Curries, city escapes and Korean BBQ

Mr & Mrs Romance - Weekly Edition

This week has been pretty much our idea of a perfect week. Plenty of food, travel, catching up with friends and a stay-cation you’ve got to check out.

I even managed to squeeze in a curry (I’ve had a hankering for Indian food ever since we got back from the UK) in a new local restaurant.

See what I mean? Ticked all the boxes!

We hope you enjoy this Weekly Edition.

Cheers – Jim & Christina xx

Mr & Mrs Romance - avocado toast

Avocado on toast has to be one life’s great gifts. I was brought up eating avocado – pretty strange for an English kid in the ’80s. My mum used to make me avo sandwiches and I loved them. But my mates would all freak out when they saw my green sarnies.

Avocado still doesn’t seem all that popular in the UK, but here in Australia, it’s much more part of the culture. Suits me!

You may notice I’ve supercharged my avo toast. I made some macadamia dukkah last week for a roast lamb we had. A little sprinkle of this stuff and a squeeze of lemon has made my morning about a thousand times better!

The dukkha recipe is here on the site and it’s surprisingly easy. The dukkah lasts in a sealed container in the fridge for ages and is perfect for sprinkling on anything from avocado or poached eggs to roast meat or barbecue.

Manjit's Indian Restaurant Balmain

Tonight we’ve gone out for dinner. I’ve been after an Indian meal for ages, and with our favourite curry house in Balmain closing its doors after 38 years of trading (the guys have retired), we’ve decided to try out another local curry joint.

Manjit’s Indian Restaurant has also been in Balmain for a very long time, but for whatever reason, we’ve never been here before.

The bharrah kebabs – frenched lamb cutlets marinated and roasted in the tandoor – are delicious. Gotta love that bowl too, right?

Manjit's Indian Restaurant Balmain

The mains come out and Christina and I basically fill our table with food! We’ve also ordered the baigan bhartha – an eggplant curry that’s been in the tandoor too to give it a smokey flavour. When it comes to the table, the waiter lifts the big glass bell jar cloche to reveal a smoke plume that’s been infusing the food.

I love a bit of theatre with my dinner!

Manjit's Indian Restaurant Balmain

The food here at Manjit’s is on point. It’s hard to find a good Indian restaurant (by English standards) in Australia, but this one definitely hits the mark.

The beef vinha d’alhos (vindaloo) is superb and not so hot that it’s inedible, which is what you get all the time in England. Manjit’s onion bhaji, rice and breads are also delicious, but it’s Christina’s chicken gosht-saagwala – a smokey curry made with pureed spinach and spices – that’s really impressed us.

It’s satisfied my curry cravings – for the moment anyway!

Little Albion Guest House, Surry Hills

Tonight we’re in the city on a stay-cation we can’t wait to tell you more about – so watch this space for our full review plus what we think is our best video to-date.

We’re staying at the Little Albion Guest House in Surry Hills – our old stomping ground. This boutique hotel is beautifully decorated and has a comfortable yet chic 1920s and 1970s vibe.

Discreetly tucked away down one of the suburb’s little alleys, the Little Albion Guest House makes you feel very much like one of the locals.

Little Albion Guest House, Surry Hills

The level of detail in this hotel is incredible. Where they could have just used a generic cheap carpet or a modern balustrade, the designers have chosen an aesthetic that goes so much better with the style of the hotel. It’s very rewarding.

This staircase with its feature light fixture really shows what this hotel is aiming for in its feel and sense of humour.

Little Albion Guest House, Surry Hills - Classic Room

Our room – one of the Classic Rooms – is big enough to be very comfortable with a huge bed and an excellent bathroom (there’s also a bath with this room). The enormous TV that brackets from the wall lets you know you’re still in the 21st Century. Otherwise – with the decor and the feel of the hotel you could have travelled back in time.

Royal Albert pub, Surry Hills

Surry Hills has more restaurants, bars, cafes and diners than anywhere else in the city. But it’s almost impossible for me to be back here and not go into my favourite local – the Royal Albert Hotel.

This pub has extremely good beer on tap at all times. And the burgers they do here make me weep that I don’t live as close any more.

However, I used to lust after the Royale with Cheese – their premier burger. But since our last visit they’ve added the Albert Cheese and Bacon, which is somehow an improvement… though I shouldn’t be so surprised. I mean, you add bacon to anything, right?

My favourite tip for these burgers though is to ask to ‘go spicy’. They use a delicious chilli sauce from the dumpling bar that really sends you into another burger dimension!

Billabong Retreat, NSW

Today, we’ve taken a trip into the country to check out a beautiful retreat designed to reset your zen and clean out your head. Billabong Retreat in the town of Maraylya about an hour northwest of Sydney at the foothills of the Blue Mountains.

With a focus on meditation, wellbeing, mindfulness and contentment, this is somewhere we could see ourselves enjoying very much. The cabins on the edge of the billabong are private and cosy with beautiful baths out on the balconies.

Billabong Retreat, NSW

Between treatments and classes, I could easily see myself relaxing here, writing and enjoying a bit of a digital retreat too.

Billabong Retreat, NSW

This magical setting is truly made for people wanting to get away from it all; to spend some time with the one they love – or perhaps just some time with themselves.

You can feel the peace that Billabong Retreat manifests here, and it’s compelling – almost addictive.

Billabong Retreat, NSW

You can book your stay at Billabong Retreat here – anything from 1 night to 7 in a range of accommodation from dorm rooms to the Private Deluxe Cabins we have our hearts set on. Prices include food, drink, yoga and meditation classes and a retreat programme.

O Bal Tan & Myung Jung Korean Barbecue

Back in town, we have a rare catch-up with our lovely friend Lien – owner and genius behind caterpillar-quelling Brow Confidence.

It’s always awesome to see Lien – and not just because she’s such a positive, interesting person to hang out with. She also picks the best spots for lunch.

Today we’ve settled down to a Korean barbecue at O Bal Tan and Myung Jang just off Pitt Street. It’s been ages since I’ve tucked into ‘gogi-gui’ – this form of Korean barbecue. And I love all the little side dishes that come with it – called ‘banchan’ in Korean.

O Bal Tan & Myung Jung Korean Barbecue

While Christina and Lien discuss eyebrows, I concentrate on this delicious lunch. It’s the only part of Korean barbecue I don’t like: the fact that I have to remember that this is a shared food experience and that if I eat it all, there won’t be any for everyone else!

We’ve gone for the Beef Combo (BC3), which is plenty of food for all of us – even me. Korean barbecue is a tricky meal for the uninitiated, but it’s worth learning how to navigate this cuisine. Our best advice is to come O Bal Tan in the week early (before 12pm) and the friendly waitstaff will have more time to help you.

Mr & Mrs Romance - Weekly Edition

We hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s update. We certainly have.

If you have any tips on great Korean barbecue places (or your favourite dishes), your favourite Surry Hills pub or the best retreat you’ve ever been on, please let us know in the comments. We always love your thoughts. 

Cheers – Jim & Christina xx

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