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Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Burlington, Crows Nest

gravalax burlington crows nest

EDIT: The Burlington is closed

Here's an embarassing confession. When I first heard that The Burlington had opened in Crows Nest several years ago, I thought people were talking about the Asian grocery store that used to reside in the Prince Centre basement in Chinatown. It was there that I used to stock up on coconut Garden wafers, haw flakes and White Rabbit lollies. Memories!

In fact, The Burlington was the newest bistro offering by then husband-and-wife team Matthew Kemp and Lela Radojkovic, following on from earlier ventures that included Billingsgate and Two Rooms. Today the restaurant is co-owned by Radojkovic and executive chef Jacqui Gowan, former head chef of Subsolo and regular guest on Ready Steady Cook.

bread burlington crows nest
House bread and butter

The Burlington is surprisingly busy for a Tuesday evening, filled with couples or small groups of friends clustered around bare lacquered wooden tables. Banquettes in coffee-coloured suede run along both sides of the narrow room, and strategically placed mirrors on the wall create an illusion of more space.

The dining area extends into two further rooms out the back - unused tonight, but presumably utilised for busier service periods during weekends. There's a pleasant hum to the air with the tinkle of cutlery and various conversations swirling against the faint strains of background mood music.

pork bellyburlington crows nest
Crisp pork belly with a 'Waldorf' salad $16

We start with the salmon gravalax ($18) for entree, the delicate slices soft and buttery with a slight aniseed tint from the border of finely chopped dill. Although the wedge of toasted brioche is deliciously eggy, it feels a little rich combined with the salmon. The radish and watercress salad does provide some refreshment.

Trying to resist crisp pork belly on a menu is a futile exercise in my experience. When it arrives, I immediately zero in on the crackling. It's a beauty. The feelings of desire toward a perfectly crisp golden tile of finest pig skin cannot be underestimated.

There's no cheating here either - the crackling is still attached to the flesh, which itself is fatty and tender, giving way easily to the prod of a fork.

Our waiter happily provides assistance with the wine menu tonight. The pork belly is matched with the 2010 Bress Pinot Noir, a light and crisp biodynamic wine from Yarra and Macedon in Victoria ($9 per glass).

pasta burlington crows nest
Homemade pasta with spanner crab, roast garlic, chilli, tomato and pangritata $29

We'd been looking forward to the homemade pasta but it sadly seems to miss the mark tonight, lacking the silky sensuality we'd been anticipating, and instead feeling heavy and claggy in the mouth. I'm usually a big fan of pangritata (breadcrumbs fried with anchovies, herbs and garlic) but the overly generous pile seems to overwhelm the subtle sweetness of the spanner crab, especially when combined with the pool of olive oil at the bottom of the bowl.

cabbage salad burlington crows nest
Cabbage salad, speck, pinenuts $8

Cabbage salad is blighted by overzealous seasoning, with a saltiness that lingers on the palate. I'd expected a light and refreshing salad but this feels quite heavy and oily, with a rich dressing and the headiness of dark toasted pinenuts and panfried speck.

steak grass fed sirloin burlington crows nest
220gm chargrilled grass fed sirloin with potato fondant and bourguignon sauce $35

Happiness returns with the 220gram chargrilled grass fed sirloin, a slab of cow cooked to a caramelised and satisfying medium rare as requested. There's been much said about the public obsession with grain fed beef, which lends itself to extreme tenderness at the cost of flavour. This grass fed steak has both - flavour and jaw-friendly juiciness.

The steak is matched with the 2007 Perdu Shiraz from Heathcote, Victoria ($8 per glass), its blackcurrant notes enhancing the flavour of the beef.

mustard burlington crows nest
Table service mustards and horseradish cream sides for the steak

splice dessert pannacotta burlington crows nest
The Burlington 'Splice' $15
Coconut pannacotta, mango jelly, pineapple sorbet

The Burlington 'Splice' had caught my eye as soon as I'd read the menu - yes, even before the crispy pork belly. It's an impressively elegant construction, made by alternating layers of coconut pannacotta with bright yellow stripes of mango jelly. Perhaps I'm too attached to the ice cream Splice - that glorious summer icon of frozen pine-lime ice block surrounding sweet vanilla ice cream that always melted too fast and dripped onto your feet - but this doesn't create the same feeling of nostalgia. The pannacotta is a little too firm and not coconutty enough, although we're impressed by the pineapple sorbet which is wondrously soft and fluffy.

chocolate tart dessert burlington crows nest
Chocolate and caramel tart with white chocolate mousse $16

Instead I'm waxing lyrical over the chocolate and caramel tart, a surprisingly successful marriage of dark chocolate, thick caramel and piped white chocolate mousse that isn't as sweet as you'd altogether expect. The bitterness of the dark chocolate layer is what makes everything work, and I'm delighted to discover that the rubble on the plate isn't biscuit crumbs but shards of white, milk and dark chocolate.

Dessert wines make everything even more decadent. The 2010 Vasse Felix Cane Cut Semillon, from WA's Margaret River ($11 per glass) is very drinkable, without that cloying toffeed raisin flavour you get from many stickies.

Even sexier is the Cisneros Pedro Ximenez from Jerez, Spain ($10 per 60ml glass). One sip of this sweet sherry and you could swear that Barry White just started singing behind you. It's so sensual, you'll be crooning 'Can't Get Enough of Your Love, Babe' like nobody's business. Seriously. Or does that only happen to me?

biscotti burlington crows nest
Complimentary biscotti 

Grab Your Fork dined as a guest of The Burlington.

View Larger Map
Burlington Bar and Dining on Urbanspoon

Burlington Bar and Dining CLOSED
6 Burlington Street, Crows Nest, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9439 7888

Opening hours:
Lunch Monday to Friday from 12pm
Dinner Monday to Saturday from 6pm

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Crows Nest - Ryo's Noodles
Crows Nest - Waqu
19 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 2/16/2012 02:14:00 am


  • At 2/16/2012 4:54 am, Blogger joey@forkingaroundsydney said…

    The Burlington Splice looks so pretty.

  • At 2/16/2012 6:21 am, Anonymous Anna @ the shady pine said…

    The pork belly and the splice look brilliant...had not heard of this place before so good to know about what's in that area.

  • At 2/16/2012 8:02 am, Anonymous Tina @ bitemeshowme said…

    everything looks amazing here, and it sure seems very decent in price. that pork belly looks to die for!

  • At 2/16/2012 8:49 am, Anonymous Tina@foodboozeshoes said…

    Aw, so many memories in this one post: Burlington, Splice... Love the presentation of mustards, though would that contribute to a lot of wastage...?

  • At 2/16/2012 10:26 am, Anonymous Billy @ A Table For Two said…

    Burlington, I used to go there a lot when I lived in the hood! Btw, did I just see brown and white food here? :P

  • At 2/16/2012 10:37 am, Blogger Simon Leong said…

    loving the presentation of that Coconut pannacotta, mango jelly, pineapple sorbet

  • At 2/16/2012 11:50 am, Anonymous cherrypix said…

    I love the look of the pork belly! The Burlington looks like it has great food at really reasonable prices, wish it was closer to the CBD though *sigh*

  • At 2/16/2012 12:56 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    When the Burlington opened in Chatswood? Unless it's moved since I was last there, I think you'll find that it's in Crows Nest...

  • At 2/16/2012 12:56 pm, Anonymous Eha said…

    We all seem to have been drawn to the same 'goodies': 'Burlington Splice' and the pork belly. This may be boring, but who am I to disagree :D ! And, yes, I do remember happily shopping at Burlington's in Chinatown!

  • At 2/16/2012 1:44 pm, Blogger Rita (mademoiselle délicieuse) said…

    I actually haven't eaten at The Burlington since Matt Kemp's name was no longer attached to it, but it appears some similarities (pork belly, little copper pots of condiments) remain.

    I have a few Splice in my freezer at the moment and know EXACTLY what you mean! Those new flavours of Splice they bring out just aren't the same deal.

  • At 2/16/2012 4:52 pm, Anonymous Hannah said…

    I could actually get behind that chocolate dessert. Mostly because of the caramel... :P

  • At 2/16/2012 5:27 pm, Anonymous Jacq said…

    ooh that pork belly sounds good - I'm a sucker for good crackling!

  • At 2/16/2012 8:51 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi Helen, we have dined here many times as we live locally so eat out in Crows Nest every week. Shame some of your dishes didn't hit the mark. We've always had lovely meals here and find that pricing is good for the quality of food. I love their desserts, even when full we always find room :) Stefanie.

  • At 2/16/2012 10:46 pm, Anonymous pigflyin said…

    sigh. not quite the same place when Matthew Kemp was there. It was one of my fav north shore places. sorry you got there late. Plenty of other fish in the sea.

  • At 2/17/2012 10:19 pm, Anonymous Paul said…

    Im a sucker for condiments, those mustards and horseradish look delicious.

  • At 2/17/2012 10:24 pm, Anonymous tania@mykitchenstories said…

    Food looks great. I have been wondering for some time what the food is like.

  • At 2/18/2012 11:51 am, Blogger missklicious said…

    The dessert looks so pretty - shame it didn't hit the mark!

  • At 2/20/2012 11:41 am, Blogger Row said…

    Haw flakes! I used to eat those all the time when I was growing up. :)

    That pork belly looks yummy. :)

  • At 2/22/2012 11:03 pm, Anonymous Vivian - vxdollface said…

    I used to go to The Burlington with mum to buy the same things! The cabbage salad looks good though it seems a lot like shredded chicken


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