Sixpenny Review Stanmore Review 2022

83 Percival Road
New South Wales

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Opening hours Lunch Sat-Sun; dinner Wed-Sat
Functions Licensed, Accepts Bookings, Romance First Date, Bar, Vegetarian Friendly, Tasting, Gluten Free Options
Prices Expensive (mains voltage over $40)
chef Daniel Puskas
chairs 40
Payments eftpos, AMEX, Cash, Visa, Mastercard
Phone 02 9572 6666

I know it’s only the first week of July, but come on, I’m calling it early: Sixpenny’s new pie is the snack of the year. And by ‘snack’ I mean what chefs used to call an ‘amuse-bouche’ and by ‘pie’ I mean a crispy puff pastry laced with kombu and covered in black truffle emulsion.

The roasted Jerusalem artichoke, tender and nutty, sits in the center, enhanced with a miso paste made from the tuber’s own lumpy skin. A little shake of malt powder adds toastiere notes. The complimentary appetizer represents everything Sixpenny is all about in 2022 – refined comfort and flavor built on fermentation.

Food rich in style and substance has long been a trademark of the restaurant, where local couples have celebrated birthdays and why not for over a decade. An incongruous Stanmore address is a big part of its charm. What’s that behind the see-through curtains of an old brick corner site? It’s one of Australia’s most relaxing ways to spend three hours, and it’s a reminder of how fine dining should be. Ointment for the soul for $215 per head.

Sixpenny's dining room features a central wooden waiter's post.

Sixpenny’s dining room features a central wooden waiter’s post. Photo: Edwina Pickles

The main dining room is all quiet grace and radiant wood, a place of artisan ceramics, fine glassware and botanical illustrations, which also appear on your home copy of the seven-course menu.

From a central wooden waiter’s station, sommelier Tommy Pajak opens the bland, cheap Jura savagnin and Andrew Thomas Wines pours 2021 Six Degrees Semillon by the glass ($17). Restaurant manager George Papaioannou recalls that the last time my partner and I ordered champagne from Pajak, we toasted our anniversary.

This time we’re here because I crave foods that koji turns into something delicious — the fungus-inoculated grains that give us soy sauce, sake, mirin, and other magical ways to flavor a dish.

Murray Cod with macadamia and mustard greens.

Murray Cod with macadamia and mustard greens. Photo: Edwina Pickles

Chef Tony Schifilliti (formerly of Barangaroo’s Cirrus) joined the Sixpenny team in November and the man is obsessed with kojis. A new wall of fermented elements near the kitchen houses several dozen jars labeled “barramundi paste”, “doubanjiang” (spicy fava beans and soybeans) and “black garlic miso”.

The latter adds a slightly sour undercurrent to fresh (fresh!) borlotti beans, lightly braised and mixed with lots of dill. A perfect sashimi-quality paradise shrimp sits atop and topped with tiny curls of bottarga made by leaving rice koji and salmon roe to get to know each other intimately for eight months. Smart. Pre workout. endearing. Pleasure.

Sixpenny owner-chef Daniel Puskas, who co-founded the restaurant when he was 30, is still a big part of daily service, but it’s largely Schifilliti’s menu. Puskas mentors, guides, tastes dishes and coaches staff – a bit like a less intimidating Marco Pierre White when the screaming British chef shows up Chef

Snapper with cucumber and citrus pepper.

Snapper with cucumber and citrus pepper. Photo: Edwina Pickles

This measured approach creates truly beautiful moments. Baked Murray cod has rarely been creamier in flesh and crispier in skin; it’s armed with macadamia puree and a midnight black sauce of ink and cephalopod remnants. The ink is naturally fermented, as is the accompanying mountain of grilled mustard vegetables, dressed in a sour paste made from shredded herbs. The “better” cuts of the squid are drizzled with a frothy koji butter and sit nicely on fried slices of broccolini stalks fragrant with green garlic oil.

Toasted wagyu rump hat appears for the last savory course, sticky with marsala and mustard gravy. A nice piece of steak, but it lacks the long, delicate flavors of previous dishes. Maybe I’ve gotten too used to ferments at this point.

However, Mead vinegar custard has been a feature for several years now and may take its place on Mount Rushmore or Sydney desserts alongside Quay’s snow egg. Raspberries are frozen and broken into individual drupelets to pop like sunshine against the spiked custard and a strawberry consomme in winter. There is no better balance of sweetness, temperature and texture in the city.

Mead vinegar custard with frozen raspberries and strawberry consomme.

Mead vinegar custard with frozen raspberries and strawberry consomme. Photo: Edwina Pickles

Sixpenny is fully booked three months in advance, so if you don’t have a reservation yet, that Jerusalem artichoke and truffle pie might be gone by the time spring kicks in. However, there is always the next winter.

With Schifilliti in charge of the pans and pots, and Puskas coaching the next generation of talent, I feel like Stanmore’s little fine-dinner-that-could have just begun. On to another decade of seriously smart cooking, rooted in Australian tradition and age-old techniques.

Appearance: Groundbreaking, Sophisticated, Durable Comfort

Appetizer dish: Murray cod with macadamia and mustard greens (as part of a seven-course tasting menu, right)

Drinks: Extensive selection of rare and pleasing wines, plus a few old Australian favourites

Cost: Tasting menu $215 per person

This review was originally published in Good weekend magazine

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