Song Kitchen review

The rich red sauce of the pince all'Amatriciana is peppered with tiny cubes of pork jowl.
The rich red sauce of the pince all'Amatriciana is peppered with tiny cubes of pork jowl. Photo: Louise Kennerley

5 11 Wentworth Ave Sydney, NSW 2000

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Opening hours Breakfast daily from 6am, Tue-Wed noon-10pm, Thu-Fri noon-11.30pm, Sat 5pm-10.30pm.
Features Accepts bookings, Licensed
Prices Moderate (mains $20-$40)
Phone 02 9285 6244

There is a sign you see as you leave Song Kitchen that says, "You did good." And you did, too, because 100 per cent of the profits of this Hyde Park restaurant go directly to YWCA NSW programs and services, which support women and children escaping domestic violence.

Not uncoincidentally, Song Kitchen has a female-led kitchen, female consultant sommelier, and many a female winemaker on the list. But you also did good, because it's such a nice place to eat.

I said nice, not exciting. It's a slightly odd place, being part of the YWCA-run Song Hotel, but very useable, from a sunny breakfast in the cafe to well-built cocktails in the bar.

Chef Charlotte Gonzales-Poncet jumped ship from Fred's to Song Kitchen.
Chef Charlotte Gonzales-Poncet jumped ship from Fred's to Song Kitchen. Photo: Louise Kennerley

Newly renovated, the split-level space leads down to a high-ceilinged restaurant with two rows of tables under huge golden baubles of light. All perfectly pleasant and comfortable, with no lack of detail or care.

Chef Charlotte Gonzales-Poncet jumped ship from Fred's in Paddington when Song Kitchen opened in 2017.

She says that while people are happy to support the social enterprise, many diners also expect a not-for-profit to be cheap. (Why so? They pay the same wages and food bills as everyone else.)

Swordfish is just touched with the grill.
Swordfish is just touched with the grill. Photo: Louise Kennerley

I find nothing unreasonable about paying $4 for Grain Bakery sourdough, $10 for a snacky bowl of lightly spiced polenta fingers, $24 for a light, summery vegetable risotto with lemon ricotta, or $14 for made-to-order crepes suzette.

My crew of four vote the bacon-studded, golfball-sized croquettes ($12) as best entree, and grain-fed scotch fillet ($35) as the I'd-come-back-every-week-for-this dish, because the meat is so softly marbled under its crust and you can smash the excellent, salty chips into their pool of red wine jus.

Pince all'Amatriciana ($30) is deeply satisfying, its rich red sauce peppered with tiny cubes of gummy guanciale pork jowl. The pasta itself (like fat, long, hand-rolled bucatini) has such a mesmerisingly resilient chew, you feel like a happy cow.

Song Kitchen is a not-for-profit restaurant owned and run by the YWCA.
Song Kitchen is a not-for-profit restaurant owned and run by the YWCA. Photo: Louise Kennerley

Swordfish, contender for world's most boring fish when over-cooked, is just touched with the grill and harmoniously teamed with eggplant puree ($35). Buttery, roasted carrots ($8) feel like they're just there to make up the numbers.

Kerri Thompson's soft, plummy KT Grenache Mataro from the Clare Valley is only $53. It's one of those wines you can drink with anything or nothing, which is just as well, because food delivery can be slow.

If there's a tart of the day – like a warm, nutty peach frangipane ($14) – then you don't need the crisp French profiteroles and hazelnut ice-cream ($14) drenched at the table with chocolate sauce. But given that all profits go to such a good cause, feel free to have both.

Go-to dish: Grain-fed scotch fillet with shoestring fries, bearnaise and red wine jus.
Go-to dish: Grain-fed scotch fillet with shoestring fries, bearnaise and red wine jus. Photo: Louise Kennerley

The thing is, how important is "good"? The World's 50 Best Restaurants awards don't go to the World's 50 Best Not-For-Profit Restaurants. Michelin stars are not given purely for philanthropy.

But it's when you add that social value, that something shifts inside you. You feel better about being selfish. If I'm going to drop $200 on a meal, I like the idea of the profits going to people who need it – and I don't mean in order to buy a Maserati.

The food has to be good in its own right, however – and it is, modestly and rather sweetly. Well done, Song Kitchen, you did good.

Profiteroles with chocolate sauce.
Profiteroles with chocolate sauce.  Photo: Louise Kennerley

The low-down

Vegetarian One entree and one main only, although kitchen can sub out the meat in pasta and bruschetta.

Drinks Smart cocktails, beers, and a limited, well-priced list of Australian wines put together by Sophie Otton of She Loves You wine bar.

Go-to dish Grain-fed scotch fillet, shoestring fries, bearnaise, red wine jus, $35.

Pro tip Friday's happy hour (4pm-7pm) sees $5 beer and wine and big crowds. Either join the throng, or dine later.

Jill Dupleix is a senior reviewer for the Good Food Guide. This rating is based on the Good Food Guide scoring system.

https://www.songkitchen.com.au/