Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Ester, Chippendale

There is something unique about Chippendale's newish restaurant, Ester. Perhaps it was the minimal, simple decor or maybe it's the Modern Australian-inspired cuisine with a bit of Mediterranean flavours thrown in that has wowed us on the night. This is no surprise coming from the same team who owns Vini, Berta and 121 BC in Surry Hills along with Mat Lindsay (ex-Billy Kwong) and Nic Wong (ex-Bodega and Billy Kwong) taking over the kitchen. Yup you know you are onto a good thing here.

Located in one of the many quiet and hidden streets of Chippendale, it was a bit of a walk from Railway Square than we expected but still close to the main streets of Broadway. Inside, we notice a rather busy crowd with a relatively social atmosphere. The service was very friendly to us on the night. Even though we agreed to finish everything by a certain time so other customers can claim our table, the staff was happy to accommodate us to the bar so we can continue ordering desserts later on. Similar to their sister restaurants, Ester has an impressive range of wine for your beverage needs.

As with most restaurants and bars opening up these days, the dishes at Ester are designed to be shared which is perfect for CC and I to try as many as possible. And we still didn't get bloated by the end! Well only slightly. What's even more special about Ester is their wood-fired oven which became an essential feature for most items on the wood-fired focused menu.

We were treated with complimentary fried chickpeas which were surprisingly addictive. I'm usually not a huge fan of chickpeas but I couldn't stop gobbling these crunchy treats up! Seasoned with salt and rosemary, you just cannot get enough of this. Was pretty bummed when it was all gone.

Complimentary Fried Chickpeas

We were interested in trying out the squid balls (me thinking it was something similar to arancini balls) but were quite stunned by the presentation of the dish when it arrived to us. Both CC and I were staring at each other with the same thought in mind: "Dude, this looks like s***". Thankfully the taste was a million times better than we expected. While it did have a chewy texture, I enjoyed the squid ink flavour which reminded me of eating squid ink risotto and pasta at various Italian restaurants. We were quite puzzled by its name though since the shape clearly did not resemble a ball...

Squid Ink Balls ($12.00)

Our waiter recommended this dish to us as an individual-sized snack when we were deciding. It may appear to be simple especially with the crustless bread but the flavour does work wonders to our taste buds. The mayo sauce tasted lovely on that soft bread. Sure blood sausage does not sound appealing when you think about it but the taste wasn't strong so you will think that it's just a normal sausage eventually. Altogether, it was yummy and perfect for a quick bite.

Blood Sausage Sanga ($6.00 pp)

If there is a dish that I would consider as the winner of the night, it has gotta be the bone marrow with XO. Generally I love any dish involving bone marrow but Ester's version is a beast. What I loved about this bone marrow was how easy it was to scoop it out compared to similar versions at other restaurants. I didn't imagine how well it tasted with XO but it actually gave it an immense flavour boost that makes me want to eat CC's share. I'm actually surprised this was listed under Snacks because the portion size is a bit bigger in my opinion especially with the crusty toasted bread. Perhaps a small plate? Either way, each bite of this dish was like heaven for us.

Bone Marrow / XO ($16.00)

Bone Marrow Porn

I go crazy over any dish that has crab on the menu so I ordered it immediately without knowing how it would actually turn out. Initially we thought it would be presented in some form of ready-to-eat pickled crab meat or attached to the shell in a way that would be easy for us to take the meat out. Even with the metal tools, it was difficult for us to grab the crab meat out of the hard shell so this was time-consuming for us in the end. On the other hand, the crab meat that we managed to take out was well-cooked and delicious but would probably not order this again unless we figure out a faster way to take the meat apart with those tools or our hands or it was presented in a different and easier way. 

Blue Swimmer Crab / Salt and Pepper ($24.00)

Thankfully, the steak was much easier to handle and share with its neat and thick slices. The meat was cooked medium-rare so it was soft, tender and juicy. It also came with a slab of bagna cauda, which is a sauce consisting of anchovies, garlic, olive oil and butter. The sauce tasted creamy and too buttery for my liking but CC said this was one of her fave dishes of the day along with the bone marrow. The slices of radishes were a refreshing contrast to the otherwise meaty and buttery plate. 

Steak / Bagna Cauda / Radish ($30.00)

Despite all those dishes, we weren't too bloated as we thought we would be. Enough reason to grab dessert. We were curious about the Three Milks which consists of ricotta panna cotta, sheep's milk foam and a smear of dulce de leche cream. It even has a dab of olive oil, rosemary leaves and biscuit crumbs for a little more crunch to a very creamy dish. It's very unique and somewhat light in texture. If you love your creamy, milky and cheesy desserts with a nit of sticky sweetness then this is the dish for you. 

Three Milks ($11.00)

The salted caramel semi-freddo may looked simple as a nicely-formed round ball but the flavour and texture is on a different level. There was that grainy texture from the black sesame crumbs combined with the creamy taste and the caramel saltiness as well as sweetness.

Salted-caramel semi-freddo ($4.00)

The food that Ester serves was clearly not what we've seen before at most other restaurants in Sydney and that's what we really liked about it. Every dish was full of surprises whether it was really delicious, slightly frustrating or just plain odd. While the prices aren't the cheapest, the dishes were focused on sharing so this will do less damage to your wallet. The vibe was incredibly busy for a restaurant on a quiet location on a weekday. I could only imagine how packed this would get for dinner on a Friday or Saturday night. Can't wait to go back for that bone marrow omggg.

52 Meagher Street, Chippendale NSW 2008
(02) 8068 8279
Lunch: Thurs - Fri 12:00pm to 3:00pm
Dinner: Tues - Fri 6:00pm to late (5:30pm for drinks), Sat 6:00pm to late
Ester on Urbanspoon


  1. wow those squid ink balls... but that bone marrow is freaking amazing!

  2. Dear Annie,

    Here's any easy way to remove crab meat. Your bone marrow porn can almost rival real porn


  3. Love dishes that you can share. As you said, you get to try more. Wow look at that bone marrow!

  4. The dishes all look amazing! I can imagine how good those chickpeas are to start - crunchy chickpeas are always so addictive :P

  5. The salted caramel semifreddo was amazing!

  6. I can't wait to try those bone marrows!! Looks glorious. Nice review!

  7. OMG, blood sausage is my favourite! I struggled to find it when I first arrived in Australia and the first time I had it was in Sepia... but they were just crumbs. And then I made my fiancé drive all the way up North just to have blood sausage hehe. Chippendale sounds much closer to where we live/work, so I will give this one a go!!

  8. oooooooo crab! can't wait to check it out!