The last time I ate at 137 Cleveland St Darlington, it was an Irish restaurant called Mulligans. They served up hearty Irish fare on the ground floor while the second floor was full of psychics taking readings of Mulligan's diners. The new restaurant Kindred has kept the same bones, although there is a lot of bare wood and ditched the psychics (for now at least, the chef Matt Pollock and his young family live upstairs). The menu is a mix of Italian and modern Australian dishes with their forte being a selection of three or four hand made pasta dishes.
Many restaurant menus nowadays detail a list of their suppliers. The back of the Kindred menu details a list of everything that is made in-house and it's a large list of things from breads, pickles, pastas to butter.
It is not a large restaurant so you're best to book ahead of time. Service is very friendly and Mr NQN and I are catching up with our chef friend Attila this evening who is taking a rare break from his restaurant Pazar. He is running late with Sydney traffic which gives us plenty of time to look at the menu to decide.
Once Attila arrives Mr NQN and he lob the wine list to each other like a grenade, ("You choose", "No you choose") before the waitress offers to bring over the "som" (sommelier). "How long have you been a sommelier?" Attila asks her. "Since 6pm tonight!" she says and you've got to admire her honesty. Nevertheless she brings over a nice bottle of Italian red because what better to have with pasta and beef cheeks?
Octopus, fermented chilli, fennel and rocket $18
Our first entrees arrive. The octopus is coated in an orange fermented chilli sauce with a verdant and sharp rocket puree. The octopus is tender and this dish has a nice amount of bitterness to it-not too much but just enough.
Roasted carrot triangoli, burnt butter and hazelnut $15
Okay we had ordered quite a few pasta dishes. Three pasta dishes to be exact but I loved the sound of the simple roasted carrot triangoli. These parcels are filled with sweet roasted carrot puree with a classic burnt butter and hazelnut. It's about now that I'm wishing that we had ordered the bread to mop up the delectable and generously portioned burnt butter sauce (but who am I kidding, I would have eaten the bread before the entrees arrived).
House made salsiccia, pear chutney, green lentils and smoked garlic $17
While the presentation of this dish could have been better, the flavours of this house made chicken and pork sausage are fabulous, especially paired with the green lentils, pear chutney and smoked garlic. I couldn't stop eating this one.
Bucatini, guanciale, tomato and chilli $22
This was one dish that we had to order. I love bucatini and I adore guanciale (cured pork jowl) as well as tomatoes and chilli so it hit all my sweet spots at once. This is a sizable dish and doesn't disappoint. There is a generous amount of guanciale in this-sometimes places don't put enough but there is plenty of flavoursome pork goodness in it (and really guanciale is like bacon but a hundred times better amirite?). This has a slight hit of chilli but not a strong one and there is just the right amount of sauce. Have I mentioned how much I luuurve sauce? Like in the same way that some people love their pets?
Ravioli of ricotta and chard, pumkkin, pine nut and pangrattato $23
The ravioli main has a good amount of pine nuts sprinkled over it to give it crunch. Inside it's soft ricotta and pieces of chard that give the filling texture with a slight bite to them. It comes with a creamy, orange pumpkin sauce and pangrattato crumbs on top. The pumpkin makes this a sweet and creamy dish, kind of similar to the roasted carrot triangoli but since I enjoyed both I'm not complaining although if I were to order again I might go for the pappardelle with braised lamb and green olives for something different.
Beef cheeks, celeriac, Brussels sprouts and pickled cabbage $29
We ordered one main because we were more drawn to the pastas. The beef cheeks are slow cooked in Vermouth and paired with a celeriac puree, halved roasted Brussels sprouts and pickled cabbage. The beef cheek is meltingly soft and luscious while the vegetable accompaniments go well with it. Nevertheless I go back to the pastas after this whereas Attila is a big fan of the beef.
Chocolate fondant, strawberry and rhubarb jam, vanilla gelato $13
There are two desserts as well as a range of five cheeses from Australia and France. We order the two desserts available. The chocolate fondant comes in a ramekin and it has a gooey centre made even gooier with the runny house made strawberry and rhubarb jam and a scoop of vanilla gelato on top.
Braised apple, custard, short pastry and honey gelato $13
I like the braised apples. The presentation again is a bit unusual with cubed spiced apples, custard and triangles of pastry so short that they're like a cracker. They accidentally put a scoop of vanilla gelato instead of the honey gelato but this is rectified quickly with a separate scoop of the honey gelato. And suddenly we realise that we're the last table in the restaurant. Yep we're those people.
So tell me Dear Reader, are you a big sauce person? Do you have a favourite pasta dish that hits all your sweet spots? And do you prefer guanciale or bacon?
This meal was independently paid for.
137 Cleveland St, Darlington NSW 2008
Call 02 8937-0530
Open Tuesdays - Saturdays from 6.00pm