Review: Waterloo Dining, Surry Hills

Two years ago, I went with a few girlfriends for a meal at Angliss Restaurant in Melbourne, the training restaurant for students doing hospitality and chef qualifications at the William Angliss Institute. They opened up their first Sydney training restaurant last year as Waterloo Dining in Surry Hills, so as soon as I heard about it, I booked K and I in for dinner. I’m a big fan of supporting students (I go to a student-run beauty salon regularly) and helping to build the workforce of the future.

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The setting of Waterloo Dining is a little less refined than Angliss Restaurant in Melbourne. Rather than being in its own separate room, it’s an open area off one of the hallways in the training facilities. It’s been done up nicely with painted walls, classic black and white photographs, nice tables, chair, and crisp white tablecloths, but with one side of the space fully open to the training facilities, it loses a little ambiance.

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Our waiter for the evening was noticeably nervous, but we tried to make things easier for him. Just a soft drink for both K and I, and we ordered one of everything off the menu (two options each for Entree, Main and Dessert). Another waitress came around with some bread rolls for us, baked that day by their patisserie students. These were absolutely delicious soft sweet brioche buns, beautifully crafted and light and fluffy.

Steamed dumplings filled with Duck and Cabbage served with sweet potato and Asian dipping
Steamed dumplings filled with Duck and Cabbage served with sweet potato and Asian dipping

Entrees came out promptly, and there’s clearly been a calculated amount of pre-prep done. The skins of the Steamed Dumplings were a little chewy on the edges, but the duck and cabbage filling was full of flavour and very delicious. I loved the little cubes of roasted sweet potato as well, with its little crust of seeds and pepper.

Beetroot cured Salmon with a lime Mayonnaise and fresh Melba Toast
Beetroot cured Salmon with a lime Mayonnaise and fresh Melba Toast

Unfortunately, the Beetroot-cured Salmon was a little less impressive – just overly salty. While the melba toast helped to soften the saltiness somewhat, there simply wasn’t enough toast to go around. A little disappointing from a flavour perspective, but you couldn’t fault the freshness of the salmon.

Sous Vide Lamb Backstrap with Fresh Asparagus Salad and Salsa Verde
Sous Vide Lamb Backstrap with Fresh Asparagus Salad and Salsa Verde

The main of the Sous Vide Lamb Backstrap was one of the clear standouts on the night – amazingly tender and juicy with just the right amount of charcoaled grill flavour on the outside. The extraordinarily creamy mash served with the lamb was delightful as well, especially when paired with the fresh salsa verde.

Confit Duck Leg with Carrot puree, Poached Shiitake and Mushroom Arancini
Confit Duck Leg with Carrot puree, Poached Shiitake and Mushroom Arancini

The Confit Duck Leg presented with lovely crispy skin, the type that’s almost a little caramel-like in its tendency to stick to your teeth. I like the little mushroom arancini (crisp shell, soft mushroom and rice inside), but the dish as a whole didn’t quite live up to the precedent set by the delicious lamb backstrap.

Opera Cake with Lime and Yoghurt Ice
Opera Cake with Lime and Yoghurt Ice

For dessert, K opted for the Opera Cake, which was incredibly well-made and near-surgical in its precision in having the perfect layers. While the flavours and textures of the cake were amazing, I think my favourite part of this dessert was the lime and yoghurt ice-cream – a perfect tart little palate cleanser.

Coconut Dacquoise with Chocolate Mousse and Mango Sorbet and Chocolate garnish
Coconut Dacquoise with Chocolate Mousse and Mango Sorbet and Chocolate garnish

My Coconut Dacquoise with Chocolate Mousse was exquisite, and the coloured tempered chocolate curl on top definitely made a statement. The mousse was lovely, smooth and creamy, but my pick is probably the mango sorbet that came on the side – a lovely little cold treat that tasted just like blended up fresh mango with a bit of sugar. Pure perfection.

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We finished our meal with a Green Tea for me, and a Peppermint Tea for K. As we lingered over our hot beverages before heading off into the cold night, some of the other guests were celebrating a birthday, with cake and a song from the student wait staff. A lovely celebration to cap off a hard evening’s work for these students in training.

Waterloo Dining is amazing value at only $18 each (plus Eventbrite booking fee) for three courses and drinks. I would go back in a heartbeat – you get amazing food, really attentive service, and a little tick in your ledger of good deeds for supporting students.

There’s no more dinner services planned over the next few months, however they do have a Lunch Buffet service planned for 5 June ($18 plus booking fee), a Breakfast on 12 June ($9 plus booking fee) and a High Tea on 19 June ($9 plus booking fee). I encourage you to consider visiting Waterloo Dining for any of those sessions, and support the next generation of chefs, pastry chefs, and wait staff.

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