Vanessa: Surry Hills is well-known for its vast range of eateries, leaving would-be diners spoiled for choice. Now, a new contender is in the mix with the emergence of Arthur last October, located on Bourke Street. Headed up by Tristan Rosier and his Partner, Rebecca Fanning, this 40-seat, intimate spaced restaurant brings a new wave of creative dining into the fold. Named after Tristan’s grandfather, Arthur offers diners an evolving 11-course set menu, conservatively priced at $70 per head.
It’s an understatement to say I was looking forward to the experience (particularly as I was child-free) when Bianca and I arrived on a Sunday afternoon at 12.30pm. I was immediately thankful that Baby V was not with me given the proximity to the next table – I don’t think it would have been appreciated! The interior has been tastefully decorated with a rustic-chic feel and visibility into the kitchen. The wine-bar is the main feature you see as your enter the restaurant and there is a wide range of Australian wines on offer as well as cocktails and spirits. The owners are very present and on hand to serve their diners.
We were presented with the set menu and soon after our first pairing was brought to the table. I thought it was a clever way of not over extending the time spent at the table by bringing two dishes out at once. They suggest leaving 2 hours for the set menu and they were pretty much spot on , which is efficient given the number of dishes.
First up the sourdough with cultured butter was brought a serve of Vongole, shitake and black garlic. The bread was next-level. Thick, soft and slightly warm perfectly matched with the nicely salted butter. The vongole was an ideal light way to start the degustation and I was pleased that they were not at all fishy in flavor. I resisted every urge to not mop up the juice with my bread (I’ll save that for the home!)
Next up was the Zucchini flower with radish and almond as well as the Albacore Tuna with woodear mushrooms and bonito garum. I loved the filling inside the zucchini flower but personally I found the radish to be overpowering and bitter. The tuna was a standout hitting the mark on taste and texture , I really enjoyed this dish. The freshness is evident and again no strong fish tones.
This was light and so fresh. I wouldn’t normally enjoy squid served in such a natural way but I really enjoyed this, particuarly the fineness in which the squid is cut. There was an incident involving a cherry tomato splattering on Bianca – so note to self don’t try and bite into it!
The squid was brought out with a serve of the potato, rainbow chard and sweet garlic – a dish that had me reminiscing about it hours later. This work of art really shows off the technical creativity of the chef. A thin and crispy potato rolled and lined with the rainbow chard sitting atop the sweet garlic puree that offsets the saltiness of the potato I can’t express just how delicious this dish really was with a sensational texture – I have no doubt this is a hit amongst all diners.
The beef short rib with carrot and pepperberry mustard was incredibly tender and the beef practically melted in the mouth. A very well-executed dish with every element working harmoniously in sync.
Personally I was less excited about the witlof, pear, pine nut and and grapefruit although it did have its place in levitating the taste buds as the beef is quite heavy. I found the witlof leaves to be too bitter which overpowered the centre filling.
Upon reaching the final course we were at a good level, not full and certainly far from hungry..but a nice and comfortable level (which we are rarely at, so it made for a nice change).
Grapefruit granita,kaffir lime leaf and macadamia was delicious with a strong flavor from the kaffir lime. I’d never had anything quite like it and it again demonstrated the creativity from the chefs.
The Nectarine sorbet, fig leaf yoghurt, anzac biscuit was light and refreshing and a unique combination that worked well.
If you are after a degustation menu for a special occassion or simply to treat yourself, I would recommend giving Arthur a try. The menu is innovative and well priced for the amount of food and the quality. We left impressed and eager to spread the word.
Photos by Bianca
*For Foods Sake dined as guests of Arthur