Another brainchild of Warren Turnbull of Assiette fame, District Dining has brought fine dining quality at a price for the masses. Gone are the crisp ironed white table clothes, the fine china and the silverware changed at each course – instead District Dining has a warm wooden interior with marble top tables and large blackboards advertising the daily specials which all add to the contemporary tone.
When we enter dining room on a busy Saturday night, the place is buzzing. Conversations are flying everywhere and we strain our heads over the crowd to find our dining companions. One thing I’m struck by however is how dark the lighting was in the room. Perhaps it was the seat we were given unluckily didn’t receive any direct lighting, however I found it a bit disappointing that the lack of lighting meant that quaint little details like the quail eggs being served in their own minuscule egg carton were lost until closer inspection. Moving on…
The menu here reflects a large range of influences from around the world. With the dishes being served tapas-style and we are encouraged by the waiter to order with the intent to share with our companions. There’s no distinction in serving sizes on the menu instead, but we’re told that the dishes increased in size from appetiser to entrée to main sized as we move down the page. It was a tough decision as each potential choice was as tempting as the next – but with time ticking and our table time limited to a 2 hours, we made our choices.
I loved the novelty of serving the olives in the sardine tin!
Green Onion Shortbread
Soft bread slathered with a generous slather of green onion salsa verde – it was right on the precipice of being too strong in the green onion department for me on my first bite, but with a sprinkling of salt on top, it was perfect.
Crispy Pigs Ears with Szechuan Salt
This was the ultimate bar food for the distinguished palate. The very subtle szechuan salt flavouring combined with the crunch of the cartilage was a winning combination.
Seared scallops with Jerusalem Artichoke, Crispy Pancetta & Prune
Barely seared scallops with a silky Jerusalem artichoke puree perfectly combined with the contrast in flavour with the sweet prune and crunch of the pancetta.
Bonito with Wasabi Pannacotta, Quinoa and Ponzu
A very non-typical fish to be found in a bistro – this had a distinct Japanese influence with the seared bonito, wasabi pannacotta and ponzu but with the strangely successful contrast with the South American originated quinoa grains.
Crispy Quail Eggs with Tarragon Mayonnaise
Such a cute idea of serving the quail eggs in their own little egg carton! The quail eggs were lightly crumbed and deep fried meaning a oozy yolk that spilled out once you bit into the egg. I thought that the tarragon mayonnaise on the other hand was a bit overpowering of the delicate taste of the quail eggs though. I probably would have been perfectly happy with the eggs on their own.
Field Mushroom Pizza with Caramelised Onion, Truffled Pecorino & Rocket
Sometimes the simplest of foods are the best – large chunks of earthy field mushroom on a crisp pizza base with a slathering of sweet caramelised onions, gorgeous pecorino shavings and fresh rocket leaves. Delish!
Braised Beef Cheek with Cauliflower, Pedro Ximénez & Prunes
This was the uncontested dish of the day as far as our table was concerned. The beef cheeks were braised until they were melt-in-your-mouth and the sweet Pedro Ximénez reduction was simply gorgeous.
Steak Tartare with Aioli, French Fries & Sourdough
Kind of looks like a bit like a brain on the board no? Mixed with a decent amount of capers, it was best eaten spread onto a piece of the fresh sourdough with a dollop of the garlicy aoli and a dash of tabasco sauce.
17 Randle Street, Surry Hills, Sydney, Australia
P: 612 9211 7798