A night on the town

It was one of those occasions when you’re torn between laughing and crying. With three friends I was dining last week at one of Sydney’s newest funky eateries, LP’s Quality Meats in Chippendale.

LP is Luke Powell (pictured above), former Tetsuya’s head chef and latterly of Mary’s in Newtown and Ester, also in Chippendale. Luke has commandeered one of the biggest in-restaurant smoke ovens you’re ever likely to lay your peepers on, and all the meats – whether lamb, duck, pork, beef or whatever – go through it.

The food is very informal and tasty, and the wine list is – well, much as you might expect in a place angled towards the youth market, with loud music still audible above deafening crowd noise, shared bench tables and staff covered in tatts and facial hair. In other words, not many wines that you or I would recognize*. But that’s not all bad: good advice is on the floor in the person of wine-guys James Audas and Tom Sheer.

We chose an Austrian blaufrankisch, a dry red wine made from a native Austrian grape, grown in the southern region of Burgenland. It was 2012 Pittnauer Dogma. The name resonates, because when it was poured, it was that kind of wine that is so stinky everyone looks at the soles of their shoes to see if they’ve recently trodden in dog-pooh. But it was the kind of sulfide that led me to suspect it would ‘blow off’ with aeration.

So having established that this restaurant had no decanters (!) I asked that the wine be poured immediately, so we could let it sit and breathe for a while. After a while (half an hour or more) the pong had dissipated to the point that it was acceptable. And it was very compatible with the food: with fairly high acidity, it cut through the fat of the meats we were eating. We all ended up enjoying it.

The question remains: how many people would dismiss a wine like this on first sniff and never entertain the thought of coming back to it or giving it a second chance? Also: should stinky wines be given a second chance, anyway? (How long should a diner reasonably wait for a decanted wine to ‘clean up’ before they can enjoy it?)

Well, these are questions which have no hard-and-fast answers. You might be patient, as we were; someone else may not. Put it down to the mystery of the enjoyment of wine. LP’s Quality Meats is at 16 Chippen St, Chippendale. (02) 8399 0929.

*There are two main reasons for this. One: it’s pointless to stock any wine that is well-known in retail outlets because everyone knows it (boring), and knows the price (embarrassing, when restaurants feel the need to charge much more than retailers). Second: when you’re out and about, eating food that’s more interesting (hopefully) than what you cook chez vous, you don’t want to drink ordinary wine, either. You want discovery wine. 

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