The Alcott situated in Sydney’s North Shore has been a fan-favourite local eatery to many friends over the years. It wasn’t until last week I was able to appreciate a full dining experience for myself – and it was a memorable evening, to say the least.
Their story begins with a stone. “A simple, sandstone block, the foundation of a grand new home: Landers House. Built in 1897 by Jonathon Landers on 16 ½ acres of land, it was the first significant dwelling in the area. 1920 brought a new vision for the land: a simple cottage was built… using materials from the old home, including that sandstone block.
“The site transformed again when, in 1957, then owner Mr Claude Rodgers transferred the property to the Lane Cove Businessmen’s Club. With subsequent additions and enhancements, the cottage was absorbed into a bigger building for men to quaff whisky and shake hands over business deals. And now, with an extensive transformation designed to satisfy the entire Lane Cove community, this special place begins yet another new chapter as ‘The Alcott’. Meaning ‘from the old cottage’.” And the stone has stayed.
With the venue’s rich backstory as well as the wholesome tales I’ve heard from locals, I arrived with high anticipation and a solid sense of curiosity. From the animated spritz bar and inspired outdoor dining terrace, the Alcott welcomes a warm, amiable vibe – instantly.
We sat at our intimate table, reading the colourful array of food and cocktails on offer. After a few moments of shared indecisiveness (as everything sounded delicious!), we finally chose our starters: the mushroom arancini with black garlic aioli, and the grilled flat bread served with feta, tomato, harissa relish, lemon and chilli. Two simplistic, popular items yet undeniably packed with flavour.
Staff member Julia Bonato said their head chef Simon Flanders only serves fresh flavours made with sustainable local ingredients. “Simon wanted to create something that was more of a home-style bistro (a home away from home) using the local ingredients – fresh, seasonal farm produce. We make sure everything is made in-house.”
We paired our starters with a round of signature cocktails – the Tokyo Drift (a charged fusion of chartreuse yellow, Aperol, yuzu, egg white, bitters and citrus) and the Alcott Martini (a bold blend of Zubrowka vodka, Licor 43, fresh passionfruit and grapefruit). Both beverages were zesty pocket rockets fuelled with sweet and sour characteristics, sending us into lift-off. We couldn’t fault either of them. However, we both agreed the trusty Alcott Martini was the ultimate winner with its tangy aftertaste.
Beginning with the arancini (a dish that my guest – who’s visited in past – swears is her favourite starter from the menu) has a perfectly crisp exterior, sheltering the warm, oozy centre of truffly goodness. The definition of food porn. The utter satisfaction from just one bite really set the tone for the evening. Although the arancini was incredible, the flatbread with harissa was my favourite. The moorish bread (boasting a soft, cushiony body) was the perfect partner to the feta and relish. Two strong starters that come highly recommended.
We then ordered a bottle of the 2020 Ad hoc (a Pinot Grigio from Pemberton, WA) to go with our shared mains (the slow roasted pork belly with pancetta, morcilla, brussel sprouts, kipfler potatoes and butternut puree; and the beetroot and goat’s curd risotto with asparagus and pickled beetroot).
The pork belly was cooked to perfection and paired effortlessly with the warm, buttery puree. It was winter on a plate. After an incredible pork belly I savoured a few years ago on a trip in Guernsey, it’s been a memory I can’t shake off, and so I come with relatively high expectations when sampling the dish at various restaurants. However, the Alcott exceeded them, and by a mile. I’d order it again and again.
The quirky beetroot risotto is kind of like Ted from How I Met Your Mother… rather passionate and hopeful, but not everyone’s cup of tea. Although it most certainly has its charm with great layers and textures, I believe it comes down to whether or not you’re a fan of beetroot. Also, I think once we sampled the pork belly, there was no just competition.
To finish, we experienced what we didn’t realise was our dessert fantasy: the frozen peanut butter parfait with dark chocolate cream, praline and mixed berries. Absolute heaven. We examined closely at the art sitting before us: an exhibition of creamy caramel colours with whimsical pops of reds and purples; floral arrangements nestled neatly around the structure; finished with an ice cream garnish standing proud at the top. It was like a fairytale. And the flavours: an intriguing integration of Reese's peanut butter cups and Nutella reimagined. It felt both nostalgic and very mature at the same time, like a culinary playground for adults.
We absolutely loved our experience at The Alcott, and cannot wait to come back for seconds.
No. 1 Birdwood Avenue, Lane Cove NSW 2061.
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