|Complimentary milk bread at Albion Street Kitchen, Albion Street, Surry Hills|
The music playing in the intimate dining room certainly was more casual (Mrs. Robinson?) but the space still feels like Assiette, except for the new bright blue wall. The white tablecloths are gone but in their place are completely lust-worthy, heavy, marble-topped tables.
|Complimentary milk bread with rosemary olive oil|
Adorable, shiny milk bread arrived at the table on a board with a tiny carafe of olive oil and a sprig of rosemary that seemed more decorative than a flavour infuser. The pull-apart style of the fluffy and softly dense bread was perfect for a hungry stomach.
|Cheese on toast, truffle, asparagus, Pedro Ximenez, raisins|
I also don’t tend to cook raisins in Pedro Ximenez sherry to add on top with delightfully buttery mushrooms and grilled asparagus spears. For this luxe version of cheese on toast, I’ll be seeking out Albion Street Kitchen.
|Seared veal tongue, sweetbreads, pickled turnip, salsa verde, almonds|
Both the pickle and salsa verde were perfect flavour matches for the offal but it was the veal tongue that really surprised me. It was as far from chewy as you could get (in contrast to some experiences with ox tongue) and bordered on spongy, which isn’t a particularly appetising descriptor but worked excellently with its sear treatment and dish accompaniments.
|Ranger's Valley bavette, miso glaze, eggplant, sesame seeds, spinach|
My second pick was the Ranger’s Valley bavette or flank steak, which was served with wilted spinach and a halved, miso-topped grilled eggplant. While I adore the Japanese nasu dengaku miso glazed eggplant dish, I found the miso glaze a little too strong on the soft eggplant here.
A muscular cut of beef, the pink-centred bavette was wonderfully tender with an appropriate bit of chew to go along with loads of beefy flavour, somewhat offsetting the sweet miso glaze.
|Chatham Island cod, cauliflower, vadouvan, tamarind gel|
The vadouvan spice dusted cauliflower gave the dish an affable Indian touch while the cauliflower puree, dotted with the sweet brown tamarind gel, added richness and depth. This also came with wilted spinach, making the main meals quite complete and reducing the need for side dishes.
|Panfried zucchini, garlic butter (front) and chips, chilli salt (back)|
Crunchily golden with a seasoning of salt and chilli powder, there was a definite umami component, almost like powdered katsuobushi dried bonito flakes or similar. They were a little on the dry side, so the tamarind gel from my main meal made for a fitting dipping sauce.
Meanwhile, the zucchini were at just the right firmness with a surprisingly subtle garlic butter and crisp pangratatto style breadcrumbs sprinkled atop. We were defeated by half bowls of each side remaining and finishing my wine, I couldn't even look at the dessert menu.
In all, I wouldn't call Albion Street Kitchen a casual restaurant but it is certainly a step down from hatted fine dining. At its heart I think it’s just the new, casual Assiette, but with quality and flavours like this on the plates, I'm really going to like the new casual.