Nestled in the far eastern corner of the Art Gallery of New South Wales is one of Matt Moran’s latest ventures and his second restaurant under the name CHISWICK. Entering through the Art Gallery doors and the huge foyer is about as grand an entry as you could imagine for a restaurant, the marble floors and wide open gallery slowly lead you down to CHISWICK where you are presented with a wonderfully open plan space. The relatively open kitchen sits behind the bar, which runs the length of the room and keeping the bar company is a 15m long high table, perfect for a pre-dinner drink, a quick bite or a passing cocktail.
The first thing you notice once seated is the vistas. Perched above Woolloomooloo, the restaurant has views to the north that extend across to the harbour and the northern suburbs, while to the south provides an expansive vision of Surry Hills and across to Darlinghurst. I also need to make a note on the interior design of the new venue – copper tables and timber chairs pepper the floor, while wood benches and coloured striped pillows hug windowed facade. The table settings reflect the paddock to plate menu with herbs and country flowers in rustic pots and striped tea towels as napkins.
Being a hot day we kick things off with two of the house made sodas and glass of sparkling. The Kaffir Lime, Lemongrass & Ginger soda is possibly the most refreshing beverage you’ll have all summer, perfectly tart with a subtle kick of ginger. The food menu is expansive and broken into four sections, nibbles, small plates, mains and to share. After some discussion with our waitress, we opt for a series of small plates, and the Lamb Shoulder to share. Having not dined at CHISWICK in Woollahra, we’re told the lamb is the only thing we must order (header image).
We combine ocean with the paddock for our share plates, choosing the Burrata, with tomato, basil & balsamic salad, the Yellowfin tuna with yuzu and cucumber, the pumpkin ravioli with broccolini, lemon & raisins, the prawn popcorn and to top it off the thyme and rosemary flatbread. For me, pumpkin ravioli was the standout, perfectly al dente and kicks of sweet pumpkin popping with each mouthful. However, it was hard to choose a winner, the three of us sitting there each naming a different dish as our favourite. This in itself highlighted not only the quality of the food but also the fabulous diversity of the menu. You could come here time and time again and construct a new way of navigating the menu – a characteristic of dining that excites me a lot.
After a glass of wine and the perfect amount of time, the lamb shoulder arrives on the table. We could smell it before we even saw it, such was the rich aroma of the lamb and its bed of smoked eggplant and chickpeas. The dish served three people more than sufficiently with nothing but a pair of spoons needed to lift the meat off the bone. The last of the flat bread made the perfect sponge for left over juices.
More than a great menu and excellent food, CHISWICK at the Gallery is a fantastic destination restaurant. The fit out is modest, yet sophisticated, the staff friendly and the view just stunning. If I had one last final recommendation, it would be also to stroll through the current Pop to Popism exhibition after enjoying your lunch. And that right there is an excellent way to spend a Sunday afternoon, and just might be the best date you’ll take someone on all year.
To book a table at either Chiswick locations head to their website.