Civilian Bar and Kitchen is nestled in a quaint neighbourhood courtyard, along with several other eateries, in the heart of Darlinghurst. With an indoor and outdoor seating area and beautiful interior, this restaurant gives off vibes of a slightly upmarket restaurant and bar, and yet their prices remain completely affordable.
It’s the perfect place to chill in style with a few friends over a drink and a bite. You’ll get the fine dining experience but it won’t put a hole in your wallet!
The menu consists of small, mid-sized and large plates, as well as some sides. The food is a feast for both the eyes as well as the palate, with the beautiful plating and presentation. And yet the restaurant has a very casual and comfortable ambiance.
To start the night, we grabbed a couple of cocktails. Their signature “Smoke n Salted Passionfruit Sour”. Oh. Yum. This was more of a liquid dessert. It had Wyborowa Vodka, Illegal Reposado Mezcal, lime juice, agave syrup, passionfruit and caramel foam. The caramel foam is amazing.
We also grabbed a “Watermelon and Mint Martini”, with Beefeater Gin, Suze, mint, citrus and fresh pressed watermelon. A fabulous selection of cocktails, as well as a fully stocked bar offering your poison of choice!
We started our meal with a half dozen oysters. Some natural, and some with a celery, apple and lime granita. Both were fabulously fresh and firm in texture (no one likes mushy oysters!!). The celery, apple and lime granita was, as you can imagine, very refreshing with a tangy bite that was fantastic!
Carrying on with the raw theme, we also had the Hiramasa Raw Kingfish with orange soy, finger lime and wild rice. The king fish was fresh and the sour bite from the fingerlimes constrasted beautifully. The crunch from the wild rice added an extra textural element that you don’t often see in raw fish dishes. Innovative, delicious and a beautifully presented dish. Fine dining style food at just a fraction of the cost!
We then moved on to the Herb Crumbed Hens Egg. This was essentially a breaded whole egg, sitting atop enzo salami and asparagus with a beautiful truffle sauce. This dish is fantastic. The egg is crunchy and almost meaty. The saltiness of the salami counters brilliantly with the deep fried egg. The asparagus retains its crunch and the truffle sauce is simply amazing. You’ll be hard pressed to find a dish this great (with truffle!!!) for $12! Brilliant!
Then came the dish of the day. The Broccoli Orecchiette with optional Persian Feta and Lemon and Rosemary Octopus. You must add the octopus. The octopus was possibly the best I’ve had. It was cooked perfectly. Completely and utterly soft and tender, it hardly required chewing! The pasta was al dente, with a rich creamy sauce full of flavour and smooth chunks of feta. An outstanding dish and an absolute must order!!
We moved on to the Cape Grim Tri Tip with Mushroom Ragout, Crispy Potatoes and Baby Spinach. Cooked to a perfect medium rare, this dish gives life to what is typically a somewhat lean cut of beef. The mushroom ragout is the perfect accompaniment, as are the crunchy potatoes and sautéed baby spinach.
Next came the Confit Pork Belly with Apple, Wasabi, Celery and Lemon Balm. Their signature dish. And wow, the crackling. So incredibly crunchy. I can confidently say this was the best pork crackling I’ve ever had. Simply superb! The pork belly was also fabulous. With relatively minimal fat, it was a meaty cut that was cooked perfectly.
Then we had the Grass-Fed Steak with Jus De Pan and Baby Spinach. Another perfectly cooked protein. These guys know how to cook their meats! The beef was juicy and tender and the flavours in the jus de pan sauce were absolutely brilliant, with just the right amount of richness.
Be sure to order a side or two with your mains. We got the fried cauliflower with chickpea, radish and sheeps yoghurt. Who doesn’t love a little deep fried goodness! The cauliflower was crunchy and delicious, and paired perfectly with both the pork and the beef dishes. We also saw a lot of people opt for the roasted pumpkin with goat’s cheese, coconut and pepita. And they also have fries! Yay!
Our first dessert was a Milk Caramel Chocolate Tart with banana, coffee, mascarpone and hazelnut praline. This was amazing. The chocolate tart was practically a lava cake with slightly oozy chocolate centre. The bananas were a brilliant touch, giving it a slight banofee pie feel. And the textual crunch of the hazelnut praline along with the creaminess of the mascarpone were perfect!
Our second dessert was a berry soufflé. An impressive structure, it was so light and airy and had just the right amount of sweetness. This fluffy warm cake was offset with cold ice cream, turning the contrasting temperatures, flavours and textures into a delicious concoction. So moreish. And this is from someone who generally does not like soufflé!
With public transport within reach and ample parking, this is where you’ll want to spend your Friday and Saturday nights. Or perhaps a weeknight if you’re after a quiet romantic dinner. They have ambiance, they have fantastic service and they have excellent food and drinks.
But most importantly, there’s no need to pay an arm and a leg for good quality dishes. You can get the experience and the quality you’re looking for without the hefty price tag. And that’s very very cool!
Civilian Bar & Kitchen
248 Palmer Street,
Darlinghurst, NSW 2010
Contributed by Susan, who dined as a guest on behalf of 2 Hungry Guys