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Riley St Garage

Re-imagining the most unassuming public property has become a fine art. First it was the Taylor Square toilet block turned café; now it’s Riley Street garage. If it were 2011 and you were driving down the inconspicuous Riley St in Woolloomooloo, you’d find yourself in front of a car hire depot.

Three years on, the 1930s heritage building has rolled up its garage door, revealing something Sydney had not yet experienced. The space is open-plan and has drawn inspiration from the trendy Meatpacking District in New York. The design has highlighted its original elements, paying homage to the buildings roots. The walls were left exposed, ornate steel beams grace the interior and the floors are lined in hardwood.

The food concept started and evolved from the Oyster Bar. Owners Brody and Liesel knew nowhere in Sydney offered up fresh oysters, shucked before your eyes. The oysters are served on ice, either natural, mignonette or soy truffle. From here, the menu transcended, maintaining the notion of quality and fresh produce.

If you have come for a Guinness or a Breakfast Manhattan, you might like to order a crunchy corn dog, filled with spicy chorizo; or a pulled pork slider with pickled cabbage. The presence of share plates includes the Beetroot and Goats Cheese Salad accompanied by candied walnuts. Or the Braised Freemantle Octopus, served with white bean, lemon and chilli.

Your Riley Street experience is not complete, until you’ve tried the Pork Knuckle. The knuckle is served crispy in a decadent mustard glaze, complemented by a whole pickled apple. If you need more convincing, two dollars from every knuckle is donated to the Matthew Talbot Hostel in Woolloomooloo.  Another favourite is the Grilled Miso Salmon; this dish is cooked tender, dressed in a miso reduction and served with fennel salad.

Riley Street Garage poses the perfect balance. It’s housed in a utilitarian facility, yet oozes a modern elegance. There are clever reminders of the buildings heritage, yet they’re not overdone and the food implies exuberant decadence, yet enviably refined. It simply works.

The Editorialist gives Riley St Garage five stars.

The Editorialist © 2017