Subcontinental, Sydney

Author: Pat Nourse
Photography: Courtesy Subcontinental

Our restaurant critics' picks of the latest and best eats around the country right now: Subcontinental, Sydney.

Subcontinental by name, subterranean by nature, this new side-project from team Longrain replaces the basement space formerly occupied by Shortgrain canteen and the bar with a smart Indian diner. The layout hasn't changed dramatically. Gone are the camouflage and army men, replaced by the odd cow and elephant motif. There's a merciful absence of DJs in the room, and the carefully crafted soundtrack that somehow weaves together the works of Marvin Gaye and The Lemonheads sets an appealing tone. The careful layering of spice has long been a Longrain signature, and so it continues: duck in a cardamom-dominant curry made creamy with cashew nuts is cooked on the bone for succulence, while a long-boned lamb cutlet proves the tandoor's worth. There's not much heat and twang. The exceptions might be the intensity of the tamarind sauce with the cheese pakoras (good) and the heavy-handed use of ajwain spice on raw kingfish (not so good). But flashes of brilliance (burrata deployed in place of traditional fresh cheeses with a peanut sauce and an orange salad) and a drink-me wine list suggest some promise. It's not quite so confident an opening as Sam Christie's recent outings with The Apollo and Cho Cho San, though it may yet prove to be a slow-burn.

Subcontinental, 8 Hunt St, Surry Hills, NSW, (02) 9280 0088 

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