Usually an unassuming place, Chippendale’s current standard operating procedure is to hook you right in. Recently, the postcode has been scoring touchdowns with places like Brickfields and Ester (which landed the double hit of Restaurant of the Year and Best New Restaurant at Monday’s Time Out Sydney Food Awards); and it’s now home to LP’s Quality Meats by Luke Powell (yes, the ex-Tetsuya’s chef responsible for those knockout Mary’s burgers – his first solo venture opens tomorrow). Clayton Wells, who recently left Momofuku Seiobo, is also unveiling his restaurant Automata in the inner-city suburb next year.
A few weeks ago, Knox Street Bar also found some unclaimed territory and began operating in Chippendale, too. This underground bunker has a smart concept, especially for anyone who can never quite get their coordinates to coincide with their favourite food truck. Knox Street Bar will open up its kitchen to a particular street-roaming vehicle and let its team take over the menu.
Currently in residency is the Veggie Patch Van, with a compilation of selections that’s part greatest hits, part new material. These guys know that the best bargaining chip for convincing people to eat vegetarian food is to just make it taste damn good, and they’ve got weapons-grade clout in this area. On offer is a mix of their brilliant burgers – the Haloumi Burger with pumpkin jam, pickled fennel and mustard mayo ($11), the Zucchini Burger with caramelised onion and beetroot relish ($11), and the Olive and Almond Burger ($11) – which you can also get beamed into small-scale form, as a plate of three sliders ($15). They remove the standard wiring of vegie burgers as crime scenes for underwhelming patties and zap them with full-strength flavour. There’s also Shoestring Fries ($7), accompanied by its good friends, mayo and chipotle barbecue sauce (aka ole Smoky and Delicious), or its trademark curls of Sweet Potato Crisps with Vegan Basil Mayo ($6). You can also score Corn On The Cob with Cheese Lime Mayo ($7), Beer Battered Haloumi and Pickles ($13) and sweets such as Chocolate Brownies and White Choc Caramel Slices ($8 each).
And if you’re the kind of person who thinks Fate is better at ordering drinks than you are, you can take a spin on the Cocktail Wheel and see what comes up. It might be the Golden Boy – a three-rum concoction that comes with its own sugar-fuelled fire show (the flashy pyrotechnic effect comes via the passionfruit shell packed with sweet alcohol-doused granules).
Knox Street Bar is run by a team of really sweet, friendly and approachable staff and the space has a likeable, oddball atmosphere. There’s lighting struck from drum parts, toilets that seem like space-age extras, and kooky art installations that are beyond any explanation I could ever offer. It’s also a good spot for groups – you can even reserve a table of 40 (!) if you’re keen. They definitely have room enough for the growing numbers of people who have been lured to Chippendale.
Knox Street Bar, 21 Shepherd Street, Chippendale (enter via ramp on the corner of Knox and Shepherd Streets), www.knoxstreetbar.com