Crows Nest has long been the dining Mecca of Sydney’s North Shore with a breadth and depth of cuisine that has been around since other North Shore suburbs were in short pants. It was no surprise then that Executive Chef Jacqui Gowan who honed her skills at Bather’s Pavilion, Garfish & Subsolo selected the area for her latest venture, The Burlington Bar & Dining. Joining the team recently is new head chef Vio Pramono who trained under Matt Moran. They share an ethos of producing simple, rustic dishes with a strong focus on seasonal produce.
As you enter the restaurant, a small sleek, intimate, moodily lit dining space gives way to a warm bistro dining room lined with chocolate brown suede banquettes and white painted walls. The back wall is tastefully covered with large silver waratah flowers in relief on bronze wallpaper, while the room is illuminated by two oversized bulbs. An old fashioned floor lamp and an ornate banister on the staircase lend the room with a chic terrace house ambiance. It feels homely and welcoming.
Gazing over the menu, it becomes apparent that this is not your standard bistro fare, with sophisticated twists on some of the classics and more than a nod to Jacqui’s time producing Spanish fare at Subsolo. The winelist is 40+ strong with an eclectic but accessible mix of Australian and European wines and many available by the glass including the magnificent 2010 Eldridge Estate Pinot – Gamay, a steal at $49 a bottle.
We start with heirloom tomato salad with spiced labna, tomato granita and crostini ($15). Sweet, baby heirloom tomatoes were paired with balls of labna (a yoghurt cheese) which had been rolled in za’atar, a blend of sumac, thyme, oregano and sesame. The salad was bright and fresh, with a house made salty, crisp grissini adding a nice textural element to the dish. The labna was made with a sweeter yoghurt than I prefer, however the dish was still well balanced with the addition of olive oil, lemon and baby purple basil.
Next up was a Blue Eye boudin ($18). Blue Eye cod fillet is blended with cream and egg white to produce a light, sausage like meat which is then wrapped in pancetta. The flavour was similar to that of a pork sausage and the microherbs that garnished the dish provided a welcome counterpoint to the saltiness of the dish. The prawn foam felt a bit superfluous and melted shortly after the plate landed on the table.
While the entrees were good, the menu really kicks it up a gear when it comes to main course. An oh so perfectly cooked fillet of Hiramasa kingfish ($30) with crisp skin was plated with a gorgeous, light and slightly buttery pea foam. Sauteed asparagus, peas, cos lettuce and broad beans rounded out this perfectly executed dish.
For our savoury finale, we were presented with braised Milly Hill lamb ($29) shoulder, pulled off the bone and fashioned into a cumin spiced disc before being lightly pan fried. This was topped with sliced pink lamb rump and served with crumbed fried cauliflower and a parmesan crisp.
The worst thing about the dessert menu at The Burlington is having to select only one or two dishes from it as they all look spectacular. We opted for The Burlington Splice ($15). Coconut pannacotta is layered with mango jelly and pineapple sorbet for a silky, summery and palate cleansing end to the evening. Next time I’m here I’m definitely going to try the Flourless orange & almond cake with marmalade ice cream and orange syrup, it looks amazing.
I felt like I had been welcomed into someone’s home when I dined at the Burlington. The staff were gregarious and friendly and the wine matches recommended by our waiter for each of the dishes were all perfect. The atmosphere was that of a convivial dinner party and my night was all the better for it. Excellent food, a great wine list and atmosphere make this restaurant a standout in the crowded Crows Nest dining scene.
Jeremy Bowell dined as a guest of Burlington Bar & Dining and Wasamedia
The Burlington Bar & Dining
6 Burlington St,
Crows Nest NSW 2065
02 9439 7888