While The Commissary’s concept seems to be the antithesis of its elder sibling, The Shortmarket Club, the food is what reminds you that you’re eating at an LDR-associated restaurant. There are no reservations, and diners are seated on a first-come, first-served basis. Once you’re seated, the presented menu is small, yet interesting, with a handful of plates intended to be shared. The best part about this menu is that the plates are so well-priced that you’re easily able to order one of everything.
Right off the bat, the flavours are unabashed and in-your-face, starting with oysters with a bracingly spicy nahm jim sauce and tuna tataki with a yuzu, peach and peanut dressing. Moving on to the Jason sourdough flatbread, made with Jason Lilley’s famed sourdough served alongside a smoky baba ganoush and salsa macha. It’s perfect for tearing and sharing in between the rest of the heat-packed dishes. The unexpected scene-stealer, however, has to be the wedge salad, with its creamy gorgonzola dressing and smoked pecans atop iceberg lettuce. It’s another welcome, cooling pause in the meal.
The pork katsu slider, (crumbed and deep-fried pork cutlet) is served on a mini potato bun, alongside a Korean barbecue sauce and shredded cabbage for further crunch. Long-standing Pot Luck Club fans will happily rejoice at the addition of Korean-fried chicken wings – made famous when Wesley was head chef there. They’re super crispy and have funky spice coming from the kimchi marinade and are perfectly paired with the accompanying miso mayo. Another iconic Randles dish is the SMC octopus slider, where the crispy, panko-crumbed octopus known and loved at The Shortmarket Club is dressed down in a steamed bun and drenched in a bright mango atchar and tamarind dressing. The Massaman-style lamb roti, featuring a slow-cooked lamb, is meltingly soft and accompanied by a delicate roti and fresh herb salad – perfect for rolling up and gobbling down in one go.
If you think you don’t have space for dessert, pause for a minute and make space – Juliet Randles’ sweets are not to be missed. The ‘Nice Cream’ is made via liquid nitrogen and a stand mixer, and pairs perfectly with her freshly-baked (read: still warm and gooey) white chocolate and cherry cookie.
With Simon Widdison taking care of the wine list, you can expect a varied offering of interesting local wines at reasonable pricing increments. If you’re looking for a cheap and cheerful glass of rose or an all out bottle of red, this list has you covered. Similarly, there’s a neat curation of local beers as well as a fun cocktail menu.
The food comes out fast, and the service keeps up with it, which reminds you that Wesley and his team run a tight ship.
The Commissary is nothing like you’ve seen before. There are no reservations, you enter the space through a graffitied-hallway before you sit down at communal tables to eat off plastic and enamel plates, and mess hall-style trays. Multi-coloured lights and splashes of spray paint encourage you to top up your drink, and settle in for – lack of a better word – a “jol”.