It’s a brave restaurateur that jumps into the space formerly occupied by Christine Manfield’s Universal, not least of which because of the Tetris-style pack down required every shift. And while Manfield’s memory lingers in the outdoor courtyard, Steve Waldeck has drawn a clear division by changing her tangerine to cool aquamarine. It lends a relaxed Mediterranean feel that invites you to linger in the balmy evening air over your Cambridge Road Papillon Blanc 2014 ($77), an interesting blend of Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir and Riesling throwing fruit and flowers. The food offerings are pleasantly free from lofty ambitions. Head Chef Andy Ball (ex-Bel Mondo) has put together a short list of accessible share plates arranged by size, allowing you to choose your own adventure. For casual drinkers there are snacks like Almonds ($7), Olives ($9) and Sydney Rocks ($5/each) enhanced by cucumber, apple and chardonnay. If you’re hungry, skip straight to the mustard-crumbed Coorong Angus ($39); cut tagliata for easy sharing, on kale, white anchovy and mushrooms. Standout Goats Cheese Tortellini ($22) and the Roasted Pumpkin ($16) dotted with pepitas, shallots and chèvre, satisfy without the use of meat. Alternatively you can throw your hands in the air and cry: Feed Me ($65/head) to receive an excellent value six-course meal, ending with a shared Vanilla Pannacotta ($17) verrine.
Civilian Bar & Kitchen
248 Palmer Street, Darlinghurst
Ph: (02) 9361 4162 civilian.net.au
Modern Australian $$$