It starts with the newly and grandly renovated New Orleans-inspired restaurant, The Bourbon by C.Inc Hospitality, which also own Cruise Bar and Coogee Bay Hotel. The kitchen is helmed by ex Becasse and Etch head chef James Metcalfe, who brings his fine dining background into new light at the more casual venue.
|Pacific oysters, natural|
We started on a platter of Pacific and Sydney rock oysters in three different styles. Although I wished it were my preferred Sydney rocks served natural, the freshly shucked Pacifics were fresh and more than passable.
|Rock oysters, Bloody Mary granita|
|Deep fried oysters d'jour with Rockefeller mayo|
|Inside The Bourbon, Darlinghurst Road, Kings Cross|
More interesting, though, is the range of beers of which there'll be a healthy range of US beers, including a couple from New Orleans.
(Note: the dishes below were part of a special tasting and are not the sizes served on the normal menu.)
|Hiramasa kingfish ceviche, citrus, radish|
The Bourbon presents its ceviche as thin slices of delicate hiramasa kingfish with a balanced citrus dressing, radish matchsticks, coriander and fresh red chilli with some bite to it. It was a beautiful dish that really kickstarted the palate.
|Melon and ham - watermelon, serrano, mint, chilli, white pepper vinegar|
More red chilli and mint gave great colour and a different kicker to every bite with the unexpectedly well-matched vinegar dressing.
|Gumbo - spicy duck broth, smoked sausage, red chilli, coriander|
A little fancy with a duck consomme, the soup featured okra, baby corn, red chilli, Spanish onion, coriander and a house-made smoked sausage. The gumbo was undeniably spicy, nose-snifflingly so, but with a great depth of full flavours.
|Clam and corn chowder - little neck clams, corn, bacon|
The Bourbon's version featured just-cooked little neck clams, sweet pops of corn kernels and thick-cut cubes of bacon which imparted a fantastic salty smokiness throughout the creamy soup. The chowder was like a warm, comforting hug that's perfect for the upcoming cooler weather.
|Classic Cobb salad - soft boiled egg, chicken wings, avocado, tomato, crispy bacon, |
watercress, Bellingham Blue cheese, pickled shallots
The crisp perfection that was the bacon with the boiled egg gave it a breakfast air, while the blue cheese, cos lettuce, tomato, avocado and watercress returned it to firmly salad ground. The deboned fried chicken wing was the point of differentiation and excellence.
|Grilled jumbo shrimp, Creole butter, spiced salt|
|Jambalaya - spiced risotto, shrimp, chilli, lime, bacon, smoked sausage, watercress|
A filling main dish option, also quite spicy, jambalaya is like a paella or risotto, featuring chilli, bacon and more of that excellent smoked sausage, topped with prawns and watercress.
|Glazed beef rib - four hours slow cooked|
Slow cooked for four hours, the beef was full of flavour and softened tendons, served with mashed potato, deep fried kale and its cleaned bone.
|Fried green tomatoes, buttermilk dressing|
Unsure of what to expect, these golden crumbed wheels of unripe, green tomatoes were surprisingly sweet inside their crunchy coating, with the creamy buttermilk dressing adding just the right amount of richness to the tomato's acidity.
|Lime cheesecake - jelly, crumbs, cheese, coriander; and |
Pecan Tart (back, right) - burnt bourbon, vanilla chantilly
Much more traditional was the pecan tart which was served as a chewy and caramelly sliced portion with a desirable tart shell.
|S'mores - biscuit, vanilla ice cream, chocolate, toasted marshmallow; and |
Beignet (right) - peppered stawberries, caramel, whipped cream
The Bourbon ups the ante on the S'more, pushing it into restaurant dessert territory with vanilla ice cream and house made oat biscuits instead of graham crackers, covered in chocolate and topped with torched vanilla marshmallow. I'm not sure how purists will feel about it but I certainly approve.
The deep fried round beignet of dough with a caramel sauce was surprisingly my favourite of the dessert plate; perhaps for its warmth and relatively reserved sweetness.
Thoroughly full and Americanised, we managed a quick chat with head chef Metcalfe who's enviably off to New Orleans shortly for research purposes. I think he's done exceptionally well with the general theme he's been given, with the large menu filled with many familiar references to US dishes that most in Sydney would not have tried before.
While change in Kings Cross will be a longer-term issue, The Bourbon definitely marks a a change in thinking in the area that can only be a good thing.
Food, booze and shoes dined as a guest of The Bourbon, with thanks to Agency G.