The Cross Eyed Dog in Zanzibar
323 King St
Newtown, Sydney

Zanzibar is no stranger to Newtown. How could it be? It's been around since 1832 where it was first established as 'The New Town Store' by John and Eliza Webster (where Newtown took its name) and then became Newtown's first bar - 'The Daniel Webster

Now, forget everything you know (or what you think you knew) about Zanzibar because this place has not only undergone a refurbishment, it has completely reinvented itself.

Tonight we were dining at Zanzibar's new room,'The Cross Eyed Dog'.

This newly refurbished area has a sleek yet relaxed look with a very impressive fireplace at the back making it a perfect choice on a chilly winter's evening.

We sat down and decided to start with a drink so we glanced over the drinks menu and noticed a very impressive cocktail list. We chose the Blood Orange Margherita  and the Gimlet Grenade. Both impressive drinks, very smooth and dare I say strong. The Margherita had Campari in it, and the plum jam in the Gimlet Grenade was a surprising yet sweet addition. Both excellent versions of classic cocktails.

We then ordered starters and picked a few things that seemed familiar yet very different. The Garlic Flatbread was finished with white bean purée, grana padano and house made dukkah, a great twist on classic starter.

The pork ribs, drizzled with black vinegar and maple syrup were outstanding.

Our third starter, the Fried Mac and Cheese Fingers, was the standout dish. It's exactly what the name says, lightly crumbed and fried macaroni and cheese fingers. Quite remarkable and we can see this becoming a favourite, especially late at night. This is certainly not the kind of food you expect at a pub or bar, but then again, this is no ordinary venue and the food proves that.

As we drank our wines, both lovely glasses of Pinot Gris and Traminer from the Hunter Valley, our mains arrived.

Two classic dishes cooked and presented perfectly. The Beer Glazed Chicken was really tender and was cooked with lemon myrtle which gave it a hint of freshness. The Hanger Steak, complete with onion rings, and chips, was cooked to perfection and juicy.

As we finished our mains, we admired the decor and started to think about dessert.

We asked the waiter for some suggestions and ended up going with a share platter (on his his advice).

Boy, are we glad we took his advice.

This dessert plate, compete with Creme Brûlée, Drunken Cheesecake and a  'Gimme s'mores Salad' was just divine.  All items had quite a few twists to their ingredients, which made them really unique. The Creme Brûlée, perfectly done, was topped with a gingernut crumble (what a great idea). The cheesecake had a salted nut praline and was glazed with beer ( now we know why it's called a Drunken Cheesecake). The 'Gimme s'mores Salad' was a flavour explosion with things like marshmallow, peanut butter semifreddo and chocolate.

We enjoyed the dessert with a Cherry Beer. We could have chosen a nice dessert as Zanzibar also has a few of on their menu, but their beer list is just as long, so we thought we would try something different. I'm glad we did, it was a great accompaniment to the dessert.

To say we were impressed by our experience at The Cross Eyed Dog inside Zanzibar would be an understatement. The food is something you would expect at a restaurant but the prices are firmly held at pub rates. There is also an impressive rooftop for those who prefer an alfresco experience.

Zanzibar is open 7 days a week for dinner and it won't be long till we're back, we probably will become regulars at this venue.

The Counts, who are now doing reviews for Sir and Mlady Dine Out, dined as guests of The One Eyed Dog in Zanzibar. Special thanks also to Georgia Crean for arranging this.

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