The Star, 80 Pyrmont Street Pyrmont, New South Wales 2009
|Opening hours||Lunch Sat from noon; Dinner Mon-Sat from 6pm|
|Features||Bar, Licensed, Accepts bookings, Accommodation, Degustation, Long lunch, Vegetarian friendly, Wheelchair access|
|Prices||Expensive (mains over $40)|
|Payments||eftpos, AMEX, Visa, Mastercard|
|Phone||02 9777 9000|
There are no more pork buns. Repeat: there are no more of those steamed Chinese-style buns filled with pork belly, quick pickles and hoisin. The individual bottles of sriracha have been shelved. The Korean-style rice cakes with oxtail have gone the way of the XO. What you'll get now is an H-bomb of lime and chilli, care of Barbadian chef Paul Carmichael.
Now, the great thing about this bar menu (and always has been) is the fact you don't need to book a table in the restaurant to order it. No need for a rage-filled experience trying to use the difficult online booking system that David Chang's restaurant is famous for. Nope, all you do here is rock up, hopefully snare one of the stools to the left of the entry and go big on the eats.
Under Carmichael, the offering is much more compact – a slip of paper offering seven choices where a Waldorf salad heavy on the grapes and apple might precede a snapper ceviche. Pickled jalapenos make their way onto slices of the lightly cured fish, bathed in macadamia milk and brightened with a julienne of red onion and sawtooth – the result is peppery, fresh and verdant.
Unlike the sucker punch of golden roast chicken skin sandwiching a mix of Northern Territory mud crab meat and Thousand Island dressing. All this is covered with a fine shaving of cured egg yolk. It's kinda like an over-the-top savoury mille-feuille.
I like it, but not as much as I like the jerked kurobuta pork chop – a massive beast of a thing best shared between two, resting on a bed of lime leaves with a side of grilled lime – blackened and sweet – and a deft grating of lime zest over the top.
Is it too much to order a side of buttery, tissuey roti (the menu describes it as "busted" which I also dig) in place of anything green to go with the chop?
Maybe, but we do it anyway and then match it with an Enigma – a cocktail of riesling, chartreuse, rhum agricole, white muscat and fino sherry, served up. Despite the massive ingredient line-up (seriously, I wear less make-up than this), it translates as spare and intensely vegetal.
And now, a word from Camp Excess, Where Your Arteries Never Exercise. This massive, flattened out, fried chicken breast on the bone, brined and drenched in habanero. The mix of chickpea flour and potato starch lends a lightness and puffiness to the batter and, just because it wouldn't be a party without it, it's served with a side of sour cream and onion dip.
You may no longer see a canele within 50 metres of the venue, but finishing with a bowl of seaweed-infused caramel popcorn is just as sweet, if not sweeter.
Pro tip Turn up early for a worry-free chance of a seat, or make it a Saturday lunch date
Try this The pork chop is rich and fatty, yet utterly limy
Like this? The Sepia bar menu also offers a world of delights separate to the fine dining restaurant. 201 Sussex Street, Sydney.