Tag Archives: Paddington Restaurant

The “new” Neild Avenue

It’s a mammoth task to reinvent a restaurant, anyone will tell you that, but things get even trickier with a restaurant that’s in the public eye like Neild Avenue. Since it first opened, Neild Avenue has been accused of being too dark, too noisy and too expensive. So after spending three million dollars on its initial design, what has owner Robert Marchetti done about the public response? He’s changed the interior, shaken up the menu and abandoned the no-bookings policy.

Start with drink in the suave bar area

Start with drink in the suave bar area

The “new” Neild Avenue is a happier, brighter place, thanks to the adept touch of Dinosaur Designs artist Stephen Ormandy. I’m sure you’ll be relieved to know, Anthony Lister’s blurred superhero animalia remain on the front timber-framed ‘house’. Ormandy has painted a second ‘house’, which has been carefully decorated with the mod 60s shapes and bold colours synonymous with the Dinosaur Designs brand.

A long, elegant bar splits the restaurant space in two, with a suave lounge area to one side and the restaurant’s dining area to the other. A mini charcuterie counter sits at the entrance, where cured meats hang behind glass cabinets; visual reminders of Marchetti’s Italian background.

The new look is courtesy of Dinosaur Designs artist Stephen Ormandy

The new look is courtesy of Dinosaur Designs artist Stephen Ormandy

We start with a drink in the bar area. This is the perfect way to take in the unique space; perched on a soft leather lounge, dimpled beer mugs full of cold Birra Moretti in-hand. Efficient waiters, dressed completely in white, flit around the room. The bar menu puts a Mediterranean slant on your standard booze food – souvlaki mini slider buns, flashed fried calamari and sliced-to-order cured meats are substantial enough to call dinner.

The hip staff uniforms

The hip staff uniforms

The revamped restaurant menu has taken hints from sister restaurant, North Bondi Italian. There’s the “cartoccio style” crab spaghetti, baked in a bag with tomato sauce, and those light-as-a-feather arancini balls. North Bondi Italian Food may be one of my favourite restaurants, but tonight we’re here for Mediterranean food. Central to the menu is Marchetti’s stance on sustainability and simplicity. The calamari is line-caught, the lamb is milk fed, the chicken is organic and the meat is free-range. Seafood dominates much of the menu, with a range of whole fish main courses, served with bold salads such as frisee, mint, radicchio and zucchini. The coal grill takes the spotlight with various cuts of beef on offer, while the spit roast takes care of the souvlaki. Each dish is generously portioned, perfect for sharing.

Anna Lisle

Read more about Neild Avenue here 

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Paddington’s best kept secret, La Scala on Jersey

It used to be said that any publicity is good publicity. After Darren Simpson, the former La Scala Head Chef, endorsed a burger range for fast-food giant KFC, I doubt restaurateur and owner, Dean Haritos would necessarily agree. But unlike many restaurants, La Scala is still standing and standing proud it is.

The decadent dining rooms at La Scala

Sitting snugly between the iconic Light Brigade Hotel and hatted restaurant Buzo Trattoria, the entrance to La Scala is discreet. Once inside, however, discreet isn’t a word that comes to mind. La Scala flamboyantly displays its Italian heritage with bold feature walls, gilted vintage mirrors, a funky cocktail bar and glass bowls of fresh produce such as bright red capsicums strewn around the various dining spaces. A chair installation protrudes from pin-striped walls and giant metal whisk lights spiral elegantly from the ceiling.

The restaurant’s design may be theatrical but the menu at La Scala on Jersey is deceptively modest, showcasing a down-to-earth display of classic Italian cooking. Ruben Martinez, who was formerly Darren’s Sous Chef, fronts the kitchen. Martinez, who has done time in some of Sydney’s most successful restaurants including Aqua Luna, La Sala and Barrenjoey House, has created a menu that implements organic cuts of meat, local seafood and house made sorbet and gelato.

La Scala’s signature dish: Brodetto Marchigiano – a classic fish stew from Marche

Keeping things local, we start with a small bowl of organic marinated Lakelands olives and a glass of 2006 Montose Omaggio (barbera) from Mudgee. While the wine list does predominantly feature Australian wines, there are also has a range of French, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian and New Zealand drops on offer. Salty, luscious and textural, the Lakelands olives are a standout, and I take note to return at a later date purely to get a second taste of these. Brodetto Marchigiano (a classic fish stew from Marche), is one of La Scala’s signature dishes. Aesthetically, it is a spectacular display of seafood, topped with a crusty slice of herb bread. The stock-based stew is overflowing with octopus, barramundi, mussels and squid, with strong hints of saffron and marjoram. The Italian lamb or “nose to tail eating”, comes highly recommended by wait staff and once it is placed in front of us, we can see why. The free-range lamb is sourced from the clover pastures of North Motton in North West Coast of Tasmania and the dish is served with different cuts every day. Another on my “must-return-for” list is the sformato, similar to a soufflé, it is a smooth blend of Jerusalem artichokes and hazelnuts.

From the food to the service, the restaurant runs like clockwork and Andrew Carson, the restaurant manager, is key to its success. The sophisticated private dining room, which seats up to 26 people comfortably, is an impressive location for corporate and private events. For larger occasions, the restaurant and bar can be exclusively hired for up to 200.

Anna Lisle

Read more about La Scala on Jersey here

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