Inside Yellow House, the building that once housed Sydney’s most avant-garde artists' collective, Brent Savage and Nick Hildebrandt have recently relaunched their one-hatted bistro as an entirely vegetarian affair. Drawing upon his personal experiences of dining with a vegetarian wife, Savage has created an imaginative menu that should have your vegetarian friends cooing with delight. What’s perhaps even more surprising, is that confirmed carnivores in your party will be hard pressed not to love these dishes too.
A pretty water garden of Pea Mousse and Pickled Daikon ($24), dotted with fresh peas and nasturtium leaves, is given umami using burnt buttermilk crumbs. This savoury (dare I say: meaty) middle is so often lacking in vegetarian dishes, but present in spades here.
Malt is used to similar effect, rounding out plum vinegar against ribbons of Golden Beetroot ($17) dusted with radicchio powder.
On a third dish, the savoury centre is created with koji – steamed rice innoculated with a particular mold that's used in the production of sake. The resulting chlorophyll-rich bowl of crunchy Snake Beans and Black Rice ($26) is flavoursome and filling, just in case you’re wondering whether a totally vegetarian meal will leave you feeling satisfied.
With the illusion of residual sweetness coming from a juicy, fruit-driven start, the 2014 Dr. Burklin-Wolf Dry Riesling ($68) is a dryly, pleasing companion to your meal’s rather startling flavours. It'll stretch all the way from snack-sized rounds of Kabu Turnip ($3/each) decorated with hazelnuts and smoked celery (yep, more umami) to more substantial serves of pressed curd, tenderly draped in paper-thin slices of Charred Leek ($28).
It's hard not to see these occasional glimpses of cheese and dairy under glorious pasta-like ribbons of vegetables as Savage's pointed reminder that vegetarian restaurant dishes can (and should) go beyond ubiquitous pasta with creamy sauce. Yellow has effectively raised the benchmark for Sydney's vegetarian food.
57 Macleay Street, Potts Point
Ph: (02) 9332 2344