Ester | Mat Lindsay | Chippendale | Sydney Restaurants, Wine, Travel, Opinions

Ester HeartHeartHeart
Restaurants and bars
Open: Drinks and dinner Tue - Sat
Price: Moderate

Reviewed By

Sue Dyson and Roger McShane
Phone Number: +61 2 8068 8279
Address: 46-52 Meagher Street
Chippendale, New South Wales
Country: Australia

Ester in the inner Sydney suburb of Chippendale is the perfect package. Beautifully cooked food, attentive service, interesting wines and a pleasant, understated space combine to make dining here a very enjoyable experience.
The chef is Mat Lindsay whose cooking we first experienced (and thoroughly enjoyed) at 121 BC. At Ester he has installed a wood-fired oven and makes his own smallgoods and charcuterie. The food is produce driven and cooked with considerable skill.
Dishes we enjoyed on our first visit included a delicate dish of carrots with sesame and parmesan, a stunning steamed bread sandwich filled with a small blood sausage. A stunning dish combined pig’s tail with delicately smoked oyster and compressed cucumber to provide beautifully integrated flavours and textures.
Since then we have been attracted back for the fermented potato bread with salmon roe and dashi jelly, the blood sausage sanga which we order on every visit, the cheddar pie, the raw kingfish with koshu and nori or the amazing deep sea jumbo scampi from Western Australia.
The wine list prepared by sommelier Julien Dromgool is a romp through Australia and Europe highlighting many lesser known winemakers such as talented Basket Ranges producers Gareth Belton from Gentle Folk and Tim and Monique from Manon Farm or the orange Momento Mori from the Yarra Valley along with other better known wines such as the Cantino Giardino wines from Campania or the Jean Foillard Morgon from Beaujolais.
We go back here again and again because it is one of our favourite restaurants in the world. It ranks alongside Relae in Copenhagen, Hearth in New York, Zuni Café in San Francisco, Asador Etxebarri in Spain, Lyle's in London, Yardbird in Hong Kong, Bunan in Tokyo and La Merenda and Le Canon in Nice. It also reminds us of the restaurant in Washington that we used to love called Rupperts.
It is difficult to put in words why we are attracted to return again and again to some restaurants and not others, even though they are rated highly.
When we land in San Francisco we immediately think of the whole roast chicken at Zuni Café and it doesn't matter how sternly we talk to ourselves about how we should try somewhere new, we inevitably end up in this venerable Market Street venue. Or if we are driving through Provence we are drawn towards Nice for the produce-driven food at Le Canon and the authentic local food at the tiny, no-phone La Merenda.
It must be the combination of excellent food, comforting surroundings and caring service that attracts us, but more than anything the food must be "real". And may be that is one of the reasons why we have turned the pages of the Michelin Guides less and less over the years and instead turned for advice to bloggers who we trust or guides such as Le Fooding who tend to shy away from the very upmarket restaurants and instead look for places where the food and the wine offerings are more in tune with the concept of real food and real wine.
Ester is such a place!

Disclaimer: Through an associated business, we import natural wines to Australia and are now supplying this establishment with some lines.

A description of the wines we are importing can be found here:

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