Our understated country waitress is effortlessly beautiful. She gestures casually out one window to show where the 2014 Logan Sauvignon Blanc ($12/glass) comes from, then the other to indicate the origins of the Pressed Duck ($36) with lentils and heirloom carrots.
Diving into an established all-male Italian kitchen as the new head chef could be daunting (especially as a half-English, half-Welsh woman) but Naomi Lowry has taken it in her stride. She’s maintained the menu’s confident Southern Italian focus, notching it up with Sardinian Fregola ($27/$35) resplendent with perfectly cooked cuttlefish, calamari, prawns and mussels, and topped with a generous helping of bottarga.
Food News – Gin + Tonic
In the realm of adult soft drinks, richly red Sin-kō-nah Tonic Syrup [RRP: $24/200ml] is right up there, and what’s more, it’s Australian. In fact, owner Sarah Robins tells me, Sin-kō-nah “will soon be the only Australian-made tonic syrup as Blood Moon Tonic is closing down.” Expect a bittersweet edge from this drink, which contains about a third less sugar than other tonic waters.
Scratch beneath the hipster veneer and many venues come up lacking. Underlying kooky décor that includes a glowing sakura ceiling in the upper bar, and erotic shibari prints, Edison bulbs in birdcages and dangling autumnal leaves downstairs, is both clever architecture (courtesy of FJMT who did neighbouring Surry Hills Library) and a raison d’etre.
Capriccio Osteria & Bar
“It’s like meat butter,” my dining companion exclaims, gesturing with half a two-bite Cannolo alla Mortadella ($4/each) in her hand. It’s crude, but apt: the balsamic cannoli come rolled in pistachio and filled with imported Italian mortadella that has been fashioned into pâté.
Handsome bartenders spent a lot of time at my table, muddling, freezing and whirling smoke through a range of bespoke Japanese-inspired cocktails, when I imbibed, early in the piece, with three food media pals. Frozen using liquid nitrogen, into a pretty pink slushy, Kawaii Kisses ($19) with watermelon, T2 Just Rose tea, Belvedere vodka and sake, could well become the taste of Sydney summer.
Food News – Orange Wine Festival
I spent 24-hours in Orange last weekend taking in some key events at the 2015 Orange Wine Festival. The highlight of my visit was the Barrel to Bottle Chardonnay masterclass at my favourite winery in the region: De Salis Wines. Winemaker Charlie Svenson was incredibly candid and generous with both his winemaking techniques, and with pouring his museum release wines.
LP’s Quality Meats
If there’s a better BBQ Beef Short Rib ($44) in Sydney, I don’t know where to find it. Luke Powell coats his fat, juicy ribs in little more than salt and pepper, and sticks 'em into the wood-fire smoker for nigh on sixteen hours. Yep, they go in at 11pm and come out just in time for dinner the next evening.