Deus Bar & Kitchen
Deus Cafe has moved into more mature territory — with an ex-Bistro Moncur chef no less.
Deus Bar & Kitchen is the only show in town for the Camperdown dinner crowd – and they're getting a lot of love for it. The once Deus Cafe has been completely reimagined by Andy Ruwald (founder of The Bucket List) and James Prier, who were brought on board by Deus Ex Machina founder Dare Jennings to relaunch the dining space. While the cafe is still open for breakfast and lunch, the dinner service is a new niche for Deus — and the locals couldn't be happier about.
The new digs embrace their corner location on Parramatta Road while also (somehow) blocking out the highway hustle and bustle. The leafy shrubs placed at each window — along with the warmly-lit, moody interior — help give the space a relaxed and welcoming nighttime atmosphere.
But the biggest change at Deus is the dinner and drinks service. The concrete bar and open kitchen both have seating for casual patrons, and the custom-made, comfy bar stools are designed to withstand long conversations over more than a few drinks and bar snacks. The cocktail menu focusses on tweaking the classics, and is well-executed. While their version of a bloody Mary ($18) could (and did) convert a BM nonbeliever, the Scorpio VI ($18) is our personal favourite. A jalapeño margarita is given a cold weather spin with the addition of a house-made 'winter syrup', made with spiced rhubarb stalks from the kitchen.
But it's the dinner menu that really lets Deus flex its newfound culinary muscles, with Head Chef Tom Walton (ex-Bistro Moncur) running the kitchen. The dishes stem from Walton's experience and upbringing; Middle Eastern flavours run throughout the menu, while his French training shines in dishes like the superb beef tartare ($17). A super delicate dish, it has a complex flavour and texture combination of harissa, almond and pickled onion. If you're lucky enough to have the option of the mussels special, don't skip it. Served in a broth of Young Henrys cider and with a side of shoestring fries perfect for dipping, it's a truly a knockout dish.
Chef Walton is as creative as he is skilled, and this is evident in his chicken crackling ($14), which is inventively served as a cracker-like vessel for spoonfuls of fresh kingfish and smoky eggplant. The hummus is not exactly what you'd expect either — it comes gorgeously plated and topped with pomegranate seeds, almonds, feta, crispy chickpeas and mint ($16).
If you're really going for a winter warmer, their roast Bannockburn chook is just that ($20 half, $39 whole) and a signature dish for the restaurant. The whole, slow-roasted quince dessert ($12) is another must-try winter menu item; tart and savoury, the dish is balanced by the silky sweetness of the crème fraîche. In this way, the food matches Deus' whole atmosphere: warming, welcoming, and simply well done.