This was my first time ever eating in Petersham. I didn’t realise how close Vietnam was to Portugal.
The fish taco ($8) was not as good as I had expected. Online reviews that I had read before coming were overwhelmingly positive, however all mentioned that there was a sliver of fish skin within the taco to give the taco some cripsiness. Unfortunately this fish skin did not make an appearance in that taco that I had, which was basically just a piece of battered ling with some salsa and tartare sauce wrapped in a tortilla. While I must admit the taco was quite good, it was definitely not mindblowing, nor was it a standout in comparison to the rest of the meal. My meal was in fact quite battered ling heavy, and I would not recommend this taco if you’re also getting fish and chips, or a burger – it’s just not different enough.
Fich’s potato scallops (or potato cakes, depending on where you’re from) are $3 each and also much lauded. My colleague and I each enjoyed one, and they were indeed pretty good – formed to be much thicker than your classic potato scallop. I think my partner – a big fan of potato, oil, and salt – would like these, however as she does not like seafood I don’t think there’s much else on the menu that would suit her palate.
The fich popcorn ($16), little pieces of fish battered, fried, and coated in maple and sriracha sauce were not bad. The mouthfeel was quite similar to popcorn chicken, and it would’ve even been a bit hard to tell that they were fish at all ( at least while they were still hot). The sauce was only a bit too flavourful, but tolerable. I wonder if I could sneak this past my girlfriend as “chicken”.
The double fich burger with fries ($25) was a large and expensive endeavour. The taste and construction of the burger was basically as a big mac but with thick battered ling fish patties instead of beef. The fries, often described online as some of the best in Sydney, were good but unfortunately did not live up to the hype (I actually think those at Kepos St Kitchen are better, and that’s just out of the chips I have had recently.)
FICH. Not bad. Quite expensive. Apparently Portuguese for “file”. Don’t know why they’d call it that then. 3.5/5.
Our recently dog-positive Redfern based friend took us to one of Redfern’s many dog-positive night time venues. We had the $65 per person feed me tasting menu, with the addition of a round of raw beef toast for the table.
I’m not very well versed in olive culture, but these green Sicilian olives were pleasantly crisp and only lightly salted. Not bad, but not something I’d willingly order from the a la carte menu for $5.
The ricotta, potato & leek fritter with smoked tomato sago and aioli was the first non-olive dish of the night, and also the start of what was essentially an abuse of shaved pecorino. Whilst I’m usually quite anti-fritter, these frittery balls were coated in a nice tomato sauce, with good internal texture and flavour. Not bad.
This visually interesting dish is Bart Jr’s kingfish & scallop crudo with yuzu kosho, buttermilk, cucumber, poppy seeds, and dill. I’m pretty sure there’s some salmon and pomegranate snuck in as well. This was a fresh tasting sashimi based dish, and whilst many of the ingredients – for example buttermilk and poppy seed didn’t make a huge difference in flavour, the dill really shone through. Dill generally pairs quite well with seafood, and this was no exception. Well liked around the table. Pretty good.
The raw beef toast with duck dripping, chives, pecorino di fossa, and crispy onion atop grilled garlicky sourdough ($9 supplement each) was not included in our tasting menu but probably the best morsel of the night, and a must get. Each bite of these juicy, thickly topped slices of sourdough was extremely decadent, with the cheeses, sauces, and raw meat all melting together in the mouth. A nice hit of umami that I wish there were more of. A really elevated snack.
The sheep’s halloumi in rosemary butter with burnt honey, verjuice, currants and hazelnuts is the rare sweet halloumi dish. Despite the multiple sources of sweetness and the contrasting innate saltiness of the halloumi this dish was able to avoid being over-flavoured. It was pretty nice, but I think a bit of bread served with it would’ve gone a long way.
Speaking of bread, the next dish on the menu was the rosemary and garlic focaccia with fermented chilli butter and olive oil. My feelings towards this bread dish are not as fond as some of our friends. I think that the fermented chilli butter, whilst good, was wasted on the focaccia which was already quite adequately flavoured and salted on its own. I would’ve preferred to have the chilli butter (as well as the preceding halloumi) with some more plain bread so that it could’ve been enjoyed more on its own merit. The combination of bread and chilli butter was, in my opinion, the combination of two strong and non-complimentary flavours.
The pasta formosa with lamb shoulder ragu, green peas, pecorino and pangrattato was the third appearance of Bart Jr’s overreliance on pecorino. The pasta was quite al dente, moreso than I normally like, but still pretty good. The serving of beef was generous, and while the ragu flavours were good, they were no more special than any other ragu at any other restaurant we’ve been to recently.
The salad dish was made of baby gem leaves, eschallot vinaigrette, pecorino, and fennel seed pangrattato. Are you starting to see a trend? Maybe pecorino was on sale at the supplier.
Whilst I didn’t really enjoy the roasted hasselback potatoes with creme fraiche and aleppo pepper, thinking to be a bit too dry even with the sauce, my potato-positive partner thought that it was “a fine potato”
The charred ocean trout skewer with caramelised fennel, harissa, yoghurt, and mint was NYL’s least favourite dish, and in my opinion probably the weaker of the two options for mains. It is a 200 gram skewer of trout cooked in a Middle Eastern style. The fish is well cooked, to a safe degree whilst still retaining a semi-rare moist inside. I wasn’t a big fan of the fennel, however, and I thought the harrisa-heavy flavour, though not bad on its own, was a bit incongruous with the tone set by the rest of the meal.
I get highly anxious about driving after any quantity of alcohol, so this Heiwa Shuzo ‘Tsuruume’ Yuzushu was perfect as an inclusion on Bart Jr’s tasting menu. It was pretty tasty and refreshing (tart, not too sweet), but takes this somewhat disordered journey from Italy, to the Middle East, and now Japan.
VERDICT Bart Jr’s was generally pretty good, with the major standout being the raw beef toast. They have a minimum spend of $60 per head, so you might have to get some other food and drinks unless you want 7 pieces.
My partner and I had a late post-work dinner at Clove Lane recently after a difficult and scary medical procedure. While we were tempted to order their $99 per head tasting menu, we ended up choosing more granular control and picked some of our favourites from the a la carte menu. Any savings we might have gleaned by skipping dishes we weren’t interested in were immediately negated by the Clove Lane’s expensive but delicious Clovemopolitan cocktails.
The amuse-bouche, a very small pancake with baba ghanoush and capsicum, was an unexpected treat, though not very good. It was a soft and floppy pancake with very mild flavours that didn’t amuse the mouth but rather disappoint it. Luckily this amuse-bouche was not indicative of the quality of the rest of the meal.
The warm sourdough with whipped burnt butter ($8) was a wholesome start to the meal. Whilst not in-house, the bread was good quality, soft and warm, having being sourced from Iggy’s. The whipped burnt butter had a caramel-like aftertaste which I wasn’t a fan of but my partner enjoyed.
I enjoyed the stracciatella, confit cherry truss tomato ($18), especially eaten with the aforementioned bread. The stracciatella was nice, light, milky. While I was drawn in by the concept of confit tomatoes, it was difficult, when eating them, to differentiate these tomatoes from other tomatoes cooked in more traditional methods. The stracciatella was ultimately good, but I don’t think the confit process added anything special to the dish.
The seared scallops, almond, golden raisin, cauliflower ($37) was excellent. The base dish comes with three scallops for $28 though we added an extra scallop for $9. The scallops were huge, full and plump, though I thought their flavour was a bit mild on the seafood side. The sauce of chopped almonds, golden raisin and cauliflower was salty and sweet with a lot of umami. Though $37 for just four scallops the taste and presentation excelled and ultimately justified the price. I can recommend getting this dish.
My partner – a huge potato fan as readers of this blog will know – couldn’t walk past the roast kipfler potato with capers, shallot, truffle cured egg yolk ($12). I personally didn’t really like them. I thought they were too potatoey and not flavourful enough, however she thought that the capers provided enough variety and flavour to the dish and ultimately enjoyed five out of seven potatoes.
The roast pasture fed sirloin, green beans, butternut pumpkin in red wine sauce ($45) was another star of the night. The beef was soft, juicy, and tender, rested for 45 minutes prior to serving but still warm inside. There was very generous amount of the beautifully savoury red wine sauce, enough for the steak as well as the pumpkin and greens. I would strong advise against leaving Clove Lane without having had a serve of this sirloin.
The saltwater barramundi, du puy lentil, green apple, kohlrabi ($42) was the weaker of the two mains, with its light and subtle flavours. The fish was a little dry and had a very light taste only. It was only when combined with the lentil and kohrabi cake that the meal had any real taste to it. While more suitable for pescaratians I’d definitely pick a different main over the barramundi were I to go again.
My partner enjoyed the clovemoplitan ($20) so much that she got two. It was a bit tangy and not too sweet.
One negative aspect of our meal was that we did feel a bit conned into donating $4 towards DineSmart. The $4 donation came directly onto our bill without us being asked, and it was framed in a way where we would’ve had to ask them to produce a new invoice to remove it. While I have a no problem donating to social enterprises like DineSmart it did feel like our hand was forced in this, and that wasn’t really OK.
We had a good meal with good service and good food. While a 2% donation on our bill was definitely a very small amount of money, the way it was sought left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth.