Categories
Fine Dining Italian Middle Eastern

Bart Jr. – Redfern NSW Restaurant Review

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.

Bart Jr.
92 Pitt St, Redfern NSW 2016
0401 899 845

Dog tax, mid-corkscrew vs giraffe toy

Diners: JW, PX, NYL and dog, LH

Categories
European

Continental Deli – Newtown NSW Restaurant Review

Continental Deli first popped upon my radar in early 2020, when I saw an Instagram photo of a distant acquaintance of mine munching down on one of their signature meatball rolls in a socially distanced park

Flash forward to early 2021, and I finally had the opportunity to give Continental Deli’s food a try. While Continental Deli offers a $65 per person feed me tasting menu, we opted to pick and choose a few choice dishes from the a la carte menu – a vain attempt to add focus and value to our meal, as it ended up being $130 for two anyway.

Continental Deli’s steak tartare with gaufrette potato chips ($26) came widely recommended as a must-have, and so indeed we had. The tartare itself had quite a strong salty, and slightly sour and spicy flavour afforded to it by the addition of capers. The Parmigiano-Reggiano atop the tartare gave it a further level of saltiness, while the gaufrette potato chips (read: waffle-cut crisps) provided the third layer of salt. I found it quite an odd decision to pair the already quite tasty tartare and cheese with a potato crisp whose only flavour was salt, and thought that this salt on salt on salt combination tipped the see-saw too far in the hypertensive direction. Despite this, in my opinion the steak tartare was the first and strongest dish of a pretty middling expensive meal.

The plate of cheese & charcuterie ($39) was up next. No attempt at explaining the dish or its components were made, however our waitress did walk an adjacent table through the selection of cheese included (so why not us?). You will see in this photo the addition of a single gilda, which will be delved into separately. This was my first time eating a charcuterie plate in a restaurant, and I must admit I was at a bit of a loss as to how to approach it. Most of the elements of the cheese and charcuterie plate were very salty, and I found myself ranking them in order of pleasantness, inversely proportional to saltiness. My favourite salumi was LP’s mortadella, which I find makes most dishes from most restaurants great in and of itself. The salami (? literally no one bothered to name any of the components for us) was also alright, but came with its casing which needed to be removed separately. The prosciutto? jamon? who knows, was pretty salty.

Taking a step into cheese land, I enjoyed the unnamed soft cheese over the unnamed hard goaty/sheepy cheese and the other unnamed cheese. Again, the diners on the other table had the distinct pleasure of being told what they were eating, which remained a mystery to us.

After writing this review I contacted the Continental Deli team via Instagram, asking what each of the components were. It’s been three months and I’ve received no reply. How unfriendly. All I can tell you is that the good soft cheese was Berry Charlton’s Berry’s Creek Buffalo Brie from Sunrise Plains East Gippsland.

This salty little morsel is the gilda ($3.50). It consists of a guindilla pepper sandwiched within an olive above a ortiz anchovy on a stick. I ordered one for myself as I’m still trying to teach myself how to enjoy anchovy, and none for my partner who I knew would hate it. Continental Deli’s gilda was, as expected, a salty, slightly spicy stick. I didn’t like it.

Continental Deli’s pasta – mafalda corta, charcuterie xo & egg yolk ($28) – was good but not great. It’s the second best and in a way I guess the first worst XO pasta I’ve had in Newtown recently, with Cafe Paci’s absolutely divine XO gnocci taking the crown. Continental Deli’s spin on XO sauce was made from cured meats rather than the classical scallop, which in my opinion did not lend it enough the requisite umami flavour to be successful. I enjoyed the al dente pasta and the egg yolk I’m sure saved the dish from total disaster. Again, good, not great.

The roasted chicken, togarashi, green beans & tarama sauce ($35) was one of the weakest dishes of a generally quite weak bunch. Props need to be given to the perfectly tender cooked chicken, however points deducted from the taste and flavouring, which again was quite salty. My partner absolutely hated this, but couldn’t figure out why until we discovered the tarama sauce which we had skipped on the initial read of the menu. She just doesn’t really like fishy tastes.

VERDICT

I think Continental Deli’s strengths stand on its use of smallgoods from other specialty vendors, like LP’s Quality Meats. The meal we had was just fine, however taking into account the $130-for-two price tag its score drops to a 3/5. I’d only come back to try their meatball and super deli subs, but not for their bistro offerings.

Continental Deli Newtown
210 Australia St, Newtown NSW 2042
(02) 8624 3131