Went to check out Duke on the weekend with some friends, looking for some good food, good wine and a good setting to enjoy those in, and Duke Bistro scored highly on all counts.
Duke is upstairs from the late night drinking venue that is The Flinders. It's cosy, casual, dark, noisy and quirky (the massive boar head which seemed to roam around the room being the focus of my attention, at least until the food started arriving) - very indicative of how Sydney dining is evolving.
The menu is based around small sharing dishes, some are very much bite size, some are a bit more substantial. We tried about 8 dishes (not including desserts) and all but one were absolutely delicious, the highlights included:
'Tomato, Strawberry, Burrata, Shiso' - a great update on the classic Insalata Caprese, Burrata being the 'in' dish at the moment. Absolutely delicious, if a bit difficult to split between 4!
'Fried Chicken Wings, Coleslaw Milk, Hot Sauce' - yes yes, it's just fried chicken, but they do it extremely well, beats a greasy KFC bucket any day.
'Tater Tots, Duke Gravy, Edamame' - who would've thought that homemade Tater Tots and Gravy could be so good, but the deep fried packets of potato goodness were fantastic with the rabbit, beef and oxtail gravy.
'Lamb Belly, Cumin, Eggplant, Pearl Onions' - ludicrously good, I could eat a lot of this. Immaculately cooked, great flavours....cannot fault it.
The only real let down was the Bonito dish, which wasn't bad per se, but when it was up against the dishes before, it paled in comparison.
For desserts we had some of the Madeleines & Custard, they got a lot of ooOO's from the ladies amongst us, a cheese platter which was of a really good standard and some of their macarons (mint chocolate and vanilla) which were as good as I've had anywhere.
The wine list is compact, but covers a good range of prices, varieties and countries - will definitely be accessible to anyone.
All in all, it's a wonderful addition to the Sydney dining map. It's certainly somewhere to go with friends, I can guarantee you'll have a great night. Definitely try the radishes in dashi butter, even though I'm not a huge fan of the radishes, mopping up the butter with some warm bread is freakin' delicious and will have you coming back for more.