Gosh darn it I love getting free snacks from bars and restaurants. Is it really that hard to give patrons a little pre-dinner nibble while they wait, drink in hand? A complimentary roasted nut here and there? A stick of grissini perhaps? Orto Trading Co, from the brains of Redfern's popular Baffi & Mo cafe and currently Surry Hills' newest sprout, understands this yearning. A mini bucket of hot truffled popcorn is placed ever so sweetly in front of us as we wait for our seats at the bar. Huzzah!
The entrées are interesting, and it's nice to see a good spread of vegetarian options available to match the meat-heavy list of hearty mains. The date, pine nut, pumpkin and sage parcels (they looked like ravioli to me) are sweet, buttery and flavoursome, the slippery casings topped with crisp fried sage.
The mains come served on huge wooden serving boards and are absolutely massive, designed to share; each dish showcasing pristine, seasonal produce. The slow roasted pork shoulder is served with crisp Brussels sprouts, carrot purée with hazelnuts and a toffee-dipped pear, each element matched perfectly to the juicy, succulent meat, ribboned with crunchy, salty crackling. We spied a particularly inviting dish of glistening quince-glazed duck with pancetta, radicchio and figs on the next table over. Cue order envy.
The chocolate mousse with salted caramel sauce was unavailable when we went, although the quince and pear crumble topped with ginger ice cream and warm vanilla custard was a ship-shape replacement. The ceilings are high and the windows are large, the space is well-lit with vintage milk bottles strung up over the bar, pots of herbs and gardening paraphernalia are placed around the room and outside, giving the impression you're dining in a particularly well-furnished greenhouse serving a pretty smashing dinner.
Guess what, you can book here too! Finally, a restaurant where you can book.
Orto Trading Co.
38 Waterloo St, Surry Hills
Lunch: Thur-Sat from 12pm, Dinner from Tues-Sat 5pm-10pm