Hartsyard is a small restaurant in Newtown. I had booked a week in advance for a Wednesday night, and it was absolutely packed. I arrived about ten minutes early with Captain Adventure, and our table wasn't ready, so we perched ourselves on the stools by the bar with a couple of cocktails.
The first dish that arrives at our table is the Radishes with smoked butter, onion and rye bread crisps ($14). It combines lovely flavours and the super-crunchy rye bread slices add great texture. We find that all the dishes are very cognizant of using a variety of textures, which makes for an exciting dining experience.
We order the Shaved Mushroom & Raw Artichoke Salad ($17), which comes with celery heart and parmesan. Fresh and delicious, the thin slices of mushroom and artichoke are assembled into a pretty, bouquet-like arrangement with a pale colour palette. Amidst the salad are crunchy and salty parmesan chips that I can't get enough of.
The Poutine ($20) is by far my favourite dish of the evening. I'd come back and just scoff this down all by my lonesome. It's a dish of fried potatoes, oxtail gravy, crispy beef threads, cheddar and beer sauce. The oxtail gravy is ridiculously delicious and the crispy beef threads a wonderful complement.
Miss D also wants to order the Crispy Pig Tails ($18), which come with a buttermilk dressing, pickles and hot sauce. I love that the hot sauce comes in a cute little jar. In fact, I'm pretty much in love with the presentation of everything on the menu. I'm not a big fan of the pig tails because I don't like the texture, but Miss D enjoys it. However, it has to be said that the other dishes were more memorable.
The Cold Smoked Fried Chicken ($28) is Miss D's favourite dish. And that's high praise because she's a fried chicken fiend. She vows that she'll come back for it. The chicken is moist, tasty and you get three big pieces of it. Alongside the chicken is a buttermilk biscuit and low country sausage gravy.
And then it's time for dessert. The Peanut Butter & Banana Sundae ($16) is a no-brainer. Served with pretzel ice cream, banana doughnut and salted fudge, this is a crazy good dessert. There are so many textures, so many flavours, so many dimensions. You'd think you'd get confused, but you're just in awe. It's one of the best desserts I've eaten in a long time. Hands down.
We also try the Rhubarb Crumble ($16) with malted milk, parsnip chips, strawberry and pomegranate. Beautifully plated, this deconstructed rhubarb crumble is a refreshing dessert, especially compared to the very rich and indulgent sundae. I love the combination of interesting textures - crumbly, crunchy, soft. The red colour scheme doesn't just originate from the rhubarb but also pieces of strawberry and pomegranate. Overall, a beautiful dessert, especially aesthetically speaking.
Before we're seated, Captain Adventure and I give the cocktails a go. I try the Pickle Back Martini ($17.50) which combines vodka, dry vermouth and muddles Hartyard dill pickle. I love dill and I love pickles, so I'm sold.
Captain Adventure opts for the Hartsyard Manhattan (also $17.50), which mixes together bacon-infused Jack Daniel's, sweet vermouth, bitters and maple syrup. There isn't much of a bacon flavour, but the maple aroma is there. Miss D has a glass of red, which is served in a a glass that looks like an odd, oversized petri dish.