It’s not news that the views of the Sydney Harbour – and that classic bridge, are some of the most enviable in the world. What may be a secret though, is where you can see the best view and enjoy contemporary cafe food, with a strong and bold Italian twist (so the perfect Italian…no?).
In a once abandoned brick building on the harbour in Balmain, the Fenwick has risen from the shell of what was once an old boat shed and become what is now the prime spot to enjoy the beauty of Sydney harbour with friends, family, and anyone you want to impress.
Chef Davide Rebeccato brings a modern, italian flair to the menu that should not be ignored. It is possible to eat at the Fenwick and enjoy a perfectly cooked steak and chips, with some excellent Australian wines (and the wine menu is resplendent) but that would be an epic error in judgement. Without being dismissive of the quality of food, superior preparation and presentation – choosing to enjoy the Italian inspired dishes along with the range of Italian wines and beers, means you will have an incredibly unique, and positively magical, experience.
The depth and range of dishes on the menu moves with dexterity from oysters, which for us on the day we visited were from, Parambula. Served with white balsamic vinegar and finger lime, these are a perfect start on a summer’s day for a cracking lunch. We enjoyed an Earl Grey Spritz, made with house made earl grey syrup, St Germain, and tonic water. Incredibly refreshing and a perfect accompaniment to look out across the glistening water.
The kingfish with corn, jalapenos and tiger’s milk (not actual tiger’s milk), but a Peruvian citrus based marinade to cure the fish. Although we prefer the image of someone trying to milk a tiger, this is a ceviche like no other.
We recommend trying the Bollino Pinot Grigio, from Trentino in Italy. The wine is straw yellow in colour, clean with aromas of acacia flowers and pear as well as light mineral notes. It’s crisp and fresh and a perfect accompaniment to the kingfish.
From the snacking menu, we enjoyed the most decadent toasted sandwich known to humankind. Now to call it a toasted sandwich is an insult and belies the decadence of what lies beneath. The menu calls it, for your reference, “mozzarella in carrozza with anchovies”. It’s deep fried bread, filled with mozzarella and anchovies a traditional snack from Trentino. Imagine yourself looking over the harbour, eating this sandwich, along with a glass of wine – and you really have a picture perfect Sunday.
The pinnacle of the entrees, however, was the eggplant and halloumi with basil pesto. The mighty eggplant is a divisive vegetable, some love and others, foolhardy as they are, don’t. So whatever you do, whatever you think you want to order…be sure to order this. The eggplant is slow cooked in a marinade of garlic, oil and herbs. Crumbs of gluten free bread, lashings of homemade pesto. Crunchy, sweet, salty, soft. It’s a roller coaster of flavour and it’s exceptional.
The beef tonnato consists of blowtorched beef, caperberries and caramelised onion. It’s light and salty then tossed in a creamy tuna and mayonnaise dressing; it truly is sublime.
For mains, the homemade pasta with octopus, brings together olive oil with lemon, lime and herbs. It’s a warming yet fresh pasta that, because of the deft talent in bringing it to the plate, is light and leaves you feeling nourished not bulky.
For a more classic lunch the ocean trout with spinach puree and marinated zucchini has the crispiest of skins. Trout may not be the king of the ocean and also may afflicted with an unfortunate name, but it’s certainly a hero on the plate at The Fenwick.
The lamb rump with pepperonata and yoghurt is rich and decadent. The pepperonata cuts through the richness of the lamb and gave a welcome reprieve but also a delicate accompaniment to a much loved choice of meat.
For dessert we recommend is the millefoglie with pistachio cream and berries. A light fresh dessert and the pistachio cream along with the crisp pastry is not only the most impressive configuration of ingredients, but encapsulates the essence of summer.
The Fenwick is currently open for breakfast and lunch, and it’s worth reorganising your diaries to visit. So instead of a romantic, or birthday, dinner do the romantic lunch (it’ll be a thing for sure) at the Fenwick and spend an afternoon enjoying the best of Italy amongst the best view Sydney has on offer.
The Fenwick , 2-8 Weston St, Balmain East
Mon-Sun 7-10.30am and 12-5pm