Located on the corner of Campbell and Foster Streets (across from Cafe Ish and closer to Elizabeth Street than Crown Street), Bar H is part wine bar, part restaurant and all very casual, yet classy and welcoming simultaneously, with ex Billy Kwong head chef Hamish Ingham at the helm.
|Bar H, Campbell Street, Surry Hills|
|Quinta de la Rosa, tonic and lemon (left) and Campari and blood orange juice (right)|
Campari and fresh blood orange juice is a failsafe drink to start, the bitterness apparently stimulates the appetite. The juice was both sweet and refreshing, but for something different I chose the Quinta de la Rosa, a white port, with tonic and fresh lemon. It was surprisingly bitter too, lessened by squeezing the lemon quarters for some added sweetness and tang.
|Warm olives with chilli|
We have warm olives with chilli as we wait; big, green ones that taste like they've been picked not so long ago with red chillis that have more kick than their size would suggest, but never too much.
As we pit our way through the small bowl, surrounding tables virtually demonstrate Bar H's versatility: some snacking with beers at the bar while watching kitchen action; couples devouring cured meats with wine looking out to the quiet street; a bunch of guys making a meal of the menu's mains in a corner table; and a family in for the whole sharing experience. We were up for light eats pre further drinking.
|Kitchen charcuterie plate|
Our kitchen charcuterie plate arrives not long after, having seen meats sliced moments earlier at the slicer by the window. And what fabulous meats indeed: San Daniele prosciutto, jamon serrano and bresaola, the latter of which was sensationally tasty wrapped around especially long grissini sticks.
Tiny cornichons, mustard fruit and unexpected carrot ribbons completed the dish which I'd be happy to have every dinner time, or indeed before any meal.
|Chicken liver pate, foie gras shavings, pickled cherries and sourdough bread|
The pate was stronger in flavour and not as smooth as I'm used to (the non-pate lover here), but nicely distracted by the crusty, grill-marked bread and sweet, soft cherries mixed with onion. The bit of foie gras I tasted was creamy and rich, much as expected but still putting a smile on my face.
|Seared cuttlefish, pancetta, broad beans and watercress|
|Raw zucchini, asparagus, mint and soft boiled egg|
Asparagus spears were also shaved while the two parts of the soft boiled eggs gave it an air of breakfast; a delicious salad-y one, that is; freshened up with whole mint leaves.
|Strawberries, Woodside goat's curd, aged balsamic vinegar and basil|
The goat's curd was incredibly light, maybe even aerated, and matched extremely well with the strawberries, as if the contrasting flavours made the berries taste even sweeter. The micro basil was too cute though it reminded me of some seedlings I'd grown and subsequently killed.
Served with dried muscatels and figs, wedges of Granny Smith apple and a pile of crisp breads, it was the perfect way to end the meal and that delectable bottle of red.
At this point in the night, he kitchen was done and dusted, beers in hand signalling the end of another night. We'd been seated for hours and it was by far one of the most enjoyable nights out I'd had in a while.
Given Bar H is lumped into the new casual dining category that's popping up, I'd happily call it my new favourite so far. I think food is more substantial than that at Berta, while the atmosphere beats that at District Dining.
I think the freshness of the food and simple handling at Bar H is a real standout. I adore its versatility and will be looking to try out a brunch outing next. Hip, hip, hooray for Bar H.