19 July 2011

Village Restaurant: Modern Australian, Darlinghurst (8 July 2011)

234 Palmer Street,
NSW 2010
Phone: (02) 9331 5457

Stepping up your average bistro

Thanks to Rebekah Lambert from The East Village Hotel for inviting me as a guest to sample some of the Village Restaurant dishes, also affectionately known as the Dining Room with Chef Adam Spencer at the helm. When I was searching for a venue last year for my 40th Birthday I did consider the rooftop area but when I was quoted $7500 for the night that idea was soon put to rest. Apparently it's currently under some renovations and scheduled to open again later this year. On level 1 you’ll find the restaurant with simple yet refined décor and seating. Nice touch with the tulips on each table. At first when seated I could hear and feel the throbbing music from the downstairs bar which unfortunately grated against the relaxed ambience of the restaurant but later seemed to thankfully quieten down.

A reasonably priced Angel Cove Sauvignon Blanc ($7) is quaffable and the warm complimentary Homemade garlic and rosemary focaccia with olive oil was a nice appetiser. Champagne-like Huia Blanc de Blanc 2004 ($13) from Marlborough NZ had nice notes on the palate and a step up from your standard house sparkling. Today's soup with fresh bread ($12) of broccoli and goats cheese was flavoursome although unfortunately only served with a single small cut of bread which seemed a little stingy and a few more pieces would have been appreciated. The Seared scallops ($16 entree size) had interesting flavours and was done well although teeth fillings beware of the candied fennel which made my teeth awkwardly lock together when eaten — I probably would have preferred the dish without this element.

The Pumpkin and goat's cheese pithivier ($22) seemed the only vegetarian option besides the soup. Flavours were OK although I don’t think the presentation helped to inspire the taste buds. My 300g O'connor grass fed rib-eye ms3+ ($30) was certainly for the meat lovers and the buttery roasted bone marrow was a challenge to finish — my arteries seemed to know when to stop. Apparently the meat is bought wet aged and then dry aged for a further 21 days to help make it more tender. I liked the style of fat chips which had a decent crunch although could have perhaps had a bit more. The Green salad ($7) had a tasty dressing although I was expecting a more basic and lighter olive oil and balsamic dressing and wasn't too keen on the garlic taste in it. The small side pot of Peas, goats cheese and gremolata ($7) was as you’d expect. The goats cheese made it more filling than expected and some more noticeable gremolata would have added well.

For dessert the deconstructed Flavours of sticky date ($12) was an assortment of date ganache, custard mousse, date caramel, ginger and maple syrup cake, yoghurt and vinegar sorbet. Flavour wise I could see what was trying to be achieved but I think I would have rather just had a normal sticky date pudding with a quality vanilla bean ice cream to the side — call me old fashioned perhaps. The Vanilla Rice pudding souffle, rice pudding, rhubarb and raspberry jam and shortbread crumbs ($12) ended up being the preferred dessert of the night. Comforting with familiar flavours. I thought the Spiced brioche donuts with chocolate and orange dipping sauce ($12) reminded my of the boards and jars used at District Dining. It had potential but the donuts were perhaps a bit denser than hoped and they had to be broken down to dip into the chocolate dipping sauce. Perhaps smaller donuts or churros style sticks would make them easier for dipping. By the end of the night the restaurant was pretty much full with a mix of old and young folk so word must be getting out that the Dining Room is offering locals something better than just your basic pub grub.

PROS: More interesting dishes than your average pub bistro, Nice decor and atmosphere (if you don't hear the music from downstairs), Tables were spaced a decent distance away from each other for some privacy, Reasonably priced wine by the glass available
CONS: At times it was hard to get the attention of the service when busy — an extra waiter might have helped, Seemed to only be a single toilet on level 1 to use and downstairs needed a bit of a clean, Limited street parking, More bread with the soup please
MUST TRY: 300g O'connor grass fed rib-eye ms3+ if you love bone marrow
WORTH TRYING: Seared scallops although watch out for the candied fennel

Homemade garlic and rosemary focaccia with olive oil, smoked salt and sea salt

Today's soup of broccoli and goats cheese with fresh bread ($12) — is that all the bread?

Seared scallops, charred corn, confit fennel, caramelized sweetbread ($16 entree size)

Pumpkin and goat's cheese pithivier, asparagus and portabello's ($22)

300g O'connor grass fed rib-eye ms3+ served with fat chips, roasted bone marrow and tarragon mustard ($30)

That's a lot of roasted bone marrow

Green salad ($7)

Peas, goats cheese and gremolata ($7)

Flavours of sticky date - Date ganache, custard mousse, date caramel, ginger and maple syrup cake, yoghurt and vinegar sorbet ($12)

Too much date caramel to finish for me

Spiced brioche donuts with chocolate and orange dipping sauce ($12)

Vanilla Rice pudding souffle, rice pudding, rhubarb and raspberry jam and shortbread crumbs ($12)

Chef Adam Spencer

Huia Blanc de Blanc 2004 Marlborough NZ ($13), Angel Cove Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough NZ ($7)

Domain Barossa Black Tongue Shiraz 2010, Lemon Lime and Bitters — could have done with a slice of lemon to make it a bit classier though

Seating and decor

Window views towards Sydney Tower

Me thinks someone needs to check the downstairs toilets more regularly — bin was full

3-6 pm tradesman hour promotional poster

Downstairs bar


Gary's Blog said...

I think I might take my Fiance here for his birthday :) looks awesome... thanks for the review

Anna @ The Littlest Anchovy said...

The colour of that olive oil is divine! I also love the look of those scallop, yummo.

Anonymous said...

$7500??!! Maybe if they didn't spend so much money buying mini Dutch ovens and filled up patrons with larger chunks of bread they could cut some costs? :)

Tina@foodboozeshoes said...

Wow, loving the presentation of the pithivier..! Looks like some reasonably priced dishes (function aside)

joey@forkingaroundsydney said...

Love the look of the pithivier!

chocolatesuze said...

why hello bone marrow omg yum! and the rice pudding souffle looks incredible!

Keely aka The Richest Girl in Bondi said...

Tulips on the table are a sweet idea. But my heart would've broken if I only got that much bread with my soup! Love the look of the scallop too.

Kymtje said...

That bone marrow looks a sure fire winner. Gorgeous pics, thank you!

Anonymous said...


Simon Food Favourites Map

View Simon Food Favourites in a larger map Key: BLUE - Location visit and review PINK - Simon Favourites and places offering something special

Small Bars in Sydney map

View Small Bars in Sydney in a larger map