Walking into Orto Trading Co, I’m charmed by the quirkiness of the interior decorating and even more so at the sight of a dozen bottled flowers hanging from the ceiling. It’s only been a few weeks since opening day but on a cold winter’s night the tables have filled up quickly and without a booking we’re lucky to be squeezed onto the last few seats at the bar.
The menu is decidedly British inspired and it takes us a moment to argue mains. I know at first glance the Duck is undeniably going to be in my belly tonight, but strangely I also have a vegetarian urge tonight (we all have our off days). Luckily Irish is feeling generous and has agreed to order the Duck freeing me to satisfy my vegetarian urge with… the fish! My stomach is illogical at the best of times.
It’s the Champagne butter sauce that’s drawn my eyes to the Pumpkin, date and pine nut parcels, but admittedly find myself struggling to taste any of the champagne elements in the sauce. Instead it’s the silky texture of the parcel wrappings that have me falling in love, the pumpkin and date are a sweetly fragrant bite and I manage to resist the temptation to order a second.
The Cider-cured ham arrives in a gorgeous array of frisee, ham and soft boiled quail eggs. It’s brilliant plating that’s unfortunately let down by the overly watery dressing leaving only the ham to provide a much needed hit of salt.
It’s at this point that the mains start arriving and we realise just how large the servings are. The menu at Orto Trading Co. is designed for sharing, and each of the mains that have arrived would easily feed 1-2 people each. They’re presented simply enough on large wooden platters and after struggling to shift around the boards and plates I decide to simply go to Neanderthal route and just eat straight off the board.
The Smoked Kingfish Wellington arrives teasingly wrapped in its buckwheat crepe, it’s a beautifully designed package which is a delicious chore to unravel. A quick slice through reveals layers of fish and leek made all the better with a copious amount of the rich Beurre Blance (white butter) sauce.
But in the end, as I originally predicted it’s the Quince Glazed Duck that steals my heart in this meal. I literally gasped when I saw it arriving, the photo is a little deceiving but imagine a normal sized chopping board and fill it up with Duck, crispy pancetta and sweet slices of fig and you’ve got a better impression of how much food was on this board.
The servings of Duck are gloriously fatty with the skin torched to caramelised perfection. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the richness of the meat, but the accompanying fig and grapes are a mild sweetness that help to cut through the meat. The crisp pancetta is easily one of my favourite components of the dish, teeth shatteringly crunchy with a hit of salt it has me hunting down each and every piece on the board.
In a futile attempt at healthiness we’ve ordered the Pine mushroom salad to try improve our green ratio. Unfortunately we’ve failed miserably in this attempt, but are quite happy in our failure as the mushrooms are roasted to perfection, just enough to bring out a char while still maintaining their texture. If all failures were so delicious, it would be a great world.
Despite my best intentions there’s no chance of us trying dessert tonight, we’ve only just barely managed to finish off the majority of our mains and are just enjoying the laid back vibe of the restaurant as our food comas start to descend.
Service is efficient and decidedly cheerful, the staff are more than happy to chat about the menu and recommend dishes for trying as well as advising on what to try. I’ve enjoyed the mains more than the starters, but now that I know how large the servings are I’ll be back with my stomach fully prepared!
Orto Trading Co.
38/55 Waterloo St
Surry Hills, NSW, 2010
Ph: 0431 212 453