Everything old is new again on this historic terrace in Paddington, writes Karlie Verkerk.
January 18, 2022 03:53
Four perfectly even little balls float on a dark viscous caramel. Chopped raisins and a quenelle of malted whipped cream, which begins to cascade from the residual heat, decorate the top. while the sweet scent of golden syrup and rum perfumes the air. The dessert is a riff on a legendary CWA recipe, and if there’s one dish that characterizes Ursula, it’s this one: an old classic revisited.
The modern-classic theme is one that runs deep in Paddington’s new neighborhood restaurant and the first independent venture of Phil Wood, former culinary director of Pt. Leo Estate on the Mornington Peninsula, and his wife, Lis Davies. It materializes in the dramatic transformation of the Corner Terrace – a historic building that has housed a sprinkling of local businesses since the early 1930s, including a pub and grocery store, plus some beloved restaurants: more recently , fine- dinner Guillaume Brahini. And although the facade facing picturesque Hargrave Street remains relatively unchanged, the heart of the restaurant is entirely new.
Crisp white tablecloths and black bentwood chairs are silent passers-by in rooms awash in vivid earth tones, azure and periwinkle – this is the visual umami and creative vision of Melbourne-based designer Brahman Perera. Sculptural wall sconces, colorful glassware, and illustrated menus are the icing on the cake.
Refreshed classics are also on the menu, which lists woody versions of traditional dishes, such as seafood crudo, roast chicken and peach melba. When executed with care and precision, the classics are sure to attract diners. But it’s the unexpected flourishes that will keep them coming back. take the carpaccio for example, which sees strips of beef dressed in a roasted tomato sauce topped with lemongrass, galangal and makrut lime. Surprisingly, it’s a dusting of parmesan cheese that ties it all together in a fragrant Italo-Thai alchemy.
The same can be said for a plump pork chop. Seared until just pink, the tender, meaty slices are drizzled with a sweet and spicy gochujang-based sauce, then topped with a mix of greens, including spring onion and pear diced nashi. Reminiscent of the siu tank, it looks both playful and familiar.
An equally enticing wine list is an ode to revered Australian producers. Hatched by master sommelier Sebastian Crowther, it includes a few pleasant drops to the glass, where a Clonakilla shiraz fluidly follows a Patrick Sullivan Baw Baw Shire chardonnay. Again, there is a juicy Gamay that has been chilled to perfection.
Competent and efficient service only adds to the restaurant’s overall sense of confidence. It’s like Ursula was always meant to be here.