Orto Trading Co. warms up an industrial setting full of concrete, metal, glass and exposed bricks into quite a lovely place to hang. They do it using little touches, like random bricks painted frosty green, fresh flowers in vases on the blonde wood tables, and comfortable white bucket chairs.
Outside there’s wood and cushion toppers plus a basket of neatly rolled throw rugs, to make it attractive – yes, even during winter - to perch on a large concrete block for a meal. With the al fresco dining areas sitting on two sides of the building, most days it’s even possible to escape the wind and catch up on some much-needed vitamin D.
On my first visit I capitalised on the sun streaming in through the windows with a Lime, Mint & Coconut Iced Tea ($4.50) that had good intensity from coconut on the back palate and enough lime to prevent it from being too sweet.
Orto’s Veggie Burger ($18) takes a corn and zucchini fritter that’s reasonably bland and adds grilled haloumi, spinach, pesto mayo. and a whole, stem-in field mushroom to make more than a mouthful. I struggled to wrap my lips around it and ended up pulling the mushroom out. It’s served with well-seasoned chips, but they needed a second or two more in the fryer to actually be crisp on the outside and fluffy within.
On a return visit I warmed up with Orto’s Latte ($5) made with powdered turmeric root, beetroot, ginger and spices into a pleasant but not earth-shattering milky drink. Skipping over the short lunch selection for all-day breakfast, I settled on the unique Southern Fried Chicken Benni ($22).
Dark miche toast is topped with mixed cabbage, baby spinach, fried chicken, poached eggs and a drizzle of hollandaise sauce. It’s ringed by a green pesto so faintly flavoured it’s hard to pick what it is, but I’m guessing rocket. The dish is let down by cremated chicken, arriving very visibly burnt. While staff, including the proprietor who lays on plenty of Italian charm, do check in on your meal, while queuing to pay, I was only offered the dish free on my next visit. With an acrid bitterness on my palate that I found hard to shake all afternoon; I’m not convinced there will be a next time.
Orto Trading Co.
38 Waterloo Street, Surry Hills
Ph: (0431) 212 453