Dog owners rejoice! There’s finally a place where you can neck cocktails and scoff small plates with your hound at hand.
No. 5 Restaurant and Bar court your canine companion with two statuesque carved hounds fronting their fire pit, which is set right in their warehouse doorway. The dancing flames are ringed by tables where you and your doggy can sit, imbibe and survive a cold Alexandria evening.
Inside you’ll find a genuine warehouse conversion, which has kept the corrugated iron roof and exposed rafters, distressed brick walls, and concrete floor, but warmed them up with a pallet-mounted green wall and softly flickering brown bottle candle lights.
The hard metals continue into caged bulbs dangling over the long, pressed tin bar, where you can order drinks to consume at your table, or in a homely, mismatched collection of lounges before you settle in for dinner.
We opted to sip sake at our table while we chose our wine. The Karakuchi ($9/glass) is fruity and dry junmai sake, while the Takashimisu ($10/glass) junmai daiginjo offers crisp apple with a savory, umami finish.
The globe-trotting one-page wine list is quite wide ranging for its size. I settled on a blush pink 2016 Wooing Tree ‘Blondie’ Blanc de Noir ($90/bottle). This unusual ‘white’ pinot noir is created by minimal skin contact before pressing the grapes, and results in a pretty wine where pink grapefruit mingles with the smell of freshly baked brioche.
With just eighteen savoury dishes the sharing food menu is similarly succinct, though with three-word descriptors it’s sometimes hard to visualise what the dishes will look like, or how many of dishes to order. Head chef Emrys Jones takes the guesswork out of ordering with a Chef’s Sharing Menu ($50/head) or a more extravagant version for $65/head. We give the standard menu a whirl, which starts with House Pickles ($7). They’re sour and appetite inducing with romesco and hummus dips, plus a handful of crisp grilled pita wedges.
A snowy dusting of ricotta salata elevates the humble Carrot ($14) as baked piece and puree against a clever mix of Vietnamese mint, fennel and pepitas. Think of it as a winter salad that employs the best of the season without resorting to tired tropes or heaviness, all the while balancing the natural sweetness of the orange root vegetable.
Pink Snapper ($16) is treated with yuzu, with the fragrant citrus moderated by the truffle oil. Radishes, pink grapefruit and avocado purée complete the pretty plate, that shows good balance because you can still taste the delicate raw fish.
A sesame-seed crusted French trimmed Lamb ($28) shank is artfully tucked into a roasted wombok (Chinese cabbage) wedge with a puddle of house-made, fruity yakiniku sauce. The dish has a lovely savoury rumble, with sesame oil and ginger jumping out.
It’s accompanied by another green wedge - Iceberg ($8) – this time cold, with the leaves interspersed with nutty sesame dressing. It’s tasty, and an excellent use of a much-maligned lettuce, but as it’s winter and there’s only one lamb shank to share, I probably would have preferred spuds.
Matcha ($12) yuzu almond is based around olive oil cake soaked in ginger. It's buried under shards of meringue, almonds and matcha ice cream. It’s a solid finish to a meal that’s clearly the work of a skilled chef with his eyes firmly fixed on both food costs and flavour. The only stickler for me is I think this particular set menu needs more carbs.
No. 5 Restaurant & Bar
5 McCauley Street, Alexandria
Ph: (02) 9030 0009
Thanks to AGFG for arranging my visit.