Fermented potato bread, cultured kefir cream, dashi jelly & salmon roe. Chances are, you didn’t need that description to recognise the cover photo. Nor should the second pic of a blood sausage sanga – made from minced pork belly, rice, nuts & pig’s blood on warm white bread – raise any eyebrows.
After all, these are signatures served by Ester: a restaurant that perhaps gets closer than any other to that fabled ‘universally acclaimed’ status – represented by the so-very rare case of near-unanimous agreement between both the food media apparatus as well as the foodies hoi polloi on social media. That they’ve been around since 2013 is a boastworthy achievement – both the restaurant and dishes.
Don’t get me wrong – true unanimity is a unicorn, even for Mat Lindsay’s superfluous creation. Case in point: yours truly. Somehow, I was cursed with being the exception that proved the rule. Having visited three times between 2015-18, I never saw a restaurant that deserved its reputation, as ‘acceptable’ as it was. Expectations management of course hugely factors into this, but even lowering them for subsequent visits resulted in flops. Maybe I was in the wrong (if there exists such a thing in food).
Something changed with this latest – fourth – visit, the first in 2.5 years. Every dish did something right in making it memorable – the tart freshness of cured bonito with the earthy nuttiness from a macadamia puree; the one-bite flavour bombs of roasted rock oyster (cooked being in and itself a rare serving method) cleverly amped with chicken jus; and the soothing, umami-laden bowl of supreme noodle soup that has no right being as good as it was. And of course, the aforementioned potato bread & blood sausage, which surely requires no further elaboration.
Four (visits) is unlucky in my culture. But I’ve now got plenty more reasons to increase that number. Not that any existing fan should care what I think! Carry on.
Something to note – and the feature of this specific post – Ester’s Sunday Roast menu. It’s what it sounds like – a roast, on Sundays, of a protein of some description. A caveat is that it’s only available as part of a set menu, so pick any other day if you intend to visit for a la carte (which, by and large, is still the best way to experience Ester). Of course, you would be missing out on this masterful, master stock-drenched duck crown, as well as a woodfired incarnation w/muntries (for a crispier bent).
Brace yourselves for something shocking: I don’t like to eat soft skin (that isn’t crispy/fried). I know what you’re thinking: Hainan chicken? Well, then you should eat it with me because you’ll get ALL the skin. Ready the hate comments, I’m ready 😂. And so, same here for the duck crown roast – the skin has tenderness akin to the meat itself, so woodfired wins this round. Still, does it matter when the beauty is in getting your pick of both? What more could you ask for?
This post is based on an independently-paid visit to Ester
Date Last Visited: 6 June 2021 (four visits)
Address: 46-52 Meagher St, Chippendale NSW 2008
Price Guide (approx): $100pp (set menus are a bit more)
- The kind of ‘Modern Australian’ Modern Australian should be: escaping definition, endlessly delicious & refreshingly different.
- That it took me four tries to get to where we are now!
- The Sunday Roast menu is great and all, but if it’s your first time to Ester, do yourself a favour and start off with a la carte and order all the greatest hits. Then you’ll know what it’s all about.
Would I return:
F8 | S4 | A2
See how I score here
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