WORDS: KIT HEATHCOCK IMAGE: ANDY LUND
From the colourful graffiti art entrance and stairs, to the wall projections, long communal tables and bar stools, The Commissary has an informal, funky street vibe.
Chef Wesley Randles and Simon Widdison – the dynamic duo heading up the Shortmarket Club, part of the Luke Dale-Roberts group – are firmly at the helm of The Commissary. It gives Wesley an opportunity to play with creative twists on street food classics and experiment with seasonal ingredients. “Wes chops and changes the menu as he feels inspired to keep it fun and fresh,” says Simon. They’re going on a street food recce to Japan next month, so expect new dishes inspired by their travels when they return.
Operating evenings only, The Commissary opens at 6pm, with no reservations and streamlined fast service. Once all seats are taken, newcomers put their names on the blackboard at the door and hang out over drinks at next-door House of Machines until called.
The short, frequently changing menu of impeccably executed and innovative sharing plates has people lining up to eat here every evening.
A couple of fixtures are the LDR sliders, beef patties rich with bone marrow, and the crispy Korean fried chicken wings, dunked in miso mayo. Each dish is designed to be shared and the informal ordering procedure has us greedily ticking five dishes on the list, which are delivered on enamel plates one by one as they are ready, skilfully timed so that as we finish one there’s only a short pause of appreciation before the next arrives.
The Pani Puri Ceviche was a delight – crispy puri shells filled with yellowtail ceviche cured in tiger’s milk, avo and coconut yogurt, a creamy fusion burst of citrus and garlic with a touch of gentle spice. Brussels sprouts were transformed into crispy nuggets of almost caramel mellowness with miso and garlic-cured egg yolk, black vinegar and a sprinkling of crumbled gorgonzola.
Though not strictly still hungry, we couldn’t resist ticking a few more boxes – a pork taco with aromatic kimchi, and two dessert dishes for good measure. A chewy, gooey, burnt white chocolate, rooibos and peach cookie still hot from the oven, and a bowl of superb yuzu and mango ice cream made for a deliciously simple finish.
021 422 2902 (no bookings)