Y'all know my love of offal. If you're going to eat meat, I say, you really should eat the whole damn thing. That's how I ended up at 4Fourteen for my recent birthday dinner, bypassing their Collective Menu for the Odd Bits option. It's the same price - $65 for a four-course shared menu - but there's a focus on offal for the evening's meal, served banquet-style for the entire table.
4Fourteen dining room
The dining room at 4Fourteen is cleverly designed, broken up into a series of eating hubs anchored around the main bar in the middle. That means seats alongside the three-metre high windows, stools at the bar, banquette seats in front of the wine shelves and small clusters of tables dotted throughout the room.
Counter seating around the open kitchen
Wrapped around the open kitchen are high chairs that give you an uninterrupted view of all the action. It's perfect for single diners, casual walk-ins or anyone who relishes the performance of sitting at a chef's table.
Iggy's bread with butter
Getting everyone in your party to opt into the offal menu may be a challenge, but trust me, there's nothing too hair-raising here. Executive chef, Colin Fassnidge, and head chef, Carla Jones, are both trumpeters of nose-to-tail eating, but there's plenty of prettying-up here too. That means you won't find a whole cow's tongue in the middle of the table or a pigs head staring back at you. There's a sophisticated touch in its preparation of offal, with elegant plating that befits its current one hat status.
CJ's chips and dips
Chard and crackling
CJ's chips and dips gets the night off to a flying start. We wrest ourselves away from Iggy's bread with butter (the bread still incredibly soft and fluffy) and take great delight in demolishing curls of light and airy pork crackling and giant chard leaves, deep-fried in a crisp batter that has the sturdy crunch of chickpea flour.
Crumbed pigs tail terrine
I have no qualms about eating pigs tails on the bone, but here it's a little more discreetly served, the meat shredded off the bone and then reformatted into a terrine that's crumbed and deep-fried. The crumbed pigs tail terrine is a tasty number, the deep-fried shell giving way to a core of tender pork.
Roasted bone marrow on fried flat bread
There's a ripple of excitement when the roasted bone marrow lands on the table. Three bone marrows to share between seven might not seem like a lot, but these marrow-laden troughs are some of the biggest I've seen.
They're roasted to perfection, not too much so the fat has melted into a puddle, but just enough so we can spoon out wobbles of rich deliciousness onto the accompanying flat bread. It's a pure and unadulterated celebration of fat, and we eagerly return for more.
Bar counter and window-side seating
Tripe 'hot pot' with chorizo and tomato
The tripe hot pot has more than a few echoes of Madrid-style callos, a Spanish specialty of tripe with chorizo cooked in a tomato sauce. Not everyone around the table is an eager fan of tripe, but this dish converts even the skeptics. The strips of tripe have been slow-cooked until tender, tumbled in a hearty stew of tomatoes, carrots and celery that is immediately warm and comforting. The tripe soaks up all the flavours like a sponge.
Chargrilled ox tongue with chimmichurri and raw sprout slaw
Who doesn't like a bit of tongue action? The chargrilled ox tongue is not what you'd expect, looking more like cubes of beef steak or beef brisket. One bite, however, and you're rewarded with the distinct taste of tongue. There's a melting succulency to the flesh and the seared edges give a touch of sweetness. It's a masterfully done dish.
Liquorice beef brisket with pickled vegetables and fried bread
The official mains haven't even arrived, and half of us are already nearing satiation. There's a lot of rich food going on, and the portions are generous too. A huge cast iron pot containing liquorice beef brisket arrives. And then another. Any doubts about leaving this meal hungry are immediately quashed.
Roast Dutch carrots with minted yoghurt
Sides arrive too. Roast Dutch carrots have been charred to a honey sweetness, dolloped over with a minted yoghurt that is cool and refreshing.
Mixed grain salad
The mixed grain salad is one helluva fibre party, combining quinoa with lentils, almond slivers, pine nuts and puffed rice. It tastes as good for as you as it looks.
I don't know that I'd count brisket as offal, but the meat has been cooked so it falls apart with just the gentle nudge of a fork. Pickled carrots and radishes help cut through the richness but I can't stop eating the fried bread, thick hunks of sourdough bread that are oozing with butter.
Diners at the kitchen counter
White chocolate sandwich with dulce de leche
Between the seven of us, we're served four full-sized desserts. There are two white chocolate sandwiches, a thick slab of silky white chocolate ice cream between two lacy biscuits that are wondrously brittle and sweet. And if you needed more sugar and cream, a dollop of dulce de leche in the corner ticks all the boxes.
We also score two serves of the Snickers dessert, a playground of tastes and textures which, when all combined, do taste like the chocolate bar from your childhood. We dip and weave our way through chocolate, peanut butter, nougat and caramel until we're completely spent.
My only quibble with the Odd Bits menu is there wasn't more offal. I was left wanting for intestines, pork trotters, blood and brains but I'm a bit weird like that, perhaps. What I can't fault is the abundance of food - we had so much that we ended up taking away half the mains in doggy bags, a request that staff happily obliged. $65 for a four course meal is incredible value for a meal of this quality. Get onto it for your next group meal, I say!
414 Bourke Street, Surry Hills, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9331 5399
Lunch Tuesday to Sunday 12pm-4pm
Dinner Tuesday to Saturday 6pm-10pm
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11/29/2014 09:24:00 pm