Saturday, 15 August 2015

Reviving this shabby corner of Rushcutters Bay, ACME makes a statement below the rooms of Bayswater Boutique Lodge. Credit: Luchetti Krelle
For months and months, ACME has literally been a dangling carrot. I walk past a lot, and every time it seems to be pumping with a crowd that is the envy of Sydney. Opening late last year, Mitch Orr and co. (Andy Emerson, Cam Fairbairn and Ed Loveday) have combined powers and initials to create ACME. Before you start having  pleasant flashbacks to Looney Tunes cartoons (and Roadrunner dropping anvils off precipices), ACME is all about business. The business of having a good time.

Distressed walls and hanging pendant lights are the handiwork of design firm Luchetti Krelle Credit: Luchetti Krelle
Head chef Mitch Orr has been around the traps of Sydney establishing his rep in a number of Italian restaurants including 121BC and Buzo.  Branching out on his own, Orr's menu is a collision of Asian and Italian flavours which may go on to raise a few eyebrows. But why the hell not? Fortune favours the brave. The results on the plate triumphantly raise a flag for CARBS. The menu is very laden with pasta, that's all been made in house (is there any other way?). Coeliacs, you have been warned. This is freestyle cooking with a heady soundtrack of rap (the language might frighten the oldies :P).

Baloney sandwich (left) and pencil leeks, seaweed butter (right). The perfect bar snack, the sliders are chock full of mortadella and a zingy tomato sauce. The bun was so light, you almost forget what you've just consumed. The charry leeks are quite difficult to eat, unless you ram the whole lot in your mouth. The nori butter is umami heaven, I tell you!
The restaurant itself is a very polished outfit of distressed concrete walls and dark timber floors. The interiors are the work of  Luchetti Krelle who are also behind the design of Momofuku Seiobo and The Butler. The rather compact space maximises dining potential, and even has a more private banquet table downstairs for all your "occasion" needs. And can I just make a comment on those awesome indigo/denim napkins? They pretty much rock my world and wouldn't be out of place worn as bandanas (no kidding). On a slightly more serious note, the service was great and pretty seamless. I did notice there is a 10% surcharge for groups over 6, which seems a bit counter intuitive let alone steep. Despite this, it's all pretty irresistibly cool at ACME; and would sit perfectly in the skinny jeans pocket of your bearded hipster man-friend. Now to the eats...

Fried parsnip, jalapeño cream. Definitely an early highlight, you can fry just about anything and put smiles on faces. These parsnips crusted and golden whilst still being tender inside, all you need is the tiniest dab of jalepeño cream (only mildly spicy) and you're cooking

Fusilli, broccoli, salsa verde. This dish was a little ho hum but will please the veggos. Freshly made fusilli with a green sauce and a sprinkle of quinoa for texture. Can I just emphasize that THIS is how you cook pasta. All nicely al dente, you want to keep it bitey!

Linguine, black garlic, burnt chilli (left) and spaghetti, calamari, Korean bolognaise (right). That black garlic sauce has a nice hum of salt and chilli and is pretty pared back, no nonsense cooking. The Korean style creamy spaghetti was very light on calamari which was a shame, because it was actually very tasty. The chilli in the sauce was a win

Macaroni, pigs head, egg yolk. Probably one of the most memorable savoury dishes I've had in a while. Once given a stir through, the egg yolk makes you go weak at the knees. Rich, glossy and entirely delicious. My bits of pork were a tad on the chewy side, almost like floss

Grilled radicchio, farro, capers (left) and shaved Brussel sprouts, walnuts (right). The sides have plenty of credibility and lots of flavour. The bitter radicchio leaves were offset with the crunch from the grains. Shaved baby sprouts - probably the most under appreciated vegetable of all time. And so good, when paired with walnuts like this

Truffle ice cream, candy apples. Probably the most decadent (and expensive) dessert, the candied apples were the perfect accompaniment. The truffle garnish is definitely for wow factor, with the flavour only barely coming through (Nooooo)
The portions may tend to be on the smaller size but that's made up for in the variety of dishes and original ideas. Creativity is abuzz and that really shines through in the food. Perfectly cooked pasta is sexed up with notes of chilli and umami. For every adventurous diner keen on pairings of drinks and food to share, ACME is your place. It's all a pretty sleek operation and you'll be pleased to know that they take reservations so you can make a night of it (or perhaps a Saturday lunch). Orr and his team have pulled off a restaurant with plenty of staying power. Cheers.

Malteser ice cream, candied bacon (left) and coconut rice cream, white chocolate (right). They certainly weren't skimping with these sizeable desserts. The maltese ice cream was a winner from the get go, but the bacon crumb needed to be more crispy - or otherwise a candied rasher would do just fine. The rice cream was raved about around the table, enough said.
Thanks for reading!
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