Balmain welcomes One Ford Street.
Balmain has long established itself as one of Sydney’s best restaurant precincts. Known for a relaxed take on fine dining, this is flair and flavour without the price tag. With such credentials, it has been easy rest on ones laurels. But that’s all set to change with One Ford Street, the new kid on the block. Situated on the former Monkey Bar site and behind the refurbished Cricketers Arms Hotel, this new Italian eatery is set to invigorate this wine and dine scene.
Owner Tim Condon bought the former Monkey Bar earlier this year. This was on the back of revamping The Riverview Hotel (Balmain) and Rozelle’s The Three Weeds (Rozelle), and operating the East Village Hotel (Balmain). He quickly set about refurbishing its original moniker, the Cricketers Arms Hotel, and establishing One Ford Street.
The intimate 50-seat restaurant has a separate entrance away from the main Darling Street, and designer Humphrey Edwards has crafted a stylish, pared back interior. The main space is an elegant mix of painted brick walls, blonde wood tables and polished concrete flooring. While in the courtyard, the hanging pots, vertical garden, and tiled floor are elegantly reminiscent of the classic Italian atrium.
At front of house is Fabio Dore, former winner of Gourmet Traveller Magazine “Maitre D of the Year” award. His wine list is an eclectic mix of Italian and local interpretations of Italian varietals. Also on offer are a great range of Italian craft beers.
But it is through the food that One Ford Street truly sings. Before taking the reins of the kitchen, chef Sam Bennett (of Fix St James, Glebe Point Diner and Bourke Street Bakery pedigree) spent 12 months working and travelling around Italy. As a result, the menu is innovative albeit rustic and reflects a wonderful absorption of ideas and ingredients. There is a genuine celebration of high-quality, seasonal fresh produce.
Diners have two options when considering their meal. They can either order à la carte or opt for the ‘No Fussypants’ Sharing Menu. At $65 and comprising of dishes selected by the chef, this is great value.
All plates are generously sized and burst with strong, bold flavours. The panzerotti ($12) is filled with quail, cabbage and barley, and has just a hint of sweetness in the pastry. The smoked trout pate is delicious on toasted sourdough ($9).
It’s no overstatement to say that the tomato salad ($16) is Sydney’s tastiest. It’s a festive mix of colour with juicy heirloom and ox heart tomatoes. wafer-thin farinata, soft goats cheese, cipollini onions, and balsamic pesto.
For a bold take on beef tartare, try the oysterblade cipriani ($16). It is simply superb with the accompanying mustard, peppery Lebanese watercress and pizza crusts that are simultaneously thick, soft and chewy.
Bennett updates the classic Italian cacciatore ($24) with sausage, a medley of mushrooms, and lardons of bacon. Combined with the light nutty flavours of the spelt flour pappardelle, lemon gremolata and pecorino, this is a filling dish.
The lamb t-bones ($30) are also a hearty highlight. Nestled on a bed of salad of Sicilian fregola, asparagus, snow peas, red cabbage and almonds, it is just plain delicious.
After such a substantial meal, it may be tempting to forgo dessert. But you would be crazy to miss it. The dropped cheesecake ($14) with cinnamon, chocolate and berry is a deconstructed dessert that is seductively delicate and foamy.
With a generous and affordable menu that is equal parts honest Italian cooking and quiet confidence, One Ford Street is not to be missed.
One Ford Street
1 Ford Street, Balmain (behind the Cricketers Arms Hotel)
(02) 9818 4232
Open: Wed-Thurs: 6pm–11pm, Fri & Sat: 12pm–4pm, 6pm–11pm, Sun: 12pm–4pm