Saturday, January 10, 2009

This was supposed to be a business post, but I ended up getting terribly emotional

I'm way too lazy to do research on restaurants.


I was wondering if any of you Australian people have any suggestions.

I'm not really interested in what's been written about in foodie blogs, magazines, newspapers, etc. I'd be more interested in your favorite restaurants; places that you actually go to and love.

We're looking for places that are child friendly, but I'm not speaking in terms of McDonald's and Happy Jacks. I just mean a place where we're not going to get a dirty look if we bring a child inside. We like stuff that's casual. We don't need anything fancy or super trendy.

The places we'll probably be eating include:

1. Darlinghurst (our hotel is going to be near here, so this is probably where we'll need help the most)

2. Canberra (restaurants near the museums would be especially great)

3. Goulburn

4. Symbio and Stanwell Park area

5. Kiama area (maybe near the pink post office?)

6. Jervis Bay

7. Glebe (especially around the market. Or maybe they have food there? We'll probably just eat at the market if they do)

8. Redfern

9. Parramatta (Maybe somewhere near Elizabeth Farm or The Old Government House. OR...maybe near the ferry or train station)

10. Dulwich Hill

11. Balmain (especially near the market)

Thanks in advance.

Anyway, here's something silly.

I honestly have not been as excited as I should be about coming. I've been more stressed and anxious. But finally today, I got excited about it. I had that feeling of joy I've been lacking. You know what got me excited? We were at the zoo and Jack's friend said the word octopus. So, there you go. The thing that excites me most about going to Australia is seeing an octopus.

No seriously. I think it made me remember how much I love Australia....actually BEING there. I think with all this research, I've lost a lot of that. I've fallen in love with Australia in a new way. I love researching it. I love learning about it. This passion for educating myself about Australia consumes my life. But I forgot what it felt like to BE there; the intense feeling of joy and comfort I experienced. When I was there I felt like I was in a dream...a very good dream. And when I got on that plane to go home, I felt like I was entering a nightmare.

I think the octopus reminded me that it's the little things I loved the most. And it was the little things I ended up missing terribly. I once almost started crying in a Fort Worth drugstore because they didn't have Australian candy. Another time, I walked alone in the Botanical Gardens and almost started crying. Why? They didn't have any Australian plants.

I was a pretty sad and pitiful little human being during those months.

I'd sit there in the office listening to "My Island Home", crying my eyes out.

In the evening the dry wind blows
From the hills and across the plains
I close my eyes and I am standing
In a boat on the sea again
And I'm holding a long turtle spear
And I feel I'm close now to where it must be

Uh, not that I long to hunt for turtles or anything.....

Anyway, things have changed now.

This morning, I was still in the mindset of Oh crap. We have less than a month before we go. I'm SO stressed!

Now I'm thinking, Oh no. We still have to wait three more weeks!


  1. I'm sorry, I don't know anywhere to eat at any of those places

    You'll be here soon. It's ok.

  2. Yay!! The countdown is on! Can't wait :-)

    Hey, what sorts of things do you, Tim and Jack like to eat????? I need to start anally planning food for the house whilst you are here.


    ps. I ate at a fantastic restaurant in Glebe many moons ago. I can't remember the name of it though. I do know that they have lots of them in the main street there though, so you should be able to find something. The thing about Australia is that a LOT of restaurants are very child friendly :-) Ask them if they have a children's menu and that's usually the best indicator.

  3. Mistress B: You SHOULD be sorry. But I'll try to forgive you ; )

    Tracey: I don't think there's any special foods we need. I'm pretty sure we'll be fine with whatever you usually buy.

    I'm excited to see you guys!! I know I should say "meet" you guys, but I feel like we've already met!

  4. Sadly, I'm not too familiar with Sydney/Canberra restaurants, but if they're anything like Melbourne's, they'll be very child-friendly. I know of few (mainly the very expensive, fine dining variety) that aren't.

    And you'll be here soon. It'll all feel better then. :)

  5. To be honest, I don't know why you're so obsessed with Australia. There is nothing singularly remarkable about Australia. I've lived here all my life and have traveled to other nations (including ones in Europe, Japan and the US) and I can guarantee you, Australia is not remarkable.

    I wouldn't bother going to Redfern either; it's a dangerous neighborhood of Sydney.

  6. Although I could offer some specific suggestions, I think it would be more useful to make two observations.

    1. Almost everywhere in Chinatown is child-friendly. In fact, a lot of places have children's menus.

    2. If you find a pub with a beer garden, there's a very good chance that it's child-friendly as well.

    If you're looking for somewhere special (though a little pricey) for a night out for yourself, my favourite Darlinghurst/Surry Hills restaurant remains The Bentley (on Crown Street). The food is modern, a little experimental, but incredibly tasty. If you're on a budget, it's a bit of a luxury, but memorable for me every time I've been there.

    And a new favourite, on a more reasonable budget is Din Tai Feng in World Square. Excellent.

  7. miss diarist: Yeah. I figure most are child friendly. We found plenty of restaurants to eat at when we were there last time. I just wanted to say that so people didn't suggest restaurants that would be completely inappropriate for us. Maybe child-friendly was the wrong term. Maybe I should have just said children-welcomed. I don't want to end up in a place that's very upscale...or very romantic. I don't want to be the only family among a bunch of people trying to have quiet romantic dates.

    RVB: Well, we all love different things. One person's trash is another person's treasure.

    Jamesobrien: I'm so embarrassed to ask this, but what is World Square. Okay. Never mind. I just looked it up. It's pretty close to where we'll be staying. I'm trying to figure out if we were there before. Is that the place that has the big food court?? There was a place we went to several times to pick up food. Anyway, thank for the suggestions!

  8. I enjoy reading your blog.

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  9. Frances,

    Hi! Thank you for reading my blog. I'm glad you enjoy it.

    Thanks for the link. It's great!

  10. That's true...and I suppose you're not basing this interest in Australia on statistics (not least the ones that show our education system is almost as bad as America's), but rather Australia's cultural 'sights'. Fair enough.
    I'm not trying to denigrate your interest in Australia; I just find it perturbing that someone could be so fascinated by one particular country. Even the most interesting of countries (in my opinion, Japan) do not warrant an entire blog devoted to it.

    But sure...become an Australian citizen. We could do with Americans to add to the melting pot, I suppose (though I'm an American citizen perhaps I'm a little biased).

  11. Hmm, let's see what I can come up with...

    I'll second the suggestion that Chinatown is a great place to eat with kids, even the more flashy places are totally kid-friendly. We're big fans of Yum Cha at the Marigold Restaurant.

    The Prophet at Surry Hills has fabulous vegetarian food, I always share the vegetarian banquet when I go with my vegan friends.

    Glebe is full of lovely cafes and restaurants and I'm sure there's food at the markets too. Iku is a chain of vegetarian takeaway restaurants which are favourites of my aforementioned vegan friends, there's one at Glebe and at Darlinghurst.

    Parramatta - Elizabeth Farm has a cafe (scroll down, it's a the bottom of the page). So does Old Government House, members of the Huscarls have been known to take a break from training up the hill at the bathhouse and pop in for scones and tea in full Viking regalia :)

  12. What you're not heading West to the best part???

    I can't help you with eating out in the East, but I'm glad you've now started the countdown for your trip :-)

  13. RVB,

    I think there are many blogs out there dedicated to one particular subject. I'd probably see many of those subjects as silly and not something I'd be interested in reading about. But I wouldn't say the subject isn't worth an entire blog. Who am I to judge? The great thing about the Internet is it gives people a chance to read (and write) about things that many other people couldn't care less about.

    The other great thing about the Internet is no one forces us to read a particular blog. I personally couldn't really care less about Japan. I'm sure there are blogs about Japan out there. I don't have to visit them. I don't really have an interest in knitting. I wouldn't go to knitting blogs. But I respect the idea that some people love knitting and would greatly enjoy looking at a knitting blog.

    I love Australia. I'm very interested in it. I've tried explaining myself and defending myself in the past. I really now see no point in that. It's just a part of who I am.

  14. Mim,

    I think you just saved us a LOT of grief. I went to all the links. When I got to the Elizabeth Farm cafe, I thought...weird, it's open only on the weekend. Then I looked at the museum at saw that was also opened on only Fri, Sat, Sun. I had no idea and had it scheduled for another day of the week. OOPS!

    All the restaurants look really good!!

    I haven't had Middle Eastern food in so long. I became obsessed with it after a trip to NYC. We kept trying to find stuff in Texas, but none of it was good. Texas has the interesting skill of ruining almost every type of food (except Tex-Mex).

  15. M+B,

    I'm sure we'll come out west one day....

    I hope!

  16. You'll love Kiama! While here, try Centrepoint Pizza (in the main street). Very family-friendly, and it's in the main street so you can go for a walk down the harbour before/after, stop at the Ice Creamery for dessert, etc.

    Another good spot is the Pub in Berry on the western side of the highway (the one with all the car hubcaps nailed to the wall!). They have a nice beer garden out the back, with a childrens' playground right next to the eating area.

    Both the above have very reasonable prices and very good food.

    Email me if you want any more suggestions for the Kiama area.

  17. Darren,

    We love restaurants with playgrounds!

    The Centrepoint Pizza place sounds really good. And we love ice-cream.

    I'm guessing we're more likely to go to somewhere on Main Street, but I'll still keep my eyes out for the pub. You never know.....

  18. "Welcome to our island. Perhaps you'd like to take over pushing the button? Also, the the polar bears need grooming." Be careful what you wish for, Dina, we may not let you leave..Muahahahaha.

    On a more *savoury* note, I believe that the township of Sydney is well-equipped with "ethnic" eateries. There, if one has the nerve, one may eat genuine foreign cuisine. By this I mean that a lot of those sorts of places in Australia serve very tame versions of the dishes. E.g. A work colleague of mine was very disgusted at the quality of a curry he was served in a food hall in Geraldton, WA. When he complained of its feebleness the Indian proprietor said, "If I serve the real thing they won't eat it." My colleague was soothed by having his meal doused in the hottest pepper they could find.

    I think in Sydney you can find places that really do serve the full, unadulterated stuff. So, if you want to try the Turkish, Lebanese, Greek food, etc., it's got the lot.

  19. I don't really follow any Japanese blogs...because, despite my interest, I do not invest emotionally in countries.
    I suppose you can tell I haven't a patriotic bone in my body.

    If you're coming down to Melbourne, I suggest you visit CERES or the Collingwood Children's farm.

    They're not really touristy places - and both have their own sense of atmosphere.

  20. Another one for your list in Canberra is Mecca Bah in Manuka (pronounced to rhyme with Larnaca).

    We ate there last night - great middle eastern food.

    When will you be in our nation's capital?

  21. Retaruis: It took me to understand the button reference. But yes! I shall press the button for you guys. No to the polar bear thing. I'm not a big bear fan.

    As for the food. The same thing happens here. If you want authentic stuff, you have to go to the big cities. There's a lot of it in NYC. Ethnic food in Fort Worth is pretty awful. Even in big cities though, not all restaurants are authentic. My husband says a good rule is to see if people from that ethnic group are actually eating in the restaurant. Then again, maybe they're tired of the authentic stuff....they could just cook it at home, after all.

    I think the best thing to do is to worry less about authentic or not authentic...and just find food that's good. If the fake ethnic food in Fort Worth tasted good, I really wouldn't care if it was authentic or not.

    RVB: Thanks! We're not coming to Melbourne this time. But maybe another year. I'll try to keep those places in mind.

    abefrellman: Thanks! I'll add it. We're going to be in Canberra in about a month....

  22. Hi, I'm not sure if last my comment went through, I posted as anonymous. is a great place to find Sydney's eatery. is another good blog to check out.

  23. The Observant,

    Thank you so much for the blog suggestions. I'll add them to my blog roll!

  24. Dulwich Hill is about 5 minutes from us, and has a better than average Egyptian restaurant called Morris'. It is very relaxed, and has Belly Dancing on Friday and Saturday nights. The food comes pretty quickly, so you won't have the kid passing out from hunger.

  25. Ariane,

    Thanks! That sounds good. I don't think we're going to be over there on the weekend...maybe?

    Do you know if it's open for lunch? We'll probably go to Dulwich Hill during the day.

  26. Dina

    The place to have lunch in Dulwich Hill is Minh's Vietnamese restuarant at 506 Marrickville Rd, Dulwich Hill. It's probably the best place for dinner, too.

    It's cheap, fast service and pretty good food. The service is no-frills, but it's more business-lime than unfriendly.

    If you want Portuguese food, go to Petersham. There are lots of places to choose from. All the places I've tried are fine. Madeira, Costa do Sol) They are very meat-oriented, but if you eat fish, they are very good, too.

    I like Dulwich Hill, I've lived here for 11 years, but I'm unsure why you are coming here. Do you have a purpose? It's a fairly unremarkable place and I can think of lots of other places to visit before Dully. Having said that, I like visiting unremarkable suburbs in other countries myself.

    There is a youth hostel, it's been there for years, but it's not really true that the suburb is very back-packer oriented. Most people don't even know it's there

  27. Tony,

    I think I just wanted to see some regular neighborhoods. I think the more people tell me that Dulwich Hill is unremarkable the more I want to see it. But who knows, I might leave there thinking "Why the hell did we do that?"

    I do like very simple everyday things though. One of my favorite memories of Australia is stopping into a chemist to buy ear drops. I have no idea why. Maybe it's just that feeling of "Hey I'm in a country halfway across the world and I'm buying ear drops."

    My son and I had fun just walking around the grocery store.

    Sometimes I think that stuff is more meaningful and fun than seeing the Opera House. Although I love the Opera House as well.

    Thanks for the restaurant suggestions!!!

  28. I'll back up Tony's recommendation for Minh's - I couldn't remember the name of it!

    Morris' isn't open for lunch. I'm also told there is very good turkish pizza on Marrickville Rd near Canterbury Rd, but I can't speak for it myself.

    I know what you mean about wandering around suburbs - one of the best times I had in Texas was wandering around the residential streets in Fort Worth near the uni. Nearly bought a dinner service for 20, but didn't and have regretted it ever since! :)

  29. Ariane,

    We don't live too far from the University--maybe a 5-10 minute drive from there. That would be funny if you walked past our house.

    There's a store in Fort Worth where you can buy discontinued China. Is that what you're talking about? I've been curious about that place, but have never been in it.

  30. No, it wasn't that kind of store, it was an antique shop on an otherwise residential road. On a hill. On the left hand side on my walk. That should narrow it down for you huh? :)

    It was also in about 1995...