Sunday, 2 December 2012

Buffalo Dining Club

116 Surrey St, Darlinghurst
Buffalo Dining Club on Urbanspoon

At 18 I set off with a friend to discover all that Europe had to offer. Naïve, adventurous and unfazed by budget hostels or questionable bunk bed hygiene, it was one of the best experiences of my life- I will never be able to look at Europe or traveling with those young, bright eyes again. (cue violin). Already in my mid 20’s, my sense of freedom has become much more restricted, my willingness to go with the flow has been replaced with seriousness and a sense of responsibility. Where once I might have trusted a stranger’s advice, I am more guarded and suspicious. The only thing that still surprises and delights me is food.

Buffalo mozzarella!
And so I find myself outside Buffalo Dining in Darlinghurst- without expectations or fantasies about what I was about to find- I’m here for the mozzarella, buffalo mozzarella that is. You see, my love affair with this particular cheese started on that unforgettable European adventure and I’m keen to relive it.

The first time I sampled Buffalo Mozzarella was in a small Italian town, Agropoli, surrounded by relatives I had never met before, in a place I knew nothing about and not a word of English was spoken. Luckily, eating requires little verbal communication beyond the pleasure filled moans and grunts of satisfaction. I was treated to a banquet of never-ending food- course after course-  pasta, meat, salad, antipasto, bread, nuts, fruit and cake over a 4 hour seating- I was ill prepared for this experience which resulted is such terrible indigestion that I went back to my hotel with a fever and cold sweats- but my god, it was worth it.  The highlight was that beautiful, creamy mozzarella made from buffalo milk.

Mozzarella with carpaccio
Fresh garden salad with walnuts
Now that you have vicariously shared this experience with me, you can understand my excitement when I see ‘that cheese’ on any menu, anywhere. So back to where I am- Buffalo Dining. As I walk in I’m serenaded by the voice of Muddy Waters, some might think this is strange, I think it’s fantastic. No Dean Martin here, they leave the cheesy stuff to the contents on your plate. It is cosy but there’s enough room to have your own space, it is unique without trying to be, unpretentious and most of all- simple (like all Italian cooking should be) The menu is scrawled on the blackboard wall and you really need to read it carefully to get a sense for how it all works. In a nutshell you can order cheese with a choice of a few sides, salads, prosciutto and a few different pastas. Throw in a burger for good measure and a substantive wine list and there you have it. 

Beef carpaccio
The impressive part is in the detail- it is not just any cheese you order, it is premium quality imported Italian cheese- buffalo mozzarella and burrata, it is just so unique and decadent but in a modest way.  The prosciutto isn't your stock standard Parma, they have San Daniele on offer and Iberico Jamon- both are quality. When you order your pasta, the sauce is flavoursome- rich tomato and fresh herbs with a hint of chilli. The ricotta gnocchi melts in your mouth and the salad is simple and refreshing. Oh I forgot to mention the beef carpaccio- delicate and not over-dressed.

Ricotta gnocchi
These guys have nailed it. I notice the detail- from the music, to the lighting, right down to the type of glass that they serve beer in and the dishes that they use. Most importantly, they have really focused on what matters- the ingredients. This place has only been open 9 months, but I have the feeling that it is not going to remain a local secret for too much longer. If you like simple food done right, you are going to be right at home at Buffalo Dining.   

X Alana 

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