There’s something really special about eating for a good cause. And Sydney has one place that offers the chance to change people’s lives while you tuck into a delicious meal. You may even have walked past it thinking it was another fine dining establishment you would get around to trying one day.
Built onto the front of the historical YWCA in the CBD, right next to the Anzac Memorial, lies Song Kitchen, a new dining establishment that offers empathy and purpose as dishes, pride of place on its menu. 100 per cent of profits from the Song Kitchen go directly to YWCA NSW programs, and services supporting women and children escaping domestic violence.
Head chef Charlotte Gonzales is French, of Gabon origin, and came to Song Kitchen via Felix and Fred’s Paddington. Her dishes are hearty and infused with a French influence.
The lovely sommelier starts us off with a 2016 Printhie Sav Blanc from Orange, boasting notes of passionfuit and quite a woody finish. I’m a great fan of Central West wines (I’m biased, as Parkes is my hometown, but that’s besides the point) and I’m pretty chuffed with this selection.
Next, we head down to the main eating area. Song Kitchen operates as the eatery for the YWCA, and as such is open for all three meals of the day. Breakfast is more catered towards the grab-and-go patrons, but I hear they serve up a mean buttermilk pancake. We arrive just before the main dinner rush, so we have the pick of seating – the interior is bright in yellows and clean wood finishes, and the large, round tables encourage a community feel that doesn’t run the gamut of being too ‘scout hall’. The whole vibe is classy, but all-welcoming.
It comes as a nice surprise that for the entire time we are served by women. In fact, it looks as if the entire staff of Song Kitchen is female – a happy coincidence, but which favourably reflects on its ideals of supporting women in difficult domestic abuse situations. A female-empowered motif surrounds this venue and it’s a welcome change.
We start with bacon-crusted potato skins. Chewy and moreish, these guys are kind of a combination between a soft pretzel and a light ‘n’ tangy chip. Both excellent benchmarks. The bowl is all but licked clean.
Next is a rabbit terrine and sourdough bread, which goes down nicely, and a serving of oysters which, unfortunately, aren’t fresh this time and miss the mark for flavour. But all is forgiven when a serving of chargrilled octopus is brought out, impeccably presented, on a bed of garlicy hummus and aleppo. Good octopus is always chewy on first bite, but then melts in your mouth like a fresh roasted chicken breast. This serving, complete with spicy aleppo, hits every target.
A dedicated pasta chef, Gonzales serves us a tagliolini with spanner crab, zucchini, garlic and chives; a light, delicious homage to southern France, and a fresh palate to complement the spanner crab. We move on to the “famous” mushroom risotto, which I can do nothing but wholeheartedly recommend. I would be more than happy to eat nothing but this risotto for the rest of the week. A roasted duck breast, followed by crepes suzette, finish off the night.
The warm ambience you get from the girls here is as comforting as it is inviting. It’s no small feat to deliver 100 per cent of profits to a good cause, and so we applaud Song Kitchen for its continued efforts in preventing domestic abuse in 2017.
Charitable goodness aside, the food is a knockout, so make a booking pronto and you’ll be able to one-up all of your friends in the ‘good karma’ books for weeks to come.
Song Kitchen is located at 5/11 Wentworth Ave, Sydney. It’s open for breakfast Mon – Sun 7-11:30am; lunch Tue – Fri noon-3pm; and dinner Tue – Sat 5-10pm. Story photos by Alana Dimou