There's new life at the former Tabou site, reborn as Crown Street Assembly (not forgetting the ill-fated Black Cicada stint in-between). The decor has been completely turned around, shifting from overwhelming blacks to a sleek and sexy modern bistro. White walls, a long leather banquette and a feature bar lined with bar stools make for a hip addition to the Cleveland end of Crown Street.
The menu is self-described as French with a touch of Asian, pooling the talents of chef Paul Cooper (ex-Botanical and O'Connell's Hotel, both in Melbourne) and restaurateur Erez Gordon (Bistro Bruno in Balmain and O'Connell's Hotel, Melbourne).
On offer is an eclectic and inspired collection of dishes, from potted rabbit rillettes to a hay-smoked 900 gram rib eye steak for two ($42 per person). The snack menu is perfect for those who want to nurse a glass of wine at the bar (they also have Trumers pilsner on tap), with online commentary already at fever pitch over the beef and bone marrow dumplings ($11), quail and ginger steamed buns ($13), warm lobster roll ($8) and the BTS wagyu slider ($8) that really is arguably Better Than Sex.
We stick with the standard menu tonight, starting with the housemade potato gnocchi ($18), light fluffy pillows of potato that have been pan-fried to a pale golden brown. Broccoli florets lighten the dish, but the deep-fried croutons are a welcome addition.
Burnt butter spaetzle, roast pumpkin, capers, honey and seeds $16
The burnt butter spaetzle is a heavier pasta rendition, twisted nubbins of dough that almost taste deep-fried. Cubes of pumpkin, pumpkin seeds and deep-fried capers provide textural contrast but it's quite an oily dish to get through.
Roasted Milly Hill lamb shoulder $32
with purple Congo potato, goats cheese, olive and spiced lamb sauce
There's plenty to love about the roasted Milly Hill lamb shoulder: packed with flavour, melt-in-the-mouth tender, and studded with luscious pockets of creamy fat. Slices of purple Congo potato, slivers of olive and dabs of goats cheese help counter the richness of the lamb.
Roast suckling pig $36
with celeriac puree, caramelised apple, tete de cochon, beetroot and calvados jus
Roast suckling pig is a celebration of decadence, offering a tranche of pork belly that is more fat than flesh. The tete de cochon is made from the meat from a pigs head, shredded and shaped into a wheel and then crumbed and deep-fried. There's plenty of fat hidden in here too.
Roasted fresh beetroot and wedges of caramelised apple offer some acidity but my soft spot is for the little cube of black pudding in the middle.
Almost pavlova $13
Merginue, lemon curd, vanilla anglaise and milk ice cream
I'm expecting a lemon curd version of Eton Mess when we order the Almost pavlova so when it arrives I'm confused by the inclusion of what tastes like lemon yoghurt cake. There's plenty of elegance in the vanilla anglaise littered with vanilla bean seeds but in my gustatory dreams, pavlova is all about the cream which is sadly absent here.
Pain perdu $15
Spiced pan fried brioche, caramelised banana and candied popcorn ice cream
We finish with pain perdu, almost breakfast-like with its doorstops of eggy pan-fried brioche. There's a heavy waft of spices when it arrives at the table.
A gangplank of banana glistens with a brittle veneer of blow-torched sugar and though the popcorn ice cream isn't particularly strong, we get our movie fix from the addictive kernels of toffee-coated popcorn.
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Crown St Assembly
527 Crown Street, Surry Hills, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9319 5455
Monday to Sunday 12pm-late
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8/27/2012 01:26:00 a.m.