They have a real knack of getting the right people at the burners here. The restaurant-within-a-pub has boasted Darrell Felstead (he owns Foveaux Restaurant and Bar) John Evans (he made a tree change and runs the Berry Bakery), and now welcomes Lauren Murdoch. We’ve followed Murdoch since her days at Lotus, then Ash St Cellar and Felix. She’s an incredible cook with a real knack for restraint and a flair for rich, classical French bistro dishes.
So it's blowing a gale down Evans Street, so you can imagine our relief when we hit the restaurant and see a giant pie on the menu. It’s a French-style pithivier with short, buttery pastry baked until deeply golden and shining, filled with dense shreds of slow-braised lamb. All this is sitting in a pool of sautéed mushrooms and dark, sticky, glossy jus. You’ll want to cut the richness with a side of greens (on our visit it’s buttered broccoli florets, zucchini chunks and snow peas) or a salad.
Straightforward, hearty stuff is the call at Murdoch’s 3 Weeds. Big serves, too. A plate of broccolini (try an aged Semillon with this dish – magic) is all tangled up with dark, bitter cavolo nero and doused in plenty of brown butter and thin slices of gruyere. Buttery little croutons add crunch. We’d have liked a nice bit of sourdough to mop up the puddle of leftover melted butter and cheese – a not-particularly-amazing ciabatta roll doesn’t really cut it.
It’s surprising to see a fillet steak on the menu (it’s a dull cut of beef - you don’t even need teeth to chew, just firm gums) – and even more surprising when it comes topped with a showering of sweet potato crisps. It’s the kind of retro-fancy-pub-dish you’d expect to see anywhere but near a chef with Murdoch’s pedigree (she was sous chef at the legendary MG Garage under Janni Kyritsis). Nor would you expect the honeycomb ice cream to be icy rather than creamy. In its defense, it comes with a really exceptional hot chocolate sauce.
For some reason, someone’s playing a mix tape of Green Day, Genesis and Michael Jackson when we visit. A co-diner is of the opinion you shouldn’t be able to hear the lyrics of songs when you’re eating. Personally, we’re all for some Strokes or Johnny Cash in the right setting but hearing Mariah Carey’s warbling on ‘Fantasy’ in such a plush dining room is a little weird.
Still, the prices here are pretty reasonable ($18 entrees/$30 mains, as a rough guide) and there’s a sassy waitress on the floor who keeps things lively. Check it out once the new kitchen team has had some more time to settle in.
You could easily while away a day among the many nooks and crannies of Rozelle’s 3 Weeds Hotel. Originally established in 1881 to service the drinking needs of Rozelle’s rough-and-ready working-class locals, the pub has gone the same way as the suburb itself and been gentrified to the hilt, but it’s a rich and sympathetic refurb we’re talking about here. No shiny chrome in sight: instead, the 3 Weeds is all dark wood, recycled timber, fireplaces, antique couches and a kitchen garden, where the home-grown produce and herbs are destined for the award-winning fine dining restaurant within the pub. The Back Bar Bistro dishes up hearty fare but if you’re in the mood for simple grazing over a bottle of pinot gris, pick a few dishes from the tapas menu. The Wine Bar, tucked away behind the Back Bar, is ideal first-date territory while the Front Bar offers all the traditional, albeit gentrified, touches of an older pub. Too bad the 3 Weeds suffers the blight of plasma televisions switched permanently to Fox Sports.