recipes for a good time is, to me anyway, a slightly unconventional cookbook. all cookbooks have stories, this is true. but something about the forewords, the notes before recipes, actual pictures of their real lives, the way ben and elvis write about each other as opposed to self-typed all seems very....tangible. these men aren't superstar chefs with fancy moustaches, just a couple of best mates cooking food with love, passion and one hella lot of tattoos. unconventional in the best, most delicious, sense of the word.

from guides to hosting your own mid 20th century picnics and how-tos on cooking entire animals and breads, ben and elvis take good food back to basics, tackling the concept of good food hand in hand with a good time.

the title is self-explanatory and whilst the book features recipes form their sydney restaurants bodega, porteΓ±o and gardel's bar, complete with bbq octopus and morcilla & scallops, the whole book feels sophisticated, yet real.

their south american cuisine is photographed beautifully, respecting the food and showing it in it's best possible light, still letting the rockerbilly feel shine through. ben and elvis were named australian gourmet traveller's best new talent in 2009 - it's not hard to see why.

as I flick through the pages I feel like I should be listening to some swanky undiscovered rocker band and donning hipster glasses - and that's not a bad thing. their uber cool style and fifties and sixties reminiscent aura makes readers, and no doubt visitors to the restaurants, feel as if they've escaped into another world with two old long-lost friends : elvis abrahanowicz and ben milgate.

I wish the boys, their team and families (who according to the book are closely tied) and their restaurants success & if i'm  in sydney, i'm making reservations.

find out more about recipes for a good time here, or investigate ben and elvis via their restaurant websites or social media listed below:

ben milgate - twitter @benmilgate

all restaurants take bookings, however please check their websites for specific details.

a quick google of their names will provide a large supply of interviews and other reviews on the cookbook and restaurants, if you are interested in finding out more.




note: the boys recommend serving this cake with dulche de leche or whipped cream or crème fraiche, however I opted for a slightly runny, caramel buttercream. alternatively, this cake would be fine on it's own, it's really up to you. the original recipe calls for the bananas to be soaked for 3 days in 500ml of jack Daniel's whiskey, then strained. I don't drink, so left it alcohol free. the recipe below also calls for plain flour, I used gluten free plain flour, but this totally optional.


{adapted from recipes for a good time: boozy banana cake}



3 large bananas (approx. 350g), mashed

150g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing

250g castor sugar

5 eggs, separated

finely grated zest of one lemon

300g plain all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda


for caramel buttercream

150g unsalted butter

300g icing sugar

2 tablespoons golden syrup


to serve

1 1/2 bananas, finely sliced into rounds

1 teaspoon golden syrup

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon



preheat the oven to 150 degrees celsius (300 farenheit) and lightly grease a 20cm round bundt tin (I used a springform tin 25 cm in diameter - choose whatever tin you'd like)

cream the butter and castor sugar together in a large mixing bowl until pale, fluffy and smooth. add egg yolks and mix until mixture is very well combined.

in a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks are formed.

to the butter and sugar mixture, add the lemon zest, flour and bi-carb soda. gently fold together. finally fold through the egg whites.

pour mixture into chosen tin and bake for 50-60 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.


to make the buttercream

cream the butter for 5 mins. next, cream the butter and icing sugar together, adding sugar in three batches. add the golden syrup and store in fridge until needed.


to serve (optional)

slice cake in half and layer buttercream between the two cakes. top with buttercream and sliced banana rounds, before drizzling with golden syrup and sprinkling with cinnamon. will keep for 3-4 days in a sealed container.

if you have any suggestions about future reviews of either books or cafes and restaurants, or have a book yourself let me know via

to read my other reviews, check out the reviews page here

- jess x