Surry Hills’ White Horse restaurant review

Surry Hills’ White Horse restaurant review

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Yes, you can roll up and order a beer, but I'm not entirely sure you can still call it a pub. Whatever the White Horse is, I really like it.

Good food cap15.5/20

contemporary$$

Just when I thought high-end pub food in Sydney was doomed to the same old menu of fish crudo and over-ambitious cheeseburgers, White Horse reopened in April and slapped me in the face. There are dishes in Surry Hills booze that wouldn't be out of place on some tasting menus for twice the price, and while I'm not sure you can still call it a pub, whatever the White Horse has become, I like it very much.

White Horse (it has a galloping stallion on the roof) was built in the 1930s and has enjoyed stints as a piano bar, brasserie and live music venue, as well as a somewhat dubious hangout for cyclists and policemen.

Before hospitality veteran Craig Hemmings and a group of silent partners took the keys early last year, the hotel had settled into a life of forgettable craft beer, whiskey and pizza. All in all, good, but not much better or worse than at least five other pubs within a five minute walk.

Beetroot milfouilles with muntries and native thyme.
Beetroot milfouilles with muntries and native thyme.Jennifer Soo

Now there's a “beetroot millefou” ($24), and it's one of the most exciting ways to eat a vegetable since eggplant caviar. Layers of thinly sliced ​​beets are rolled into a disc that looks like a giant dashboard cigarette lighter (remember that?) and are fed with native thyme oil and a butter-emulsified beet reduction.

It's rare to find brownies with a crunchy, juicy texture like this in Sydney outside of, say, Quay.

There's a kombu-forward squid ink glaze that covers every millimeter of clean, sweet toothfish ($55) in the most amazing way. Roasted Jerusalem artichoke and goat cheese nocturnes ($6 each) and wagyu tri-tip are bolstered by a chestnut mushroom sabayon ($45) that tastes like an autumn afternoon in bright French sauce form . A smoked tomato and steak sandwich on the bar menu is $34; comes with fries and easily feeds two. Chef Jed Gerrard, welcome back to Sydney.

Gerrard cut his teeth at the three hats Bilson's and Tetsuya's before spending a few years as executive chef at The Star's Black by Ezard steakhouse. In 2015, he returned home to Western Australia to run a number of high-profile restaurants, and when Hemmings needed a luxury chef to revamp White Horse, he called on his old pal from The Star.

Before I start using too many adjectives when it comes to the food, I have to mention that Farago Han Studio has also done a nice job on the interiors. Despite a clubby soundtrack that sounds like something you might have heard at Hemmesphere in the early 2000s, the dining room is a relaxing space of reclaimed oak tables, softly textured walls, woven leather chairs and bold art. Renovation costs were $6 million.

The house cocktails are designed by drink gun Michael Chiem.
The house cocktails are designed by drink gun Michael Chiem. Jennifer Soo

Can you roll up unannounced and just order a beer? Yes. A bar and terrace on the first floor have been designed for the occasion. But with a green quartz counter and velvet ottomans, the space feels more like a cocktail lounge than a public bar, and a Reschs costs $10.

Bar manager Max Mercuri is a deft hand with any classic, so consider popping up for a sazerac ($24) or something from the house list designed by cocktail gun Michael Chiem.

The subtle sweetness of Chiem's ​​$20 “Benny Blanco” martini (gin, vermouth, macerated grapes and rosemary) will also work with the richness of a chicken skin biscuit topped with liver mousse and persimmon ice ($8) .

Ideal dish: Brown manjimup with sweet corn and ice plant.
Ideal dish: Brown manjimup with sweet corn and ice plant.Jennifer Soo

You might prefer a glass of Chardonnay Moon 2021 ($18) to the butter-poached Western Australian marron tail, which sits atop a corn risotto with hand-picked marron meat and a dominant sauce made with crayfish head. At $58, it's not a cheap service, but it's also rare to find brownies with a crunchy, juicy texture like this in Sydney outside of, say, Quay.

But while the brie-infused ice cream ($16) sounds crazy, the cheese's powerful flavor is tempered by quince jelly and a sort of sandalwood crumble. The floral and dessert riesling cream ($18) is paired with sheep's milk frozen yogurt and desert lime and may remind you of lemon meringue.

Our Gerrard is now back in Perth and will only travel east every two months. This is a minor to major concern. But I've also been there when he wasn't in the kitchen and head chef Jun Hwang is firmly in control of the high-wire act. Restaurant manager Bora Ahn leads a well-rehearsed floor team and if the owners can keep this current crew, White Horse 17.0 may be the pub's most successful iteration yet. Without a doubt, it is the most delicious.

the bass

Vibration: Very refined pub-restaurant with exquisite ribs

Go to plate: Brownie with Sweet Corn and Ice Plant ($58)

Drinks: A wine list of a hundred bottles with lots of excitement from Australia and Europe; the focus is on organic and regenerative producers

Cost: About $180 for two, excluding drinks

This review was originally published on Have a great weekend magazine

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They call boysCallan Boys is editor of the SMH Good Food Guide, Good Weekend restaurant critic and Good Food writer.

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