I’ve often walked past Folonomo and thought, I should definitely go there so when one of my friends wanted to have her birthday dinner there I was all in.
Folonomo is a unique restaurant concept. All the profits after costs go directly to charity. It’s also BYO (and they have a deal with a local bottle shop where you get a discount if you mention you’re dining there), which also makes it incredibly economical. On an incredibly hot Sydney day, I was the first of our party to arrive at Folonomo.
Two waitresses were polishing glasses behind a beautiful raw wood bar. They took some time to find our booking (despite the fact that we were the only group of twelve on a Tuesday night) and instead of showing me to the table, they just pointed to where we were sitting.
The interior is gorgeous and very Surry Hills. It’s all raw wood, exposed brick, polished concrete and soft candle light.
Being BYO I had a bought a bottle of champagne with me and before taking a seat, I gave the waitresses the bottle and asked for a cooler. Ten minutes later, four more of our group had arrived and my bottle of champagne was still sitting on the bar, getting warm. The waitresses were still polishing glasses.
We ended up getting up and asking for champagne glasses. They delivered us two (there were five of us) and then went off to do something else. We ended up going behind the bar, getting the rest of the glasses (and my bottle of champers) and popping our own bottle of champagne.
Everyone had arrived by 7.30pm and reviewed the set menu (easiest thing for a group of twelve) but it was still 8pm before they took our order. By this stage, we had made two more trips to the bar to get glasses as more people arrived and to get some water.
The flatbread and olives arrived quickly, which was a good thing given how hungry we were. The flatbread was delicious with a gorgeous char on the outside and fluffy in the middle. I’m not a huge fan of black olives (I find them really salty) but I didn’t mind these.
The first dish to arrive was spanner crab roll (almost 20 minutes after the olives and flatbread). It was a carb free version of spanner crab rolled in zucchini. The crab was wonderfully sweet and went really well with the just slightly sweet zucchini and the deep fried sweet potato crisps.
The ocean trout tartare came out next but we were all so hungry by this point, I didn’t actually get a photo before it was devoured. I am a huge fan of ocean trout and tartare though and this was definitely a great one. It was served on top of a chickpea pancake which was wonderful and fluffy. I also really loved the little refreshing salad that it was served with.
But it was at this point that they let us know that they were out of the rabbit croquettes. To be completely honest, I was a little disappointed. Looking at the online reviews, the rabbit croquettes seemed to be something of a speciality for Folonomo. Also, the restaurant wasn’t particularly full and being such a large table we had to order the set menu so I’m not entirely sure how they foresee that they would need the rabbit croquettes for our table but any how…
They substituted in the octopus with peppers and cauliflower puree. While it wasn’t rabbit croquettes, it was delicious. The octopus had this amazing char on the outside but was still tender in the middle. I’ve never thought about pairing octopus with roasted pepper (though I don’t know why not – chilli squid is a Sydney staple) but it was very good together. The sweet heat of the pepper was really yummy with the charred octopus and then finished off with the slightly sweet cauliflower.
There was a huge wait between the starters and mains. At this point, we’d also run out of champagne and were looking for change over to red wine (particularly since the hanger steak was going to need something bold to go with it). Again, our waiter bought four red wine glasses and then disappeared leaving the other seven people at the table wondering what we should do.
Luckily, with the wait staff no where to be seen, we were able to sneak behind the bar for the rest of the glasses and a bottle opened. Ha ha!
When the mains did arrive, it started with poached chicken served with cauliflower rice. The chicken was gorgeous and succulent. It was served with what I assume was the poaching liquor that was wonderfully warm with harissa spice and lots of coriander. This is the type of dish that would be wonderful on a lazy night in with a good movie and a great bottle of red.
The cauliflower rice went really well with the chicken. It had silverbeet and pumpkin seeds mixed through it as well as some amazing lemon and a good hit of salt. It was a delicious dish and I’ll be honest, has quite converted me to cauliflower rice.
(Sorry for the poor photography coming up. It was getting really hot…)
Shortly after the chicken arrived, the hanger steak and baby carrots came to the table. The hanger steak was served a perfect medium rare over barley and mushrooms. It was TO. DIE. FOR. I loved it. I could have licked the plate with the amazing gravy and soft mushrooms. The barley was like little bubbles exploding in your mouth next to the steak and it was a fantastic dish.
I also loved the carrots which were roasted with little onions and finished off with a citrus yoghurt that was so thick it could have been a goat’s curd. It was wonderful refreshing and went well with the richness in the steak dish.
By this stage, it was 10.45pm and the main plates still hadn’t been cleared (with no signed they were about to be).
It was a Tuesday, I’d had a migraine the day before and had reached the limited of being out. While dessert was still on its way, I had to bow out at this point. I said goodnight to the birthday girl, asked another friend to pay my portion of the bill and took myself to bed.
The food at Folonomo was amazing but it was really let down by the staff. The restaurant wasn’t busy and there was no reason why we waited to be served or had to get our own wine and glasses. In fact, most of the time, the staff were polishing glasses.
I’m still in two minds if I will ever go back and give the restaurant a second chance. The food really was amazing and I love the concept but I just can’t get away from the incredibly poor serve.
Make up your own minds but I’d make sure you didn’t have somewhere else to be that night…
372 Bourke Street
Surry Hills NSW 2010
+61 2 8034 3818