Sixpenny & Co with Dan Hunter

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

What a greedy guts I am. When the opportunity arose to attend a once off dinner at Sixpenny with guest chef Dan Hunter, it was a complete no brainer. It's been almost a year since I first visited this little Stanmore restaurant and I've been singing its praises ever since. Dan Hunter ex-Royal Mail Hotel just happened to be between jobs, as he is on the cusp of opening his own restaurant called Brae. All the better for us Sydneysiders to nab him for an exclusive Good Food Month dinner.

This dining room for 30 is a Scando minimalist gem Photo credit: Foolscap Studio

Tonight's event would be a special treat, a 'clash' of food philosophy and the finest ingredients our country has to offer. Call it the sustainable food brains trust. Hunter has spent the last several years as head chef at the much lauded Royal Mail Hotel, known for its play on modern Australian cuisine (which remains a rather cryptic phrase if you ask me). Previously head chef at Mugaritz (ranked #4 restaurant in the world), Hunter's food is very much based around the land and using what is immediately at hand, foraged or found in season. Simple as that, right ;)

Unleashing the beast...

Kipfler potato chips (L) and rye cracker with oysters and sea lettuce (R), the latter a delightful mouthful, as if straight from the sea

Prawn on prawn cracker - the meat, so delicate and refreshing

Golden beet, baked in salt crust (L) and linseed cracker with wallaby tartare (R).  The first dish, presenting just like a bird's nest and the latter a DH dish, something entirely new to me and exciting ++

A note on service. Sixpenny has the curious custom of chefs bringing out each dish to the diners' table. Not only is this particularly labour intensive, it runs as if finely orchestrated. The front of house staff are particularly attentive, I suppose it's not too much of a stretch if your wait station is right there! One of the many reasons why I've come back for Sixpenny seconds... 

Dan Hunter's garden: new season asparagus, frozen radish and nasturtium. The technique really enhances just how gorgeous those ingredients are. Eat before it disappears into a puddle on the plate!

Ogle away because this dish is just about my favourite of ALL TIME. The stakes are  high. Steamed snow crab, macadamia milk, chamomile and shaved macadamias. A smooth and creamy consistency, it simply melts away on the palate

A 'simple' dish of mulberry and leek. I'm just imagining the old tweezers getting a good work out here. The leeks were so sweet

Another Hunter dish: WA marron, sea lettuce juice, artichoke and rose. Don't those ingredients read beautifully? The subtle flavours of the lettuce etc allow the marron to work its magic. Glorious.

A rather demure looking bass grouper from South island NZ, sea nettle, burnt butter, steamed nettle sauce. A Sixpenny dish, the sauce was a deliciously creamy concoction, and let's not forget the fish!

The final savoury dish for the night, a Dan Hunter creation. Squab a.k.a pigeon, charred radicchio, quandong and beetroot. How beautiful does this plate look, and vibrant! Ending on a high, the pigeon was cooked so well I think duck might have a new rival...

Parsnip, blueberries, caramelised apple and creme fraiche (L). Pear, toasted milk crumb, vanilla ice cream & pear and chocolate ganache (R). It's a dessert face-off, DH has it by a whisker for sheer originality

Sixpenny's killer version of a salted caramel TeeVee snack and chocolate doughnuts. OMG

Back for more, this meal did not disappoint. I could rattle on about everything Sixpenny for days but I will resist. Dining here is all about the experience, with more substance and less pomp. Chef Dan Hunter's food fit the degustation like a glove. It's no wonder Sixpenny was awarded 2013 Restaurant of the Year by Time Out Sydney. It was well deserved in my book.

Thanks for reading!

P.S. a big congratulations to Sixpenny's sommelier Seb Crowther who has recently been awarded Master Sommelier
Sixpenny on Urbanspoon


  1. What an amazing collaboration - am so sorry I missed this. And that crab with macadamia changed my life as well!



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