Sometimes skulking on the side streets of Surry Hills is not what you want to do at dinner time. No bookings makes hunger grow into discontent and sometimes I just want to eat without all the hype. That’s why we headed to Cronulla. The promise of a new restaurant, a walk on the beach and an actual booking was irresistible.
Skater and I had our good friend Dolly in tow, as we walked along the beach front in the warm breeze. You can see the water from alphabet street, its not quite on the waterfront but you can smell the sea from the tables on the terrace. I had a burning question for the owner Joe Natale and partner Oriana……do they like Prince?
Why? well because alphabet street is the name of a Prince song and one of my all time favourites. Joe tells me that he was listening to alphabet street and thought it would be a good name. Joe and his partner are no strangers to restaurants having previously run the much loved Rambutan on Oxford Street Darlinghurst.
This small restaurant is more than a simple rectangular space, with an open kitchen. It has some effective design elements, a green “plant” feature wall and a couple of green astro turf mats outside carry a relaxed garden theme. There are wooden squares joined together and climbing two places on the walls from floor to ceiling that add interest and movement, Joe says they represent the buildings on alphabet street (where Prince was going down to meet a girl). They were open only a week when I went just before Christmas 2012.
alphabet street is Asian style, a journey from Malaysia to Thailand & China with a stopover in Australia. The menu is traditional enough, broken down into Entrees,( $5-18) Mains$18 -32- market price), sides and desserts ($12). So what did we have?
Betel leaves with tea smoked trout and a delicious Thai style dressing with lemon, fish sauce and sugar.(5 ea) Betel leaves wrapped in egg filled with a fresh 1/2 tiger prawn and a zesty nutty filling with toasted coconut($6 ea). These arrived in a gorgeous white wicker bird cage . ( lots of lovely presentation ideas here). Skater had Roti Mataba a flaky pastry filled with chicken mince and served with peanut sauce and a light cucumber pickle. He was more than pleased with this and let me try a little of the flaky gingery chicken filled pastry. ($14)
A crispy snapper arrives looking like an exotic garden filled with edible flowers, vegetables, Lychees and Pineapple. The flesh has been sliced off in chunks and fried for ease of eating, and while it is fresh it is cloyingly sweet and could do with a little tweaking. ($35.00).
A Plate of 48 hour slow braised lamb is unctuous and falls from the bone. It sits generously on top of a mash of sweet potato and a “Mussamum” curry sauce. It arrives with a burning cinnamon quill that gives off a wonderful smoky aroma, adding a touch of cinnamon to the air. Sadly though there is not much evidence of cinnamon or star anise or spices in the sauce itself. It is a lovely dish all the same but Mussaman “style ” would probably be more appropriate($32). In an odd twist of cuisines it is served with a piece of naan bread, that is beautifully fresh & considerably lighter than a traditional naan, however it is perfect for mopping up the sauce. A plate of crispy pork belly ($28) with snake beans, green eggplant and holy basil is similar to one of my favourites Pad Prik King, it’s crispy and fresh but the addition of dry red curry makes it too fiery hot for Skater , who orders another Roti Mataba to fill his teenage cake hole.
The dishes are a great size to share and with rice we have managed to over order. The staff are all well trained and efficient and more than willing to explain the food and how the kitchen works. Fun personal touches show humour and style and when you’ve stuffed yourself, head towards to crashing waves for some air.
Open Dinner 7 nights and takes bookings!
Happy New Year and congratulations to Diane Naggar who won our Game Farm Competition.