Minger and I are out for an early tea (our English passports allows us to call it that) at Wilbur’s Place in Kings Cross tonight. I’ve no idea who Wilbur is, but I like the look of his place that opened just last month – white tiled exterior, shared seating, exposed ceilings – a tiny little cafe-come-bistro that only seats about 20 people tucked away in one of the alleys off ‘the strip’.
It’s relaxed and friendly and the simple seasonal menu is being worded up as we arrive – all designed to eat in or takeaway. At this point I will thank my friend, Pink Lady, for her LAK (local area knowledge) and recommendation – she’s done well.
Wilbur is currently without a liquor licence, and although I love anywhere you can BYO, we agree this is a sign to have an alcohol free night – mineral water and peppermint tea.
We pull up a seat in front of the kitchen at the pale wooden bar that faces out on to the alley – a perfect post to people watch and enjoy another balmy evening.
I realise the nickname Minger doesn’t conjur up the prettiest of images (she’s ok with that), but Minger really is one of the most effortlessly glamorous ladies I know. Always beautifully dressed, she’s seriously got the best wardrobe going around – and I love that she lives around the corner from me now because I intend on raiding it! The fab top she’s just thrown on with a pair of jeans tonight is decorated with tiny lazer cut silk letters of the alphabet, so cool… and her peach lippy is putting my vaseline lip balm to shame.
Bless our waitress who when asked what we should be ordering said there’s “not really anything on the menu people have said they don’t like”, but everyone raves about the Warm salad of porchetta, walnuts, apple, endive, fennel, croutons & red wine dressing ($12) and the Duck leg, roasted plums, crispy polenta, plum chutney, fennel & vino cotto ($19). We agree on these two dishes along with the Duck liver parfait, pickled cauliflower & toast ($12) and I’m keen to try the Brisket, white beans, red cabbage salad & zucchini frites ($18). It might sound like a lot but Minger has already ruled “no dessert tonight, we’re being good”. Really? She’s probably right… I still haven’t worked off Christmas. I manage to pile a bit of everything from the Warm salad on to my fork… fatty porchetta, charred fennel, bitter endive, sweet apple, crunchy eathy walnuts and tangy red wine dressing, delicious. Porcetta (or sometimes pronounced “porketta”) is the fatty, moist, boneless shoulder of the pig with dark and light meat. The brioche thickly spread with the silky parfait melts in my mouth with the crunchy pickled cauliflower.
I’m licking my knife for any last remains of the parfait and Minger is mopping up the dressing from the warm salad with our bread – we agree we’ve chosen very well. Mains arrive and I try the Duck leg first – crispy skinned, the meat falls away from the bone. The polenta is hands down the best polenta I’ve ever eaten… you can get it so wrong, but this is so very right. Crunchy golden brown on the outside, creamy and cheesy on the inside – I could quite happily eat this on its own and chase the remains in the duck juices and plum chutney around the plate. Minger requests to pick at the zucchini frities while I take a photo – oh the delayed joys of eating with me, everything must be photographed first. The brisket is beef, (it comes from that but under the chest of the cow) is tender and full of flavor and the white beans and red cabbage salad is simple… but I just want to go back to that polenta. The zucchini frities, meat and beans needs more cut through than the red cabbage offers… lemon?! Still, we have no problem polishing it off. We did say no dessert didn’t we? Hmmm… I inquire about the Chocolate paddlepop with jube ($6) on the way out. It’s the perfect walking dessert, so I convince Minger on a takeaway while we wander. As we walk I realise having lived most of my life in this city, never anywhere too far from Potts Point, just how unexplored some of these streets are too me. Admittedly I’m usually here when everything is bathed in neon lights and not the peaches of the setting sun like today, but I’ve missed so many lovely art deco buildings with their ornate facades and hidden treasures down laneways that look so uninviting after dark. Back to my Paddlepop… there’s sticky chocolate dripping all over our hands, and we love it. Someone asked me the other day – favourite Paddlepop? Tough call, but I went with chocolate. Tonights Paddlepop is even better than the original, tricked up with a gorgeous raspberry jammy layer to lick around half way through.I’ll be back – for dine in or takeway.
Wilbur’s Place – 33 Llankelly Place, Kings Cross NSW 2011 – 02 9332 2999