Monday, July 1, 2013

In the Vicinity of a dining boom

It's taken some time but the dining scene is now catching up with the apartment boom in south-east Sydney. All those shoebox-living young urban professionals need to eat and they can now boast local venues like Vicinity Dining in a still-industrial part of Alexandria.

Baba ganoush, olives, mixed nuts at Vicinity Dining, corner of Bourke Road and Collins Street, Alexandria
I'd visited the ambitiously spaced Vicinity in its very early days – for breakfast and Sunday Bloody Marys. Since then it seems there’s been some reshuffling of the menu and kitchen, for the better.

With its gas-heated outdoor verandah area, Vicinity was just right for a group lunch that needed versatility – while the menu is split into entrées, mains and shared mains, it’s easy enough to order a number of starters as share plates.

Ideal for sharing was the smoky eggplant baba ganoush with sourdough bread pieces and warmed flat bread, served on a wooden board alongside Sicilian and kalamata olives and roasted assorted nuts in matching cups/jugs.

Chicken liver parfait
A grazing favourite, the chicken liver parfait was also served on a wooden board with sourdough. The wide-mouthed jar caused no access issues to the rich, buttery parfait, topped with a dark jelly.

Crispy calamari with tamarind-ginger glaze and green papaya
The tapas-sized calamari was also great for sharing, making an instant visual impact with its intriguing black and white puffed cracker. The golden battered squid was moist and tender, but could have used more seasoning to really make the sweet, Asian-influenced tamarind sauce pop.

Pan seared chorizo, apple cider, parsley
The tapas theme continued with slices of a particularly spicy and firm chorizo, somewhat tempered by its apple cider cooking treatment and cooked apple wedges. There was plenty of bread available to help tide the spice heat of the chorizo as it seemed a lot of our dishes had bread components.

Ocean trout gravlax with soft-boiled egg and avocado on sourdough
We were also wooed by the waiter’s description of a daily special which was a bit brunch-ish but ultimately a deliciously generous shared serve of dill-marinated ocean trout gravlax.

Ocean trout gravlax with soft-boiled egg and avocado on sourdough
As a dill-lover, I found the cured fish to be divine in combination with ripe avocado slices, half a perfectly soft-yolked egg, lettuce and just-toasted bread with lemon juice adding a bit of zip.

Salad in a jar (served on a plate)
The salad in a jar was one of the most creative serving methods I've seen in ages: a large glass jar with a lock lid filled with lettuce leaves, red witlof, tomato chunks, chickpeas and brown lentils then doused with a vinaigrette dressing. The entire jar was shaken at the tableside and served out onto a plate.

Vicinity chips with selection of salts
We couldn't resist a couple of serves of chips with a "selection of salts" which amused some but makes sense if you've ever visited nearby food emporium, Salt Meats Cheese. I'm actually not sure what salts there were, although there was more interest in the aioli as a dipping sauce for the perfectly crisp chips.

With shared, grazing-style food sorted; a pretty bar with decent selections all round; and the gas heater cranking under cool, clear skies, Vicinity offers a perfect, casual group space amid the Alexandria dining boom.

Vicinity Dining on Urbanspoon


chocolatesuze said...

i hate dill but i cant stop staring at the ocean trout gravlax!

Anonymous said...

I've been wanting to try this place since I saw it in my meat shopping trips. Both the gravlax and salad in jar look great. Suz, how come you hate dill??!! :)

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

I've heard some conflicting opinions of Vicinity but it sounds like they've ironed out whatever problems they had :)

Libby said...

It seems like there are heaps of good new cafes appearing in Alexandria lately. I love the unusual presentation of that gravlax :)

Kasey said...

The food looks great but I have been there twice and the service was appaling!
First time there were 2 tables full & we were made to wait for 10 minutes because we didnt have a reservation. WHAT?!

We went again on Saturday for breakfast/lunch. It was 11:45 and they had closed then kitchen until lunch service. WTF again?! I saw 4 other groups walk away too. Why shut the kitchen for an hour during breakfast/brunch/lunch time? They clearly do not understand the Sydney market. We will not be returning regardless of how good the food looks.

Tambourine said...

That calamari looks amazing, and for a moment there my imagination led me to think that the puff rice crackers were some sort of alien caviar.

Richard Elliot said...

Lovely photos. Posts like this make me miss Sydney cafe food, London just don't have the same level of cafes.

Is that Brasserie Bread linseed and quinoa sourdough I spy? I miss that too.

Anonymous said...

Based on the Urbanspoon rating, I probably wouldn't even go there (supposing I lived in Sydney) but every single dish you photographed looks sensational. I also thought the black and white cracker looked like 'faux cavier'!

Tina said...

Hi suze - It was really good, but then, I love dill.

Hi lateraleating - Everything was well presented and there was a nice vibe on a Sunday arvo.

Hi Lorraine - Indeed, I've yet to try dinner or retry breakfast, but if this was any indication, things are looking up.

Hi Libby - Yep, it's a boom! The gravlax was one of my fave dishes.

Hi Kasey - That's such a shame... We had lovely service on our visit. The brekky-lunch break seems to happen in a few venues around - agree that it is frustrating, epspecially if you're hungry!

Hi Tambourine - Doesn't it look amazing? Very impressed with the presentation.

Hi Richard - Thanks! I'm sure there are other things to make up for it in London-town ;)

Hi Anonymous - Tough one, isn't it? Everyone and every online source/s will always have their own opinions, and change sometimes takes a while to register too.

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