17 August 2011

Food Society: Modern Eastern European, Darlinghurst (5 Aug 2011)

91 Riley Street, Darlinghurst NSW 2010

Sharing the European spirit

“The Darlinghurst restaurant is a casual dining experience showcasing Modern Eastern European cuisine, unique imported beer and spirits. With a menu designed to be shared, and a kitchen open late, it truly is a social food experience”

It’s hard not to love the homely décor at the Food Society which reminds me a bit of The Commons unless you’re a minimalist. Tables are cute albeit small so be careful how much you order at once because table space soon becomes a premium. Waiters use iPads for ordering and I was prewarned that dishes may come out in a different order to when you’d expect, and they did. A complimentary appetiser of pickled vegetables and bread sticks sets the scene for some Eastern European fare which goes well with their popular Zamkowe Poland beer ($10, 500 ml). I soon learnt the Pierogi with organic pork, roasted shallots ($10.50) was like a dumpling or ravioli. You could tell they were freshly made by the texture although I wished for a bit more sauciness in the filling. Perhaps some cottage cheese or the like would have done the trick for me to make the filling a little more juicy, nice flavours though. Vegetarians and gluten-free customers will appreciate the labeled menu. I’m sure they’ll head straight for the Green beans, almond butter ($9, v, gf) and Potato salad, dill pickle and egg ($9, v, gf) — I love a good potato salad and there’s ample pickle in this one. The only thing missing is some crispy bacon bits to bring it up to par with Madam Char Char.

If I had to pick one dish I’d order again it would be the Spinach, ricotta burek with ajvar ($10.50, v) with pastry so light and melt-in-your-mouth. Flavour was good and dish presentation reminded of me of the wooden boards used at District Dining. I probably wouldn’t order the Baked mushroom and almond tart, sherry vinegar caramel ($19, v) again which is served deconstructed — I was expecting it more as a tart which I think would be easier to cut and eat. Flavours were nice but I felt it was a bit on the pricey side for what you got compared to other menu items. With a little mix up in the kitchen we accidently received the Society baked pashka ($12) instead of the Lavender cream and sour cherry trifle ($12, gf). The pashka is a bit like a cheesecake and apparently one of their most popular desserts ordered by the Eastern European customers. I actually preferred the trifle although I found the cream was quite subtle on the lavender flavour and I wished the lavender flowers on top were candied to make them a bit more edible as well.

PROS: Homely and interesting décor, Some reasonably priced menu options, Friendly service, Vegetarian and gluten-free menu options clearly identified, Interesting beer and vodka menu, Catering available, Can make a booking online
CONS: Finding their feet, Food comes out in any order, Small table space, Table supports on small tables make it awkward to sit feet comfortably for me
MUST TRY: Spinach, ricotta burek with ajvar
THE DAMAGE: $89.50 for two

Service uses iPads for ordering

Complimentary appetiser pickled vegatables and bread sticks

Zamkowe Poland beer ($10, 500 ml), Vasse Felix Sauv Blanc Sem Magaret River WA ($9.50)

Pierogi with organic pork, roasted shallots ($10.50)

Green beans, almond butter ($9, v, gf)

Potato salad, dill pickle and egg ($9, v, gf)

Spinach, ricotta burek with ajvar ($10.50, v)

Baked mushroom and almond tart, sherry vinegar caramel ($19, v) - not really a tart but decontructed

Society baked pashka ($12) accidently provided instead of trifle

Lavender cream and sour cherry trifle ($12, gf)

Bill $89.50 for two

Beer and Vodka menu

Vodka shots — nice glassware

Seating with a kitchen view

Homely decor

Dining area and bar


Toilet signs

Toilet decor

Some table supports in the way of comfortable feet placement



Madam Wu said...

Looks like another over-priced place in that area selling peasant food like pierogi dressed up as something gourmet for gourmet prices. The desserts look desirable though, but what an unimaginative name for a restaurant. Q:'Where did you eat last night?' A: 'Food Society'.

joey@forkingaroundsydney said...

Love the toilet door signs! LOL
The food looks great, especially the pierogi. Nice review Simon.

Anonymous said...

Neither egg or ricotta are vegan?

Simon Leong said...

hi madam wu, i didn't think some of the dishes were too overpriced for the quality. i kind of like the name of the restaurant actually.

hi joey, i love cute toilet signs too hehe

hi anonymous, actually you're right. thanks for pointing out. i think i misread the 'v' as vegan but it must stand for vegetarian.

Anonymous said...

Complimentary anything always makes me happy. Until what time is the kitchen open?

Simon Leong said...

hi lateraleating, facebook info says they're open til 12 am and 10 pm on Sundays. 'Free' is the gateway to happiness :-)

Tina@foodboozeshoes said...

Interiors look lovely. lol @ toilet signs :D

sugarpuffi said...

the pierogi looks delish! love the toilet signs lol

Jacko said...

I'm Australian born of Polish heritage. I speak fluent Polish as I lived in Poland for 5 years (1996-2001) so I know a little on the subject. My advice is that you visit one of the several Polish, Ukrainian, Russian clubs in Australia for better insight into what Eastern European cuisine is like. Many of these clubs have kitchens that make a good attempt at preparing "authentic" Eastern European fare that you can sample. The "pierogi" (dumplings) that you have presented in this blog is nothing like what is on offer in Poland, the Ukraine or Russia for that matter. With my background in Polish culture I would be able to sort out the lamb from the sheep and order meals resembling Eastern European fare, because I know what is authentic. For goodness sake Octopus is not Eaten in Eastern Europe. There is no octopus in the Baltic Sea, while this might be remotely possible in the Black Sea is concerned I have never heard of this. So why is there such a meal as Octopus on the menu. You seem to have ignored that much of Eastern Europe has been driven to poverty by 80 years of communisim. Under communisim there were constant shortages of basic food staples such as milk, cheese, butter, meat, bread, etc. So much of Eastern European fare was very basic and simple. There was only one form of drinking alcohol and that was vodka. This place might impress people who know nothing of Eastern European culture. On the other hand anyone who understands Eastern European culture much better could be offended.

Simon Leong said...

hi tina, a cosy place on a winter night for sure

hi sugarpuffi, i think i've seen these toilet signs before somewhere else :-)

hi blogman, thanks for your insight into the polish heritage. i'm sure most people would find more authentic dishes in some of the clubs, at cheaper prices and more substantial offerings too. like many themed restaurants in Sydney I'm sure what you'll find on the menu might be sometimes an interruption of the cuisine rather than a truly authentic dish — although as I've been told many times that it's sometimes hard to define authentic because there can also be different interruptions of the same dish in the country it originates. are there any particular eastern european restaurants and clubs you could recommend for me to try? I'd love to know.

Jacko said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jacko said...

(Removed and re posted as there was a typo in the last link)

Hi Simon,

The Polish Club in Ashfield is a good place to start.

This blog describes it--->


I haven't been there, but based on the blog photos I can see that its close to Authentic.

Clubs Menu ---->


My recommendation

- Herrings in cream
- Tripe Soup
- Sour Rye Soup
- Polish Doughnuts

Remember that it is normally practised in Eastern European culture to drink vodka with the meal. You need shot glasses and a chaser (tea, juice, soft drink) to assist in any discomfort from drinking the vodka in one hit. So its customary to drink a toast to something (a friendship, someone's anniversary, etc) hold your glass up high and say "Na Zdrowie" which means to your health.

So if you are there, see if you can connect with some Polish people. They will make the experience worthwhile.

Simon Leong said...

hi blogman, thanks for the recommendation. will put on my wishlist. i've been to http://www.nazdrowie.com.au in glebe although can't remember how it quite was because it was so long ago :-)

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