Late one Tuesday night my friend and I stumble upon Varnish on King with rumbling hungry tummies. Once you’ve stepped through the heavy wood doors from the street, a glass sliding door automatically opens before you walk downstairs. We felt like we’d entered a private club and were instantly aware of a pleasant wood smell. It’s busy inside but we’re warmly greeted and happily offered the only spare table. We decide to get straight into the menu and order food quickly. Our waiter is happy to make suggestions, there’s even the option for $55 to let the chef choose a combination of 5 dishes from the menu. But I knew I wanted the coveted short ribs I’d heard so much about so we made our own menu choices.
The twice cooked Short Ribs $28 were served with a Jack Daniels treacle reduction and salsa verde. What’s not to like about meat so tender it falls off the slender bone without any effort required. The treacle reduction and brussel sprout leaves made this a well executed dish. No surprise it’s so popular.
My friend ordered the Duck Breast $24. Chunks of pink duck was scattered around the plate and although my picture is blurred my friend ensures me it’s really good duck. (Sorry – I’m not a duck fan)
Desserts were a real tempter. We chose to have a dessert each but in hindsight we should have shared they were so rich! My friend loves the sour flavour in food so was recommended to order the Whisky Sour $14. Layers of soft meringue, crunchy meringue, lemon curd, whisky jelly and cherries made for an interesting combination but noticeably its smoked flavour made it unique.
The Rocky Road $14 beat us and we couldn’t finish it. Squares of chocolate ganache topped with crispy chocolate balls was plated with marshmallows, hibiscus jelly and a track of chocolate smeared down one side of the plate. It was incredibly rich and decadent.
We asked to order coffee and was told they only serve Single Espresso $3.50 which was served with a trio of pots containing caramel, bourbon sugar and panella sugar. We had lots of fun trying different combinations.
Varnish on King is open Monday to Saturday and bookings are only taken online. Its location also makes it a great spot for pre/post drinks for concerts at the Arena. But don’t just take my word for it, go and try it for yourself. Oh.. and order the ribs, you wont be disappointed!
Varnish on King
75 King Street