Monday, April 4, 2011

District Dining, Surry Hills

I'm on holiday mode already and am getting a bit slack with the posts, least there will be a lot of posts after our eating adventures are done these holidays.  Cheesecake Boy and my holiday adventures continue at District Dining.  I had been wanting to go to District Dining for a while and when Jump On It offered a deal late last year, where for $69 you got a three course meal for two and a bottle of wine. Naturally, I jumped on the deal, and have waited until last Saturday to have a long and leisurely lunch with Cheesecake Boy.

The bread was not complimentary, but I have a thing for bread, so we ordered some.  The bread came with olive oil, and it was warm and crusty.  

Bread, $3

The deal started off with the a chef selection plate to share. My camera is going a bit funny again, so you will have to bear with me until I work out if I need to get it repaired, or a new camera.   Anyway back to the food, we got four samples that included smoked eel pate with cucumber and dill,  salted yoghurt with beetroot and sumac, veal tongue with pickled turnip, salsa verde and almonds and lastly crispy quail eggs with tarragon mayonnaise and white anchovies.

Chef selection platter to share

The smoked eel pate with cucumber and dill had Cheesecake Boy and I divided.  I actually liked the pate and thought the touch of cucumbers and dill was refreshing.  It went really well smeared across the bread as the eel pate was subtle and not overbearing as I find a lot of pates are.  The pate also had a good consistency and texture.  Cheesecake Boy just didn't take a liking to the pate, he thought there was an overriding taste about the pate that didn't sit well with him.  Oh well, just means more for me :)

Smoked eel pate with cucumber and dill and a side of sourdough behind the tin

I have a thing for pine nuts and beetroot, so I thought I would love this starter.  The salted yoghurt was nice and everything went well together, but it's a simple dish with no particular lift about it.

Beetroot, sumac and salted yoghurt

The veal tongue was tender but what I loved about this dish was the salsa verde, I completely soaked up the remaining sauce with my bread.  The sauce had a lovely tang that was complemented by the yoghurt.  The almonds were lovely and gave the dish a nice crunch.

Veal tongue with pickled turnip, salsa verde and almonds

When I was young, I hated egg yolks.  When I got a fried egg, I would cut around the yolk and only eat the egg whites, but how time changes things.  As soon, as you bite into the egg, the warmth of the yolk just oozes into your mouth.  Cheesecake Boy popped his egg on the chopping board, so there was more yolk for me to soak up with our bread.  The slight saltiness of the anchovies went well with the crispy soft egg and creamy mayonnaise.

Crispy quail eggs with tarragon mayonnaise and white anchovies

Before we ordered, I was feeling a bit under the weather so I went for the baby snapper, king crab and sweetcorn congee, but a cup of tea and some starters, did the trick.  However, this is why I ordered the congee over the gnocchi main that was also on offer.  I seriously, did not expect the baby snapper, king crab and sweetcorn congee to look as beautiful as this.  When I think of congee, I always envision Chinatown style congee, but should have known better, and was reluctant to order it, but I was pleasantly surprised and glad I got this dish in the end.  

The congee was delicious.  The snapper was just simply seasoned and pan fried, with it's crisp skin and succulent flesh, it went swimmingly well with the congee underneath.  The congee had a nice and thick consistency, and the delicate flavours of the king crab and corn was truly a harmonious balance.

Baby snapper, king crab and sweetcorn congee

Cheesecake Boy went for the crispy pork belly with watermelon, cashew and pickled daikon, which is not surprising, as long as their is pork belly, you'll find Cheesecake Boy.  The pork belly is huge and looked stunning too.  I tasted a bit of the pork belly, and the sauce was beautifully sweet with just the right amount of acidity to complement the tender pork.  The only issue was that the pork was not crispy, so this was really unfortunate.

Crispy pork belly with watermelon, cashews and pickled daikon

One of my few guilty pleasures is that I am a Maccas chicken nugget nut, and it has to come with sweet and sour sauce.  Otherwise, it would not be complete.  It's the only fast food, I eat on a rare occasion.  I have been reading about the District Dining chicken nuggets for a while, so I knew I had to add a side order to our meal deal.

The chicken nuggets tasted more like KFC nuggets and shaped like giant popcorn chicken pieces. However, the thing that disappointment me the most was that once you bit into the nugget, there was a floury residue.  However, the lime chilli aioli really saved the nuggets for me, as together the nuggets and creamy aioli were a perfect match.  I also liked that the coleslaw consisted of a tangy citrus dressing so that there was not a creamy overload, between the sauce and the coleslaw.

District dining chicken nuggets with coleslaw and lime chilli aioli, $20

We had a bit of a squabble over who was going to get the Eton mess.  In the end the waitress decided for us and Cheesecake Boy got the Eaton mess, much to his excitement.  I thought that this dessert was lovely, but I wished that the meringue had a crisper presence in this dessert.

Strawberries, raspberries, meringue and vanilla cream

I really enjoyed the buttermilk pannacotta, it had a lovely smooth texture and the plainness went well with the spiced fruit that had gingery overtones.  The mint in the can of fruit was quite subtle, which was good for me, as I am not a minty dessert type of girl.  However, the combination of the nuts, fruit, syrup and simple pannacotta was a lovely way to end the meal.

Buttermilk pannacotta, spiced peaches and mint

We were so stuffed after lunch, so this meal ended up as our dinner too.  Totally my fault as I wanted those nuggets.  I love food like this though, simple but refined.  It's classic favourites that are of good quality and shaken up slightly to give it a modern twist.  Whether it's lunch or dinner, District Dining has a simple easiness about it.  Next time, I'll be up for some of those cocktails from the bar and that prawn toast that I spied on their current menu.

Happy eating, Dumpling Girl.

P.S., if you are Cheesecake Boy, you should stop reading now and get off that iphone, and listen to your lecture.

District Dining
17 Randle Street
Surry Hills  NSW  2010

Ph: (02) 9211 7798  

District Dining on Urbanspoon


Dumpling Girl and Cheesecake Boy said...

what if I am in tutorial is it ok to read the post?

Dumpling Girl said...

Oh that's even worse!

Mel said...

I've heard a lot about this restaurant and would like to give it a try at some point...I bet they don't have vouchers anymore, now that they are so popular. Bummer - as I love those vouchers.

joey@forkingaroundsydney said...

Hmmm, floury residue with the chicken nuggets? Shame. Looks great.

Dumpling Girl said...

Hi MissPiggy, the Jump On It offer was late last year, and they sold out all 2000 vouchers on the day. They have some good deals come through sometimes.

Hello Joey, I was really disappointed, as the floury residue seemed like a coating between the batter and chicken meat. I thought it was an one off, but it was all of them. May be I was unlucky :(

Gastronomous Anoymous said...

oh man - will have to return for crispy pork belly! didnt order that last time i was there.... and the frie chicken - YUM! i can never say no to lime chili aioli..

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

I felt so bad calling them chicken nugget-like but it looks like they call them that now so I don't feel so bad! :P

Dumpling Girl said...

Hi Gastronomous Anoymous, the pork belly was delicious and the lime chilli aioli was so good. Looks like we'll both be returning.

Hello Lorriane, oh don't feel bad, I mean since John Lethlean has reviewed this place, I think the term chicken nugget has really caught on and they seem to like the new name. It's much cuter anyway :D

Victor Hom said...

I thought eel patte was pretty nice with the bread I had. The ice cream wasn't too bad also. I got different mains with my voucher so it is diappointing I didn't get any pork belly when I went! :(

One of the desserts was rice pudding - first time i tried it but I don't think it's really my thing.

Dumpling Girl said...

Hello Victor, the pork belly was great, it's a shame you missed it, but there's always next time :)

Pho Girl said...

I went with my voucher about a month ago. I also got the snapper with congee for my main. It would have to be some of the best congee i've ever tasted. I would highly recommend it. The strawberry eton mess was nice but not spectacular. Overall a great experience and i would definitely go back again.

Dumpling Girl said...

Hey Pho Girl, I'm so glad we got the vouchers, I'll be back soon too :)

Anonymous said...

I went there last Tuesday to use up my second Jump On It voucher.

The lighting at night is not good for taking photos, or rather the lack of lighting. I had the pork belly and it was SO good.

We also got pickled carrots instead of the beetroot, which I think I would have preferred the beetroot over carrot.

Dumpling Girl said...

Hi happynomnomnom, the lighting was lovely in the day, but I can definitely understand the lack of lighting there at night.

That's a shame about the beetroot though, and agree that the pork belly was divine.