|District Dining entrance, Randle Street, Surry Hills|
Upstairs of the relatively newly refurbished Central Hotel (relative to its nearby peers anyway), the even more recently newly refurbished District Dining is a slick new bistro of well spaced wooden tables and floors with a sharing theme in the same vein as other recent Surry Hills openings.
|Table settings on the balcony bar|
Settling in to our table of seven, we eagerly played a game of menu bingo in deciding our share plates of choice. We’re advised that two dishes each person is probably sufficient with dessert to follow, so it seems not so different to a regular a la carte meal, shared as I normally do anyway.
|Olive oil and sourdough rolls|
|Smoked eel pate, cucumber, green onion flatbread|
I firstly attack the smoked eel pate, served in an almost comical District Dining labelled tin alongside cucumber ribbons and flatbread (like schiaccata) covered in a chlorophyll green pool of saucy green onion.
The bread had a crunchy outer as I easily sliced through it and was a fantastic accompaniment to the tuna-lookalike pate, which was smoky and creamy at once and utterly divine. The cucumber contributed freshness while the green onion mix wasn't as overpowering as it looked to be.
|King crab sweet corn fritters, basil|
The realisation hit hard when, completely enamoured with the pate at first, I discovered the king crab and sweet corn fritters dish at the other end of the table empty. Fleeting sadness doesn't hurt too much.
|Veal tongue, pickled turnip, salsa verde, almonds|
The again chlorophyll green salsa verde contrasted spectacularly with the pink turnips, while not adding much in flavour from my small taste.
|Marinated tuna, wasabi pannacotta, soy bean, daikon|
After clearing pretty much every sliver of food on the boards and plates, we readied for the next round, with a few stomachs earnestly hoping that the next would be more substantial. Again, the table was laden with wooden boards and nimble division work was needed to make the dishes sharable.
|Seared scallop, cauliflower, raisin, dukkah|
|Beef cheek spring roll, celeriac, salsa verde|
|WA scampi cannelloni, tomato, asparagus, coriander|
|Crispy fried chicken, coleslaw, lime aioli|
Notwithstanding my adoration of fried chicken generally, this was definitely one of my favourites of the night: the heavily spiced batter protecting the breast meat of chicken for juicy, finger licking good chicken that didn't really need condiments.
|Crispy school prawns with lime aioli|
|Castricum lamb shoulder, cumin, honey, baby carrots|
|Pork belly, fennel salt, lime, kimchi|
Extending the over-salted theme was the side mixed leaf salad while salt flakes are always going to struggle with skinny french fries.
|Buttermilk pannacotta, blood orange granita|
|Efi's rice pudding, cinnamon ice crea|
|Strawberries, raspberries, meringue, vanilla cream|
|Coffee brulee, chocolate madeleine|
Eventually stuffed full after dessert, there was no rush for us to leave our table, which was a nice change. Seated near the door, a nice breeze was coming through, adding to the chilled, casual atmosphere.
Of the entire, eye-pleasing meal, that one of my favourite dishes of the night was fried chicken was an odd and not-so-impressive surprise. Dessert was a high point too, but in the busy, super-competitive Surry Hills dining district, I wonder if fried chicken and rice pudding are going to cut it?
|District Dining exit|