Saturday, 30 October 2010

District Dining, Surry Hills

Whilst most of Sydneysiders are probably flocking to the Sydney Food & Wine Fair in Hyde Park today, we decided it's way to warm of a weather to be lining up and get squashed around for food hehehee :P
District Dining is on my list of new places to try out since I read a review of it on  The Unbearable Lightness of Being Hungry's blog. 
This bistro style restaurant is located close to Central Station and it is a new venture by Assiette's Warren Turnbull.
Assiette is still on the top of my list of places with excellent quality of food and great value, so I'm very excited to try out his new venture.

Bistro-ish interior of District Dining

The restaurant was quite empty on this Saturday lunch time, beside us there were only 2 other couples that were there.
Which is not too surprising as District Dining has just opened it's door on 20th October and hardly anyone knows about this place. 
Before I whipped out my camera, I asked the manager for permission and she asked whether I have a blog or something as last week there was another blogger taking lots of photos - that must be The Unbearable Lightness of Being Hungry LOL
I told her then that it was because of her post that I found out about this place, and funnily enough the next couple that came in was there because of the blog as well.
So thank you miss Lee Tran Lam for discovering this new place :)

Menu ; Extra Virgin Olive Oil & Sea Salt ;
Sparkling Water ; Napkin & Cutleries

The dishes here are very reasonably priced, with entree prices ranging from $14 - $18 and mains $22 - $24. 
The manager advised that the menu are designed to be shared, so she suggested perhaps around 4 dishes to share between the 2 of us. 
So we chose 2 entrees ( tuna & veal)  and 2 mains (pork and steak) and then she paired the veal & pork to come first, then the tuna and steak to follow later. 
I think that's a great idea to pace ourselves.

Bread Basket $3.00

We also ordered some bread to calm our grumbling tummies while we wait for the food. The bread rolls arrived warm and the smell of freshly baked bread was just intoxication. There were 2 types of rolls in the basket, white and wholemeal. Both were delicious dipped with the olive oil then sprinkled with a little salt, but my preference would be the wholemeal roll.

Veal Tongue, Pickled Turnip, Salsa Verde & Almonds $16.00

I don't think I've ever had tongue cooked as tender as these - they are amazingly soft and melts in your mouth !!
It has a lovely chargrilled flavour that goes really well with the salsa verde and the almonds. The little cube of pumpin was sweet and the pickled turnip has very nice crisp texture.
This was the best one out the 4 savoury dishes we had today, wonder if they can make it as a main size ?
A plate full of tender veal tongue would be heaven....

Pork Belly, Fennel Salt, Lime & Kimchi  $22.00

Yes, I know what you are thinking, "Look at that chunk of fatty pork belly, OMG!" - something like that I assume ?
We had the same thought too but thankfully that white part was white meat. The pork belly was lean with only a little bit of fatty layer, despite it being a lean piece it was still tender and full of flavour. 
I would have liked the fennel flavour to stand out more though, it only provided a very subtle hint in this dish. Any pork crackling will always be good, wished it was more crisp as it already had the right level of saltiness.
The combination of kimchi and pork belly reminds me of a Korean dish which name just escaped my mind at the moment :P

Our small sharing plates and cutleries were cleared and replaced with a new set, ready for the next lot of foods :)

Marinated Tuna, Wasabi Pannacotta, Soy Bean & Daikon  $16.00

On hindsight, perhaps this entree should have been the first one up instead of the veal tongue. 
This dish has a very delicate flavours which almost become bland to us after the rich dishes we just had.
The wasabi pannacotta was more dollops of wasabi mayonaisse, it didn't have the gelled texture of a pannacotta. 
Micro shiso (perilla leaves) added a nice peppery taste to the delicate tuna. 
Although I believe this dish would have had more impact if we had had it first up, it does act as a palate cleanser as it was a very refreshing dish.

Hopkins River Sirloin, Green Harissa, Kipfler Potatoes  $24.00

The piece of steak arrived on a wooden board like the pork belly dish, resting on a striking green harissa paste and a small copper pot sitting next to it.

Kipfler Potatoes ; Sirloin 

The sirloin unfortunately was slightly overcooked, it was quite chewy and sinewy. The green harissa paste was delicious and so was the tasty kipfler potatoes in the pot. 

Allpress Coffee $4.00

Of course we couldn't made a pass on the dessert menu and I ordered a cup of coffee for me as I haven't had my daily caffeine fix yet. 

As we just had quite rich dishes , we chose the more fruity desserts from the quartet of desserts on the menu.
If sweet stuffs are not your thing, they also have cheese platter served with quince jelly.

Strawberries, Raspberries, Meringue & Vanila Cream   $12.00

A fancy version of Eton mess :) On the base you have the not overly sweet and slightly chewy meringue pieces, topped with quartered juicy and sweet strawberries, then a very generous topping of vanilla cream mixed with strawberries and last but not least, the refreshing raspberry sorbet.
Forget about the calories and just enjoy this delicious plate of dessert - hey, it's not so bad after all , it has dairy and fruits, so you got 2 out of the 5 food groups :)

Buttermilk Pannacotta with Blood Orange Granita $12.00

How cute is that !!! The buttermilk pannacotta came in a jar !! Too cutee !!
Open up the lid, and voila !

Blood Orange Granita

The bold red colour of the blood orange granita on top of a creamy white pannacotta - simple yet amazing.
The pannacotta was creamy, perhaps a tad too set but it was still delicious. I love the blood orange granita as its citrusy and slightly bitter taste helps cuts back the creaminess.
Deliciousness in a jar :)

We were very impressed with the desserts, a perfect end to our lunch today !

Colourful District Map

There was definite the influence of Warren Turnbull's cooking here, the presentation is simple yet striking and the flavours are cleverly combined and delicate to the palate. 
The service is not as formal as it is in Assiette of course, more relaxed and friendly. Not to mention the excellent price for the quality of food that was served, value for money indeed. 
To me it's like dining in a fine dining restaurant but without the usual price tags :)
One bonus for me is that they are open on Saturday for lunch, something that I missed from other eateries as most would only be open for lunch on weekdays or fridays only :)

District Dining on Urbanspoon


  1. beautiful photos as usual dude! now im absolutely dying to visit after this post and the post from lee tran argh the presentation of all the dishes are so awesome!

  2. hi suze : ehehehee thanks thanks ^_^ yeah, you should pay a visit there, their presentation is just so pretty :)

  3. ooo i heard about this on twitter for a while now. the steak looks good, i'd def ask them for medium rare next time so that if they overcook it, it will still be medium =D

  4. lifeis2munch : one more place to add to your list to go to after your cast is removed !

  5. i want to try the pannacotta.. looks amazing!

  6. the food looks so delicious and yet so affordable! other restaurants prob charge double for what they give. great find!
    i should go there and try :D

  7. mel : the granita on top was the highlight, very refreshing :)

    sugarpuffi : definitely value for money at District Dining and Assiette !

  8. Stunning presentation (and photos!)

    I can't wait to go to District!

  9. tina : thanks ^_^ make your way to district asap !

  10. Lovely post and great pics! I especially love the granita in a jar.
    Thanks so much for the kind mention, it's so nice to know that you (and the other diners!) were inspired to go because of the post.

  11. leetranlam : thanking you for discovering the place, wouldn't have ventured out that way otherwise :)

  12. oooohhhh they all look so pretty (and delicious, of course)!!!
    in my To-Eat List :D :D