33 Enmore Road, Newtown, Sydney
02 9068 1473
I really love my food. It’s no secret: I love cooking, I love sampling new cuisines, I love testing out new recipes, I love going to new restaurants (I also love going to old favourites)…I love food! And from time to time when I come across some truly amazing eats, I have to shout it from the rooftops. Today is one of those times! I was lucky enough to try an incredible new restaurant whilst I was in Sydney, had one of the best meals of my life and am in turn sharing my experience with you all.
Husband-wife team Greg and Naomi opened Harts Yard back in 2012 with the ethos that “good food makes good memories“: and their self described “comfort food with an urban edge” lulled me into a satiated food coma that I still haven’t fully “recovered” from (not that I would necessarily want to). Unobtrusively located off a busy road in trendy Sydney suburb Newtown, if it weren’t for the perpetual gaggle of hungry diners practically spilling out of Hartsyard, I’m sure one could easily walk past without noticing or realizing the pure food poetry being concocted inside. Owner Greg is a big fan of nose-to-tail, leaf-to-root and seasonal cooking, which for me is essentially a red rag to a bull! The food is beyond delicious and what stands out is the lack of pretension about the place: you can tell everyone is having a good time; from the kitchen staff to the diners – everyone is happy being in Hartsyard…and here’s why:
Starting the evening with the Hartsyard Manhattan (a new twist on an old classic), made with bacon-infused Jack Daniels. Yes you heard me correctly, bacon-infused JD…genius! How is it that this was the first time I’d had bacon-infused booze?! Bacon-infused anything is more than ok in my book! The Manhattan smelled exactly like Juicy Fruit Gum (remember those? The yellow packaging, the amazing smell & initial flavour but total let down in “flavour-duration”) and luckily held it’s flavour all the way to the last drop (unlike the gum). The Manhattan was smooth, smokey-sweet and the “icing on the cake” was the air-dried sliver of bacon served on the rim…so good in fact that I’m changing the saying from “icing on the cake” to “bacon on the rim”! (insert inappropriate joke/comment here!)
On to the starters, now I’ll preface all of this by saying the food at Hartsyard is perfect sharing food; the portions are big so you’ll definitely be able to try more goodness if you share with your table. First up were the Oyster Po’Boys, not strictly a traditional po’boy, these were served on a toasted english muffin which made for an interesting twist. The oysters were sweet and briny beneath their thin crispy coating and contrasted brilliantly with the creamy (yet fresh and crunchy) coleslaw. Five stars – could’ve easily eaten another four…
The Tete Pressee (head cheese) was a lot more delicate in flavour and presentation compared to the Po’Boy. For those who don’t know; “head cheese” is when you boil a pigs head, take all the meat off and press it (usually) into a terrine. It’s freakin’ awesome and Hartsyard executed the dish with flair and flavour. Thinly sliced, reassembling carpaccio, and served with crumbled egg, shaved onion and homemade pretzels, it reminded one of my fellow diners of “bacon and eggs“, perhaps a deconstructed version! Beautifully presented and very easy to scoff down, the one teeny remark I’d make was that the pretzels could’ve been a bit softer.
Next up was the Duck Rillette, probably one of my favourite things to eat in general and the one from Hartsyard was seriously amazing. Served with grilled peaches and duck fat toast (yep: bread, fried in duck fat!), you can tell the rillette is homemade – thick shreds of duck meat potted in confit. There’s not much else I can say about this rich and moorish dish other than order it! You can’t possibly be disappointed.
Now, if I thought the starters were amazing (just to reiterate, they were!), the mains were the “Holy Shit” kind of amazing. First up, the infamous Hartsyard Fried Chicken…wow…I mean I don’t even know where to start. Big, juicy, meaty cuts of chicken, lightly battered, fried in a way that makes them come out crispy but not greasy (must be some sort of food sorcery): in short, the most perfect fried chicken I’ve ever tasted in my life. Served with homemade sausage gravy and buttery biscuit (a bit like the American version of a scone), they were lovely add-ons but honestly it’s all about the chicken! This wasn’t so much a dish as it was a culinary religious experience!
The Smoked Wagyu Brisket was fall-apart, melt-in-your-mouth! The smokiness in the meat was smooth yet pronounced and the meat…oh the meat, it was so juicy and tender, it simply fell apart with minimal pressure from the back of my fork. Served with fried green tomatoes and kale with bacon vinegarette (bacon again!), the veggies cut the richness of the meat really well. A great dish but to be honest I was still “recovering” from the fried chicken.
Lastly, we ordered the Lamb Ribs. Amazing – that’s how I describe this dish. Amazing, rich, tender, gamey, moorish; the perfect mix of fat and meat; melt-in-your-mouth perfection! Served with pickled chili (not only delicious, but necessary, to cut the richness of the meat) and a light fluffy slab of homemade cornbread (perfect for soaking up that awesome fatty lamb juice). If there had been any conversation about desserts before the lamb arrived, the only noises coming from any of us now were sighs of satisfaction.
Hartsyard are doing something truly wonderful, backed up by the enduring fully booked dinner services every night (did I mention, we went on a Sunday evening and the place was packed). I can’t reiterate how delicious the food is, how friendly the staff are and how comfortable the atmosphere is, you just have to experience it for yourself! Get yourselves down to Hartsyard next time you’re in Sydney to sample some extraordinarily yummy “stick-to-your-ribs” comfort food, made from the heart!