Chef Roy McVeigh marches to the sound of his own beat – and to be honest, it’s refreshing in a culinary world seemingly dominated by cronuts, overfilled doughnut milkshakes, and meals served on anything but plates. In an unpretentious upstairs room, enlivened by vibrant Tapestry Girl pegboard murals, he defies expectations over and over again – though perhaps the Sydney Rock Oyster, Burnt Leek, Potato Skins and Citrus Leaf Gel ($3/each) might benefit from more staff explanation. The neighbouring table was “freaked out” by not being presented with a visible bivalve, despite tasty tater skins dipped in oyster crème. Beetroot, Boudin Noir, Crackling and Apple ($18) utilises sweetness to well-balanced effect, rather than simply working to elicit a Pavlovian response from our sugar-trained palates. Against The Story Marsanne, Roussanne, Viognier ($50), the dish sings. This versatile (and underrated) wine blend travels well into my dish of the night: Pea Mousse ($28) set under a tangle of its own leaves and flowers, with candied bacon and poured-at-the-table Parmesan broth. While vegetarians are gifted with their own page of options, my carnivorous dining companion tucked into well-rendered (36-hour) Lamb Neck ($34) with hay cream, mushroom sauce and native mint. Geranium Panna Cotta ($17) deftly juggles intense floral sweetness with tomato soup cake and two forms of rhubarb. Nope, haven’t seen that before.
Level 1, 466 Cleveland Street, Surry Hills
Ph: (02) 8399 0907 dragoncello.com.au
Modern Australian $$$-$$$$