417 Crown Street, Surry Hills
(opposite The Clock Hotel)
Phone: 9319 6609
Reviewers: Jess & Beck
Between us, we are unfairly stacked with vegetarians – lovers, friends and family. We even have vegans in our midst. Given our proclivity for succulent meaty goodness, we think we’ve done more than our fair share of hogging at the troughs of unidentifiable root vegetable stews and lukewarm nut loaves.
So it is with an under-hyped sigh that we present ourselves at Yulli’s for a birthday dinner for 20 guests.
Turns out Yulli’s is a cool new addition to the Sydney small bar scene. The long, low-lit terrace starts with casual indoor dining and a bar at the front and stretches to heated courtyard seating at the rear. Astroturf is an amusing outdoor accent, as is the quirky choice between Pac Man and Space Invader toilets.
Momentarily mollified by the great atmosphere and thoughtful wine list, we suddenly remember we’re here to eat vegetarian food and so instinctually assume the stance of crouching carnivores ready to howl with indignation at the first sign of a limp carrot.
But rather quickly the lack of faux-hemians, Hare-Krishna cookbooks and bain maries brings on a shared dawning that Yulli’s is actually one of a rare breed of vegetarian restaurant aspiring to something more than a laxative effect.
From a usual ’meat-etarian‘ point of view the menu is a mixed bag – but when the food is good, it’s very, very good. Salty pan-fried haloumi is demolished with predictable vigour, as are crispy spring rolls. Beck’s stand-out favourite is the super gingery, slippery and very authentic ginger and leek dumplings with soy and plum sauce. Jess’s is the flaming hot build-your-own baby burritos with a sprig of fresh coriander for added ‘arriba!’.
The table of 20 is served at a perfect pace, with food a plenty. Each dish inspires enough enthusiasm to create competition with the last. A snaffled portion of Pad Thai linguine (‘vego posh’ gone wrong – stick with noodles please), and the haloumi pizza (smothered in dressed rocket – the perfect acidic foil for all that yummy oily cheese) are all consumed with boozy appreciation.
On the dessert front the news is all good. The warm chocolate brownie is sexual and fluffy. The cheesecake almost criminally decadent.
Overall Beck thinks the food is pretty darn good given that there’s no skin in the game. Jess wonders if all that pepper is hiding something. But we both agree that the booze selection is inspired. So for good measure we end the night by washing the lot down with a third bottle of champers, which we agree is impressive work for a school night.
All in all Yulli’s is a great laid-back all-rounder that really does seem to have the ability to please everyone. It has a wanker-free vibe, and welcome lack of hard-sell on alternative lifestyles.
Go there. Take your mates.