Another day another dollar, earnt and spent in Surry Hills. Sometimes it seems like a vicious cycle, working for the man by day and drowning it out with vino and laughter by night. Ok, so maybe that’s a little dramatic. I love my job, I won’t lie, and it’s definitely more a case of living to work than the other way around. When places like Watts on Crown are a short stroll away, it makes it all the more worthwhile. Its former life as the Vespa Café was long-lived, until it became one incarnation and the next, arriving at this modern Australian bistro with wine bar downstairs. With owners like chef Hamish Watt (of Rockpool, before putting in a decade in Britain at the renowned Kensington Place) and wife Tiffany, also from a hospitality background, it was given a fighting chance at birth.
A smart makeover has white tablecloths and a feature wine rack downstairs, while upstairs lends itself to more private dining and opens out on to a balcony overlooking Crown St. The clever mosaic wall downstairs still has me stumped as to whether it’s tiles or some form of plastic/paper, and at the end of a long day I forget to ask before leaving. I shall have to enquire on my next visit!
There are a couple of vege Small Plates available all day including Stuffed zucchini flowers with goat cheese and romesco sauce which gets the night started. The flowers are well cooked and crispy, and the romesco is decent. One option for a main leaves me with Beetroot and marjoram ravioli with almond beurre noisette, and although I never like being backed into a corner to order the solitary vege dish (if there’s only one it’s almost always a pasta) at least this one is imaginative, and there’s not a “roast marinated vegetable stack” or burnt butter sauce in sight. We give a good go at the sides and end up with chips, cauliflower cheese and green beans (sans the lardons and with the sour cream on the side).
As I’m dining with the parentals this eve we order dessert, my mum’s favourite part of the meal, and as you may already know I NEVER go past a Chocolate Fondant. All in all the meal has been particularly pleasant and rather understated for such a fancy makeover in this strip of the street which is well overdue for an overhaul. With passers-by having the option of Watts on Crown or Xage across the road, before getting snapped up in the whirlwind that is The Winery or Oxford St further afield, I really hope this place does well. With movement due at the former site of Bird Cow Fish just down the road and a couple of others having shut up shop of late, it will be interesting to keep an eye out on the progress here. Their something-for-everyone menu and range of seating options definitely has them off to a good start, and if the attitude of the staff is anything to go by (keen, helpful and happy to be here), people will be flocking here by the dozen once the word gets around.
Watts on Crown
368 Crown Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010
(02) 8068 046