362 Oxford St Paddington, NSW 2021
|Features||Accepts bookings, Licensed|
|Prices||Moderate (mains $20-$40)|
|Phone||02 8937 2530|
"Brunch," to steal a line from The New York Times, "is for jerks". And now that WASPiest of all meals is spreading across Sydney faster than you can say "be a darling – bring me a mimosa and a Percocet."
Fine dining restaurants all over town are making it their business to bring you that meal that isn't quite breakfast, isn't quite lunch and practically rewards drinking before noon.
Sean's Panaroma is serving perfectly poached eggs on potato rosti and the blueberry crumpets of your dreams by the sea. ACME is plating fried chicken and caviar on waffles accompanied by nuclear-strength bloody marys.
And now here's Josh Niland – the great white (bait) hope of fish cookery in Sydney – inverting his menu and showing Sydney a good time when it comes to ordering a mid-morning crab.
Speaking of which, here's a thing I've learnt this year: everything counts as brunch if you serve it between 11am and 3pm, and get your diners liquored up before noon.
For instance, there's the challenge of serving urchin on the half-spike, rich and briny, as a mid-morning breakfast food. Solution: add a house-made crumpet, all hot, salty and buttery. And now it's brunch. Magic!
Hand-picked spanner crab meat, gently butter-poached and served back in its own slightly furry shell isn't necessarily the first thing that comes to mind on a Saturday morning. The answer? Add a beautifully flaky croissant and make a sandwiche au crabe. Hey – what are you doing if not swanning about with all the rest of Paddington in their Breton tops on a rainy Saturday?
Now, luxurious eggs aren't exactly breaking news, but when was the last time you had your wobbly, buttery, gently folded scrambled eggs served with an entire marron (complete with head) resting on top? Here, the cooked meat from Australia's most violent and delicious member of the cherax family is pulled gently from the claws so the perfect, just-set protein still holds the shape of those frightening nippers.
This being Saint Peter and also Josh Niland (two guys with a penchant for all things sea-based), your choice on the menu when it comes to land dwelling creatures is pretty limited – but the onion rings, fried to a deep umber, liberally vinegared so your throat meets the fumes before your tongue does and crusted in salt flakes, are fingertip-burningly good.
Consider this jerk won over.
Sea urchin crumpet ($26); Marron scrambled eggs ($39); Salt and vinegar onion rings ($10).
Pro Tip: Reserve a table – there aren't many of them – and settle in with a wine list made to accompany fish-based good times.
Go-to Dish: The combination of very hot crumpet and very cool sea urchin is simultaneously slightly disconcerting but also mind-bendingly delicious.