Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Review: Danks Street Depot Christmas Bar Food Night

Danks Street Depot is a restaurant with a slow food and sustainable eating twist that leaves the hippies for dust and instead just turns out delicious, heartful and elegant food. Most of the food is locally sourced and there's almost always a story if you can coax one out of the staff.

Danks Street have taken to doing bar food nights which are essentially a tapas style dinner with sharing plates on a theme. Given the time of year it was definitely time for a seasonal twist on this event and a modern take on traditional Christmas foods was on display.

had organised a kind of "foodie blind date" with a few other gourmande types and so we tottered in, ordered the lot and dove in on multiple kinds of meat. The fun of eating with other foodies is watching everyone pose their food and take pictures. I was a little surprised later when someone took exception to my photographing when so much of the table was, but never mind I'm not for everyone really, and I make no apologies for my endless blogging and internet addiction.

2008 Josef Chromy Pepik $11 by the glass

The other girls were drinking sangria but ... well I can't bring myself to do it. Kitty had to laugh when I said that "in my mind sangria is something you drink when you're poor," but for me this was one of those student specials that you put together when you know that the wine you can afford isn't the wine you want to drink.

Given my taste for aperatifs it was sparkling for me! There were only a couple of choices on the menu but I do rather like Tasmanian cuvee and this is a solid example, light and citrussy with a soft toast flavour to the length. I prefer a finer mousse, but you can't have everything for $11 a glass.

Half dozen Foster Rock oysters, 3 natural and 3 kilpatrick $36

Being friends with restauranteurs has its advantages, we were sent this plate of oysters compliments of the chef. I am not generally a shellfish person but could hardly say no to such an offering.

Chicken Liver Parfait $16

You know I can never resist liver, so this was a must have. I'd have been tempted to order a second plate actually. The liver was smooth and delicious, though I'd have preferred less butter, the vinegared raisins were a wonderful pungeant tang to set off the neutrality of the liver and I intend to recreate at home.

Roasted apricots and peaches $16

Stone fruit are a big part of the festive season in Australia. My grandmother particularly goes crazy for cherries at Christmas because she always dreamed of cherries in winter in Spain and is delighted to live where here dream can come true.

This was the dish that didn't strike a real chord with me; I'm not fond of the texture of roasted stone fruit and I found the sweetness too strong for the pancetta.

Prawn Cocktail $19

This is such a funny dish, the height of 70s chic, the foam of a past generation. Served classically with a lettuce leaf (but thankfully sans the scallop shell!) and the "not so classic" Danks Street prawn cocktail sauce. A great rendition and a dish I wouldn't normally order so very interesting to try.

Whole BBQ Snapper $35

I do so love an excuse to order a whole fish; juicy and fresh and always drawing the jealous eye of other diners. The plump white snapper was glorious under crisp skin and a smooth herb sauce. The joy of this dish is in the quality of the produce; simple, elegant, excellent.

2007 Cigale Grenache Mouvedre $44 per bottle

This blend of 63% Grenache, 21% Mourvedre and 16% Shiraz from the Spinifex vineyard has a full body from the strong Australian shiraz but smoothed down by the Grenache making it a soft drinking wine for such a recent year. If you can't bear the sight of another Australian Shiraz or Cabernet this comes recommended.

Roasted Pork Belly $20

Crunchy roasted crackling gave way delightfully to rich pork belly and creamy sweet fat. The crackling was I'll admit quiet difficult to cut but worthwhile when I had. Others found the fennel in the grape salad overwhelming but I cannot get enough of the licorice smoothness and combined with the roasted fat had me in eye rolling wonder.

Glazed Christmas Ham $20

Multiple kinds of pig, we couldn't resist! This free range ham was smokey with a strong tang, just perfect with the strong seeded mustard, but the real winner here was the spiced pickled cherries, causing moans and surprised eyes from the entire table.

Panzenella Salad $16

I do so love Panzenella, it's like a deconstructed caprese sandwich. Bread, basil, good olive oil, flavoursome organic tomatoes set off by sharp capers and anchovies. It may seem like a waste to order salad in light of such a meal but I press on you that it is not, particularly in the heat of the Australian festive season.

Potato Salad $8

And what would a Summer party be without potato salad eh? Certainly a more seasonal approach than fries or mash! Crunchy celery mayonnaise and soft baby potatoes, a real comfort food for the warmer months.

2007 Josef Chromy Botrytis Semillon $8 by the glass

Dessert wine has really grown on me recently and Australia does some lovely botrytis Semillons. This wasn't anything particularly special but still a nice way to round out a good meal with a sweet.

Mulled Wine Sorbet $12.50

I loved mulled wine in winter, and this sorbet was spiced and sweet and has the mouth feel of a warming fireside drink but with the cold sweetness perfect for the warm weather. Highly recommended!

Blood Orange Sorbet $12.50

I am a real sucker for Blood Orange sorbet, this is more like a sherbet though, with a sort of dry sweetness to the end.

Chocolate Fondant $12.50

Look at it ooze, that's real food porn!

Cherry clafouti $12.50

I love the presentation in the blini pan but I admit I did not have an opportunity to try this dessert :o(

2008 Monomeith Pinot Noir

I had never herad of Monomeith but was impressed by this cheeky Australian pinot, enough to drink far far too much of it. Woops. Luff the handmade paper label as well, though I'm loathe to judge wine by its label.

Dank Street's delightful proprietor, Chef and owner Jared Ingersoll

The bar night concept is one that I really like, little nibbles and a range of tastes appeal greatly to me more than a heavy a la carte meal and without the need for the added formality of a degustation. Family style and descending upon the best tid bits really added to the sort of competitive eating feel of foodies in the wild. Danks Street is a real Sydney gem and well worth a visit, at $80 a head including tip and drinks it's also in the affordable range of good food and doesn't make me feel as if I'm being judged for wearing too much eyeliner in the restaurant. Definitely on the list of restaurants to try for your next special date or dinner, or even just a lazy Sunday brunch.

Take note also foodies that Danks Street Depot are opening an eatery at the Sydney international airport (just in time for me to take vacation!), so if you can't stand the idea of airline food, McDonald's or Starbucks, stop in for a bite before you board.

Danks Street Depot
1/2 Danks Street
Waterloo NSW 2017
Phone: 02 9698 2201

Monday - Wednesday 7:30am - 4:00pm
Thursday - Friday 7:30am - 11:00pm
Saturday 8:00am - 11:00pm
Sunday & public holidays 9:00am - 4:00pm

Fully licenced
Bookings advised for dinner

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