Monday, 24 May 2010

Restaurant Review: The Book Kitchen, Surry Hills

On mum and dad's final weekend in Australian we decided to go for dinner at The Book Kitchen following a recommendation from a friend at work. The restaurant is in a converted garage and has a great urban industrial vibe, with a large open plan room, high ceilings and the kitchen in full view.

As you'd expect with a name like The Book Kitchen there is a large book case of cookbooks, both new and second hand. Each month they select recipes from a different cookbook and add them to their dinner menu as specials. This month's book was from Masaharu Morimoto, the Japanese Iron Chef. I thought this was a fantastic concept.

Before we get onto the food, I have to mention our rather dizzy waitress. She started so well speaking intelligently about the wine we had chosen and eloquently explaining the cook book concept and the specials on the menu. She then fell apart. When clearing away the starters she offered us the dessert menus; errr, we were expecting the main courses next? Bringing the wrong food to our table and trying to poor wine from an empty bottle into our glasses were both part of the farce that unfolded. It was an astonishing disintegration. But on a much more positive note, back to the food....

I started with the crispy skin pork belly, celeriac puree and pickled cabbage. I was surprised at how well the pickled cabbage went with the pork and was left wanting more of the cabbage. There wasn't enough for some with every mouthful! Despite looking and sounding substantial for a starter it wasn't too heavy. I really liked the celeriac puree.

Crispy skin pork belly with celeriac puree and pickled cabbage - $17

Dad choose the fig, onion jam and goats cheese tart which looked fabulous on a bed of balsamic dressed rocket. I managed to sneak one mouthful and remember crumbly pastry and a creamy goats cheese well complimented by the balsamic dressing.

Fig, onion jam and goats cheese tart - $18

Loving the concept of cooking specials from a chosen cook book I decided to go for Morimoto's Angry Chicken. Our waitress had warned us that this dish was pretty spicy, but I wasn't prepared for how hot it really was. There was a generous serving of chicken on the bone, but aside from that, the chilli rather stripped my palate and I'm not able to give you an accurate description of the more complex flavours that may well have been there.

Angry chicken

Chermoula spiced lamb rump with a warm pearl barley salad - $34

My palate still being in shock I don't remember a lot of the lamb or cannelloni. Mum was a big fan of the pumpkin and ricotta cannelloni. The filling was wrapped in fresh lasagna sheets, a far cry from the horrible pre-made pasta you can sometimes get. Dad enjoyed the lamb cleaning the plate.

Roasted pumpkin and ricotta cannelloni - $26

For dessert I choose the vanilla panacotta with poached pear. The panacotta was a wobbly and vanilla-ey delight. I thought the pear could have been poached a touch longer so that it wasn't quite so firm, but otherwise I couldn't fault it.

Rosewater panacotta with vanilla poached pear - $12

Mum had the chocolate and hazelnut pave with raspberries. I did have a taste, but rather than make something up I'll be honest and say I can't remember it!

Dark chocolate and hazelnut pave - $12

Despite the dizzy waitress, and toilets that let the restaurant down, the food makes this place shine. I thought the quality of ingredients, presentation and innovative touches helped set The Book Kitchen apart from the crowd. I'll happily eat here over and over again.

The Book Kitchen
255 Devonshire St
Surry Hills NSW 2010
(02) 9310 1003

Book Kitchen on Urbanspoon


  1. great to see the food being served. someone else mentioned the food here to me as being good. :-) i've yet to try!

  2. This place is my kinda eatery1 I love the concept. The angry chicken bit had me laughing. kikiki

  3. @Simon - I'd recommend a visit, I loved the food.

    @Amy - I was thinking of you while I was there, I thought it was the tye of place you should be running!

  4. It's a great place. Great review.

    Directly across the road is another mecca - Bourke Street Bakery.