92 Pitt St Redfern, NSW 2016
|Opening hours||Wed-Thu 3pm-midnight ; Fri-Sat noon-midnight; Sun noon-8pm|
|Features||Accepts bookings, Bar, Licensed, Romance-first date|
|Prices||Moderate (mains $20-$40)|
|Payments||eftpos, Visa, Mastercard|
|Phone||0402 567 134|
You have to admire the moxie of anyone who drops down a skewered gherkin with a side of crisps and, without missing a beat, says: "Don't make eye contact with anyone while you're eating that."
If I wasn't tempted before, I certainly am now.
So this glossy bricked, street-corner gem is the latest from the team that brought you Scout's Honour and Morris – two of inner Sydney's sweetest cafes.
This time, they've gone one step further and opened a bar-restaurant and named it for one of the many sons of Bart – a ginger tom cat with a reputation for getting busy with most of Redfern's lady cat population, much to the horror of Redfern's lady cat owners.
There is a dirty Aperol spritz on the drinks menu, if you'd like to round out your smutty dinner order (of course you do), which is pretty much your regular low-alcohol aperitif of white wine, Aperol and a splash of soda, given a slap on the bottom with a slug of olive brine.
From here, things get decidedly less adults only, but no less adult.
"Fancy French onion dip" tastes very much like unfancy French onion dip. I'm guessing that the chervil, chive and olive oil dressing is the fancy bit. It is, in the most delicious of ways, everything you remember about picking things off the table at your parents' parties, down to the accompanying celery sticks and cheesy crackers.
While the menu changes pretty regularly (check the old-school specials board for updates), hopefully there will always be some iteration of the anchovy on toast.
Tonight, it's a piece of thick-cut sourdough, confit tomato and just-warm lardo, draped with a white anchovy. It's all the flavours of a bite-sized supreme pizza, and no enemy to a smoky mescal-laced margarita.
Side note for burgeoning cocktail fans: any bartender who takes the time and care to serve their margaritas – smoky or otherwise – with a half salt rim is worth your time and attention.
If a dish of grilled haloumi dressed with warm honey, toasted hazelnuts and plump currants seems a little too much like dessert for supper, consider the tuna crudo instead. A jumble of generous hunks of rosy raw tuna is mixed in quarters of tomato, raw red onion, chervil, basil and the peppery bite of those miniature Ligurian olives (AKA everyone's favourite choking hazard for their tiny pips). A lighter hand on the citrus would probably take this from good to great in about two easy squeezes, but it's a smart dish all the same.
It's a clever offering in general here – service is attentive and even though you need to order and pay at the bar, they still take good care of everyone in the room.
Smut, snacks and feral cats – if that's not a great sell for a good-times neighbourhood restaurant, I don't know what is.
Bottom line: Pickle on a stick ($4); raw tuna ($19); haloumi ($18).
Pro Tip: For a guaranteed seat, arrive before 7.30pm – the place is catnip for Tinder dates.
Go-to Dish: The grilled haloumi makes for an excellent savoury-for-dessert.