A marketing coordinator that enjoys reviewing in her spare time. Living in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney - on the brink of something fabulous!
Published August 24th 2011
Update July 27th 2012
The Red Snail has relocated:
St Margarets Village 435 Bourke St Surry Hills
Phone 9331 8111 web site www.theredsnail.com
The Red Snail in Darlinghurst is a restaurant that claims to serve inexpensive classic French food. That is exactly what they deliver. At $25.00 for three courses on a Sunday night, we were slightly unsure of what we'd get but figured that for that price, we couldn't go wrong.
Parking in Darlinghurst is always an issue but hopefully that won't deter visitors from this gem of a restaurant, and either will it's ambiguous entry. To get in, you walk through what looks like the back of the restaurant – a courtyard full of outdoor tables – and through glass doors. This is actually the front of the restaurant and the only way in. Perhaps a sign or something in the courtyard would help?
Once inside, the restaurant has a warm decor with hanging red lanterns and a semi open kitchen. The tables and chairs are clean wood and floor to ceiling glass opens the restaurant up nicely. Mood lighting is given off by lamps and the trendy joint is equally great for family dinners, dates or nights with friends. Looking around, other patrons are mainly here for the second two reasons.
The menu itself has a generous selection of entrees, more limited range of main courses and a decent variety of desserts. We are asked to order all three at the same time, which is fine.
I start with the Salt and Pepper Squid served with Chilli and Lime dipping sauce. There are two types of squid on the plate, the body (not cut up into rings), which is soft but not too chewy, and legs, which are very crispy. A lot of places serve salt and pepper squid in a light coloured batter that is quite flakey. The Red Snail doesn't do this. Their batter is heavier and dark in colour (and very good!) The flavour is quite strong, with a sauce that tastes like a spicy soya sauce and more a lemon, not a lime, as was described.
My partner ordered the duck of a specials menu, which was delicious with a sweet sauce and cranberries. It was served with bread, Melba toasts and a pappadum. Perhaps overkill with too many breads but a fantastic start to the meal.
The good food was complemented by good service, our water glasses never reaching empty and us never needing to ask for a refill.
For the main I ordered the Kangaroo fillet, served rare with native plum sauce. The meat was tender but the sauce was quite syrupy and too sweet for my liking. My partner decided on the Pork fillet with a Dijon mustard sauce. Unfortunately he wasn't keen on this. Whilst the pork was cooked well, the sauce had an unappealing flavour, with the mustard being too strong and overpowering.
The main courses were accompanied by a complimentary serving of vegetables in a light butter sauce. They were a nice touch and went well with both main meals.
When the plates were cleared and the dessert cutlery was set, the waitress placed it on an angle, which is quite unique. I thought it looked quite good and gave the place a little edge.
I always find it interesting to check out the bathrooms wherever I go, seeing how different establishments 'do' lavatories. In this particular case, the bathrooms let the restaurant down. They're not designated male and female toilets, which some find off-putting. They are however individual rooms with one toilet, sink etc, which can be better than a big bathroom with stalls, it's definitely more private. There's an eery red light in the bathroom though, perhaps it's meant to match with the red glow of the restaurant? It doesn't work in the same way though, and just gives off a creepy red light district effect.
Dessert arrived and they both looked absolutely amazing! Major points to Red Snail for presentation on this one. We had ordered the Belgium Chocolate Mousse and the Passionfruit Cheesecake. The mousse wasn't too rich or soft, which was great and the biscuit base gave some texture. The cheesecake was beautifully creamy and rich with plenty of passionfruit sauce and the garnish was crunchy.
The Red Snail delivers on its promise of classic French food without the sky high bill. The charming restaurant offers efficient friendly service and beautifully presented great tasting food. For $35.00 for three courses, it's an absolute steal and at only $25.00 on Sunday nights, you'd be mad not to try it.