Three potato cakes

Look away now, carb-phobes. Today we’re all about the spud, that humble vegetable that defines depression when boiled to a watery slush but, like everything, is transformed by fat and salt. And so we can save chips and their ilk for another day, our focus now will be on pucks of potato, shredded or mashed, always fried and, ideally, well-salted.

Tomah Gardens Restaurant (Photo: Stephanie Clifford-Smith)

Tomah Gardens Restaurant

This place has always had the advantage of a stunning setting, with expansive views overlooking the Botanic Gardens and beyond to a distant horizon. But now with chef Sean Moran in the kitchen there’s an even better reason to visit. Presenting simple food perfectly, he crowns dill cured ocean trout with a crisp potato cake, sour cream and salmon roe (AUD $31). Silky fish, crunchy spud, creamy cream, popping roe and various salt layers make this dish a winner.

Address: The Blue Mountains Botanic Garden, Bells Line of Road, Mount Tomah, NSW. Telephone: +61 0421 552 746

Benjamin and Daughters (Photo: Stephanie Clifford-Smith)

Benjamin and Daughters

You don’t have to be Jewish to love this newcomer to Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs. ‘Lower East Side New York arrives in Double Bay’ is how they bill it and there is an emphasis on lox, bagels and other Jewish classics. We hit the ‘noshes’ menu for the potato latkes, salmon roe and crème fraiche (AUD $14) and were happy we did. Grated potato, a la hash browns, is fried to compact, crunchy discs. They work well with the fish but I’d happily hoover these up on their own as a snack. That said there are plenty of great salads to complete the picture including the famous shaved cabbage, Reggiano and aged balsamic from the owners’ former business, Fratelli Fresh, days.

Address: 346 New South Head Road, Double Bay, NSW. Telephone: +61 2 9327 2844

Mad Spud stack (Photo: Stephanie Clifford-Smith)

Mad Spuds Cafe

Spuds rule in this down to earth cafe in a hipster ‘hood and if you remember the British Spud U Like chain you’ll get my drift. Spuds come in many guises, though weirdly not as chips, and the most popular dish is the signature Mad Spud Stack (AUD $15.50). Here the potato cake is a smooth, crumbed rissole layered with sweet potato mash, fried spud skins, haloumi, avocado and tangy labne. It’s good and satisfying and, like other dishes on the menu, has a slightly stoner vibe to the ingredient combos.

Address: 479 Crown Street, Surry Hills, NSW. Telephone: +61 2 9698 8108

*Visit Stephanie’s blog here.

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