Having been a Kings Cross resident for many years, I have a soft spot for this suburb, particularly as it was prior to Mike Baird’s unjust lockout laws, that disguised a sell-out to property developers. Revisiting 1 Kellett Street was like a trip down memory lane. My eyes couldn’t help but see the deep red walls of Libertine, when the space was a French Vietnamese restaurant, and the white smoke haze of Korean barbeques from when it was South Seoul.
In the hands of new owners, Nina Purton and Josh Cook, the cushion room has given way to a jam room, and darkness has been replaced with glorious light.
While there was a bicycle draped casually at the entrance, its rusty spokes, flat tyre and hand-lettered signage screams heart rather than hipster. This honesty extends to the interior where the furniture is all found, or inexpensive, and refurbished by the pair, who laughingly explained that before opening The Silly Tart Kitchen, they’d never used a drill!
What they have created is nothing short of amazing.
As you move through the space, take the time to investigate all the nooks and crannies.
You'll find everything from a fairy-lit local gin display, to a shabby chic cake table, to a cabinet where they are aging their own bacon. Rather than another hipster theme park, Silly Tart Kitchen is a venue where the curtains match the drapes. Their handmade artisan environment is backed up by a five-kilometre locavore strategy (the tightest I’ve ever seen) and a commitment to making everything they can in-house.
Despite the pleasurable interior, it’s hard to resist dining in the beautiful arbour of hydroponic plants.
Come summer when these edible greens get properly established, this indoor-outdoor space will have its own cooling microclimate.
Wines are nicely obscure, with the same focus upon staying as local as possible. The Pankhurst Sparkling Pinot Chardonnay ($15/glass) is a lovely dry Canberra district sparkling wine, that’s an excellent day drinker without the usual crippling acidity. Equally good is the 2017 Gilbert Rosé Saignée ($13/glass) from Mudgee/Orange, which teams a kiss of strawberry with a savoury, dry finish. In the afternoon I’m partial to Mimosas ($15/each), and here they’re tarted up with house-made strawberry syrup against cold pressed juice and their quality sparkling wine.
Country is given an excellent Kings Cross twist in the clever Five Spice Meatloaf ($18). While it arrives - on a beautiful artisan plate - looking like something Nanna would recognise and enjoy, the poached duck egg and XO sauce give it a kick she might not be expecting. It's a crackin' update, resurrecting a dish that has all but disappeared from menus in recent years.
Cured Snowy Mountains Trout ($19) gives you a salty and punchy platter of 12-hour gin-cured fish with ‘little boys’ (sausages), pickled cucumber, fennel tops and lime aioli. It’s unusual but it gets me grinning.
Fried Corn Fritters ($16) give you chance to wrap your lips around the house-cured bacon, and house-made fermented chilli sauce or tomato ketchup, against fluffy corn and capsicum fritters.
Or you can play it cool with Poached Chicken and Felafel Salad ($19) - a dish that neatly proves healthy can still be tasty and eye-catching - while saving some space to hit up the cake table.
Mother’s Pikelets ($16) are the antidote to all that ails you – including disappointing encounters with over-sweet desserts designed for Instagram rather than actual eating. Three fat pikelets are dressed with light orange syrup, and dotted with candied ginger and (homemade) Turkish delight. Pistachio, fresh strawberries and curls of coconut round it out, though it’s the toasted coconut marshmallow that transports me straight back to child-like delight.
The plates, by the way, are by retiree and backyard potter, Karen Walker, whom Josh “met randomly at a birthday party". It’s another great example of the way this pair use locavore not just as an on-trend buzzword, but as a method to increase connectivity with the artisans and humans who inhabit their local sphere. The Silly Tart Kitchen is exactly what the new Kings Cross has been missing.
The Silly Tart Kitchen
1 Kellett Street, Kings Cross
Ph: (02) 9331 1048