Meeting up with some friends from our early days in Dubai, I was more than happy to a) see them again and b) have someone else choose the restaurant. With nearly 20 days of meals to choose in our tour across Australia, I was running out of steam once we returned to Sydney (which could also be related to the un-fun vacation cold I managed to pick up in Port Douglas). Therefore, when someone else told me when and where to show up, I was over the moon. Throw in a fun cocktail menu, a dynamic interior, and some excellent food and Riley Street Garage was the location for a perfect Friday evening.
We decided to first have a drink in the lounge area (beers for the lads, but I was happy with Thai-Curious, AUD$20). Finishing our drinks, it was time to move over to our table. In case you were wondering, yes, the location used to be a ‘drive yourself depot’ (circa 1934). Now, it’s an open plan restaurant with a large bar, beautiful hardwood flooring, and high ceilings. Making our way through the crowded venue, I was reminded of Butcher & Still. Once seated, I’ll admit, the menu (intended for sharing) was a bit intimidating (or maybe we were just feeling particularly lazy). Thus, in addition to the ala carte menu, with five different options of a sharing/tasting menu — including a vegan one (honestly, more places should do offer this style), we decided to go for it and order the AUD$100 per person ‘Banquet.’
The food was delivered in waves, starting with a big win for the table — the delivery of a variety of oysters and ended on a high note with an 800 gram (!) dry-aged Riverine ribeye (complete with truffle mash and other sides). Each dish (and there were plenty) was portioned perfectly (especially given the number of courses). Honestly, it was the best decision for a ‘we want to try stuff but have no idea how much to order or what tastes good’ kind of mood. Click here for the full list, if you’re interested. I’m really not even sure I could choose a favorite, and would happily order each plate again.
I was further impressed with the creative ways the restaurant paid homage to its former life. The menu is deemed a ‘service manual,’ with servers referred to as ‘mechanics.’ The website and even font selection ties heavily into an art deco style (which feels appropriate). In addition to the bustling upstairs, the downstairs (very much in the style of a speakeasy) can be booked for a private function or event.
I don’t have any specific notes for improvement, except to maybe slow the service down a touch (we started a bit late, so I can understand why the kitchen was ‘motivated’ to move us along through the menu).
Would I go back? You bet! This venue, tucked away on a small side street, has ambiance in spades and delivers a variety of excellent food. No, this is not fine dining, but it is a very decent meal at what feels like the exact right price point. Reservations are most likely needed.