While some might say that the only thing that can result from merging a catering business and restaurant is a crisis of identity, I found a certain appeal in this quirky Darlo lovechild. It’s shabby chic, Poznań style – with overstuffed armchairs, kitsch cushions and proud Poles, like Darius Grygo, manning the floor. He’ll have you knocking back Zoladkowa Mint Vodka ($9) and Perla Pils ($10/500ml) in minutes. You’ll sup on modern eastern European dishes from Poland, Serbia, Russia and the Ukraine. Chef Richard Slarp’s catering gene comes out in the pretty plated precision of Beetroot and Vodka Cured Ocean Trout Blini ($16); though it’s his airy Spinach and Ricotta Burek ($10.50) that really wins my heart. Pastry’s clearly a strong suit; they also produce the best Fish Pie ($24) I’ve had all year, with perfectly cooked mussels and tender blue-eye trevalla. A cool night led me to match it with their Warm Pear Cider ($10) – also the best around. Skillets of Oxtail and Potato Dumplings ($24) will keep your men-folk happy; though it was a lady-fest on the night I dined. I hazard they’re there for the earnest check-shirt wearing waiters; though I also observed sharing boards of Pashka ($12) – Russian inspired baked ricotta cheesecake – flying ‘round.
Lower Ground Floor, 91 Riley Street, Darlinghurst
Ph: (02) 8090 3462 www.foodsociety.com.au
Eastern European $$-$$$