentic Spanish food in this city – till now.

With the new addition of effervescent Spanish-Australian chef Gloria Lombardo, the food could not be more authentic, mainly because of the fact that Gloria is from Cataluña, a provence of Spain.

It takes a real Spaniard to understand Spanish food and Gloria has been the force behind Sydney’s best tapas restaurants for more than 20 years. She has developed a menu that is a unique combination of classic Spanish tapas with modern Argentine dining.  Using only the freshest seasonal produce, the authentic dining experience that made Café Tapas in Bourke St, En Casa and Casa Asturiana so popular is now found at Resto Bar.

So enough about Gloria as sweet as she is, and lets move on to the food.

Wow… Was I impressed! The food and the service combined with the company I had for the night, I couldn’t have had a better experience. The very hospitable Sebastian from Sitges, a town outside of Barcelona welcomed and seated us, quickly attending to our needs.

After opening a bottle of wine and getting settled with my great and gorgeous friends Kate, Nikki, Nataša and Carmelena, we looked over the menu and ordered everything that Sebastian and Gloria recommended, as well as the typical Spanish dishes.

For me, the stand out dish was definately the wild mushrooms and prawns. Succulent and fresh, this dish is my recommendation. But it was the typically Spanish dishes that caught my attention, the paella, the tortilla (Spanish omelette), gambas al ajillo (garlic prawns) and patatas bravas (fried potato cubes). Eating these dishes all of my life has made me a critic, and I can tell you I’ve had some pretty shocking ones, but my goodness – these were all absolutely outstanding!

The grilled calamari and the chorizo – amazing! The milanesa a berenjenas (crumbed and fried eggplants) – amazing! This is something my mother and grand mother have always made, so great to see it on a menu and taste it.

Unable to eat much more, I did try the typically Argentine BBQ meat. I don’t normally eat large amounts of meat, but this was irresistible. It’s a mixed charcoal grill of meats; chicken, short ribs, chorizo, black pudding & wweet-bread plus Matambre de Cerdo (grilled pork flank steak) + salad & bread.

I really could go on about everything on the menu because we pretty much ordered everything on it! The food is filling and you feel absolutely content – these are great portions. The service was great and with the wide open kitchen, it’s great to see Gloria cooking away with her love for authentic food.

I can’t tell you how impressed I am with my experience here – as well as my great friends.

Resto Bar really impressed us, tucked away in a quieter part of town and having a really edgy urban style inside, I will be back here in a heartbeat.

Pros: Great, authentic food, authentic service, authentic attitudes with authentic views on how Spanish/Argentine for should be presented. BYO alcohol. Charming and relaxed space, easy parking.

Cons: No real cons to be honest. I was so thrilled with my experience that even if something wasn’t right, I wouldn’t have noticed it.

Pricing: Tapas meals from $5 to $26. A large range of paella, meat grills and other menu selections. Website is detailed with pricing and everything is translated to English.

Final say: A clean, friendly and hospitable group of people bringing a pleasurable experience to life with great food. I love this place and it’s great for groups. I’ll be back again and again – and the other reviews on UrbanSpoon completely back me up on this review – a seriously impressive place!

65 McLachlan Avenue, Rushcutters Bay - 02 93603121 – Open Tuesday to Saturday

Resto Bar on Urbanspoon

Spanish Cuisine At It’s Best – Albondigas Con Patatas

September 23rd, 2011

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Something my Spanish Grandmother always made, then my own mother always made was albondigas con patatas – something I never ever got sick of. And never will.

I need to be completely honest with you though – I don’t really know what the ingredients are. It’s one of those things I’ve never tried to make because I know it will never be like mum’s.

But what I do know, it is has big, juicy meat balls made with a concoction of spices and a sauce made with lots of different things, including peas and fried potato. In this photo, the potatos were put on top, but they are traditionally fried first and put in with the sauce and meat balls to soak up the flavours.

One of my most favourite Spanish dishes of all! Finding a good authentic one is hard, but when you find it, the rich flavours will have you hooked!

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Will Fennell – Perfectly Groomed And Stunningly Distinct

May 31st, 2010

I walked into Bondi Junction clinic, WillandPeta to meet television personality Will Fennell, who owns the clinic with business partner Peta Friend.

Greeted with an enormous smile and strong handshake, the strikingly brawn Will Fennell welcomed me into his clinic with open arms.

Will stands tall, perfect posture, tightly toned and immaculately dressed. He reminds me of a robust Gladiator. He speaks well, so polite and so refined. He has a pleasant and calming nature which is warming and gentle. I felt comfortable talking to him.

As mentioned above, he owns an amazing clinic called WillandPeta which does everything to make you and your skin look and feel it’s best. He is also a prominent television personality, columnist in magazines and also travels the world hosting events. But I’d like him to tell you all about it!

Popping over to the café across the road, I got to have a great chat to him about everything in his life…

Is there anything you are currently working on, or working on in the future that you’d like to tell us about?

Well, ‘hypothetically’, I’d love to do a book. I would love to contribute to a book on my philosophies and my philosophies of skincare. I’ve really changed over the 15 years of doing what I do away from taking my business from just doing fluffy facial treatments to using only cosmosutical products in my skincare clinic, where it is all results orientated, so the concept is that you can change your skin by using skin care and skin treatments.

I’m also working on a skincare range that I’m formulating at the moment. With skincare, you can go in two directions. You can get someone to formulate it for you, so you throw money at them and say you want a skincare range, they will formulate it, but they will own the formulas themselves, and you produce this product. Or you can go the other way, where you develop the formulas and I will own them, and they will be mine. So I can take them anywhere I want and do anything with them because they are mine. It just takes longer. I am working with my chemist to formulate the skincare range.

I have also joined the Mr. Gay World organisation, so I hosted Mr. Gay World in Oslo earlier in the year, and so I am going to Europe in September to host Mr. Gay Europe, I’m excited about doing that!

Last year I did too many things, this year I said I would only do three things. That’s all I will do, just these three things.

Who or what influences you most in fashion?

In fashion, it would be Tom Ford, with out a doubt. The classical thing about Tom Ford is that it is all incredibly simple; it’s just executed beautifully and flawlessly. All the man has to wear is a crisp white shirt and a black suit. Everything about him is incredibly simple, all of his designs are simple, and that’s me. I love that. I would prefer uncluttered and attention to detail.

What is your favourite piece of clothing or accessory?

I love Calibre clothing, Calibre make the best jeans. I love them. I’d sleep in them! When you are getting older, in your mid-thirties, you can’t wear skinny jeans anymore. You still want to wear jeans that fit you nicely, without having that skinny look. My classic look is jeans and loafers, I wear jeans and loafers all the time, that is what I feel comfortable in. Calibre makes beautiful tailored jeans that are nice enough to wear to a business meeting, but comfortable enough to wear and be semi-casual.

Is there a feature of your home that you love most?

My partner and I have a balcony outside area that overlooks Elizabeth Bay. We live in the most densely populated suburb in Sydney, but yet we have this balcony, which overlooks this little body of water, and you wouldn’t have any idea where you were. I need to see water. I don’t need to see lights of the city or anything like that when it comes to views, but if I can see, hear or smell water, that’s all for me. Water has negative ions, so it’s calming. The closer you are to sea level, the calmer you are.

What is your greatest extravagance?

Travelling. It’s something that we like to do, we like to do a country and not do this whole 7 countries in 3 weeks thing. For instance, when we go away to another continent, people ask what countries we are going to, we like to keep it quite minimal and focus on only those countries. We’ll get a train from city to city. Countries I’ve never been would be my biggest extravagance.

How did you get into what you do?

When I was about 15, I had really bad acne, so I started to see a skin therapist and I couldn’t really afford to have the treatments. She was lovely, so she said come in and visit me, and help me and in exchange I’ll give you treatments, so I knew it’s what I wanted to do. When I left high school, I was too scared to tell my parents that I wanted to be a skin therapist, so I went to University for a year, then at the end of that year I said to my mother that I am going to go to beauty school. She cried and carried on.

At that time my father had left us and I had no contact with him. At that time, my mum and I were very poor and there was no way she could afford to put me through beauty school, but then my fathers mother died, and she left me money. I got this phone call one day from a lawyer saying “you’re grandmother has left you X amount of money” and all of a sudden I had the money for beauty school. It all happened in this short period of time.

I worked my whole way through college, first off at a nursing home, then at a beauty salon in Darlinghurst. I met my business partner there, and then the following year we opened out first salon, which was called Baby Blue. I was 20, so I was the Baby, and she has the most beautiful blue eyes, so she was Blue. That’s why we called it Baby Blue.

So how did the TV career come about?

10 Years Younger In Ten Days came through DNA, one of the executive producers of the show read the magazine, and she called me and asked if I wanted to do an audition.

After Queer Eye For The Straight Guy, the salon was doing really well and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do it again, but I went along anyway, went to the audition.  They rang and told me to be at the audition, but I couldn’t get to it because I had a job I was contracted to in Germany and couldn’t get out of it. So that was that and I didn’t hear from them. I went to Germany, had a great time. I came back, and they rang me, and asked if I wanted to shoot the pilot. It was great because there were no nerves involved because I didn’t think it was going to happen.

Queer Eye For The Straight Guy was in 2004, the problem with that was it came about too late, they took too long to create it over here, the American version was barely getting 700,000 viewers a night, so the hype was over, resulting in just one season. From first auditions, to going to air, it took two years – that’s a long time!

Favourite place to relax in Sydney?

We live very close to Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair. It would have to be one of our favourite places ever. I run around that head, it’s funny, because there’s this bit that faces Woolloomooloo where my heart starts to get this thing there, as I approach the corner, and I see the bridge and everything at the end and it’s like… I don’t know, I just get this amazing feeling every time, it never changes. This is the most beautiful place ever.

What are your thoughts on Australian fashion in comparison to International fashion?

There’s always this idea that we are a season behind. That we are a step behind it all. I don’t think that’s the case anymore. We have some fantastic designers. As I said before, I’m a jeans and t-shirt type of guy. I have a few beautiful suits, I have less lots of clothes, instead some beautiful, maybe 6 or 8 beautiful shirts.

I think the idea of us being some little country at the bottom of the world that always has last season is gone, our designers have shown the world that they can go to Europe and mix it with the best of them. I don’t think we’ll ever be taken as seriously as French Couture or Italian, I don’t think it’s in our culture as much as it is in theirs. It’s in their culture.

What’s one thing you can’t leave home without?

I have a lip balm in every single pocket in every single garment! Sometimes my partner will be like, “So which one is it today? High gloss, shimmer, lip-pumping…”

I have this great Christian Dior lip-pumper, and because I love them [lipgloss], I’ll try anything. I put it on and then next minute it works, because it has all these irritants to the skin, next thing I had these massive lips, my partner was so embarrassed by me!

There’s this idea that if you start using it, you will rely on it. The thing is, lips have no sebaceous glands, and so by nature they are incredibly dry. They still produce hyaluronic acid, meaning that they have the capability to moisturise themselves, but they have no capability of keeping the moisture in, because they have no oil glands. So you need to moisturise and you need to protect them.

Favourite beach in Sydney and why?

I’m so protective of my skin and the sun, that I don’t go to the beach all that much. But if I ever do go out in the sun, it would be Boy Charlton pool at Woolloomooloo, I love it there.

But if I had to pick a beautiful beach, it would have to be the smaller beaches on the harbour like Parsley Bay and the Eastern suburbs.

Three pet hates…

1. Gossiping.

2. Hairy ears. BIGGEST faux par.  Hair coming out of noses and ears. It’s so easy to remove. You can take a really handsome man and ruin everything with just a little bit of ear hair.

3. Body clipping and shaving on men. The days of men removing all their hair, it’s over now. Trim it back if you want to keep it all nicely contoured and all neat and tidy, but a big no to shaving. Imagine rubbing yourself up against someone who has just shaved, it’s like having a cheese grater on you.

How often do you eat out? Or cook at home?

I love Japanese. Japanese would be one of my favourite meals to eat out I suppose. There are some great Japanese restaurants in Potts Point, so I eat a lot of Japanese out. Apart from that, we cook most nights at home. We have a BBQ on our balcony. My partner would BBQ anything and everything if he could. He’s American, so he is used to using a big BBQ. We eat at home about 5 nights a week. We eat pizza, eat at home, or eat Japanese.

If you were Clover Moore, what would you inject money into fixing in Sydney?

We used to have a business on Oxford Street in Darlinghurst. Ten years ago we moved away because I could see it was starting to decline. And I know that she is doing her best to somehow improve Darlinghurst, the feeling on the street, the safety, you walk down at night and I don’t know how much you can do to help this, but it’s not a place I would think of going anymore. I wouldn’t think of going there to shop or for dinner or go to Darlinghurst anymore. It’s, I think, it’s lost a sense of village and anything it used to have. It doesn’t exist.

Where would you go for drinks with friends then?

Lotus bar, I love Lotus bar. The best thing is you can just ask a waitress to grab you a drink and they just do it, they’ll know what you like, or they’ll just make one for you. I drink very little, but I’ll have one cocktail. They are amazing and it’s chilled, it’s an early, not a late place, so you don’t have to head down there late. I’m not really into the bar thing so much, but a cocktail bar is nice.

What is the thing you would change most in terms of men’s mentality in grooming?

Men think it’s too hard. That’s the first thing I come across – that it’s too hard.

The reason that’s happened is because the women in this industry have made it too hard. You have these women that have all these products, which they put on before going to bed.

All you need are 3 steps in the morning and 3 steps in the evening.

You cleanse and scrub in the shower, then put moisturiser on. It seriously takes 30 seconds. It’s not hard and it’s not time consuming. The way I have programmed my clients and the procedure of using my product is making it really simple in just 3 steps. You prepare the skin by cleaning it. You treat it by using active ingredients and you moisturise it. So I think that’s it, the main thing is it’s not that hard and it’s not time consuming, and the benefits you will see in the long run are enormous.

If you start in your 20’s or 30’s looking after your skin, wearing sunscreen and using exfoliant, you will get to 40 and look in the mirror and not think someone has walked all over your face. It’s easy, wear sunscreen. Most creams reverse ageing, the only one to prevent is sunscreen.

www.willandpeta.com