NO RUNNING AWAY, NO TALKING LOUD, NO FLIRTING, NO CHEATING. Don't let the rules stencilled on the stairs at Trunk Road give you the wrong impression. The look might be cranky 1960s India, but the feel is perfectly welcoming.
Opening on a suitably steamy Sydney day, Trunk Road is the (even) more casual little sister to Bang, the Bengali restaurant that designer Nicholas Gurney and chef Tapos Singha opened to acclaim a few blocks up the road on the Surry Hills end of Crown last year.
Where Bang was all about Bengali eats raised far beyond the Subcontinental suburban norm with bright flavours and close attention to detail in the kitchen, the Darlinghurst outlet draws influences from across the region (Trunk Road is the highway that runs from Bangladesh to Afghanistan) and the menu is tightly focused on the roadie, Singha's take on the roti kebab roll.
The chicken roadie is sweet, the tandoor-roasted meat jumbled with cucumber, tomato and coriander on a pleasingly puffy round of roti. The steak version is given a lift with fried onion, while deep-fried paneer stars in the vego offering. They're complemented - barely - by the offer of fries and curry fries. Not French fries or chips, but more of a curly-fry vibe; the sauce is an onion-based vegetarian curry finished off (of course!) with shredded cheese. Breakfast roadies packed with bacon and eggs are in the offing, as are more sides.
Gurney's design is as engaging as ever. In the basement of the two-storey terrace are the kitchen and counter where you put in your orders, along with a dispenser filled with iced milk tea. There's an old fridge packed with Subcontinental beers and softs (Limca, Thums Up cola, $6 Kingfisher lagers), along with a TV that screens the likes of 1981 Bollywood blockbuster Lawaaris, even as Bob Dylan warns through the stereo that a hard rain's gonna fall.
On the ground floor, timber bistro chairs and padded banquettes are arranged around marble-topped tables accessorised with little signs in metal frames: "House Rule, Please do not sit long after refreshment".
It might not quite be jump-in-the-car-let's-get-one-right-now material right off the blocks, but Trunk Road is worth the detour.
Trunk Road, 163 Crown St, Darlinghurst, NSW, trunkroad.com.au