Where: Mr Tipply’s, 347 Kent St, Sydney. Vibe? 1940’s night club. Taste: Delicious. Written by Steph Nash and Sabrina Muysken.
Anthony Minghella’s 1999 film, The Talented Mr Ripley (1999), is a twisted story of love, lies, obsession and murder. The best part? The jaw-dropping beauty of the star-studded cast, featuring the baby-faces of Matt Damon, Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow.
Much like the film, Kent Street’s Mr Tipply’s is a beautiful mystery. Is it a bar? Is it a pub? Is it a restaurant?
Well, as the Spanish would say: porque no los dos?!
Walking in to the newly-renovated upstairs restaurant and bar is like walking in to a sultry nightclub from the 1940’s. The atmosphere is elegant, chic and soothing, with lighting more practical than most Sydney bars. A pianist welcomed us in with a tribute to Elton John, giving the vintage vibe a humble modern touch.
The seating arrangements are classically demure, as we take to a corner booth and find crystal glassware atop a mirrored table. Amongst the music and decor, one can’t help but feel fervently glamorous. If you’re looking to take a loved one on an intimate date, this is definitely a swoonable option.
What is most interesting about Mr. Tipply’s is the array of choices and prices on the menu. It is vastly unusual for a menu so gourmet, settled in an atmosphere so elegant, placed in a location so attractive, to be so affordable. For a standard cocktail at a surrounding venue, you’re probably looking at an average price of $20. At Mr Tipply’s, the average price is an acceptable $15, so you won’t have to skimp on the booze to be able to afford a main meal.
For the mains, the average meal price is around $25 – which is suprisingly cheap considering the location. Describing the cuisine at Mr Tipply’s is a relatively hard task. Hearty, and yet affordable, one is tempted to pass off the venue as a pub. But with such mouth-watering gourmet dishes as seared scallops, Atlantic salmon, and snapper fillet, you couldn’t do the chefs the injustice. At best, it is modern-Australian combined with Asian-fusion, and affordable enough to warrant the foodie term “gastro-pub”.
Despite Sydney’s latest health trend, being a vegetarian still poses a culinary challenge. Unless you’re dining at an exclusively vegetarian or vegan restaurant (um, yum!) you’ll be hard-pressed to find more than one edible dish on offer. Vegetarians of Sydney rejoice! Mr. Tipply’s dinner menu has not one, but three main course options.
To awaken our taste buds, we ordered the Edamame as a starter. With a salted casing protecting the warm beans inside, this healthy favourite didn’t disappoint.
For mains, we were lucky enough to sample a variety of items on the menu, starting first with the Snapper Fillet. The snapper was cooked to perfection – crispy and salty on the outside, lush and tender on the inside. The fish fibres were melt-in-your-mouth satisfying, and were coupled divinely with a spicy bed of chickpeas and gremolata. The gremolata was rich and tomatoey, with just the right amount of spice.
On the vegetarian side of things, we had the Spiced Pumpkin & Beetroot Salad along with the Vegetarian Halloumi Cheese Burger – how gluttonous! As self-proclaimed spice enthusiasts, a salad of such description should prove to be a salivating success. Unfortunately, the name was somewhat misleading. Albeit the pumpkin was cooked to near perfection and nicely complimented by beetroot, lentils, onion and a sunflower seed mix – but spicy it was not. With light and fruity raspberry vinaigrette the meal held a mild flavour, but lacked that extra-spicy kick to really wow the taste buds.
With a refreshing burst of cucumber and capsicum to neatly counteract the Halloumi zest, the Vegetarian Halloumi Cheese Burger ticks all the vegetarian boxes. Leaving you satisfyingly full yet not overcome with that sickly feeling burgers all too often leave in their wake, this is one for your must-try list. And to wash it all down? A delectable non-alcoholic mocktail full of lychee, mint, lime and a hint of blueberry – the perfect dinner companion.
Skipping suddenly to the more carnivorous side of the menu, we had Mr Tipply’s pièce de résistance – the 500gm T-Bone Steak. Those of you lusting after the perfect steak need not look any further. When slicing through the steak, the knife slid straight through the tender meat. Lightly pink on the inside and deliciously charred on the outside, the most expenisve item on the menu is definitely worth its price tag. If you were to order the same thing from Neil Perry’s Rockpool Bar and Grill, it would easily cost you an arm and a leg (roughly, an extra $15).
Lastly, we had the Mongolian Lamb Cutlets with Steamed Greens. Perhaps we should’ve eaten these first… After the T-Bone, there was just no comparison. We had unfortunately peaked too early. The cutlets were missing that succulent juiciness that the steak had pleasantly provided. The steamed green vegetables were fragrant and delicious – but as a whole, the dish could not compare to its more successful sibling. We finished the night with a delightfully refreshing Pimms No 1, which was colourfully decorated with strawberries, organges, cucumber and mint.
So, what did we conclude from the glamorously mysterious Mr Tipply’s? We decided that gastropubs were no longer a thing of the future – the time is now people! If you want hearty pub food on a modest budget, you’ve got it. If it’s elegance and romance that you want – hey, why not have that too. It’s the best of both worlds: relaxed, delicious and good on any occasion.
Cheers to Mr Tipply’s – thank you for showing us the future of the gastropub. See the Mr Tipply’s website for more details.