Mike McEnearney, like a few other chefs, has migrated to the CBD. There’s been a flurry of openings this year down this end of town – Mercado, Huberts and Indu spring to mind – with 1821 and Balcon soon to follow. He’s taken over the short lived Acqua Pazza site, though it now looks much bigger with its polished concrete floors and a variety of tables, including some communal.
The first visit, some three weeks into opening, left me a little gobsmacked when our server said that it was $2 per person for tap water because of “our awesome filtration system”. They couldn’t be serious, but yes they were, our group paid $12 for Special Sydney Tap. By my second visit a few weeks later, I was waiting for a repeat of that line, but by then they had cottoned on to the fact that this wasn’t a such a good idea and the awesome filtration water was given free. The service too was smoother by then, but my dining friend thought it lacked a little warmth and sincerity.
And of course the food, the main event? Well that I think was better on my second visit too, though a mixed bag. But while the food is designed to share, the portions are on the small side.
I will say that overall I think the vegetables overall outshine the protein. For instance the beetroot, rhubarb and edamame salad was a lovely fresh start.
So too was a simple watermelon, tomato, mint and haloumi salad
The chicken liver pate was tasty, but the bread was a little miserly. We had to ask for more, which was readily provided, but its such an easy thing to be generous with upfront.
I was a fan of these sweet and sour sardines, ship those in.
But another seafood based entrée – orange cured mackerel with fennel, endive and pistachio – I found a bit odd.
The slivers of grilled squid I could find in this dish with beans and chorizo were tender, but the dish needed a bit of salt.
The beef cheek and bone marrow pot pie had absolutely gorgeous pastry. A rich and satisfying dish, but $37 is also a rich price for a relatively small pie meant to be shared
The cabbage was delicious, but the pork stuffing a little bland.
The whole flathead is a little confronting when it comes out. It is served on the terracotta tile on which it is cooked, so was a little dry.
Spit roast chicken – delicious and juicy. Again for a main with a $39 price tag, its pretty small for a dish designed to share.
Tender lamb, complemented nicely with sweet pear
Brussel sprouts with black cabbage and chestnuts – yum.
No 1 Bent St By Mike, 1 Bent St, Sydney Ph 02 9252 5550