The Newtown Hotel has been resuscitated by Keystone Group (of The Loft, Bungalow 8, The Winery, Gazebo, Sugar Mill and so on and so forth), after a short stint as tiki bar Freaky Tiki, returning the pub to local drinking hole status without the kitsch (save for drag nights) and a casual Greek restaurant upstairs - The Animal, targeting relaxed group dining.
|Chunky chips from The Animal, Newtown Hotel, King Street, Newtown|
We were however warned that there was no entree-then-mains order to the food coming out from the kitchen. The first dishes arrived mere minutes after ordering. About a minute after that, everything else arrived, including my glass of shiraz from the wine taps at the bar.
The chunky, skin-on potato chips were some of the best deep fried potatoes I've ever had. Appropriately seasoned and served thick and fluffy with an aioli, these were wolfed down with little regard for the feast to come.
|Grilled scallops, trout pearls, tomato basil salsa|
Sitting on a creamy taramasalata and scattered with the tomato and basil salsa, there was almost too much going on, but not quite so much that it distracted from the lukewarm scallops.
|Mint and lemon grilled haloumi, red onion salad|
|Beetroot, thyme, organic yoghurt, coriander|
|Coal roasted suckling lamb, rubbed with lemon, garlic and bay leaf|
Served with only a cheek of lemon, the lamb had subtle flavours of garlic and bay, but probably would have benefited from a tzatziki yoghurt sauce, especially to splodge on some of the drier edge bits.
We managed about half of the lamb and most of all our other dishes, despite what covered two tables and looked enough for four. But in a sense it was good that we stuffed ourselves as it turned out The Animal, almost ironically, does not do 'doggy bags' for customers to take leftovers home.
Labelled an "OHS issue", it was a situation that I've seldom encountered in NSW restaurants although it is understandable, especially for venues that are part of a bigger group it seems.
And so we left without lamb sandwiches for the next day, but still generally satisfied with the night's meal. The Animal has unleashed casual Greek dining onto Newtown, and next time, I'll be prepared with a group to attack the feast.