“Each person that walks through the doors, treats it like their own,” says Nicholas Hill, Head Chef and co-owner of Porcine, the new-school French bistro above Paddington’s P&V Wine & Liquor Merchants.
The cult, natural wine shop below sets the tone for the fuss-free bistro upstairs says Hill. Along with co-owner Harry Levy from ex-Italian diner Don Peppino, Hill, former Old Fitzroy Hotel head chef, bring new meaning to Parisian bistros with their focus on the nose to curly tail approach to the menu.
“For me, I’ve always loved French bistro food, which is a lot of pork. We get whole Berkshire pigs in once a week, we break it down, and drive the menu from it,” says Hill.
Hills impressive background includes Quay and Sepia, as well as over six years at The Ledbury in London, where he learned to break down animals. He explains, he bought a whole pig and chopped it up to learn how to break one down. Although, most of his training taught him to work with deer, pheasant, turkey, and goats—whole.
“I learned the anatomy of breaking down animals, and identifying what cut comes from what part of the animal. It was great training for what we’re doing now with Porcine,” says Hill.
Hill says Porcine is not a bacon house. Instead, they also focus on vegetables and seafood, especially as the warmer months approach. Although pig is the main star of the show.
Whole Berkshire pigs from Hungerford Meats are processed onsite and turned into pâté and charcuterie, with A-grade cuts headlining the main menu.
According to Hill, a whole Berkshire pig arrives from Hungerford Meats and is processed on-site. The end product is everything from pâté to chou farci (pork-stuffed cabbage), and chops that headline the menu.
An entire shoulder could go toward a large table of 10, or party booth as Hill calls it, on the balcony.
“The shoulder will go into a mincer, and we can make terrines. All chops and loins are used for the main course, and legs become hams. We don’t like to waste a single part. Even the trotters and scrap go into a stock to become jus for the dishes,” says Hill.
“We supply P&V with little bits and pieces. We keep the bellies for staff breakfast on a Sunday morning, to make bacon. It all gets used.”
As for the atmosphere, expect friendly staff and a relaxed atmosphere, which some nights can be quiet, and others can be buzzing with tables enjoying a bottle of wine.
“We have an intimate space upstairs that our front of house can spend time with guests. It’s a really chill place. We don’t try to make it stuffy, which being above a bottle shop lends a hand in keeping it fun and casual,” says Hill.
When it comes to ordering, Hill recommends the Québécois-style pate, called Creton. He explains, it’s derived from pork mince and is cooked with onions, brandy, spices and chicken livers. When it’s cooled, Hill whips through rendered pork fat and creme fraiche.
“With some good bread, it’s a great way to start the meal. I would advise anyone to have the Creton.”
Hill also loves a chop. “One of the best pieces I’ve had recently came from a 200kg female pig. I dry-aged the neck chop for 6 weeks, and cooked it like a steak—the flavour was incredible.”
With a simple and homely menu, it’s only fitting they do BYO wine, which you can pop into the bottle shop below before shuffling upstairs for a Parisian feast.
“Some nights it feels like a Lyonnaise Bouchon, others it can lean more toward bougie Parisian.”
The cold weather in most parts of Australia coinciding with EOFY celebrations is the closest thing that we’ll get to snowy Christmas vibes. And if you’re in dire need of some festive cheer after the first six months of 2023, grab your ugly sweater and head to your nearest Red Rooster for Xmas in July deals.
From June 29 – July 31, 2023, Red Rooster is serving up free food items, a chance to win $10,000 or one of 10 merch packs valued at $400 and other fun prizes. All you have to do is sign up as a Red Royalty member and spend $5 on at a location near you or online.
Each week there’ll be new delicious deals and prizes to win. The week one deals have already dropped and they’re looking pretty tasty. You can get access to them via your Red Royalty account. The more you purchase, the more chances you have to win.
Spoiler alert: you can get 10 chicken nuggets for free, right now. Brb running to Red Rooster.