Applying the sushi train concept to Mediterranean tapas dishes might seem like an unusual idea, however MediTrainean is not even the first Sydney restaurant to do so. That particular honour goes to Mezze Train, who opened in Mascot at the end of last year.
However with Thai Hot Pot recently launching a DIY Thai hot pot train in Haymarket, it’s clear we haven’t seen the last of this 'new' Sydney concept. (In China, shabu-shabu conveyors have already been around for some time.)
The more important question is whether it works? As many Mediterranean small plates can be prepared ahead of time and served cold, the conveyor belt system lends itself to them very well.
While you’re waiting for your drinks, start assembling your own mezze selection, starting with some appetite stimulating Garlic Dip ($4.90) and Flat Bread ($2), before moving onto brightly coloured Red Capsicum ($4.90) dip, flavoured with red harissa and almond meal.
From the rotating salad selection, the approachable Spiced Carrot ($6.90) takes roasted carrots, treats them with dukkah and honey, then rounds them out with chickpeas, crumbled feta and crunchy toasted almonds.
And while cold Casarecce ($6.90) had me looking askance, the resulting free-form pasta-meets-antipasto salad actually impressed with premium quality crispy prosciutto, Grana Padano and olives.
What’s even better with dishes being sushi-plate small and keenly priced, you can be more experimental, taking risks on dishes you're not sure about, or only one of you likes. This is useful, because some of the dishes are hard to identify until you take off their domes and tuck in, especially as there are some off-menu ring-ins the restaurant is currently roadtesting, like Fried Cauliflower ($6.90) with lemon and dukkah, topped with fried pita shards.
Cleverly they’ve kept pastry dishes that won’t cope with sweating under domes off the train. Cheesy Pastry Cigars ($6.90) stuffed with feta and ricotta provolone, or even better Crispy Pastry ($6.90) filled with harissa prawns, potato, coriander, onion and garlic, are ordered from a server and delivered straight to the table.
They’re the type of dishes that suit Barcelona’s pale, quaffing Estrella Beer ($9); though I'd move on to Mythos ($8.50) with your Mussels ($6.90).
Taken cold from the train, these plump and fragrant rice-and-caramelised-onion-stuffed mollusks are actually my favourite dish. Eating them on azure blue share plates in the light-filled space with a drinkable French Private Gallery Chardonnay ($7.50/glass) in your hand feels positively Mediterannean, even in the midst of Sydney winter. And if you fancy better wine, Crows Nest (unlike the CBD) happily welcomes BYO ($3/head).
While you can construct your whole meal using offerings from the train, the central glass box showcases the restaurant's flame-grill where Lamb Skewers ($9.90/3) are turned by a handsome young chef. Accompanied by tzatziki and lemon, they make nice additions to your largely vegetable-based meal.
A trio of dryish Scallops ($9.90) under a sumac-heavy dukkah gratin left us craving dessert. Luckily, like most of our meal, it's rotating just an arm's length away.
From baklava to baked Ricotta Cheesecake ($6.90), the portions are small enough to allow you to choose more than one without looking excessive; so make sure you include a palate-freshing plate of Roast Quince ($6.90) with crème fraiche, halva and rose petals.
55 Alexander Street, Crows Nest
Ph: (02) 8970 1521