You always feel like your night is off to a good start when a) you get a park in Surry hills on Saturday night that's both free and a 60-second walk from the restaurant and b) you arrive to discover that even though you forgot to book (idiot) there's one unreserved table left by the window and it can be yours.
Reclining gracefully at our window table, we felt like sultans of the vegetarian cuisine world. We merely had to raise our eyebrows ever so slightly and cool glasses of rosé were brought to us. After a regal perusal of the menu, we indicated with a slight bob of our heads that we were indeed ready to place our food order.
We wanted (I wanted) to order absolutely everything on the menu, so tempting were the dishes described. However we didn't have much time so instead we got a nice selection of their share plates. Which to be honest, I didn’t exactly share. But I tried to, and that’s what counts.
My favourite was hands down the beetroot and crème fraiche tarts baked in truffle oil and balsamic. They were so cute I wanted to buy them an ice cream and read them a bedtime story. Dangerously light and served in three on a little bed of sprouts. Or was it cress? Anyway, they were gone before I could really take it all in. As a big beetroot fan I’m always happy to find it at the centre of a dish and I will be coming back to Yulli’s for these little wonders alone.
Also impressive was the salt and pepper tofu, which seemed to be a very popular dish. Served in golden triangles with a spicy yet refreshing salad (more like an Asian slaw) of shredded green papaya and peanuts. We whizzed through the watermelon and radish salad, which was accompanied by a strange combination of radichio, cherry tomato, kalamata olives, cucumber and a lemon and mint dressing. Slightly sweet and slightly sour, I couldn't make up my mind about it at first but somehow, probably thanks to the nature of some of the other dishes we'd ordered, it provided a nice balance.
Next time I'd actually make a booking and I'd leave ample time for a lingering encounter with their sassy-looking dessert menu. Specifically I’ll be making time for the sticky date and pecan pudding with coconut ice cream.
Yulli’s, 417 Crown Street Surry Hills http://yullis.com.au/
By Lucy McNabb