Howard’s Cantina & Cocktail Bar launches at the top floor of Erskineville’s Rose of Australia Hotel

Howard’s Cantina & Cocktail Bar launches at the top floor of Erskineville’s Rose of Australia Hotel on Sunday 30 April 2017.


The Rose of Australia hotel was purchased 21 years ago by Howard Leach, a greens keeper, who was well known in the local community.  After he passed away, his son, Scott Leach, took over the hotel, and after a huge refurbishment, opened an upstairs restaurant and bar and named it Howard’s Cantina & Cocktail Bar, in honour of his father, Howard.


The top floor has been renovated with quirky décor that gives it a very rustic feel. It includes exposed brick, picnic tables in the bar area, chandeliers, artwork, a fireplace, Shakespearean classics and lots of fresh flower arrangements (playing homage to his father, the green keeper). Howard’s Cantina & Cocktail Bar has a neon red sign saying, ‘I want to be an artist too’.


Chris Bell is the head chef, who has included a number of shared dishes, sides, substantial mains and desserts on the menu. The dishes are adventurous, including: white wine poached lobster tail ‘butty’ with avruga caviar and iceberg lettuce, or a whole whey braised lamb shoulder. Sides included cauliflower, crisp anchovies, peanut and pickled turnip, smoked pumpkin wedges, whipped garlic and mash our way. Desserts were also different including one called the ‘David and Margaret Show’ featuring coca cola sorbet and buttered popcorn. I am a dessert person and I was very impressed with the mother-in-law gluten free orange cake with pine nuts and aniseed. It was so light and moist. The food menu will be available from Thursday 11 May 2017.


The menu was definitely not your typical pub food. It was more like a fine dining restaurant and I would not be surprised if it picks up some awards. The Rose of Australia (and their chef Chris Bell) was a finalist in the AHA Awards for best pub burger in 2014.


The cocktail menu will be available from Thursday 4 May 2017. At the launch we tasted the Smoked Negroni (made with gin, Campari, sweet red vermouth and smoked hickory chips soaked in Grand Marnier); the Whisky Sour (made of Jim Beam Rye, lemon juice, sugar, egg white and shiraz), the Paloma (made of tequila, red grapefruit juice and soda); and the classic Expresso Martini (made with vodka, espresso coffee, coffee liqueur and sugar syrup).


For more information about Howard’s Cantina & Cocktail Bar, email


The Sydney Comedy Festival delivers its finest acts for a Cracker Night

Everyone loves comedy and the Enmore Theatre was packed for Sydney’s biggest night of comedy, Cracker Night, which is part of the Sydney Comedy Festival on Tuesday 25 April 2017.

The 13th Annual Sydney Comedy Festival kicked off with a Cracker Night that featured a dazzling line up of the biggest and best Australian legends, international stars and next-big-things of comedy, including the British-Irish stand-up comedian (and Australia’s favourite) Jimoein.

The night was hosted by comedian Joel Creasey, who entertained the crowd with tales of his experience on I Am A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here and the gay dinner party in his apartment block in Melbourne.

Many of the comedians performing at the Sydney Comedy Festival were given five minutes to entertain the audience. They included comedians such as: Romesh Ranganathan, Andy Zaltzman and Des Bishop who I got to speak to after their performance.

Cracker Night is sponsored by the Comedy Channel and was filmed for television on the night.

The audience left thoroughly entertained. My top pick was Jimeoin who uses facial expression, body language and various accents to tell a joke. I can’t wait to see what his full set has to offer.

The Sydney Comedy Festival will be running from 24 April to 21 May 2017. Performances will be at multiple venues including the Sydney Opera House, the Riverside Theatre at Parramatta and Bondi Pavilion among others.

International performances include Ireland’s Jason Byrne and David O’Doherty, UK favourites Stephen K Amos and Jimeoin, American  Arj Barker and New Zealand’s Rose Matafeo and Urzila Carlson.

Local talent will include Matt Okine, Dave Hughes, Joel Creasey, Rove McManus, Nazeem Hussain, Susie Youssef, Becky Lucas, Neel Kolkatkar, Akmal, Aunty Donna and Rhys Nicholson.

Most tickets range from $15 to $65.

For more info and tickets, go to:

The Mad Hatter’s High Tea Party at Sir Stamford, Circular Quay

The Mad Hatter’s High Tea Party at Sir Stamford Circular Quay transformed the hotel into a magical world of Alice in Wonderland on Saturday 15 April 2017.

Sir Stamford is an elegant hotel with a lot of old world charm, but for Easter it was transformed into the whimsical world of Alice in Wonderland filled with wonderful sweets and treats including a lolly station and a chocolate fountain.

Children came dressed as Alice, the Mad Hatter, Cheshire Cat and While Rabbit, and competed in the dress up competition. Kids were also kept entertained with a chocolate-laden Easter egg hunt, face painting and colour-in fun by Nette Hilton.

The Mad Hatter’s High Tea Party Buffet including savoury treats such as: ham cheese and mustard sandwiches: cucumber and cream cheese on wholemeal bread; pastrami and Branston pickle; roasted chicken pinwheel in tomato bread; smoked salmon on baguette; prawn and avocado on tart shell; tomato and bocconcini skewers; Stamford signature curry puffs; Mediterranean vegetable and pine nuts on goat cheese wafer; and spinach and ricotta fillo.

The sweets on the buffet included: whisky logs; strawberry and lemon cheesecake; white chocolate green tea slice; mango and pineapple cube; assorted macaroons; lemon scones with clotted cream and mixed berry jam.

The kids had their own buffet menu which included curry egg, turkey and cranberry, ham, and tomato and cheese sandwiches. For dessert they had lots to choose from including: chocolate brownie; coconut panna cotta; mango and pineapple cube; cupcakes; blueberry cheesecake; and lemon scones with clotted cream and mixed berry jam.

As a special treat, the Mad Hatter’s High Tea Party had Easter cocktails which included: The Queen of Hearts (Absolut vodka mixed with fresh pressed grapefruit and cranberry juice served long over ice); The Cheshire Cat (Chivas 12 YO mixed with elderflower and fresh pressed lime and apple juice served long over ice charged with soda); The White rabbit (Havana Club rum served pineapple and coconut cream cocktail mixed to perfection and served chilled); and Alice (Avion tequila, Blue Curacao liqueur and lime juice served in a martini glass with a salt rim).

Sir Stamford at Circular Quay serve a range of high teas daily from 11am to 4pm with prices ranging from $79 to $32 (for kids).

Sir Stamford at Circular Quay is located at 93 Macquarie Street Sydney.

For more information or to make a booking, go to:–bar/sydney-high-tea


UE Wonderboom: the latest and greatest portable speaker launches in Sydney

Ultimate Ears launches their latest and greatest speaker, the UE Wonderboom, on Tuesdsy 4 April 2017 at the Original Porteno in Cleverland, Surry Hills.

The Wonderboom is the newest in a celebrated line of Bluetooth speakers from Ultimate Ears, the audio brand acquired a few years ago by Logitech. It borrows some of the best features of the UE Boom 2 but sells for half the price. It’s also almost half the size (10cm high and 14 cm wide).

Guests walked into a winter wonderland with blue light, an ice sculpture with UE Wonderbooms embedded in it, a large snowball for snow fights, a fireplace and two chocolate fountains with strawberries, bananas, pineapple pieces, wine jellies, nougats and marshmallows for dipping.

in addition, they were spoilt with canapes consisting of: spiced lamb empanadas; smoked salmon with vodka and dill cream on a hash browns; wood fired pumpkin and ricotta cannoli; fig and gorgonzola tart with vincotto; and smokey pork sausage with plum sauce.

For drinks they were treated to: the Mistress Jerry cocktail (made with spiced rum, raspberry puree, lime juice, and honey ginger spirit); mulled wine; Peroni beer; 2012 Candela red blend from Argentina; and Les Vignes Blanches from France.

But the biggest treat of all was the UE Wonderboom that was given to celebrities and media to take home. Celebrities included: The Bachelor’s Lisa Hyde; Big Brother host Mike Goldman; Big Brother contestants Tim Dormer, Jake Richardson and Lisa Clark; Nova newsreader Matt de Groot; and selfie instagram sensation Kurt Coleman.

The UE Wonderboom can wirelessly play (stream) to two Wonderbooms from one source, with a 360 degree sound and a ten hour battery life (that charges in 2.8 hours).

The Wonderboom, like the rest of the UE Boom family, is waterproof (up to a depth of 5 metres of water for 30 minutes) and shockproof (when dropped from 1.5m or less). It’s adorable. It’s affordable. And it floats!

The UE Wonderboom comes in a variety of colours: lilac, stone (grey), subzero (blue), cashmere (pink), fireball (blood orange) and phantom (black).

It retails for $129.95.

For more information about UE Wonderboom, go to: