Regular readers of this site will recall Mr and Mrs Prick’s less-than-satisfactory meal at Crown Street Assembly, made all the more shambolic by the very large presence of Sydney Morning Herald restaurant critic Terry Durack.
Durack’s review of the evening hit newsstands this morning, and despite the staff and managers’ over-the-top fawning, it seems he and his missus didn’t have much of a better time of it. End result: 13/20, which sounds about right. And while both the Duracks and the Pricks didn’t like the noise, I’m afraid we may have half-caused Durack’s discomfort:
On the ground floor, designer Debbie Grant* has installed an over-sized bar lined with streamlined stools, leaving only enough room for half-a-dozen tables. Lighting is dim and noise levels are high. Seriously high. When a rowdy, happy-birthday table for eight gets into full swing, we have to decamp, first to stools at the bar, then upstairs to the large dining room.
Yeah, that was us. Sorry, mate. Still though, it’s all about the food, right? While we both liked the wine list, we were also both iffy about the suckling pig, about which he notes, “a lot of work has gone into it but that’s not really the point of eating, is it?” A lot of work – too much – also was required to eat it, and other dishes, we found. His conclusion that “there are some good ideas – possibly too many – and a raft of good intentions but it all feels a bit of a muddle” is a fair summation of the Crown Street Assembly experience.
Durack, to his credit, also calls the restaurant out for sucking up:
A dish of rich, fried potato gnocchi tossed with broccoli, spinach and quite strong blue cheese ($18) arrives, unsolicited, proving yet again that restaurants should not send out comped dishes to restaurant critics. It upsets the balance, throws out the timing and, instead of being a kindness, is just a little insulting. I’m not that easy.
This sort of thing must happen all the time, which is all the more reason for major broadsheet critics to be anonymous. But hey, that’s just one Pricks’ opinion. And Terry, when the bottom finally falls out at Fairfax, you’re always welcome here as a guest blogger.
* UPDATE: In comments, Debbie Grant says Durack’s got his facts wrong.