The Book Kitchen
To set the scene, it was a work leaving do. There were 14 of us and it was on Friday night, one of those crazily hot days in Sydney at the moment. There is no air conditioning, only a fan pointed at us. Yes, we left it to the last minute to book a table for a dinner in Surry Hills and I wanted to book somewhere that I hadn’t been yet. I didn’t want it to be too pricey and it needed to be “Modern Australian” (whatever that means?) to make everyone happy. They rang me a few times to ensure that we weren’t going to bring any bottles of alcohol (as there’s apparently no byo for groups over eight) and there was going to be a 10% surcharge for our group booking. With not many options available, and with The Book Kitchen‘s good reviews that I had read, we didn’t mind these conditions. I figured that they must be really busy.
We got there on time for our 7.30pm booking to find the rest of the place deserted. In the whole time we were there (till quite late) there was only 1 other table of 2, who ate a quick meal. Without our group booking the place would have been empty all night, bar 2 people. I would have thought that rather than place so many conditions on our booking they would have been happy to have us. It ended up being $100 a head. Not quite a cheap meal. Yes, there was wine involved. Which just kept on coming, although I’m not really sure if we asked it to. I didn’t fill up my glass once and have no idea how many times it was refilled. Yes, the food was good. Yes, entrees, mains and dessert were included. But $100 a head just seemed like too much. The 10% surcharge is what pushed it over the edge into very pricey territory. We had a good time there, don’t get me wrong (despite it being sticky and boiling hot in there). Maybe it’s because I was quite excited by the images that I had seen before of diners being surrounded by cooking/ foodie books (which of course I had a look through), which weren’t near our table.
The waiter suggested Selection of bread with olives and spiced walnuts ($6) and we agreed. I think 2 of these were placed on our table. Some on the table loved the spiced walnuts, however, I thought they were just a bit strange. Being a non- bread lover at the start of meals (waste of food points quite frankly) I thought that the bread was fine. Next up we had quite a few people order the Slow roasted pork belly, apple, cranberry & sage relish, crumbed feta & walnuts ($17), ravioli and a few other bits and pieces. My ravioli was bit too buttery, with some of the sauce actually tasting like pure butter, however, it was quite tasty.
For the main I shared half of the duck and the Seared farmed Barramundi with vongole, Chinese broccoli & a seafood velouté ($30). I found the duck to be a little dry and the barramundi was a little bland for my liking. Yes, you could tell that all of the ingredients were fresh, thought had gone into the meal, but maybe it was the size of the group? Does the quality of your food decrease withe the size of your group? Although we all know that it shouldn’t, I wasn’t so convinced. The white asparagus was a nice touch to the barramundi dish and all meals were nicely plated. I’ve heard people rave abut this place, but maybe it’s more of a lazy brunch venue.
For dessert I had the Affogato: vanilla ice cream, coffee and Frangelico or Amaretto ($12), which was a nice way to finish off my meal (and to cool down). It was time for a farewell song to be song and photos and lots of hugs goodbye. We’ll all miss you at work Mrs soon to be a mum!
The boy and I decided to stop for a quick drink at Mille Vini’s on the way home. I’ve never been here before and it was a great place for a quick glass of cold wine facing Crown Street at the bar area to do some late night people watching. I like the bottles of wine reaching up to the ceiling, the strange cut out in the wall to expose the raw bricks beneath. It’s a cozy place and I’ll need to head back here to try out the menu.