It's a stylish space on the bustling Stanley Street dining precinct. Inside think a wood-finish bar, amber lights, some tables inside, some overlooking the street. There are two rooms, the one with the bar is perhaps a bit less loud, the other room (with a water feature room divide) was buzzy to say the least.
To make my smoking companion happy, there is a small, nicely decorated smoking courtyard, complete with cute orange lounge and silver portholes.
We chose what I believe to be one of Sydney's best value degustation menus ($105/$150 with matched wines). After a fabulous amuse bouche, we were hyped for the food... and the first dish, a Kingfish Carpaccio with Prawn, Radish and Ginger Sorbet was a heavenly delight (and beautifully plated). The sorbet was the perfect counterpoint to the fish.
The next dish is a ring-in - but a brilliant suggestion by the handsome Justin Wydeman on the floor who incidentally takes my award for the best floor staff I have seen in recent times. Not only is he well versed in the menu, he knows his wine, knows the matches, and can keep you entertained. If he makes a suggestion, a wise diner would follow it.
He added in this Pello Tasting Plate ($23) which was a lovely sample of dishes that you enjoy from right to left. Unfortunately the last taste was so fabulous I can't remember the first three. The last one is a take on a 'ham, cheese and tomato sandwich' just with jamon, an oven roasted tomato and parmesan foam. It was to die for.
The next dish is a lovely Herb-crusted Snapper with Braised Octopus, Saffron Gnocchi and Globe Artichokes. It was lovely with the exception of the gnocchi which was overcooked and a bit like saffron mash - the flavour of it however was superb.
The most memorable dish of the night is this Scallop Lasagne, Confit Cuttlefish, White Asparagus, Sauteed Mushrooms and Sauce Matelote. It was almost too much to process. I think it was a mushroom pasta layered with scallop mousse, and the sauce was a heady mix of pig and eel which I actually really liked, despite not being keen on the description! The whole dish really showed of the chef's ability to combine dizzying amounts of flavours incredibly successfully. I did need a rest after this dish though!
Powering on, there was a lovely Terrine of Rabbit, Prawn and Foie Gras terrine with Carrot Mousse and Muscatel Puree. I really enjoyed this dish - a nice relief from the intensity of the one before, and a very tasty terrine.
Best plating of the night I think went to the next dish - Crisp Pork Belly, Braised Trotter, Mustard and Bacon Jus. Personally though, I was starting to get overwhelmed here... so many big, complex flavours. Perhaps this would not have been the case had we not included the extra Tasting Plate.
The next dish was a choice of two. I chose the Roast Mandagery Creek Venison, Baby Beets, Chocolate and Celeriac foam with Rice bubbles. It had a chocolate skid mark that was very tasty, and the venison was beautiful - from a producer in the Orange region.
After that, I stopped recording photos, but suffice to say, if you like innovative food, with a focus on fabulous produce, this is a must-do restaurant. For me personally, it overtook Foveaux Restaurant as my new favourite, though I still rate the cuisine of Darryl Felstead highly - this just had more sophistication.
Last night we went to a Gourmet Traveler Wine Magazine luxury event where Pello did the canapés. It was without doubt the best canapé selection I have tried, and canapés are one of my food groups with the amount of opening nights we go to, so take my word for it. They rock. I want to return already.
71-73 Stanley Street, East Sydney NSW 2010
Ph: (02) 9360 4640