Citizen Corner, Surry Hills Sydney

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It is not a brightly lit place and does not have too many tables.   Sited on a corner outlet, which could have the old dairy store or small pub long ago in Surry Hills, the Citizen Corner  is however walkable from Sydney's Central Station and bus terminus.  The Hills have sloping roads, though most with gentle gradients, at the southern end of the CBD.  Key roads like Albion, Bourke and Crown compete with Devonshire for the location of several interesting culinary experiences, offering mostly modern Australian, several breakfast and brunch places and trendy night gathering holes.  In the Hills, not all the culinary and foodie outlets are easily clustered in more obvious hubs - and they can be dispersed.  So Citizen Corner was relatively easy to find.

The demographic is twenty something, alternative, double income no kids and battlers.  The restaurant customers do come from the eastern suburbs, inner city hubs and tourist profiles.   You have places that open early and do not see sunset.  Others are only accessible around dusk.

The Citizen Corner, intersecting with Holt and Devonshire streets, does both breakky-brunch and dinner, the latter only from Thursdays to Sundays.  Quick lunch options are mainly Italian and pasta based but there is also the easy option of a beef burger, chicken schnitzel or poached trout.

Seafood and garden pea accompanying my risotto.

The relish of a spicy chorizo sauce added a new dimension to contrast with the subtlety of masterfully seared scallops and hand crafted celeriac mash.  I did not regret changing from my first selection of the tuna carpaccio with baby capers and chill oil, perhaps too confronting for my palate.

The service from the two female staff on the restaurant floor was friendly and relaxed. By 8pm on a Saturday evening, all the tables had been taken.The subdued lighting added to a chill out ambiance and diners can also watch the world go by outside the windows.  I reckon Citizen Corner is more befitting cosy small groups or couples.  Its compact size is just perfect for booking out exclusively the whole place for your very own party of maybe up to fifty guests.

There is an extensive and impressive drinks list, obviously carefully thought out. St Hallet Rose 2012 from the Barossa in South Australia was the choice to accompany my risotto, keeping it simple, relaxing and fresh.  There is no lack of adventure and variety, for more than several estates have a representative selection available from around Australia and New Zealand.  Sparkling wines are confined to French and Italian sources - with names like Piccolo and the Jacquart Brut champagne.

And then the mains - a wide choice, from fresh kingfish curry with basmati rice to the expected fillet steak with mushrooms, cream and shallots.  What caught my eye most was the fishermen's pie - with salmon, scallop, egg, cream , rocket, fish and prawn.  A must try for the next visit.  There is also the tempting pappardelle pasta with pork and duck ragout.  For entrees, I would recommend the fisherman's soup with a rouille crouton, heavenly for these current nippy nights.

I was too full for dessert but never mind others at the table had theirs and I saved this for a return visit.   The item waiting for me would be then caramelised apple and rhubarb tart with vanilla bean ice cream.  I find Citizen Corner to the core is so Australian in its offerings - a foundation of hearty and familiar Down Under favourites served with an eye for detail and carefully thought of ingredients.  Yet it has embraced dishes from the Indian Ocean, Italy and good old Mother England.
The setting is all at the same time retro, contemporary and village like. Pity they have a closed kitchen, but on a cold night, this did not matter much.