Visiting Lot Twenty made me feel like roughly the biggest hipster in the world, but I think I’m just about ready to embrace that.
Even though TBP and I have had roughly ten conversations about how Bivouac is closed on Sundays, we soldiered on and planned a lunch there some weeks past. When that utterly predictably fell through we found ourselves standing outside what I had always assumed was maybe some kind of staff carpark and had accordingly ignored. It’s now Lot Twenty, Gary Beadle & Co’s newest project. And that’s new, three days old on our first visit.
For quite a small spot, Lot 20 has three distinct-feeling areas – a casual sunny deck shielded from the foot traffic of the PCC by a weathered metal screen, a laid-back inside bar, and a more formal upstairs restaurant with a view of the open kitchen and the courtyard below. The deck would be perfect for a relaxed sunny Sunday afternoon, but inside (especially upstairs) is better if you want to get really stuck in to the menu as we had some trouble balancing the larger plates on the more drink-sized tables on our first visit.
Speaking of the food, it was excellent. Despite the fancy-sounding garnishes (vanilla confit chestnuts, cardamom & apple gel) the dishes were fairly simply executed and let the flavours speak for themselves. Weirdly, one of my favourite dishes was the young vegetables with vanilla confit chestnuts ($15) – everything tasted simply and exactly how it should, and the creamy chestnuts were a great counterpoint to the just-cooked vegetables.
The lightly smoked pork belly, chestnut crumbs, cardamom & apple gel ($20) was delivered under an eye-catching smoke-filled bell jar. The smoke was definitely very light, after the grand reveal there wasn’t much left, but after all the home-smoking I’ve been doing I feel like my definition of ‘lightly smoked’ might be pretty different from most people’s.
Normally I’m a huge pork belly fan, but the wagyu beef rump with chimichurri butter ($52) was the real treat and not just because of the price which, jesus, I clearly didn’t notice at the time. Well, it was worth it, I’m still day dreaming about it. It was served on the cooler side, which actually worked perfectly with the warmer weather and give the dish a casual sunday roast kind of feel.
The Dutch fries, satay, mayo, red onion were exactly as described and endearingly served in a cone. Even though the menu encourages mixing and matching, they felt very bar-food while the rest of the dishes felt very restaurant-food – but that’s on us.
Drinks-wise, the La Casa De Luz Vedejo (2013, $30/bottle) was absolutely fantastic, crisp with perfect acidity. It’s one of the few wines TBP and I agree perfectly on and consequently I would very much like to buy a whole case of it.
Look – there is a little bit of wank here. The menu calls itself “bespoke”, which is a term whose meaning now differs so much from the original as to be utterly meaningless and contributes to my awkward self-consciousness re the hipster thing. But our experience was so good that we came back for another crack over the long weekend and that prompted me to go home and actually finish this review. Both times the service was friendly, accommodating, and really just spot on. The restaurant was surprisingly busy for a Sunday night (well, it was the long weekend) but the staff found us a table with minimal hassle and wait. The food was consistently excellent.
My only criticism: “the Lot Twenty menu has been designed so that you can mix and match the foods uniquely suited to your particular dietary requirements” jars somewhat with the total lack of dietary markings on the actual menu. While I can make a pretty educated guess about what I can eat, that could pose a challenge to people with more serious issues since you have to do that awkward dance with your server and you’re relying on their individual knowledge.
Lot Twenty is a versatile spot and I can see it being perfect for a post-gallery wine on the deck as well as for a more structured dinner. I really like it – A+, definitely recommend. Just don’t bring your Nanna, unless she’s okay with a bit of risque art… but then again, would your Nanna be in the PCC if she weren’t?