Orto Trading Co. // Sydney, Australia
The beautiful Sydney summer day was turning stormy and dark. Not the ideal setting for open air dining. A quick re-location for a girls dinner brought us to Orto Trading Co, nestled on the quiet side of Surry Hills, just before the crowded Crown Street.
The decor immediately appealed and set the ambiance - fresh, airy and free. High ceilings, polished wooden floors, glass walls that allowed natural light to stream in and a bar that was an eye catching centre piece. Real lilies hang from the ceiling in glass jars along with empty bottles and bare light bulbs.
// Bar at Orto //
The waiter suggested we start with steamed snow peas with chilli spices. The starter was edamame style - although we weren’t quite sure whether to eat the whole piece of just pop out the peas. I ate the whole stem. I’m still standing.
// Edamame Style Spicy Peas //
The menu was plump for the mains but skinny in term of sharing plates. Or salads. I like a restaurant that has at least one salad that can be taken as a main but none here.
Blonde Bombshell took a gluten free dish of apple eggplant, Israeli cous cous and spiced vegetables ($26).
// Apple eggplant //
The little package was quite flavoursome. A burst of spices not too hot and with a touch of caramelised sweetness. The sauce was a smokey hummus garnished with roasted cherry tomatoes still on their vine. Gluten free heaven.
Miss T (now Mrs C) and I shared a Skate wing. The waiter was pushing it so much we finally oblige, given we always love to try the weird and wonderful. Only hope was that we didn’t meet Steve Urwin’s fate….and a now post-dinner thought - is it actually environmentally sound to fish and cook them??
Well the deed was done and admittedly - it was pretty darn good. The flesh was tender and juicy, flaking off the bone with a knife to butter ease. There wasn’t even need for a sauce, there was so much characteristic flavour.
// Skate Wing for Two //
Low in calories with no saturated fat, it was a decent healthy meal. Paired along with a glass of Malbec ($11), divine. On the alcoholic note, the list of cocktails looked inventive and the wine choice was decent, with fine choices of both new and old world wines.
When three women are at a table, dessert has to be in order. The two that stuck out from the choice of three were:
Eton Mess. Vanilla cream (not enough) drizzled with strawberry sauce (deliciously not too sweet), fresh strawberries and crumbled meringue. A few words on the latter from the meringue expert, me.
The dark caramel colour and white, gooey inside immediately identify that the meringues were mistreated in an oven that was just way too hot. Hence they burned on the outside and didn’t cook completely, or ‘dry’ on the inside. Meringues should be crispy with a sweet and airy texture and cooked in a warm oven so that the sugar and egg white fuse to create a shell.
Verdict, quite disappointed at a $16 price tag.
// Eton Mess //
Next up, also at the waiter’s recommendation was an in-house cherry ripe. Coconut chocolate feuille (light with a wonderful coconut taste) stacked to sandwich chocolate ice-cream (in recession) with scattered drunken cherries (quite sober actually). Another meh. This one at $12.
// Cherry Ripe //
Orto Trading Co gets top marks for decor and ambiance. The Skate was case in point that waiter’s recommendations are often the bullseye, the Cherry Ripe counterbalances it. Desserts should be left for the patisserie.
// Interior //
On the issue of fishing skate, in Australia it is monitored. As they are slow in growth and reproduction they are susceptible to over fishing. Skate is still a delicacy in most of the world and not a common item found on the chef’s chopping board.
38 Waterloo St, Surry Hills NSW 2010 Australia
Tel. +61 431 212 453
Breakfast: Tues - Sun 0800-1500
Dinner: Tue - Sun from 1800