Friday, June 24, 2011

District Dining, Surry Hills

The Empty Fridge night out can be classified into two nights. The after work or late night food crawl, The ridiculously boozy meal or the more civilised of the latter - Date Night. One very rainy (and by this I mean torrential) night we managed to score a late booking at District Dining, a restaurant in the "to eat" list since it opened late last year. We were down for some casual, fun, relaxed but above all else - delicious dining. As it turned out, District Dining ticked all these boxes.
Fruits of the Vine 2010 'Le Grenache' Barossa Valley $55, Sourdough Bread $4
Of course date night isn't complete without a good bottle of Vino - come on friends, you should know this comes standard with us by now. Our delightful waiter, Joe (I hope that was his name, as that was the name on the Bill) suggested we taste the 'Le Grenache' because we wanted to eat as much as we could from the menu. As always, we were looking a medium bodied red that went well with anything. Joe was spot on with this recommendation as it was more savoury and not overly fruity. This was a lovely drop and since that night we have been spotting it all over town so it seems to be quite popular! A winter favourite!
Snacktime Platter of Fried Goodness to start
Now we were faced with an assortment of dishes to order and Joe steps in again during decision time. The ethos behind District Dining is that their dishes are meant to be shared and enjoyed together. I have not been to Assiette which is Chef Warren Turnbull's 2 Hat restaurant (also in the..district) but I have been told that this is his less formal but equally tasty offering. Each dish on the menu makes my mouth water - its my kind of food - real, delicious and fun food that piques your tastebuds after ordering. District Dining is not a place where you have to google what exactly a e pied de cochon is and act like you knew that when it arrives at the table. Without being too formal, there is still a casual elegance about.
Crispy Quail Eggs served with Tarragon Mayonaise $14
Of course the word crispy before anything warrants an order and my grin widens as it arrives. I find it quite ingenious that these golden balls of goodness are kept upright in the original plastic containers that the quail eggs would have been encased in. Served with a dollop of tarragon mayonaise I generously slathered this on bite after bite. A runny yolk also provided some creamy goodness.
Beef Chimichanga with Curry Avocado $10

Chimichangas. Being an LA girl at heart and having fun memories in Disneyland they were something I was very familiar with, even introducing this deep fried burrito when Demos and I visited. God knows what was in those California Chimichangas that were 10 time the size of this one. The District Dining version was filled with some deliciously slow cooked beef that just melts in your mouth. The pastry is crispy and not oily making it rather guilt free. The curry avocado dollop added another creamy contrast. I could have had another serve or three.
Crispy Pigs Ears with Sezchuan Salt  $10
Give me a bucket of these and a cold beer and that is my life sorted. Pig's ear? You are probably tilting your head and thinking - 'that cant be right'. The crispy cartilagey strips were like french fries of the porcine variety and were alternately dipped in the taragon mayo or the avocado from the other dishes. So good it hurts my heart!
Crispy School Prawns with Lime Mayonaise $16
Okay, now you are probably thinking - 'jeez guys, order a salad already'. But of course we couldn't say no to the Crispy School Prawns. Eaten whole with generous squeezes of Lemon and lashings of the Mayo, there was no stopping the Empty Fridgers in their element! We were convinced that the prawns were fighting back with their little crispy feet and antennas stabbing our tongues at each bite. Pain is good.
Taleggio Croquette $10
Okay, last fried dish before our mothers order a cholesterol check. Too late! We have here croquettes with some melty talegio cheese inside. Piping hot when it arrives, it was another dish I could have had infinite serves of.. melty cheese in a crumbed potato casing just completes life and you know it.
Steak Tartare with fries and bread $20
Whoops, still something fried in this dish.. a bowl of salted french fries accompanies the steak tartare. I actually like the inclusion of tabasco as I am trying to challenge myself to build up my spice and heat tolerance. This hot sauce gets mixed with the mayo and the meat - its a great combination! The heat sort of cut the richness of the steak mince and makes your forget that he meat is essentially raw. I ordered this dish as I had never had steak tartare before. I had imagined it to be more gamey, sort of like a pate - but this is quite fresh because of the inclusion of herbs. The aoli adds another dimension and helps make a great steak tartare sandwich with the bread and tabasco!
Mandarin Brulee with cardamon and poached mandarin slices $14
I can confidently say that no component of our delicious dessert was fried.
The crispy ..(yes, I said crispy again) brulee cracks with the hit of the dessert spoon and we dig in. A taste bud salvation after all our savoury dishes. I absolutely adore the presentation of this dessert with the sweet soaked mandarin segments served in a little jar. Very quirky, but that creme brulee.. it was silky smooth and absolutely divine. It was not sickly sweet and balanced the tart flavour of the mandarins. Im a sucker for a cheese platter but having that as well would have been far too sinful this evening!
Demos and I can honestly say that our dinner here was truly memorable. The service could not be faulted and the staff were fun and such lovely people. There was a great vibe in this place which made me want to go back again and again. 

And yes, its obvious I have a penchant for all things fried and creamy but the dishes here were somewhat more refined. Wether it be the quality of the ingredients, the flavours, the presentation and the overall atmosphere - District Dining holds that awesome balance between formal dining and a casual night out. It's a classy venue without being too pretentious. The food is real..and really good. Of course, don't think that everything here is deep fried, that's just us being really casually elegant - it is date night after all.
District Dining - 17 Randle St Surry Hills.
District Dining on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

Thanks godness you had a bottle of read to clear your arteries up!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Oh those quail eggs, are they scrumptious! I love that the menu has changed quite a bit from when we visited. Everything looks really good! Haha I too have a penchant for fried and creamy-nothing wrong with that right? :P

Gianna@TheEmptyFridge said...

Hi gaby! Yes red wine does fix everything and does the mandatory artery unclogging for us..they say it's good for you right?? ;)

Hi Lorraine! It is such a great menu, I was excited to see the presentation tins they served their anchovies in earlier on but the fried dishes were too tempting. They have such a knack for great presentation!

mademoiselle délicieuse said...

So many deep-fried temptations! And, hehe, "golden balls of goodness"...Mmmm, balls!

A cupcake or two said...

I love the crispy pig ears. We ordered 2 lots because we couldn't get enough of them. So crunchy but soft in the middle. I am determined to get the recipe.

Laura said...

oh g hello. this place looks delicious & i love the serving dishes

Gianna@TheEmptyFridge said...

Rita, screw a certain David Beckham - these are THE Golden Balls!!

Kath, the pigs ears are so delicious it hurts. It's fancy "chicharon" dont you think?

Laura, I'm getting demos to fashion me some wooden platters from offcuts as I type this ;)

chocolatesuze said...

"pain is good" BAHAHAHA

shez said...

Ahhhh date night! I'm totally craving crispy anything right now. Must visit sometime soon. MUST.

gastronomous anonyous said...

oh wow - those quail eggs look fantasic! i love anything crispy and fried... so bad for the cholesterol but whatever :)

must visit distric dining again soon i think :)

Ladybird said...

Looks like a lovely dining experience, and hooray for date nights!

missklicious said...

Looks like a very delicious date night - I'm always drawn to anything deep fried on the menu too!

Gianna@TheEmptyFridge said...

Suze, those prawns can attack me as much as they want!

Shez, Great dates always involved deep fried in point, Arisun.

Gastronomous A, "Cholesterol, Schmolesterol" ;)

Ladybird, It has to be one of our favorite date nights of late - even though we got DRENCHED trying to get home in the rain!

MissKlicious, i try to show restraint but somehow something 'crumbed' 'battered' or 'crispy' ends up on the table!

sara (Belly Rumbles) said...

Have been wanting to go to District for a while now. Now I want to get there even more - I adore how they plate.

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My menu planning tip (for Thanksgiving especially, but really for any dinner party) is to picture the plate in your mind and bump up all the contrasts as much as you can. What colors are represented? Thanksgiving food tends to be brown and orange, so get some bright greens and red in there, like kale salad, pickled red onions on something, and a raw cranberry relish. What about texture? If everything is soft, add some crunchy and chewy components. And of course, contrasting flavors is important—not everything needs to be sweet! Even naturally sweet dishes like sweet potatoes taste better with a spicy kick, like a drizzle of chimichurri.
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