“We built the restaurant around the garden,” Chef Roy McVeigh of Dragoncello in Surry Hills explains. His restaurant opened its doors late in 2014 and has recently launched an upstairs section with a more formal dining experience.
Upstairs Dragoncello, Surry Hills
A simple fitout upstairs consists of white tablecloths covered with butchers’ paper, subdued lighting, black curtains that shut the outside world and splashes of colour with pop art on the walls.
Roy McVeigh has worked for ten years in Michelin and hatted restaurants which include Berowra Waters Inn, Bathers Pavilion, Bennelong and a one Michelin star restaurant in Hong Kong, as well as stages at Attica, Royal Mail and Quay. His menu is reflective of his experiences channeling a fine dining experience starting with an amuse bouche of pear foam and fish head curry that’s ever so light in texture but full of flavour.
But if you take a peek at some of the dishes at a neighbouring table, you’ll soon realise all is not what it seems.
Sydney Rock Oyster with Burnt Leek, Potato Skins and Citrus Leaf Gel
Don’t expect to see any oysters in the Sydney Rock Oyster with Burnt Leek, Potato Skins and Citrus Leaf Gel ($3 each). The oyster is in the mayonnaise blend that lies beneath crisp potato skins, a salty and creamy combination that will soon make you forget there is no visible bivalve on the dish. It’s well worth ordering.
Pumpkin Pot Stickers, Pumpkin Seeds, Beurre Noisette and Nasturtium Flower Gel
The Pumpkin Pot Stickers, Pumpkin Seeds, Beurre Noisette and Nasturtium Flower Gel ($17) are in essence lightly fried dumplings given the ravioli treatment. Each is full with soft pumpkin that is sweet and caramelised with the beurre noisette and pumpkin seeds adding a lovely crunch.
Beef Tartare with Mustard Oil, Oyster Mayo, Crumbs and Mock Caviar ($18)
Another surprise is the presentation of the Beef Tartare with Mustard Oil, Oyster Mayo, Crumbs and Mock Caviar ($18). Under the subdued lighting, it looks like a crumble and the flavour is sensational. The tartare meat is minced to a point where the texture becomes like a pate and the dish is enriched with bursts of spicy mustard oil that makes the dish sing.
Toffee Beetroot, Boudin Noir, Crackling and Apple ($18)
There are so many elements at play with the Toffee Beetroot, Boudin Noir, Crackling and Apple ($18). The beetroot is given a light toffee glaze, the crumbly boudin noir is simply delicious and with some spice notes and the apple adds balance – a sweet, earthy dish where individual components come together in harmony.
Chicken Ballotine, Chickweed, Crisp Pigs Ear, Pickled Jellyfish and Sweet Basil
From the main, it is well worth ordering the Chicken Ballotine, Chickweed, Crisp Pigs Ear, Pickled Jellyfish and Sweet Basil ($36). The chicken is impossibly tender and moist and the pickled jellyfish add more texture than flavour.
Lamb Neck Hay Cream with Native Mint, Pickled Onion and Mushroom Sauce
While it may not look photogenic, the Lamb Neck Hay Cream with Native Mint, Pickled Onion and Mushroom Sauce ($34) is the produce of 36 hours of slow cooking. The lamb is unctuous and rich, melting in the mouth with flavour while the hay cream adds a lovely smokiness to the dish.
Fat Potatoes with Fenugreek Leaves ($7)
It’s hard to resist the Fat Potatoes with Fenugreek Leaves ($7) when they come beautifully crisp and crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside with earthiness and spice from the herb.
Geranium Cream and Tomato Soup Cake with Rhubarb Poached and Sorbet ($17)
Dessert also gets the surprise treatment with the Geranium Cream and Tomato Soup Cake with Rhubarb Poached and Sorbet ($17). The geranium cream has a lovely flavour with the texture of a pannacotta. The rhubarb components work well but the tomato soup cake is a little underwhelming.
Potato Chip Cake with Salted Caramel and Sour Cream Snow
The last surprise of the evening is the Potato Chip Cake with Salted Caramel and Sour Cream Snow ($17). The cake is made using unsalted potato chips with flour and comes topped with potato crisps and the combination of sour and sweet from the snow and salted caramel respectively make it a standout dessert.
Upstairs at Dragoncello is a world away from the ubiquitous share plates, fast food and the latest food fads. The flavours and techniques leave you impressed and the surprise elements of each dish make is a most memorable experience.
466 Cleveland St
Surry Hills NSW 2010
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