Calling all time-poor professionals: we’ve found you a quick, hearty lunchtime destination that won’t break the bank (or make you late for a meeting).
The whole concept of Pavel & Co, located on Sydney’s Kent St, is fast fine-dining. It’s slow-cooked food that comes out quickly, either in takeaway or eat-in form. Combine rotisserie meats, freshly baked bread and a low price point (about $11 for a panini) and you have all the makings of a lunchtime favourite.
Actually, it already is a favourite. Despite opening barely two months ago, you’ll already find anywhere between 400 and 500 hungry diners coming through daily for a coffee and breakfast in the early hours, or a restaurant-quality takeaway from midday onward. For such a humble-sized venue (50 pax) it seems incredible that Pavel & Co can cater for such numbers, but then, most of its customers are taking it back to their desks. You’ve got to hand it to them, they know how to please the time-poor city guys and gals.
The fit-out is very much New York fine dining meats Eastern European deli. The warm space is full of bronze touches, dark woods and off-white tiles, with just enough scattered wooden crates and metal cages to give it that industrial edge. An open kitchen allows you to act the voyeur and watch the chefs hard at work and it’s not hard to spot the rotisserie where the magic happens.
Images courtesy of Kai Godeck. Food images courtesy of Pavel & Co.
Ah, the rotisserie. At a squeeze you could fit up to 25 chickens in here, but in reality you’re likely to find a mix of free range whole chickens, lamb shanks, crunchy porchetta rolls (from Vic’s Meats) and whole roasted vegetables. Meat brined with salt, sugar, herbs and spices for 24-hours the day before are roasted for just over three hours here before being torn apart and tucked in a roll of freshly baked bread.
Side note: the bread is that perfect mix of crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. It’s made up of 30-40% potato and is grilled moments before you bite into it.
Getting the rotisserie right was tricky in the beginning. Neil Nolan, Head Chef for the Pony Dining Group, practised for a month on the same rotisserie at Victor Churchill, to get the timings and flavours just right.
“The hardest part for me was to get the lamb tasting nice on a sandwich,” Neil says. “The chicken was easy. The flavour from the spit itself… it’s a knockout. Chicken is chicken, but we do it right.”
It wasn’t long before the lamb came ‘right’ after Neil perfected a rub of ground fennel, cumin and coriander seeds. “We’ve really nailed the lamb,” he says with a touch of well-deserved pride. The real dark horse on the menu, however, is the satay tofu panini. “It’s a hard one to sell, but I love it,” says Neil. He makes the satay himself, roasting his own peanuts in-house. “I’d eat it every day if I could.”
Of course, they do a burger too. There’s an unwritten rule in Sydney at the moment that everyone must do a burger. But Pavel & Co. has given this staple foodstuff a twist. It’s a very simple, American-style patty, where the Wagyu meat (Blackmore Beef) is held together by its own fats; there’s no added egg, bread crumbs or any other preservatives you might usually find. Finished with a roll of that perfect bread and topped with American mustard and ketchup, you have an offering that’s a little different to what everybody else is doing.
Predictably, it flies off shelves.
If you’re here for breakfast, check out one of their other truly unique dishes: the bacon and egg san choy bau. That’s porchetta from the spit, with a sunny-side up egg, held in a leaf of iceberg lettuce and finished with a little chilli tomato relish. It’s a change from the bacon and egg roll you might usually grab on your way to work, but they have that to if you’re so inclined.
Keep an eye out for changes afoot at Pavel & Co. As well as the salads getting a shake up every few months (they are seasonal, after all), a liquor license is in the works. In about a month, you’ll be able to linger here on Friday evenings, relaxing with a glass of wine or bottled beer, over a share platter of meats and treats.
They’re also moving into the dinner space - so if you’re working back late, you know where to go.
In the meantime, they’re just focusing on “reinventing the wheel,” as Neil puts it. “New meats, different cuts… the sky’s the limit to what you can put on the rotisserie.”
For our part, we can’t wait to see what they try next.
Address: 1/222 Kent St, Sydney
Opening Times: Monday to Friday, 6.30am - 4pm
Facebook: Pavel & Co