One chef, 25 seats, infinite flavours.
In Surry Hills, away from the neon clamour and boisterous crowds, Le Salle Dining by Bar Chaplin hums a different tune. Tucked behind a veiled door on a hidden laneway, this intimate 25-seat dining spot falls somewhere between the spectrum of a wine bar and a fully-fledged restaurant.
Here, Chef Patrick Dang reigns supreme, a veteran who has traded sprawling kitchens for the focused precision of a lone maestro. Dang’s canvas is the essence of seasonal ingredients, coaxed to their peak with meticulous technique and an innate understanding of flavour. Dishes arrive unburdened by trendy flourishes, each element with a purpose but still crafted for the cinematic eye.
The prix fixe menu, a four-course adventure changes weekly. One night, it might be a king prawn mosaic, a fitting title for it does appear to be a piece of art on the plate. Another is an arrangement of free-range lamb, lentil du put, mint yoghurt and kefte. Being a wine-focused dining room, it does not matter which night you visit, the menu will always be crafted around wine flavour profiles, using tasting notes as guidelines for the dishes.
But Le Salle is more than just these pairings, it’s truly about an intimate dining experience. The venue is run by a dynamic duo, Chef Dang in the kitchen and his business partner, Ederlyn Oloresisimo (previously at Firedoor), on the floor who alone attend to a select 25 seats each night. For this reason, in between courses, it becomes quite easy to draw yourself into conversation with the team in the open kitchen.
The wine list, carefully curated by Dang, echoes the focus on craftsmanship and intimacy. Small-batch producers from France, Italy, and Spain share space with the unexpected delight of Croatian wines, revealing hidden gems just waiting to be discovered. As a ‘part wine bar’ each glass is carefully selected to sing in harmony with the food, marrying the tasting experience.
Le Salle Dining may not be for everyone. It demands patience and an understanding that the modern-day dining experience is about leaving with more than just a full stomach. The venue and ever-changing menu are designed for audiences looking for a respite from the culinary noise.
Like everything about La Salle Dining, finding the venue is a delicate process. Hidden behind curtains in a basement on Hutchinson Street, the only tell-tale sign of the restaurant is the Charlie Chaplin hat logo on the window.