Table for 20: A remarkable concept and source of inspiration

by: Rob []

  It all started with my girlfriend who overheard the complaint of one friend to another – A restaurant in Surry Hills, near impossible to get into. We were curious.
It is described as neighbourhood dining. A dinner shared amongst friends and strangers lucky enough to get a reservation (which is only available by SMS). The concept is unlike anything else we had encountered in Sydney and instantly conjured imagery of some kind of underground, urban “food club”. The blog reads: “So here’s the deal – We do a 3 course set menu every night, you can BYO or drink mine. The cost is $60 Wed, Thurs, Fri & Sat.”

You won’t find this restaurant in your Good Food Guide. In fact you will find very few references to it anywhere outside of its own blog.

Our experience.
After months of trying, we were fortunate enough to be given the seats of a last minute cancellation on Friday night. We arrived at about 7pm to allow us some time to have a drink at their bar Sticky and to suss out the wine options. The low-key entrance was via a quiet back alley in Surry Hills – in what felt like the loading entrance to a cool room. A piece of paper was stuck on the door “SMS the following password and wait patiently for entry. Password = Turtle”….

After walking up 3 flights of stairs we were pleasantly surprised by the bar. It was fairly busy and filled with the typical Surry Hills crowd. The wine list was exceptional having been split into Good, Better, Best wines to make selection easier. The barmen were knowledgeable and allowed us to taste a variety of wines before making our selection.

At 8pm we were seated at one of the 2 long tables that sat around 20 people each. With the gentle push from the restaurant staff neighbouring parties introduced themselves to get the conversations flowing. An introduction was then made by the host of Table for 20 “I wouldn’t expect a menu if I came to your house for dinner, so you will find no menu at mine.”

First course was handmade pappardelle pasta with shaved truffle and truffle oil. The aroma of the truffle oil created desire amongst those seated. The flavour was simple yet delicate and the slightly chewy texture of the homemade pappardelle was exquisitely perfect.

The main course was veal backstrap served with baked parsnips and potatoes. This dish again was quite simple and was reminiscent of something my grandmother would make. My only complaint would be that the veal while still pink was overcooked and dry to the taste.

The dessert that came out was simply superb. Caramel and pine nut torte served with homemade honey ice cream. The torte was similar in flavour to a traditional pecan pie (although with pine nuts) and the ice cream brought the perfect balance to the sweetness of the caramel.

All-in-all we had a fun. The food was decent (and for $60 great value), the concept was extremely fresh and fun and the overall social experience is something that I’d recommend.

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