Sammy’s Restaurant, Gymea

Sometimes it’s hard for me to tell whether it’s my overly strict and traumatising upbringing that influenced my views, or some parents just don’t parent. Your toddler won’t stop pointing and yelling at someone at the next table, you smile at him and let him continue through the night. Your toddler throws his dummy at someone else, you apologise to the person briefly but smile at your child. Your toddler deliberately smashes his plate of chips, you laugh and ask him lightheartedly why he would do that. One of your friends decides to lean in and tell your toddler how amazing he is.

Relevance to this entry? Well, for the big first half of tonight, we’re seated right next to a table consisting of just this little toddler guy who did all of the above but whom I shall not call a brat, with a mother or carer who did all the above spoiling but whom I shall not call a terrible parent, and her two fellow diners who laughed along but whom I shall not call enablers. For all I know, little guy here could have a disability and not just a product of poor parenting. I also continued to remind myself that any negative feelings I might feel in the beginning was probably out of the restaurant’s control.

Anyway! Sammy’s Gymea!

The Actual Part About Sammy’s Gymea

So I may not be a huge fan of the lethal garlic breath Lebanese cuisine tends to give me after, but when Richard told me that he and a mate, two full-grown men, with a healthy appetite after a long day of digging and paving struggled to finish the medium platter from Sammy’s, I knew it’s a meal for me! (Richard later theorised that they had loaded up on bread before the dishes arrived.)

We came here at 6 pm tonight the Saturday night, and was pretty surprised to find the place already packed, but had only one waitress who was running around and struggling to handle the reception plus the 5-6 tables alone. We easily forgave her for taking a while to get the menu and our water.

The biggest meal of Sammy’s Gymea appears to be the Large Mixed Platter ($85 dine-in; $76 takeaway), which comes with:

  • skewers: 4 chicken breast, 4 lamb, 4 kafta
  • dips: garlic, baba ghannoush, hummus
  • Lebanese-style tabouli salad
  • 6 pieces of falafel
  • a choice of vine leaves or sambousek (cheese or minced meat)

And therefore was what we ordered for the two of us because should there be any leftovers, we could just take them home with us. Spoiler: there were no leftovers.

Sammy's Gymea: Pita
Sammy’s Gymea: Pita, served in its plastic bag

First to arrive were our dips and salad, but we had to wait and ask the very busy lone waitress for our bread before we could get started. The pita came in its plastic packaging — the standard way they’re served here according to Richard’s previous experience and as evident from the next table (the other next table, not the one with little guy whom I shall not call a brat).

Sammy's Gymea: Tabouli and Dips
Sammy’s Gymea: Tabouli (left), Garlic Dip (top), Hummus (right) and Baba Ghannoush (bottom)

My favourite of the dips was initially the smoky baba ghannoush, but after an entire meal of heavy flavours, my preference gradually shifted to the milder hummus. The garlic dip was super garlicky!

Sammy's Gymea: Sambousek
Sammy’s Gymea: Sambousek stuffed with cheese (left) and minced meat (right)

Sambousek / sambosek / sambosak / sombosik… samosa! We had a choice between that and the vine leaves for our platter, and picked that with two cheese and two minced meat. I liked the meat version more as the cheese pastry didn’t quite have enough filling.

Sammy's Gymea: Falafel
Sammy’s Gymea: Falafel with Tahini Sauce

Didn’t think this mezze plate would be the highlight for me, but the falafel balls were piping hot and so, so good. We also got 7 of them instead of 6 on the menu!

Sammy's Gymea: Lamb, Chicken Breast and Kofta Skewers
Sammy’s Gymea: Lamb, Chicken Breast and Kofta Skewers, de-skewered

The last of the large meal to arrive were the skewers of lamb, chicken breast and kofta, de-skewered. Richard said the lamb pieces were more tender than the ones he had the other day, but we both thought the chicken breast, while freshly and nicely barbecued, could use a bit more marinating. I couldn’t pick a favourite out of the meats and wanted to enjoy this dish more than I actually did.

If our experience tonight at Sammy’s Gymea is anything like a typical night on the weekend, I make the following recommendations:

  • Come here after 7 pm, dine in or takeaway.
  • Get the falafel and eat them hot and fresh!
  • If you decide to dine in and spot a restless little boy with medium-length curly blond hair, whom you shall not call a brat, among the diners, ask to sit far far far away.
  • Better yet, get takeaway. The platters are $9 cheaper, too.
  • Falafel!

Sammy's on Urbanspoon

Misc Sydney Eats: April 2014

Dear Visitor! You are currently viewing a food blog entry written in the old “been there” style, likely an imageless compilation post. Newer entries are more detailed and have delicious photos, too! These restaurants deserve a proper post, but here’s the old entry, anyway!

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I did some serious dining out this month. Not going to bother to write separate entries because, once again, no pictures and don’t quite have enough to say about these places.

Al Aseel, Newtown

Al Aseel on Urbanspoon 2 April 2014: We’re due for a regular colleague dinner night and Yuzhong’s birthday is also coming up, so we thought we should do something to celebrate. We decided to try Al Aseel at Newtown because Ali really enjoyed one of their other branches but Newtown is a more convenient location for us after work. The place wasn’t too busy on the weeknight and the staff were very friendly, which we first experienced when we called to check if there’s a free table on the same night. We ordered kibbe nayeh (raw minced lamb), vine leaves, grilled halloumi, sambousek cheese among many other entrees, and each got a mixed plate main. Our table was quickly flooded with super yummy food in big servings. Really enjoyed the night.

The Oaks, Neutral Bay

The Oaks on Urbanspoon 5 April 2014: Pub night at the Oaks, Neutral Bay. We came here in a big group of over a dozen and the place was already buzzing as it was. We initially sat outside but moved inside for a bigger table after everyone arrived. I got the fillet mignon ($28); others ordered bangers and mash ($24), fish and chips ($28), other steaks (~$28), and so on. My steak was cooked very nicely to medium rare even though I never expect much from a pub meal. It was reasonably priced, too. If it weren’t so noisy (pubs just aren’t my thing), I’d come here again.

Caruso’s Italian, Gymea

Caruso's Italian on Urbanspoon 10 April 2014: Came to Caruso’s at Gymea for dinner on a weeknight. I ordered the lasagne thinking an Italian place would do amazing pasta. We also got Italian bread as an entree to share, Cotoletta Alla Diavola (parmesan crusted rib eye cutlet) for Richard’s main, and tiramisu and baked ricotta cheesecake for dessert. The dishes took a while to get to the table and mine was one of the most disappointing lasagne I’ve ever had — it didn’t hold its shape even before I dug in and tasted like it was microwaved. Thankfully, the other dishes seemed to be much better and the dessert was quite good. If I return, I wouldn’t be ordering the lasagne ever again.

The Wine Room, Gymea

The Wine Room on Urbanspoon 12 April 2014: We had dinner at the Wine Room tonight. The place was previously called Vintage Point, and we’ve visited and loved their breakfast in the past. For dinner tonight, we got garlic bread to share and both Richard and I got the 500g Cape Grim Grass Fed Rib Eye Fillet, medium rare. The steak was great. I didn’t feel like dessert but the others ordered the Chocolate Lovers Club, a massive chocolate ice-cream with all the chocolates served in a big ice-cream glass. It looked pretty amazing. I continued to be impressed by the food here.

Braza, Darling Harbour

Braza on Urbanspoon 14 April 2014: I told the boys about the quantity of meat (and sodium) I had at Braza, Darling Harbour the other time and told them they must come as our regular dinner, on me. They also grabbed alcohol (Scotch whisky and bourbon) while there. Like last time, we also sat outside and got a nice continuous supply of food to the table. We had another epic night of super salty meat consumption and loved every bit of it.

Hurricane’s, Brighton Le Sands

Hurricane's Grill Brighton-Le-Sands on Urbanspoon 17 April 2014: I loved Hurricane’s at Darling Harbour, so I was quite thrilled when the group decided to do their end of basketball tipping season celebration at Hurricane’s at a different location, Brighton Le Sands. It was a busy weeknight and we came here as a group of a dozen. The service was slow but understandable. This time, I ordered the full rack of pork ribs with a baked potato as planned. Not as fall-off-the-bone good as the riblets I had at Darling Harbour (I couldn’t just use my cutlery this time), but still tender and delicious. If it were healthy to eat ribs from Hurricane’s every day, I probably would.

Sale Pepe, Seaforth

Sale Pepe on Urbanspoon 18 April 2014: It’s Good Friday and most pizza delivery places were either closed or not delivering to the suburb we were in, except Sale Pepe at Seaforth. We ordered the Margherita D.O.C., Napoletana, San Daniele, Sale Pepe (you just have to order the pizza of the same name as the pizzeria) and Pappa E Ciccia. The food arrived a little late but we’re mindful that it’s a public holiday and we did order 5 of them. The base was slightly soggier than I’d hoped, but for once, the pizzas actually looked much better than the images on the website. Tasted fresh, otherwise.

Miss Saigon, Hurstville

Miss Saigon on Urbanspoon 19 April 2014: Miss Saigon is located super conveniently near Hurstville Station and their menu is big. Very big. I was quite overwhelmed at first because I was hungry and wanted to eat everything, but in the end ordered nasi goreng, or “Cơm Chiên Indo” as they have on the menu, which admittedly isn’t Vietnamese. I loved it. Decent portion of rice coated in flavouring but not greasy. The others got pho and loved their noodles as well, and all for around $15 each. If I feel like Vietnamese or other Asian dishes, I would come back.

Mie Thai, Gymea

Mie Thai on Urbanspoon 25 April 2014: It was quite late after our bushwalk so we decided to grab takeaway. We got a Mixed Entree each ($7.50) that came with deep fried spring rolls, curry puffs, satay chicken skewers, fish cakes and money bags; for our mains we got the Red Duck Curry ($17.90) with a few lychees and pineapple, and a Pad Thai Chicken ($13.90). I didn’t go into the eatery so I can only comment on the food, but it was all yummy, fish saucy, Thai goodness. The takeaway came in your standard short plastic boxes so the servings aren’t big, but maybe I’m just too hungry after all the walking we did today.

The Meat & Wine Co, Darling Harbour

The Meat & Wine Co Darling Harbour on Urbanspoon 28 April 2014: We wondered where we could get good meat and alcohol and remembered a place called the Meat & Wine Co at Darling Harbour. Meat and wine? Perfect for our group (no alcohol for me because I don’t drink). We got the grilled African beef sausage skewers ($26) and a garden salad ($6) to share. I got the 600g free range rib-eye ($59) for my main, and had a bite of the kangaroo fillet ($34), both cooked to medium rare. Dessert was half of the dark chocolate and pistachio fondant ($15) and the berry pot cheesecake ($14). I didn’t try the alcohol but the boys told me they’re as good as the steaks, which I didn’t think was possible because the steaks were so good. It’s not the cheapest meal, but I would still come back.

Chef’s Gallery, Town Hall

Chefs Gallery Town Hall on Urbanspoon 30 April 2014: Caught up with a friend at Chef’s Gallery. This is my second visit (first here), but this time we booked a table and got to sit a bit further inside with less noise and fewer flies to shoo. We ordered the roast duck and barbecue pork, marble beef spinach noodles in Sichuan soup, and the three-egg fried rice. The fried rice was small to me (only one Asian rice bowl size), but I absolutely loved my big bowl of Sichuan spinach noodles with thinly sliced beef and almost enough spiciness. I’m glad I revisited and chose different dishes this time. Revisit entry with pictures now up here.

Misc Sydney Eats: February 2014

Dear Visitor! You are currently viewing a food blog entry written in the old “been there” style, likely an imageless compilation post. Newer entries are more detailed and have delicious photos, too! These restaurants deserve a proper post, but here’s the old entry, anyway!

Jump to:

A lot of dining out this month! Didn’t have any pictures for these places so I’m not going to bother writing separate entries.

Rum Fire, Entertainment Quarter

Rumfire on Urbanspoon 1 February 2014: Went to Rum Fire at the Entertainment Quarter before a movie. I ordered the scotch fillet steak cooked to medium rare; the friend ordered a pizza. The place was very quiet on the Saturday night but the dishes still took quite a while to arrive. My steak was overcooked and chewy; the friend’s pizza was very small (but he has a very small appetite). It wasn’t the best dinner I’ve ever had.

Kazbah, Top Ryde

Kazbah Top Ryde on Urbanspoon 8 February 2014: Went to Kazbah in Ryde with a friend for dinner on his recommendation. We had two servings of the flatbread on the table with tzatziki, baba ghanoush & hummus dips. We also got the Kazbah Mezze Plate to share. For dessert, we ordered the Kazbah Bomb — Kurrant vodka-flamed Turkish delight ice cream with blueberries. The food was okay, but the place was quite noisy so chatting was hard and the serving size seemed quite small, but it was a more or less pleasant experience.

Chef’s Gallery, Town Hall

Chefs Gallery Town Hall on Urbanspoon 12 February 2014: Caught up with a friend after work. Chef’s Gallery is actually the first Chinese restaurant I’ve been to in Sydney. The service was all right given how busy and noisy it was that weeknight. Lots of flies around, though. We ordered a few dishes to share: Bang Bang Chicken ($9.90), Pork Fillet Mini Burger ($15.90), Green Beans with Minced Pork ($16.90) and Prawn & Pork Wontons ($9.90). I didn’t think the food was very spectacular but maybe the portion size was just too small for me. Revisit entry with pictures now up here.

Braza, Darling Harbour

Braza on Urbanspoon 19 February 2014: A rainy weeknight out catching up with another friend. He knew I have a massive appetite and love my meat, so he brought me to Braza at Darling Harbour, an all-you-can-eat churrasco. We sat outside despite the rain but still got served by the friendly staff regularly. Loved it. The amount of meat and sodium I’ve eaten tonight could probably supply a nation!

Mi Piace, Entertainment Quarter

Mi Piace Pizza e Bar on Urbanspoon 22 February 2014: Went there with Richard before a comedy show. He got the Spaghetti Carbonara and I the Filetto Abruzzese (beef eye fillet), medium rare. We were in a bit of a hurry because we were stuck in traffic earlier, but thankfully the dishes came quickly. My steak was cooked perfectly and was absolutely delicious. My only complaint was the noise even though we already sat outside, but I guess you can’t help it if the place is busy.