Down To The Woods

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Chuffed to bits. That's how chef Hamish Ingham should feel about his new-ish hotel restaurant, The Woods.  Ingham has forged a name for himself through Bar H that has been a rather conscientious worker on the Sydney food scene with it's Chinese fusion menu. The Woods is a pretty major achievement then: the entire restaurant from woe to go has been re-done from scratch, seats over 100 and has a menu (and wine list) that's no slouch. 

In the beginning, there was garlic & native thyme flatbread. Fresh out of the wood fire oven (you'll start to see a recurring theme here), this was the perfect start to kickstart the appetite. That, and a glass of white wine!

Enter me/us. The restaurant fit out by Michael McCann is pretty nice with a definite organic kind of feel to it, and on a pretty big scale. It has the interesting details of black scrawlings on the ceiling of recipes and ingredients as well as that weird and wacky spider-like chandelier of table lamps. Off to the right side is a largish private dining room that would be ace for corporate functions (or if you're feeling very generous). The centre of attention though is definitely the open plan kitchen where Ingham leads a pretty tight outfit. Smoke may be a-billowing but they hardly break a sweat (figuratively speaking). If you're up for a pre-dinner tipple, Grain Bar is a hop, skip and a jump away.

My restaurant photos basically paled in comparison, my little compact really struggles in these low light joints. So this is the wide-angled profesh version for y'all Credit: The Woods Restaurant

The menu is only a one pager but boy did we deliberate on which dishes to order. As a homage to the restaurant's 'raison d'être' (whipping out the scanty french again), we consciously ordered as many grilled, roasted and smoked dishes as we could. I think we did a pretty good job of it. Let your eyes be the judge...

How many times can you include the word 'wood' in a menu? Apparently 7! Wood grilled prawns, tahini yoghurt & sesame salt (left) and Wood roast baby beetroot, smoked labne & hazelnut (right). Shared to the tiniest crumb these were sort of like an amuse when we were through. The prawns were tasty with that tahini sauce (tahini should be used so much more in Oz I think). The beet salad was so perfectly harmonious, such a picture and hazelnuts, oh my!

Grasslands beef fillet, parsnip chips, smoked eggplant & black garlic. There's not that much in the way of complexity here but it is all about execution. The eye fillet was a beautiful medium rare and that black garlic/eggplant puree was a head turner with it's KA-pow of smokiness. The crumbed parsnip had a pleasant tang about them too

We were well on a roll now - here's the whole line caught fish grilled over apple wood. Tonight's fish was a gloriously sweet J.D. (John Dory). Yes, the fish looked rather mangled but man it tasted good. Charred on the grill just the right amount, the flesh was still soft and juicy. WINNING 

Give me a 'D'...

Get a load of this! This has got to be one of my favourite dessert photos :D Sheep milk pannacotta verjuice & green grapes (I know it don't look it haha). More a crème than a pannacotta, the texture is what got to me. All the gelatine was basically used to make the jelly layer on top. A verjuice sorbet and a dusting of icing sugar - this dessert was LUSH, without being sweet

Wood roasted pear & almond pudding (left) and Smoked chocolate, caramelized banana & burnt butter (right). This pudding is well worth the wait, fresh out of the oven the pear is delicious with the vanilla ice cream. The requisite chocolate dessert is a jaunt in molecular gastronomy. Powdered burnt butter?! Eep! The airy sponge and honeycomb-ey chocolate shards were decent but this dessert as a whole lacked punch

So word out on the street is that it's pretty good. Señor Durack, Time Out and Gourmet Traveller's blessings can't be a bad thing. I can't quite believe I've missed The Woods for all these months because it's definitely a keeper.  I think the whole package is pretty tight; the food coming off of those grills is still smokin'. 

Thanks for reading!
The Woods on Urbanspoon


  1. OH my gosh...that fish! This looks simply amazing.

  2. Everything seems delicious! =) I wouldn't be able to eat everything tho :/ Love the desserts tho ;)



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