Let us tell you a little story about Bob. Bob first appeared in the kitchens at Oscillate Wildly
, when chefs Daniel Puskas and Jimmy Parry manned the burners back in 2008/2009. Bob left with Parry to work at Manly Pavilion
and has now come to grace the kitchen at Parry and Puskas’ new joint, Sixpenny. Bob, by the by, is the starter (AKA the mother dough) for the amazing bread they offer here.
There’s good reason people are frothing over this new Stanmore restaurant. The boys grow all the fruits and vegetables themselves on their very own plot in Mittagong. When people talk about food having a place, or a sense of location, you can really see it in the cooking here. It’s an impressive offering, to say the least.
Start with a series of snacks. There are lightly pickled vegetables straight from the garden (or stolen – sorry, “foraged” – along the way), a bowl of crisp potato cellophane spheres, all stuck together like a salt-and-vinegar flavoured science experiment and, of course, the knuckle sandwich: a thickset pork knuckle terrine sandwiched by two tiny slices of brioche toast spread with dandelion and apple jelly.
Choose between an eight or six course degustation, but maybe forego the matched wines, unless you’re a huge NSW wine buff. While we appreciate the sentiment about keeping it local, it is also quite limiting and at times lets the food down. You might do as we do, and customise with a few frosty Stone and Wood beers straight outta Byron Bay.
When they say around two-and-a-half hours for the eight courses, add on an extra hour. And book a cab. Stanmore is not taxi central. But once you’re secure in the knowledge you’re in for the long haul, relax. You’re about to eat some delicious stuff served by a professional, friendly team including Adrian Hobbs, whose excellent musical taste and deep voice you might remember from the early days at Oscillate. And yes, the music here is reliably ace with a mix of Beach House, Andrew Bird and Feist playing on our visit.
There’s a big focus on fresh, locally grown vegetables and seasonal produce with meat and seed highlights here. It’s great to see a white roast sweet potato with flathead roe and sweet potato leaves celebrated with as much enthusiasm as a great, gamey piece of Coorong hanger steak. It’s the crab dish you’re probably going to read about the most, though. Sweet striations of blue swimmer crabmeat are napped with a sort of milk made from macadamia nuts. Take a heel of sourdough (thanks, Bob) and drag it through the mix.
Whimsical touches on the menu are so subtle you might miss them if you weren’t looking. They do a riff on Assorted Creams with their ‘cookie jar’ – there’s a tiny Kingston (it’s actually better than the real thing and there’s one each so no need to stab your dining companion for it), a thumbnail-sized Monte Carlo and a weeny ginger snap. Not to mention the best lamington you’ll probably ever try: it's sweet, juicy and riddled with coconut, like a tasty little domino.
There’s also an echo of those old school Italian restaurant desserts in the palate cleanser of sour lemon sherbert captured in a candied lemon and carefully decorated with tiny lemon leaves and flowers.
A honeyed sorbet rests on a tiny dice of bananas and a thin, very bitter chocolate syrup which, when all combined together, is a sort of sophisticated banana split. But our favourite is the big scoop of vanilla ice cream made on jersey milk with burnt butter spooned on top right at the table. We’re happy to leave the pasty cookie dough shards, though.
Sixpenny only has seven tables (not including the chef’s table out the back for larger groups) so booking is absolutely essential. Don’t sit on your hands with this one – pick up the phone and make the reservation.