On a mission to find new Italian wine bar 121BC we stumbled around Surry Hills’ Holt Street for what seemed like eternity. After a few misses and a quick enquiry at nearby Vini (121BC’s big sister bar and restaurant) we were on our way down the adjacent alleyway, meeting another lost couple enroute. Reason for all the confusion – it’s listed in some places as 4/50 Holt Street without the all important ‘enter via Gladstone Street’ (don’t enter 50 Holt Street itself or you’ll just be in the lobby of an office building!).
Finally inside 121BC, we were seated at the one long communal table. A blackboard list of Italian whites on the left and reds on the right was before us and the staff made some excellent recommendations. We loved the atmosphere, the unique and amazing wines, the customer service and the idea you can purchase a full bottle of your favourite at the adjacent wine shop. Small bar perfection!
1 bottle of Spanish white (Albarino)
Scallops with artichoke, pancetta and prune
Kingfish with wasabi pannacotta, quinoa and ponzu
Roasted spatchcock, sweetcorn, succotash and bacon
Braised beef cheek, cauliflower, pedro ximenez and prunes
Dark chocolate brownie, macadamia brittle, white chocolate icecream
Mandarin brulee, cardamom and poached mandarin
2 macchiatos (using organic Allpress coffee)
The seafood entrees were both delicious, with the scallops beautifully cooked and the wasabi pannacotta the perfect accompaniment to the super fresh kingfish. The spatchcock had an amazing cajun-like seasoning which made the dish, and the beef cheeks were unbelievably tender (and our overall favourite dish of the night). The desserts weren’t of the to-die-for variety with the brownie a little low on the chocolate factor, but the brulee’s dynamic cardamom and mandarin flavour combo managed to compensate.
Verdict? District Dining was casually and comfortably cool, with friendly service and a moreish menu. I now feel compelled to return and try the quail eggs with tarragon mayo and, well, pretty much everything else we didn’t order!