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Monday, June 04, 2012

Hartsyard, Newtown

Key lime pie at Hartsyard, Newtown

I'll admit it. It was the fried chicken that brought me here - a promise of cold-smoked fried chicken with biscuits and gravy that had me grinning with glee in anticipation.

In the midst of a hitherto unseen cyclone of Sydney restaurant closures, it's heartwarming to see so much buzz around Hartsyard, open for less than a week and already fully booked on a Friday night. There's no celebrity or big name chef behind the venture - just a husband-and-wife team Gregory Llewellyn and Naomi Hart, who met at work at a New York restaurant, fell in love, and moved to Sydney, Naomi's home town.

Decor inside Hartsyard, Newtown
The bar at Hartsyard

In November last year they finally bit the bullet and decided to open their own restaurant, acquiring the former Gourmet Viking premises and renovating the entire site into a moody cosy space that combines homegrown warmth with industrial chic. Lightbulbs hang in miniature bird cages over the bar, and a set of old science drawers has been revamped into a utensils cabinet, separating the kitchen from the main dining room floor.

Science desk at Hartsyard, Newtown
Science drawers

Naomi, in charge of front-of-house, writes the Hartsyard blog, tracking the trials and tears of opening a restaurant from scratch. It's not until you read the blog that you realise the story behind the funky eye-catching plumbers pipes, the crisis of waylaid chairs and all the last-minute dramas before a restaurant flings open its doors for the first time. It's the chaos that no patron would ever suspect when they step through the doors, welcomed with a smile by staff who seem genuinely happy to be there.

Bacon Manhattan cocktail at Hartsyard, Newtown
Hartsyard Manhattan $17.50
Bacon-infused Jack Daniel's, sweet vermouth, bitters and maple syrup

There's a commitment to making everything in-house. This includes breads, pastries and even syrups for sodas. The bar counter is lined with apothecary-style bottles that hold ginger, apple-mint and blood orange syrups. An in-house filtration and carbonation system provides still and sparkling water for patrons, much like Marque, although here the $4 unlimited water fee can be waived for free tap water instead.

Out the back is a garden and greenhouse, providing vegetables and herbs for the restaurant menu, but really, I'm more excited by the housemade bacon-infused Jack Daniel's, used in the Hartsyard Manhattan. Bacon fat is steeped in the whisky for an hour, I'm told, a process that lends only a faint hint of porcine smokiness to the liquor. The cocktail isn't overly sweet -- topped with a delicious garnish of candied bacon -- but I do experience a subliminal craving for eggs and toast.

Crispy pig tails at Hartsyard, Newtown
Crispy pig tails $18
with buttermilk dressing, pickles and hot sauce

The menu has been designed for sharing, split into Seed for smaller dishes, and Feed for larger servings. We're pre-warned that dishes will arrive haphazardly, depending on the cooking time and the kitchen as to their delivery.

Crispy pig tails arrive first, my pick of the Seed dishes, more elegant in appearance than the chirpy stump of pig tail I'd originally envisaged. It's a golden puck of pigginess, the crisp layer of batter hiding a mass of tender pork shreds. The pork is fatty and rich, relieved by the buttermilk dressing, radish and tower of pickle slices.

Housemade hot sauce at Hartsyard, Newtown
Housemade hot sauce

We're encouraged to make use of the housemade hot sauce, delivered to our table in a mason jar. It's made from a blend of red long chillies and green jalapenos, not overly spicy but with enough heat to add some kick to the deep-fried dishes.

Oyster po' boys at Hartsyard, Newtown
Oyster po' boy $16
on English muffins with Old Bay mayo and coleslaw

It's a tough choice between poutine and oyster po' boy but the New Orleans classic wins out in the end. A battered deep-fried oyster has a heartwarming crunch, sandwiched in a housemade English muffin and served with a tangle of finely shredded coleslaw. It's deliriously good.

Cold-smoked fried chicken at Hartsyard, Newtown
Cold-smoked fried chicken $26
with buttermilk biscuit and low country sausage gravy

The cold-smoked fried chicken is a huge portion, arriving as three pieces of batter-encrusted poultry. It's not quite as crunchy as I'd expected, although the flesh is moist. I'm not really a fan of the low country sausage gravy, a river of creamy gravy studded with sausage mince rubble, but the buttermilk biscuit (or scone) is soft and fluffy.

Duck breast and confit at Hartsyard, Newtown
Honey-glazed duck breast and confit $31
with fennel, hazelnut praline and crackling

Honey-glazed duck breast and confit is distinctly different in plating, a trail of carefully sliced duck arranged artfully with puddles of fennel puree and garnishes of baby nasturtium leaves. The duck confit has been shredded and reformed into a ball, rolled in breadcrumbs and deep-fried. It's a dish of discovery, especially with the sweet nutty crumble of hazelnut praline. The best find of all is the crackling, little cubes of fat fried until explosively crispy, littered with slivers of crunchy duck skin.

Key lime pie at Hartsyard, Newtown
Key lime pie $16
Dulce de leche, graham cracker, lime jam and double cream

Two Seeds and two Feeds has the two of us struggling (I'd recommend one Seed and two Feeds if you plan on having dessert) but we battle on in the name of thorough 'research'.

Key lime pie is another elaborately staged dish, tranches of ethereally light lime mousse zigzagging across the plate like an overladen goods train. I'd been secretly hoping for a big fat wedge of pie so this feels a little too busy for me, the simplicity of lime complicated by miniature meringues, a smear of dulce de leche, crumbs of graham cracker (that taste like malted milk powder), nasturtium flowers, dollops of lime jam, marshmallow pillows of blowtorched meringue and zingy segmented limes. All I want is key lime pie.

Peanut butter and banana sundae at Hartsyard, Newtown
Peanut butter and banana sundae $16
Pretzel ice cream, banana doughnut and salted fudge

On the flip side, the peanut butter and banana sundae is a messy mass of fun. The peanut butter ice cream alone is enough to make you weak at the knees. There are banana doughnut balls, lashings of fudge sauce, and the divinity of crumbled praline biscuits that shatter into sugary smithereens as your eyes roll towards the back of your head.

And a cherry on top? Make that two. Now go plant yourself at a table for your own seed and feed soon.

Hartsyard, Newtown

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Hartsyard on Urbanspoon

33 Enmore Road, Enmore, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 8068 1473
Opening hours:

Wednesday to Friday 5.30pm-late
Saturday and Sunday 5.30pm-late
Closed Monday and Tuesday

>> Read the revisit post to Hartsyard (July 2014)

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Newtown - Iiza
Newtown - Luxe Bakery Cafe
Newtown - Pie Tin
Newtown - Sabbaba
28 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 6/04/2012 02:21:00 am


  • At 6/04/2012 8:10 am, Anonymous john@heneedsfood said…

    I'm absolutely astounded how Sydney restaurants have been influenced by the US. A little sad that I never got to try Gourmet Viking, but at least I can walk up the road and give this place a go sometime. Good to see they chose Enmore over Surry Hills.
    A big HELLO to th peanut butter sundae!

  • At 6/04/2012 8:34 am, Blogger Unknown said…

    Cold-smoked fried chicken and peanut butter sundae.. sold, there goes all my hard work of exercise!

  • At 6/04/2012 9:47 am, Blogger Phuoc'n Delicious said…

    Why hello PB and banana sundae.. I am amazed by that bacon cocktail!

  • At 6/04/2012 10:38 am, Blogger Mel said…

    I've just been reading the blog for the restaurant - pricless. That plus your review have me very keen to go and Seed & Feed asap.

  • At 6/04/2012 10:39 am, Blogger spicyicecream said…

    Wow! Wanted to check this place out immediately, but looks like I'll have to wait until at least Wednesday, damn! That sundae looks amazing!

  • At 6/04/2012 11:15 am, Blogger Ramen Raff said…

    mmmmm fried chicken and crispy pig tail! I want it!

  • At 6/04/2012 11:31 am, Anonymous SarahKate (Mi Casa-Su Casa) said…

    Biscuits and gravy! BISCUITS AND GRAVY! The ultimate comfort food for Southerners. So keen to try this place now!

  • At 6/04/2012 12:53 pm, Anonymous Vivian - vxdollface said…

    I was drawn to this place because of the cold smoked chicken when I saw Pat Nourse tweet about it! Damn I was hoping it would be a wedge of key lime pie as well cause I don't think anywhere else in Syd has it on their menu :(

  • At 6/04/2012 1:07 pm, Anonymous gaby @ lateraleating said…

    The Manhattan is awesome! Anything with bacon is. Our dinner there was fantastic (review coming soon), this place is a gem.

  • At 6/04/2012 1:36 pm, Anonymous Tina @ bitemeshowme said…

    Love how the food is taking on the USA culture. Hello to the cold smoked chicken! It looks so gooooooood. And bacon cocktail? Now that I need to try.

  • At 6/04/2012 1:38 pm, Anonymous Chompchomp said…

    This place looks brilliant...I was sold as soon as I swa the Manhattan!

  • At 6/04/2012 2:40 pm, Anonymous JJ @ 84thand3rd said…

    Heehee I just posted my write-up yesterday - so delicious! Funny, you and I had the same takeout of the mix of presentations/servings... kind of glad we didn't go the pie but the choc cake while artsy was amazingly rich and satisfying. Lovely lovely pics you have :)

  • At 6/04/2012 2:44 pm, Blogger joey@forkingaroundsydney said…

    The food looks so pretty, but a shame about the lack of crunch in the fried chook. Not sure whether to try it now.

  • At 6/04/2012 3:21 pm, Anonymous Hannah said…

    Oh, Helen. HELEN. Those desserts. I can't even. All of them, please, multiple times over. OH HELEN.

  • At 6/04/2012 3:42 pm, Blogger Alison said…

    I thought I spied you there on Friday night! Wonder how well the biscuits and gravy stand up to the ones served at the Elvis themed McDonalds in Tupelo,Mississipi? The chicken looks suspiciously 'country fried' as well. Have to say I'm a little horrified at po' boys in muffins, that's like eating a banh mi in crumpets.

  • At 6/04/2012 4:53 pm, Anonymous gastronomous anonymous said…

    this place looks great! i cant wait to try, and love the look of that fried chicken!!!!

  • At 6/04/2012 5:16 pm, Blogger Jacq said…

    ooh pretzel ice cream and banana doughnut sounds like an awesome combination! I need to get my hands on that PB and banana sundae asap!

  • At 6/04/2012 8:13 pm, Anonymous tastyfoodsnaps said…

    The sundae sounds so freaking delicious! peanut butter, banana doughnuts & pretzel icecream? MMMM

  • At 6/04/2012 8:19 pm, Anonymous Anna @ The Littlest Anchovy said…

    That Hartsyard Manhatten....oh wow.
    I cannot get over how wonderful each and every dish looks here.

  • At 6/05/2012 12:33 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi John - Yes it's a little crazy that everyone seems to have gone a little US-crazy, but hey, as long as it involves fried chicken, I'm not complaining. lol

    Hi Miss Piggy - It's fascinating, isn't it? Really makes you appreciate everything that goes on behind the scenes.

    Hi Lisa - Hope you enjoy it!

    Hi SarahKate - Would be keen to hear what you think of the fried chicken, biscuits and gravy!

    Hi Vivian - I agree. Why don't more places offer key lime pie? Such a luscious dessert!

    Hi Gaby - Ahhh looking forward to hearing your thoughts. I think this place will do well in Newtown.

    Hi Tina - Everything is better with bacon, right?

    Hi JJ - It does seem an odd combo at times and yes I was torn between all the desserts!

    Hi Joey - I'd give it a go anyway - quite a few interesting dishes on the menu and the vibe is rather cool.

    Hi Alison - Argh you should have said hi! And I agree, I was a little surprised by the po boys in muffins too.

  • At 6/05/2012 6:55 am, Blogger hazchem said…

    really looking forward to trying this place. Wine list alone was enough to get me interested,food looks fantastic too! Thx for the excellent write up Helen.

  • At 6/05/2012 8:59 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    lovely restaurant, would love to try it

  • At 6/06/2012 10:29 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Holy cow! This meal looks amazing. When you posted the pic of the sundae on Twitter (or was it Instagram?) I had not suspected the rest of the meal would look/sound that good!

    Definitely on my list for my next Sydney visit!

  • At 6/07/2012 3:24 pm, Anonymous Sara - Belly Rumbles said…

    Just had a little giggle to myself. I am playing catchup on reading and have read a few of your latest posts. The last two started with, it was the crispy/fried chicken that bought me here. Due to that I am now craving crispy chicken!!

  • At 6/12/2012 12:09 am, Blogger TheHungryMonkee said…

    O M G! I really have to check this place out. I cant wait!! I want to eat everything!!! Yum yum....*salivating*.....

  • At 7/30/2012 2:33 pm, Anonymous Sarah@eateatplay said…

    So excited to be going here this week! Love your photos (as always), Helen!

  • At 8/28/2012 9:55 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I was hoping to read more of an impression re: the duck dish. Had it and did not like it one bit. overpowered by the honey, meat was oddly rubbery. did not like it one bit.

  • At 5/04/2013 5:03 pm, Anonymous Chris @ MAB vs Food said…

    I have had so many good things about Oyster po' boy. And your photos make it look so yummy! I reckon I could have a plate full of those


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