We celebrated my girl’s birthday together with another housemate’s belatedly with a dinner at 4Fourteen, the casual dining offshoot of Colin Fassnidge’s Four In Hand. Actually, I think Four In Hand is also probably a little casual anyway but I’ve never eaten there. Four Fourteen is named after the address and I assume they wanted to keep the Four to retain a brand identity. My ex-apprentice is toiling away here actually but he wasn’t working when we went. The restaurant itself is situated where Le Pain Quotidien used to be in Surry Hills’ Bourke Street. So it’s on the street corner and a good sized space with a lovely high ceiling and decent interior. They actually didn’t do all that much to it minus the kitchen.

First impressions are that it is really very similar in terms of quality and standard if you compare it to Warren Turnbull’s now defunct District Dining. Turnbull and Fassnidge used to work together so it isn’t much of a stretch to say that they cook in a similar style. I’d say that Fassnidge is more robust and into off cuts and rustic flavours whilst Turnbull has a slightly more refined approach but really, it’s very similar. If anything, I prefer Fassnidge’s food at Four Fourteen; the desserts are clearly better than whatever I’ve had at District/Assiette.

The menu is a good size, there’s lots to choose from and not too much would appeal to vegan health conscious dickwads. You get a selection of nibbles, small plates, large plates and larger plates plus sides and sweets. It’s a share type menu so the larger plates go past $40 but are meant to be shared.

We start with bread, which is from Iggy’s. It’s a roll that’s just great. Probably the best dinner roll I’ve had in ages but it’s Iggy’s bread so, it’s kinda like stating the obvious. From there, we move onto the fried bread which comes with a red pepper jam and white anchovies although I’d say that the anchovies are the main element, the star is clearly the fried crisp toast. Not a huge fan of the sweet jam.

Next up we get the chicken wings, which are steamed/poached, deboned and then deep fried. The skin is crisp and wonderful but I’m not a fan of this double cooked chicken thing unless it’s Vietnamese criskin. Here, you just get the steamed chicken wing texture that has this sorta dead blandness to it. The parfait that goes with it is good and you can use the tortilla to kinda hold it up to your mouth.

We share the a buncha smalls including

  • crumbed pig’s tail (good not great)
  • chargrilled ox tongue w crumbed bone marrow (waste of the marrow but beautiful tongue, superb flavour and tender as, certainly a winner)
  • miso smoked salmon w lemon curd & fennel bread (good but forgettable)
  • citrus cured kingfish w frozen fennel and celery (bloody good, really delicate but bright flavours and something I didn’t know Fassnidge had up his sleeve, this dish was one of my faves.)
  • smoked eel w beetroot & apple (this went great with the pinot gris we were slugging and the flavours are correct but I didn’t enjoy the mashed smoked eel that felt like a tuna mayo spread.)
  • crumbed pig’s ear and crackling w smoked potato (quite enjoyable but I might’ve got too little of it)

Then come the mains

  • beef brisket w fried bread and pickles (more fried bread is awesome so I can’t complain and the brisket was tender but strong with the taste)
  • roast pork w apple, barley & ham hock broth (pork belly gets roasted quite nicely and the flavour itself is good but the crackling just gets wasted because the belly then gets dropped into a crockpot with a whole apple and a broth that made it soggy so pretty disappointing given the presentation)
  • mixed grain salad (a surprisingly tasty mix of lentils and grains)
  • orange and ginger carrots, cumin, yoghurt (roasted dark, the carrots were sweet and al dente, perfectly and expertly cooked)

Desserts

  • bounty (a play on the supermarket chocolate coated coconut bar that is just rich indulgent choc in truffles, mousse and cocoa powder plus crisps and toasted shaved coconut, nothing like the inspiration and so good)
  • pear tarte tatin w jersey milk ice cream (nicely poached/roasted caramelized pear, decent overall but maybe I expect too much with tarte tatins)
  • white chocolate sandwich w dulche de leche (good combo, rich ddl and a creamy white choc ice cream was excellent)
  • macadamia frangipane, banana, passionfruit sorbet (the macadamia element was whatever but with the banana, it was brilliant)
  • eton mess (decent trifle sorely let down by sour strawberries)

Good food but not my fave in terms of this price range of restaurant.

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