Many months have passed since I last ate out on one of those deal vouchers offering such-n-such quantity of dishes for whatever discounted price. Here’s my latest. Graze. New Summer Menu Feast for 2 including a bottle of wine for $69.
It isn’t often I make it to my old neighbourhood but every time I do I vow to return thanks to so many more places opening up since moving away from it. Not that it’s brand spanking new anymore, Graze is one Pyrmont restaurant that I’ve been wanting to try and at the same time, quietly avoiding. You see I’m not one for molecular gastronomy, or as I call it, food torture. I’m a retro kind of guy that isn’t fussed on chemistry in the kitchen. Call me a dinosaur, but something tells me this is a food style that will have a short shelf life in this town.
The voucher covered three share starters, choice of two mains, two desserts and of course that important bottle of vino. One good thing for me was there was nothing torturous going on with our $69 feast.
The Graze fit-out is very easy on the eye. Wooden slats, earthy tones, comfy chairs and nice details. We were led upstairs to the first floor where for a moment I thought it’d be like many upstairs rooms in restaurants I’ve been to where the budget ran out on the ground floor and the decor upstairs consisted of peeling walls, fold-out tables and storage for crap. There was none of that here. In fact, I prefer the look of it. Very dark walls, black ceiling, spots of light and a narrow outdoor balcony with a railing bench and stools.
Thyme gnocchi kicks off the feast, impressing us with its soft and billowy innards and slightly crisp edges. Pieces of zucchini, woodside goat cheese, pickled cherry tomatoes and dark flecks of candied olives made for an incredible starter. When the maple trout was brought into the room I knew it was coming before I even saw it. The most wonderful sweet aroma wafted about from the succulent fish being torched on the small wooden tablet. Raw fish fans would love this. Actually, even Mr I-hate-raw-fish opposite me found it delectable. Condiments of lemon crème fraîche and lightly pickled cucumber adds a sweet and sharp edge to the buttery fish.
It looked as if the next starter was all mine. Truffled egg. The duck egg is cooked to gooey perfection, spilling its golden juices over the buttery toast when I pierce it with a fork. The truffle flavour was pretty light and with the grated parmesan and grilled asparagus, it was a pleasure from start to finish.
The crispy lamb cigar took on some north African flavours in its lightly spiced tomato sauce with preserved lemon. The pink ribbons of lamb contained a core of labneh, all rolled into a fat cigar with a thin and soft-but-crispy skin. My chosen pork belly is twice cooked and served with a simple salsa of corn and capsicum, finished with basil olive oil. The skin has a great crunch but sadly the meat was a little dry and overcooked in parts. I couldn’t help myself when I saw another diner get the soft shell crab. I just had to add it to our spread, extra charge of course seeing it isn’t on the Summer Grazing menu, but I’m glad I did. Lightly five-spiced, crispy and a very nice and sweet chilli jam.
Desserts were a mango eaton mess and espresso brûlée. My favourite part to the eaton mess was the salted caramel jelly and as a whole it was a very soft-on-soft experience. A bit of meringue crunch would have been nice. The brûlée had a perfect level of coffee, a good toffee crust and sharp side of poached rhubarb. A real bargain at $69, even if we did add another dish and second bottle of wine.