Assembly is a communal word, meaning a group of people coming together for a common purpose. There was a common purpose to the name change of the former Crown Street Assembly, although the people coming together weren't reaching an agreement. The owners of the CBD bar Assembly objected to the name and demanded a change, which resulted in Bishop Sessa.
The former home of the French restaurant Tabou, Bishop Sessa aims for a more relaxed dining experience. The surroundings are sophisticated and sleek, especially in the wood-lined dining room upstairs. Chef Paul Cooper graduated from Michelin-starred restaurants in Spain, London and Hong Kong and returned to Australia to work at The Botanical in Melbourne before opening his first place in Surry Hills with co-owner Erez Gordon.
The food is pretty varied. For example, an entree steamed bun with quail and ginger in hoi sin sauce is followed by a thinly sliced ceviche ($18) with innovative dollops of creamed avocado, lemon and a wonderful ginger beer sorbet. The food is also pretty to look at. A neatly arranged spanner crab remoulade ($19) sits atop slithers of light watermelon prosciutto. Pork belly ($33) sits side by side with pearl barley, peas, roast apple sauce and a pickled and carmelised plum. An interesting bunch of colours and tastes.
It's not all fine dining. There's a wagyu sausage hot dog with melted cheddar ($10) on the bar menu for dudes or dudettes lamenting some heart-troubled, sit-down fast food. The four desserts are all worth a go, especially the honey iced nougat with green tea jelly ($13) and the cherry frangipane.
A name change can give a venue cause to reinvent itself. Bishop Sessa hasn't changed its world, just adjusted the axis to give more gravity to its food, which is excellent.