"Here" was where we had dinner on Saturday night.
Lured by the promise of the old-school "banana splits decked out with gold cocktail umbrellas" (for me) and "pulled pork" (for the boyfriend) we read about in the little blurb in the October issue of the Australian Gourmet Traveller, we roped in our pals G and Mr R and travelled down the road to the cute little Eathouse Diner located along a quaint section of Chalmers Street in Redfern, the neighbourhood right next to ours.
The Eathouse is a place after my own heart! The colourful frontage and those Laminex tables and vinyl diners' chairs that greeted us immediately scored loads of points with me! How can I not love them when we have similar orange chairs and a poo-brown table at home?
The tall and long 50s-style chrome and red bar counter inside was sexy but what really caught my eye was this "collector's" wall at the other end of the dining room (you know how much I like collecting things and admiring other people's collections).
And see that semi-circular glass display cabinet, which also serves as a waiters' station, set against the wall? It was filled with so much knick-knack that I could have spent the whole evening peering into it and mentally cataloguing the cuteness contained within. It's uncanny how we've been scouring secondhand furniture shops in recent months for one, just a regular rectangular one, to use as a sideboard and also to house some of my cutesy-shit nonsense. See, told you The Eathouse is a place that's after my own heart?
Our lovely hostess, in her cute vintage 50s frock, easily won us over too with her breezy charm. And then there's the food. Where I choose to eat is not ruled by the chef's "pedigree" - a good "lineage" doesn't always mean good food and most of the time, it's just plain old curiousity (and greed) that draws me to an eatery - but for those who are concerned with the "line of descent" of the people who make your food, you'll be happy to know that the two chefs in The Eathouse's kitchen have Longrain, Sean's Panorama and Fratelli Fresh on their resumes, according to this article.
Yes, the hearty and simple food that was so much fun to eat. And this time, I have photos albeit not great ones of all that we ate for show-and-tell! I find it rude and awkward when eating out with others, other than the boyfriend, to hold back their hearty digging-in for some camera-actioning but G, after all these years, just found out about this blog (another thing I find rude and awkward - shoving this blog into people's faces even if they are pals...I'd rather they stumble upon it) and was very encouraging with the photo-documentation. So here we go...
Oyster Shooters - The boys ordered four, two laced with tequila and two without, thinking that I'd partake in the shooting. Me eat oysters? What were they thinking?! Haha. I think it was an excuse for one of them to have an extra. I did have a slurp of the tomato-y stuff, though. It's somewhere between a tomato salsa and a gazpacho. Very flavoursome.
Deepfried Whitebaits with a Lime Mayo - Mr R and I love these tiny fishes! If it's on the menu, we have to have some. Deepfried whitebaits are deepfried whitebaits but the mayo...ooooh...had amazing flavour and consistency. G articulated it for me, "Fluffy like a hollandaise."
Pulled Pork - What the boyfriend was dreaming of eating. Of course I didn't have any but the boys swore it was good. Tender pork slices cooked in a well-balanced mix of Mexican spices and eaten, like sang choy baos, in lettuce cups with the avocado salsa. I had the corn-on-the-cob which I assume was cooked with a generous sprinkle of the same spices that went into the pork.
Duck Pate - Such a pretty plate of food. The pink of the huge dollop of pate, the slight-purple tinge of the sweet and sour onion relish and the brown of the chunky wedges (yes, wedges...not slices) of chargrilled toast. So pretty that I had some. I don't usually eat pate but this one was so smooth and light like mousse and slightly boozy that I couldn't stop at the first mouthful. Yes, I ate animal "insides"! My first in many many years. Thank you, Eathouse!
My "diet" was not the only one the diner changed for the evening.
Panfried Snapper - I thought the boyfriend and G would do their usual and order meaty things for mains because the boyfriend doesn't get to eat much meat at home and G, he just simply loves meat. So I was really surprised they both had the fish. And it was good fish - cooked in the simplest way possible and to perfection. Loved that cucumber and cavolo nero salad in a herby dressing - so refreshing. And look at that gigantic kipfler. Haha.
Braised Beef Cheeks - Mr R who usually would order the fish dish got this instead. A beefy number that I can see the boyfriend and G stuffing their face with. See, everyone's gone topsy-turvy. Haha! I think they might have regretted not having it after trying a bite of that moist, gelatinous and shreddy slow-cooked beef with some of that creamy mash.
Fried Chook - My order of Southern-style fried bird with creamed corn and coleslaw. I like that they call it "chook" instead of "chicken". Tee hee hee. The corn was super-more-ish but I shared the huge portion with the boys who couldn't stop poking their forks into the yellow delicious-ness. At one point, we even considered ordering a side of it. Haha. The colourful crunchy 'slaw was a good contrast in texture to the creamy corn. The chook, meant to be the star of the plate, didn't really shine. The spice mix in the crispy coating was the perfect blend but the meat within was a tad on the dry side. Couldn't help but wished that it had a sauce on the side, a mesquite-flavoured one perhaps.
Desserts. There were four on the blackboard (The Eathouse doesn't do printed menus. Everything, from entrees to desserts, are writtten on a huge board in chalk) to choose from and greedy us nearly got all of them to share but decided not to overdo it and dropped the Chili Chocolate Tart.
Banana Split - The reason why I wanted to go to The Eathouse Diner! How many places do a Banana Split nowadays? Like a proper one in that traditional dish. Not some fancy deconstructed one with elements of it freeze-dried, brushed and delicately scattered or tweezered onto a big white plate. It's not that I don't enjoy such newfangly creations. Sometimes, I just want to see and eat things presented the fuss-free old-fashion way - three scoops of ice cream (I was expecting the Neapolitan - vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. For colour! But we got all-vanilla which suited me just fine because that's what I usually ask for anyway. Haha.), two halves of a banana on each side of the dish, messy but generous drizzles of caramel and chocolate sauces and a nutty topping (halved hazelnuts!). And the must-have cocktail umbrella!
Apple & Rhubarb Crumble - It had a healthy muesli topping instead of the usual brown sugar, flour and butter crumble. A pleasant and delicious surprise! The fruits were stewed in too much cinnamon for my liking but I'm not much of a crumble girl anyway so I left it to the boys to eat it all. We did fight for the shard of burnt toffee-and-nut praline on top of the ice cream, though.
Banoffee Pie - I don't like bananas but we sure had quite a bit of it at our table on Saturday night. Haha. I flipped the banana slices to the side of the bowl and dug right into the whipped cream, gooey condensed milk caramel, tartshell and chocolate sauce. PHWOAR! A party in my mouth!
And that was our meal at The Eathouse Diner. Where we wiped our plates clean from start to finish.
Oh, I have to show you the walls in their toilets. Plastered with old newpaper cuttings of the cheeky sort. Tee hee hee.
And this is how crowded it got by 8.30pm. With a line of hipsters waiting outside to get in. So get there early, just a little after 6.00pm, like we did if you hate having to wait for a table. I do.
Some of you might shudder at the mere mention of "Redfern" because of this unfortunate incident. Or its fair share of inner-city drunks, addicts, loonies and homeless people. But hey, it's not Sydney without these colourful personalities! Most of them are harmless anyway if you don't antagonise them. Besides, I think they add character to a place. Don't be scared. The Eathouse Diner is worth leaving your comfort zone for.
The Eathouse Diner
306 Chalmers Street
Phone: (02) 8084 9479
Website: eathousediner.com.au (Or you can find them here)
Hours: Monday to Saturday from 6.00pm to 10.00pm