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Monday, August 27, 2012

Crown Street Assembly, Surry Hills

potato gnocchi at crown street assembly surry hills

There's new life at the former Tabou site, reborn as Crown Street Assembly (not forgetting the ill-fated Black Cicada stint in-between). The decor has been completely turned around, shifting from overwhelming blacks to a sleek and sexy modern bistro. White walls, a long leather banquette and a feature bar lined with bar stools make for a hip addition to the Cleveland end of Crown Street.

The menu is self-described as French with a touch of Asian, pooling the talents of chef Paul Cooper (ex-Botanical and O'Connell's Hotel, both in Melbourne) and restaurateur Erez Gordon (Bistro Bruno in Balmain and O'Connell's Hotel, Melbourne).

On offer is an eclectic and inspired collection of dishes, from potted rabbit rillettes to a hay-smoked 900 gram rib eye steak for two ($42 per person). The snack menu is perfect for those who want to nurse a glass of wine at the bar (they also have Trumers pilsner on tap), with online commentary already at fever pitch over the beef and bone marrow dumplings ($11), quail and ginger steamed buns ($13), warm lobster roll ($8) and the BTS wagyu slider ($8) that really is arguably Better Than Sex.

We stick with the standard menu tonight, starting with the housemade potato gnocchi ($18), light fluffy pillows of potato that have been pan-fried to a pale golden brown. Broccoli florets lighten the dish, but the deep-fried croutons are a welcome addition.

burnt butter spaetzle at crown street assembly surry hills
Burnt butter spaetzle, roast pumpkin, capers, honey and seeds $16

The burnt butter spaetzle is a heavier pasta rendition, twisted nubbins of dough that almost taste deep-fried. Cubes of pumpkin, pumpkin seeds and deep-fried capers provide textural contrast but it's quite an oily dish to get through.

roasted milly hill lamb shoulder at crown street assembly surry hills
Roasted Milly Hill lamb shoulder $32
with purple Congo potato, goats cheese, olive and spiced lamb sauce

There's plenty to love about the roasted Milly Hill lamb shoulder: packed with flavour, melt-in-the-mouth tender, and studded with luscious pockets of creamy fat. Slices of purple Congo potato, slivers of olive and dabs of goats cheese help counter the richness of the lamb.

roast suckling pig at crown street assembly surry hills
Roast suckling pig $36
with celeriac puree, caramelised apple, tete de cochon, beetroot and calvados jus

Roast suckling pig is a celebration of decadence, offering a tranche of pork belly that is more fat than flesh. The tete de cochon is made from the meat from a pigs head, shredded and shaped into a wheel and then crumbed and deep-fried. There's plenty of fat hidden in here too.

Roasted fresh beetroot and wedges of caramelised apple offer some acidity but my soft spot is for the little cube of black pudding in the middle.

almost pavlova dessert at crown street assembly surry hills
Almost pavlova $13
Merginue, lemon curd, vanilla anglaise and milk ice cream

I'm expecting a lemon curd version of Eton Mess when we order the Almost pavlova so when it arrives I'm confused by the inclusion of what tastes like lemon yoghurt cake. There's plenty of elegance in the vanilla anglaise littered with vanilla bean seeds but in my gustatory dreams, pavlova is all about the cream which is sadly absent here.

pain perdu dessert at crown street assembly surry hills
Pain perdu $15
Spiced pan fried brioche, caramelised banana and candied popcorn ice cream

We finish with pain perdu, almost breakfast-like with its doorstops of eggy pan-fried brioche. There's a heavy waft of spices when it arrives at the table.

A gangplank of banana glistens with a brittle veneer of blow-torched sugar and though the popcorn ice cream isn't particularly strong, we get our movie fix from the addictive kernels of toffee-coated popcorn.

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Crown Street Assembly on Urbanspoon

Crown St Assembly
527 Crown Street, Surry Hills, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9319 5455

Opening hours:
Monday to Sunday 12pm-late

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Surry Hills - Boteco
Surry Hills - The Carrington
Surry Hills - District Dining
Surry Hills - Gnome Espresso
Surry Hills - Mohr Fish
12 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 8/27/2012 01:26:00 am


  • At 8/27/2012 3:40 am, Anonymous Hannah said…

    Oh my! Now this sounds like a meal of wonderment and joy, even if the spaetzle would be better as a skin moisturiser.

    I'm definitely up for the desserts. I have spent the past few days in Vegas with people who enjoy alcohol more than dessert, and I need my sugar fix stat.

  • At 8/27/2012 7:41 am, Blogger Unknown said…

    Croutons with fluffy gnocchi? Never tried that but seeing as though I love both, sounds like an interesting combo.

  • At 8/27/2012 9:37 am, Blogger Tina @ bitemeshowme said…

    I want some of that suckling pig. That skin looks oh so cripsy!!

    Perhaps the almost pavlova is called that for a reason? If it was missing the cream then it couldn't be your full pavlova? ;p

  • At 8/27/2012 10:40 am, Blogger Jacq said…

    ooh that suckling pig dish looks amazing! I wouldn't have any problems eating pain perdu, popcorn ice cream and caramelised bananas for breakfast...

  • At 8/27/2012 10:41 am, Blogger Mel said…

    There's quite a buzz about this place already! Food looks so yummy - I want to try the Lobster Roll as I missed out in NYC. The two pasta dishes look delicious.

  • At 8/27/2012 10:42 am, Anonymous Christine said…

    everything looks fantastic! i particularly have my eye on that last dessert... pan fried brioche, caramelised banana AND candied popcorn ice cream? yes please!

  • At 8/27/2012 12:00 pm, Anonymous gastronomous anonymous said…

    i've heard many wonderful things about this place! will definitely have to check it out when i get back! that pork belly looks amazing! yum!

  • At 8/27/2012 2:44 pm, Anonymous Mikey said…

    I had lunch there today...it was quiet being a Monday but it was fantastic - entree's and dumplings (especially the beef/ quail)and sliders are impeccable and delicious. Didn't have room for mains this time but will be back!

  • At 8/27/2012 3:11 pm, Blogger joey@forkingaroundsydney said…

    That's one pretty plate of lamb shoulder!

  • At 8/27/2012 3:26 pm, Anonymous Lex (afoodstory) said…

    We went last Thursday night and I absolutely loved it. The quail steamed buns and duck pie were sensational. And I loved the pain perdu - the pan fried brioche and banana combo just won me over.

    I really want to try the Milly Hill lamb, I've heard such good things about it! Will definitely be back soon.

  • At 9/03/2012 8:07 pm, Blogger Sarah said…

    I'm a total pavlova fiend, and I would have been disappointed by the lack of cream too! Although I must say that pain perdu sounds amazeballs!

  • At 9/10/2012 9:36 am, Blogger Unknown said…

    I ate here on Saturday night and was underwhelmed. I had the gnocchi to start and then the pork. The gnocchi pillows were beautiful but the dish is bland (perhaps organic brocoli would improve the flavor). The pork was just pork and again nothing outstanding. The service is a little hap-hazard with waiters having to be told who is eating which dish which i think could be improved given the suggested dining experience. Overall i would suggest it's a 6/10.


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