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Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Stinking Bishops, Newtown

Cheese board at The Stinking Bishops, Newtown

Half the fun about The Stinking Bishops is the name. Stinking Bishop is a washed-rind cheese from Goucestershire but most people will probably remember it as the pungent cheese that revives Wallace from the dead in the animated film Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.

Walking into The Stinking Bishops is much the same. The open dairy cabinet filled with cheeses, the floor-to-ceiling blackboard menu, and the sight of gleaming knives sinking into giant cheese wheels will wake you from any cheese-apathetic slumber.

Cheeses and smallgoods at The Stinking Bishops, Newtown
Cheeses and smallgoods at The Stinking Bishops

Co-owners Kieran Day (ex-Eathouse Diner and District Dining) and Jamie Nimmo have collaborated to bring Newtown it's first cheese and wine bar, a long overdue addition if the constant queues are anything to go by. Since opening in early April, the cosy neighbourhood hangout has been a hit with locals.

Communal seating at The Stinking Bishops, Newtown
Communal seating

There's no escaping a little bit of socialising here, but that's part of the appeal. A large communal table makes up the bulk of the dining room; everyone else perches on high stools that run along one wall or make an L-shape around the bar.

Baguettes from Grain Organic Bakery at The Stinking Bishops, Newtown
Baguettes from Grain Organic Bakery based in Alexandria

The renovation was mostly done by the boys themselves, a whirlwind effort that took them a frenetic seven weeks. Much of the material has come from recycled sources, including the camphor laurel shelves found in Newcastle. They're particularly stoked with their copper-surfaced bar.

Mr Crispy wagyu smoked beef pressed sandwich at The Stinking Bishops, Newtown
Mr Crispy wagyu smoked beef pressed sandwich $15
with gruyere, horseradish mayo, bread and butter pickles

The lunch menu is short and sweet, including a duck and pistachio pate (from Eathouse Diner), duck rillettes and a house-made English-style pork pie (each $18). We're too early for the pork pie (it's just come out of the oven and is cooling on the bench) but R is more than happy with the wagyu Mr Crispy ($12.50).

Calling a toasted sandwich "Mr Crispy" is much more enticing, especially when the wagyu beef is this tender and smoky, suited up with horseradish mayo, bread and butter pickles and molten gruyere cheese.

There's a whole entourage of Mr Crispy sandwiches. He comes dressed up in Barossa ham with cheddar, tomato jam and mustard, as well as Heidi Tilsit, raw mushroom and truffle mayo.

Cabbage, lettuce, cucumber and fennel salad at The Stinking Bishops, Newtown
Salad of the week $15
Cabbage, lettuce, cucumber, fennel and watercress with horseradish dressing and chilli 

Salads change weekly, and although we enjoy the refreshing lightness of shaved cucumber with cabbage, lettuce and fennel, it feels more like a side than a main, and a little steep at $15.

Cheese menu at The Stinking Bishops, Newtown
Cheese over the counter menu

But it's the cheese we're really after, and indecision is probably your greatest issue when confronted with so many choices. The cheeses are helpfully divided into four sections: white mould, washed rind, semi-hard/hard and blue mould. Staff are happy to provide as much guidance as you need. The cow, goat, sheep and hybrid animal symbols give you a good head start too.

Hand slicing cheese at The Stinking Bishops, Newtown
Hand slicing cheese

Four cheese cheeseboard with brie, camembert, smoked cheddar and blue di capra at The Stinking Bishops, Newtown
Four cheese cheeseboard $36
[Clockwise from bottom left]: Blue di Capra (Italy); Brie Fermia (France); Quickes Oak Smoked Cheddar (UK); and Camembert Fermia (France)

I go with the four cheese board for $36. It's not a cheap, but your wedges of cheese are supplemented with fresh bread from Grain Organics and lavosh crackers (handsomely presented in a calico bag), quince paste, dried muscatels and a very tasty roulade slice of quince, fig and walnut.

Co-owner Kieran Day explaining our cheeseboard at The Stinking Bishops, Newtown
Co-owner Kieran Day explaining our cheeseboard

Kieran is more than happy to run through your cheeses and answer any questions you may have. There's a lovely sense of genuine friendliness here, where you really do feel like you're sitting in your cheese-loving mate's living room and having a yarn.

Brie Fermia from France at The Stinking Bishops, Newtown
Brie Fermia, France

We go for both the brie and camembert fermia just to settle that age-old question: what is the difference between brie and camembert?

Technically they use different strains of bacteria (camembert uses penicillium camemberti and brie uses brevibactirium). They tend to be shaped differently too, with brie made into large flat wheels weighing up to 3 kilos, and camembert shaped into smaller higher cylinders that rarely weigh more than a kilo. Traditionally camembert is also made within 12 hours of milking, creating a cheese with much more flavour.

On our cheeseboard, the brie is visibly runnier, a maturity that is more easily obtained with a large wheel of cheese. It's smoother, creamier and has a slight mushroomy flavour. The camembert is noticeably firmer, a common attribute when comparing it with brie, and has a sweeter and slightly nutty flavour profile.

Blue di Capra from Italy at The Stinking Bishops, Newtown
Blue di Capra, Italy

We went for the blue di capra mostly for the novelty of having a blue cheese made from goats milk. There's a distinct tanginess to it, tempered by a creamy sweetness, although there is a slight goaty aftertaste.

The Quickes oak smoked cheddar is a ripper too, wonderfully aged and crumbly with a gutsy smoky undercurrent to every mouthful.

Hand slicing a cheddar at The Stinking Bishops, Newtown
Slicing a cheddar

The dinner menu has a few more hot dishes, like the mac n blue cheese ($24), slow cooked beef cheeks ($30) and other surprise specials on the night. They have a liquor license too so you can pair your wines with cheese or vice versa. They also do a cured meat board ($17 - $28), a ploughman's board of cheddar with pigs cheek, pickled egg and dill cucumber ($23) and a fish board featuring house-pickled mussels, white anchovy and crackers ($23).

Barista at work at The Stinking Bishops, Newtown
Barista at work

Flat white coffees at The Stinking Bishops, Newtown
Strong flat white

The deconstructed cheesecake is only available at night, but by day you can tuck into a whole host of treats sourced from Luxe Bakery down the road.

Salted caramel tart and lemon meringue tart desserts at The Stinking Bishops, Newtown
Salted caramel tart and lemon meringue tart from Luxe Bakery

We couldn't choose between the salted caramel tart or the lemon meringue tart. The easy decision was to get both. I reckon Wallace would have approved.

The Stinking Bishops, Newtown

The Stinking Bishops on Urbanspoon

The Stinking Bishops
Shop 5, 63-71 Enmore Road, Newtown
Tel: +61 (02) 9007 7754

Opening hours:
Tuesday and Wednesday 9.30am - 7pm
Thursday and Friday 9.30am - 10pm
Saturday 9am - 4.30pm and 5.30pm - 10pm
Sunday 10am - 6pm
Closed on Mondays

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Newtown - Luxe Bakery Cafe
Newtown - Mary's
Newtown - Pie Tin
Newtown - Rising Sun Workshop

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posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 6/12/2014 12:46:00 a.m.


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