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FOOD & DRINK

Odd Culture Newtown

An exciting Newtown wine bar with cracking French-meets-Japanese fare from the team behind the Old Fitz.
By Suz Tucker
November 08, 2021
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By Suz Tucker
November 08, 2021
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Odd Culture has set up shop in the space formerly occupied by King Street dumpling institution Happy Chef, left vacant since a devastating fire in 2018. Now, a French-leaning slick diner and wine bar combo has risen, phoenix-like, out of the literal and proverbial ashes — with approval from the Happy Chef crew — to bring an exciting new venue to Newtown's busiest strip.

Odd Culture is a venture by the team behind The Old Fitz and The Duke of Enmore, so the mood is decidedly relaxed. The fit out — all exposed brick, high ceilings and airy street-facing windows — has all the stamps of a good, friendly neighbourhood pub. They've even painted a vintage Reschs advertisement replica on the wall to really hammer it home.

But behind the bar and in the kitchen, they're cooking up something a little more special than your average drop-in drinks joint.

Executive Chef James MacDonald (formerly of Hubert) and Head Chef Jesse Warkentin, bring to the menu a collision of traditional French influence and exciting Japanese flavours, delivered with great seasonal ingredients and gorgeous plating flair. Case in point: the chicken liver pate with fish sauce caramel served with potato chips is simultaneously sweet, salty and piquant — a terrific umami hit.

The menu is arranged by portion size: snacks, small and large. Smalls might include a lively beef tartare ($20), an extremely good confit duck with bitter leaves, corn and bacon ($28), and one of the prettiest vegetarian dishes we've seen for a while of pickled beets with yoghurt, raspberry and sunflower seeds ($16).

The large plates range from blood pancake with pork jowl and fried egg ($26) to a no-messing-around bacon chop with buttermilk and pickles ($52), and definitely favours carnivorous patrons with big appetites.

The wine list, steered by Odd Culture Group beverage manager Jordan Blackman, is generous and varied with a focus on natural wines, and there's a dozen beers on tap with a hefty selection of international craft beers in the fridge.

Come hungry and thirsty with a date or a group of pals. They're open until 2am on weekends so no need to rush, either.

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