I have been wanting to book a table at Chiswick since I heard it had opened on the old Pruniers site in Woollahra on Ocean Street. So this week was my second wedding anniversary with Mr ELG and Chiswick was the location of course to go to celebrate.
I lived in Centennial Park for a number of years and often drove past the low, flat, white building where Pruniers used to be located. Set a bit back from the street and surrounded by tall, elegant palm trees; it always stood out for me in amongst all of the nearby grand mansions on Ocean Street. Many months ago, I heard that Matt Moran and Peter Sullivan were building a new restaurant on the site and with their experience and combined savoir faire in the food industry, I was more than intrigued to discover what the result would be.
And on Tuesday night, I was not disappointed.
I’ve said it before and I will say it again; Sydney is fickle and rarely loyal to its restaurants. So many new ones pop up every month and barely last the distance with only a handful defying the odds. I think Chiswick will rise above and emerge as the latter. Chiswick has forged its beginnings as a “neighbourhood” restaurant with a well-stocked garden onsite providing its kitchens with crisp seasonal produce. A gorgeous fountain greets you as you walk up the pathway and into the restaurant. It’s a Tuesday night, the day after Easter Monday and at 8pm, this restaurant is booming with no signs of any looming financial crisis on its second wind. The big kitchen is open for customers to see directly in and right beside it, a long “shared” table full of chatter and laughter is busy with different patrons enjoying their food and plonk.
We are shown to our table inside the main dining room and at once given some sparkling water on request and menus to start the night. Cecilia introduces herself and urges us to take our time reading through what’s on offer from the kitchens at Chiswick. Deferring away from the traditional three course meal, Chiswick offers an alternative tying in with its table sharing notion, of small plates to share. And as I pore over the menu, I see large lamb racks being placed on the table beside me as the table of eight get ready to all dig in together. After a little bit of discussion and advice from Cecilia, Mr ELG and I order the Veal Sliders x 2, the Kingfish and Steak tartare. A Crab and pea risotto and some of the Moran family beef will follow accompanied by a plate of hand cut chips. A friend of mine had been to Chiswick only days before and on her orders the Veal Sliders were a must, not that I knew at that stage what was to come! Mr ELG also ordered a divine French wine from the Rhone region and the celebrations were off to a great start!
As we sat there chatting, I looked around the room and realised that we have become such a food-forward bunch. With cooking channels taking over our television viewing, cook books topping the best-seller lists and cooking apps taking over our iPads, everyone around me including ourselves know what we want, want the best and are happy to pay for it. And then afterwards we chat about it, share it, pin it, tweet it and the excitement continues. The Veal Sliders arrive and they are mini burgers with brioche buns, tart tomatoes and gherkins and tender veal. Super tasty that I fight to savour the taste slowly over eating it so quickly to immediately enjoy! The Kingfish is a fresh pink and the lemon aioli is like a squirt of fresh lemon on your tongue. And the Steak tartare is heaven; finely diced with an egg yolk and such a memorable marriage of flavours.
Our mains come quickly and as we share these plates too; Chiswick is living up to all expectations.
The one thing that can often let down a restaurant like Chiswick is its staff as often they are too snooty and arrogant to realise that they’re not the patron but the one serving the patron. Tonight this was not the case. All restaurants need to have a Cecilia. Someone who is knowledgeable without being pretentious, someone who loves food and loves to eat it and someone that can smile and actually have a conversation.
Never to pass up dessert and on Cecilia’s recommendations and detailed break down of the plate; I ordered the Caramelia Eclair. When it came out, and I looked at the plate, I immediately thought I was looking at a photo of the woods. On the right was a log and on the left were some Autumnal leaves. On the right was actually the Eclair with a creamy chocolate filling and on the left were slices of poached plum with roasted almonds scattered over.
Matt and Peter, your neighbourhood restaurant is a winner and I hope you are paying Cecilia well because her effort was priceless.
Chiswick @ 65 Ocean Street Woollahra, NSW 2025