WHEN chef Wael Alkhlif talks about his Newtown restaurant celebrating the Mediterranean, he means it. The theme begins before you even step in the door, with the cerulean paint job on the King Street exterior.
Opened just a few weeks ago, Missony also has the vibe of the international five-star hotel about it - which makes sense, given Alkhlif's background in high-end hotel chains including the InterContinental.
The Syrian-educated chef, who left his home country before the devastating civil war, has worked in kitchens in Turkey, Hungary, Dubai, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Calling Sydney home for the past five years, he has taken the step of bringing his cultural background and vast global experience to bear in his very own kitchen, describing his offering as "modern Mediterranean cuisine inspired by the European dining scene".
This is not a restaurant that is trying to be trendy. Stylish, yes, but in more of a timeless way.
We dine from the soft-opening menu, although Alkhlif has plans for a much bigger one that ranges across Mediterranean cuisines, from Italian and Greek to Morroccan and Lebanese. For entrée, we choose the deep-fried decadence of Dynamite Tiger Prawns with 'mystic' mayo sauce, and Real Felafel. Crunchy on the outside, respectively succulent and fluffy on the inside, they are a very more-ish beginning.
For main course, we home in on the skewers from the flame char-grill. My sizzling kebab is served on smoky tomato pepper sauce that has deep, rich flavours after having simmered for hours. The Lebanese-style shish tawook chicken breast is a hit with the fussy teen, and the lamb rump with shallot onion and chefs' spices is well seasoned and beautifully tender.
Our tabouli side salad towers on the plate, and is just how tabouli should be - lots of parsley, not too much burghul, and a perfectly balanced lemon and olive oil dressing that delivers a punchy tang. Extra points, too, for the surprise crunchy sweetness of a scattering of pomegranate seeds.
This is not a restaurant that is trying to be trendy. Stylish, yes, but in more of a timeless way - we love the feature mural by local artist Alex Lobanov. Alkhlif's endeavour is all about good food cooked from quality ingredients by a chef who knows his stuff across a range of cuisines. In those international five-star kitchens, exacting technique and quality control is king, given the cosmopolitan clientele who are paying top dollar and expecting an experience to match. No wonder Google reviews for Missony are so far unanimously five-star.
At Missony, however, Alkhlif is keeping his prices at casual King Street levels to give customers the culinary equivalent of "driving a Ferrari at a Toyota price". All are agreed at our table that we'll be back for another test drive.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.