Bianca: My only experience with Bar Ume and chef and owner Kirby Craig was a burger shared three ways from one of his 2015 pop-ups. Suffice to say I was intrigued. Lining up for food has never been my style so I always held off and with the closure of Ume and a rebranding and menu overhaul. Bar Ume, rose from the ashes – a watering hole with fantastic burgers and snacks. Fine dining is out folks, cheap and cheerful casual dining is really where it’s at.
It occupies a blink and you’ll miss it spot on Surry Hill’s Bourke Street but once inside its rather cosy and at 6:30pm there was the alluring waft of beef patties being cooked. Starting with a few beverages, Alex with a glass of Muscat and myself, the Umeroni $18 described to me by the waitress as a sweet drink. Clearly lost in translation as its Bar Ume’s take on the classic Negroni. A notoriously bitter cocktail, there was some sweetness from the Japanese liquor Umeshu. Made from steeping ume fruits, namely plums.
Hitting the table first were the Renkon chips $5, thinly sliced lotus root, deep fried. Controversial but I’d take a bowl of these over Kettle original chips any day of the week. Crispy, with a light dusting of seaweed powder. This is really drinking food at its finest.
The Blanched green beans w/ toasted sesame miso dressing $8 still retained some bite, the creamy sesame miso had all the flavourings of a peanut butter sauce (I’m offending everyone now). With little clusters of sesame seeds. The only thing that detracted from this dish in my eyes, was serving it cold. It just felt a little jarring to me.
Once we heard the off menu special we agreed instantly. Onion Rings are a weakness and these are ‘pure’ onion. You know those green Nong Shim onion rings you get in the supermarkets, instant flashbacks!! The batter was delicate and they weren’t overly oily which can sometimes be the case.
Never underestimate a good hot chip and the Hot Chips w/ umami salt $4.2 are a must order. Bringing a single chip to your nose, smelt exactly like that deep incense(y) church smell. But take a bite and your entire world will fall away, salty with a deep grumbling garlic back note.
We’re fried chicken fiends and the Koji Karaage $12 was always going to make an appearance. With tender juicy chicken thigh, with a light coating. We saved the mayo to eat with the hot chips.
Finally meeting properly, I eagerly awaited the first bite of the Bacon Cheeseburger $14.8. Firstly the buns, probably some of the best going around at the moment. With the dark colouring of a brioche without the sweetness. A lovely loose grind, medium rare patty with just an inkling of pink. The bacon was super crispy and it was the first instantly recognisable textural element. I didn’t appreciate the surprise lettuce sneaking in on the bottom bun but thankfully it made no impact. I love my pickles so I adored the generous “let them eat cake” feeling. A tasty burger, streamlined cheese burger. A 4.1/5 pickles.
I was anticipating the Ebi Burger –w/ a crumbed Prawn katsu, Japanese tartare sauce and shredded cabbage $15.5. Was the wait worthwhile? Absolutely! The lightly fried minced prawn katsu was seasoned well and surprisingly juicy. With an excellent ratio of cabbage, which cut through the richness of the fried prawn katsu. And the final element, the Japanese tartare, slightly acidic and the diced gherkins adding some tartness. I have to say, I enjoyed this over the cheeseburger. A 4.5/ 5 pickles.
And the last of the savouries, the Angus Flank Steak –w/ char grilled negi, daikon, oroshi and Kerby’s Yuzu Kosho $21. The beef steak was velvety and melt in the mouth tender, served thinly sliced and medium rare. As well as being lightly charred on the outside. However, it wasn’t the beef that blew me away but the Negi, a Japanese leek, which was gorgeously charred. Which produced a caramelised earthy flavour. Alex struggled with the heat of the Yuzu kosho but I quite enjoyed the chilli kick.
Dessert was an easy choice, as they only had one on the menu. The Matcha miruku pudding –w/ blueberries, hazelnuts and caramel $11. It probably wouldn’t be our first option if we had the choice. We aren’t the biggest fans of matcha but it was a fairly muted version with nice floral notes, delicate and not too overbearing. We loved the blueberries and hazelnuts but the highlight was the thin layer of sweet caramel set over the matcha pudding. A cohesive bite with all ingredients was well balanced and texturally interesting. And despite its dainty size, it was an ample portion for one person.
I would be interested in trying Ume’s other burger offerings and I’d probably go back for the renkon chips and the onion rings alone. Definitely one to keep in mind when in Surrys Hills and Barangaroo.
Photos by Alex
*For Food’s Sake dined as guests of Bar Ume. However all opinions and thoughts are our own and independent.