The Resident is a new Mediterranean style of restaurant near Sydney's Hyde Park. The menu features ingredients like cardoons, lardo, mini baguettes and grilled mains. It is cosily tucked in next to The Residence, a large apartment block and located on College Street a block from the Australian Museum. It is the latest restaurant from the Lotus Dining Group.
I have this thing about restaurant entrances. Once I went to a restaurant and had no idea where the front door was and I really thought that I had to climb in through the window to get in. I have one of those moments when I front up to The Resident. There's a large ornate metal gate and it's only when I get close that someone slides it open for me. Phew! No need to climb over the hedges ;) Once I get in the staff are friendly and there's an open kitchen to the right. Chef Pablo Tordesillas is in the kitchen, he's from Brisbane's acclaimed Ortiga restaurant and has permanently relocated to Sydney.
He says, "Obviously there is a small amount of Ortiga in that we offer share style food, incorporating the traditional with the contemporary" but he is careful not to label this a fine dining restaurant. "We never want to be ‘fine dining’. We want to offer a welcoming and relaxed atmosphere at The Resident," he explains.
It's moodily lit inside (read: dark). The furnishings are comprised of lovely leather and wood seats, copper finishings and smooth, sleek lines. It's modern and luxe looking and on this Tuesday night it's fairly quiet but that's to be expected as it is early-ish days. I'm meeting with JY aka The Black Widow who I haven't seen in over a month as she has "food-less June" - kind of like Dry July but for eating out. The menu is broken up into Snacks, Small Plates, Grilled and Desserts. Our waitress is very friendly and we ask her to recommend some dishes and she then offers to bring over sommelier Annette Lacey to help choose wine.
The first dish to come out is the escabeche of mussels, that are mussels marinated in a mix of olive oil, pimento, garlic and sherry. They come with paper thing potato chips and black aioli. The mussels are plump full of flavour and pair nicely with the thin crispy potato chips.
So what are cardoons? They are also called artichoke thistles and they are a fiddly to prepare but a vegetable with many chef fans. Here they are layered with taleggio and then crumbed and deep fried. They come four to a serve and are fantastically tasty morsels. "I just want more," says JY because once you start you don't want to stop. The black baba ganoush is smokey but the flavour of the baba ganoush disappears when used in tandem with the rest of the mouthful.
The brassicas here are cabbage leaves roasted until caramelised and crispy. They are topped with paper thin lardo, that wondrous pork lard product originating in Tuscany, Italy. It's pure pork fat but because it is sliced thinly it gives the dish a beautiful gossamer veil of flavour and glistening beauty. The migas or breadcrumbs are good but could perhaps be a bit crunchier but I'm being picky because this is a delicately lovely dish.
The reason why JY and I eat out together often is because we have very similar taste. We both love tongue but not everyone does. Here it does look a bit human flesh-like (sorry, I went there but it was honestly the first thing I thought of Dear Reader). It's served with quince and anchovy as well as a sweet grilled half endive to give the dish a little bitterness. The tongue is glorious and it's a generous portion. After enjoying one piece with the quince I say to JY, "OMG tongue sandwich!!". Tongue sandwich sounds like something you might find to be a sexual act on Urban Dictionary. We order a side of bread to have with it.
The bread is priced per person but it's unlimited house made organic sourdough with a tight crumb that comes with garlic and porcini butter. It also makes for a great open faced sandwich. JY guffaws immediately when she sees the presentation of the butter.
The dinner goes for a while (we're almost two hours in and I need to go out to add on to my parking) and there's a bit of a gap between this and the previous course. Still when it arrives it's a beauty. The Western Australian octopus comes beautifully presented as one curled tentacle with ajo blanco, sumac and sliced grapes. The octopus is the star and it is perfectly cooked and so tender and it's a perfect match with the ajo blanco, a cold white soup made with blended bread, garlic and almonds. Here's it's thick and dippable.
I think we may have over ordered because by the time the Spanish mackerel arrived we couldn't eat much more. There are three slices of mackerel served with piperrada (a Basque dish with tomato, capsicum and onion) and a watercress emulsion. There's a slight bitterness to this dish but the mackerel is well cooked so that it remains firm and cooked through but still tender inside.
We share the one dessert which we ordered when the mackerel arrived. It's a pumpkin mille feuille made with spaghetti squash that is almost too pretty to break into. But the aroma or the spices and the browned butter beckons and we dig into it with vigour. It's divine, the smooth spiced pumpkin is just the right amount of sweetness and the caramelised pepitas and the crispy pastry shatter and then melt in the mouth.
In the end the bill is $75 a person and that's with sharing one dessert and no drinks so it's probably not quite a week day place, more a weekend or Friday night meal. "I'll come back for that dessert though!" JY says emphatically.
So tell me Dear Reader, have you ever done Dry July or a eating out free month? Which dish did you like the sound of the best? And do you tend to reserve higher priced restaurants for weekends or does it not matter to you?
This meal was independently paid for.
18 College Street, Darlinghurst, NSW
Phone: +61 (02) 8318 8618
7.30am – 3.30pm daily
Thursday – Sunday Lunch 12pm – 3pm
Monday – Saturday Dinner 5.30pm – 10pm
Sunday 5.30pm – 9pm
Monday – Saturday 4.30pm – 11pm
Sunday 4.30pm – 10pm