Orto Trading Co., Surry Hills

Whole duck for 2 people, glazed in spiced honey with cherries, cashews and cos lettuce $65

Whole duck for 2 people, glazed in spiced honey with cherries, cashews and cos lettuce $65

What is the pulling factor that attracts so many diners to the Sydney’s dining hub of Surry Hills?

Is it because of its hip and trendy bars filled with young trendites in Armani suits and Prada mini skirts? Perhaps it’s the location in the heart of Darlinghurst where the bohemian and eclectic culture have become the definitive Sydney lifestyle. Or maybe it’s really the food dished out by hundreds of cafes and restaurants that diners flock to this place in droves each week.

Tonight, I am cajoled by Mysaucepan and her two girlfriends to join them in an all girls night out. I’m quite keen to be left out of conversations involving hair, manicure and women’s fashion, let alone having to get to a restaurant at 6pm because the establishment only takes reservations for 2 sittings and the 8pm sitting is fully booked.

Nevertheless, we are here and despite another condition of needing to finish our dinner by 8pm for the next sitting, I somehow sense this is going to be a long evening.

Dining at the bar, Orto Trading Co.

Dining at the bar, Orto Trading Co.

Apart from Newtown in Sydney’s inner west, Surry Hills would be another suburb where restaurants can pass off cheap and casual decor as hip and trendy. The ornamental flowers and plants in suspended bottles by the bar are the central focus of what is otherwise a cold concrete space in the quieter part of the suburb.

Scotch egg with house-made pork sausage and pear piccalilli $9

Scotch egg with house-made pork sausage and pear piccalilli $9

A scotch egg is encased in mince pork and deep-fried to a golden brown. Crispy on the outside, the egg is soft and with its slightly runny yolk, I am enjoying this as we quarter the egg to share.

 Cauliflower fritters with spiced tomato sauce $9

Cauliflower fritters with curried pear sauce $9

Cauliflower fritters are one of my favourite snacks. Perhaps deep-fried vegetable is somewhat less decadent than deep-fried chicken but this one has some good herb and spice flavours to accompany the slightly crunchy texture.

Green salad, eggplant and corn puree on sourdough $12

Green salad, eggplant and corn puree on sourdough $12

CW tells us that she has been on a no-meat diet for a few months and intended to stick with this self-imposed hiatus so she orders a green salad with eggplant and corn puree.

Green salad, eggplant and corn puree on sourdough $12

Green salad, eggplant and corn puree on sourdough $12

Simple and fresh, this dish has all the elements of a good healthy starter.

Three onion tarte with olives and goats curd $12

Three onion tarte with olives and goats curd $12

A three onion tarte with olives and goats curd is fresh and the flaky pastry works well with the creamy goats curd.

Spatchcock baked in a salt and hay crust, served with an orange, iceberg and onion  salad $29

Spatchcock baked in a salt and hay crust, served with an orange, iceberg and onion salad $29

I order the spatchcock baked in a salt and hay crust served with an orange, iceberg and onion salad. This dish arrives where the top of the crust is cut out to reveal tender pieces of meat.

Makeshift oven: Salt and hay crust

Makeshift oven: inedible salt and hay crust where the spatchcock was cooked in

I wonder about this inedible big space-ship of a cooking concoction that has left the meat bland at best and grassy with bits of inedible hay around the meat.

The portion of spatchcock is so small that I am left wanting for more. I’m not sure if the small tasteless bits of bird meat are more frustrating than the large inedible contraption that remains on the plate. Whichever it is, this is one main that I would rather forget in a hurry.

Grand Millesime $65

Grand Millesime $65

M orders a bottle of Grand Millesime to celebrate their impending move from city slickers to country folk in Maleny in Queensland. Subtle plummy aromas on the nose, I found the tannin might warrant a few more years in the bottle but nevertheless, still a decent drop.

Whole duck for 2 people, glazed in spiced honey with cherries, cashews and cos lettuce $65

Whole duck for 2 people, glazed in spiced honey with cherries, cashews and cos lettuce $65

Mysaucepan being a duck lover, decides to share the whole duck glazed in spiced honey with cherries, cashews and coz lettuce with M. Wooden boards used as serving plate seems to be the craze in Surry Hills at the moment as I have been to at least 3 restaurants in the area that’s hooked on cramping wooden boards onto small dining tables.

The portion of this duck seems more like half a duck and although I could taste the sticky sweet honey, the duck skin is rubbery whilst large bits of black peppercorn are jarring. The duck itself could have been better executed to render the skin more crispy and yield more flavour from the large chunks of blubbery fat underneath.

Dining at the bar, Orto Trading Co.

Dining at the bar, Orto Trading Co.

The dining room fills up with diners as we head towards our deadline of 8pm.

Corn on the cob

Corn on the cob

We order some battered zucchini flowers and corn on the cob as side dishes because the portions for our mains are small. The spatchcock and whole duck that were meant for 3 people are still far from satisfying hunger pangs.

Corn kernels

Corn kernels

The corn is a good supplement for our mains but in all honestly, corn on a cob isn’t quite a dish that I would come to a restaurant in Surry Hills for.

What's left of my duck - quite a bit

What's left of my duck - quite a bit

I don’t normally leave duck on my plate, especially roast or baked duck.

But sadly on this occasion, this duck leaves us contemplating if we should head down to Chinatown and have a whole, sure-fire, chinese roast duck for less than $30 since we are still hungry. The starters are quite decent but we feel the mains are disappointing. Service is lukewarm and as we approach 8pm, I feel the pressure to finish our meal and this is not a pleasant feeling whilst in a restaurant.

In any case, we run out of time to order dessert and not having a sweet tooth is redundant since I am happy to leave anyway. Notwithstanding the additional 10% service charge for groups of eight people, I wonder if I would be back in a hurry even if it’s just the two of us.

So dear readers, do you have a favourite restaurant in Sydney’s Surry Hills?

Related posts by ChopinandMysaucepan

Orto Trading Co.
38 Waterloo street, Surry Hills
Tel: + 61 431 212453

Orto Trading Co on Urbanspoon

Business Hours:
Dinner: Tuesdays – Saturday from 6pm
Brunch & Casual Lunch: Thursday – Sunday 8am – 3pm
Reservations taken for dinner in two sittings, 6pm or 8pm and for brunch/lunch for groups of 8 or more.

Groups of 8 or more people attract a 10% service charge.

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17 Responses to Orto Trading Co., Surry Hills

  1. Ann says:

    I appreciate the honest review…but I’m sorry the duck and spatchcock wasn’t to your liking (I have to say the vessel it was cooked in was unappetizing). However, the scotch egg looked delicious!

    I don’t know why folks would flock to the restaurant….I’m guessing they’re following a trend that has seen it’s time.

    I hope you are well….

  2. Celia says:

    That’s a shame…the spatchcock certainly looked impressive! And it’s annoying when duck is bad, because like you, I adore it, so it’s a double disappointment when it’s not fantastic! I’ve never been a big Surry Hills diner – I know I sound like an old woman, but I like being able to park easily! :)

  3. Oh dear, it sounds like it was a rushed dinner and ultimately not satisfying. I’ve had dinners with a time limit but the kitchen has really gotten out orders quickly which is great-you don’t want to be worrying whether you have to eat and run.

  4. jaded says:

    Hmm… hmmm… hmm… (Trans. “Orto duck. Must try harder.”)

  5. Winston says:

    Ahhh drats. I typed in a reply but accidentally clicked refresh for some stupid reason. Anyway, what I tried to say was that I really think that the dishes here really suit my palate. I like really hearty, filling and savoury dishes so this is right down my alley. Love that it’s a shared food concept too! I really think my parents would love this. Thank you!

  6. I really enjoy your review. Very honest but still you give good things about the restaurant and let us decide at the end. Sorry about no-so-great restaurant experience, but it happens with some expectation when you hear good things about it sometimes. I love the idea of cauliflower fritters. I should make one. Thanks for the review! I wish I live in the same area – so I rely on your honest review for choosing restaurants. :-)

  7. Seems like a bit of a disappointment which is a shame :(

  8. Carolyn Jung says:

    So disappointing that the entrees weren’t that great, especially because they were presented with such flourish, too. But then again, it IS pretty hard to beat Chinatown duck. 😉

  9. I love how well you review a place…
    Honest and from the heart, just the way it should be…
    Well sorry the experience was not so delicious, it has happened with us also so many times…
    I don’t go any where with huge expectation now…

  10. Sissi says:

    The scotch egg sounds and looks like the only delicious bit here! I must say even though I have already read and heard about it, I hate this “sittings” rule.
    I remember I was surprised the Swiss dine often at 7pm (I was used to 8pm restaurants opening hour), but 6 pm sounds incredible! It’s healthier I suppose. Unless you are still hungry 😉
    I wish you could review restaurants in my city. I wouldn’t need any other guide.

  11. Norma Chang says:

    Love your honest review. Wish there were more reviewers like you.

  12. Don’t have a fav restaurant in Surry Hills, but a lot of them offer great food! This place looks like a good place for nibbles and drinks :)

  13. JasmyneTea says:

    A shame it wasn’t that great :( I don’t have a favourite restaurant, but I love The Absinthe Salon, you’ll have to try it some time!

  14. That’s a shame everything wasn’t quite up to speed. I must admit I really don’t like booking restaurants when I know I have to be out at a certain time.

  15. msihua says:

    I’m going with Bentley! My favourite place in Surry Hills! Yayy! And boo to disappointing duck :(

  16. sophia says:

    Haha, you’re the epitome of a dream husband…accompanying your wife to her girl’s night out! Sometimes you go out and not pay for the food but the ambience and a new neighborhood feeling. Too bad the food wasn’t that great, but now you can cross one restaurant off your list!

  17. Hahaha, so kind you accompanied your wife for a girls’ night out (and do kind they took you 😉 ) – anyway, it looks like you found quite a lot of things to enjoy! 😀

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