A buffet, you say? By a former Rockpool chef, in a converted warehouse in Rosebery? Tell me more. It’s adjoined to a design depot, and they have wine?! I’m in. I couldn’t stop hearing of Mike McEnearney’s Kitchen by Mike, and finally made it one Sunday afternoon, having spent Saturday regretting Friday. Barely a more joyous sight has been seen than my first glance at the buffet and wine bar, temporarily distracting me from the queue of hungry suburbanites who had formed an ‘L’ shape around the front of the kitchen and up beside contented diners.
There was something suspicious about the staff at Kitchen by Mike, and I couldn’t put my finger on it. It wasn’t until I made it to the counter, watching them plate up and chat with the customers as they went, that I realised… They were happy! The team seems to have bonded over fig salads and rosewater meringues in a way you don’t often see, although there is a chance that it could have something to do with the oversized (mostly empty) bottles labelled “Consequence Natural Wine”.
Waiting in the line is daunting. As a pair with differing requirements, it’s not possible to leave one to order while the other finds an appropriate table, and with no menu you both chat while nervously gazing towards the impending finish-line, trying to tip-toe to get a glance at the goods while others are attended to. This is necessary, we find out, even more so because the price is decided by how many selections you make and the nature of each. You make your choices as you shuffle down the line, while your server ponders over which plates will best fit your order. When I say plates, I mean it, because by the time we get to the till it’s clear we’re going to need help bringing it all to our table.
Our feast consists of almost every vegetarian option in sight, as well as a small piece of the dreaded pork belly for my meat-eating companion (which I have heard rave reviews about from almost everyone who’s been). Fig, Chickpea, Cauliflower, Red Onion and Spinach Salad is a no-brainer, along with Roasted Pumpkin with Harissa, Aioli, Pumpkin Seed & Mint, a slice of Margherita Pizza and a Pumpkin, Red Onion and Fetta Tartine. A slice of Home-baked Sourdough served with Pepe Saya Hand-Churned Butter is our final offering, aside from dessert of course, a Plum and Almond Pastie. It hurts my stomach just thinking about it…
Over the course of about half an hour, I’ll admit we sit and eat almost every mouthful. The lightness of hand in the dressings, and clever combinations, make for really decent grub, and having wine and a selection of beers available means that a healthy afternoon rendezvous could easily be turned into a lazy afternoon vino amongst friends, if the opportunity so presented itself.
The plans at Kitchen by Mike don’t stop there. A kitchen garden (all the rage these days, see Matt Moran’s latest venture Chiswick), a market shop and beehives are on the way, and a quick stroll around the Koskela furniture store attached, selling environmentally friendly recycled timbers onto their second lives as tables, benches and coffee tables, is an easy way to while away a Sunday afternoon. “Really simple, incredibly tasty and very seasonal” is how Mike describes the concept here, and with dinners hosted twice a month, the first of which was hosted recently by Vogue Living Editor David Clark and Koskela’s Sasha Titchkosky & Russel Koskela, this place is set to bring great things to the table of Sydney’s food scene. There’s something to be said of a chef who personally visits the markets to source the best and freshest produce daily, and even more so when the subsequent menu is created to complement it. “It’s just organic”, Mike says in a video produced by Koskela, highlighting the concept. Just one of many places of a similar theme which have opened up recently in Sydney (see Bread and Circus in nearby Alexandria), it’s great to see chefs embracing the idea of local, sustainable produce. I think we should all look forward to seeing what’s to come from Kitchen by Mike.
Kitchen by Mike
85 Dunning Ave Rosebery NSW 2018
(02) 9045 0910