When hidden away from the sun, in the shadow of buildings, the city did its best to pull the warmth right out of our bodies. But the moment we made it down to Darling Harbour the sun was beaming down with great fervour and it appeared that Sydney had put on a fantastic winter’s day.
It felt like lunch on the harbour was the perfect way to spend the day and that is exactly what we had planned. Helm Bar lies between the two main food precincts on the city side of Darling Harbour. South of the restaurants on Cockle Bay Wharf and north of those on King St Wharf. Downstairs there is a beer garden with its own bar and upstairs is a semi-outdoor bar/bistro area.
Trio of Dips – Spicy Capsicum, Hummus, Eggplant w/ Chargrilled Baguette ($14.00).
To start we decided to get something to share, a bit lighter than a full on entree and also something to suit the glorious weather. A trio of dips with some toasted breads sounded exactly like what we were after so that’s what we got. There was eggplant that was quite mild and still chunky enough to have a good texture about it. Next up was the spicy capsicum which we both thought was great – really rich capsicum flavour and mild chilli zing throughout the creamy dip. The final offering was hummus. We could really taste the chickpeas and tahini with hints of garlic noticed.
At first we thought the bread may be a little too charred but it actually added a little extra to each of the dips, a nice smoky presence that went well with all three dips. The little bowl of pitted olives and garlic were a nice touch to help make this a very light and pleasant starter.
Seafood Paella w/ Chorizo Sausage, Mussels, Calamari and Prawns ($25.00).
Lex decided she was going to have seafood but narrowing down the choices took some time. In the end the paella was victorious. Arriving adorned with a huge king prawn we could see that it would be a struggle to finish all of it; it was huge! Generous portions of seafood were scattered through the soft and thick rice – large black mussels, big pieces of squid, octopus tentacles and prawns all cooked quite well and tasty. Large slices of chorizo were also hiding in the rice as well as smaller cubed pieces used for the sauce. We felt this was more of a rich seafood and chorizo risotto than a traditional paella but either way it was tasty.
300g Black Angus Scotch Fillet Chargrilled w/ Fries & Green Peppercorn Sauce ($26.00).
It is a well known fact that if steak is on the menu I will pretty much order it every time, and this time was no exception. The choice of cut was all that I had to decide on. The sirloin was my first thought but then the idea of having a slightly more unctuous cut popped into my head so I went with the scotch fillet, medium rare. Arriving on a big white plate drowned in a thin green pepper corn sauce I was really looking forward to digging in. Instantly the smoky chargrilled flavour came through, then the richness of the sauce and the juicy steak was there to finish it all off.
The steak was cooked well with only the thinnest parts being slightly over medium rare. The fat had been rendered superbly making it tender and packed full of flavour. The sauce became quite overpowering but luckily the side of shoestring fries came to the rescue as I just dumped them into the sauce and mopped it up with them.
Ginny Hendricks – a delicious serve of Hendricks gin & Aperol, muddled with cucumber, lime juice & sugar syrup, strained and topped with ruby red grapefruit juice ($18.00).
Love the name and to my surprise I really enjoyed Lex’s choice of cocktail, the Ginny Hendricks – so cool and refreshing, almost soothing with the generous amount of cucumber and the tart grapefruit juice. Hints of sweet and sour from the sugar and lime really made the drink a winner for me.
Rum Dog Millionaire – an ample serving of Havana Anejo & Havana Blanco with muddled orange, lemon & sugar ($17.00).
Rum cocktails are my favourite; I just love anything with generous lashings of white rum and as with most rum cocktails the citrus and the sugar are never too far behind. The blood oranges (from the boss’ farm) were amazingly fresh and packed to the brim with flavour. I could have sat and drunk these all day long.
Caipiroska – a refreshing dose of Ciroc Vodka alongside muddled limes & sugar ($16.00).
After the meal I opted for a beer while Lex decided to make the most of the gleaming sunshine and ordered a Caipiroska. Super refreshing I just love how simple this cocktail is and how perfectly suited it was to relax on the waterfront with.
Sitting in the sun on the harbour with a few cocktails and a nice meal was a perfect way to while away a Saturday afternoon.
A Food Story dined at Helm Bar courtesy of Helm Bar and Wasamedia.
Darling Harbour NSW 2000
(02) 9290 1571
Helm Bar Website