I marvelled at the changes to this pretty sandstone venue which I recalled as having serious acoustic issues last time I visited (admittedly back in the Dov days, when it was really loud). The space has been widened (by taking out a hallway to the upstairs apartments) and a false ceiling with a bright strawberry facade has been added. It looks, and more importantly, sounds great.
Chef Nathan Peters’ entree of Seared Scallops with Melitzano ($18) was perhaps a little dominated by the flat leaf parsley. I really was not convinced by any of this dish - the eggplant wasn't quite a match for the scallops. The usually unctuous texture of the scallops was lost in the combination of the parsley and the chilli curls. The chilli curls themselves had no heat, and virtually no flavour. I suspect there is a reason I have not seen these ingredients teamed with a scallop before.
One thing that did impress me was the small but well put together wine list - it was just done by a mate of the owner, not a trained sommelier, but he did an excellent job. I tried the unique 2006 Rippon Vineyard Osteiner ($43) and the lively acidity suited our Thai Prawn and Green Papaya Salad ($16.50) entree. The entree was by far the better of the two I tried, though both are apparently popular on the small menu.
His flavoursome house-made Gnocchi with Buffalo Mozzarella and Cherry Tomatoes ($21.50) arrived particularly well-caramelised. There was a lot I liked about the flavour of the house-made gnocchi, and the other produce (the basil, buffalo mozzarella and the cherry tomatoes) sang... but in the end, I have to err on the side of saying it was overcooked - a shame.
The best bite of the night went to his nicely balanced Pancetta Wrapped Duck Breast with Caramelised Apple and Calvados Sauce ($29.50). This dish was imaginative, and it really let each ingredient speak without dominating the dish - and that's hard to do with pancetta wrapping. Calvados is rapidly becoming a sauce I am a big fan of, particularly when it is presented with duck and pig - got to love those apple notes!
This is a side of Seasonal Greens ($7) - which in this case is broccolini.
With an on-the-blink freezer taking out his famed Pineapple Passionfruit Vacherin ($12), I substituted a Vanilla Panna Cotta ($11.00) which also showed nice balance with the accompanying mango and raspberries.
Returning to the clever wine list a glass of the 2006 Capercaillie Gewürztraminer ($8) from Lovedale also hit the spot with raisin-like flavours generated from grapes left long on the vine. I enjoyed it as I contemplated the river of bats which flowed overhead. The bats stayed with us for two whole courses - that's a lot of bats.
Forbes and Burton
252 Forbes Street, Darlinghurst
Ph: (02) 9356 8788