Winner of the Best Bar Food award in the 2012 Good Food Awards, The Owl House is a bit like a small restaurant with an excellent bar, or a small bar with an excellent kitchen. Either way, they’re doing something special in the terrace space with a perch-friendly bar and tiny kitchen headed by ex Aria chef Roy Ner downstairs; and a perilously tight, turning, wooden staircase to a warm upstairs dining room with a balcony overlooking the Crown Street action.
|Downstairs at the bar at The Owl House|
Ex New Yorker Halpert says that their full, proper degustation with matched, half-size cocktails is a first for Sydney. He was treating us to the degustation, with a few extras for good measure (dishes marked with * are not part of the standard cocktail degustation).
|Margarita pearl at The Owl House, Crown Street, Darlinghurst|
|Freshly shucked Pambula oyster with Herradura anejo tequila sour foam - served |
with Tequila Flower cocktail
Matched with the cocktail was a fresh-as-it-gets Pambula rock oyster hidden beneath a cloud of Herradura anejo tequila sour foam, naturally.
The tickle of tequila hit the palate first, preparing it for the most impossibly perfect and briney, freshly-shucked rock oyster in a seriously heavenly combination.
|Kadaifi prawn with chickpeas tuile. Matbucha dip, heirloom tomatoes, caper berries and |
tomato vinaigrette - served with Saffron martini
The mille feuille-styled tuile wafers were made of chickpeas and tasted just like hommus, interspersed with colourful heirloom tomatoes and tomato-based Matbucha dip, while artsy squiggles of dressing completed the picture.
The Saffron cocktail matched the Middle Eastern flavours of the dish and was a great martini option for those new or still a little reluctant of the notoriously strong cocktail. A touch of sweetness and saffron exoticness added to the chilled botanicals of gin was just about the perfect cocktail for me.
|Fish of the day with diamond shell clams. beetroot carpaccio, golf carrots, |
semi dried kalamata olives and tomatoes - served with Cosmopolitan cocktail
The wooden serving board was scattered with crimson puddles of beetroot thins, asparagus spears, tiny carrots and diced tomatoes in an ultimately healthy and artistic representation of a fish dish.
|Smoked bone marrow and ox tail croquette* - served with Titanic by Stefan Trummer cocktail|
The beefy croquette was matched to a cocktail homage to New York 'bar chef' Stefan Trummer's signature Titanic cocktail featuring champagne sorbet, Ciroc vodka, elderflower liquor and sparkling wine - a thoroughly enjoyable, girly concoction.
|Deconstructed casoulet: Duck confit, braised pork shoulder, Toulouse style sausage, white beans and carrots* - served with Jack Rose cocktail|
The copper pot was filled with piping hot white beans bursting with porky flavour, while the excellent sausage, braised chunk of pork shoulder and confit duck drummette each vied for top spots on the white bean puree podium. Each component stood very well on its own and was divinely homely combined.
The Jack Rose cocktail of calvados apple brandy, lemon juice and pomegranate seeds lightened the richness of the wintry deconstruction.
|Lamb cutlets with roasted baby eggplant, zucchini ribbons and pickled eschalots with semi dried tomatoes, goat's curd and chargrilled eggplant dip and lamb jus - served with Smoky Robinson|
It was all happening on top of the stripes of smoky eggplant dip: semi dried cherry tomatoes, vibrant green ribbons of zucchini, pickled rings of eschalot and well-roasted baby eggplants, with a rich jus served at the table too.
The Smoky Robinson cocktail of Remy Martin V.S cognac, Drambuie, ginger and smoked capsicum with lemon juice was the ideally strong finishing touch.
|Berry parfait served on balsamic glaze with poached rhubarb and berries - served with Chocolate Martini|
It's not that often that I'm completely enamoured with a meal or restaurant. I walked out of The Owl House very full and nearly ecstatic following a consistently astonishing degustation. The warm buzz of booze might have had some small part to play, but I can't remember the last time I had a meal that didn't peak and trough as such, but was steadily amazing throughout.
The presentation of their dishes is undoubtedly elaborate, and perhaps over the top for some, but the genuine heart and soul of The Owl House – from the menu to the service to the fit out and philosophy – makes any visit a hoot of a time.
Food, booze and shoes dined as a guest of The Owl House.