Sydney’s Surry Hills, I recently discovered, are quite different to the hills of Surrey that I am used to. For starters, there’s no ‘e’ in Sydney’s version, but, more importantly, it’s also a much trendier area, dotted with bars and restaurants, filled with hipsters looking for good food and drink in a casual, fun setting. On a quick trip down to Sydney last month, we tried 4Fourteen, one such trendy restaurant in this area.
4Fourteen is the third restaurant run by Irish-born Colin Fassnidge, a chef with a huge following as much for his stellar food as for his outspoken, often controversial personality, particularly on Aussie TV show My Kitchen Rules.
The space is reminiscent of a New York-style warehouse, with exposed bricks, high ceilings with low-hanging industrial lights and a gigantic open kitchen where all the action happens. The casual vibe is reflected in the menu, which is divided very simply into nibbles, small plates, large plates and salads and starches, all designed for sharing.
We started with CJ’s chips and dips. ‘CJ’ refers to Carla Jones, the restaurant’s head chef, who, as far as I’m concerned, is a genius if she inspired this dish. These thick addictive slices of pork crackling and chard tempura were served with a deliciously smoky and slightly spicy sauce that I could not get enough of.
To follow came the seared bonito. The meaty chunks of fish had a bold flavour not too dissimilar to that of tuna or even mackerel, which paired beautifully with the sweet ginger beer jelly and tart green apple.
The chicken bread parfait was out of this world. Crispy fried bread came topped with generous dollops of smooth, creamy chicken pate and chunky apple chutney to balance out the rich flavours. Be warned: even if you’re not generally a fan of chicken liver, this dish may well convert you.
We were also amazed by the glazed lamb ribs, served with pickled red cabbage. The meat was so tender that it fell off the bone, and although it was a little fatty, the fat melted into the meat and actually helped make the ribs even more succulent.
The last of the small plates was the suitably named Chef’s ‘Late Night Dinner.’ I say suitably named because I can picture this dish, consisting of thick ‘Iggy’s’ bread, topped with gooey melted D’Argental cheese and sweet onion jam, being the most incredible late night snack ever.
Moving onto the large plates, we were a little disappointed by the roast pork with grilled nectarines, which sounded so promising. The pork was chewy and unpleasantly flavoured, whilst the presentation was also very messy, with everything piled uncomfortably on top of the meat.
The mussels in salted fish and Bartlow apple cider sauce were enormous and fresh, but unfortunately for me the sauce had a little too much parsley, which overpowered all the other potentially delicious flavours.
Meanwhile, the two side dishes – mixed grain and pomegranate salad, and charred salt-crusted sweet potato – were fantastic and deserve recognition in their own right, not just as accompaniments. I loved the different textures in the salad, particularly the crispy puffed rice and juicy pomegranate.
For dessert, the honeycomb peanut butter block was so simple and yet so tasty. Peanut butter ice cream was encased in a crunchy peanut crumble, served alongside two wedges of crumbly, sweet honeycomb.
You would have to have a serious sweet tooth to enjoy the white chocolate sandwich; thankfully I do. Here, creamy white chocolate ice cream was sandwiched between two crispy tuile-like biscuits, served with a generous dollop of the sweetest dulce de leche. The different textures and decadently sweet flavours made this a winning dessert, although even I could only manage a couple of spoonfuls.
Service was efficient and the bill amounted to around AUD60 (HKD420) per person, including a few bottles of excellent wine. The day I find somewhere in Hong Kong that serves equally delicious, creative food, cooked by a celebrity chef for only HKD420 including wine is the day pigs fly.
414 Bourke Street
Tel: +61 (02) 9331 5399