It takes me a good ten minutes of Internet searching to find the surnames of Will Stewart and Steve Flood. They’re our Executive Chefs for the evening at Butcher and the Farmer, though having come up through reality television, they are best known to My Kitchen Rules audiences as Will & Steve.
Admittedly, I’m not the biggest fan of the cult of celebrity. You can keep your Justine Schofields and send me someone who has come up through being an apprentice, learning the trade by doing the hard yards in a commercial kitchen. Even MKR judge Colin Fassnidge, who attended the same dinner, raised a wry eye as he recounted: “They’re all a bit stressed: ‘We’ve run out of dessert!’ Well you stay back and make it tonight," he told them.
Their Butternut Squash, Maple and Sea Salt Tart ($12) was actually quite impressive. While this dessert is likely to be polarising (it was even on my table of food media professionals) I personally rated the clever union of sour yoghurt and sweet baked squash, cleverly united by crisp flaky pastry and dukkah. I would - well, when they get around to baking more - return to eat this dessert again.
Like what seems to be the bulk of Sydney's modern kitchens, Will & Steve, show a preference for share plates over mains and sides. Just because a menu is set out in one way however, doesn’t mean you can’t broach it differently. Bulk out a pretty Kingfish Carpaccio ($15), with red grapes, rounds of pickled cucumber, citrus miso and dabs of coconut cream, with a trio of likeable Pea and Parmesan Croquettes ($9).
Throw in a Gin & Juice ($14) accentuating gin with lemon sherbet and Capi dry tonic, and you have a perfect light lunch.
Also in the snacks department, you’ll find Scotched Green Olives ($9) – an odd way of saying crumbed – stuffed with a little goats’ cheese and served on romesco sauce.
Taking inspiration from fairground fare, Chorizito ($9) prove to be a compelling trio of baby chorizos topped with pretzels and pureed corn.
Round out any corners with slices of Dark Sourdough ($3/person) kept light with oversized air pockets, and served with pats of sea salt-sprinkled butter.
Will & Steve are also keen on using seasonally available produce, which these days is pretty much a core value for most of the restaurants I review. It basically means that if you opt for a sharing style dinner any time soon, you’ll be eating it with winter vegetables, running from Sweet Potato ($11) with thyme and shaved truffled pecorino, and Broccolini ($11) blackened and dressed with tahini, barley and almonds. Rather than some sort of high-flung restaurant philosophy, this stuff should just be standard practice.
None of the portions seem particularly big, so feel free to load up your table with some lightly Charred Gem Cos ($11) as well.
Most of the protein share plates containing proteins are predicated on you ordering small share plates (you know, the ones which aren’t sides). There’s 12-hour Wood Smoked Brisket ($25) made interesting by its charry, bark-like crust offset by a few pickles and a splat of jalapeno crème.
Duck Breast ($24) comes perched on pumpkin hummus, with scattered pickled cauliflower and a drizzle of orange and star anise sauce.
A small round of crisp-skinned Porchetta ($24) offsets the fatty intensity with an apple and raw fennel hat.
Crisp Skinned Salmon ($24) strangely breaks with the menu's mould by arriving as a meal with white bean and coriander puree, roast baby beetroots, lemon and fried bread. All I can suggest is asking floor staff as to which dishes definitely need small plate supplementation, or reading the menu carefully and taking your best guess.
While there are other ways to finish, like Earl Grey and Chocolate ($12) or your choice of Artisan Cheese ($10/slice), for me the updated Butcher and the Farmer is best represented in the tasty butternut squash tart I mentioned at the start. Put it in your mind for those nights when you need to do post-work grocery shopping at Tramsheds and don’t have enough left in the tank to cook dinner as well. Bonus is, you can visit the butcher while you’re here!
NOTE: See my first visit to this venue HERE.
Butcher & The Farmer
Tramsheds Harold Park,
Shop 7, 1 Dalgal Way, Forest Lodge
Ph: (02) 8629 8800