Everyone loves a “Happy Ending” …….bar!

6.12pm, Saturday 13th June, Murray Street, Angaston, Barossa Valley, SA

Evening folks, picking up where I left off earlier, we still had one event in Sydney to tell you about – and it was a food and wine matching event with Green Peppercorn. There’s two of these family owned spice driven stoves in Sydney, one out in the burbs – on Hamilton Road in Fairfield, the other upstairs in the Civic Hotel on Pitt Street in the City. Our time was at Green Peppercorn in the city, with Tona Invathong – the delightful bloke who is at the helm there…..and he explained why their food is such an exotic, explosive and flavourful combination – inspired by the street markets of Laos and Thailand. Tona and his family are originally from Laos, but fled the drama there and lived in a Thai refugee camp before being sponsored to settle in Australia, and establish their restaurants. Before the Green Peppercorn twins, the family made their reputation with Holy Basil out at Fairfield. Tona’s dad makes all the infusions, sauces and spice mixes – all super secret family recipes – and they’ve really stayed true to the food traditions of both worlds – and the only thing I can suggest is that you trek into the Civic Hotel, find the staircase decorated in the cool oriental style shades of green……..that look a bit like this…….


…..then follow your nose, find a seat and work your way through the menu alphabetically! You won’t be sorry! And look, there’s some of our wines, right in the middle of it all… 


We kick started our palates in readiness for Green Peppercorn’s spice level with the 2014 Parish Riesling, from a little vineyard in the Coal River Valley near Hobart (Tasmania for our overseas readers) owned by the Hill Smith Family – all snappy citrus – and we used the house hot tea, infused with lemon, as a chaser!

So the first taste with the Riesling was a banana flower salads with sashimi grade scallops  topped with chilli caramel. Actually, these are perfectly fine with our Roussanne, Eden Valley Viognier and Virgilius (viognier) as well.


For Riesling, viognier, Roussanne and chardonnay, the Green Peppercorn’s Nem Khao or ‘Crunchy Rice’ work well too…

It’s all cured pork, crab meat, steamed rice, peanuts, shallots and dried chilli laced with fresh mint, kafir lime leaves and coriander. What you do is form the mix up into a ball, wrap it in either an iceberg lettuce or betel leaf – and pop it in your mouth.


Then stay with your exotic aromatic whites, Riesling and chardonnay – or add Grenache or Tempranillo to the table like we did. Our Yalumba Bushvine or Tricentenary Grenaches with their middleweight raspberry over Rosemary will do the trick with the next three dishes….

This is the pork belly on Asian water spinach – useful foodie fact # 2354 – this vege is also called ‘Morning Glory’ because it only blossoms first thing in the morning. Viognier truly loves this stuff as well!

The whole snapper with the fleshy pieces of fish removed and lightly battered, with a salad of green apple, mango, papaya and chilli jam added back in.

And my ‘Dish of the Day’ – the Penang Prawns with coconut cream and chilli jam – a sweet creamy coco nutty curry with a bit of a twangy smoky chilli sting, not too much but enough…..that settles down to a lovely warm buzz at the end. Just great stuff really.

Now that was it for the savouries. Tona made us – yes made us – taste two of his ‘sweets’ –  both absolutely tailor made to go with our Yalumba FSW7B Botrytis Viognier – super chilled dessert wine with honey, apricot and nougat on the nose, apricot, marmalade and green apple on the palate. Slippery and luscious stuff, and I suggest you try it with these….

The Fried Icecream – a parcel of creamy vanilla ice cream wrapped in filo pastry, flash fried and sat on caramel sauce and coconut almond muesli. So technically if you have the ice cream and botrytis viognier you’ve done fruit and muesli in a very nice way! And on the sweets, lucky last…….

Pandan creme brûlée with home made pandanus wafer sticks. And yes – tastes as good as it looks.

And then…..no, it’s not quite over until…..you go to the Happy Ending Bar, Tona’s genuine open air tuk tuk bar very quietly lurking behind the restaurant.


I would suggest you put yourself in the very safe hands of the bar blokes at The Happy Ending……I will when I go back to visit in July, on my days off to see the Sydney Theatre Company’s “Love & Information”.


So there you have it folks – Green Peppercorn in the Civic Hotel, Central Sydney – I guarantee that ‘Happy Ending ‘ to your time there personally!

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