After gaining experience opening ‘Maze’ restaurants globally with the Gordon Ramsay Group, Jason Atherton began amassing his own restaurant empire under The Social Company moniker. His latest venture, Kensington Street Social, is the third big hitter to open in The Old Clare Hotel.
And while Atherton won’t be in the kitchen personally, this “chef’s chef” as Matt Moran dubbed him at the launch party, has appointed Rob Daniels (who he worked with at Maze London and Maze One & Only Cape Town) as Australian Executive Chef.
Running from breakfast to dinner, this spot is pitched as The Old Clare Hotel’s everyday dining destination, down to supplying room service to the in-house guests.
As you’d expect, the menu is wide ranging (though not dauntingly long) ticking off all the standard proteins, with some Paroo Kangaroo ($33) thrown in.
It celebrates the bounty of our wide brown land from coast to coast, moving from Queensland Spanner Crab ($21) with rhubarb and frozen cucumber gazpacho, to Western Australian Marron ($51). The Sea Urchin Rice, Moreton Bay Bug Tail, Bisque ($25) read better than it ate, with my favourite briny gift of the sea – sea urchin roe – getting somewhat buried.
The two dishes you shouldn’t leave without trying are ‘English Breakfast Tea and Toast’ ($14/2) and Vine Tomato ($16).
The former, served on a dainty stand, combines a seamless wild mushroom consommé with tiny toasts dabbed with Gentleman’s relish and bone marrow; while the latter injects a whole tomato with burrata, and garnishes it with 25-year old balsamic vinegar at the table.
Sommelier Lindsay Carr has put together a great wine list that showcases Australia’s key regions, including winemaker Gary Mills’ excellent 2015 Jamsheed ‘Pepe Le Pinot’ ($69). This slightly funky pinot noir over-delivers, belying its price point at the lower end of the wine list; but before you get stuck into the grapes, check out the imaginative cocktail list.
Sweet-toothed fans will appreciate Cereal Killer ($18) combining Ketel One Vodka with Froot Loop milk, Aperol and apricot brandy, in a mini glass carton with striped straw. Hipster Breakfast ($18) also scratches that morning-after-the-night-before itch with banana bread-infused Pampero rum, salted butter foam, and cold drip coffee. It drinks like a foamy espresso martini with more herbal Fernet-Branca than banana coming through. And while we're talking liquid breakfast, if you choose to whet your whistle with the Vegemite Martini ($19), crumble in the whole dehydrated Vegemite wafer to really grubby it up.
Your post-dinner tipple, Rye Society ($18), takes Bulleit Rye Whiskey, marmalade and earl grey tea, froths it with egg white and includes a bergamot atomiser to spray while you drink. And if ever there’s somewhere you should stay on for dessert and cheese, this is the place. Your first stop should be the utterly delightful, airy Yoghurt Mousse ($16) with lemon curd, malt meringue and a clever basil ice cream centre, and the creamy Berry’s Creek Riverina Blue ($15) layered inside caramelised puff pastry with Davidson plum jam.
If you’re lacking room, you can roll dessert and cheese into a single plate of Buffalo Ricotta, Lemon Thyme Peaches and Honeycomb ($16) and consumed it with the 2013 Bream Creek Late Picked Schonberger ($11/glass) – bliss!
Kensington Street Social
3 Kensington Street, Chippendale
Ph: (02) 8277 8533