Jarrod Walsh and Dot Lee have taken over the venue, given it a facelift and rolled out a new menu.
A the start of 2018, Hartsyard became Hartsyard 2.0 when then owners Gregory Llewellyn and Naomi Hart swapped the deep fryer for the charcoal grill. Then, later in the year, they sold it. Now, the much-loved Newtown restaurant has reopened with new owners. Except they're not exactly new. One, Jarrod Walsh, has been Hartsyard 2.0's head chef for the past year, and the other is Momofuku Seiobo chef and Walsh's partner, Dot Lee.
To celebrate the takeover, the two have added a splash of paint, in the form of black-and-white tattoo-inspired artworks by local artist Isabel Williams. Besides that, the 50-seater space has keep its light, fresh look, dotted with oak, tan, black steel and greenery.
"Food-wise, it's the same style — share plates and snacks designed to be eaten with your hands," says Walsh. "There are lots of vegetarian and vegan options."
Take your pick of 13 individual dishes or one of two set menus ($75/95). Among Walsh's new creations are marinated and grilled Clarence River baby octopus with roasted peppers and smoked charcoal potatoes, stone fruit with smoked sheep's milk yoghurt and yukari shiso (an umami-heavy seasoning made from shiso leaves) and Geraldton kingfish tartare with seaweed chips.
But the one that's already won over the crowd is the fried cheese. "It's like a cheese toastie, but with layers of cheese on cheese on cheese," says Walsh. "We start with Parmesan, with roasted black pepper stock — cooked with tapioca pearls, so it's gluten free — then, we add hot mustard sour cream, which we top with gruyère, gouda and roasted black pepper salt. We served it last night and customers were ordering it again and again."
Behind the bar, restaurant manager and sommelier Andrea Spagna has expanded the wine list with a bunch of Australian and international drops. Look out for several experimental, organic numbers, too. Meanwhile, bartender Paddy O'Rourke (The Gretz, Bulletin Place, Dead Ringer) is pouring local craft beers and signature cocktails, which change every week. Kicking off the inaugural list are the Stonefruit Slipper (stone fruit vodka, maraschino cherry and lemon sherbet) and the Pepito (spiced coconut rum, mango, yoghurt, honey and pistachio).
Images: Steven Woodburn.
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