We are all too well aware of the dilemma that happens when you have too much choice.
Too many clothes – yet you have nothing to wear.
A fridge full of fresh ingredients, snacks and ready-prepared meals – yet you have nothing to eat.
This is pretty much my dilemma when it comes to Sydney’s dining scene nowadays. At a recent event earlier this week, I was sitting amongst other food writers, bloggers and magazine editors – always in my element amongst others who share a passion for all that is edible – and excitedly discussing the developments of the Sydney dining scene, our favourites, and our let-downs. I was asked by one lady as to what is next on my list for places to visit, and I actually could not really come up with a conclusive answer. There is so much choice, and with an area like Glebe – this is no exception.
It was during the Easter break and I was in the Glebe area after a drive down south-west. Myself and two friends decided to stop by Glebe on the sunny but nippy autumn day for a late lunch, and were stumped for choice amongst the plethora of casual to formal, yet all trendy restaurants along the main strip. With a quick consultation of the Urbanspoon Android app, I suggested we hit up Alfie & Hetty for a quick bite.
It’s a quaint cafe-restaurant built within an old-style terrace, maintaining all of the terrace’s original charm and quirks. There’s a few table outside in the brisk sunshine, but we elected to sit indoors – where it really felt like you were sitting in someone’s living room.
The theme is ultimately Modern Australian meets French bistro. Green papaya and mango salad rubs shoulders with veal liver, steak frites situated just above the roast lamb shoulder for two. The menu is separated into categories of ocean, earth, land and sharing.
We all had fairly varied tastes, so sharing something wasn’t the most viable option. Having a lamb shoulder for lunch also seemed quite heavy, but then again, so did the veal liver or a few of the other dishes on the menu. It was unusual to see the diverse mix of dishes and flavours all combined onto the one menu – essences of both summer and winter.
The cafe-restaurant was about half-full, and our dishes took a while to emerge from the kitchen. In the meantime, I visited the restrooms up the polished staircase and admired the quirkiness and character around the terrace apartment.
There is a large function room upstairs, with an amazingly beautiful bar.
Time to return downstairs for our lunch. One friend decided to order one of Hetty’s Brioche Burgers, which came with an Angus Beef and Tomato Relish & House Made Pickle, and he selected the accompanying cheese to be a chevre and maple ($19).
The brioche bun was rustic and shiny, buttery and soft on the inside. It was nice to have the different types of cheese to choose from (the other two being a gorgonzola or an aged cheddar) to personalise your burger. The rest of the burger though, was fairly standard. It came with a side of coleslaw, which was quite light and interestingly studded with pomegranate seeds, however with it being served on a board it was ridiculously hard to eat.
I had mixed emotions about my order, the Smoked Ocean Trout Salad with Jerusalem Artichoke, Soft Boiled Egg & Citrus Mayonnaise ($22).
The trout was gorgeously smoky and very tender – flaking easily and a nice accompaniment to the combination of potato and Jerusalem artichoke below it. It was a little odd with the temperature of the salad – I guess I should have expected that it would arrive cold, but there are so many warm salads these days and I had expected a fish salad of this type to be served warm. So while the fish was cold, the salad was a combination of cold Jerusalem artichoke pieces (while well-cooked) and warm potato chunks (also well-cooked). The salad was probably a little over-salted for my liking, and it was inconvenient when I realised I had forgotten about the citrus mayonnaise hiding at the very bottom of the generous pile of artichoke and potato, meaning that the last few pieces were heavily smothered in the creamy sauce.
But – it was a very substantial, filling salad. Had the temperature of the items been tweaked to all be the same and if there was a lighter hand on the salt shaker, it would have been a very nice trout salad.
The Benny’s Crab Cakes, Garlic Aioli ($18) was probably the biggest disappointment of our lunch. Five crab cakes – each smaller than a golf ball, – with a side of coleslaw, for $18? …Really?
It’s probably more accurate to call the crab cakes croquettes. Outside a crisply fried batter, the inside of the rounds was a creamy mixture of savoury mash. We couldn’t really spot where the crab was supposed to be. Sure, the mash tasted good – but $18 for five mashed potato croquettes that seemed to be missing the core ingredient?
The coleslaw was the same slaw that accompanies the burgers – and even harder to eat in this situation due to a smaller, more curved board.
It’s a little ridiculous for this place to charge the prices that they are listing when there are so many options along the Glebe Point Road strip. While we were waiting for our lunches, I had noticed that many people were tucking into the burgers and roast meats, so it may have meant that we didn’t order correctly. However my perspective is that if you’re going to offer such a wide variety of choices on your menu – either ensure that you properly execute each dish on the menu to reflect a consistent standard of the restaurant, or cut down on the number of dishes to solely the ones you know you do best.
Alfie & Hetty
207-209 Glebe Point Road
Glebe NSW 2037
(02) 8957 0652