February 17th, 2009

Does My Bomb Look Big In This?

Review - Forbes and Burton

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

Forbes & Burton on Urbanspoon
Does My Bomb Look Big In This?

Black Star Pastry

For my City Hub column this week I did some hardcore research at Black Star Pastry in Newtown (near Oscillate Wildly). I'd held off on mentioning it had opened because I feel it's better to try it and have some actual products to report back on, rather than just mention it in passing. Thus I visited, and I can now report back conclusively that the Lamb Shank and Vegetables in Red Wine Pie ($6.50) is a real contender for Sydney’s tastiest pie – both the pastry and the filling are excellent.

I snapped a photo of the Leek and Goats’ Cheese Quiche ($4.50) which oozes quality, particularly the chalky lumps of goats’ cheese. The rich yellow curd on the Lemon Curd Biscuit ($2) would give my dearly departed Grandma a run for her money; and the less said about the Rosewater and White Chocolate Macaroons ($3.50) the better. After all, I am a late riser, and if I tell you how good they are, you’ll buy them out before I get there (and I am on such a macaroon kick at the moment). Can you please leave me one of the restaurant quality cups of White Nectarine Jelly on Panna cotta ($5) too please?

Seriously, get down to this pastry shop. Everything I tried was excellent, and I went nowhere near trying everything they had on offer on the day I attended.

Black Star Pastry
277 Australia Street, Newtown
Ph: (02) 9557 8656

Black Star Pastry on Urbanspoon
Does My Bomb Look Big In This?

Review - Blancmange

One thing we often lack the time to do is return to restaurants that have really appealed to us in our travels seeking out new and different. One such restaurant was Blancmange in Petersham. HERE is a reminder of what we ate on our first visit there back in July 2007.

So recently on a rainy night off, we finally found the time to return for a meal. Our intention was to have the good value 3 courses for $50, but we flagged after the large mains and ended up leaving before dessert, so we paid even less! I also note that in eighteen months, the price of this three course special has risen a mere two dollars.

This time I began with the Chicken Liver Parfait with Pinot Noir Jelly, Cornichons, Onion Jam and toasted Sourdough ($16) which transported me to the rustic French farm-stay of my dreams. Ah the decadence!

In my bliss I totally ignored my dining companion getting stuck into the rich pleasure of the Twice Cooked Cheese and Herb Souffle ($16). Lucky for me I’d tried it last time, because he made pretty fast work of the dish, leaving me but a smear of the creamy cheese sauce.

Each time I return to Blancmange, I leave with a new reason that I’m glad it’s my local. This time it was the mostly for the house-made vegetarian Gnocchi ($28) with butternut pumpkin, which arrived at the table topped with a wonderful warmed wheel of Soignon Buche Blanc cheese. I am now of course obsessed with this cheese, and even went so far as to take it to my beautician for Xmas. She loved it!

After stealing a good sample of my dining companion's Black Angus Rump Steak ($28) with mash, bone marrow and parsley sauce, I was full to bursting.  While my eyes caressed our neighbours’ desserts, my stomach convinced me that since they’re just down the road with free, convenient parking, I can pop back for dessert sometime soon.

The wine list is still interesting, and well-priced. We tried the 2007 Coteau de la Biche Chenin Blanc ($40) from Vouvray, France which was austere with minerally notes. It worked better with food, as the fruit (white peach) appeared. The service was warm and welcoming once again, with just the right amount of flair.

1 Station Street, Petersham
Ph: (02) 9568-4644

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