3/362-366 Military Road Cremorne, NSW 2090
|Opening hours||Tue-Fri, 5pm-late; Sat, noon-late|
|Prices||Moderate (mains $20-$40)|
|Phone||02 9904 5687|
If you can bear the dog-eat-dog parking situation, Military Road in Cremorne is quite the place to be these days.
Against all the urban planning odds, the busy strip has turned into a haven for drinkers with half-a-dozen great bars dotting the road, including Honey Rider, Vinobravo, the Mayor, and Wooden Spoon Bar and Restaurant.
The latter has a prime position next to the Orpheum cinema and has opened with a breath of light, fresh ambience and upmarket decor.
Low-key restaurateur Livia Wang, previously the owner of Pain de Sucre in Glebe and Capriccio in Bondi, moved to Cremorne in search of a more loyal, suburban following and has opened a place with a sleek black restaurant at the back and a bar at the front looking like something straight out of the pages of Vogue Living.
Timber shelves carry cute pot plants and candles, a long bar is dotted with metal bar stools, and a mix of perfectly placed low-lying couches, tall bar tables and rustic wood benches house a smattering of Mosman types.
This places looks slick, and a read of the menu offers up fancy dishes such as confit spatchcock, and orange and cardamom brulee. The cocktails are also classy things, such as Vesper Martini, Blackberry Mule and Hazelnut Mojito. In reality, though, the food and drink didn't quite hit the sophisticated level I'd expected.
The cocktails just missed the mark on flavour and skill and the food, while lovely, was akin to a good pub or cafe.
A Hemingway Daiquiri (Bacardi rum, Maraschino liqueur, grapefruit, sugar syrup, lime juice, $16) was excellently chilled but very bland. Ditto The Hendrick's (gin and Cointreau orange liqueur, fresh mint, cucumber, apple and lemon juices, $16).
Bar snacks are tasty things such as potato and chorizo balls with red pepper chutney ($15) and polenta fingers with gorgonzola dip ($12). Both were good to pick at but didn't go very far. We shared zucchini flowers with salt cod and potato brandade, tomato and vanilla fondue, whitebait and lime crisps ($26), and salt-and-pepper calamari with chipotle and lime emulsion sauce and Asian spiced coleslaw ($26) for something more substantial. Again, both were lovely but hardly worth shouting about from the rooftops of Military Road.
The wine list offers more promise, with a lovely 2012 Argon Bay cabernet merlot ($8) that is smoother than a baby's bottom.
The merlot was one example of a decent list of Australian and NZ drops. The waitress generously offered a taste of the merlot but was a little clueless about the menu.
I'm guessing she also didn't realise that another waitress was serving our table too, because we had a visit from one or the other about every three minutes.
Attentive, yes. Borderline annoying, yes.
There is plenty here for a nice drink and bite before or after a movie, but with so many good options popping up on Military Road, Wooden Spoon has some stiff competition.
YOU'LL LOVE IT IF … you want a glass of wine and a nibble before a movie.
YOU'LL HATE IT IF … you're expecting much more than that.
GO FOR … potato and chorizo balls, Argon Bay merlot.