A high-ceilinged, open-plan restaurant and bar specializes in Aussie-Thai food and buzzing cocktail scene in Sydney's thriving Surry Hills. Located inside a former warehouse, they claim 100-years old but we say newer, the restaurant and bar are divided by an open-air kitchen sizzling with oriental smells and sexy crew of chefs. The entrance is presided over by a large fish tank (yes, they'll be eaten) and a sexy-yet-dignified hostess with clipboard and list of a few-hundred names. The restaurant doesn't take dinner reservations, so it's first-come first-serve, and everyone seems to arrive at 6pm. On the restaurant side, diners scoot inside banquettes at long communal tables or along one of the counters adjacent to the kitchen. Perhaps one of the most uncomfortable seats you'll ever beg to get into, once seated you'll long forget booking woes while feasting on fabulous food and an enticing social scene.<br />
Chef Martin Boetz has raised his restaurant to become a leader in Sydney's restaurant scene with an enthusiasm that's matched by his intimate knowledge of exotic ingredients and spices. The menu boasts succulently tongue-twisted titles to dishes like Jungle Curry of Hare (with wild ginger) and crisp-fried whole reef fish with a smoky chili-tamarind sauce. On our visit, we opted for an appetizer of pumpkin (with ginger relish) followed by a flavorful yellow curry of duck. Nearby foodies savored the tea-smoked duck with cucumber mint over roasted rice – ours seemed the better choice. A selection of desserts offers caramel custard with coconut biscuit or sweet potato dumplings filled with caramelized coconut and peanuts. Each was a delicate balance of flavors, but could have been wisely dropped for a few scoops of chocolate gelato down the block.
Opposite the main dining room, a buzzing if-somewhat-loud cocktail lounge offers spirited singles carousing to DJ tunes Tuesday through Saturday while noshing on braised beef shin and grilled-chicken satay. Scouting out a table is almost as difficult as landing a date, meaning that most people will have to queue-up at the bar. If you didn't manage to snag a table in the restaurant, this is your best bet at tasting the limited appetizer menu. As the sexy waitress said despite our begging, "Dinner entrees will not be served in the bar, period."