"It's not much but it's ours"

Monday, May 07, 2007

After a few days of eeking out my budget at food courts in Sydney’s excellent Chinatown, I fancied a night on the tiles.

I had been in touch with Simon Thomsen, primo restaurant critic for The Sydney Morning Herald and he had made some suggestions to help me in my shallow search for the perfect Martini and suggested a location for an after cocktail supper.

First some exemplary mixing at The Bayswater Bar in King’s Cross ( more of which later as I am going back for dinner on Friday) by way of a Martini, Manhattan and Daiquiri before heading the short journey to Darlinghurst and Fish Face.

Hugely popular and with a no reservation policy, Fish Face usually has queues out of the door, but, at a relatively early hour and on a quiet Monday ( which seems to be the day most of Sydney is shut, BTW) I was able to find a seat at the bar with little problem.

Reading up about fish Face before I went, there were lots of comments about the attitude of the service and they were not wrong. Service with a sneer. My waiter spat out the specials as if they were rat poison and when I asked him what bug meat tasted like, he said “ they taste like crap that’s why we have them on the menu” Don’t you love a man who enjoys his work. Fortunately, I got another waiter after that and things improved.

With a no res policy and a twonk like that in front of house, the food had better be worth it and fortunately it was. Particularly an opening course of meltingly good cuttlefish with crispy pork belly cured and slightly sweetened. A knockout dish.

More average but still worth trying was the Fish & Chips which I had been told were some of the best in the city. I can see why they have that reputation. Large fillets of flathead steamed pleasingly in a crisp batter coloured with turmeric and the chips were pleasingly crunchy. Simple but well executed.

Wines by the glass were, as they nearly always are, underwhelming (one of the minor irks of solo travel) and a NZ Sauvignon Blanc and an Aussie Pinot while both palatable hardly made me rush to scribble down the names of the makers.

If these were hardly worth noticing, then owner Stephen Hodges, formerly of The Pier in Rose Bay certainly was hard to miss, In full effect behind the pass as he marshalled a small team of chefs, he came over as a bit of a force of nature and seemed to be everywhere at once. Loud, abrasive, funny, this is very much a restaurant made in the owner’s image.

At $70 (about £30) for two courses, the cost does this Londoner’s heart good even if the fried food wont.

Well worth a visit

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