Riley St Garage
Raw, edgy and impossibly chic, Riley St Garage brings a slice of the New York Meatpacking District to Woolloomooloo.
Raw, edgy and impossibly chic, Riley St Garage brings a slice of the New York Meatpacking District to Woolloomooloo. The venue exudes a self-assured authenticity that reels you in from your first step through the unassuming front entrance into the glossy, cavernous space. Dim lights, art deco tiling and a colossal backlit bar create a buzzing 1920s vibe, enriched by tumbling jazzy beats and the preserved bones of the historic industrial warehouse.
Indulgence is the name of the game here, and the Garage's resident 'mechanics' will tempt you to open the meal with a selection of freshly shucked oysters ($4 each), enjoyed au naturel or with intriguing additions like smoky soy truffle and Clamato jelly horseradish. The drinks list is wickedly extravagant, as befits the luxe environment; we started things off with a 'Drunk Uncle', a winning combination of 10-year-old Ardbeg whisky with Cynar and dry vermouth ($22), "served up and inappropriate".
Dinner is designed to be enjoyed degustation-style, with a wide range of bite-sized delicacies on offer, each of which outdoes the last. The "fish 'n' chip" sashimi tartare ($14) features soft kingfish drizzled with yuzu, ready to be scooped up with paper-thin potato crisps, while the chorizo corn-dog with Dijon mayo ($4 each) is an unexpectedly complex single-bite burst of flavour. Next, move on to the spinach and ricotta ravioli ($14), the soft pockets of pasta seemingly floating in their delicious burnt butter sauce and perfected with a scattering of crispy shards of sage.
More substantial dishes of both the surf and turf varieties are available for the hungry visitor, as well as indulgent "large share" options like an 800g dry-aged Riverine ribeye with Bearnaise sauce ($68). But we kept returning to the bite-sized part of the list — a pulled chilli pork slider here, a beer tempura Morton Bay Bug there — for a vibrant and varied culinary experience. When paired with a wide selection of imported beers and a wine list you could get lost in for days, there's no doubt the team at Riley Street Garage are on to a winner.
The dessert list is short but full of hits, with a liquid lemon cheesecake ($14) and a chocolate brownie with salted caramel and crunchy honeycomb pieces ($17) calling out our name. And how better to end than with a Georgia Julep ($22) — cognac, peach brandy and mint served over crushed ice — for a perfect finale to a thoroughly engaging evening.
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