A haystack of salt and vinegar onion shards. A prawn, the size of your face, split down the middle and dressed in salted egg yolk. A cucumber sandwich excised of all your ordinary cucumber sandwich associations with fiery lashing of horseradish. When it comes to the snack-sized portions served at chef and restaurateur Matt Lindsay’s new bar, Poly, it really is a case of simplicity is the ultimate in sophistication.
Poly is the chef’s long-awaited follow-up to his reliably wonderful Chippendale diner, Ester, and it’s located on the ground floor of Surry Hills’ new haute hospitality epicentre, the Paramount Building. Early on a recent Saturday evening, the weeks-old bar – which is all exposed brick and rafters and bulbs – is fast inundated with drinkers and diners at varying stages of their night. Within arms reach at a generous communal table, there’s the frustrated creative expounding on the virtues of the Jura wine region and whose dining companion is merely a sounding board for the former’s pent up frustrations; there’s the mother-daughter quartet unaccustomed with struggle to find a park in this neck of the neighbourhood on a Saturday night; there are the girlfriends catching up over glasses of wine – not a bottle, please – because one has just returned from a Vegas bender; and then there’s the high-profile Sydney chef who swings by Lindsay’s open kitchen to pass on his congratulations. In short, it has all the ingredients for a surefire Sydney favourite, no matter your tastes. And amongst those most successful of ingredients and tastes? Anchovy.
Poly’s interpretation of a perennial favourite bar snack is deceptively simple: a charred cloud of miche-like sourdough toast lathered in butter, dressed simply with anchovy fillets and lemon zest. It’s a simple as they come – if there’s a great deal of concealed trickery involved in its making, send my apologies to the chef – but it’s the kind of thing you’d reliably return for, perhaps chased with an amber glass of Trebbiano from Abruzzo.
All of which is to say that, should your tastebuds be firing, below is another variation on the theme of anchovy on toast – albeit one that is slightly more involved – for you to try at home. Failing that, you can (and should) always go to Poly.
ANCHOVY ON TOAST
1 SMALL RYE SOURDOUGH LOAF, CUT INTO 8CM X 1CM THICK SLICES, APPROXIMATELY 6CM SQUARE
2 TBSP EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
SALT AND PEPPER TO TASTE
8 TOP QUALITY ANCHOVY FILLETS, CUT IN HALF
½ DAIKON RADISH
550ML HOT TAP WATER
300ML RICE WINE VINEGAR
38G SALT FLAKES
½ TSP YUZU KOSHU CONDIMENT
½ MEYER LEMON
2 TBSP WHITE WINE VINEGAR
4 TBSP MAYONAISE
4 CAPER BERRIES, CUT IN HALF
Combine yuzu koshu and mayonnaise, mix well and season to taste. Cut your radish into thin ‘blankets’ using a mandolin slicer. Combine the hot water, vinegar, salt and sugar. Mix well to dissolve. Allow to cool and then pour over the radish. This can be stored in the fridge. Place your bread into a sandwich press and drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook until golden and crisp around the edges. Cover with 2 Anchovy pieces per piece of toast. Dollop with small amounts of the yuzu mayonnaise. Top with a strip of pickled daikon and a half caperberry. Serves four as an entrée.
Recipe by Monty Koludrovic, Executive Chef Icebergs Dining Group
Tile and cover image: Nicholas Carolan