Monday, 13 October 2014

Public is leading the charge on Brisbane's dining scene. Championing a shared plate revolution in the Sunshine State, this smartly placed restaurant has retained one chef's hat since its opening in 2012. You wouldn't know this place was two years young, with a rather snazzy interior and a nice energy which certainly exudes from the kitchen. Set on the first floor of the 400 George St skyscraper, this is a fancy departure from the laid back vibes that scream Brisvegas. Public is here to shake things up and prove a point.

A modern, rather sedate venue by day. At night, the mood lighting strikes (again) and the requisite taxidermy animals make a bold show of it Source: Time Out

Chef Damon Amos is obviously a man of few words because the menu is positively monosyllabic, and not in a bad way. Share plates are the name of the game and each dish is listed as a few ingredients, letting your imagination do the rest. This style of food is instantly recognisable and perfect for groups. What you get is a happy union of ingredients that aren't traditionally paired, with the inclusion of a few oddballs like Black ants and sea lettuce (where does one acquire such things?). Keeping the diner on their toes, which I like. The result is that Public is a jack of all trades, for a quick drink and pre-dinner snack or a full blown banquet - anything's possible. And as a location for private functions, it's an emphatic yes (from me, anyway).

Public Nuisance. Fresh strawberries combined with cucumber and elderflower, Beefeater gin and sparkling wine. A rather refreshing sup in a champagne saucer i.e. old school. Those who know me understand my devotion to gin as a beverage

Beetroot, cumquat, dukkah. Side dishes are notoriously boring but this one was a side for the ages. Beetroot done several ways with a smattering of powder. A cumquat puree at the bottom, dukkah and labna. Everything you could possibly ever need

Prawn, Jerusalem Artichoke, Sea Lettuce. A delicious prawn dish, the sauce at the bottom had this beautiful rich, nuttiness (thanks to the peanuts, duh. Greatness!

Texas brisket, soft tortillas, chilli sauce. This one's a bit of a crowd favourite, slow cooked beef brisket with coleslaw and soft tortillas. This is an eat with your hands and juices-dripping-down-your-arms kind of affair. An extra  splodge of chilli sauce and I'm in heaven. Be sure to try this one

What's nice about Public is that they lose the pretension that so many restaurants down south are infamous for. The food is absolutely not to be sniffed at, with flavours that are bold and playful. Let's not forget the plating which is all about detail adding different textures of ingredients. And the relaxed atmosphere is there, from the moment you're welcomed to when last drinks hit the table. Even now, it's difficult to get a reservation at Public; we were lucky enough to secure seats at the bar on a weekday. Here they are, doing their own thing in Brissie and building a reputation for themselves. It's kind of refreshing.

Duck egg, truffle, toast. I had inadvertently requested extra truffle to be served on this rather posh piece of toast. The dish ended up being dense, but enjoyable (without a doubt). Be sure to soak up the runny egg yolk with the bread. The truffle itself was unmistakable, like a homecoming!
Thanks for reading!
Public on Urbanspoon

Snapshot: Omnivore

Monday, 6 October 2014

That ominous looking, zig-zag for a sign is the logo for the Omnivore World Tour, a 'little' known festival around these parts. Coinciding with the Labour Day long weekend and the start of Good Food Month, Omnivore is all about celebrating the up-and-coming culinary talents of the world. With a series of masterclasses and pop-up dinners over the weekend; the air abuzz with a youthful energy and excitement. This year (the second year the Omnivore tour has come to Sydney), the festival descended on the Australian National Maritime Museum for some harbour-side capers, a nifty concept unto itself.

O-MNIV-ore, or something...

Tonight's feast was hosted by chefs Pierre Sang Boyer, of Pierre Sang in Oberkampf (Paris) as well as our own Hamish Ingham of Bar H (Sydney) (another restaurant I still haven't visited yet!!!). Both like to work with Asian flavours in a rather modern way, delivering refined and innovative dishes. Pierre Sang launched himself into the spotlight after being named finalist in Top Chef 2011, France. Now, in 2014 he has two restaurants in Paris which are consistently booked out. Yet again, the great table tussle continues #firstworldproblems. Luckily this time, Pierre Sang has come to us!

You've got to love a long table and male models for waiters (pretty much)...can't complain!

Hamish Ingham, a local Sydney chef carved a name for himself at Bar H Dining, a dinky corner eatery in Surry Hills serving Chinese inspired food. With various appearances on Masterchef and a Good Food Guide chef's hat in the arsenal, Ingham is a worthy contender in this pop-up duo. This is the Eurasian dream team on paper but shall we move on to the food? The dinner consisted of five courses with matched wines, with a focus on locally sourced Australian ingredients (but of course)!

Sashimi of snapper with wasabi snow, okahjiki and shiso. My favourite dish of the night, already. We peaked pretty early here, but Ingham's combination of everything in the dish was an instant winner. A few strands of samphire, the hint of wasabi powder and the freshness of the fish - all gone in an instant!

Spinach and oyster, pomegranate. A rather curious dish for me by Boyer, a prawn cracker (not quite crispy enough) sits perched amongst diced fresh oyster and a bundle of vegetables (par cooked, slightly too textural haha) without much of a sauce. The oyster and the roe could just be there alone and I'd be happy!

Tuna andouille, bearnaise sauce. A rich sauce for a very rich and oily fish. This dish is a staple of Boyer's, a signature on the menu of In Oberkampf. The tuna itself was incredible, the grilled onion and radish just accessory

Rangers Valley wagyu rump cap shiro miso, sichuan beetroot. Ingham experiments a little by using a lesser known cut of wagyu which has been slow cooked. Perhaps more chewy than most are used to, I found the meat still be nice and tender and the sauce had a lovely depth of flavour. The spiced beets were a nice accompaniment

In the spotlight, the frantic assembly line for the dessert course. All done outside on a makeshift 'pass'

Rose geranium pavlova, yuzu curd, muntrie jam and dried strawberries. That oozy curd, I could just bottle that up and bundle it home. The meringue unfortunately was rather chewy at the bottom, possibly an issue with pre-cooking them offsite. For balance and lightness, I thought maybe a bit more whipped cream might have helped. The coriander added a nice, tangy touch to what would otherwise be a very sweet dessert

A quick Q&A with Luc Dubanchet (creator of Omnivore) and the crew, many of whom had flown in from France especially for the Omnivore program. Read: junket!

With Omnivore gracing our shores once again, here's hoping they make the trip Down Under for many years to come. It seems the Omnivore movement has been gaining some momentum and this dinner was a testament to that fact. You can catch some more glimpses from the night with the official coverage over hereAt its heart, Omnivore helps to connect young chefs from around the world, promoting a strong spirit of collaboration. The best thing about these events are that they are a golden opportunity for some of the young guns to establish themselves. Even one of Boyer's youngest sous chefs (at just 19) was mucking in. This is what Omnivore is all about...the future is here!

Adios to another great evening!

Thanks for reading!

Ippudo Central Park

Monday, 29 September 2014

A shrill "Irasshaimase!" rings out as you step through the curtained doorway. An instantly recognisable welcome, Ippudo is about to debut its second Sydney restaurant. Ippudo Central Park, along with several other ramen establishments have swooped onto the Sydney dining scene and swaddled us in a blanket of tonkotsu and egg noodles. Oh my! Set to open in early October, their second venue joins in the vertical garden fun at Central Park in Chippendale. Shiny and new, this outlet will likely do as well as their first restaurant; delivering pork buns and ramen soup noodles to exacting standards.

Ippudo's slick panelled interior, with everything just so

Since 1985, what first started as a noodle shop in Fukuoka, Ippudo has expanded greatly now with outlets across Japan and the world. The menu offers a nice selection of noodle soups, predominantly using a tonkotsu soup base (made from slow cooked pork bones). But if Ippudo is known for one thing, it would have to be their pork buns - made from a fluffy sweet dough, each has a slice of pork belly and is a delicious morsel with a dash of Japanese mayonnaise.
Sadly, on this visit the pork buns were unavailable! Something I had been looking forward to as well. What a shame!

How refreshing, a place that is actually lit! Nothing worse than having to divine the menu...

With quick and efficient service, each dish came out as if carefully choreographed from the kitchen. The service on the night was impeccable, something that the Ippudo staff pride themselves on. The choice was easy, each soup noodle has a "Special" option which includes additional pork belly, boiled egg and toppings. Top tip: highly recommended for a man-sized meal! If you're looking for value for money, perhaps Ippudo is not the best choice. A bowl of ramen (albeit a BIG one) can cost you close to $25. The staff will also ask how you would like your noodles cooked - this was something new and a nice touch.

Seared salmon sushi: temari salmon sushi served with mentai mayo sauce and avocado. This dish was a good one and highly recommended. Super fresh salmon wraps sushi rice and a generous dollop of sauce, a burst of flavour with each mouthful

Another glorious close up. Hungry yet?

Miso Tonkotsu Ramen Special: pork broth infused with red miso, topped with pork belly, cabbage, bean sprout, bamboo shoots and corn. This dish is new on the menu, the soup was rich in flavour but on the saltier side. The pork, cooked perhaps slightly over

Shiromaru Special: original tonkotsu broth with thin noodles, flavoured egg, simmered pork belly, roasted seaweed, flavoured black mushrooms, flavoured bamboo shoots and spring onions. This is a classic Hakata dish - a very light broth with subtle pork flavours and toppings galore! The pork belly was nice and tender, and rather fatty!

Ippudo Central Park certainly succeeds in giving us a Japanese ramen restaurant for a quick and easy meal. Perfect for a cold winter's day this is comfort food at its best. Might I add that the little roasted sesame seed grinder is a brilliant addition to the table, making for  delicious seasoning (which I became slightly obsessed by). For all the perks, occasionally the noise emanating from the kitchen and wait staff can become quite clamorous, particularly at the peak of service. Ippudo is set to become a staple amongst Chippendale and Chinatown residents regardless. I suggest you give it a whirl, if at least once. And, hello food baby!

Lights, camera, action! October 2nd is the official opening

Thanks for reading!
Ippudo Sydney on Urbanspoon

Gourmand dined courtesy of Ippudo Central Park (Level 1 RB07, 28 Broadway, Chippendale). Thank you for having me!
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