First look: Kensington Street Social, Sydney

Our restaurant critics' picks of the latest and best eats around the country right now: Kensington Street Social, Sydney.

For better or for ill, Kensington Street Social bears all the hallmarks of a restaurant rolled out by a chef with a lot of other restaurants. That chef is Jason Atherton, the most internationally successful of Gordon Ramsay's protégés. He has captivated diners with gleaming fit-outs, smart-casual dining, and big, inclusive menus in London, Hong Kong, Manhattan and now Chippendale. It's a bold, buzzy space (you can see more of it in our slideshow), and the orientation - in notable contrast to its fellow Old Clare tenants Silvereye and, to a lesser extent, Automata - is very much towards the have-it-your-way school of customer service.

Pizza-like flatbreads or pork-and-fennel hotdogs and Patrick Sullivan's inky, seductive pinot noir by the glass at the bar ahead of the movies? Easy. Ten courses and a magnum of blaufränkisch for lunch? Done. Breakfast or supper or anything in between? You got it.

This is a big machine, make no mistake, and not all the transactions are frictionless. Some attempts at local colour fall flat: a septic-looking Vegemite Martini (the regrettable outlier on the otherwise impressive cocktail roster), a small swatch of hapuku lost in a jumble of cauliflower-cheese purée, gin and seaweed under a sail of kohlrabi. (Why?)

The signature mushroom tea (served under a parmesan foam with smoked bone marrow butter and gentleman's relish toasts, no less) transcends its fussy presentation with pure flavour, though. A splash of asparagus juice spiked with lemon myrtle adds an inspired lift to a beetroot, cucumber and tomato salad made with very good goat's curd.

The likes of baked caramel apple puff pastry with pickled apple may have you longing for the days when desserts were constructed rather than deconstructed, but well-drilled service and a surprisingly excellent wine list keep Kensington Street social.

Kensington Street Social, 3 Kensington St, Chippendale, NSW, (02) 8277 8533; open breakfast, lunch and dinner daily.

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