3 Orwell St
Potts Point, NSW 2011
I treated myself to a fancy staycay a few weeks back, and whilst I was in the area, I decided to check out Chester White Cured Diner. Because what’s a holiday without a good meal?
Chester White has always been on my to-eat list, but it was bumped up a few dozen places after my dinner at Buffalo Dining Club. Not only are they similarly-styled restaurants, they were also formerly owned by the same people. So if Buffalo was amazing, then surely Chester White can only do so wrong.
Located in a converted Victorian building in the back streets of Potts Point, Chester White is everything you’d want in a neighbourhood haunt. Fresh, homely food, a great drink list (or so I’m told), and a cosy atmosphere. The whole experience was capped off by the front of house, which was run by one of the proprietors himself, who treated both newbies and regulars like good friends, calling us by name the entire night.
So what’s the catch? Unfortunately, there is actually one. Chester White is so tiny, yet so popular that at 6pm on a Saturday, we were facing a 1.5 hour wait. But the time passed quickly enough, and by 7:30, we were seated on the charming terrace facing the sidewalk, menus in hand.
Named after a famous breed of pig, it’s unsurprising that Chester White has an impressive selection of cured meats, and I had been frothing over the prospect of their gorgeous charcuterie boards for days. But when push actually came to shove, I found it near-impossible to choose two options from the dozen varieties of prosciutto, salami, and cured beef. Thankfully our waitron, who despite only being on her second shift, was nifty with her suggestions, and pretty soon we had some Culatello ITA and Wild Boar Salami plated up with a couple house cheeses, pickled goodies, and a handful of lavosh crackers ($28). And I’ll be damned if everything on that platter isn’t just perfection. The Culatello prosciutto was velvety soft with a nutty profile, the ribbons melting like butter in the mouth. Meanwhile the wild boar salami was satisfyingly robust, with a subtle sweetness balancing out the meatiness. And despite ‘just’ being house cheeses, both options were as worthy of your time as the meats. The Ubriaco was disc of creamy milk, while on the other end of the spectrum was the sharp and smoky scamorza. Both had also been soaked in prosecco, imparting a mellow ripe fruitiness to the dairy. And even the pickled bits are worth a particular mention; the crispy carrots and meaty olives were all well and good, but it was the fruit that really stole the show. The blood-red plums had the texture of ripe tomato but the complexity of a rich red wine, and the grapes marinated ingeniously with a dash of cinnamon. I haven’t had a charcuterie platter this well done for a long time.
The Octopus ($19) had a lot to live up to, and it did so effortlessly. Simply but perfectly cooked over an open flame, each smoke-charred piece was meltingly tender, yet retained its full-bodied texture. It was served on a classic base of romesco sauce, but given an unexpected twist with hidden slivers of pickled red onion. This is as good as octopus gets.
The Truffled Cacio e Pepe ($26) however is what we’re really here for. Like at Buffalo Dining Club, this one was also tossed in a wheel of parmesan (go to that post for pictures!), albeit a slightly smaller one. The difference here is that the cheesy goodness is augmented with the umami of truffle, and a handful of parsley for freshness. The first bite is almost too much – it is intensely rich and aromatic, almost pungent with the hefty dose of aged cheese and mushrooms. But a more primitive part of my brain took over before long – the part that thrives off carbs and fat and salt – and pretty soon I was shovelling forkful after forkful into my mouth. I honestly don’t know if I liked this better than the one at Buffalo; if only there was some way to do a side-by-side comparison…
My experience at Chester White was basically flawless. It’s hard to imagine anything similar tasting better, and the service was not far off perfection either. The only drawback is the strict no-bookings policy, but it’s clear that not many people are letting this stop them from eating here. Not only am I keen to come back, it’s also made its way onto the elusive list of restaurants that’s spoken of in reverent, longing tones. Queues be damned, this place is worth it.
Rating: 16/20 – prize pig.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.
Since writing this post, I’ve already managed to get back to Chester White, this time with my sister in tow as well. The service was still flawless – they even remembered us from our previous visit – and I can confirm the goodness from last time was absolutely not a fluke. The Meat Empanadas ($18, 2pc) was raved about all ’round, but everything else we ordered (cauliflower, carbonara, nduja gnocchi, more charcuterie) were also fantastic. Needless to say, I am absolutely in love with this place.