Wilbur’s Place pop up
Oink oink! The Crave Sydney International Food Festival is Australia’s largest food festival, running the length of October this year. One of the events is a pop up restaurant at the Marrickville branch of Bourke Street Bakery. Wilbur’s Place chefs Bennett and Adam Lord take over the space every Sunday evening for the month. My friend Dan and I attended the very first Sunday feast.
The Marrickville branch’s retail space is cosy, with the wooden communal tables encouraging convivial chatter between groups. Instructed that food would be served at 6pm sharp, we arrived 10 minutes earlier and passed through the bakery door only to be told that they weren’t ready yet! Sitting on stools outside, we chatted and shivered in the brisk wind until we were summoned in about 15 minutes later. In the meantime, other guests began to appear; the threat of the early dinner working its magic with a small crowd patiently anticipating dinner in an industrial cul-de-sac. At the risk of sounding extremely aged, I’m sure people managed to be on time more often in the days before mobile phones became mainstream.
A small menu listed the upcoming meal and I could tell it was going to be a great food night, with obligatory fantastic Bourke Street bread included. I had brought along a bottle of pinot noir as it was BYO only (no corkage) which was perfect on a cool night. We started off with freshly baked warm bread with pools of fruity olive oil for dipping.
Then the starters began landing on the table. On a table that seated four comfortably, we asked if the chicken pate, salad and crostini were for the four of us to share but no, it was intended to serve two. Wow at this rate, I wasn’t going to be able to eat the mains. Who am I kidding, of course I’d eat it! Candied preserved cumquats gave a sharp contrast to the rich pate and the pea crostini is a simple snack that I’ll probably make myself sometime. The swordish panzanella salad was ridiculously large and would have been a great main size for one person. It was Dan’s highlight of the night since he has a weakness for swordfish.
Mini brioche buns were provided for the pate and as always, there’s never enough bread. I wish restaurants would halve the servings instead. For that reason alone, I think pate is great entertaining food at home because if it’s my house, there will be enough bread for everyone! Do you feel ever
greedy awkward asking for more bread?
Our table seems to lag behind the others (we seemed to be particularly chatty!) so not long after the starters were whisked away, the mains arrived. Everyone got a slice of tender roasted piglet, pork crackling and lemon and thyme potatoes along with three vegetable sides: wilted kale and chilli, a simple green salad and a lentil salad. The lentil salad had the most flavour as it was loaded with fresh dill which overpowered the legumes. I really like fresh dill so it wasn’t a problem but I think if you weren’t keen on it, it’d ruin the salad for you.
Dessert was a simple vanilla custard tart. You could discern the vanilla seeds pooling at the base of the custard filling. It’s not always the complicated meals which are impressive but rather simple things done well as there’s nowhere to hide. It’s confident to serve the tart completely unadorned without any decorative bits and bobs. After such large earlier courses, I don’t know if we’d have welcomed a molecular monstrosity anyway.
Wilbur’s Place was named after one of the most endearing fictional pigs ever created: Wilbur in E.B White’s book Charlotte’s Web. The brainchild of the same team that brought you Bourke Street Bakery, the restaurant hits a very happy price point of affordability. Fully equipped and happy to do takeaway, it’s the kind of local I’d be haunting if I lived in the Kings Cross/Potts Point area. I’d been meaning to swing by soon so the festival dinner was a lovely taste test.
Just when you think the meal is over and there can’t be any more food, we’re presented with salted caramel chocolates to finish. I can’t remember if we were offered coffee or not but I can’t drink coffee at night anymore as it keeps me up for hours. A Bourke Street loaf is our parting gift from the Wilbur’s Place pop up (Dan kindly let me keep it) and was the cherry on top of a great night out. Methinks I’ll be hanging out at Wilbur’s Place proper soon. He seems to be a cool pig.
36 Llankelly Place, Potts Point
Tue – Sat Lunch 11am – 3pm, Dinner 5pm – 9.30pm | Sat All day breakfast 8am – 3pm | Closed Sun and Mon
Phone: 02 9332 2999
Bourke Street Bakery (Marrickville)
2 Mitchell Place, Marrickville
Mon – Fri 7am – 5pm | Sat & Sun 8am – 5pm
Phone: 02 9569 3225