Saturday, January 14, 2012

Neild Avenue (CLOSED)

Rushcutters Bay is not an area known for cafes and restaurants, but Neild Avenue has found its footing there and is fast becoming the hottest new eatery in town. 

What used to be an old tyre factory has been given a new lease of life. Canvases adore the unfinished wood frames; a lounge area at the front has been set out to cater for pre-dinner drinks; while a long bar runs down one side of the restaurant, an open kitchen at the rear looks over the sectioned dinning areas. The simplicity is also carried over to the menu, a thick stack of A4 paper stabled together in one corner. Even though this is the third Sydney restaurant from Maurice Terzini and chef Robert Marchetti, it looks nothing like their other venues, Icebergs Dinning Room and North Bondi Italian Food. 

The wine list here seems to be never ending and can be a bit intimidating for someone like me (I'm still learning to appreciate wine), so I was more than happy to leave the selection to my dinning companion. What I did notice is the wine are all sourced locally, with the majority from wineries in NSW. Our bottle of Ross Hill Sauvignon Blanc went down so easily we had to order a second bottle when our mains were served.

Charred wholemeal flatbread
The food is modern Mediterranean, think Lebanon, Greece, Morocco and Turkey. The complimentary charred wholemeal flatbread was surprisingly delicious with its smokey taste, not something I'd normal order of my own accord. I picked Marchetti's prosciutto as one of our shared starters, the table next to us envied it so much they ordered one as well. The marinated Roman style lamb chops rounded up our starters, they were served with the whole rib attached, I was very tempted to eat it with both of my hands. For main, we went for the kebabs from the coal spit,  I had the minced veal, lamb and parsley while my dinning companion got the chilli one. Each kebab came served on flatbread and accompanied by yoghurt, cracked wheat and red pepper paste, sumac onion salad and grilled chilli. An excellent combination of flavours.

When it came to time for dessert, given the amount of food we just consumed, we decided to order just one and share it. The Rum Baba came with its own bottle of rum, so you can pour as little or as much of it over the cake as you want. Our waitress suggested that we may want to pour a little bit at first, then pour more as we go as the cake absorbs the rum very fast and to keep it moist it's best to add the rum as you go.  

It's not often that I have a three hour lunch, but with its high ceiling, exposed beams and unstained wood frames and great service, Neild Avenue proved to be one of the places that I can easily get lost in the food, wine and conversation. I'm keen to head back to try their spit-roasted duck, which is only served during dinner. One thing to keep in mind when you venture over their way, reservations are only accepted for Friday lunch, all other times it's first come first served, so make sure you get there early or be prepared to wait.

Neild Avenue: 10 Neild Avenue, Rushcutters Bay, NSW 2011  Neild Avenue on Urbanspoon

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