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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Hartsyard, Newtown

Fried chicken at Hartsyard, Newtown

Ok, so maybe I have an unhealthy obsession with fried chicken but surely I'm not the only one? It's all about the batter, a golden shield that splinters noisily with every bite, but it's also about the flesh, a contrast of juicy tenderness that leaves you torn between deep-seated satisfaction yet still craving more.

It's been just over two years since Hartsyard first opened, and about the same amount of time since my last visit. The menu has a reassuring familiarity to it - they're still offering signature dishes like fried chicken with buttermilk biscuit and sausage gravy; oyster po' boys; poutine; and the peanut butter and banana sundae.

Crispy pig tails at Hartsyard, Newtown
Crispy pig tails $21
with buttermilk dressing, pickles and hot sauce

The crisp pig tails are still on the menu too, and it's pleasing to see they've evolved in execution and presentation in the two years gone by. It's the little touches, like more evenly shaped discs of shredded pork, a finer panko-style batter, and more refined plating that show the kitchen is constantly improving their dishes.

The elegance of the dish belies its heartiness - the puck of pig tail flesh is fatty and unctuous. The cute-as-a-button baby radish isn't just there to look pretty. It adds a welcome palate cleanser, along with the streak of buttermilk dressing, thin slices of pickle and a trail of Hartsyard housemade hot sauce.

Fried chicken with buttermilk biscuit at Hartsyard, Newtown
Fried chicken $35
with buttermilk biscuit and low country sausage gravy

The fried chicken's gotten better too. They don't cold smoke the chicken anymore but it is brined, marinated, floured and deep-fried. The batter is incredible, like a tangle of golden roof tiles that reward each bite with a resounding crunch. The buttermilk biscuit tastes more like a soft scone than the super crisp version at Melbourne's Rockwell & Sons, but there's still plenty of comfort and combining the chicken, biscuit and gravy studded with chunks of sausage.

You can go crazy with the housemade hot sauce too. There's a wicked kick to it, and if you can't get enough of the stuff, you can buy a bottle to take home for $12.

Short rib with beef tendon chip and cauliflower at Hartsyard, Newtown
Short rib $35
with cauliflower, Pyengana cheddar and steak sauce

And then there's the melting softness of the beef short rib, glazed with a rich and sticky steak sauce, the meat so soft it falls off the bone.

Beef tendon chip with beef short rib and cauliflower at Hartsyard, Newtown
Beef tendon chip on the short rib

Sheathed over the top is a beef tendon chip, a wondrous deliciousness we'd first encountered at Animal Restaurant in LA. It's like a carnivore's version of a prawn cracker, not overly meaty in flavour but slightly tacky from the collagen. Piled over the top are fine shavings of Pyengana cheddar, made in north east Tasmania by four generations.

Lamb ribs with cornbread at Hartsyard, Newtown
Lamb ribs $29
with mustard bbq, cornbread and pickled peppers

Our waitress had looked at our order and suggested we might want to include some vegetables. We heard her mention broccoli but it only took a fleeting glance around the table to confirm what we really wanted. We went with lamb ribs instead.

They're a triumph of succulency, the meat lightly charred and the fat rendered down so the flesh is tender.

Cornbread with lamb ribs at Hartsyard, Newtown

Fatty lamb rib at Hartsyard, Newtown
Fatty lamb rib

The cornbread was more soft than its traditional textural sandiness, but really we were too busy scraping every last skerrick of flesh from each lamb rib. The pickled chillies worked their magic too.

Poutine with braised beef shin at Hartsyard, Newtown
Poutine $26
Fried potato with braised beef shin, beer and cheese sauce

We're glad the poutine comes out last. It's one last hurrah of carbohydrate overload, a pile of deep fried potato chips swathed in a beer and cheese sauce. We can't find any of the fresh cheese curds you'd normally associate with poutine but there's plenty of braised beef shin.

M&M cookie dough soft serve at Hartsyard, Newtown
M&M cookie dough soft serve $14
with raw cookie dough chunks, milk chocolate dip, crushed M&Ms and salty chocolate fudge

Each week Hartsyard offers a different soft serve flavour and a pie of the week. On the week we visited, we managed to score the M&M cookie dough soft serve, a spectacular rainbow assembly on a plate. The vanilla soft serve is littered with chunks of raw cookie dough then dipped in milk chocolate and the whole lot is strewn liberally with M&M pieces and lashings of salty chocolate fudge.

It's a huge pile of fun, especially as the flavour combinations change each week. You can find out what's currently on offer by following head pastry chef Andrew Bowden on Instagram.

Peanut and banana sundae at Hartsyard, Newtown
Peanut butter and banana sundae $18
Pretzel ice cream, banana doughnut and salted fudge

And then there's Hartsyard's signature dessert, the peanut butter and banana sundae. It's decadent alright, but not as sickly sweet as you'd think. There's an impressive balance between salty and sweet - the inclusion of pretzels in the ice cream and salt in the chocolate fudge helps to counter the sugar overload. Dig deep to the bottom and you'll find a pile of banana doughnuts. Ain't nobody polite around here. It's every spoon for themselves.

If want to hear more about the team behind Hartyard, you can listen to the lovely Lee Tran Lam's podcast interviews with Naomi Hart and Andrew Bowden on iTunes.

Hartsyard, Newtown

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

Opening hours:
Wednesday to Sunday 5.30pm til late
Closed Mondays and Tuesdays

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Newtown - Hartsyard (June 2012)
Newtown - Rising Sun
Newtown - The Stinking Bishops

Los Angeles - Animal Restaurant
Melbourne - Rockwell & Sons
27 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 7/13/2014 02:48:00 pm


  • At 7/13/2014 4:37 pm, Blogger Mel said…

    We went to Hartsyard a few months ago - so glad the Po'boys and Fried Chook are still on the menu...

  • At 7/13/2014 4:38 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Those beef and lamb ribs look amazingly soft! And I've been wanting to try their soft serve for ages now!!!

  • At 7/13/2014 4:54 pm, Anonymous Michael @ I'm Still Hungry said…

    All I could gather from this post, before blacking out from all the delicious, fatty goodness is "every day is fryday".

    Can't think of a better way to live it :D

  • At 7/13/2014 5:34 pm, Anonymous Chris @ MAB vs Food said…

    It's not like you didn't get any veggies, after all you did order chips. In any case, as Homer Simpson once said, "you don't win friends with salad" :P

  • At 7/13/2014 6:35 pm, Anonymous Martine @ Chompchomp said…

    Sometimes you just have to push the boat out and go for the caloric excess! Looks like it was a worthwhile experience too!

  • At 7/13/2014 6:56 pm, Anonymous Cindy (a foodie's joy) said…

    I absolutely love how you describe the food! Nothing wrong with fried chicken obsession! I have yet to go there but one day it will surely happen! :)

  • At 7/13/2014 8:57 pm, Anonymous missklicious said…

    glad to hear that the fried chicken and po boys are still on the menu!

  • At 7/13/2014 9:30 pm, Blogger gaby @ lateraleating said…

    Seems that they haven't lowered their guard a bit, food still looks top notch. I should pay them another visit soon.

  • At 7/14/2014 2:04 am, Anonymous Padaek said…

    The beef tendon chip looks so cool, and lol, broccoli (0), lamb ribs (1). I love you broccoli! :)

  • At 7/14/2014 8:01 am, Anonymous Bianca@forfoodssake said…

    Went for the first time on Friday, boy was that an experience!! Hands down the Pulled Pork, Poutine and the Peanut Butter Sundae rocked our sock.. :) ha

  • At 7/14/2014 12:29 pm, Blogger Cassie | Journey From Within said…

    I really need to make my way over!! But that fried chicken and ribs! OH MY... i think i may have salivated!

  • At 7/14/2014 2:12 pm, Blogger Jacq said…

    lol who needs vegetables when there's lamb ribs to be had?

  • At 7/14/2014 4:29 pm, Blogger irene said…

    Vegetables be damned! We all need more meat and sugar, don't we? Hahaha. I need to get my hands on the epic soft serve cone!

  • At 7/14/2014 6:43 pm, Anonymous My Kitchen Stories said…

    Still looks so good Helen. ive never been but I'd like to go after seeing your fabulous photos

  • At 7/14/2014 7:05 pm, Blogger Yvonne Tee said…

    Have been there over a year ago and I still remember how every dish took my breath away. Will love to revisit again when the opportunity arises.

  • At 7/14/2014 7:57 pm, Anonymous Amanda@ChewTown said…

    I still haven't been yet... I know... rap me on the knuckles. And I too am a lover of fried chicken - must rectify it soon.

  • At 7/14/2014 10:53 pm, Blogger Sarah said…

    Argh, everything looks soo good! I want to eat everything, but especially that fried chicken. I could inhale that fried chicken!!!!!

    xox Sarah

  • At 7/14/2014 11:15 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I need that ice-cream in my life real bad.

  • At 7/15/2014 12:57 am, Anonymous Hannah said…

    we will be going here

  • At 7/15/2014 10:59 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I am officially the ONLY person in Sydney not to have tried this place out #pouts. I *must* get there, dammit.

  • At 7/15/2014 11:06 am, Anonymous Olivia @ mademoiselleinsydney said…

    Wah!! I love love love ribs :) That lamb ribs looks particularly gorgeous!! Would also love to try that beef tendon chip, looks really appealing!

  • At 7/15/2014 10:27 pm, Anonymous Gourmet Getaways said…

    Oozing with gravy, I want that chicken! And the lip smacking lamb, OMG!

    Gourmet Getaways

  • At 7/15/2014 11:22 pm, Anonymous Felicia @ Next Stop: Food said…

    I'm with you, I have an obsession with fried chicken too :) Those ribs looks AMAZING!!

  • At 7/15/2014 11:35 pm, Anonymous Sara | Belly Rumbles said…

    Has been on my to eat list for way too long. I need to go eat!

  • At 7/16/2014 8:29 am, Anonymous john | heneedsfood said…

    I still haven't been to Hartsyard! I know, I'm a terrible local that doesn't support all of his neighbourhood restaurants.

    Was the cornbread as sweet as the stuff you get in the States?

  • At 7/18/2014 11:09 pm, Anonymous Leona @ Sprinklemyday.com said…

    OMG FRIED CHICKEN I've walked past a few times and never thought to try. I'm clearly out of sync with all this food stuff.

    I really need to put my craving for good decent fried chicken to an end. I've been wanting it for 3 months now always tempted to get KFC as a quick fix to put me out of my misery :(

  • At 7/21/2014 7:56 pm, Anonymous Amanda @ Gourmanda said…

    I was recently at Hartsyard as well, specifically for that amazing fried chicken, and the buttermilk biscuit, and the gravy...mmm, it's just the best!


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