If you thought Melbourne was the only place you could eat a meal on a tram, think again. With a gorgeous old Rozelle tram restored and fitted out with tables and chairs, Butcher and the Farmer has one of the most unique dining areas in Sydney. It sits on one side of the restaurant's light-filled, sprawling industrial space at Forest Lodge's new Tramsheds development. Befitting of its historic location, Butcher and the Farmer is going for a providore to plate approach. There's a firm focus on pushing the produce front and centre, with plenty of dishes presented simply using traditional coal-roasting, smoking, pickling and curing techniques.
They're serious about their meat here, with the provenance and farmer listed for every cut. All the meats on the menu are also available for purchase at the on-site butcher. The sirloin steak ($37) is a fine piece of meat (an Angus from South Australia's Collinson farm), with a black, crisp exterior giving way to a juicy, medium-rare interior. It's well-seasoned and rested, and presented with your choice of buttered mash, baby cos or fries. There are also smaller, sharable options like chargrilled chicken breast ($27) which ties into the theme of unfussy and pastoral fare, or a straightforward warm grain salad ($13), with white grapes, walnuts and coriander.
There are some neat touches in the drinks list, with a lemon ginger mojito ($16) using white rum, lemon sherbert, lime, smashed mint and ginger and the East 8 Hold Up ($16) mixed using 666 vodka, Aperol, pineapple juice, passionfruit and lime. The bar also stocks a range of craft beers and ciders, alongside a mainly Australian wine list.
You can sip on the honeyed sweetness of a Margan Estate Botrytis Semillon ($14 glass) with dessert, which also tends to the rustic. The Apple Rumble ($13) with cinnamon poached apple, ginger and oat crumble, rum and raisin ice cream and dulce de leche is definitely the highlight.
Service is enthusiastic if sometimes nervous, but the space is a fine example of an urban renewal project paying homage to its roots. Extras like breakfast from 8am and generous happy hour — which kicks off at 4pm and runs till 7pm every weekday — are drawcards, as is the homespun, hearty food on offer.
Images: Steven Woodburn.