Ten dishes for $70? Surely this is one of the best value dinner treats in Sydney. Treat yo’self for cheap at Arthur, a small and cosy restaurant in Surry Hills. You’ll find it an intimate spot for date night but it’s relaxed enough, too, for a special catch-up with friends.
Heading up the kitchen is Tristan Rosier whose cooking pedigree (ex-Biota and Est.) is reflected in his seasonal, local-focussed, plant-friendly cooking. The menu includes a detailed note of thanks to a broad list of suppliers, acknowledging the use of produce from Living Earth Organic Market Farm in the Southern Highlands, native ingredients from Outback Pride, Wollemi Honey from Wollemi National Park in the Blue Mountains, and fruit and vegetables from Rosier’s own mum and Nan’s garden.
Ten dishes will arrive in pairs, a five-course meal that the restaurant warns will take about two hours. The duration feels like the ideal compromise, long enough to feel memorable without the oftentime drawn-out arduousness of a 15-course degustation.
Arthur’s sourdough with cultured butter
We start with housemade sourdough, deliciously crusty on the outside with a mattressy softness.
Raclette gougere with truffle and honey
Our starter counterpart is a plate of raclette gougeres.
These are far tastier than you first expect, the golden brown choux pastry boosted with aromatic truffle, the nutty cheesiness of raclette and a floral hint of honey.
Scallop with globe artichoke and verjuice
The following three courses pair a protein dish with a vegetable-based one. Raw scallops offer a gentle sweetness against pickled globe artichokes and a sunshine yellow splash of verjuice dressing.
Ricotta with broad beans and brussels sprouts
Ricotta with broad beans belies its understated appearance. The milky creaminess of ricotta works terrifically with tender double-podded broad beans, hidden beneath a forest of charred brussels sprouts leaves. We drag our spoons through the ricotta island, scooping up as much vivid green fennel oil as we can. It’s one of my favourite dishes of the night.
Kangaroo with bush tomato and peppers
Course three includes a giant raviolo of kangaroo, the silky pasta draped with roasted red bullhorn peppers and bush tomatoes.
Cabbage, fennel and sorrel
On the side is a thick wedge of cabbage, roasted to a blackened caramelised sweetness, the green quotient bolstered with fennel and lemony sorrel butter.
Spatchcock with cipollini and brassicas
Our final savoury course proffers spatchcock, brined and cooked to an impressive succulency. On the side are candied cipollini onions and a tangle of cavolo nero.
Jerusalem artichoke with macadamia
Roasted Jerusalem artichokes are my other highlight of the evening. They’re addictively sweet and nutty, smashed and fried so that obtain a blistered crisp at the edges. And then there’s the macadamia sauce, velvety in texture and lush in its nutty richness.
Wattleseed, blood orange and strawberry
A wattleseed parfait provides a palate-cleansing segue into dessert. It’s a clever dessert, balancing the creaminess of parfait against the refreshment of blood orange with strawberry and the sweet hit of caramelised white chocolate smithereens.
Chocolate, peach and rhubarb
And while we’re relieved there’s a chocolate dessert too, this one isn’t intense or heavy. There’s a deftness of touch that tempers a flourless chocolate cake with peaches and rhubarb. Lashings of cocoa dusted cream hit the satisfaction button.
It’s a thoughtful and elegant meal although our only quibble is that our table of three consistently receives a single dish to share the entire evening. That would be fine if the dish – normally designed for two, based on our observation of the next table – was increased proportionately, but many looked to have been left as is. It’s a small point, but worth noting if you plan to dine with an odd number of people.
544 Bourke Street, Surry Hills, Sydney
Tel: +61 (0)468 991 088
Saturday and Sunday 12.30pm (Fridays from 11 Oct)
Wednesday to Sunday 6pm
Wednesday to Saturday 8.30pm