Duke Bistro, Darlinghurst


65 Flinders Street, Darlinghurst

We’ve been doing a few Friday night outs of late. A chance to wind down after the working week. It warrants a fun, relaxing night out and not something on the serious, food worshipping side. Duke Bistro fits the bill, being young, quirky and a little bit hipster (the two go hand and hand in this part of town).

We’re the first people in the restaurant at 7pm, which is mildly disconcerting. Though with a decent martini soon in hand it doesn’t matter.

We’re on a good run of martinis of late – suitably cold and potent. The restaurant soon begins to fill up and we make our choice from the absorbing menu.

The plates are for sharing and a little off-kilter. We start with err… raisin toast..

They’re not too sweet, but doused with a hint of sherry. A good little taste to share.

We follow with radish, dashi butter and bread roll:

If I recall this was one of the more expensive dishes on the menu – not far off $20, which seemed a little steep for the ingredients. But it was a moreish delight. Nice al dente radishes with a gently raw heat served with the heart-attack inducing dashi, which was the kind of dipping sauce you don’t want to give up. It was lovely and worth every penny.

The retro chicken wings are next with coleslaw ‘milk’

Good ,crispy and succulent. All that one would hope for in a chicken wing. the slaw milk is cutesy and the hot sauce unecessary.

One of the most enjoyable dishes was grilled watemelon with zucchini and fresh herbs:

The freshness of the watemelon was a grilled treat, making it quite meaty and savoury with the other ingredients complimentary with lightness and summery flavour.

Moving on to the ‘mains’ it was hard to not order the ‘veal shortrib pancake party’

Think of western take on a duck pancake and you’re there. The veal rib was seriously fatty and gelatinous, but still had plenty of fibrous morsels to create four decent sized pancakes. Old school american mustard replaced the hoisin sauce. Maybe ‘party’ was pushing it, but it was certainly fun.

Our savoury dishes finished with another curiousity – peach risotto.

It was too left field not to order and draw comments from other diners that were equally curious. It was suprisingly good. The sweet peach was balanced by the white wine and fresh herbs. It actually worked.

Clearly we’d had a few savoury dishes between us and could only manage one little sweet – a baby rum baba:

Not an overly bludgeoning indulgence like other rum babas, it was quite cute with a light rum and dollop of fresh cream. It went down well and brought to close an engaging meal.

We’d certainly return. It’s a fun place to dine with the food showing a real sense of humour without venturing into culinary masturbation or whimsy. The restaurant soon warmed up and it was rocking by the time we finished with a large dildo be handed around a table across the room from us. So not exactly a place for a quiet, romantic evening, but perfect for a Friday night.


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