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Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Rose of Australia Hotel, Erskineville

A brief break from the current saturation of New York touristing--here's a Sydney restaurant post for those hankering for some Aussie grub and tucker.

kalamata olives
Complimentary kalamata olives

Our previous* visit to the Rose of Australia Hotel dining room was a warm, distant memory of good food, plated enticingly in a quiet and refined atmosphere. I headed there again with the same dining companions and a hopeful smile at what might lie ahead.

*Excuse the horrid beginner photos I beg of you.

We walked through the clatter and chaos of the downstairs pub, filled with noisy patrons and one woman's persistent shrill laughter (there's always one isn't there?). Up the stairs we went and as the heavy, almost immoveable, glass door closed behind us, we became sealed in a bubble of muted conversation and soft clink of cutlery.

We nibble on the complimentary dish of kalamata olives--deliciously salty and flecked with oregano--and after several minutes of menu deliberations we were ready to order. Menus closed, hands on table, our waiter stood 10 feet away and still doesn't notice our "come hither" smiles.

Eventually after another five minutes of nervous waiting, we had raise an apologetic hand to beckon him over to take our order.

salt and pepper calamari
Salt and pepper squid $13.00
with five pepper spice and lime mayonnaise

Our entrees were good. We found the salt and pepper squid a little too floury for our tongues but the zucchini flower dish was indeed a winner: the free-form scattered presentation invites fingers to dip and swirl in vinegarette and beetroot juices and we oblige with gusto. The zucchini flowers are delicate in flavour and form, and the beetroot, oh, the beetroot begs to be savoured with every sugary juicy bite.

zucchini flowers
Zucchini flowers $11
with confit mushrooms, baby betroot and red onion jam

Our mains took some time to arrive. Once the stomach has started its production of digestive juices, the call for mains is strong and persistent, and it knows when twenty minutes has elapsed. After glancing at watches, rubbing our bellies and peering in despair at every plate that passed our table, our mains arrive after what seems to be an eon (about 40 minutes, according to the camera).

Mandalong lamb loin
Mandalong lamb loin $22
with potato mash, baby eggplant and zucchini relish

Mandalong lamb is often heralded for its superior flavour and texture, achieved--according to its website--by specific grain-feeding, timing of slaughter and "tender stretch" hanging, where the animal is hung from the pelvis, and not the hind legs, as is usually the tradition.

Happily this lamb lived up to its characteristically strong gamey flavour. The lamb was cooked to medium-rare perfection: well-sealed, juicy and a blushing deep pink in the centre. The relish had a peculiar fizzy zing and was passed over for forkfuls of sturdy potato mash.

rib eye steak with potato
350g grain fed rib eye fillet $24
served with crushed kipfler potatoes and confit shallots

The other two dishes--a rib eye and lamb shanks--are licked clean.

veal shanks
Veal shank $19
braised in red wine with soft polenta and baby root vegetables

Good food, artfully plated but perhaps a little long in arriving at the table (which was why we didn't bother ordering dessert).

And yes, sometimes the perfect baby zucchini has to have its own photo as well.

behold the baby zucchini

Rose of Australia Hotel
1 Swanson St, Erskineville, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9565 1441

Lunch: Tues-Fri 12pm-3pm
Dinner: Daily from 6pm

Previous visits by GrabYourFork:
Rose of Australia, June 2004
8 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Anonymous on 1/18/2006 06:35:00 pm


  • At 1/19/2006 10:53 am, Blogger Hungry Hedonist said…

    That is one beautiful zucchini.

  • At 1/19/2006 12:35 pm, Blogger Ange said…

    These photos look fantastic - I am doing the liver cleansing diet at the moment & just had a very unappetising lunch of potato & leek soup (diet recipe so no good) & I am now drooling thks to your post!

  • At 1/19/2006 6:08 pm, Blogger Min Ai said…

    you shouldn't be apologising for the photos, they were beautiful!

  • At 1/19/2006 6:34 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    hey, I just came across your blog, from food porn watch. it's a great site. I am so jealous that you get to review all the amazine food in Sydney, I used to live there, but moved back to London a couple years ago.

    I will link to your blog from mine, I am reviewing London/European restaurants

  • At 1/20/2006 9:34 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    AG, the Rose is great, no doubt about it! I'm a big fan of the burgers, many a time I've gone there after Yoga to meet KT on a Wednesday night and had one. Yummy.

    Next time you're in Erko and looking for a bite, I heartily recommend the Big Boy Cafe, sorta across the road. There's some crap reviews on eatability, but I think those people must be arrogant eastern suburbs types who don't know what's what in the Inner West.

  • At 1/25/2006 10:40 pm, Blogger obachan said…

    Everything looks good, and mandalong lamb loin looks really attractive to me. :)

  • At 1/27/2006 10:09 am, Blogger deborah said…

    I've only had the pleasure of having a burger at the Rose - which was delicious! The s&p squid and those nuts do look rather tasty. Mmmm... wouldn't mind going there just for the squid and an ice cold beer this afternoon :)

  • At 3/03/2006 5:59 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Your photos are incredible. Any one of these could "win" DMBLGIT!!

    I very much enjoyed reading about this excellent dinner. I just wish the restaurant wasn't on the other side of the world from me!


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