SYDNEY: Dan Chamberlain spoils himself at Oxford Street's newest European diner, the gay-owned and operated Pastizzi Cafe Bar.
For many, ‘The Strip’ is the epicentre of Sydney gay life. From nights out at gay bars and pumping iron at Darlo Fitness First, to stocking up on bedroom goodies at the Toolshed, the streets are decked out to provide a gay boy and girl with everything he or she needs. However, the one component of our beloved Oxford Street which I had never considered was its cuisine. Sure, there’s the odd drunken 3am stop at Hungry Jacks (or Pie Face, if it’s past 5am), but I would be lying if I said that The Strip was top of my mind for good dining experiences.
Enter Pastizzi Café Bar, Oxford Street’s new little slice of Europe – that is, if Europe came bundled up in freshly-baked, hand-rolled pastry and stuffed with creamy fetta cheese. Salivating yet? If not, I can tell you that within five minutes of being seated and quickly served up a fresh house special of the spanakopita pastizzis, my favourite Croatian friend Anita and I were practically wiping the drool from our mouths – and us ethnics aren’t easy to impress!
But the fun doesn’t stop at pastries. Pastizzi offers customers a range of culinary options, from a full three-course dining experience to a quick take away meal whilst still managing to subtly play Madonna’s Greatest Hits V.1 through the sound system. It’s all part of the package, with owner gay owner Colin Paull aiming to bring back personality and affordability to Oxford Street’s dining scene.
With an all-day menu of main meals featuring pastas, risottos and lamb souvlaki starting from $10, you would be hard pressed to find anything over $18. You might think that such prices are an indicator that the food is either pre-prepared or small in size but much to my delight, when our dish of sizzling garlic prawns and lightly battered fresh calamari landed on the table, the servings were neither small nor cheaply made.
Our salivation continued while we waited for our mains – hand-made feta-stuffed ravioli dipped in a rich white mushroom sauce. But luckily, our attentive waiter had recommended the bocconcini, tomato and fresh basil salad to cleanse our pallets in between courses. To finish, we were tempted into what has to be one of the best tasting and presented sweets under $10 I’ve ever had – a chocolate and apple pie AKA a slice of gay heaven.
Pastizzi Café Bar is a unique fusion of the Oxford Street character and European flavour. The Strip may not be the next new foodie hotspot, but with Pastizzi in the scene, it’s great to know that there’s a local new restaurant on Oxford Street where one can get a bloody good meal at very affordable prices.
Pastizzi Cafe Bar, 129 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst, 0451 130 301, Open 7 days, 11am-late.