Twenty-six year old Zac Stanning (ex-Public Dining Room) has been a head chef for six months.
Team that with a triumvirate of owners - Stephen Thompson, Tony Binning and Alex Searle – “all sommeliers by profession”, and you have what could be a recipe for disaster.
What you find, however, is a cohesive wine bar and restaurant reflecting the tastes, down to BYO proclivities, of the local area. Both Thompson and Stanning know their audience from their time in neighbouring Balmoral.
Stanning wants to cook “something that people will like”, expressed writ large in his soft, port-sweet Duck Liver Parfait ($17), but also in the wider absence of obscure ingredients.
Instead Stanning makes much ado about Carrots ($17) presenting them as a sweet orange symphony of 24-hour cooked carrots, pickled heirloom carrots, smoked carrot puree and crisp carrot tops offset by pebbles of honeycomb.
Equally exciting, though definitely more savoury, is the forest floor of Sauteed King Oyster Mushrooms ($17) scattered with crisp mushroom bark and a mossy green parsley take on Ferran Adria’s famous microwave sponge.
While seafood dishes from a pretty 12-Hour Cured Queensland Prawns ($18) to Line Caught Snapper ($31) with persimmon, zucchini and yellow squash, are solid and easy to like, desserts felt a little dated.
Wine is (obviously) another strong suit.
Barrel Bar & Dining
3/362 Military Road, Cremorne
Ph: (02) 9904 5687