Have fried chicken, will travel.
Hartsyard is one of those places that had been on my radar for a long, long time but somehow never got the chance to visit until recently. One of the reasons why I didn’t visit this restaurant sooner is because it’s always full and scoring a table is almost impossible without making a booking weeks, if not months in advance. One fine afternoon I happened to be in Newtown and decided to do a walk-in as early as 5.30pm. All walk-ins were assigned to the bar seating and communal table whilst all tables at the back of the restaurant were reserved for those who made bookings. And by 6.30pm, the restaurant was full to the brim, and many more walk-ins were being turned down.
Whilst the cocktail menu was looking delicious, I settled with a refreshing Tilse’s apple truck cider to beat the summer heat. The food menu was simplified to ‘Seed and Feed‘, where Seed was a compilation of small dishes designed to share and Feed was for those who want something more substantial, think meat.
First small dish we shared was veal tartare, a beautiful dish to kick off our evening. The raw veal was cut into perfect tiny cubes, perfectly seasoned and spiked with just the right amount of chilli heat, nicely balanced with tuna mayo and capers while smoked onion and cubes of golden potatoes added textural wondrous. Instead of crusty bread; the tartare was served with two sheets of leek crisps that were so thin and brittle, like glass. It was a nice whimsical touch to the dish.
Don’t let the words ‘pig tail’ put you off. I seriously was expecting a long pig tail being deep fried to a nice golden crunch that I could gnaw on. The crispy pig tails came as two golden croquettes packed with gelatinous goodness inside. The richness of the pork was cut through by the tangy buttermilk dressing and pickles on the side.
Since there were only two of us, we limited our order and saved our stomach space for what we were here for – the fried chicken. The dish came with four big hunks of fried chicken pieces divided from half a chicken, on the side was a buttermilk biscuit doused in low country sausage gravy. There was something so satisfying to pick up the fried chicken with my fingers and crunched away. The chicken was succulently juicy with a nice battered crunch. As much as I enjoyed these fried chicken, but my heart still belongs to the Korean variation. There were fair bit of chicken between the two of us, sadly the biscuit had been totally neglected.
Fast forward to a few weeks later, I came back to Hartsyard again and this time I made sure to book a table for the four of us. There was no slowing down for this restaurant as it was just as busy on a hump night.
This time I decided to give their cocktail menu a whirl. I simply couldn’t say no to bacon-infused Jack Daniel’s and opted for Hartsyard Manhattan. The sweet cocktail from vermouth and maple syrup was delicious although I couldn’t really detect any bacon flavour in the Jack’s. Who needed it when I had a tile of candied prosciutto as garnish to nibble on? The others were happy with their smoked caesar, a Hartsyard’s twist to a Bloody Mary and also a citrusy San Matteo, a concoction of Cachaça, St Germain, Chartreuse, lime.
The first dish we shared was exactly what it written on the menu, school prawns and popcorn. This dish was seriously addictive, couldn’t help but finding myself kept reaching for a handful of salty popcorns and crispy prawns spiked with Espelette peppers and then dipped them in the garlicky sour cream. A nice snack while waiting for other dishes.
We ordered the veal tartare and crispy pig tails again.
One out of ten is hot, that’s part of the fun of eating fried pedron. The fried green peppers here was served on a bed of whipped salt cod and potato puree. The beautiful salt cod was packed with umami and enhanced by the subtle heat from the pepper. But it didn’t take long before one of us hit the jackpot and bit into a hot one.
So glad we decided to order this dish and turned out to be our favourite. The Fremantle octopus tentacles were chargrilled to a tender perfection, served with a bed of crushed potatoes, tiles of eggplant crackers and green tomato wedges to cut through the richness.
Of course we had to order the fried chicken. I have to admit the chicken wasn’t as crunchy as the previous I’ve had. The chicken was tad greasy and also salty from the marinade. To be honest, I was a little bit disappointed.
As some of us still hungry and decided to order two more dishes at the last minute, thankfully we didn’t have to wait long for the dishes to arrive at our table. We ordered house made crisps without knowing what it is, it turned out be shards of deep fried chicken and pork skins and crackers sticking to a bed of vegetable cream cheese and crowed with alfalfa shoots. A fun lucky dip where we randomly chose a piece of crackling to scrape up the cheese and crunched away.
The last savoury dish we tried is the cheese fondue. The fondue was a blend of Manchego, Mahon and Queso san Simon on top of a tomato and chorizo ragu. We happily dipped into the cheese goodness with the house made foccacia, olive oil lavish and crispy fried green olives.
Hartsyard is famous for its soft serve and the flavour usually changes weekly. We got to try the “White Christmas” soft serve during the festive season last year, it was a buzzing sweetness of white chocolate and rice bubble soft served, coated in white chocolate dip, studded with glace cherries, marshmallow, almond, cranberry, pistachio and rice bubbles. It was tad too sweet with this combo I found.
We also tried peanut butter and banana sundae, an old school American dessert with a new twist. Inside the glass was a hectic mix of Pretzel peanut butter ice-cream, banana doughnut and salted fudge.
If you are looking for a hectic, hearty American fare, Hartsyard might just be the place you are looking for. Be ready to throw the diet out of the window.
33 Enmore Road
Newtown NSW 2042
Phone: 02 8068 1473
Wednesday to Friday 5.30 PM till late
Saturday and Sunday 5.30 PM till late
Monday and Tuesday CLOSED