In a city with a highly competitive dining scene, novel concepts and flashy designs often win out over relaxed good-time vibes. The House Dining is a rare example of the latter.
Owner Josh Plitz used to run a tiny cafe just near Central Park called House Specialty Coffee. The team couldn't do much with the limited space (just toasties and coffee) but people still came for the laid-back and welcoming energy.
The move to Newtown has meant expansion in size and scope but expect the same vibe. "We were there for five years, it was awesome and we were doing really well but it was getting repetitive. The next step was getting a bigger venue,” says Plitz.
The biggest change is the addition of a liquor licence – alcohol is offered all day. Jacob Fleming, an ex-Balcon cocktail maker and one of the new co-owners, runs the venue at night. Cocktails are succinct and offer slight deviations from classics. It is possibly the only bar to have Jamaican beer Red Stripe on tap. The menu consists of cheese (by the gram), cured meats and share plates like a buttermilk-fried cauliflower with nduja-like spiced pork and pesto; and skirt steak with hazelnuts, chilli oil and tempura-style fried eggplant.
Get specialty coffee in the morning (these guys were using the term before it got big and increasingly meaningless) courtesy of the Blind Coffee Roaster, plus toasties and a few simple but uncommon breakfast items like roast potatoes with crisped jamon, a herby salad and a fried egg; and a fat chorizo with fried cavolo nero.
"The hardest thing is making sure there is a transition [from day to night] and that each identity is separate. We do a few things, black out the front with curtains [at night] and use the side entrance, for one," says Plitz. The design, by Fresh Prince, sees a long bar down the skinny venue, dark timber furniture and bright walls and tiles.
The House Dining
357 King Street, Newtown
(02) 8957 4664
Mon to Wed
Thu to Sat 8am–11pm