Ester – 46-52 Meagher St, Chippendale. http://ester-restaurant.com.au/
Brought to us by the owners of Vini and Berta, Ester opened its doors a couple of years ago in an unassuming location in Chippendale. Since that opening, it has received numerous accolades, including winning the Best New Restaurant of the Year in 2014. As a result, it has been on my ‘to try’ list for a while – regrettably, it’s taken me almost two years to get my act together and make a booking.
Getting a reservation at Ester is not an easy feat, particularly on a weekend night, so I was elated to have secured a table at 9pm on a Wednesday night. And yes, it was a full house even at that time. The space itself is understated yet remarkably elegant, with the wood fired oven, stone washed arches and hanging lights setting the scene for a delightful experience.
What we ate:
- Blood sausage sanga ($8 each): often described as Ester’s signature dish, this sandwich has an unexpected resemblance to an Asian pork belly bun
- Crispy squid dumplings ($4 each): another Asian inspired entree, what makes this dish is the texture – the crispiness of the dumpling coupled with the oozy sauce with the squid centre is really something
- Beef tartare / horseradish / fried egg puree ($19): extremely light yet flavourful, this tartare gets a bite to it with the horseradish
- Calamari / green goddess / upland cress ($18): I was instantly reminded of the wood fired oven when I had my first bite of this dish. The calamari was charred perfectly – simply delicious
- Cauliflower / almond / mint ($16): who would have thought cauliflower would taste so good! The charring of the cauliflower steak and the generous serving of almonds scattered throughout lifts this dish out of the ordinary
- Chicken / garlic bread sauce ($36): while the chicken is cooked to perfection, the real star of this dish is that divine garlic bread sauce – it literally tastes like garlic bread!
- Three milks ($15): to be honest, I wasn’t expecting the dessert to even come close to the quality of the mains, but Ester did not disappoint. Pictured above, the ‘three milks’ is a combination of ricotta pana cotta, sheep’s milk yoghurt and dulce de leche hidden under the the other two milks. Add to this the texture of biscuit crumble and rosemary, this dish will leave you wanting more.
- Salted caramel semi-freddo ($4): pictured above, what makes this dish is the texture of the black sesame sugar. The recipe is here if you’d like to try it for yourself!
It’s rare that you go to a restaurant and fall in love with every single dish. I can happily say that Ester is one of those rare places – the food is simple yet stunningly delicious, clearly inspired by the wood fired oven. The space is unassuming yet impressive, giving you the perfect dining experience of fabulous food coupled with a casual atmosphere. The only thing you could fault Ester on is the difficulty in getting a reservation.
the verdict: 9/10 – the trifecta of excellent food, beautifully casual space and great value for money
don’t forget to order: the chicken with garlic bread sauce and the ‘three milks’ dessert
to try next time: roasted oysters