"Errr you're overdressed," says Mr NQN as we drive past Mr Liquor's Dirty Italian Disco in Mascot. "Story of my life," I mutter wondering how I can dress myself down for dinner there. I should have probably read up about it before going...
Mr Liquor is a 6 month pop-up eatery by Merivale who own the adjacent Tennyson Hotel. The casual eatery is housed in a former drive through liquor store. True to its previous roots you can choose wine by the bottle by grabbing a jacket and entering the coolroom or you can choose a beer from the fridge in the main area. There is also wine by the glass and a small cocktail menu.
The main dining area has two roller doors at each end. Once during the night, the front roller door opens up letting in plenty of sunlight and a half dozen patrons but then 20 minutes later it rolls back down again.
And then there's the enormous artfully graffitied wall with slogans like "Blow me" or "Love is for suckers and I suck!!!". There's also a flashing neon pink disco pig holding an umbrella to raindrops. The chefs are Mike Eggert and Jenna Whiteman from Pinbone.
The tunes are of no particular genre although there are some 90's thrown in for good measure. Service by our Irish waiter is cheeky and full of quips ("What do you recommend?" "Well there's a cafe around the corner..."). We order dishes based on his recommendations and they come out quickly.
I'm a fiend for nduja, the spicy Calabrian chilli pork paste. It's served with pieces of crusty, spongy bread. Spread it thick if you like things strong and intense or thin if you prefer mild echoes of heat. And I think you can guess that for me, it was all thick! ;)
Ivy who is American, was all excited about seeing meatloaf on the menu. As soon as they set it down I wince involuntarily. I'm not sure how disappointed she is going to be about getting terrine instead of meatloaf. It's delicious most definitely and served with crunchy bread and butter pickles and I think that helped cushion the blow and she seemed happy as a clam.
The gnocchetti comes with an old skool glass shaker of parmesan. The pasta is firm and I've definitely had lighter but the dish is lifted by the wonderful cotton-soft braised lamb, redolent in tomato and accented with rosemary and crumbs as well as a generous sprinkling of parmesan.
We all loved the grilled calamari, tender and melting in the mouth. It is served with a luscious lemon and chilli rice to the side.
We also really adored the juicy porchetta that comes as four thick slices with a wedge of pre-cut roasted pineapple and a tangy barbecue style sauce. The porchetta is appealingly fatty and juicy and I enjoy every bite.
Is it strange when you become obsessed with a side dish? Honestly, lately I've just gravitated towards them on a menu and this soft, creamy, oh so buttery polenta with corn and chervil was my bae tonight. When Ryan lifted a spoon of it to serve Ivy I could smelt the waft of the butter that hit me like a cloud of perfume. It goes fantastically with the roast porchetta too.
For as much as we loved the entrees and mains, the desserts seemed as well thought out or cohesive. The best is the blackberry, honeycomb and grape soft serve which we're told is tinted blue from the blackberry syrup.
The "Milk and Cookies" is a milk soft serve with chunks of chocolate chip cookie on top. I think I was hoping for a bit more.
The blood plum and cherry sporcamuss is like a mille feuille or pastry sandwich with a blood plum ice cream filling and a lemon cream topping. The pastry is appealingly crisp and it's a nice dessert although I was hoping for something more. Nevertheless the bill is a very pleasant surprise. Even with a couple of beers (no cocktails, how remiss of me!) it's just over $40 a person and we are in and out within less than two hours.
So tell me Dear Reader, do you spread things thick or thin? And do you cut the edges of fat off porchetta or meat or do you eat it? Asking for a friend... ;)
This meal was independently paid for.
Mr Liquor's Dirty Italian Disco
1 High St, Mascot NSW 2020
Monday & Tuesday Closed
Wed-Friday: 6:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Saturday: 12:00 pm - 4:00 pm, 5:30 pm - 11:00 pm
Sunday: 12:00 pm - 4:00 pm, 5:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Phone: (02) 9114 7345