Monday, July 18, 2011
4143 at the James Barnes, Alexandria
I had never really rated Alexandria as a foodie hotspot, but several great establishments have opened up in the last few months, including this little gem of a gastro pub called 4143 at the James Barnes. It's run by Dedes Group, who also own Deckhouse, Dedes Restaurant and Flying Fish. This bar and bistro is located in the old (but beautifully refurbished) linseed mill, and the stunning building is the perfect spot for lunch, and incidentally, has great light for taking photos of that lunch!
The great outdoor bar has its own menu of your typical pub grub – steak sandwich, fish and chips, pizzas, chicken schnitzel – with the exception that they’re done really well. Inside there is a unique, sophisticated yet affordable bistro menu. The mains are served in small portions for $16, or large portions for $28, which is great for sharing between friends, or for those times when you just can’t tackle a whole main meal.
We started the afternoon with a few beers and 4143’s very popular wagyu burger with beetroot relish, gherkins, cheddar and aioli on a brioche bun, served with beer battered fries. I can definitely see why it’s a bestseller – it was absolutely fantastic! I loved the slightly sweet and buttery bun, and the addition of gherkins. In fact I think I liked it even better than Charlie & Co’s wagyu burger, plus it’s a huge serving for only $14 including those seriously awesome fries!
The caramelised onion tart was topped generously with goats curd. I loved the crisp and buttery pastry and the sweet onions, especially with the balsamic vinegar.
One of my favourite dishes of the day (apart from the burger of course) was the seared scallops on pea puree with chorizo. Not only did it look beautiful on the plate, the scallops were perfectly cooked and beautiful with the pea puree. The crispy chorizo was a lovely contrast in taste and texture.
The first of the mains was a lovely duck breast on du puy lentils, spinach and brussels sprouts. The duck was delicious and beautifully cooked and I loved seeing brussels sprouts in this dish, they are such an underrated vegetable! This was a great, hearty, wintery dish.
The crowd’s favourite of the main dishes was the braised lamb shank en crepinette. It didn’t look like your average lamb shank, but was deboned and stuffed with spinach. As your knife cut into it, the tender lamb fell apart. It was lovely with the creamy parsnip mash and muscatel jus. It had just the right amount of elegance, and is definitely a dish worth returning for.
With our mains, we had a variety of sides including roast baby beets and beans, buttered brussels sprouts with pancetta, and roasted chats with garlic and rosemary, all of which were delicious.
The "dessert stomach" is a strange yet well established phenomena amongst food bloggers and luckily they didn’t let us down today because there was still much more to come! I honestly couldn’t pick a favourite out of the desserts, they were all so good! First up was the bread and butter pudding with rhubarb and macadamia ice cream. I can never go past rhubarb on a dessert menu, but I was surprised to find that this was one of the best bread puddings I’ve ever tasted! I liked that it wasn’t overly sweet, nor too “eggy”. It’s the little touches, like the lightly caramelised top and the candied rhubarb on top that made this dessert really special.
“Oh my God, pop rocks!” exclaimed Becca upon her first mouthful of the chocolate and orange mousse, served with hazelnut biscotti. This dessert was so decadent and rich, but I couldn’t stop eating it. The pop rocks were a lovely surprise, and I maintain that no one is ever too old to enjoy pop rocks.
I have to admit to being a bit of a Tiramisu snob these days, but I’m happy to say that this was a fine specimen. It had a nice coffee kick but I agree with Simon in that it could have used a touch more booze ;) I didn’t get to try the Affogato, but it looked great and I’m generally a big fan. This comes as a DIY affair, where you pour an espresso and Frangelico over a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It looked delicious.
I really enjoyed the food and the atmosphere at 4143. While only a few weeks old, the team have really hit their stride and I think it would be a great spot for business lunches, after work drinks, cosy winter dinners and chilled out weekend lunches alike. That wagyu burger alone is worth the trek out to Alexandria, trust me, but make sure you save room for dessert!
Many thanks to 4143 for putting on such a beautiful lunch and to Denea from GourmetRabbit for her part in organising!
Spicyicecream dined as a guest of 4143 at the James Barnes.
4143 at the James Barnes - Building 9, 2 Huntley St, Alexandria
4143 at the James Barnes, Alexandria