District Dining – Dinner – Surry Hills

Earlier this year, a friend of mine got me a discount voucher to be used at the recently opened District Dining.

$69 for 2 people, 3 courses & 1 bottle of wine = bargain!

I actually walked by here a few times and kept thinking I ought to go in and try it at some point but just never got around to it. Fortunately, this deal came by.

This is a rather casual dining experience, not nearly as formal as Assiette (same owner). The decor is warm and inviting and there are stools and high tables as well as normal dining tables around the room. It has the feel of a posh pub.

Anyway, as I waited for my companion to show up, I spotted a cider I’ve yet to try and so needed to conquer it.

Kingston Cider – $9

It was crisp and refreshing, but kind of a mistake seeing as the dinner came with a comp bottle of wine. This normally isn’t an issue when I go to dinner, except this time my dining companion was one of those non-alcoholic types leaving me with a cider & a whole bottle of wine to finish (Finish your booze, there are sober kids in India…as they say)

My friend and I have barely sat down before the waitress comes around and asks us what we want. We say, whatever’s on the voucher and she asks something along the lines of “don’t you know how it works?”

We don’t. She explains in a long-suffering voice that yes, there are 3 courses, the first is a few entrée samples from their regular menu, the second consists of a choice between mains (Baby Snapper, King Crab, Sweet corn & Congee; Ricotta Gnocchi, Smoked Tomato, Olives & Caponata; and Crispy Pork Belly, Watermelon, Cashews & Pickled Daikon).

The tasting can also be supplemented with items from their full menu which we forgo on this occasion.

We tell the waitress our choices & she doesn’t write anything down but wanders off. Later she comes back to repeat our orders & it is incorrect – which could have been fixed had she written it down in the first place. Not the best start.

1st course – Tasting plate

Clockwise from top left: Crispy Quail Eggs with Tarragon Mayonnaise; Smoked Eel Pate with Dill Cucumber & Bread; Beetroot, Sumac, Salted Yoghurt & Basil; Veal tongue, pickled turnip, salsa verde, almonds

My favourite was the quail egg, it was so delicate with gooey yolk inside. I wasn’t a big fan of the yoghurt and the veal tongue was so very tender.

Ricotta Gnocchi, Smoked Tomato, Olives, Caponata

This is the main that I chose and it was the best gnocchi I’ve ever tasted. It was so light and soft, the texture and taste were both amazing.

Crispy Pork Belly, Watermelon, Cashews & Pickled Daikon

My dining companion went for this dish as her main selection. The marinade was wonderful and the meat was cooked very well – still not as good as my gnocchi in my personal opinion.

Buttermilk Panna cotta, spiced peaches & mint

Another friend of mine who had done this previously, was thoroughly unimpressed with this dessert saying the peaches tasted canned. I didn’t notice a metallic tang as I ate them but the balance of the mint was a bit off. Presentation was nice though.

Strawberries, Raspberries, Meringue, Raspberry Sorbet

This was my dessert, somewhat similar to a broken Pavlova. Sorbet was a bit too tart for my tastes but overall a good dessert.

District Dining is good, but it is no Assiette – if money weren’t a factor between these 2, I would always choose Assiette.

The lowdown:

The good – quail eggs & ricotta gnocchi

The mediocre – service by the waitress was very unimpressive (I would have rated this restaurant Loveable, instead of just Likeable if the service had been what I expected), the Maitre’D though was lovely

The bad


District Dining

17 Randle Street, Surry Hills, NSW 2010

Phone: (02) 9211-7798



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