If you have not dined at Sydney’s famed Rockpool,
at least you can say you have tasted the food of its ex-head chef. “
~ Chopinand, co-author ChopinandMysaucepan
The slant towards casual dining in Sydney continues at Kitchen by Mike in Rosebery, a suburb 8km south of the city.
Set within the Koskela industrial warehouse, it is a business concept that combines Koskela’s Australian designer furniture and homeware with rustic, Jamie Oliver-style food.
Dining here is a casual affair because you choose and pay for your food from the long kitchen display counter and dine within the canteen-style area with a selection of small tables and long communal benches.
Mysaucepan is excited today because she loves this style of food.
“Do you know who is the Mike behind this Kitchen by Mike?” she asks.
I don’t have a clue so I say “The big and bad heavyweight boxer Mikey Mike Tyson?”
“It’s Michael McEnearney, the former head chef of Rockpool” she says rolling her eyes at me.
The menu at Kitchen by Mike is interesting because it changes daily depending on what Mike finds every morning at the fresh food markets around Sydney.
We take a browse inside the warehouse to have a look at some of the furniture and homewares on display before lunch.
Homewares on display at Koskela’s warehouse
You have the option of either dining indoors or alfresco dining at the verandah and garden outside where it is also pet friendly.
We notice a mix of young urbanites, families with prams and senior citizens today enjoying a range of eclectic food.
You can choose to have breakfast which is served until about noon (what I can remember from the scrawls on the blackboard) or gaze at the array of food on offer at the serving counter.
The queue is quite long on this Saturday brunch hour so we have ample time to decide on what to eat while standing in line.
If you are hungry, which we are, the food on display is a great way to whet the appetite even more. A range of salads are on offer today and chicken and lamb is also on the menu.
A quick look around the tables tell me the slow-roasted lamb is quite popular among the diner today.
The good thing about this casual concept is that you can have a selection of small snacks such as pies and open sandwiches or simply order a few mains to share if you are with a larger group of diners.
Now why didn’t I think of a sweetcorn with parmesan and jalapeno salad whenever I cook with corn at home?
The corn is sweet with a spicy-tangy hit from the jalapeno salad and the shaved parmesan gives the salad a bit more body. This is definitely a dish for our next BBQ at home.
I succumb to the slow-roasted lamb shoulder with Indian spices and polenta seeing that so many people ordered this dish.
I can taste the subtle flavours of cumin and fennel seeds in my lamb which is succulent and falls apart with a gentle yield of the knife. This dish comes with a fair bit of the roasting gravy and the polenta is a good complement.
Mysaucepan chooses the wood-roasted chicken with baba ganoush and spiced cauliflower with a side serve of the fig and lentil salad.
Flavours are enticing but she finds too much happening on her plate through her own doing. Personally, I rarely order roast chicken at a restaurant as I am too fond of my home-roast chicken for my own good.
Mysaucepan‘s lemon yoghurt cake does not seem as decadent as it looks and look was all I did.
Dining on this long communal table does make you feel like you are in a huge canteen or food hall.
Casual as it may be, the food is not cheap although flavours are good and there is no denying the use of fresh quality ingredients and innovative cooking.
If you have not dined at Sydney’s famed Rockpool, at least you can say you have tasted the food of its ex-head chef.
I didn’t order any drinks and our meal cost about $30 per head with just the one coffee. Portion sizes are smallish so I am still a little peckish. If anything, this meal has inspired me to appreciate and think about fresh and simple ingredients in less likely combinations on my next cooking expedition.
So dear readers, do you prefer casual dining or something more formal?
Kitchen by Mike
85 Dunning Avenue
Rosebery, New South Wales
Tel: + 61 2 9045 0910
Business hours: Monday – Saturday 7am – 4pm, Sunday 8am – 4pm