The Owl House
Crown St
Darlinghurst, Sydney

Inspired by and drawing its name from a place in South Africa, the Owl House is lovely in its own right. Owner Amir Halpert has created a range of individual spaces here that each have their own appeal yet also blend together so well. You enter at street level into the bar area, where you can also get anything from bar food right through to the a la carte menu or even the degustation if you want. The focus here is all about the customer. At the end of the bar is a stairway to heaven - the pretty upstairs dining area. There is also a lovely outside balcony that has been adapted cleverly to create a bench table. Customers can sip a drink there or even have a full meal while watching the world below. The Owl House also won Best Bar with Food in the 2012 Good Food Guide Awards.

The whole place has quirky decorations. There is a "quote" done with string twined around nails. There is a wall of old world mirrors and pictures of yesteryear. There are even a couple of oversized glasses hanging upside down from the ceiling in the corner!

We were having the degustation and eagerly looking forward to the goodies on offer. Each of our six courses were being matched with a cocktail as well - it was going to be a big night! To start with we were surprised by a lovely treat - a sphere of mojito on a spoon. It was an explosion of delicious flavour in our mouths when the bubble burst. We noticed other tables also getting this great start to their meals as well.

The degustastion provides everyone with their own serving of each of these dishes - so its huge! First course for our meal was a freshly shucked oyster with Herradura anejo tequila sour foam. It looked impressive and tasted just as good. The presentation was amazing and the blend of flavours went so well together. It reminded Mlady of beach holidays from her childhood. This was cleverly paired by our host (and mixologist/sommelier) Amir with a Tequila Flower cocktail made with Don Julio Tequila, Elderflower liquor and orange blossom water. I loved this drink.

We then moved on to a lovely prawn dish. It was a single Kadaifi prawn with chickpea tuile, Matbucha dip, heirloom tomatoes, caper berries and tomato vinaigrette. It looked so impressive (again) - like a punk hairdo on a prawn - and the whole combination of crunchy and soft textures and sweet prawn meat with savoury vinaigrette was wonderful. This dish was Amazing! This was paired with a Saffron cocktail of gin and strega with a visible safron thread. This drink was a favourite of Mlady.

Our next dish was the fish of the day which was ruby snapper. It came with diamond shell clams, beetroot carpaccio, golf carrots, semi dried kalamata olives crumbled on top of the fish, tomatoes and wafer thin crisp chips. Each dish was a work of art with the passion of chef Roy Ner (formerly of Aria) constantly showing through. The fish was cooked to perfection and the combinations went so well together. It was soft and crunchy, sweet and savoury again - a party on a plate! It was paired nicely with a 1930's Cosmopolitan cocktail of  Ketel 1 Citroen vodka, Cointreau, freshly squeezed lime and spiced cranberry puree that was prepared in house. Mlady - as a Sex In The City fan - loved this!

The meat treat was next. It consisted of deconstructed cassoulet, duck confit, braised pork shoulder and Toulouse style sausage with white beans and carrots. The pot of goodies went beautifully with the three meats. The duck was perfectly cooked, the pork melted in the mouth and the Toulouse style sausage was an  interesting combination of pork, nutmeg and white wine which was delicious. This was paired with a Jack Rose cocktail which mixed Calvados, lemon juice and pomegranate seeds giving it both flavour and colour.

As Mlady isn't a lamb eater The Owl House catered for her with a lovely partridge dish of breast ballentine, pearl onion, mini brown mushrooms and cavalo nero on celeriac puree. The partridge was lovely - so tender and juicy. Again the presentation was excellent and the flavours went well together.

I had the lamb cutlets which was the listed course for this stage of the meal.

They came with roasted baby eggplant, zucchini ribbons and pickled eschalots, semi dried tomatoes, goats curd, char grilled eggplant dip and lamb jus.

Every bit on the platter was great. The lamb cutlets were cooked to perfection.

Presentation again had a wow factor to it with a sea of red, green and brown colours greeting me.

This was perfectly paired with a Smoky Robinson cocktail of ginger and smoked capsicum, Hennessey V.S. Cognac ,Drambuie and lemon juice.
We both finished this lovely meal with berry parfait served on balsamic and cherry glaze, with poached rhubarb and berries. This sweet finish was paired with a deliciously indulgent chocolate martini made with 68% valrhona chocolate, Glenlivet single malt and Grand Marnier.

The Owl House was a hoot! Sorry - I just had to say that. It was amazing from start to finish with great food, service and atmosphere.

Sir and Mlady dined as guests of The Owl House and its owner Amir Halpert.

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