Two things happened a couple of weeks ago on the same day: Firstly, the NSW government revealed the state budget. Secondly, the winners of the Sydney Good Food Guide Awards, held the prior evening, was announced.
From my desk at work, the TV tuned to Sky News was fixed on updates of the former. My interest lay on the latter, particularly Porteño, where we had dinner plans the following evening. Porteño had been awarded Best New Restaurant and the honour of two hats. Unlike journalists locked in a room for a couple of hours to review the budget, my concern was getting in the Porteños dining room without waiting a couple of hours. The award and the publicity it brought would surely add to the delay; I had no booking nor did they take them.
I’m first to get there and am able to put my name down for a table. V is just around around the corner and K & B are running late. Though there is a wait, it affords us some time to work up an appetite at Gardel’s Bar, the upstairs bar. It’s luxuriously fitted; I would come here just to drink. (Speaking of which, we got stuck into some excellent tempranillo.)
We have a range of entrees, starting with the BBQ Calamari with Chickpea Sofrito, Preserved Lemon & Watercress. The calamari and the chickpea were each cooked well; together the textures were jarring: It’s a foreign yet still interesting combination.
We also had the Grilled Tuna with Asparagus and Charred Jalapeño & Garlic Dressing. This was definitely a highlight. Tender tuna served with a strong garlic sauce.
We also had the Chorizo Porteño. While tasty, this was the weakest of the entrees.
On the other hand, another dish in sausage-form is a winner; the Blood Sausage is fantastic. It’s my second favourite entree.
For the mains, we started with 8-hour Woodfired Free Range Suckling Pig. No doubt that it was tender and juicy, however, as far as soft meat was concerned, this was not unlike the pork one could get in less lauded restaurants.
To mix it up, we had a side of the Crispy Fried Brussel Sprouts. A friend who’d known we were heading here said to order this because it would change my world. Forever.
Her enthusiasm (if not her hyperbole :)) is well placed. It’s yummy.
As if we weren’t full enough already, we rounded it off with the 8-hour Woodfired Free Range Lamb. Like the pork, it was well-executed slow-cooked goodness but there was nothing terribly unique about it.
The word? You better come here thirsty because unless you book (minimum 5 ppl), you’ll need to have a couple at the well-appointed Gardel’s Bar before getting a table. The food is indeed delicious and certainly worth the acclaim. While not all dishes are memorable, they are at least hearty and well executed.
Monday – Saturday from 6pm
Monday – Wednesday 6pm-12am
Thursday – Saturday 6pm – 2am
Reservations Office hours
Monday – Saturday 12pm – 5pm
+61 2 8399 1440
358 Cleveland Street Surry Hills NSW 2010
Phone: +61 2 8399 1440