Since opening with a bang in 2012, Hartsyard, the American-ish restaurant in Sydney's Inner West, has taken a long journey from a place with a reputation for artery-busting poutine and fried chicken to one with more focus on fish and vegetables, and a lighter touch.
Now, after overseeing the transition to what we called Hartsyard 2.0 in 2018, long-term owners Naomi Hart and Gregory Llewellyn have handed the keys to Jarrod Walsh and Dot Lee, partners in life and business. Call it Hartsyard 3.0.
Walsh has been head chef at Hartsyard since January 2018, while Lee will moonlight as Hartsyard's co-owner while continuing to work as a chef at Momofuku Seiobo. The couple have long had aspirations to open their own place, so it was serendipitous when Hart and Llewellyn were looking to sell their restaurant, and offered it to Walsh and Lee first. "I've been head chef for the past 12 months, so it's not really anything different," says Walsh. "But now I make my own decisions and don't have to answer to anyone else – except for Dot."
Despite the leadership change, the links to the former Hartsyard and its sister eatery, Wish Bone, remain. They've welcomed bartender Paddy O'Rourke into the fold (he's done time at The Gretz, the bar opened up the road by Hart and Llewellyn before it was converted into Wish Bone), while the tattoo-art-inspired rebrand is by local artist Isabel Williams, a Wish Bone employee.
For now, the deep-fried duck leg with plum hoisin, and a re-worked version of Hartsyard's cheese puffs (they're now made with parmesan, Gruyère and gouda) will stay on the menu, but Walsh's love of Japanese ingredients is more present. There's a dish of stone fruits with shiso leaves, for example, and gem lettuce with furikake, as well as Walsh's favourite: kingfish tartare with kombu chips and yuzu koshu cream. "We get a fatty kingfish from Geraldton that's only farmed for eating raw," he says.
The restaurant was one of the first of an influx of venues that helped transform Enmore Road into a dining hub, paving the way for the likes of Saga, The Duke and Stanbuli. In what is often a revolving-door restaurant scene, Hartsyard has thrived for seven years – a quasi-legacy status in this town.
Hartsyard re-opens this week, and Walsh is approaching it with equal parts apprehension and excitement. "It hasn't really hit me yet," he says. "It's some pretty big shoes to fill with Naomi and Greg running the place for the past few years. But we're over the moon with it all." Here's hoping the change will keep Hartsyard keepin' on long into the future.
Hartsyard, 33 Enmore Road, Newtown, NSW, (02) 8068 1473, hartsyard.com.au. Open Wed-Sun 6pm-late, Sun 12pm-3pm.