Category Archives: Newtown

Spencer Guthrie pushes the green envelope

Holding an unassuming position beside an overwhelming collection of cheap Asian eateries and eclectic cafes, Spencer Guthrie is an intimate restaurant that pushes the green envelope without pretension.

What was once an old Thai takeaway is now a 30-seater fine diner with a polished bar and kitchen up the front and a long narrow stretch of floor space opening into a small dining area up the back. From the table-tops to the floorboards, all the furnishings at Spencer Guthrie are recycled, with much of it sourced from iconic wharves across Sydney. There are also visual reminders of the restaurant’s eco-friendly credentials including a wall of fern green foliage and weathered plaster walls featuring textural canvasses of countryside settings.

The Spencer Guthrie team hard at work in the open kitchen

The vibe emanating from the open kitchen is focused and assured with seasoned chefs and close mates Troy Spencer (ex L’Etoile) and Oliver Guthrie (ex Lucio’s) at the helm. The Modern Australian menu is a reflection of the quite confidence of the duo with prettily plated dishes that offer a serious experience with textures and flavours. There are five entrees and five main courses which all reflect the sustainable, locavore philosophy of Spencer Guthrie. Meat is sourced from Feather and Bone and the Urban Food Market while fish such as Red Gurnard and Ocean Mullet is caught in Australian waters.

There are five entrees and five main courses that change weekly

We are immediately won over by the two meat mains featuring Milly Hill lamb and Wagyu 5+ oyster blade. A glass of light biodynamic ‘Kalleske Grenache Shiraz Mataro’ from the Barossa Valley is the perfect match to the perfectly-pink and buttery texture of both meat dishes. The wine list is concise but over priced by the glass, so go for for a bottle instead. Alternatively, Tuesday and Wednesday nights are BYO, with $15 corkage per bottle.

The highlight of the evening is the ‘all things chocolate’ dessert, which in itself is a feat of textural ingenuity. A base of salted dark chocolate crumbs is topped with three cornels of white, milk and dark chocolate mousse and buttoned with cubes of dark chocolate jelly and cacao rich chocolate pieces. The only part of the evening that can rival the resplendence of dessert is the service – personalised, passionate and well-informed.

Portion sizes are petite, so don’t come expecting to satiate a ravenous appetite. But if you’re after a meal where quality is of the essence, then Spencer Guthrie gets the green thumb of approval.

Sami-Jo Adelman

Read more about Spencer Guthrie here

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Review: Asakusa Restaurant, Newtown

The doors of Asakusa are wide open on a balmy summer night, welcoming passersby off the hectic King Street sidewalk into their restaurant’s sanctuary.

Asakusa Japanese Restaurant

With red paper lanterns, polished wooden floorboards and chalkboard specials – this Japanese restaurant is almost completely full, and it’s only early in the evening. As I head to the back counter to inquire about a table, I’m welcomed by a petite elderly woman sitting at one of the wooden tables kneading mounds of dough and then shaping them into delicate fresh gyoza.

I’m immediately sold – if the maitre d’ can’t offer us a table straight away, we are definitely waiting. If only to get my lips around a crisp gyoza which has been so lovingly created right before my eyes.

But we’re lucky, it isn’t long before we secure a table. Ordering quickly, an assortment of sushi, creative maki rolls (think salmon XO sauce, egg, cucumber and mayo) and crispy squid arrive. While the service is efficient, the staff tend to avoid interacting with the diners. Understandably, the restaurant does always seem to be busy, however I just wanted to tell them how much I loved their gyoza.

Asakusa has an exciting vibe that is great for large groups. Fussy eaters will be sure to find something on their extensive menu while Japanophiles will be impressed by their traditional dishes.

Anna Lisle


119 King St
Newtown 2042 NSW

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Funky Bar, Newtown

Recently renovated and under new ownership, Funky Bar has re-opened its doors to Newtown’s effervescent King Street crowd. The newly remodelled bar now focuses on more nocturnal comforts including relaxed live music, gourmet cuisine and quality cocktails. Open seven days from 11:00am to midnight, offering lunch and dinner daily and breakfast on weekends. Every week live music is scheduled from Tuesday night through to Saturday night.

The décor and atmosphere draws inspiration from the decadent baroque era and offers something unique to the area; a quality dining experience in the company of relaxed live music, topped off with legendary cocktails crafted by in-house mixologists. Function rooms are available for all occasions including birthdays, engagement parties, corporate events and Christmas parties.

A touch of historic glamour with the rose-water martini at Funky Bar

These days there’s cocktail bars, wine bars, tapas bars, live music bars – you name it, there’s a bar that specialises in it. But there are very few bars that do it all. Funky Bar on Newtown’s main King Street drag puts all the rest to shame. It seems to not only tick every box, but do it in a way that will leave you with a spring in your step and a sway to the hip (and that’s not just the martini working its magic).

While a Tuesday ‘school’ night doesn’t have the usual let’s-dance-till-3am kind of vibe, it didn’t mean we weren’t up for a good time. Braving the gusty winds of a cold Sydney winter night, my friends and I almost fell into Funky Bar’s doorway. Feeling rather dishevelled, we were immediately greeted by a rather excitable waitress. Strutting over in a tight black mini dress, wearing a bowler’s hat – confidently extending her petite hand, she flashes a cheeky grin, and we are welcomed to Funky Bar. Her energy is contagious and it sets the mood for the night ahead.

There is a fun vibe about the place. The crowd isn’t as alternatively bent as most other bars in Newtown and the space seems to cater for different occasions – there is a back section with ruby red leather stools and couches for a more casual beer and tapas scenario while the front end of the bar is more focused on providing an intimate dining experience. Our lively waitress flitters between both sections of the bar and like an actress on stage, she changes characters – from conservatively filling water glasses and politely arranging the cutlery for the older patrons dining to dancing and laughing with the cocktail crowd in the back area lounge. She plays each part to a tee, pleasing everyone.

But while the cocktails do certainly run down our throats like liquid gold – the rose martini is particularly memorable – but it is the food that we’re here for. Our first dish arrives with steam rising off the plate – grilled prawns marinated in garlic, coriander and chilli, doused in a sweet sauce. There are chunks of fresh chilli which cut through the sweet, molasses-like sauce and each mouthful leaves you wanting more. Unlike most tapas, the serve is generous, allowing us to slow down and appreciate the cocktails that seem to evaporate from our glasses. Instead of being overwhelmed with all our dishes at once, the lamb backstrap skewers arrive with perfect timing. They are pink and moist – just as lamb should be and the “chimmi churri sauce” compliments the strong flavour of the lamb. I must make note that while the chimmi churri sauce isn’t exactly the textbook Argentinean garlic and parsley sauce that it’s meant to be – in fact, it is more a sweet tomato salsa – we’re not complaining, it tastes delicious.

Fresh seafood with delectable spices

Anna Lisle

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