It’s all about the diffusion restaurant in Sydney right now. Casual offshoots and upmarket spin-offs are popping up all across town in a move by chefs and owners to extend their offering. And the Hill Eatery is just that: a little more fancy, a little more upmarket and a little more sophisticated than breakfast hotspot Porch and Parlour, the other Bondi venture by Sarah Hendricks, Michael Benson and Sam Smith.
An entree of plump grilled sardines served with pierced cherry tomatoes and garlic-rubbed sourdough is simple and well executed. The mixed seafood pie is outstanding, care of some superbly made pastry (although unlike the name suggests it is much more a seafood tart than a pie). And the slow-braised organic beef, potato, broccoli, pea and mint mash as a main is rich, tender and delicious. It’s only let down by the waitress failing to warn us that the pot it comes in is sizzling hot – same story with the paella. Sure, it seems obvious, but a simple “watch out” could have saved our fingers. Twice.
That paella is a decent enough rendition of this difficult-to-get-right Spanish dish. It’s slightly gluggy, true, but it has the essential caramelized, golden crust and chunks of fish, fat prawns and calamari. If you’re only after a snack head to the bar for the spiced beef koftas or the jamón-wrapped mushrooms with lemon and sage. Match it all with a Sarah’s Favourite – a cocktail of gin, quandong and gentian bitters, grapefruit and agave syrup, or a glass of wine from the Australian-only wine list. Or maybe just go straight for the raw chocolate pot for dessert.
It’s early days for this Eastern Suburbs restaurant. Once the teething issues are sorted – the service is a little scattered, they could do with some soft furnishings to cut down the noise levels – the Hill Eatery will be a great place to visit.