April Dining: Eliza Food & Wine brings something fresh to Darlinghurst

April Dining: Eliza Food & Wine brings something fresh to Darlinghurst

A refined new Darlinghurst offering is refreshingly free of fuss. Review by Elizabeth Meryment

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Sydney dining trends have always been lightning fast in their trajectory, but this year things seem to have slowed down a little. Are there dominant themes of 2019? Only one that I can see: the forceful assertion of simplicity upon our menus. Fuss is out, restrained comfort is in. Which means a satisfying bowl of pasta; a plate of perfectly ripened tomatoes splashed with balsamic vinegar, salt and olive oil; a well-made negroni. In uncertain times, solidity is reassuring.

Perhaps it is timely then to sit inchef Jeremy Bentley’s new Eliza Food& Wine and observe a menu stacked with, well, not quite comfort dishes but plates that are occasionally daring in their simplicity.

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Bentley is well known to local diners who might have tried his sweet little Surry Hills restaurant, The Devonshire, which closed last year after a seven-year run — a victim of the creeping tramlines. There, he offered a “Franglais” menu that for a small venue was rather elevated. Here at Eliza he’s toned it back, and the result is a menu of beautiful eating with a genuinely 2019 sensibility of quiet but deeply satisfying goodness.

Start on a shared (or not shared, if preferred) menu of flatbread served with excellent lightly spiced hummus with parsley oil, ora South of France-influenced sweet-and-sour offering of puffy brioche toast topped with briny wedges of pickled sardines.

These might be the show-off dishes; then there are others of pure good eating — simply delicious prawn spring rolls, or refreshingly lightly cured trout with pickled radish, black rice and shiso.

Salads follow: a frisky-lookingroast carrot with an assortment ofhealthful sides (black garlic, pinenuts, peas, parsley) or curried baby corn with chickpea, coconut and coriander.

There are only three mains —one fish, two meats — so decide upon a favourite among mulloway with fermented cabbage, 12-hour lamb shoulder with eggplant and rosemary, or roast pork belly with baby gem lettuce and smoked almond cream, and enjoy the eating.

Bentley is a very good chef in his element here. His is a menu of technique and confidence, of saying this is what we need and that’s that. His support team is terrific — the service is jovial and perceptive and wines start at $50 the bottle, which is good value for Sydney these days. The space, filling what once was Fez restaurant, has a modern bistro feel.

So Surry Hills’s loss is Darlinghurst’s gain. Eliza is a new arrival completely in tune with the times.

247 Victoria St, Darlinghurst

9194 5002

elizafoodandwine.com

Entrees/starters: $6-$21 Mains: $32-$35 Desserts/cheese: $10-$25

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