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. There's also an extensive pickling room upstairs — you can taste some of the spoils (like carrot, cauliflower and cucumber) as part of the charcuterie board ($35), which includes small stacks of salami, wagyu and peppery slivers of bresaola. All the meats on the menu are also available for purchase at the on-site butcher.
The sirloin steak ($32) is a good cut 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 simply presented with some local red and green heirloom tomatoes. The lamb cutlets ($32), also from South Australia, come charred and sweet, with light hints of lemon and parsley. There are also smaller, sharable options like a smoked free-range chicken ($15 half) which ties into the theme of unfussy and pastoral fare, or a straightforward fresh garden salad ($8), with a red wine vinaigrette adding good punch without overpowering the crisp greens.
There are some neat touches in the drinks list, with the whisky sour ($20) using whisky from the excellent Melbourne-based Starward, and the Negroni ($19) mixed using Applewood Red Okar, a local boutique bitters which draws on the unusual taste of bush tucker favourite lilly pilly. 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 tart ($12) achieves a nice golden colour and caramelised edges, while a silky panna cotta comes paired with a rich, jammy poached tamarillo ($12).
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, workshops on sustainable food and the option of picking up some high-end produce are drawcards, as is the homespun, hearty food on offer.
Images: Steven Woodburn.