Saturday, 13 April 2013

Ormeggio at the Spit - 13 April 2013

Today is my wife’s birthday so I decide to take her to Ormeggio at the Spit for a birthday celebration. Joining us today are my wife’s brother, his girlfriend and my mother-in-law. The location is tops, right on d'Albora Marinas in Mosman. The views from our table were just stunning. We were basically right next to the water, we could see the boats rocking and we could spy into the fancy houses belonging to people with too much money. It was a beautiful day today with clear blue skies and warm weather, so this made for a perfect weekend lunch.

Ormeggio is a restaurant that I have an interest in for quite a while. It wasn’t until I did some reading up recently did I really get excited about eating here. There are some very well-credentialed chefs working in the Ormeggio kitchen. Of course there is Alessandro Pavoni (the owner and executive chef), i.e. the big tall Italian guy that my wife has a crush on LOL. Then there is the head chef, Federico Zanellato, who used to work at the 3-Michelin starred La Pergola in Rome (which I have already secured a reservation for in my Europe trip later this year hehe). And the pastry chef, Laura Ballester, who recently worked at a Michelin starred restaurant in Spain. So there are plenty of Michelin stars to go around at the Ormeggio kitchen! This is definitely something that gets me excited about dining at a restaurant, so I secured a reservation about a month in advance. 

The dining room
View from our table
The view from another table
Wine menu
Cool bottle of Santa Vittoria
Today we went with the 3-course Saturday lunch for $59, plus a complimentary glass of wine. This is excellent value for a 2-hatted restaurant!  

Warm sourdough bread - freshly churned sour butter - sea salt

First up, is bread, which, for me, is an essential part of the fine dining experience. The sourdough was great and how a good sourdough should be. The crust was crunchy, and the bread itself was soft and fluffy. I loved the freshly churned butter too. It was creamy and slightly sour.

Entrees 

Cold pea emulsion – fresh peas – herbs – watercress – fermented beetroot
This was my wife’s entrée.  It was a pleasant dish. Very refreshing and smooth. The pea emulsion and the micro herbs go very well together.     

Tortelli filled with burnt eggplant - spicy pistachio - pyengana cheddar – mint
This was my brother-in-law’s entrée, as well as his girlfriend. My wife had this as her main. Another brilliant course that was enjoyed by all. The pasta was cooked al dente and filled with burnt eggplant, which gave a nice smokey flavour to the dish. The Pyengana cheese from Tasmania brings the whole dish together. It is such a quality ingredient: creamy, salty and sharp flavour. The spice from the paprika and the whole-halves of pistachio nuts also go well in this course.

Shitake mushrooms – dutch cream potato – polenta croutons – pickled onions
My mother-in-law had the shitake mushrooms. I tasted a little bit of the potato, which I enjoyed. It had a nice smokey flavour and went well with the paprika.

Flinders island kangaroo Battuta - watermelon rind – amaranth - chorizo powder - fennel pollen
This was my entrée, which is essentially a kangaroo tartare. I have never eaten kangaroo like this before and I was feeling a bit adventurous today so decided to try it. And I love it! This was a great dish with all the elements working so well together, giving a really fresh dish.  The meat was nice and tender and has a slight gamey flavour. What I really like were the bits of vinegared watermelon rind, which gives the dish refreshing bursts of sweetness and sourness. I also liked the salty bits of chorizo powder.     

Mains

Pink snapper – macadamia – leek – jalapeño – samphire powder
This was my main course and it is such a visually stunning dish (as were all the courses really) with the purple potato crisps, green samphire (sea asparagus) powder and the white sauce. The potato crisps were enjoyable. Paper thin, salty and crispy. The creamy white sauce was good too and went well with the fish. And I loved the bits of jalapeno underneath the fish as it provided a nice kick of spice and heat to the dish. Although I enjoyed the snapper, which has been steamed and then pan fried, I would have liked it to be a bit more moist. Perhaps it was slightly overcooked.  


Carnaroli risotto - buffalo mozzarella - tomato - capers - olives - basil
Although this was not my main course, I did get to taste quite a bit of it because my mother-in-law, being an Asian mum, is not used to the Italian way of cooking rice so she found it to be raw so she only ate half of the dish. This was great for me and my wife, who picked up the scraps. And how we both love this risotto! The creamy look of this dish gives the illusion that the risotto is going to be rich and heavy. But this dish is anything but that! Actually, it has a very fresh, pleasant and strong tomato flavour as the rice has been cooked in tomato water which, as the Italian waiter explained to us, didn’t need any other seasoning with salt or pepper. It is amazing how something can taste so much like tomatoes yet we could not see a trace of red tomatoes! And for me, al dente (as opposed to raw) rice in risotto is great and the way I like it. The texture is great, I love how the rice had bite. To round out the dish, there was the creamy buffalo mozzarella and bits of basil that always goes nicely with tomato. 

Desserts

Desserts was a very easy decision for us. We ordered one of each and doubled up on the carrot dessert.

Carrot, fennel seed ice cream, farro cream, vinegar caramel
This was definitely a very interesting dessert that I really enjoyed. There were so many savoury elements, so how can this be a dessert? But for me the whole thing comes together nicely. The dish is a very pretty one! The carrot cake was very delicious and moist. The fennel ice cream goes very well with it. I have had fennel ice cream before. I loved it the first time, and I love it even more this time. I don’t know how, but fennel is brilliant as an ice cream. The vinegar caramel is great too. It provides a nice hit of sweet, savoury and sour to the dish.   

Amedei tuscan black chocolate - olive oil - sour dough - raspberry
This was a capable dessert that was the least favourite out of a bunch of great desserts. Chocolate and raspberry being a classic combination so you can’t really go wrong there. This is a great dessert for chocolate lovers. My favourite part of this dessert was the chocolate dirt and was a great flavour and textural element to the dish. Being a chocolate dessert, it can be rich.            

Toasted rice gelato – rice and ricotta cake – earl grey – lemon
This was a huge hit with everyone on the table and was the consensus favourite dessert. This is the dessert we should have doubled up on! This dessert was so good that we were all fighting for the last bits. Quite obviously, the plate was very clean afterwards! The gelato was very refreshing and had a nice toasty flavour as the title implies. I also loved the crunchy rice bits (think rice bubbles). The rice and ricotta cake was amazing and, in my opinion, to die for! The cake was light and just delicious. I loved the kick of lemon in the cake as well.


Cheese platter - crackers - condiments
Petit fours

Verdict
Highlight: I loved the risotto. The best risotto I have had in Sydney for quite a long time.   
Lowlight: There weren’t really any lowlights at this meal. Out of a meal filled with mostly highs, my least favourite course was the pink snapper.  
Overall: Ormeggio is a fantastic modern Italian restaurant. The views are stunning, the service is attentive and the food is awesome. I will happily dine here again and again. It is currently my favourite Italian restaurant in Sydney. 8/10 (Excellent)  

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