1 Temperance Lane, Sydney NSW 2000
A true laneway small bar
Thanks to Belinda Lai and fellow team members Martin and John from Grasshopper for inviting me along to this very special Laneway Dinner as a thank you to their supporters and to showcase some of their restaurant food — they’re definitely more than just a bar for drinks. For a true Sydney laneway small bar experience you can't really get more authentic than Grasshopper at the moment — it reminds me of visiting The Croft Institute without the colourful lane graffiti and excessive smelly rubbish from rear entrances of Chinese restaurants. I love the long table outdoor setting tonight with gnomes, bowls of fruit and a retro cassette as your place card — I ended up with Almighty Bach. The bar and restaurant inside has touches of quirky retro décor which gives it warmth and character. This is one bar that doesn’t take itself too seriously and knows how to have some fun.
Upon arriving guests were treated to a lethal yet pleasurable cocktail of Sake and rum with fresh lime served in a science beaker, and for those of the smoking persuasion two types of cigars were on offer supplied by Bogart's which is located in the nearby Martin Place Shopping Circle. The banquet menu was prepared by Chef Stuart Mitchell — apparently he’s worked at the Gordon Ramsay restaurant Boxwood Café. To start the feasting, platters of Berkshire pork and chorizo terrine with a rustic texture were shared amongst the 40+ guests with smoky slices of bread. Next was my favourite of the night of Whiskey and earl grey tea cured king salmon. Great combination of flavours served with ultra thin and crispy homemade crostinis — I’d happily have this one again. If you’re a lover of meat and pepper then the Fillet steak 'au poivre' with port wine shallots and brandy butter sauce would satisfy you well although my mouth was starting to burn due the liberal coating of ground pepper so I had to eventually slice most of it off, but meat was tender and tasty.
The flavoursome and smoky Roast pumpkin with balsamic and parmesan reminded me of the enjoyable pumpkin dish I had at District Dining — I wish I could cook pumpkin like this at home. For dessert the Coffee crème brûlée was a crowd pleaser served in a tiny jar but full of flavour, followed by a nice hit of coffee cream that lurked underneath. Served with kitsch teaspoons reminded me of simpler times with Grandma. An abundance of four cheeses were then distributed down the table. The slab of Bleu de Basque was good but quite mild compared to say Roquefort. The Pecorino Romano had the right amount of sharpness but my favourite was the creamy rich flavoured Old Telegraph Road Fire Engine Red which is a brand I first discovered at Avido.
During the course of the banquet five wines from Izway were generously poured although I’m not sure why they were all red with four of them being shiraz. A white wine would have perhaps better matched the king salmon and a dessert wine with the crème brûlée to better appreciate the dishes. As a final drop the 18 year old Bunnahabhain Islay single malt whiskey was served in a glass jar just the way Greenhouse by Joost like to roll — perhaps such fine scotch deserved a better drinking vessel but Grasshopper is all about being down-to-earth, unpretentious and having fun.
Other visits to Grasshopper:
• 23 Feb 2011 - Grasshopper Laneway Dinner
• 27 May 2010 - Grasshopper pop by
PROS: Quirky décor, Relaxed atmosphere, Interesting location, Down-to-earth atmosphere, Friendly staff, Bringing life back into the Sydney laneways
CONS: You’ll feel safer walking with someone else down a dodgy looking laneway at night, Drinking wine out of a pewter goblet can overpower the bouquet and taste of the wine, There is a limit to how much pepper you can put on a steak
MUST TRY: Sake and rum with fresh lime to kick start your night, Whiskey and earl grey tea cured king salmon, Old Telegraph Road Fire Engine Red
Sake and rum with fresh lime
Berkshire pork and chorizo terrine with spiced peach chutney
SIMON FAVOURITE :-)
Fillet steak 'au poivre', port wine shallots and brandy butter sauce — so much pepper it was starting to make my mouth go on fire
Cheese platter: Bleu de Basque, France; Old Telegraph Road Fire Engine Red, Australia SIMON FAVOURITE :-); Quickes Clothbound Cheddar, England; Pecorino Romano, Italy
(L to R) Wines 2009 Izway 'Three Brians' Grenache, 2010 Izway 'Izway' Shiraz, 2009 Izway 'Bruce' Shiraz, 2009 Izway 'Harold' Shiraz, 2008 Izway 'Harold' Shiraz
18 year old Bunnahabhain Islay single malt whiskey — a glass jar is probably not the best way to appreciate this fine drop
Road (laneway) closed for private dinner — got love the use of milk crates as a barricade aka Chinese screen
Truck showing how small the lane way is
Setting up the table
Martin greets the guests with cassettes that serve as table spot numbers. Used as credit card holders on a normal day
One of my favourite creative business cards — Label combined with playing card
Hello Mr Gnome, what's for dinner?
Candles and goblets
Bogart's cigars to sample: Dominican Republic Macanudo Diplomat Maduro, Demitasse Cuba El Rey Del Mundo
Band in the laneway playing background atmospheric music
Guests enjoying a pre drink and cigar
Entrance to Grasshopper
Grasshopper feature wall and seating
Lounge and lamp seating
I wonder if that retro phone still works?
Stair entrance down to grasshopper with matching couch and retro TV
Glass jars for tap water
Post dinner cigars and chats
Capturing the night
Laneway to the stars
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