The name Daniel Pepperell may not mean much to you, unless you’re deeply ingrained in Sydney/Melbourne food land. So let us tell you a little about this young chef, who’s quietly plugging away at wine bar 10 William Street, owned by the smart folks at Fratelli Paradiso. He’s worked at Oscillate Wildly in Sydney, Attica in Melbourne, Momofuku Ssam Bar in NYC and has now landed in downtown Paddington.
“Wait,” you say. “This is a bar, right?” Well, yeah. But if the recent upheaval in bars and restaurants has taught us anything, it’s that the lines can be, will be and are very often happily blurred. And 10 William, the two-level wine bar and restaurant just off Oxford Street, is no exception. While downstairs is a cluster of tiny tables, banquettes and bar-side seating, upstairs offers a little more table action. Both are verging on flashlight-and-search-crew dark.
The menu is small plates-o-rama. Take juicy green peppers pan-fried with salt or pickled radish and celery – some days Pepperell’s serving the bracingly acidic pickles with a whipped, almost gelatinous mix of anchovy and garlic, another day it’s anchovy salt. Soft little sardine fillets loll on the plate draped in thin wisps of pork fat and are finished with dried olive crumbs.
The man’s no rube with a slice of bread, either. Pieces of charred toast are rubbed with ripe tomato and topped with pillow-like rounds of sweet and soft blood sausage and a few torn basil leaves. Or how about a big hunk of fried chicken scorched a deep, golden brown sitting in a sweet bun with tarragon mayonnaise?
A beautifully hand-cut beef tartare is splayed over a thin layer of mascarpone, dotted with lightly pickled cauliflower and covered in a snowstorm of cured egg-yolk shavings speared with a couple of thin grissini. It’s a smooth-on-smooth-on-creamy combination smartly punctuated with crunch and acid.
Get protein serious with slices of rare steak covered in grated parmesan and a crisp polenta puck with a soft, golden and fluffy interior. A juicy pork chop comes sliced on the plate with a hail of roasted red peppers wearing a sunny-side up fried egg like a sweet little hat.
There’s nothing stopping you from heading in for a glass of wine and a bowl of pasta either, if you want to keep it simple – try the tomato-heavy bolognaise coating little pici nubbins.
It pays to remember 10 William Street is first-and-foremost a bar with a penchant for crazy, raw, wild and feral Italian wines. The walls downstairs are covered in Sharpie signatures from the who’s who of vino: there’s cigar chewing Friulano Fulvio Bressan’s paw print. Tuscan producers Massa Vecchia have left their mark just over the stacks of Moritz tinnies. But then your sommelier might pour you something like the exciting Cirelli trebbiano from Abbruzzo, or an almost rosé-like pinot grigio.
10 William Street is a good time. It always has been. But just now, with the addition of some serious talent in the kitchen, it’s an excellent time.