Foodgasm: the sensation of dining at Darlinghurst’s Food Society. I’m sure there’s a dictionary out there that says that. Here is a slightly belated post about a foodie wonderland of deliciousness that my dining friend and I experienced a couple of weeks ago.
A brief cop-out: the photos are truly awful. I’ve yet to work out how to straddle the mix between taking quality photos of food in low light, and being that asshole diner that feels the need to disrupt everyone else by using that blinding flash every time a new dish comes out.
Anyway, the Food Society menu is Eastern European. But not in that heavy, stodgy, I need to be a 150kg angry man with a moustache to handle this. It’s almost a modern take on what you’d think Eastern European food should be.
We started our evening, arriving about 8 minutes early. Just to throw in a line of generalisations here, I think our waiter must have been German as his predisposition to precision timing meant that we weren’t actually allowed to go to our table yet (…it was unoccupied) – but with an impressive looking wall of spirits, liqueurs and strange liquids, we were happy to oblige and sit down at the bar.
I started off with the signature Apple Pie cocktail ($15) (…as apparently every food blogger has) while my dining friend went with a healthy litre of Czech’s finest lager. The cocktail was delicious, and actually tasted like a (well spiked) apple pie, right down to the little pie crust crumblets around the rim of the glass.
Moving to our table, I’d heard mention several times of the cauliflower entrée ($11). I won’t lie and say that a plate of cauliflower sounds particularly appetising to me, but the masses don’t lie, so we went ahead and ordered. I immediately took back my initial scepticism as we were soon presented with a large plate (pretty sure there was actually a whole cauliflower on that thing!) of super crisp, gently fried, red wine vinegar-y, spiced cauliflower intertwined with various bits of parsley and watercress. Inside was tender, outside was flavourful and crisp. In some spots, the balsamic was a little strong (that sort of breathy shudder that you get when you really eat something tangy), but it was hot, perfectly seasoned and all round delicious. And despite the mass of food we had, getting nervous that we’d grossly overordered, it actually wasn’t heavy or stodgy.
The mains were set on the table not too long after. DF ordered the lamb ($26), while I went for their modern interpretation of a goulash. If I could eat that lamb every day for the rest of my life, I’d be a happy chappy. Falling off the bone and juicy as hell, a decent serving (…photo may or may not be after our first helping) of lamb rack topped an almost ratatouille (minus the watery soupy stuff) of potato, tomato and eggplant, slightly spicy, well seasoned and perfectly complimentary to the lamb. The lamb itself wasn’t too flavoured – as if the concentration was on the development of the flavours of the meat through the slow roasting process, but it sure as hell went well with the veg! DF complained that it was too spicy; I explained that this was because he is a wimp.
The goulash ($28) was far different to what I had expected – the traditional hearty soup variety. A large earthenware-esque bowl came out, generously filled with sweetly roasted veg, crisp snow peas, a kind of gluggy polenta and the most tender beef cheeks you could imagine, topped with a pouring of a very tasty gravy at the table. I mean, at the end of the day it wasn’t an outrageously impressive dish, save for those beef cheeks. All of the components were fine and it was a very hearty, comforting dish. But it didn’t have that jaw drop sort of moment where you take the first bite and the world seems to stop. There was almost a slight disconnect between the various ingredients – especially with the carrots and the snow peas. It sort of just felt that they didn’t belong with this big, hearty, beefy, carby meal….but then again, maybe that’s the modern take.
That said, all-round, I was very impressed. The service was very attentive, the food was truly delicious and pretty generous as far as inner-city Sydney restaurants go and a great night. The restaurant has a great ambience – dim lighting, a cute little candle on your table, a rustic interior, with chattering tables nearby – can you really go wrong?
Lower ground floor, 91 Riley Street
Darlinghurst NSW 2010
Recommend it? Absolutely – hearty food, good service, nice atmosphere, delicious drinks, reasonably priced – why not?!