You say Mono-pole, I say Mono-poly. And it turns out, I’ve been saying it wrong. It’s Monopole and it’s Sydney’s newest dining experience in the heart of trendy Potts Point. It’s the second eatery for Brent Savage and Nick Hildebrandt (Bentley Restaurant & Bar), and to it they welcome sommelier and restaurant manager, Glen Goodwin as a partner.
Melbourne architect Pascal Gomes-McNabb (think Cutler & Co. & Cumulus Inc.) has played interior designer. Rich dark woods sit next to industrial metals and an interesting piece of functioning art hangs on the ceiling – made from dangling slats of soundproofing, it looks good and keeps the noise level down, so I’m told.
The small, dark and intimate space can seat up to 60 people and the good news is, it’s open 7 days a week – ah, how refreshing, a restaurant that’s open Monday! But of course, they don’t take bookings for less and groups of 6 – which doesn’t explain how I managed to book for 4, and score a plum spot in the front corner (shhh). The tables at the front overlook the street are where you want to be. The whole floor is elevated to just above head height, making it the perfect place to perch and people watch from behind the metal mesh screen – I feel like I’m in the Palace of the Winds in Jaipur where the intricate latticework windows allowed royal ladies to observe everyday life in the street below without being seen.
White Rabbit and I are early and enjoy a cocktail – a ‘French 75’ ($16) with gin, lemon and champagne for me.
The menu ranges from bar snacks and share plates and a great selection of house cured meats; cured & smoked duck breast, cured & smoked pork neck, cured venison sausage, Rangers Valley beef bresaola, Rangers Valley cured beef Brisket and cured venison rump ($26 for a selection of 4 or $10 per portion). We’re soon joined by Swebb and My Tall Friend – I adore these three girls, but oceans and babies and life in general gets in the way, and we don’t get together like this often enough. So it’s only appropriate we drink a ‘Thick As Thieves’ sauvignon blanc from the Yarra Valley called ‘The Show Pony’.
White Rabbit spied a grilled scampi with hazelnut butter on their on-line menu, but it’s since changed (and does so seasonally), so it’s missing tonight. Swebb and I are hesitant about ordering the Grilled baby sweet corn, tamarind yoghurt ($13), fearing it might be those anemic little baby corns that only ever make an appearance in MSG loaded stir-fries. But we’re assured of their larger size and that grilling them in their husks gives them a more aromatic flavour. I’m pleasantly surprised when they arrive, full of flavour and a fabulously tangy tamarind yoghurt to dip it in.
The Salt cod, green peas, mint vinaigrette & pea shoots ($18) comes highly recommended and doesn’t disappoint. So fresh and clean – creamy fish and crunchy greens.
Next we share the Calamari, macadamia, celtuce ($20). Celtuce? A vegetable from the lettuce family originating from southern China. It gets it’s (rather unoriginal) names from the unique combination of characteristics, the celery-like stalks and the lettuce-like leaves. This, I like.
The Grilled pork neck, kale, mustard seeds & salted cucumber ($27) is a little disappointing. I don’t know why. Perhaps I envisaged it to be more tender and shredded meat (but it does say grilled and not slow-cooked, my fault) but the flavour was something we couldn’t quite put our finger on – it was really spammy-hammy… if you get that??
The Spiced veal rump, ricotta & pimentos ($28) was my favourite by far. Beautiful tender pink meat, silky smooth ricotta and a little charred heat from the green peppers.
Swebb and I (the sweet tooths of the group) convince the table to share two desserts. First, the Bay leaf custard, berries, blueberry granita ($14). Refreshing berries dress an oh-so-light custard with just a hint of clovey sweetness.
And the Nectarine & sorbet, brown butter curd ($14) – my favourite. I love the saltiness paired with the tart stone fruit and buttery crumbs.
Monopole – 71A Macleay Street, Potts Point NSW 2011 – 02 9360 4410