So you may have heard of that little cafe called Three Williams… 😛 Despite all the hype surrounding it, I’m not really the kind of person that enjoys most of a weekend morning standing in a queue, and Redfern is a fair while away from my quiet suburban home in the Upper North Shore. It’s not so far however, from my work place in the main city CBD, and so when I was invited to attend the new menu tasting for Three Williams at 6pm one evening, I was more than willing to go.
Three Williams is situated about a 10 minute walk from Redfern Station, on a very quiet street. Be distracted by your phone, a cyclist, or a bird and you will miss the subtle “W” by the door. Take a few steps down and you’re in the large, spacious cafe – plainly furnished and bare walls. It reminds me almost of a cafeteria, and the old-school black and white type menu above the island bar in the middle of the room (for takeaway and coffee orders) reinforces it.
We were each given a Super Smoothie ($8) upon arrival, containing kale, apricot, apple, LSA, banana, ginger and cinnamon. It feels a little strange to be starting dinner with a breakfast item! But what we would be sampling over the course of the evening were items from the new all day breakfast/lunch menu. Three Williams may be looking to obtain their liquor licence and do a wine bar or special-events thing in the evenings, but it’s all yet to be confirmed.
I once made a smoothie with kale….and once only. I was therefore surprised when this smoothie tasted amazingly sweet and smooth – definitely no “grassy” taste of vegetation and a lovely subtle spice from the cinnamon. I’ve never thought of adding cinnamon to my breakfast smoothies and now I wonder why I never did!
The first food item on our menu was the Crispy School Prawns ($8).
These were ridiculously addictive to dip into the creamy accompanying aioli and crunch on, the prawns shattering between your teeth. It was like eating a bag of prawn crackers, with ten times the flavour and texture. If you’re a little squeamish about the idea of eating prawns whole, this dish may not be for you, but if you have zero qualms about it, $8 for a bowl of these babies is incredible value. I could eat a bowl of this in front of the TV for dinner. Done.
A house-made soda of Raspberry Lime was brought over, which is usually priced at $5 a glass or $12 a bottle. It’s refreshing, light, a little zingy and not too sweet. Definitely healthier and more natural-tasting than the bottles you buy in the supermarket which taste like liquid confectionary.
Moving onto our mains. The famous narnie. Looking at other bloggers’ Instagram photos, I always thought the narnie looked incredibly similar to a pork bun, and thought that was what Three Williams had been attempting to mimic, with different fillings. I was completely wrong through, as the “bun” of the narnie is actually a house-made flatbread – a little more buttery and floury like a proper bread rather than the super-fine rice flour used for Chinese-style pork buns.
The first was the Herb-rubbed free range roasted duck with roast pears, rocket, apple balsamic and aioli ($16). The star of this narnie wasn’t the duck as expected, but the pear. Sweet, caramelised and melt-in-the-mouth, it gave the duck an unexpected sweetness and creaminess. I liked this narnie, but I much preferred our second, the Wild mushrooms, baby spinach, truffle balsamic, stracchino cheese sauce and parmesan ($15).
As always, our table got the pungent, glorious waft of truffle oil as soon as the dish arrived at the table. I love truffle. Whenever I take out my little vial of truffle oil for dribbling over mushroom risotto or mashed potato, I always hold it up and inhale deeply; half-wishing I could almost dab it around my ears and on my wrists – using it like the heady perfume that it is! The mushrooms in this narnie were tender and darkly cooked but still retaining a lot of their savoury juices. I probably also preferred this narnie with its more subtle use of baby spinach over rocket, as it really let the winning flavour combination of the earthy mushrooms, tangy cheese sauce and the bite of Parmesan to shine. I would happily be vegetarian if all I ate was this!
Moving onto our salads, to give us a break from the carbs. The Grilled Atlantic octopus, savoy cabbage, chilli, radish, preserved lemon, hazelnuts and jalapeno dressing was incredibly light and zesty. I never would have ever thought of adding hazelnuts to a seafood salad, but the crunch of them went very well with the texture of the octopus. While I’m usually not a fan of raw cabbage, I demolished my portion of this – loving the buttery cabbage with the zesty combination of flavours from the preserved lemon and the heat of the jalapeno dressing.
I was probably a little underwhelmed by the Organic tofu, charred broccolini, roasted almonds, japanese seaweed and fresh peas ($15). I happily eat each of the individual elements by themselves on a weekly basis, but when all combined the flavour was quite bland the texture not quite right for me. I would probably order this if I was detoxing or doing a cleanse though 😛
And what else could we move onto straight after the salads but a big bowl of Three Williams’ triple cooked chips to share? Lethally good. They arrived with the first of the main dishes, the Slow-roasted free range pork loin, caramelised apple puree, cherry tomato and black pudding ($18).
The dish might not have looked like much, but I love pork loin and my piece was beautifully tender yet lean and salted perfectly; amazing with the apple puree. Some of the others found their cut of loin had a little more fat, which I find quite funny because these are bloggers who will wolf down pork belly sandwiches and the like without a second thought!
The Rangers Valley mbs 7 + wagyu minute steak with red wine butter and chips ($19) certainly was a lot bigger than my version of a “minute” steak!
The red wine butter looked curiously almost like pate, and I was the first to dig my knife and fork into the smokingly charred steak. I haven’t had steak out in some time and I do love it when there’s the proper scorch lines across it. The wagyu was tender and flavoursome on its own, hardly requiring the red wine butter which I found a little too rich.
We finished off our savouries with the Pan-seared market fish with pea puree, broad beans and snow pea tendrils ($20), and the market fish for the evening was silver dory – one of my favourite fishes. I love dory because the flesh has got a lovely amount of flake when cooked well; not too “wet” like a perch, yet still leaving a gorgeously buttery silky flavour on your tongue. Shame it’s one of the ugliest fishies at the fish market 😛 It plates well though.
A lovely light dish, have with a simple squeeze of lemon and enjoy the tender fish with the delicate flavours of the pea puree and the tendrils of snow pea. Or you could up the ante and have it with the triple cooked chips – because everyone loves a classic.
Everyone had been greatly anticipating dessert. And with a description of Crunchy brioche French toast with caramel bananas, hazelnuts and Belgian chocolate ($16), are you very surprised?
Just looking at the plate made me want to groan. Panko-crumbed brioche, oozing shiny dark chocolate, the air filled with the sweet, cloying aroma of bananas simmered in that gooey and buttery caramel sauce. I told myself I’d only be able to have a bite or two as it must, must be way too rich. But one bite turned into two, and two bites turned into more. I thought it may be because I have such a high tolerance for sweets, having such a sweet tooth, but even for everyone else no one found it overly rich. The brioche is quite fluffy and light, and the chocolate is quality bitter-sweet Belgian, so everything was sublime with every spoonful. Bliss.
The walk to Redfern station after this dinner was greatly appreciated, I can tell you that. Just writing about all this now and looking at the photos has me remembering the aroma of that mushroom narnie. I’ll be back for it.
613a Elizabeth Street,
Redfern NSW 2016
(02) 9698 1111