I love it when people get excited about food! For as long as I’ve had this blog, Sir D has been my dining companion, occasional photographer when my hands are unsteady and also very patient as he waits until I finish snapping away before digging in. It’s not often that he will actually get excited about what we’re eating or where we’re going, but when this steak, chips and bone marrow dish was placed in front of him, his eyes widened and he grinned at the prospect of devouring it all.
We’re dining at the East Village Hotel tonight as guests in the warm, comforting decor of the dining room. It’s located one floor up from the bar area below and is decorated with wines along one wall and banquette seating along another, complete with homely cushions.
As soon as we’re seated, the waiter brings out some warm cheese and tomato scrolls from the kitchen with some extra virgin olive oil for dipping. The dough is soft and light, making it the perfect start to the meal.
We’re not big wine drinkers and we know nothing about wine so after ordering, we consult the waiter’s advice and end up with a glass of Shiraz for Sir D and a glass of Riesling for myself. We’re happily chatting and sipping our wines and it’s not long before our entrees arrive.
The braised pig cheek is fall-apart tender and served with super crunchy crackling which almost have the texture of croutons, choucroute and a deep fried quail egg which has been spilt into two, revealing the luscious runny yolk in the centre. The pig cheek is quite rich but the sourness of the choucroute manages to cut through the fattiness. I’m quite impressed that even after my photo-taking, and eating my half after Sir D, the crackling still retains its magnificent crunch.
The kingfish pastrami has been intrigued and it looks and tastes like smoked fish with only a very subtle smokey flavour. It goes well with the cubes of apple jelly on top however I can’t detect much wasabi flavour. Alongside the slices of kingfish are a fine dice of apples and chives with a tart apple dressing which is a great accompaniment with the fish.
It’s at this point where Sir D gets super excited about his main. The wagyu sirloin is presented on a checkered chopping board, cooked to medium rare as requested and sliced. It’s a tasty cut of steak which is juicy and tender. I’m not usually a mustard fan but for some reason the tarragon mustard is addictive as it just goes perfectly with the steak and I can’t help adding a little bit to each mouthful.
As awesome as the steak is, it’s the chips and bone marrow that has Sir D swooning. The chips aren’t particularly fluffy on the inside but the outside is amazing with a fantastic crunch. Not only do we get the bone marrow from inside the bone segment but there is also a piece of bone marrow which has been crumbed and fried – and it’s probably the most rich, heart-clogging thing I have ever eaten. And it’s awesome! In fact, Sir D is so taken with this bone marrow that when another table orders the steak dish he can’t help but eye their roasted marrow and wish for more.
While Sir D is enjoying his steak, I’m loving the fish of the day which is cobia cooked two ways – pan fried and made into a white sausage. The fish is cooked perfectly so that it is still a little rare in the centre and the skin is amazingly crisp. I’m not a big fan of the texture of the white sausage which I find a little tough, but I love the little potato gnocchi and the bed of leeks, bacon and onions which are creamy and buttery (and bacony!).
We move onto dessert and we have a hard time choosing between 3 of the desserts. As much as we would have liked to, we don’t go ahead and have all three of them this time like we did at Quarter Twenty One since we’re already getting quite full. The waiter recommends the peanut butter trifle which is served in a glass with toffee shards, cubes of clear, ginger beer jelly and popcorn! I love all the different textures in the dessert however unfortunately the popcorn is a little stale and it seems like there are a few too many things going on in the dish, even though the flavours work well together.
Our other dessert was the maple pannacotta which is awesomely wobbly and has bits of honeycomb sprinkled on top. The pannacotta is smooth and creamy and goes well with the cooked apples and the crunchy bits of crumble. I don’t normally like raisins invading my desserts but I’m so enamoured with the flavours and textures on the plate that I don’t even mind the raisins :) My only problem with this dessert? More crumble of course!
Even though we were invited to dine at the East Village as guests, the food really was amazing and I’m so glad that we got the chance to check out this hidden gem! I definitely wouldn’t hesitate to come back here and pay for my own meal. The food was thoughtful and delicious and I’m sure that Sir D will be wanting to revisit this restaurant soon, just for that bone marrow!
Penguin says Feed Me dined as guests of the East Village
The East Village
234 Palmer St
Darlinghurst NSW 2010
Ph: +61 2 9331 5457
Open Tuesday to Saturday from 6pm