Anchovy describes its menu as a little in between two cultures, leaning on both South East Asian and modern Australian cuisines. It’s Asian-Australian, but not as you know it.
Commercial cookery was never a serious consideration for owner and Head Chef, Thi Le, despite her love for food and interest in cooking from a young age. Whilst moonlighting as a design student and travelling round the world, a series of events and a chance meeting gave Thi the opportunity to cook and run a Thai cafe in the Hunter Valley. It was through this experience that she considered a career in commercial cookery and also the realisation that she required formal training.
After completing an intensive one-year training program, Thi was placed in an all-female mentoring program with Christine Manfield as her mentor. Both had similar stories: females who became chefs later in life. This realisation gave Thi the confidence she needed to continue pursuing a career in the industry. After stints at various esteemed restaurants including Universal (Sydney), Cumulus Inc., the Town Mouse and Luxembourg, Thi went on to open Anchovy with Jia-Yen Lee.
If you see something that looks tasty at Anchovy, it’s best to try it then and there. The menu changes often, with newly curated dishes replacing the old as produce changes with the seasons. Regardless of what the kitchen is serving, the menu at Anchovy is infused with local ingredients. Asian herbs and vegetables are sourced from the nearby Victoria Street and from bio-dynamic farmer, Sarah Schreurs, while meat suppliers Meat Smith provides quality produce for tasty dishes such as the whole grilled spatchcock and black pepper lamb ribs.
The food is designed to share, with the menu divided into small, medium and big dishes. Start with a few freshly shucked oysters and a Vietnamese-style blood pudding – described as chocolate meat and tempered by herbs and a ginger dressing. Next, order a few of the medium dishes – a vibrant hanger tartare that is full of herbs, or spicy clams with fermented rice that the team has been tending to since before the doors opened for trade. Finally, move on to the mains. They’re big, so let the team know if you need a breather. We suggest the black pepper lamb ribs – they’re sticky, succulent and come with a turnip and watercress salad.
As for drinks, the list is short but effective. There are three aperitifs, five or six beers and seasonal cocktails including a house made cumquat liqueur. Meanwhile, the wines range from a well priced prosecco to refreshing and crisp whites to easy-to-drink reds.
Known for its quirky eateries, Bridge Road is the perfect fit for the culturally diverse restaurant. Like its namesake that is equally as rooted in South East Asian cooking as it is on the modern Australian palate, Anchovy is perfectly tying the two influences together to make for one remarkable restaurant.