S'more review

"Some S'more guests seem more interested in photographing their food than eating it."
"Some S'more guests seem more interested in photographing their food than eating it." Photo: Edwina Pickles

79 Edinburgh Rd Castlecrag, NSW 2068

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Opening hours Lunch Sat; dinner Tue-Sat
Features Accepts bookings, Licensed
Prices Expensive (mains over $40)
Payments eftpos, Visa, Mastercard
Phone 02 9188 0819

Friends, we need to talk about caviar "bumps". For the past two years, more and more restaurants have been charging a princely sum to eat tiny fish eggs off your hand followed by a shot of vodka. It's the biggest waste of money since bottled water.

Russians have been hoovering caviar off their knuckles for centuries. Cured roe contains a high amount of fat and fat tastes best when it's warmed to body temperature. But you will never see a Russian drinking vodka straight after a hit of sturgeon. Spirit first always, so the alcohol cleanses your mouth to allow caviar's nutty complexity to shine.

Like too many Sydney waitstaff, however, S'more owner-chef Sam Young recommends customers immediately chase their caviar with vodka at his new Castlecrag restaurant. It's $40 for the flavour-killing sucker punch and my hackles are up. "Please, dear god, don't let this be another joint encouraging conspicuous consumption for social-media content," I think, while sipping a negroni made with truffle-infused gin ($25). Ah, bugger. It is.

Go-to dish: Roast chicken with parsnip puree and black pepper gravy.
Go-to dish: Roast chicken with parsnip puree and black pepper gravy. Photo: Edwina Pickles

Wedged between a real estate agency and beauty parlour, S'more bills itself as a neighbourhood bistro and it certainly looks the part: napkins are blue linen, the furniture is modest, and the lighting low and warm. However, unlike any other local bistro, you can also order a rib-eye from Gina Rinehart's cattle herd for $280.

The menu reads like Hannibal Lecter's last-meal wish list, minus the body parts. There are oysters, truffles, wagyu, live lobsters and $200 tins of Siberian caviar with condiments. A short wine list has plenty of solid options for about $14 a glass, but there's also a 2001 Chateau Pavie for any Bordeaux buffs willing to drop $2950.

Indulgence has become something of a trademark for Young, or "Big Sam" as he's better known on social media. The former head chef of Potts Point's Lotus navigated the pandemic with aplomb by hosting private dinners built on eye-wateringly expensive produce; his Instagram account is a wall of luxury seafood. S'more is his first solo restaurant and a collaboration with long-time partner and talented chef Grace Chen.

We need a law to impose a lifetime restaurant ban on any diner using a camera flash inside one.

The lightest thing is a raw scallop ($9) jacked up with Korean chilli. Pitch-perfect steamed coral trout ($48) bathed in tomato dashi places second in the healthy-eating stakes, while coconut sorbet ($9) brings up the rear. But mostly we're in big, buttery, heart-pounding territory flavoured by ferocious amounts of umami and Cantonese inspiration. 

Fluffy, deep-fried potato cakes ($7 each) are filled with molten duck-egg yolk and I notice some customers topping these with caviar, too. I notice because they're using a flash to photograph their food, and themselves, every five minutes. I'll say it again: we need a law to impose a lifetime restaurant ban on any diner using a camera flash inside one.

The best thing we eat is also the best value: gloriously juicy roast chicken ($58), brined, glazed and twice-cooked for crisp, burnished skin that's almost sharp enough to shave with. It's sliced over parsnip puree and a deeply savoury pepper gravy with enough body to be a meal in itself.

Peak truffle: Linguine with truffled fried egg, truffle butter sauce and shaved truffle.
Peak truffle: Linguine with truffled fried egg, truffle butter sauce and shaved truffle. Photo: Edwina Pickles

Pleasingly crisp-bottomed claypot fried rice ($28) is loaded with Chinese lap cheong sausage, while a $58 linguine approaches PT (peak truffle) with a truffled fried egg, truffle butter sauce and a generous table-side shaving of fresh black Perigord. It's obscenely rich and velvety and very much designed to share. 

A couple could leave happy and full by only ordering the chook and the rice, but I can also vouch for the cheaper steak, a dry-aged sirloin that's all gnarly charred edges and direct flavour. (NB: it still costs $78 for 450 grams.)

You probably shouldn't miss dessert either, especially a pudding that walks the line between panna cotta and creme caramel ($12), while humming with coffee and tea in a nod to the milky yuen yeung drink native to Hong Kong cafes. It's a signature creation from Chen, who helms the kitchen while Young chats with customers and pours post-meal whiskies.

Scallop crudo with green juice and Korean chilli.
Scallop crudo with green juice and Korean chilli. Photo: Edwina Pickles

It's easy to be cynical about prices here, particularly when a plum margarita is $22 and unbalanced, and a leaf salad ($12) is overdressed. But I don't get the sense that S'more is a cash grab either, unlike the rash of CBD restaurants with luxury-forward menus.

Indeed, some guests seem more interested in photographing their food than eating it, but Chen and Young are genuinely passionate about great produce and showing customers a fun time. Serve the vodka before the caviar and that's a template for my last meal, too.

Vibe: Splashy produce party in the suburbs

Go-to dish: Roasted chicken, parsnip and black pepper sauce

Drinks: Considered French and Australian wines across all price points, house cocktails and a fancy spirits cart

Cost: About $150 for two, excluding drinks

This review was originally published in Good Weekend magazine

https://smoresydney.com.au/