The austere minimalism of the room makes you concentrate on the subtlety of what’s in the glass and on the plate. Against a limited colour palate – even the kitchen and floor teams wear alternating navy and dark grey – I find myself leaning in to capture a whisker of smoke from the exquisite Roasted Oysters ($4/each). It’s wood-fire that links Mat Lindsay’s cooking to the new style emerging from high-end favourites like Bridge Room and The Woods: pared back, unfussy, fundamental. So it seems fitting to try it with unpasteurised, artisan sake – Terada Honke ‘Katori 90%’ ($11/glass) – by a brewer who’s returned to pre-modern methods. The Blood Sausage Sanga ($6/each) is so good, it’s causing me to have a Pavlovian response to Chippendale: my mouth waters and the steering wheel pulls toward the restaurant. Eat sharing style (you get to try more). Let someone play Father and adorn the sticky Pork Hock ($32) with the juice of blackened orange. Include a head of charred Cauliflower ($16) and the Asparagus/Nasturtium/Egg ($16) combo for some green. Take on any dessert the small menu cares to offer. Three Milks ($11) pays homage to goat, cow and sheep, delivering a re-imagined Jersey caramel; while Mango/Passionfruit/Meringue ($15) looks like something Nanna would make, but surprises with both texture and taste.
46-52 Meagher Street, Chippendale
Ph: (02) 8068 8279 ester-restaurant.com.au
Modern Australian $$$-$$$$