While some might say that the only thing that can result from merging a catering business and restaurant is a crisis of identity, I found a certain appeal in this quirky Darlo lovechild.
It's shabby chic, Poznań style - with overstuffed armchairs, kitsch cushions and proud Poles, like Darius Grygo, manning the floor.
He’ll have you knocking back Zoladkowa Mint Vodka ($9) and Perla Pils ($10/500ml) in minutes.
You’ll sup on modern eastern European dishes from Poland, Serbia, Russia and the Ukraine. These are the complimentary house-cured pickles.
Chef Richard Slarp’s catering gene comes out in the pretty plated precision of Beetroot and Vodka Cured Ocean Trout Blini ($16).
Though it’s his airy Spinach and Ricotta Burek ($10.50) that really wins my heart.
Pastry’s clearly a strong suit; they also produce the best Fish Pie ($24) I’ve had all year, with perfectly cooked mussels and tender blue-eye trevalla.
A cool night led me to match it with their Warm Pear Cider ($10) – also the best around. (But what could go wrong when you're using Napoleone and Co. Cider, I ask somewhat facetiously?)
Skillets of Oxtail and Potato Dumplings ($24) will keep your men-folk happy; though it was a lady-fest on the night I dined.
I hazard they’re there for the earnest check-shirt wearing waiters; though I also observed sharing boards of Pashka ($12) - Russian inspired baked ricotta cheesecake - flying ‘round.
The only dish that disappointed was the intensely heavy Sour Cherry Dumplings with Lemon Syrup ($10) which I suspect I would have loved had it still been mid-winter.
My dining companion muttered something along the lines of "bowel-stopping stomach stodge" which I ignored, deciding he was probably drunk.
Lower Ground Floor, 91 Riley Street, Darlinghurst
Ph: (02) 8090 3462