3 Kensington Street was once home to British celebrity chef Jason Atherton's Kensington Street Social. Now, it has a new tenant: Barzaari. Opening its doors in October 2018, it's the second outpost of Marrickville's Barzaari, and it's serving up a menu of eastern Mediterranean share plates, focusing on the cuisines of Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon and Egypt.
The 120-seat dining room and private mezzanine was swiftly transformed in the one-week gap between tenants thanks to award-winning architects Neri & Hu and designer Matt Darwon (Automata). Elements of the brand's Marrickville digs have make its way to Chippendale, including the signature sandpit coffee, market place vibes and The Four Seasons mural by Giuseppe Arcimboldo.
Owners Andrew Jordanou and chef Darryl Martin (ex-Three Weeds and Quay) teamed up with hotelier Loh Lik Peng (owner of The Old Clare's parent company Unlisted Collection) to bring the restaurant to Kensington Street.
The restaurant is named after a Cypriot marketplace where Jordanou's grandfather sold his produce, and the story makes its way onto the plate with a focus on seasonal veggies — think barbecued broccolini with spicy muhamarra capsicum dip, carrot juice and tomato ($23), and woodfired green beans, with mograbieh pasta and chilli ($15).
Dishes are made for sharing, and many of them come straight from the woodfired oven. Start by swiping freshly baked koulouri ($5) — circular sesame bread, kinda like Greek bagels — through hummus ($4) or pile pickled WA octopus ($14) atop charred pita ($5) with lashings of smoked eggplant ($4).
Heartier dishes include stuffed pickled eggplant ($25), beef short rib with chermoula ($40) and lamb rump with harissa and currants ($37), and desserts feature Barzaari's signature baklava, with safflower and whole almond ice-cream ($18). For something slightly more left-of-centre, look to the carob-glazed mulberries with salted caramel ($16) or blistered buttermilk ricotta ($17). It's suggested you pair one of these sweets with a theatrical sandpit coffee ($11), which is exactly what it sounds like: strong Middle Eastern coffee heated in a cezve over an impressively large pan of hot sand.
Guests of the hotel are lucky enough to be able to order Barzaari for room service, too — it sure beats that late-night kebab.