Nestled in the quieter part of Surry Hills on the corner of Bourke St and Fitzroy St, 4Fourteen is the latest addition to Colin Fassnidge's culinary repertoire.
Fassnidge of Four in Hand and Paddo Arms is a Dubliner who's notorious for his nose-to-tail philosophy and his colourful (and immediate) Twitter presence. In fact I tweeted him to find out whether 4Fourteen takes bookings, and his reply materialised on my iPhone screen within minutes.
The dishes on the 4Fourteen menu are designed to be shared. Contemporary Irish meets deconstructed dishes on a menu that is grouped into Fish, Meat, Salads and Starches, and Pastry. In each category the plates are ordered from smaller to larger dishes.
All the food arrives promptly at our table soon after ordering. We start with the Miso Smoked Salmon, which is served with lemon curd and fennel bread ($12). Pretty as a picture with a lovely pastel colour palette, the salmon is beautifully tender and the fennel bread nice and crispy. The fennel flavour remains quite subtle, and the layers of cucumber and radish add daintiness and freshness.
The Chicken Wing is lain over parfait, crispy tortilla and quince chutney ($7.50 each). If you read my reviews regularly you probably know by now that I'm a sucker for parfait. But this parfait is a cut above the rest - deliciously smooth and texturally complemented by the crunchy tortilla and flavourful deboned chicken wing. Overall, it's a sophisticated and mouthwatering dish that I'd happily come back for.
I read a few reviews before I arrived at dinner, and I knew that I absolutely had to order the Irish Breakfast ($22). It consists of a duck egg, prosciutto, chorizo, braised barley and black pudding. Quite the contrast to the delicate plating of the chicken wing or the miso salmon, the Irish Breakfast is served in a hot pan. It's a wonderful dish, balancing the saltiness of prosciutto and chorizo with the soft, puffy barley grains.
Our favourite dish of the night, however, is the Lamb Breast served with eggplant, sorrel, white anchovy and red pepper ($24). Crispy skin, melt-in-your-mouth soft underneath and a perfect red pepper accompaniment, I could have polished this dish off by myself. Maybe next time.
The Suckling Pig with prunes, sage, pistachio pesto and cabbage salad ($32) is also a crowd pleaser. Boasting a lovely combination of flavours and swimming in a wonderful sauce, topped with crazy crunchy crackling, you'd be silly not to order this.
Another pick from the Starch menu are the Steamed Kipflers with lemon and herbs ($9). I love potatoes, so of course I can't say anything unfavourable about these bad boys. There's nothing dramatic about them, but I don't think there needs to be. The parsley and potatoes are perfectly matched here.
Then finally it's time for dessert - the moment I've been waiting for. I had read about the Daily Popsicle ($9), and was crossing my fingers that it would be Nutri Grain tonight. I was in luck. It comes with a side of lemony yoghurt, but I'm not too sure I enjoy this pairing. The tangy tartness of the yoghurt doesn't really go together with the Nutri Grain popsicle (in my opinion anyway). Regardless, the popsicle is nothing short of awesome and tastes like a grown up bowl of cereal in frozen form.
But our favourite dessert is the White Chocolate Sandwich ($14). Silky smooth white chocolate ice cream is wedged between crunchy sheets of burnt caramel. Elegantly plated up, this sandwich is sweet and bitter all at the same time.
I try the Apple Thief Pink Lady Cider, which is of course very girly and delicious. The Sangria for 2 ($17), however, is a bit too sweet for my liking. Made with fresh fruit, cointreau, zinio tempranillo and lemonade, it could have done with a little less lemonade.
Other than the superb food Fassnidge has on offer, the energy in the restaurant is also noteworthy. Exposed brick walls and high ceilings enclose the large, open warehouse space; and an island bar floats in the middle. The lighting strays away from the staple dim mood lighting that so many restaurants adhere to nowadays. Bathrooms are humorously labelled "LOO".
See the chefs in action - image taken from 4Fourteen website
The open kitchen is located in the corner. You could literally sit at the banquet by the kitchen and see the action unfold right before your eyes. It's a handsome venue and fits right into the stylish cosmos of Surry Hills.
4Fourteen's island bar - image taken from 4Fourteen website
Our table for five is shown in the picture above. Its doors have only been open since early May, but the constant chatter around it has created a buzz even before it opened. I'd suggest making your reservation early to avoid disappointment. I booked on a Tuesday for a Friday night booking. Check out the 4Fourteen menu here.
So dig in, kids. There's a reason this restaurant is insanely busy already. It lives up to the hype.