When I see people sitting in some edgy pop-up restaurant smugly cradling one of those cloudy wines that smell weird and taste like you’re on a juice cleanse, while willingly submitting to a degustation involving ‘caramelised pumpkin juice’, ‘koji cream’ and ‘raw kangaroo’, I begin to wonder if Sydney’s appetite for courageous dining might have hopped the shark. Throw in a side-order of snark from a ‘team-member’ with esoteric tats called Drew and you start asking big questions of a purposeless universe like “why am I here?”High props on the night went to brussels sprouts with a smoky anchovy schmaltz and an elegantly composed fillet of Saddletail snapper with raisins, chickpeas and hazelnuts.
Happily, when I dined at ételek last week I knew the answer. This pop-up on cosy Roslyn Street, Kings Cross, is unpretentious and the menu borders on fascinating. Adam Wolfers (ex-Bentley, Yellow, Monopole) is presenting Middle Eastern, Jewish, Eastern European and Australian elements in new guises and offering the thrill of tasting them anew. He’s dropping them into an idiosyncratic menu devoid of politics or mission statements (unless you include the category ‘everything bagel’.)
So get ready for fun. Picture the mind that thought up parsnip schnitzel served with hot sauce, labneh and gherkin (AUD $4 pc); or a lovely fermented pancake with ocean trout and dill (AUD $12 pc); and a fresh look at Hungary’s favourite flatbread, lángos, which at ételek is a pneumatic bread balloon puffed up on the griddle, drenched in paprika and served with almonds and cultured cream (AUD $14). High props on the night went to brussels sprouts with a smoky anchovy schmaltz (wow!) (AUD $14) and an elegantly composed fillet of Saddletail snapper with raisins, chickpeas and hazelnuts (AUD $40). Less fun was the nokedli: noodle dumplings served in a sauce the hero ingredient of which was sea urchin, which could have been fresher (AUD $27). On most days a fennel brûlée might have tested my fennel tolerance, but this was unexpectedly, really, good (AUD $12).
Wolfers’ buddy Marc Dempsey (ex-Universal, 121BC, Cornersmith) can sort you out with a very correct martini and ételek’s wine list is surprisingly approachable, boasting just a few oddities for the wine wonks (yes that’s you), including 2015 Schweiger Zweigelt (a black-fruited beauty not just for Austrian patriots). Dempsey is also in charge of the fit out here, which involves, mysteriously, fluorescent pink duct tape and diaphanous pink curtains. It’s sure to have some folk asking big questions of a purposeless universe such as “Why pink?” But it was Madame Cruella who had the last word, as usual, on the night.
“The most courageous act is to think for yourself. Aloud,” she said.
That’s pretty much the vibe at ételek.
- How good was the food? 7.0/10
- How good was the wine list? 4/5
- What was the service like? 3.5/5
- How was the atmosphere? 3/5
- Does this place have the X Factor? 3/5
- Address: 5-9 Roslyn St Potts Point, NSW 2011
- Telephone: +61 2 8354 0766
- Email: email@example.com
- Website: www.etelek.com.au
- Open: Wed-Sat from 5pm; Sun from 2pm. Licensed
- Price: Entrees AUD $4-$12; mains AUD $20-$40; desserts AUD$12- $15