Balla: Let's do lunch (4)

All Good things have to come to an end.

So concludes my Let's do Lunch escapades during this years' Good Food Month, finishing off with a meal at Balla @ The Star.

I apologise for the lack of photos of the establishment itself, but stepping into imposing grounds have always seem a bit intimidating for a timid blogger like I am. Surrounded by panelled glass and bleached wood, Balla exudes a very light and casual feel; however, the throngs of business admin personnel and office workers that stream in, made the mood a whole more sombre than I would have liked for the carefree afternoon.

For starters, I choose the Baked Zucchini Flowers stuffed with four Cheeses; this instantly brought me back to the days of working the line in Our Place on Darling, where I had to painstakingly clean the stamens out of those delicate flowers which arrived by the carton full, and then pipe a generous amount of goats cheese filling into them. So with heartfelt understanding, I had a deeper level of appreciation for this seemingly simple dish. The balance of flavors in the tomato sauce accentuating the pungency of the cheese filling, the crisp stems of the zucchini providing a layering of textures.

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My companion's Duck Terrine with Pickled Onions however, failed to meet expectations. It's large portion, a tell-tale sign of the Chef's knowing of its' inferior status. The terrine was dry and lacked the usual richness that comes from the fatty protein, duck; the pickled onions, scattered so nonchalantly in the mix, doing nothing to aid as a binder for the parched terrine. I would have liked it better if there was a conscious effort to serve it at room temperature as well. For me, it was just slightly on the frigid side.

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Thankfully, her next course of Wood grilled Rangers Valley beef blade with spring salad swooped in to the rescue. The blade taking to the marinade like a fat kid to cake. Grilled to perfection, it was tender and extremely juicy. A well executed dish.

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Arriving at the table in a shallow pool of reddish vibrancy was my Swordfish loin simmered in tomato, olives and basil. The tomatoes yielding to the heat with a burst of its juicy innards. One thing to note about Balla is it's perfect execution of it's tomato sauce, a fundamental layer to loads of classic Italian cuisine; in my dish, the intensity of it played second fiddle to the freshness of the swordfish; the restrained seasoning throughout bringing out the natural sweetness of the tomatoes.

All in all, Balla is deserving of it's One-hat status; however service converges on the obtrusive and pushy side. That can be worked on.

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We concluded the afternoon with desserts from Adriano.

With Zumbo, you're often met with a hit or miss situation. This time, it fell way off the mark with the Wheely Good ($9.50). Pictured so elegantly, this entremet sounded like a tethering stack of hazelnut layers, accented with a touch of lemon in the form of a lemon fluid gel. However, upon closer examination, we couldn't make out the different layers of dacquoise, mousse, liquid praline, hazelnut chantilly and hazelnut syrup cake; in all honesty, it all was a spoonful of mushy textured goop. The saving grace, that salted chocolate disc.

Balla @ The Star
Level G, Harbourside,
The Star,
80 Pyrmont Street
Pyrmont NSW 2009
tel:02 9657 9129


  1. I've been reading your Let's Do Lunch series and am totally amazed by the food. What's this series about? Is it some special food events that the public can participate in? I'll be totally elated if such series are run in tokyo :)

    1. Hi Li Tian! well, Let's do lunch is part of the Good Food Month celebrations held by Sydney Morning Herald (a newspaper publication) . Lots of restaurants have special deals for their diners and a lot of special chefs are flown in to do collaborations with local chefs for one night only events and stuff. It's a whole lot of fun. Kind of like restaurant week in Singapore but BIGGER and better.

    2. wow...that sounds exciting! here in tokyo, besides japanese restaurant wk, there is also french and italian restaurant wk but so far i hadn't signed up for any lunch/dinner yet..haish, what am i doing lor...haha. but anyway, the scale of this event in Sydney definitely looks a lot better and tastier than Sg restaurant wk! ;) looking forward to future posts~

    3. Definitely, I find that sometimes restaurant week in Singapore can be quite a rip off! Anyway, you should go about doing lunches in Japan. Always drooling over at your sweet treats on your website.. but I know how much you love your savouries too! GO GO!

  2. Hi Sihan! I absolutely love your blog. Enjoyed browsing around your posts, the pics are so beautiful!
    I didn't do this year's Let's Do Lunch events but keen to try it next year! :)

    1. Thanks for your compliments Irene! It's funny lugging a camera around sometimes, especially to the more chill-out joints (like Mary's which I went to recently), you get lots of weird stares from people. Yeh, I didn't have much expectations for Let's do Lunch intially but I was floored by some of the deals they had. Looking forward to next years one as well.



Meet Sihan

Snap Eat Love is Lee Sihan. 27 going on 28, she is a dessert enthusiast, food nomad, wanderer of lands and a pastry chef currently working in Sydney. Fueled by a lifelong addiction to all things sweet, and a burning desire to travel the globe follow her as she embarks on delicious escapades both in and out of the kitchen

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