Before I get started, apologies for the photos - we had a late sitting and as a result it was quite dark....so, sorry..
The restaurant has a nice relaxed atmosphere and almost feels like a cafe with couples, groups and some families. We left the food decisions in the hands of the kitchen, opting for the tasting menu. To start there is a thick slice of sourdough bread served with butter and salt, of course I tried to eat as much of the butter as possible! Then a couple of the 'snacks' are served - Putanesca wafer and Cured blackmore short rib grissini. Damn fine snacks if you ask me - I could munch on these anytime - the Putanesca wafer is cheesy with nice flavours from the vegetables. The grissini has cheese as well, which complements the tasty beef.
|Mmm bread.. and love the cheese display!|
|Putanesca wafer and Cured blackmore short rib grissini.|
This is followed by slices of raw scallop that are simply dressed with olive oil, a generous smattering of fresh chives, lime and dehydrated squid ink powder. The flavours are simple and fresh, it's delicious and right up my alley. Next is foie gras, wild hare, beetroot, plum vinergar and red cabbage granita. It's pure genius. Foie gras in this shaved form still has the same rich flavour but it's much lighter, so it doesn't overpower the other elements in the dish. All the flavours and textures work well, and the coolness of the granita adds an extra dimension.
|The scallops... and the foie gras in grated form.|
Our waiter brings out the next dish and asks us to guess what it is and it's not obvious at first glance. Turns out it's soy and mustard glazed swordfish belly with pickled cucumber. It's totally melt in your mouth and has a great flavour, it's almost like eating meat - why doesn't all fish taste this good? The pairing of pickled cucumber works really well to balance the stronger flavours in the fish.
|Soy and mustard glazed swordfish belly with pickled cucumber.|
Next is one of the dishes that you cannot miss - liquid butternut gnocchi, mushroom consomme and sage. Take a mouthful of the mushroom consomme along with one of the delicate gnocchi and enjoy the smooth texture and flavour that bursts and combines perfectly with the consomme. The cheesy wafer has enoki mushrooms and a couple of the gnocchi plastered to it... simply yum. It's clever and fun and soooooo tasty.
|Liquid butternut gnocchi, mushroom consomme and sage.|
Where to from here? What else but the other dish that everyone talks about - crispy scaled snapper, smoked potato puree, calamari crackling and ink sauce. Besides the obvious novelty of eating the crispy scales, the snapper is perfectly cooked and delightful in taste and texture. The potato puree is smooth and creamy, with a nice flavour. The calamari crackling is accompanied by a couple of pieces of calamari, and along with the ink sauce binds the dish.
|Crispy scaled snapper, smoked potato puree, calamari crackling and ink sauce.|
|Couldn't let the calamari bits get missed out in the photo!|
By this time we're definitely ready for dessert as we're getting quite full - it arrives in the form of a chocolate, honeycomb, mandarin sphere with cookies & cream. The recommendation is to tap with the back of the spoon as one would with an egg. It gives a good crack and the cold liquid elements ooze out, ready to mixed with the cookies and cream. It's a little on the sweet side but it's very tasty and one feels indulgent, the way dessert should be.
|Chocolate, honeycomb, mandarin sphere with cookies and cream.|
|Craaack! Totally decadent and delicious.|
So we come to the end of a truly fantastic meal. C's matching wines were all great pairings - I've never seen C enjoy the matching wines so much with a tasting menu - our sommelier was friendly and informative, you could really see he had a passion for wine. And last but not least, the people (including the afore-mentioned sommelier) working the floor were awesome! Not only was the service faultless but everyone was so friendly that we were laughing non-stop, it was like dining with good friends. I've never had so much fun at a restaurant.... great food, great people - it was perfect!
What: Gastro Park
Where: 5-9 Roslyn St, Kings Cross