Missenden Road’s Old City Kitchen & Bar is a home away from home for Old City’s owner, William Hussey.
The charming industrial-style restaurant is the brainchild of Hussey, and brings a truly authentic Middle Eastern cuisine to the north end of Newtown. With a particular focus on the Levant region, the food here encompasses countries like Jordan, Lebanon and Israel.
Old City’s high ceilings and open space creates room for a modern industrial interior with wooden panels and an assortment of simple black furniture mixed with sprawling table tops with stunning, colourful textile prints which also adorn the walls behind the bar. Exposed industrial lights are draped across the dark ceilings, creating a contemporary yet warm and homely atmosphere.
The kitchen and bar’s diverse menus complement its unique interior (and charming exterior) and offers a fantastic spread of smaller starter dishes suited to sharing with a small group of friends. There are also generous main meals to follow with a small collection of mouth-watering homemade desserts.
To start off, I recommend the Middle Eastern bites ($9) and feta balls ($9) which are both delightful morsels of authentic Middle Eastern recipes. The feta balls are crumbed, fried and served atop a sweet tomato salsa and a side of beetroot yoghurt (which I unfortunately missed out on as they forgot to add this to the dish), while the Middle Eastern bites allow you a small taste of fried kibbi, homemade cheese sambousek and meat sambousek which were all encased by perfected pastries and fried. Undoubtedly, these recipes were handed down to Hussey.
Although we were given a generous amount of pita bread that was baked in house and still warm, dips trio ($18) arrived with another generous serving to help us soak up the homemade baba ganoush, hummus and labne. The baba ganoush was the star of the dips, served with a generous dash of olive oil and bite-size pieces of baked eggplant on top.
The unmissable homemade dips prepared us for the generously-sized main meals which are designed to be shared. The spatchcock ($32) was cooked to perfection and served atop a bed of spinach and halloumi pilaf with a little lemon broth. Although this dish should have been served in a shallow bowl to make the most of the broth, the spatchcock was perhaps one of the most heart-warming meals I’ve had in a long while. The BBQ octopus ($24) sounds as if you may find it on your local pub’s menu, but the three-hour braised octopus was divine, with a sweet flavour and a combination of soft and hard textures it never too tough. The dish arrived with a simple salad of roquette, tomato, olives and onion however a little too much sweet chilli balsamic dressing.
To finish, we indulged in the homemade custard baklava, and it was everything we wanted it to be: soft, layered pastry with a generous taste of honey and warm spices, finely chopped nuts with a swirl of custard – the perfect bitesize for full stomachs.
It’s important to give credit to the wait staff too. They were informed, friendly and knew to keep out of your way.
Wines are mostly from Australia and New Zealand and the cocktails are creative and diverse however don’t seem to match the moreish and heart-warming tastes of the Middle East.
Old City’s versatile space is perfect for all occasions, from a lengthy, relaxing weekend lunch with friends to a cosy spot to enjoy some creative cocktails before a long night out — this venue prides itself on its authenticity and is sure to charm you. The space is family-friendly during the day and is becoming a hotspot for Newtown’s nightlife, with $10 cocktails being offered from 9.30pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Old City also offers a private function room for up to forty guests and offers catering services.
Sum it up: A versatile space offering authentic and diverse Middle Eastern share plates and creative cocktails – a perfect spot for an easy lunch or dinner with friends.
Must try: Chargrilled spatchcock or the slow cooked lamb
Price: Starters: $6-$28, to share: $16-$32
Old City Kitchen & Bar
189 Missenden Road, Newtown
(02) 9550 5558
Hours: 11am-11pm, 7 days a week