As we mentioned a few months ago, the prime Surry Hills location on Campbell and Crown once occupied by Bentley Bar has been transformed into a new spot called Chow Bar & Eating House specialising in “Chinese street food”. It’s only been open a few weeks now, but it’s packed pretty much anytime we walk by and was nearly impossible to get a booking. So…is it worth all the fuss? Well – let us reiterate that it has only been open a few weeks so we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.
Let’s start with the positives:
- Beautifully decorated. We were actually surprised that they didn’t just stick to the old Bentley design as that was quite nice too, but they really made it their own down to the details which we can appreciate.
- Tasty food. We had the dumplings, the tails, the fried chicken, the spare-ribs, fried rice, and the whole fish plus dessert – everything had great flavour.
- Pleasant staff. Everyone we dealt with from the booking confirmation call to the actual dinner was lovely and kind.
Now onto what needs some work:
- Value. Similar to what we’d experienced at Claude’s (the Woolhara institution that closed down and whose chef went on to open Chow House) – portions are TINY. Like…we had to order additional servings of a few things to keep everyone from going hungry. This wasn’t a huge shocker at Claude’s which was fine French dining, but when you go to a place that calls itself an eating house that specialise in Chinese street food – you expect some larger more satisfying portions.
- Noodles. The fact that there are none on the menu was saddening.
- Staff recommendations or the option of a set menu. We were a table of four open to suggestions and all our server could say was – everything is good. I mean…she said it with a smile and per the positives sections – she was lovely…but come on. When someone is basically giving you free reign to decide what they should have – you go for it.
- Comfort. While the redesign is beautiful – the stools that we sat on were not comfortable. No where to put you handbag besides on the floor semi in the way of everybody = not ideal.
All in all – we enjoyed our dinner, but there is definitely room for improvement. Hoping they step up their game in the coming months. They are so conveniently close to our place that we’d love to have reason to become regulars!