One Ford Street

One to watch: the light-filled dining room at One Ford Street.
One to watch: the light-filled dining room at One Ford Street. Photo: Anna Kucera

1 Ford Street Balmain, New South Wales 2041

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Permanently Closed

Life almost took a very different turn for Fabio Dore. After parting ways with business partner Flavio Carnevale over at Rushcutters Italo-hotspot Popolo, the sommelier and restaurant manager very nearly moved to Sweden to open a wine bar. Luckily for us he decided on Balmain instead.

Even better, he's teamed up with chef Sam Bennett. His resume includes Glebe Point Diner, Fix St James and Bourke Street Bakery After Hours. Bennett's style - that hard-to-nail mix of rustic aesthetic underlined by smart technique and a very strong grasp of flavour and seasonality - is executed with some serious nous.

If you, like me, occasionally feel the need to nix the brainwork and take the path of least resistance, go for the $65 sharing menu. You might start with the piquant, slightly sweet complimentary eggplant escabeche and buttery Sicilian olives. Maybe there'll be a plate of thick cut salami, silken ribbons of san danielle prosciutto, shreds of slow-cooked duck leg riding side-saddle with thin, crisp sheets of broken up carta di musica - think of it as the Sardinian crisp bread world's answer to sheet music.

A bright salad of ripe-and-juicy heirloom tomatoes is pepped up with lightly pickled cipollini onions, goat's cheese, basil and lacy cracker wisps while a pair of panzerotti filled with roughly chopped quail, cabbage and barley tastes for all the world - and I say this with love - like Puglia's answer to the Chiko roll. I also dig the roughness and unevenness of Bennett's spelt pasta rags tossed with nubs of pork and fennel sausage and batons of lardo, finished with a double whammy of gremolata and pecorino.    

For now, the dining room is quite spare, but if it's a nice night, take up a spot in the leafy courtyard out the front. Oh, and it might be worth noting you'll be taking a trip through the back end of the pub past the pokies if you need to use the loos. Think of it as an adventure. Given Dore's pedigree (he was waiting tables and pouring wine for years at Fratelli Paradiso, pre-Popolo), expect to find an talian-driven wine list to be excited by. Maybe it'll be a glass of the spare, floral Le Oche verdicchio or the rich and aromatic Castelcerino Filippi soave. Or maybe you'll throw the list away and just let Dore bust some vinous moves of his own.      

Dessert? Optional. Though the fine, puffy choux pastry enveloping a coffee flavoured custard making up the tiramisu eclair is definitely worth sticking some cutlery into, as is the cute take on the classic Neapolitan ice cream trio, in parfait form, with the fruit juiciness of actual strawberry, the dustiness of actual chocolate and the perfume of actual vanilla.

Actually, that's not optional at all. It's necessary.

THE LOWDOWN
Pro tip 
For truly vinous good times, let Fabio Dore loose on the wine list
Try this A very respectable smoked trout pate is smoky with enough texture to save it from the Margaret Fulton dinner party play book.
Like this? Ajo at the Welcome also nails pubside Italian. 91 Evans Street, Rozelle, 02 9810 1323 

Tiger prawns, sugar snap peas and caramelle.
Tiger prawns, sugar snap peas and caramelle. Photo: Edwina Pickles

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