Chips are good but homemade crisps are better. Especially when they’re a vehicle for creme fraiche, caviar and briny pops of trout roe. It’s just one of the snacks at The Kittyhawk, the French restaurant and cocktail bar you’ve probably walked past a million times and never noticed. Kittyhawk isn’t entirely new, having opened in 2016. My interest to visit was piqued when I realised Alex Lynn, former head chef of Casoni, was now rattling the pans here.
Entering Kittyhawk feels like a bit of a strange and awkward maze at first, but keep walking and a second door spits you into a moody dining room. The semi-circular banquettes are where you want to be – cushioned and cosy comfort for the entire table. The dimly lit room is filled with prints, dark toned timbers and empty liquor bottles.
What I do love is the menu, a terrific range of dishes that can easily accommodate your table’s collective appetite. Because you can order throughout the night, too, it means our late-running friend, doesn’t miss out either.
Sardines, pickled lemon, aioli and toast $19
We kick off with Ortiz sardines, the saltiness of these prime fillets offset with pickled lemon slices pickled fennel and a dollop of aioli. The charred toast offers a pleasing smokiness.
Trout roe with crispy potato $14
The trout roe with crispy potato is ridiculously addictive, like the fanciest chip and dip you and your boujee friends could possibly imagine.
Trout roe and caviar on crispy potato
Slather generously and savour that creamy lusciousness against carby crunch. Bliss.
Steak tartare with horseradish $20
Housemade crisps also arrive with our steak tartare, seasoned with just enough cornichon to make me sigh with relief. Could I just have all my meals served on potato crisps please?
Bone marrow, parsley and black garlic toast $17
Ordering bone marrow on any menu is usually a no-brainer for me. This one is cooked to perfection, the trench of marrow wobbly with fattiness but still whole, slicked with a parsley sauce in forest green. The black garlic toast on the side reminds me of Vegemite toast, but truth be told, I end up preferring to eat these components separately so I can appreciate each of them on their own and unadulterated.
Boudin noir with French toast $16
Boudin noir blood sausage arrives as crisp slices on top of rafts of French toast. Melted cheese adds a extra layer of decadence, the whole shebang crowned with petals of pickled onion.
Gruyere cheese donuts $8 for 2 pieces
And because Chef Lynn has realised I’m dining tonight (I’d sent him a direct message on Instagram to reserve an order of scarlet prawns), we’re sent out a round of gruyere cheese donuts from the kitchen.
Inside the gruyere cheese donut
If you love cheese, you’ll love these donuts, elongated footballs of cheesy sophistication.
Let’s not forget the drinks list either, a comprehensive menu that includes a depth of rum and cocktails like lean in all different directions. The Ledo Road with pandan leaf, lime juice, pandan syrup, toasted coconut milk and Bacardi has my name all over it.
Gnocchi Parisienne with mushroom fricasse and asparagus $27
We finish up with larger dishes, including the gnocchi Parisienne. This French take on gnocchi is potato-less, instead using choux pastry that is boiled and then pan-fried. It makes for a starchier and slightly chewier mouthfeel, the golden-seared pillows served with a deeply rich and savoury mushroom fricasse. Crisp asparagus spears provide much appreciated freshness and crunch.
Scarlet prawn tagliatelle with prawn bisque $38
And of course we have to have to the scarlet prawn tagliatelle. These are huge portions, each one easily shared between two. The scarlet prawns themselves are enormous, cooked so the flesh is still soft and sweet. The highlight is in the prawn head of course, a bonanza of prawn intensity that deserves to be licked, scraped and sucked with enthusiastic abandon.
Rum baba brioche cake with rum and creme patissiere $14
Dessert is a classic rum baba, theatrically set on fire at the table. Once the blue flame subsides, you’re left with a boozy brioche laced with rum, best eaten with a good spoonful of creme patissiere.
Creme caramel with miso caramel
And because it was my birthday, the kitchen sends out a complimentary dessert: creme caramel with miso caramel on the side. It takes us a while to work out the flavour of the caramel on the side – later verified with Chef Lynn – its savoury saltiness adds nuance and complexity to this traditional French dessert.
All up, good food and good fun. And if you enjoy live music, swing by on Thursday nights when blues-rock band Cass Greaves and the Ragin Cajuns perform.
16 Phillip Lane, Sydney
Tel: 0455 041 172
Tuesday to Saturday 4pm-12am