The room is awash with royal blue and aquamarine. Comfortable gold basket chairs stuffed with turquoise clam shell cushions alternate with black metal dining chairs cushioned with plush royal blue.
Over a long, padded deep blue banquette, two well-chosen abstract artworks draw from the same reduced colour palette.
Marble table tops - some with gold edges – and backlit marble room dividers, provide a sense of luxury; while twine-wrapped Monstera deliciosa plants inject a touch of the exotic.
Over a Salt’n’Vinegar Martini ($21) rimmed with black salt and topped with a cloud of vinegar foam that you’d be wise not to inhale, I muse that Cod’s Gift certainly isn’t what I expected as I made my way to Dural for lunch. Gin & Juice ($20) - my second selection from the ambitious list of signature cocktails - teams gin with dragon fruit and watermelon.
They stop the pink potion from being cloyingly sweet with a dash of Tabasco (give it a stir, it tends to sit at the bottom). While neither drink quite gets over the line for me, I’m taken by the fact that I’ve never drunk either of them before.
Sitting inside King Neptune’s palace, certainly inclines you to plunder the bounty of the sea (though the succinct menu does also offer up a beef, lamb and vegetarian option). With the Seafood Platter ($48/half) cleverly coming as half-sized and only featuring Australian seafood, my choice is easily made.
We’re soon armed with a battalion of poking, prodding and cracking silverware to dismember our Queensland blue swimmer crab, nudge Sydney rock oysters from their shells, and spear slices of flying fish roe-topped tuna.We quickly dispatch the well-presented plate that also includes king prawns and Moreton bay bugs drawn from the Sunshine State. Both go very well with wakame salad and a Japanese-inspired roasted sesame seed mayonnaise.
While the personable Mason LaRoche clears away all traces of our battle with the sea, he fills us in on the restaurant’s backstory. Cod’s Gift was initially a second venue for owners Caroline Neill Ryan and Che Vogler, who kicked off their Dural adventures at Wolfe & Co just around the corner.
In March this year, they sold off their popular café to focus upon this spot, which neatly doubles as the local fish and chippery via a kitchen window that pops out into the outdoor courtyard.
I contemplate the takeaway menu over a lovely, lemony and linear 2015 Henri Darnat Bourgogne ‘La Jumalie’ Chardonnay ($111/bottle) that’s over-priced but a perfect seafood wine none-the-less.
It goes gangbusters with Barramundi ($34) served on a beautiful plate with a cluster of tender little vongole and a squid ink risotto nero. The crisp-skinned Northern Territory barra has spent a smidgen too long in the pan but is saved by the wetness of the risotto that's big on punchy, salty midpalate.
The 2014 Capel Vale Mount Barker Riesling ($48/bottle) comes from Mason’s home state of Western Australia. It’s textural with a bit of underlying funk; lending it rather nicely to the Champagne Lobster Linguine ($29). Sitting on a whirl of pasta, two split lobster halves are kept in their shells, then topped with Bloody Mary sauce and a crisp, fresh parsley pangrattato. It’s another loud but fun dish at a restaurant that has a relaxed looseness and the confidence to march to its own beat.
Dusted with more thematic gold, Cinnamon Honey Figs ($18) with smooth coconut and kaffir lime sorbet, wraps up my meal nicely. If I found myself in Dural again, I’d give the Fish & Chips ($19.50) – served grilled (silver dory) or fried (flathead) – from their takeaway window a whirl without any hesitation...
Shop 4-6/3 Ward Place, Dural
Ph: (02) 9651 3336
Thanks to AGFG for arranging my visit.