Pre-theatre options are few and far between down at Walsh Bay; for a long time it was pretty much Cafe Sopra or take out. But things are looking a bit different with the Gantry and Walsh Bay Kitchen on the scene. The latter is the newest and most forward-looking offering from the expanding Trippas White Empire. The group has renovated the Sydney Theatre Company’s adjoining foyer space into a glossy black restaurant and bar. They’ve got Kay Hwang in charge of the kitchen, an ambitious young chef who’s created a deceptively progressive menu of bistro classics.

Barramundi sits with a pumpkin puree and a crisp fish cake, a take on the French boudin blanc. “It's a traditional dish, a fish sausage with a mixture of scallops, cream and herbs - usually parsley or chervil,” explains Hwang. “I put chives [in mine], then we roll it and steam it, crumb it and deep-fry it.” Also on the menu is a thick wedge of salmon, resting pond-lily like on a leaf of rainbow kale. On either side sits a charred orange and a shallow puddle of daikon puree. The charred orange, though difficult to eat, provides a smoky and sweet layer to the subtle daikon flavour.

Hwang’s Korean heritage comes out in the brown rice bibimbap with braised mushrooms, charred vegetables, pine nuts and chilli paste. Originally thinking no one would order ‘bibimbap’ Hwang changed the name to brown rice. “Everyone was like, ‘what is brown rice? I don't want to eat brown rice. It's not sexy.’ Then one of the staff said ‘that's bibimbap, isn't it. Let's call it bibimbap.’ Now it's selling a lot.” The bibimbap, with the barramundi, a cylinder of tender lamb neck and Hwang’s pork two ways make up the pre-theatre special menu, which comes as either a two-course meal with dessert or an entrée, or all three courses, either with a glass of wine.

On the pre-show special is a Mars Bar-inspired mud cake with chocolate crumbs and a bulb of vanilla ice cream. Unfortunately for special order-ers, the regular menu has a dense and spongey orange cake with a moat of fairy floss. Placed on the table next to it is an ambiguous tea pot. Pour it on the cake, it’s full of hot raspberry syrup. “There’s no sugar in the syrup,” says Hwang. “As you pour it over the cake it melts the fairy floss and becomes sweeter.”

Walsh Bay Kitchen
22 Hickson Road, Walsh Bay
(02) 9250 1990

Mon to Fri lunch from Noon—3pm, dinner from 5pm
Sat dinner from 5pm, lunch open on matinee performance days
Sun open with the performance schedule