For first season winners, the prize is three months' tenancy in a Darlinghurst restaurant space, with funding, fitout and marketing support.
|Bar at Stanley Street Merchants, Stanley Street, Darlinghurst|
A three-part venue, the focus is currently on the ground floor restaurant which features chef Matt Stone's (Greenhouse, Perth and Silo by Joost, Melbourne) modern approach to locally sourced ingredients.
|Street restaurant view|
|Ground floor seating|
|Aperol Spritz (front) and Manhattan (back, left)|
While the kitchen and bar activity was pretty slick, some of the waitstaff proved fairly green, though as much is to be expected from a three-day-old operation.
|Icon Park reward: Tasting platter for two|
|Crisy crickets, Aussie 7 spice|
With a hefty amount of seasoning post a deep fry, I suppose anything would taste decent. The crickets were passable, with a texture much like cooked prawn shells and not too much flavour of their own. Like prawn shells, watch for the sharp bits (legs or antennae) that can dig in the mouth.
|Chicken, corn, jerusalem artichoke|
The roasted chicken portion was served on a creamy corn puree and dressed with jerusalem artichoke chips, what seemed like kernel-less popcorn and a shock of deliciously deep fried corn silk - that usually annoying 'hair' between the husk and cob of fresh corn.
It was a clever use of corn in a classic pairing with chicken, for an overall homely, satisfying and flavour-packed feed.
|Yellow eye mullet, roe, cos, nasturtium|
The beautifully fresh fish was a joy to eat with the uniquely sweet nasturtium puree, and well supported by the grilled cos lettuce, which was filled luxuriously with a seasoned mix of orange roe pearls and chives.
The ease in which innovation and locally sourced and foraged ingredients came together so harmoniously on this dish is a credit to chef Stone and his kitchen team.
|Mash potato, wattle seed (front) and mixed leaves, herbs, salad (back)|
|Poached quince, macadamia, wattle seed, buttermilk ice cream|
With pretty flowers and unidentified crumbles, this was a fine dessert fit for a hatted restaurant.
|Charcoal roasted marshmallow, ryeberries, flowers and ants|
There was a particularly bitter aspect to one of the toppings, which I had blamed on the lavender although now, perhaps the non-discernible ants were at fault.
In any case, the restaurant and bar are in full swing and should become a neighbourhood favourite in quick time for its great menu that's genuinely centred on local produce. Pop in to Stanley Street Merchants over the next three months to see the crowdfunding dream live.