In what’s easily the funkier end of Newtown, another room of polished concrete and pressed tin, warmly lit by exposed bulbs, has emerged.
Yeah, the bulbs are already a hipster restaurant cliché – but hang them and they come. I chortle quietly as the next table asks: “I’d like to know the etymology of jewfish.”
All jokes aside, this is contemporary Australian cuisine doing what it does best. The two talented lads on the pointy side of narrow galley pass - Troy Spencer (ex-E’Toile) and Oliver Guthrie (ex-Lucio’s) - met in La Sala’s hey day.
They have a strong locavore vision, which works on the plates - my favourite being Heirloom Carrots with Fennel, Chocolate and Little Marionette Coffee ($17).
I ponder briefly over Chicken and Duck Liver Parfait with Fig, Orange and Brioche ($20) how idyllic my childhood might have been had my mother known of this coffee-carrot-chocolate synergy.
Now when the menu says peaches, and life throws this pair nectarines (on their twice-weekly farm visits), they cook Pork Belly, Caramelised Nectarines, Red Onion and Watercress ($30). It’s pared back but perfect, with super-fresh watercress being a surprising star.
Pan Fried Barbounia, Braised Cos, Zucchini and Prawn Butter ($31) arrives expertly filleted. It doesn’t rely on crisp, heavily salted fish skin for flavour, making it practically healthy (something else those hipsters enjoy)... I did too.
(NOTE - these are both half-mains, made on separate plates by the restaurant when they found out that my dining companion and I liked to share our mains.)
I push the health balance back to the dark side with spoonfuls of Buttermilk Ice-Cream, Chocolate Cream, Strawberry Jelly and Caramel Crumbs ($15). Yep, I could definitely get used to eating this way.
399 King Street, Newtown
Ph: (02) 9591 2337