One of the best things about stepping onto Kensington St, is stepping off Broadway Street, predominantly because of the stark contrast in vibe between the two. Kensington Street being a modern laneway, restricted to foot traffic only, sporting an air of refinement. Due in part, to the neighbouring luscious Central Park and regal Old Clare (though mostly thanks to the swathe of quality food venues on offer). With names like Automata, Kensington Street Social and an entire alley of hawker-style Asian and Middle Eastern spicy-goodness hidden off the strip. This place is to foodies, what Newtown is to hipsters.
Tonight though, we’re excited as we’re trying two places we’ve not had the pleasure of visiting before. First up, is Eastside Kitchen & Bar, tucked away on level one of The Old Rum Store building which boasts five restaurants over three levels.
Looking left after exiting the elevator, I’m immediately impressed by the design. The perfect blend of modern accents, Asian street art and warehouse lighting, emphasises the cocktail bar and exposed brick walls of the grande old building it calls home. We sidle up at the long, central bar, and order two of the best cocktails I’ve had in a long time – the Rose petal margarita (rose-infused tequila, rose syrup, activated charcoal) and Chilli and passion martini (jalapeño vodka, passionfruit and vanilla). Unfortunately, we’re only dropping by for a pre-drink, but enjoyed both cocktails enough to go rogue and try an entree off the menu. Our decision was quickly rewarded, because the Trout, kingfish and prawn ceviche was an absolute knock out, with the subtle, yet unique flavours of the two fish and a crustacean distinct yet harmonious.
Willing ourselves away wasn’t easy, however, we were both hopeful that our next stop, an easy elevator ride up to Olio, would up the ante.
It’s immediately obvious that Olio is a fine dining restaurant; white table cloths and well dressed wait staff pace the venue, however, its Sicilian hospitality ensures that it is in no way stuffy. Once seated, what followed was a smile-inducing masterclass, courtesy of Sicilian-born, award-winning chef, Lino Sauro and co. Everything is well thought out, right down to the little touches such as how he sources his olive oil from his family’s farm.
The Deep fried saffron ‘arancini’ rice ball with primo sale cheese, was light and fluffy, yet completely flavoursome (enough to create a minor squabble over the third serve), with the infamous Charred citrus Fremantle Octopus perfectly cut-through thanks to the lemon crushed potato salad and mint roasted capsicum.
Despite not being Italian, I’m always ready and raring to eat ravioli (especially when there are black truffles involved).
So, for the pizza de resistant (see what I did there?) – Homemade ravioli with King Prawns, black truffle and burrata sauce. An explosive yet unfamiliar immersion of flavours, the pasta was cooked to perfection, and the sauce, had me right back by the shore in Positano, struggling for words to describe the flavours….