I am often ranting about the Hipsters (or homeless) of Sydney and how they are a drain of society. However, this place is an exception to the rule. I may be filled with Jesus-esque beards, shiny jeans and brown cardigans. This place epitomises the kind of place that the "hipsters" would like, with it's mismatched furniture, "ironic" posters on the wall, taxidermy animals and exotic spirits. Usually I would despise this kind of place however, they did it before it was cool. The Winery in Surry Hills is a sister restaurant of The Gazebo in Potts Point and offers a chance to try some beautiful food.
The Scrumptious Champagne, Grape And Chicken Pie with Buttered Spinach (Image courtesy of The Winery website)
I went there for my birthday a couple of months ago and had a lovely lunch with a few friends (the usual suspects!) and was blown away by their lunch menu. I had been there a few times before for dinner and enjoyed it, but it wasn't until I had their lunch (all be it slightly less boozy and more memorable) that I fully appreciated the effort that went into the menu and felt compelled to share my experience with everyone.
The Internal Facade (Image courtesy of The Winery website)
It is exceptionally hard to find a good mod-aus restaurant that is open for lunch in Sydney without paying through the teeth for it. Okay so I lie you have to pay a fair bit, but nothing compared to the prices of Rockpool and Wildfire for lunch. A meal here will set you back $35-40 per head for you meal and anywhere between $10 and $100 on drinks. Depends on how boozy you like your meals. On booziness, the wine list (as is to be expected) is breathtaking and even the most astute snob will find something that suits their pallet and price range. I am a vodka (well vodka, whiskey, scotch, wine, cider and Guinness) man and love trying different vodkas (straight on ice with lime).
The Winery uses Kettle One as their house vodka, which needless to say won me over. Kettle one is normally a second or third pour at most establishments and is a semi-topshelf liquor. It's smell is creamy, sweet and a touch grainy, you may think I am mad but as One expert Russian taster noted that vodka is valued "not just for clarity, but for a crystalline lustre, an internal energy. I may take some serious time to appreciate the full complexities of vodka, but just like wine, beer and most alcohols, it is not until you have been drinking them (responsibly) that you will fully come to appreciate the complexes of a straight spirit. Imagine I said to you, mix your wine with coke (the spanish actually do it its called a Kalimotxo 1:1 wine:coke) and most people would scoff at me. So why should it be any different with other albeit strong alcohols. That ends my vodka rant, but needless to say I enjoyed the vodka - immensely!
The food we ate was delicious, I had the crab and zesty lemon toastie with fries ($19) and it was a wonderful modern take on the traditional crab sandwich. It is legendary to anyone who frequents The Winery for lunch and some of them are disappointed it is not on the dinner menu. For two friends and I to have an entree, a main, two drinks each, coffee and dessert it set us back $190.That may seem like a lot but that's a three course sit down lunch (with fresh prime produce) with drinks and coffee for $60 a head it would be hard to match.
Their evenings are a whole nothing matter entirely, it is almost impossible to get a reservation, but they do have a list of walk-ins and will call you when your table;e is ready and in the mean time you can relax in the bar (drinking the aforementioned vodka!) and wait for a table. The menu is much more sophisticated and has a mod-aus/asain/french spin on a lot of classic dishes. I have had the oysters (amazing, creamy, rich and super fresh) and the 'Steak Frites' (takes me straight back to Cafe De Paris with the Hand Cut Fries and Grilled Sirloin). The service is definitely more formal a night, but in a rock-abililly hipster salon kind of fashion.
Highly recommended when you have a little cash to spend on a great lunch/night out with friends and a great spot for a first date!