Geez we’re an excitable lot in this town (well, I am) and when it comes to a new restaurant opening in my neighbourhood it doesn’t take much to get me excited. While I sit here swirling the last dregs of my coffee, tapping text into an unreliably-pathetic iPhone, I’m delivered a golden mound of polenta chips (9) fresh from the fryer. A mid-afternoon snack for a steamy Saturday. The smell of the accompanied gorgonzola sauce makes me dive right in, ignoring the oily smears I’m leaving on my phone’s screen. The crispness surrenders to a soft creamy centre much the same consistency as the sharp cheese dipping sauce. Orgasmic.
It’s only 4pm and the courtyard is already full with young inner-west urbanites sipping bubbles, bloody mary’s and beer while inside it’s just me and two other tables sweating out this balmy afternoon. There’s no air-con in this establishment so we’re relying on the occasional breeze wafting through the louvred windows to keep us as cooled as the hosts that run this place.
It’s strange to think that just six months ago I was eyeing off over-priced plants in this very location. King Street Conservatory one day, Bloodwood the next. Local designer Matt Woods has done a really good job here retaining the guts of the narrow multi-level space and I can see some of the original elements the previous plant shop used as well: the sanded raw concrete flooring inlaid with clover motifs, exposed brick walls, timber-slatted rear deck and seating. Take it even further with innovative lighting (not sure about the illuminated phalluses at the front), wall-art, recycled doors hanging from the ceiling and walls, unisex toilets fitted with brass taps you’d normally see in your back garden and a compact central kitchen laying it all out for us all to see.
I don’t think it’s even been a month since opening and I’m counting three visits already. First visit we sit out in the courtyard and order a light and steady meander of nibbles to enjoy with our beers. Some beautifully fresh thick slices of sourdough (2) and virgin olive oil and a plate of vadai (9) to start. The vadai – mixed dhal fritters with green chilli tamarind chutney are absolutely divine. Likened to felafel, the hot and crispy fritters are packed with flavour and ideal with the zingy chutney. Perfect with a chilled beer on a warm sunny evening in Sydney.
To follow, the charcuterie plate (28) arrives scattered with delicious chicken liver parfait, cured meats and a few pickles and bread twigs. Everything is beautiful though the two paper-thin pieces of toasted bread didn’t seem enough to accommodate the quantity of condiments.
The salt cod brandade (15) is just gorgeous. The lightly pan-fried cod sits atop a tasty mound of chopped ox heart tomato salad flavoured with Pedro Ximenez vinegar. An absolutely perfect flavour and texture combination.
The menu at Bloodwood is innovative and current, changing monthly. I’m not seeing any foams and saucy skid-marks on the plates yet (thank christ) and I’ve got to say I’m glad this trio of talented young chefs from Claude’s fame have decided to open up shop this side of the tracks at the arse-end of gritty King Street.
Cheers guys. Newtown’s finally growing up.