10 William St

Deep-fried tapioca, XO sauce and pecorino.
Deep-fried tapioca, XO sauce and pecorino. Photo: Dominic Lorrimer

10 William St Paddington, NSW 2021

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Opening hours Mon-Thu 5pm-midnight; Fri-Sat noon-midnight
Features Accepts bookings, Bar, Late night, Licensed, Romance-first date
Prices Moderate (mains $20-$40)
Chef Mike Eggert, Jemma Whiteman
Payments eftpos, AMEX, Visa, Mastercard
Phone 02 9360 3310

When chef Daniel Pepperell set sail for the good ship Hubert (the Frankies/Shady Pines/Baxter Inn guys' first restaurant, coming this January), there was a sharp collective inhale city-wide. See, this restaurant and wine bar really came into its own under his steerage.

The young-gun chef lit a firecracker under the seat of Sydney Italian food and the results were all kinds of exciting and colourful.    

So imagine the delighted collective exhale when Luke Burgess announced he was shutting up shop at Hobart's Garagistes and then popped up cooking in Paddington.

All lined up: William Street Wine Bar is equal parts food and wine.
All lined up: William Street Wine Bar is equal parts food and wine. Photo: Dominic Lorrimer

The talented chef is here for a good time, not a long time (he'll be packing his kit bag in January to go travelling) but we'll take our wins where we can get 'em. And this, we're here to tell you, is one worth cheering about.

At first glance, the menu still reads as pretty Pepperell-centric. There's that bar-snack favourite of the malty house-made pretzel, all lumpen and rough-hewn, covered in mixed seeds and served with a sort of whipped emulsion that looks like hummus, tastes like smoked fish and is covered with shavings of cured egg yolk.

A nod, too, to the fresh (if slightly too pasty) pappardelle​ covered in a beautifully pale ragu​.

Loligo squid, nettles, spring garlic and lumaconi.
Loligo squid, nettles, spring garlic and lumaconi. Photo: Dominic Lorrimer

Those dishes might give the impression that little has been altered. Burgess's Betty to Pepperell's Veronica translates as a certain coolness and restraint in the execution of those 10 William signatures. Just imagine if they put their heads together.

Check the carpaccio of mutton resting on a layer of ewe's curd. On top rests a single egg yolk that's been injected with agrodolce. A slight touch of the blade against the yolk sees a jet of sweet and sour sauce across the plate, an instant dressing for the raw meat. Umami for days.

But it's a puddle of leftover sauce that wins dinner for me. A heady, buttery mix of garlic, nettles and pesto dresses very al dente conch-shaped pasta mixed with tender loligo​ squid bits. I only wish I had a bit of pretzel left over to mop up the dregs. Instead, I mainline it with a spoon.   

Given that it's as much a wine bar as it is a restaurant, I guess you don't really need to eat at all if the mood doesn't take you.

House-made pretzel.
House-made pretzel. Photo: Dominic Lorrimer

But can I at least talk you into a little Brazilian-inspired bar snack of a deep-fried cube of spongy tapioca covered in cheese with the slight pungent funk of XO? Down a few with the La Rosa sangiovese from left-of-centre Tuscan winery Pacina​ – it's a glass of minimum intervention deliciousness that tastes and smells like just-popped corn.  

Of course, you could always take it to the furthest extreme, do as one local does and order takeaway. That's living la vida Paddo.

THE LOW-DOWN
Pro tip
 This is pro-share food – take a posse
Try this Mutton carpaccio is umami-rich with a delightful, um, "sheepiness" to it  
Bottom line Like this? Lumi seamlessly blends Japanese technique with Italian sensibilities. 56 Pirrama Road, Pyrmont, 02 9571 1999.

http://10williamst.com.au/