Chiswick at the Gallery

Saturday, 17 January 2015



It only feels like yesterday that I was reviewing Chiswick on the leafy streets of Woollahra. As with all restaurant empires; one has the irrepressible desire to divide, multiply and conquer. Matt Moran has seized a rare opportunity to give the restaurant at the Art Gallery of New South Wales a timely revamp, opening Chiswick at the Gallery late last year. For years I had ignored the fact there was an upstairs restaurant - reserved for the likes of functions and weddings. The Caesar salad from the café downstairs was starting to look like an old friend. But times are a changin'!


Props. A complete transformation of what was already a prime location overlooking the Woolloomooloo Finger Wharf Photo credit: Chiswick Restaurant

Moran has injected the gallery with a bit of the Eastern suburbs Chiswick vibe and I'd say it's pretty welcome. One of the most pleasing restaurant interiors I've seen in a long time, not a sprig of rosemary is out of place nor a picture frame askew. It's freakishly perfect here. And light! There is light streaming in from the two sides of floor to ceiling windows. A great relief from the squinty darkness we have been enduring for ages in many (too many) establishments.  


Petuna ocean trout gravlax, fennel, mustard, dill. A started which was flying out of the kitchen. The gravlax was divine, and the fennel salad a low-key side. I could eat this kind of thing all day every day

Perched high on a stool at the communal table we had a view into the kitchen - this is usually a favourite spot of mine to dine were it not for the constant, sometimes frantic cry of "Service!". Under the pump, the noise emanating from the kitchen competes with the dining room. It got a little distracting I must admit. To the menu, and all the Chiswick tried and tested favourites reappear like the slow-roasted Moran family lamb. It's got signature written all over it, if you can look past the $72 price tag. That's like 72 killer pythons from the old days (imagine the possibilities). There's a decent range of dishes on offer, so you can build up your own menu or try the set menu which often includes an entry ticket to the gallery. As an aside, the Pop to Popism exhibition was a nice meander through the decades of pop art.


Pumpkin ravioli, broccolini, lemon, raisins. Delicate house made ravioli with a sweet pumpkin filling and buttery sauce. Faultless. MAJOR highlight/deliciousness going on here

Battered flathead fillets, chips, tartare sauce. Ever trusty on a summer Sydney menu, this generous serving definitely hit the spot

Pan-fried salmon fillet, fennel, quinoa, dandelion. This mesmerising piece of tableware detracted from the beautiful simplicity of this dish. The salmon skin was lovely and crispy, albeit a bit overcooked on the inside (for me anyway). More fennel on the side tick tick tick

And a sweet to finish:

Chiswick chocolate mousse cake with candied orange peel. A layered mousse cake hides under the dusted outer shell. It's a winner for texture and a sure-hit with chocolate lovers (raise your hands)

Modelled off the Woollahra, kitchen garden prototype - the ladies who lunch will be very glad to have a CBD outpost a stone's throw from the botanical gardens. Chiswick may appear elitist but it exudes an easy-going attitude that makes you feel at home instantly.   Now that the AGNSW has a restaurant to rival The Pavilion across the road, those enviable views just got a little bit better. It'll cost you a pretty penny - but what doesn't these days.

Thanks for reading!
xGourmand
Chiswick at the Gallery on Urbanspoon

Civilian Bar & Kitchen

Monday, 12 January 2015



Happy new year readers! After a brief hiatus, I am ready and raring for a new year of foodie adventures. Let the games begin...

Say hello to your new friendly neighbourhood restaurant. Taking up residence where Universal left off (the old digs of Christine Manfield), Civilian Bar & Kitchen takes the fancy down a notch to deliver clever no fuss dining designed to share. Situated in the Republic 2 courtyard, along with the relentlessly packed Phamish; the outlook ain't half bad with an indoor/outdoor dining room and bar. With a relentless appetite for the 'next big thing', Sydneysiders are always on the lookout for one more bar/restaurant to have up their sleeve. Civilian certainly fits the bill.

Perfection from a dinky pork belly dish. Good stuff! Source: Mitch Lui for Broadsheet Sydney

It all starts with a pretty great cocktail menu. Divided into Darlo, Surry Hills, CBD and Bondi sections - there's something for everyone and for every mood. Personally I think I hit the jackpot ordering the Smoke n Salted Passionfruit Sour, but I'll let you be the judge.  
With arguably tremendous shoes to fill, Chef Andy Ball (ex-Claridge's and Bel Mondo) does an admirable job delivering a nice range of dishes to tickle the palette ranging from bar nibbles to larger dishes like Burrawong Gaian chicken with chermoula, espellette pepper and kohlrabi remoulade. It's already sounding excellent. 

The adorable menu holders, a nice touch for all the design geeks like me (left) and Smoke n Salted Passionfruit Sour (right). Coming from the killer cocktail menu, this was a vodka/mescal/lime juice/agave/passhionfruit concoction topped with salted caramel foam. Did you get that? Salted. Caramel. Foam. 

Snow crab, avocado purée, watermelon, radish and crisp rye (pwetty). This was a delicious crab salad type of dish. Ticking all the textural boxes - the threads of crab still took centerstage

Scallops, sudachi (citrus), sesame, edamame, yuzu mayo. The scallops were some of the plumpest things, and perfectly cooked. I could easily have gone for more of that mayo too, delicately piped onto the plate. Totally moreish

And once again for luck, pork belly with spicy miso, fennel, pear, coriander and mint. The pork as expected, was lovely and tender - the miso a nice, slightly spiced accompaniment that works well

The amazing house made Gnocchi with rosemary, artichokes, fennel, spinach and reggianno. This was utterly delicious - the gnocchi were a standout each light and fluffy with a delicate olive oil based sauce with artichokes (another favourite ingredient). So perfect and YUM!

DOLCE


Chocolate tart, hazelnut, salted caramel, banana and nutmeg ice cream. I always think of desserts as a bit of a puzzle, each element needs to sit just right and work into the dish as a whole. The nutmeg ice cream was a nice twist

Vanilla pannacotta, strawberry, meringue, pistachio sponge, lemon curd and raspberry. Unfortunately the panna cotta was not set properly and rather runny. The other elements were pretty solid however, all manner of sins hidden under all the toppings!

Civilian has hit lots of right notes with their impressive range of dishes (and let's not forget those cocktails) that deliver on texture and flavour. The service was friendly and attentive and the setting oh-so-relaxing. In the dog-eat-dog nature of the restaurant industry these days, I hope that Civilian gets the quiet recognition it so deserves. I'm sure the Darlinghurst locals will happily oblige.

Set up camp and while away the hours. You can't help but feel like you're on an island holiday. Don't mind if I do...

Thanks for reading!
xGourmand
Civilian Bar & Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Paddock to Plate - The Farm

Wednesday, 24 December 2014



Fresh back from a day of cherry picking (yes, I did that) in a beautiful part of the country called Young. I felt three things: happy, refreshed and stupidly full (pick one, eat one right?!). No matter that it was a balmy 35 degrees outside and a bucketful of cherries seemed to get heavier by the second. Armed with sunscreen and an iron will, no cherry tree would get the better of me and an hour and a half later, I think we were rewarded handsomely.

Today I thought I'd share with you a little clip I stumbled upon. It's produced by The Field Institute, the foodie group who publish Field Guides to Local Produce as well as the Locavore Edition. Now, in collaboration with Palate magazine they're branching out with The Farm. This is an exciting project launching in Byron Bay in the new year. Owner Will Cotterill and Mark LaBrooy (the latter a chef from Three Blue Ducks) are working together to open a farm shop and restaurant, taking the very best from what's grown on the acreage. With a tinkering soundtrack by Eleven Magpies and images of pristine  farm land - it's enough to make you want to pack up and go.


A quick glance on their website and you can see that their vision is   rather an ambitious one - a restaurant for close to 100, macadamia and avocado orchards, hundreds of chickens, a piggery, apiaries and a cheese processing plant are just the beginning. For those looking for a tree change, The Farm is a great place to start and draw inspiration. Following in the steps of Rohan Anderson (Whole Larder Love), Rodney Dunn (The Agrarian Kitchen) and Matthew Evans (Gourmet Farmer) The Farm is championing local produce and all its perks. Now we have something to experience for ourselves, and right on our doorstep. Cheers to that.

Thanks for reading and Merry Christmas!
xGourmand
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