This big cat is officially out of the bag and causing quite the stir on Smith Street. That is no small feat, as it seems that Collingwood has undergone drastic surgery recently, whereby every available nook has been turned into a brand new eatery. The competition is tough, but this modest dining space run by Simon Hall, Suzanne Tyzack and chef Jarrod Hudson (all of Giant Steps and Innocent Bystander heritage) is entering the fray with chillies blazing.
If you’re in love with Gingerboy and Longrain but feel like they’re a bit too fancy for a Tuesday, fret no more! Hudson’s food is inspired and every bit as fine as that of his contenders. But the setting, with communal tables and simple décor, creates a far more casual dining experience.
The menu is set out in bites ($4–$8 each) and larger share plates ($24–$30), with a worth-it banquet option for a thrifty $60 a head. Happily, you will recognise some favourites in the mix, like son-in-law eggs (deep-fried whole eggs with chilli jam), but there are also some fun newbies like mar hor bites consisting of a cube of fresh pineapple topped with a sticky ball of pork, chicken and palm sugar. It’s possibly the first time that pineapple has been fashionable since 1979, and we’re all for it.
Such sweet and fruity notes are rife throughout the menu. Chilli jam abounds, sweet pork pairs smoked trout (do it), satisfyingly chunky kingfish sashimi is offset by apple, and a potent sour orange fish curry contains winter melon (definitely do it).
For a group of four, order two to three bites and the same number of shared dishes, with rice. It’s enough to give both your stretchy pants and wallet a workout. The food is fresh and fierce, the wine/beer is single vineyard or locally brewed, and the name is awesome. In fact, our only word of warning is that you will be sharing your conversation with the whole class, so save the dirty talk for later and turn your mouth to tasting.