4Fourteen, Surry Hills

Beef brisket, fried bread and pickles

Beef brisket, fried bread and pickles

UPDATE: 24 October 2012

As a result of the incident below, I am NEITHER RECOMMENDING NOR ENDORSING Colin Fassnidge or any of his restaurants because I am of the opinion that his attitude and behaviour towards myself and food bloggers in general is myopic, immature and distasteful to say the very least.

On 23 October 2012, I received a tweet message from Colin Fassnidge, chef of 4 Fouteen, to tell me of his dislike for food bloggers after reading this blogpost about the food at his restaurant apparently indicating that I have been unfair in my review during a recent visit.

I always aim to be fair, objective, unbiased and professional in my restaurant reviews. At the same time, this is a personal blog and I do not proclaim to be a food writer or critic of any nature.

I believe this review has been fair and objective, expressing disappointment where food was not so good and the reasons therein but also giving due credit when deserved, even highlighting the image of the signature chargrilled ox tongue and crumbed bone marrow as a “favourite entree” on the right sidebar of my blog (which has since been removed) with the following comment:

“For $16, this entree is a rather unforgettable experience and it’s one of the entrees of the year, for me anyway. Thank goodness we have ordered two portions of this entree to share among the four of us too.”

A subsequent tweet from Colin Fassnidge, in his own words, says:

“well when all you do is refer to terry duracks review in your blog!!!”

The Twitter exchange is set out below and it should be noted that even fellow chef, Darren Templeman, owner and chef of Restaurant Atelier is sensible and courteous to acknowledge a review would necessarily take into account both the positive and negative aspects.

~~~~~~~~   End of UPDATE   ~~~~~~~~ 

“Do they serve steak the way I like it at this restaurant, you know, just a nice, juicy piece of meat without all the fancy pancy stuff that muddles up its flavour?” I ask Mysaucepan.

“Well, if you’re thinking of a 70s style steak house with one meat and two veges on the side, then the answer is no. Hello, we are going to trendy Surry Hills okay!” she replies.

I go online to check out what’s on the menu and after reading it twice, I’m still a little confused. So I  thought the best thing to do is to read Terry Durack, chief reviewer of The Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Food Guide to see what he has to say about this restaurant.

“See, I’m not alone, even Terry Durack says the menu is confusing!!” I declare.

“The menu is supposed to give diners some flexibility in ordering different size and portions so they can either eat a main on their own or share like in Asian style dining”, Mysaucepan explains.

“Oh well, maybe I’ll just set my expectations for this dinner to around medium since it’s a newish joint?” I say, still trying to gauge the concept of this restaurant.

“If it’s any comfort, the chef is the Irish guy who started Four in Hand in Paddo to rave reviews” she tells me.

“What’s four in hand? I thought it’s two in hand better than four in bush?”

“Nevermind, anyway, Peta and Chris have eaten at so many good restaurants and being food and wine connoisseurs, I think we will be in good hands” Mysaucepan adds.

So we head to 4 Fourteen located in the heart of Surry Hills at the corner of Bourke and Fitzroy street with fellow food lovers Peta and Chris. It is the latest venture of Irish-born chef Colin Fassnidge, who started Four in Hand in Paddington.

Kitchen in full throttle

Kitchen in full throttle

Upon arrival at 8.45pm on a Saturday night (bookings are split into 2 sessions – 6pm and 8.30pm), the restaurant appears to be at its busiest.

The space is huge and the open concept kitchen provides some theatrics for diners and those sitting around for a drink waiting to dine.

Mac Forbes Arneis $68

Mac Forbes Arneis $68

Chris orders a Mac Forbes Arneis from the Coldstream region of Yarra Valley in Victoria. Citrusy with grapefruit flavours, this is a nice drop because this dry style can be drunk on its own or with food.

Asahi $9

Japanese Asahi beer $9

Dining room and bar, 4 Fourteen, Surry Hills

Dining room and bar, 4 Fourteen, Surry Hills

Being a Saturday night, there are diners happy to sit at the bar for a drink or dine around the huge dining area.

Clyde River oysters $4 each

Freshly shucked Clair De Lune oysters from Clyde River $4 each

Half a dozen Clyde River oysters from Bateman’s Bay  in New South Wales’ south coast arrive shucked with their top shells, resting on a bed of pebbles.

Clyde River oyster

Clyde River oyster

“What’s the point of this?” Chris declares as he lifts the top shell of an oyster only to be disappointed with the absence of the brine of salty sea water underneath.

Fresh oysters on display in fish markets around Sydney are rinsed in running water as they are shucked. So I agree with Chris because I am also expecting a lot more briny sea water since these ones are freshly shucked on premises and arrived with their top shells.

Chargrilled ox tongue and crumbed bone marrow

Chargrilled ox tongue and crumbed bone marrow $16

The chargrilled ox tongue and crumbed bone marrow is the dish that many have been raving about.

Small golden brown balls of crumbed bone marrow, water cress and radish sit on top of a strip of ox tongue with chargrilled marks.

I put one of these golden brown balls into my mouth. The first bite releases that flavoursome stream of liquid bone marrow that coats the crispy crumbs as I chew. This is definitely another eye-closing moment that would rival the one that comes with melting and tender pork belly.

The thin strip of ox tongue is soft and stringy in texture similar to brisket and the smoky charred aromas tell me that I may not even be eating offal.

As I pop another delicious crumbed marrow ball into my mouth, I couldn’t help but ask, “Who the hell is Colin Fassnidge?”

“That’s why we are here tonight”, Mysaucepan says happily, seeing this dish is receiving the seal of approval from everyone.

For $16, this entree is a rather unforgettable experience and it’s one of the entrees of the year, for me anyway. Thank goodness we have ordered two portions of this entree to share among the four of us too.

John Duval Plexus Shiraz $82

John Duval Wines Plexus Shiraz $82

“Shall we try the Plexus Shiraz, after all it’s John Duval who made this wine?” Chris asks as he reads from the wine list.

The ex-chief winemaker of legendary Penfolds wines, John Duval, has created some of Australia’s most respected wines over the 29 years that he has been with Penfolds.

“You’re the connoisseur Chris, so we’ll go with what you choose” I say.

This wine is fragrant with spicy aromas while the palate is restrained with a mix of dark berries and oaky undertones.

Beef brisket, fried bread and pickles $30

Beef brisket, fried bread and pickles $30

Before I got here, I read about Chef Fassnidge’s beef brisket, fried bread and pickles online and again, there were rave reviews.

A slab of slow-cooked brisket in its dark stewing sauce is topped with pickled baby carrots, cauliflower, radish and water cress. Presumably the fried bread is there to add a little crunch to the tender meat.

 Peas and greens $10, Colcannon $10

A side of peas and greens come with strips of cabbage and the Irish colcannon is a beautiful choice. Creamy mashed potato is folded with some mint and cabbage.

My plate - brisket, peas and mash

My plate - brisket, peas and mash

The brisket is tender and strands of meat fall apart from a gentle yield of the knife. I dislike the flavour of licorice and the initial thought of one of my favourite cuts of meat being slow-cooked for hours in licorice was one of skepticism. However, flavours are restrained, yet beautiful. Paired with the peas and colcannon, I felt like I’m in a cosy Irish pub.

“Look, I’ve got my meat and 2 veges in Surry Hills!” I wink at Mysaucepan.

This combination on my plate exceeds expectations. Thankfully we have ordered two portions of this brisket to share.

Roast Pork with apple colcannon and pickled cabbage $48

Roast Pork with apple colcannon and pickled cabbage $48

I happily tuck into my beef brisket momentarily ignoring the roast pork with apple colcannon and picked cabbage while other are tucking into it. I would have been happy with just the brisket and those delicious sides for the rest of the meal.

Roast Pork with apple colcannon and pickled cabbage $48

Roast Pork with apple colcannon and pickled cabbage $48

Chunks of roast pork rump, crackling and whole apple colcannon arrive in a big cast iron pot.

“What with this big cast iron pot?” someone says.

“Terry Durack was right”, I say.

It’s roast pork after all and I think it would have been more impressive if the slow-cooked beef brisket arrived in this pot instead.

As it turns out, the pork is dry and tough will very little roasting jus, if any at all.

“It’s not quite right if I have to really chew on this pork, is it?” I ask.

We all agree this dish is rather disappointing. I would not have minded if we had another serve each of the ox tongue and beef brisket for the same price of this roast pork. Then again, non of us are psychics.

Dining room, 4 Fourteen, Surry Hills

Dining room, 4 Fourteen, Surry Hills

Noise level tonight is loud as in we-are-straining-to-hear-one-another-even-from-across-the-table kind of loud.

Chocolate brownie malt ice-cream and custard $16

Chocolate brownie malt ice-cream and custard $16

The chocolate brownie with malt ice-cream and custard is a delightful combination of elegant sweetness and crunchy texture. The custard tasted more “healthy” than sweet to me.

Bounty $16

Bounty $16

The bounty is a play on the famous chocolate bar with coconut filling. Roasted coconut flakes and chocolate powder are sprinkled onto chocolate coated ice cream and white chocolate.

Pear tarte tatin Jersey milk ice-cream $16

Pear tarte tatin Jersey milk ice-cream $16

If I came back to 4 Fourteen, I know I would order the ox tongue for entree and the beef brisket for mains and perhaps with a side of either the greens or colcannon, or both.

Now who says you can’t get a traditional meat and 2 veges meal in the heart of Surry Hills?

So dear readers, there are so many trendy restaurants in Surry Hills, do you have a favourite restaurant to share with us?

4 Fourteen
414 Bourke street
Surry Hill, New South Wales
Tel: +61 2 9331 5399

Business hours:

Tuesday – Saturday: Lunch from 12noon, dinner from 6pm
Sunday: Lunch 12noon till 6pm

4Fourteen on Urbanspoon

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19 Responses to 4Fourteen, Surry Hills

  1. So many amazing places to visit in Surry Hills – its so difficult to choose which ones to visit! I love the sharing style they do at this restaurant – its rare to find but reminds me of having dinners at home family style, very unique and cool!

  2. I didn’t find the menu confusing so I am not sure perhaps brains work in different ways hehe 😉 We really enjoyed our dishes although we ordered completely different things from you.

  3. Those bone marrow balls sound delightful! Shame about the rest of the meal though, at least you had good company!

  4. Winston says:

    Haha… I love reading about your dinners together with MSP. Can tell how much you both enjoy each other’s company. Even better when it’s over good food like this. I too like my meat simple. Nothing too fancy. Guess you can’t really find that in trendy eateries but hey, I guess that’s what the awesome gastropubs are for, aren’t they?! Really is one of my favourite type of restaurants to go too. Easy, relaxed, delicious and over beer.

    Anyway, the ox tongue dish sounds flippin AWESOME. And omg at the sound of the crumbed bone marrow. You really described the dish really well. As for me, since I’m only a visitor of Sydney I’ve only been to Marque for their degustation last year (my first one ever!). It was a great experience and I must say I truly truly appreciated it. Hope I’m lucky enough to come back to Surry Hills again to try the other establishments

  5. The bone marrow dish looks very interesting, and the way you described it makes me want to try it. And are you serious that a bottle of Asahi is $9? That is very pricey!

    • Chopinand says:

      Dear Sharon,

      Those crumbed bone marrow balls are really a clever idea and very tasty. Unfortunately, imported Japanese beers at restaurants are indeed relatively expensive compared to local beers.

  6. irene says:

    I don’t usually like bone marrow, but after reading ur review on the bone marrow dish, I may have to try!

  7. holy cow that beef brisket is calling my name. No, it’s screaming it. Everything looks good but that beef looks to die for good.

  8. I don’t think I’ve ever been to Surry Hills, there’s so much good food there I really should have visited during my recent Sydney trip! Love the looks of all that food. 😀

  9. I love being able to share dishes with ease. For me it is the perfect way to eat, tastes of various things. Have not yet tried 4 Fourteen, but have a love for Four in hand.

  10. Celia says:

    We had a girls lunch there a little while ago – food was delicious! Great review, thank you!

  11. I am clearly not an adventurous eater — bone marrow drives me bonkers!

  12. Hotly Spiced says:

    I’ve been here too but for lunch not dinner so the noise level was under control. I did find the menu confusing. I had to read over it several times to try and work it out and I found there were so many things on the menu that restaurants buy because they’re cheap and they can make more profit, like putting pigs ears on the menu instead of eye fillet. xx

  13. Charles says:

    Wow, I see what you mean about that beef brisket – it looks SO tender. Making my mouth water a little just to look at it and I only got up an hour ago! 😀

  14. I hear Surry Hills a lot from bloggers there and looks like that’s where I can find all good food! Wow, you took such great photos in this darkness! The beef brisket looks really amazing here.

  15. Sissi says:

    It looks like a dream restaurant. As someone who is not crazy for beef I must say this brisket looks extraordinary enough to make me crave it.

  16. mr. C says:

    I remember the colcannon I had at Four in Hand 2 years back was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever eaten. I had a lovely dinner there so no complaints on my part but I absolutely agree that sometime a restaurant’s attitude can just sour your experience. It’s just sad some places expect an almost glowing perfect review but we always have to try to keep our blog’s integrity in check especially when I believed you were quite fair in this post.

  17. wedding says:

    I like to read chopinandmysaucepan.com often, keep doing fine work ! :)

  18. I could be tempted to try the bone marrow now even though I’m not a huge fan of it to start with. Seems like a pretty fair review of your visit and mostly positive it seems so not sure why Colin would be making such a fuss about it all to be honest.

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