Dinner at Le Pelican, 411 Bourke Street, Darlinghurst. Enter through an old iron gate with arrow-headed railings along the curved concrete 'verandah' - in its original state. The room is a lovely warm space, a tiny terrace with raw brick walls and copper pipes in unusual places. Capable of seating 30, there are windows onto Bourke Street along one wall. Opposite, a doorway leads into another, smaller, room, only 4 tables here, but with a bar and winerack in view. The kitchen runs off into the garden, seen through the small windows on the east side.
This little restaurant has only been open 4 months. The food is delightful, reasonably priced, and with some absolute stunners on the menu - which changes weekly.
My companion was a veg-aquarian, so started with the zucchini flowers stuffed with rocket and parmesan with a tomato sauce. It was lovely, solid, worthwhile.
I had the smoked salmon with asparagus, goats cheese and lomo leaf. The salmon was 2 thick, tall triangles, the accompaniment a boat-shaped delight of wafer thin slices of asparagus on the spicy lomo leaf and transparent Spanish jambon. A taste sensation!
Mains were salmon shaped into a circle, stuffed with mussels, on a bed of tomatoes and leeks with squid ink and fennel sauce. My companion pronounced it superb, fresh flavours jumping in the mouth. Mine was thin pieces of veal, layered with fresh asparagus and fresh porcini mushrooms, in a cream sauce. Again, nice, but solid and worthwhile, not as interesting or unusual as the salmon.
Desserts were an apple tarte tatin and a rhubarb compote, rhubarb flavoured with vanilla on a crisp biscuit with strawberries and lemon-verbena sorbet. Absolutely exquisite, it is worth a visit just to eat this.
A lovely experience, one I hope to repeat soon. $160 for 2 with 3 courses each and wine. Good value!