Wandering along Sydney Road uncovers many gems and Albert Street Food and Wine is one of them. Unsurprisingly located on the corner of Albert Street and Sydney road, the restaurant is large and open wi high ceilings and an inviting warmth which draws you in from the the street. We got a table for six without a reservation on a weeknight but found the service incredibly slow. It was obviously designed to be a precisely timed process, leisurely enough to enjoy each step of the meal. With six indecisive people we were quite able to slow the process down all on our own.
We ended up choosing a mix of small and large dishes to share. First up was the octopus with olive. Unfortunately the olive overpowered the subtly of the octopus. It just didn’t balance out – black olives were wonderful but that was all we could taste. We also tried the pork belly. The crackling was great but we were missing the tender, melt in your mouth meat that we wanted. Pork belly can be absolutely stunning when done right but it’s so hard to get everything together. We loved the scallops which worked well to balance the richness of the pork. We’re always fond of haloumi and couldn’t resist it when served with peppers and a tomato salsa. The haloumi was hot and soft with a good squeakiness. As always with this delicious cheese; the quicker you eat it, the better it is. The salsa was a standout, full of flavour and a great introduction for those of us who haven’t tried the sweeter green tomato variety yet. The last of our small dishes was the merguez meatballs served with a natural yogurt. For a dish that appeared simple they really managed to pack in a huge amount of flavour in each mouthful. It was a well balanced dish, especially considering there was aniseed. It was used in such a way that it didn’t overpower the rich sauce or the tang of the yogurt.
Next up came the larger dishes, also designed to share around the table. First up was the Albert Street take on a Fishermans basket; prawns, squid and John Dory in a light crumb. The prawns were whole, ready to put straight in your mouth. It was accompanied by a light salad and tartar dressing. This was what you hope you’ll receive when you order fried seafood, light, crisp, not oily and with plenty of flavour. We also tried the lamb served with carrots and parsnip. As they say on Masterchef, the lamb was the hero of the dish. I was trendy and juicy with that beautiful blushing pink centre. The carrots and parsnip were surprisingly delicious, the carrot was a bit sweet and caramelised, the parsnip was made into a chip, crispy and light and fantastic.
While we enjoyed our mains, the desserts were just outstanding and we cannot compliment them enough. The most visually stunning was by far the dropped ice cream. True to its name it looked like it has slipped from the hands of a small child, splattering on the pavement and surely being cried over by said child somewhere in the depths of the kitchen. It’s not just any ice cream though, it’s got crunchy bits and sweet bits and chocolatey bits. This dish offered all the delights that you could hope for from a fine dining restaurant like Albert Street Food and Wine. We also tried the Lemon Tart 2.0. As a general rule we like to think that deconstructed or reinvented version of the classics need to add something more, something to make it better than the original ever could be. Wow does the Lemon Tart 2.0 deliver! It’s better than every other lemon meringue tart we’ve had and frankly I don’t think I can go back. It’s still got that tart, sweet lemon curd, the creamy meringue, but the raspberry sorbet, the crumb, it all makes it even better. The standout though? It has to be the pop rocks in the crumb, it amps up a dish that was already delicious into something spectacular.
Albert Street Food and Wine deliver on delicious, fine dining food in a chilled environment, perfect for conversation and merriment.