478 Bourke St
Surry Hills, NSW 2010
I’m always down for a good nostalgia trip; nothing beats the warm fuzzies of a time that’s free from rent and dishes and existential dread (actually I’ve been one for existential dread since about age 3, but maybe you were less angsty as a child). Jane capitalises hugely on the myth of a better time gone by, except they’ve done one better, and somehow made brown corduroy and synth pop cool again. Yet what’s most remarkable about both the food and the experience is that, despite a hefty dose of nostalgia to the point of dagginess, the entire experience feels fresh and fashionable. Would highly recommend, even if your nostalgia comes with a side of childhood existential dread.
Rating: 16/20 – nostalgia is not the most toxic impulse.
To-order: gougere, but also kind of everything.
Bread is always good, but wait until you try the sweet, buttery, fluffy Arthur’s Dinner Rolls ($4ea). Tangy kefir butter included for slathering generously.
Kangaroo Mortadella Gougere ($6ea) may sound fancy – and you should absolutely say goo-jere in a snooty French accent – but for those of you who grew up on Baker’s Delight cheese and bacon rolls, these will taste delightfully familiar. Our waitron volunteered that these taste like ham and cheese croissants, but clearly he’s just more boujee than I am.
Slightly less self-indulgently nostalgic is the Spanner Crab, Panisse, Corn, Finger Lime ($12ea), which consists of a delicate seafood salad on a buttery chickpea sable. But don’t worry – the addition of sweet corn kernels and mayo more than meets the retro quota.
Now: the Lamb Dumplings, Saltbush, Chilli, Yoghurt ($26) is multicultural cooking at its best. On first appearance, these seem to most resemble wontons, but the addition of yoghurt takes it on a sharp swerve into Middle-Eastern territory, before the filling of onion-flecked lamb lands it directly into the realm of classic Aussie flavours. It seems like way too much, except all the elements come together so effortlessly that you can almost believe this is what dumplings were meant to be all along.
On the lighter side is a delicious little Witlof, Fennel, Summer Squash ($24) salad, full of zesty pickled flavours, rounded out by a rich base of almond cream.
Ah steak. Is there anything better? And this Ranger’s Valley 7+ Flat Iron Steak ($60) is among the best, its charred, umami-heavy crust enhanced with a koji flavour bomb. And the middling-ish marble score means an indulgent fattiness, without losing the satisfying meatiness of a good steak.
Even if you’re stuffed and saving room for dessert, the Potato Whey, Cured Yolk ($16) is a must must order. With delicate layers, a fluffy centre, and golden edges, this is like having your potatoes gratined, roasted, and hash-browned all at once. Whoever said you can’t have it all clearly has not tried this.
But seriously, do save room for the delectably-named Jane’s Pink Cake ($18) – a confection of vanilla sponge layered with macerated berries, lashings of cream, and crumbled meringue. It’s the tacky 4th birthday cake reinvented for the Instagram age, with a flavour upgrade to match.
And nothing’s better on a hot day than an old-fashioned House Lemonade ($7), with just the right amount of astringency, and plenty of ice.