It was only a matter of time before British Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton spread his empire to Australia. Greedy Girl was very excited to find his latest restaurant had officially opened in Sydney and immediately secured a table for the lunch service.

‘Table’ is not perhaps the best term. A great many of the seats are bar stools at a counter, overlooking a rather large team of chefs going about their business. We’d experienced this seating style at other Jason Atherton establishments, notably the Esquina tapas bar in Singapore. It’s a great vantage point, especially for gluttonous husband who loves watching chefs at work. We enjoyed the odd chat when the chef handed over our food and discovered this was week two after the official opening, although they’d been hard at work testing for some time.

The restaurant is in one of the more recent inner-urban areas of Sydney to be ‘gentrified’. The bustling Broadway, a major artery leading towards Sydney’s west, has reinvented itself since the demise of a lot of major business tenants. The area is dominated by Central Station, UTS and some new, groovy apartment developments. On one side of Broadway, the suburb is Ultimo. On the Kensington Street Social side, Chippendale.

Atherton is just one of a host of high-profile chefs to move into the Old Clare Hotel redevelopment, the first in Australia by Singapore-based hotel entrepreneurs Unlisted Collection. He’s joined by former Noma sous chef Sam Miller who has opened Silvereye, and Clayton Wells, formerly of Momofuku Seiobo who has opened Automata. It’s a new Mecca for foodies and lovers of design.

On our way to the airport to head back to Melbourne after a few days of gorging ourselves, the prospect of another feast was a little daunting. Nonetheless, it was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up. We’ve long been fans of Atherton’s food, having watched him dominate some of the early seasons in the TV show Great British Menu. Ordering one of our favourite champagnes, a Jacquesson Cuvée 738, extra brut, we contemplated the food choices.

Most dishes here are designed to share. We opted for three smaller plates, one medium and one large and asked for them to be spaced well so we could sip our champagne throughout. No problem.

First up was the ‘dish’ pictured at the top of this post, whimsically named ‘English breakfast tea and toast’. This was actually a pot of intense mushroom broth which one poured on top of a rich Parmesan foam in the little tea cups. It was accompanied by very thin and crisp toasts, topped with a bone marrow ‘butter’ and what the menu termed ‘gentlemen’s relish’ but what the chef who handed this over the counter to us was more like the old HP sauce. OMG. What a combination; despite the relish looking suspiciously like a pat of Vegemite (Greedy Girl was right to be quizzical; there was a cocktail on the menu called a Vegemitini which she had zero curiosity about), the flavours were all quite strong but in perfect harmony. It’s a dish Greedy Girl would be happy to consume for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Delish.

Our next dish was called a ‘Social Dog’. This was a pork and fennel sausage in a housemade brioche roll topped with green apple, crumbs of black pudding, melted cheddar and mustard. It was a good dish – fresh and reasonably light and the sweetness and crunch of the apple worked well. Gluttonous husband subsequently watched the chefs prepping apple for another dog; different chefs took different approaches to creating the julienne sticks. One forgot to take the label from the fruit before slicing with a mandolin and was bummed to find slivers of the sticker still attached. D’Oh. Into the bin …

Jason Atherton Sydney: Kensington Street Social

Social Dog

Our final small plate was a slow-cooked organic hen’s egg with sweet corn, kombu (seaweed), Parmesan, sage and chicken scratchings. Again, this was a dish Greedy Girl would relish for breakfast any day of the week. It had very good flavours and excellent textures. Greedy Girl, making surreptitious notes on her phone was trying to type ‘kombu’ which auto-correct kept trying to change to Limburger. Hmmm.
Jason Atherton Sydney: Kensington Street Social

Slow cooked hen’s egg

Next, we went to something with a bit more substance. The menu offers a number of sourdough flatbreads. We chose pulled lamb, basil pesto, baby zucchini, Jersey milk ricotta and liberal gratings of Parmesan over the top. Another excellent combination of flavours. The addition of the zucchini was inspired. Greedy Girl thought this was a particularly good dish for lunch. Not a crumb remained.
Jason Atherton Sydney: Kensington Street Social

Sourdough flatbread

Our final savoury plate was Hapuka, with cauliflower cheese puree, gin, seaweed and kohlrabi (a member of the cauliflower family). Greedy Girl enjoys the fish but found this dish not entirely to her liking. The other flavours were very strong and the cauliflower quite dominant. The kohlrabi was also a bit too firm. Gluttonous husband also enjoyed the fish but agreed the sauce was too strong.
Jason Atherton Sydney: Kensington Street Social

Hapuka with cauliflower cheese puree

Still with a bit of time before we needed to leave to get our flight, we contemplated dessert and chose a peanut and chocolate confection.
Jason Atherton Sydney: Kensington Street Social

Chocolate and peanut bar

This was a rather yummy way to finish. The chocolate and peanut bar was smooth, sweet, slightly salty and delicious. A quenelle of caramel and banana ice cream, which gluttonous husband enjoyed immensely, sat atop a pile of dark chocolate crumbs. It would have been easy to eat one each …

And we were done. As far as Atherton’s ‘Social’ brand goes, this is a very good addition. We’ve eaten his food in London, Singapore and Shanghai and will seek it out in New York City later this year. While there are definite similarities there’s still plenty of variety and interest to be found.

Kensington Street Social

The Foodie World star rating
1 Kensington Street, Chippendale
Kensington Street Social Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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