I'm dining at House Bar & Bistrot, which should really be called 'Houses', because there are two wide terraces, set at the foot of Kellett Street.
We’re dining al fresco, while the evenings still warrant it.
We're kept entertained by a cockatoo feeding neighbour, who is posing for selfies out her third floor window, with her raucous white feathered friends perched upon her shoulder.
The squawks of their squabbling drown out the music emanating from the small dining room, which is decorated with the first oyster themed mural I’ve ever seen.
With a cocktail in my hand - a Barrel Aged Negroni ($15) with good hunger-inducing bitterness – the background sights and sounds makes me feel like I’m in the colourful Kings Cross of old, before the suburb was locked down and rebranded as the upwardly mobile Potts Point. Lost in memories I chase crisp apples around a glass of Fireball Sangria ($14) with a thoughtfully provided teaspoon. The cinnamon liqueur gives this drink a lovely roundness, and the spoon shows you they're proud of the quality of their fruit.
Care has also gone into the selection of a dozen wines, with most available by the glass. While the pours seem small, I loved every austere, lime-like drop of the 2014 Mazzolino Chardonnay ($14/glass). The 2017 Collector Sangiovese Rosé ($10/glass) comes from a winery that I like so much, I’ve visited in person. It's is full of fruit – strawberries and raspberries – but ends dry as a bone, just the way I like Rosé.
To accompany your beverages, owner/chef Mauro Forgillo has created a short, simple list of five starters, all presented on sourdough breads he has baked in-house. We try White Anchovies ($12) with fragrant lime zest and on seven-grain bread; and fat pink Figs ($12) served with honey and Parmigiano on wholemeal bread.
The figs are perfectly ripe, and bang smack in season. Sourcing good produce direct from the growers or farmers is of prime importance to this 27-year-old chef.
Pastas are also made in-house. Tagliatelle ($26) with braised pork belly, duck egg and Parmesan lacked a little in generosity (including with the pork); particularly with the waitress steering us away from sides. It was also let down by being served on a cold plate, on an evening where the weather warranted warming.
Pork Neck Steak ($25) arrived looking like something we’d cook at home - the secondary cut is one of our favourites. Here it’s tender and tasty, though on the upper edge of saltiness. The salt was curbed a little by the accompanying krauti (pickled cabbage), shaved carrots and seeded mustard. To be honest I missed the golden spuds we’d toss on the plate at home.
With room to spare, we both wanted dessert – two different flavours from the trio of house-made gelati. Coffee Gelato ($12), dotted with coffee beans, eats like a round, full-bodied espresso. Fig Gelato ($12) lacks the ripe pink notes we enjoyed earlier, tasting much more akin to green skin. I can’t say I was a fan.
I can see the new denizens of Potts Point using House Bar & Bistrot as a neighbourhood spot for those evenings when they’re craving home-cooking but can’t be bothered rattling the pans.
House Bar & Bistrot
62-64 Kellett Street, Kings Cross
Ph: (0450) 633 892
Thanks to the Australian Good Food Guide for arranging this visit.