A Wednesday night – the place was about 80% full and it’s about 8.30, we were told our table was not far away. The service is very efficient but with a gentle, friendly touch. Ester is part of the Vini stable of cool restaurants/ wine bars along with 121BC and Berta – a couple of sydneycool’s favourites. The restaurant – contemporary with low hanging large light globes, very small tables (no room to rest your bag with out tripping up passers by) and not the most comfy chairs – obviously the best seating is against the wall.
There are some small touches of rustic charm thrown in – like large arches looking into the open kitchen. The large metal frame windows facing onto the street are wonderful but most things here are standard looking.
Martinis arrived – they were welcomed with open arms and did not disappoint, the barman was not chatty but professional and our martinis were good. He used Hendricks gin.
The chef behind Ester is Matt Lindsay – a strong food background having worked with Kylie Kwong at Billy Kwong. As part of Omnivore Sydney, Matt will be preparing a tailored dining experience at ester on 4th October with James Henry from Bones Restaurant in Paris, one of the new breed of chefs changing Parisian food. The night we were there, we spotted James Henry in the kitchen obviously testing out some of the dishes for the special menu. We had a drink at Bones Restaurant a few months ago while we were in Paris, so looking forward to the James Henry dinner in Sydney. Another go to restaurant not too far from James Henry’s Bones restaurant is Rino, also very good.
The menu is split into starters, small plates, woodfired, sides and deserts. The flavours and texture of food cooked in a woodfired oven permeate the menu like a lost love – pork/sesame seeds/dandelion. Cooked in the wood fire, the lustful, amber, smokey outer flavour from the oven was the perfect submission with the slightly sharp, creamed sesame paste it was sitting on. On top was a mixture of dandelion and rocket. The rich, moist pork was cooked to perfection. It really got our palate aroused and filled our mouths with juices of a pure culinary orgasm, without a doubt the dish to go for.
The fish tonight was groper cooked with onion/kale. Groper really is one of the most ugly fish with its thick lips, small pointy teeth and very hard scales and is found plentiful around the east coast of Australia – but for all of that the taste is wonderful. Large white moist flakes that collapsed with every bite, the snap from its crunchy oily skin, the sweetness from the onion and the slight earthiness/sometimes bitterness of the kale was a perfect balance, beautiful cooked fish.
The sides at Ester are simple and so sexy. We loved the potato/duckfat/coriander seed – perfectly cooked chunks of potato with the intensely sweet and rich flavour of the duck fat, coating the inside of your mouth as you sigh in pleasure. sydneycool’s other pick of the sides is white beans/tomato fondue – a gratin dish bubbling with a smooth combination of beans and tomato – simple flavours and to the point and so very good for you.
We asked the wait person to guide us through the wine list – we went for a rose – Si Vintners Pinot Noir ’12 from Margaret River WA. All Si Vintner wines are made without any additives and the wines are bottled without fining or filtration – so the rose was slightly cloudy with a very subtle taste and perfectly dry – very different to a lot of more traditional Australian roses. The wine list at ester shows its birthright from the Vini stable – the wines well represented by more one-off wines you can’t get everywhere.
Ester’s desserts are so sensual that you want to try them all but once again I was told better to have one lover and enjoy the ride – so of course we had two!! Neopolitan ice cream slice – beetroot, pannacotta, chocolate – chocolate and beetroot are so entwined together as flavours and are lifted by the pannacotta, it was very earthy from the beetroot/chocolate and a freshness at the same time – slipping down our throats with such ease.
Three milks is a star – pannacotta, goats milk mousse and dulce de luche – slowly heated milk and sugar until the most sensual caramel turns a liquid golden colour and provides a sweetness that is irresistible and against the tart of the other milks is pure smothering love .
We like the simple, to the point combinations of the food. This it is not fine dining by any measure – the service is welcoming and open. Ester restaurant is one of the newest cool Sydney restaurants that really is taking the pulse of the diners.
46-52 Meagher St Chippendale Sydney 2008