Pachamama House in Surry Hills is an exciting addition to the Sydney dining scene. Officially opened in late January, owners Tony Maia and Executive Chef Danny Parreno, (ex La Bodeguita del Medio) have teamed up to bring to Sydney a venue that celebrates the flavours of Peruvian cuisine with a touch of Japanese influence.
Pachamama means “mother earth”, Tony Maia explains. The philosophy is based around simplicity and minimalism and only taking what you need. While House plays on a design chosen to evoke a homely welcome with a fireplace on one side.
The venue is styled in a combination of dark wood, exposed brick with no metal that give it a sleek elegance without being overstated.
Located in on the corner of Riley and Goulburn Streets at the foot of a new residential block, the restaurant/bar has a European feel with indoor and outdoor seating, a central island bar with high back bar stools and a combination of intimate tables, banquettes, and a communal table facing the wood-fired oven.
The oven at Pachamama House
The wine list offers a global choice from Argentina, Portugal, France as well as Australia and New Zealand, with a few by the glass like the excellent 2011 Entre Vinhas Reserva from Portugal ($10.50). Made from Touriga grapes, aged for 6 months in French oak then 6 months in the bottle, the wine is smooth and full-flavoured with wild berries, cherries and raspberries
There is a modest choice of beer including White Rabbit White Ale on tap and Tres Cruces, a beer from Peru.
L-R: Sazerac, Pisco Sour
While the food plays on a Peruvian/Japanese fusion, the cocktails remain classics such as the Tom Collins, Negroni and Sazerac, served with lemon zest on the side. The Pisco Sour is refreshing and well-balanced which makes it easy drink throughout the meal. All cocktails are under $20 and during the daily cocktail hour (between 5pm and 7pm) they’re available at $12 each.
From the cebiche menu, the classic cebiche ($15) is fragrant on the plate with a freshness, citrus and heat dancing on the palate. Slices of cured snapper in lime, green chilli and coriander piled high and topped with sweet potato chips. The flavour is a little strong on the lime but it offsets the bite of the chilli and it’s delicious. Peruvians drink the marinade for good health, and one is happy to oblige to the last drop.
The Nisei ($15) is a textural dish from the cebiche menu. This playful Japanese/Peruvian fusion offers tender and flavoursome octopus tentacles with citrus notes from the yuzu dressing and yaki onigiri.
A la piedra
A la piedra ($16) is not to be missed. Husk baked fish of the day with calamari, rocoto and mussels is presented on a corn husk, sprinkled with roasted Peruvian corn. The dish packs a little heat without overpowering the flavours of the fish and seafood – a dish that deserves an encore on a return visit.
Yuquita Frita ($6)
Yuquita Frita ($6), fried cassava chips and huancaina sauce are easy to nibble on and make good bar snacks while enjoying a few cocktails,
as do the empanadas ($4.50) with braised pork cheek that melts in the mouth with a Chilean tomato-based condiment.
Another go-to dish is the sticky duck with roasted coconut and crispy rice ($20) served on betel leaves. Pick it up with your fingers, wrapping the leaf around the crispy rice and enjoy the flavours and textures. It’s worth the mess and you’ll soon be scraping the coconut sauce from the plate when no one is looking.
Chilean sea bass
The Chilean sea bass with yucca and panca sauce ($27) is another flavoursome dish that usually comes with roasted scallops (not available on the day). The fish is moist and perfectly cooked and topped with a Peruvian red pepper sauce with a mild, fruity flavour.
To satisfy the child at heart in an adult way, you can’t go past the Tequila Sorbet ($15), served with a baked meringue, orange cream with cinnamon and caramel popcorn.
Tristan Fletcher with Young Fashioned with Bundaberg Liqueur
To end the meal, bartender Tristan Fletcher suggests one of his invention cocktails, a Young Fashioned, made with Patron Coffee Liqueur. But after spotting the rare Bundaberg Royal Liqueur first tasted at the Sydney Rum Club (only available at the distillery), he offers to make us a Young Fashioned with Bundaberg Liqueur, stirred with Grand Marnier, bitters, orange zest and cinnamon. The cocktail is sensational with its coffee, chocolate, citrus and spice, served in a brandy balloon with a block of ice which he tells me will be a feature on the menu.
Pachamama House offers an inventive and original menu that celebrates the chef’s dual heritage with fresh flavours that entice you to return. The dishes are a great value and well-priced under the $30 mark. The ambience is casual and welcoming whether you’re sitting indoors or at the large outdoor veranda in summer or by the wood-fired oven in winter.
For now, Pachamama is like the new kid on the block but it won’t be long before word is out and it becomes a favourite and hotpot for dining and drinking in Sydney.
2/200 Goulburn Street (corner of Riley St)
Ph: (02) 9261 8799
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