Small bar and restaurant The Owl House, which was recently named best bar with food by The Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Food Guide. Set in a converted Crown Street terrace near William Street, it mixes a killer cocktail and wine list with a highly enticing food menu spanning influences from Japan to Spain and beyond. (Tip – small wine bar Love Tilly Devine is just around the corner, the perfect place for pre-drink drinks!).
Dark, cozy, intimate and friendly – most of the clientele when we visited were on low-key dates or double dates. The staff were super friendly, even conjuring up a coveted upstairs table for us when it was supposedly full. With its old fireplace and narrow confines, the upstairs room evoked memories of inner city house parties circa the late 90s – homely yet eclectic!
We ordered a selection of non-cohesive but nonetheless amazing dishes, starting with the chorizo and manchego croquettes (comfort food at its best) and the fresh oysters with a ‘cloud’ of tequila, lemon, lime and soda – fresh and effervescent! For entree we had the sashimi of bonito with wasabi and cucumber emulsion, daikon, soy dashi jelly and miso cured shizo, and the quail dumpling with crispy pig’s tail, black pudding, scallop congee, shitake mushrooms, coriander and chilli. The quail dumpling dish trumped the sashimi with its interesting combination of ingredients and full flavours. The pig’s tail was crispy and delectable, and the blood pudding a revelation for this first-timer (tastes like chorizo!).
Next, we had the confit lamb shoulder with white eggplant puree, garlic, olives and sweetbreads – the tender lamb was melt in your mouth and as for the sweetbreads, these offputting sounding little morsels were fried balls of crunchy goodness, and it was easy to overlook that they are actually offal! We also had the Blackmore wagyu skirt with crumbed osso bucco, bone marrow, cavollo nero, polenta, spring onions and preserved lemon – beef perfection. There was a limited dessert selection (a cheese board and two sweet offerings) so we opted for gelato and macchiatos around the corner at Bill and Toni’s instead – old school!
Fun, casual bolthole with an unpretentious atmosphere and amazing food and wine – there’s good reason for their SMH award!
The Owl House, 97 Crown Street, Darlinghurst, tel: 02 9357 5060, www.theowlhouse.com.au