16/20

Universal (now closed)

Kings Ln, Darlinghurst, NSW

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Lost your dining mojo? You need to visit the Spice Queen. Christine Manfield's glowing red, orange and yellow dining room and the courtyard under the stars provide a treat for all the senses. The menu is a spice-rubbed grab bag of global influences, with dishes presented from lightest to boldest in flavour. Silken ocean trout sashimi with sweet grilled eel, ginger sesame seaweed, shiso, lime and yuzu jelly is a masterful balance of flavours and textures. There's harmony in white pepper broth with sweet sausage, wontons of coriander and lamb's brain, and in glistening chermoula-flavoured whiting and slivers of squid with pomegranate, quinoa and chorizo yoghurt sauce. Vegetarians are taken seriously with their own eight-course menu, including delicate 'ravioli' of kohlrabi filled with heirloom carrot on shredded carrot and spiced spinach. The 'crackberry' dessert of blackberries, lemon cream and tiny, chewy meringues in a moulded sugar box lacked wow factor, but food this intelligent and intensely flavoured is destined to spice up your life.

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Kings Ln, Darlinghurst, NSW

  • Cuisine - Contemporary
  • Prices - Savoury tasting plates $27-$31 Desserts $19
  • Features - Wheelchair access, Outdoor seating, BYO, Licensed, Vegetarian friendly, Bar
  • Chef(s) - Christine Manfield
  • Owners - Christine Manfield
  • Cards accepted - AMEX, Visa, Mastercard
  • Opening Hours - Fri noon-2.30pm, Mon-Sat 6pm-10pm, bookings essential
  • Seats - 80
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