Soffritto, Newtown

It’s been 4 years since I spotted some cute looking guy kayaking towards me, trying to teach me that paddling in a straight line isn’t THAT hard. I still haven’t got it yet. But after countless adventures, numerous camping trips, bazillions of uni exams, temper tantrums on the ski slopes (well, from my part), transitions to becoming fledgling adults and four years that I wish I could joke about and say they were the longest of my life….but which have absolutely flown by like a non-crashing Concorde…here we are. And what better way to celebrate than to head to a beautiful little restaurant, down towards the quiet end of King Street in Newtown, Soffritto.

We opted to go for the three-courser, $55, with around half a dozen options for each course. Shortly after ordering, we were presented with a plate of house made sourdough and olive oil. The bread was much in the style of damper, but had a great crust, and the olive oil was fruity and zesty.

For entrees, DF went for the mushroom and truffle gnocchi. It was quite light and did have a noticeable truffle flavour. The finishing of parmesan went down a treat. Quite a generous serving, as well. I actually really like it when gnocchi is finished off in the pan to give a lightly crisp finish, though even without this, it was a solid dish.

Gnocchi me out

Gnocchi me out

I opted for an oft-reviewed duck tortellini, served with a beautifully nutty burnt butter and crisp sage sauce. There was literally nothing I could fault about this dish (well, maybe only the rush with which the waiter brought the dish, messing it up a little, but that’s just getting nit-picky). It was fantastic. Five plump tortellini, almost bursting with duck, and cooked until perfectly al dente, and finished off with a few crispy sage leaves and a good shaving of parmesan, along with that nutty burnt butter. Could have eaten about four of these.

Lucky ducky

Lucky ducky

Mains up next and DF opted for the crisp skin barramundi, served with baby leeks and almond quinoa. It was a crying shame that DF doesn’t like fish skin, because it looked super crisp and delicious (and socially awkward for me to reach across at a nice restaurant and eat it). He liked the almonds that accompanied the quinoa (though it did look like they could have been slivered or something). The fish was cooked perfectly.

Barra

Barra

I chose the roast fillet of beef wrapped in pancetta with garlic spinach (I think there were supposed to be mushrooms involved, although there was no sign of this) and mash. The beef was cooked perfectly – I like it quite rare, and that it was. Very tender. The spinach was deliciously garlicky. We also ordered some (pretty unnecessary) roast potatoes, which were stellar.

High steaks

High steaks

With tummies rapidly filling, we were surprisingly still looking forward to the desserts, expecting big things. DF went for a creme brulee with pear compote. Solid crackly top; thick and smooth custard and a sweetly tart pear. He complained about the absence of ice cream, as the resident ice cream freak, but apart from that it was gobbled up in a matter of minutes.

Creme of the brulee variety

Creme of the brulee variety

And last but not least, I went for death by chocolate – a warm chocolate fondant with ice cream and berries. There’s really no way you can stuff up a fondant. You essentially just undercook a chocolate cake. I don’t know who came up with it, but they’re a bloody genius. In fact, in hindsight I think this may have been described as a chocolate pudding, in which case, yes it was legitimately undercooked. Either way, I’m going with the theory that it was on purpose. Big blob of ice cream on top – the hot, the cold – and you’re laughing.

Fon-don't make me stop eating this

Fon-don’t make me stop eating this

Overall, a great experience was had by all. The restaurant was absolutely bustling (people were being turned away!), the food was of a high standard and the service was pretty consistent and charming (especially considering the diner to waiter ratio – far in favour of the diners). A nice place to go for a special occasion and I will be back.

Soffritto Newtown
367 King St, Newtown

Food? 9/10. My go-to dish is absolutely the duck tortellini. No complaints about any of the others. Generous servings, good ingredients. More care could have been taken with the dishes during the journey from kitchen to table, but the food itself was overall really very good.
Drinks? Not too bad. A few wines by the glass and a few bottled beers (though I believe you can also bring your own wine).
Atmosphere? I liked it. It’s a fairly small restaurant – perhaps 10 tables – and it was bustling. The decor is quite nice, the waiters dealt with the busy-ness well and it was overall a good night. Entrees came out strikingly fast as well.

 Soffritto on Urbanspoon

The Duck Inn, Chippendale

On a cold drizzly night, a catchup with old friends on the cards, the promise of a warm, lively night at the Duck Inn pub in Chippendale seemed just the ticket.

The pub was packed as we arrived, and our only seating option was in the beer garden outside. A great spot in concept, but not so great as it started drizzling, then bucketing down, after we had taken a big gulp of our first ciders. Using great agility, we hopped, skipped and jumped over to an umbrella-protected table and there proceeded to continue our leisurely chatter until the rain really started bucketing. Luckily a few people had left in the main part of the bar, so we quickly nabbed a table and were thankful for an actual roof.

We started off with a cider and all commented on the slight rancidity involved with sipping a glass of Magners. We all agreed that the taste improves significantly, with rancidity decreasing in inverse proportion to the number of schooners consumed. $7 each.

Dinner is basically pub grub, with the essence of a effort to make things just a little bit fancier than the normal hum drum grub. In our group, one ordered the Classic Oz Beef Burger ($18), one Pork & Fennel Sausages ($17) and two steak sandwiches ($19).

The burger was described as “not the best burger I’ve ever tasted” and it was noted that the bottom half of the bun was cut from a loaf, and was not an individual roll. We reflected on the potentially critical error of this, depending on the sauciness/ juiciness of the burger and the necessity of the crust from a roll to prevent disintegration. We were advised by our resident New Zealander to go to Queenstown’s Fergberger…or the significantly closer Burger Fuel…for a more tasty morsel.

Burgerman

Burgerman

The pork and fennel sausages were described as “amazing”, although the accompanying potato mash was “floury” and “the worst I’ve ever had”.

Sausage king

Sausage king

The steak sandwich, I felt, was slightly on the small size, although the steak was fairly thick. I had a super grissly bit in one corner of mine, which made eating with hands – as any good steak sandwich should be – awkward and with the distinct possibility of ending up with a sizeable bit of steak hanging from my mouth, out in the open. The spiced tomato chutney was described as “pretty tasty”, although I was less optimistic about it. Fairly average and I was not a fan of raw red onion slices – cooked and caramelised is the way to go here.

Steak and bake

Steak and bake

The chips were a good-sized serve, crisp and generously salted. I’m personally less a fan of the french fry style and more a fan of the steak-cut chips style, but that is no criticism of the Duck Inn.

I had pretty significant food envy of the table next door, which had ordered a couple of the Vale Ale battered fish and chips ($18) and the Twice Cooked Pork Belly (about $24, I think)

Another cider (Batlow, $8.50) later, we headed off into the cold, walking past those young things out for a night on King St, and retreated into the warm, warm safety of our apartments.

The Duck Inn
74 Rose St
Chippendale NSW 2008

Food? 6/10. I wanted to like the food so, so much. And I admit my said food envy…but for us, it was average at best! Safe pub grub though, with a few nice hearty touches
Drinks? 8/10 Decent. A few ciders on tap (the boring Magners, the Batlow and then one poured out of an ale pump) and few craft beers
Atmosphere? 9/10 – a cool neighbourhood pub. Lively, packed, a cool beer garden out the back, a dining hall to one side, friendly bar tenders, rushed but nice service. I’d definitely go back for a Sunday afternoon session.
The Duck Inn Pub & Kitchen on Urbanspoon