Walking into the space that was Le Pain Quotidien which never quite worked for us, we were struck by how well 414 fits into this place – it could have seemed like a barn as it’s a large space but they’ve given it a warm comfortable feel by breaking it up into different areas – each with their own intimate surroundings. There’s a central bar area with high tables where Joe Saleh – co-creator of 4Fourteen together with the culinary vision of Colin Fassnidge – told us you could just pop in for a quick drink. The kitchen in one corner is encircled by a dining bar, and on the far side tables running against the wall with comfortable banquettes.
Talking with Joe – the idea was to emulate the feel of Four in Hand where there’s a bar alongside the dining room but of course with its own very young Surry hills vibe – this works well in this large space.
We sat at the dining bar and got to experience at first hand the energy of a high octane kitchen – great chefs are hard task masters and that shows here. Now to the serious stuff – the menu is familiar like Four in Hand, but modernised and broken up into fish, meat, salads and starches, rather than by starters and mains – designed to share but work just as well on their own.
The Irish Breakfast attracted fairweather’s attention – guessing it must have black pudding. We asked Kelly, our waiter, who told us this is a very autumn menu – sure enough, black pudding, chorizo, slivers of crispy bacon, barley with a light touch of balsamic – topped with a fried duck egg. Kind of like breakfast in Kerry, Ireland – but black pudding that was soft and melt in your mouth. Great counterbalance with the spiciness of the chorizo – yum, yum, yum! more please.
Continuing our OD on meat, we went for the Licorice ‘Beef and Bone’ for two – served in a cast iron pot – beef brisket, beef tongue, nuggets of deep fried beef marrow, a celeriac remoulade served in a beef bone that had been cut in two also with cubes of carrot and turnip.
The brisket was slowly cooked – heavily caramelised on the outside yet moist with the fibres separating perfectly – and just a hint of aniseed and licorice coming through from the stock. Like a meal within a meal, this dish had the basis of good hearty food but inspired with modern influences and a balance of flavours. We opted for the mixed grain salad – we’re loving the re-discovery of grains in restaurants.
The wine list is broad – Australian wines well represented alongside a few choice Italian and French wines – Samantha the sommelier recommended the 2010 Barbera d’Alba from winemaker Mauro Molino in Piedmont – a very good match – not too heavy but with enough body to work with all the meat.
Dessert – Ribbons of cucumber gently flavoured with vanilla, sitting on white chocolate ice cream wedged between handmade wafers – one small worry here, one of our wafers was too burnt and had a bitter taste.
A exciting dining experience for sydneycool – 4Fourteen will be one of our favourites – it was a warm welcome, sharp service from knowledgeable staff, good food and wine. We loved how they created a very professional but relaxed environment. This is already a cool Sydney restaurant.
414 Bourke St Surry Hills 2010
sydneycool rating ♥♥♥