Big thanks to Spooner, AMY MCPHERSON, for attending and reviewing this place, I had never heard of it but after reading this review I will be booking in for a degustation sometime very soon!
I was greeted at the door by Amir Halpert, Sommelier of The Owl House with a hearty handshake.
“You must be Amy. Welcome to the Owl House!”
It was a hard place to spot, mostly because on street level, it looks just like another wine bar in Darlinghurst – small, dark and maybe quirky (but you wouldn’t know, you would just guess that). Upstairs however, was another story. A story of owls with snow beards.
Amir escorted us to our seat and advised us on the degustation we were about to consume. The venue was cozy, intimate and almost exclusive, with only about 9 tables set up to receive dinner guests and being the earliest diners it was like having the place (and Amir’s attention) all to ourselves.
I followed my usual routine and checks the wine list. 50 wines from many parts of the world are featured, including wines that are rarely listed in Australian establishments such as a good bottle of red from the Bakaa Valley in Lebanon, where they make excellent roses.
I ordered a glass of their house red, which is a good Victorian Merlot Sangiovese blend, and settled into a comfortable conversation with the husband. We didn’t have to wait long, with the first course served within minutes, by Amir himself.
Natural oyster with spiced pear foam. I can’t say it’s my favourite way of having oysters (one of my personal favourite dressings is a light vinaigrette with salmon roe) but it was certainly interesting. The idea was to have the bubbles subtly release the spiced pear flavour around the oyster, something that Heston Blumenthal would have been proud of.
Next up was the Oxtail and Smoked Bone Marrow Croquette. The crunchy texture of the batter was accompanied by a smooth and smoky filling of shredded oxtail mixed with bone marrow of a smoky flavour. The composition of this dish was perfect and needless to say, the dish was devoured within seconds.
I was beginning to figure this all out. They were alternating light and heavy dishes throughout, as the croquette was followed with a light salad of beetroot and celeriac. Shredded celeriac with a creamy dressing was topped with the creamiest beetroot mousse, sided with roasted baby beets.
I’ll make a confession now. I don’t like beetroot. I have never been a fan. However for some reason, I liked this dish. Could it be the celeriac? Or was it the fact that the beetroot mousse tasted like ice cream?
While I pondered this thought, the next dish, our main of the day arrived in a flourish. Spatchcock with kipfler potatoes, king mushrooms and watercress. The flavours were well balanced, and the spatchcock had a crispy coating while still maintained a tender texture within. I’d be perfectly happy if my meal ended here.
Alas, it didn’t. Our last course, dessert, arrived and I stared at it with a sigh. By this time, I was starting to feel full and contemplated skipping dessert, however one look at the plate in front of me I decided it would have been a sin to miss it.
Dessert came in the form of warm chocolate brownie and a jar of chocolate mousse topped with honeycomb. I just couldn’t, yet I did, forced every spoonful in my mouth, savouring the lightness of the mousse and the dense yet fluffy brownie until the very last bit.
Very dish had been beautifully presented today, but I found that I was liking this place for other reasons. While we ate, Amir busily waltzed around the tables ensuring everyone of his guests got his personal attention and greeting each new arrival with that charming smile.
Efficient but not hurried, sophisticated but down to earth. That is The Owl House.
5 / 5 spoons.