Saturday, 1 June 2013

Tomislav, Darlinghurst - 31 May 2013

The infamous Coke sign at King's Cross, which is just a stone's throw away from Tomislav
Tomislav (2/13 Kirketon Road Darlinghurst) has been on my radar for some time yet I had not made the trip to the one-hat Kings Cross restaurant until now . Tomislav Martinovic’s cooking is very creative as he likes to combine different elements (which you make think are unusual initially) to create exciting dishes that have a wonderful balance of flavours. He likes to use basic ingredients to create different creams, ices, ice creams, mousses, crumbs etc. Maybe this is influenced by the time that he has spent working with Heston Blumenthal at Fat Duck. 

Balcony dining area

Open kitchen - the entire kitchen is viewable from the dining area - great use of space

Dining area - love the decor: wooden tables & chairs
Tonight I came for a special 11-course degustation courtesy of the Entertainment Book, which was available only for a limited time. It was priced at $104 (normally $154) so pretty decent value for fine dining in Sydney!

1st Course 

RICE CRACKERS - sea salt and vinegar

Vinegar in a spray bottle
To start things off we had rice crackers, which were paper thin, super light and crisp. This was a really great way to start the meal and it was fun to spray mists of vinegar onto the cracker for some extra zing. 

2nd Course 

Next up was a nice little treat: three cheese marshmallow. And it was quite a treat! The marshmallow was pillow soft and evaporated in the mouth. The flavours were exceptional and perfectly balanced. It was both sweet and savoury. This bite sized treat left me wanting more!
3rd Course

SOFT POLENTA - bbq sweet corn - green apple ice - salt caramel ice cream
Wow another awesome dish! The individual elements in the dish seem to really conflict. There are both savoury elements and dessert elements. There is hot and there is cold. How can this work? But the balance of favours are really amazing. The polenta is soft that it is like a delicious creamy mash. The BBQ corn provided bursts of sweetness and had a great smoky flavour. The green apple ice was refreshing and provided sweet and sour notes. And then there was the wonderful salted caramel ice cream. All together this was a smorgasbord of interesting and contrasting flavours that seemed to work really well together.

4th Course

KANGAROO TARTARE –sour cream – wasabi powder - toast
I love tartare and this was no exception. The kangaroo meat was fresh, tender and delicious. There was hardly any gamey flavour! Underneath the meat was housemade sour cream, which goes wonderfully with the kangaroo to give it a lovely creamy flavour. The wasabi powder was really mild and seemed to complement the kangaroo. You get the wasabi flavour without the heat, which I found quite interesting. Of course, all these things together taste great on toasted bread.

TOMATO TARTARE – sour cream - burnt caramel
My wife was served a tomato tartare in place of kangaroo. We loved the presentation of this dish, it actually does look like a meat – based tartare! This was a very interesting vegetarian take on a tartare. My wife really enjoyed this dish. The fleashy part of the tomato was used here. The salted caramel powder and sour cream works a treat in this dish.

5th Course

SPANISH MACKEREL CARPACCIO - salad burnette - mackerel mousse - prawn crackers
Yet another great course! I love how good carpaccios are so light and fresh (this would have been a great first course but I don’t really care that it came later!). I love the slightly chewy, flaky texture of the meat. Really works quite well in carpaccio. The salad burnette is a nice zingy dressing for the mackerel. The crispy thin prawn cracker and the mackerel mousse were great alternative methods to enjoy seafood.

SOUR POTATO - rainforest lime - grilled Chinese cabbage
This was my wife’s 5th course, which turns out to be the side elements on my 6th course, the poached salmon. This matters not  as this was another course that my wife really enjoyed. It was like a potato mash made with the housemade sour cream seen in the previous course. The potato was actually light and not buttery, oily and heavy like potato mashes served in similar restaurants (those types of mashes are great too but eating them makes me feel guilty). The lime flavour from the juice and the zest really is quite pleasant and refreshing. The smoky flavour from the grilled Chinese cabbage was quite enjoyable. Also, the bits of olives provided nice hits of saltiness.         

6th Course

POACHED SALMON - sour potato - rainforest lime - grilled Chinese cabbage
In my 6th course, I got to see why my wife enjoyed her 5th course so much. The side elements really are quite good! The poached salmon was cooked perfectly in my view. The flesh was a nice orange-pink in the centre and just melted in my mouth.

ONION RINGS – mushrooms – pea soup
My wife’s 6th course was YUM! Luscious green pea soup was delicious and creamy. The batter on the onion rings was light, crispy and didn’t feel too oily. Overall, another solid dish. 

7th Course

BUTTER POACHED SCALLOP - peas shoots - broccoli cream - Crystal Bay prawns
A beautifully presented dish. The scallop was nicely seared on the outside. The centre was translucent and tender. I would have liked more than one scallop though. The broccoli cream is a concentration of broccoli flavour. So much broccoli flavour locked in. And the little prawns were also nicely cooked.  

CAULIFLOWER CREAM – pickled radish – pea shoots – candied hazelnuts
Another enjoyable dish for my wife although I would suggest that the last few courses for my wife seem to have a lot of creams and few solid elements. The cauliflower cream was smooth and creamy (goes without saying). Pickled radish has a nice zing. And the sweet candied hazelnuts are a great textural element to the dish.

8th Course

ROAST KUROBUTA PORK BELLY - anchovy juice - cauliflower cream - poached cuttlefish – chocolate cubes
Who says chocolate can’t be in savoury dishes? This course proved that chocolate is a great complement to pork. Forget apple. Again I was amazed at how Tomislav is able to make unexpected elements work together. The pork belly was really well cooked. Nice crispy crackling, moist tender meat and layer of translucent fat. The cuttlefish was sliced paper thin, had some sour and savoury notes, although I am not sure how it goes with the other elements.

This was my wife's 8th course. I love the way the spaghettini is twirled onto the plate, makes for nice presentation. My wife quite enjoyed this course. She likened it to a Chinese style wonton noodle. It was a flat, thin egg noodle that was really smooth. There were also some interesting sweet and sour elements in the dish.                                     

9th Course 

ROAST RIVERINA LAMB NECK - mustard crumbs - pickled radishes - coconut pudding
The lamb neck was really well cooked. It was moist, tender and full of flavour. The mustard crumbs are a lovely condiment with the lamb. Like the wasabi crumbs earlier, the mustard crumbs contains all the flavour of regular mustard but it doesn’t have the heat.  The coconut pudding was interesting. It was like tapioca balls. They tasted great on their own and I wasn’t sure how they complemented the lamb in flavour. I actually started eating them on their own after a while.

CRISPY POLENTA – broccoli cream – tomato – mushroom
My wife’s 9th course. The crispy polenta was like a giant chip. Crispy on the outside and smooth and fluffy on the inside. My wife loves chips (she may have been a seagull in her previous life) so it goes without saying that she loved this dish.

10th Course

LEMON CHEESECAKE – mint crumbs – strawberry frozen yoghurt – grilled pineapple
After losing track of how many courses we have had, we finally move onto dessert. The lemon cheesecake was deconstructed with the lemon curd sitting on a bed of buttery crumbs. The lemon cheesecake was so light and mousse-like, it evaporated in my mouth. The mint crumbs was another example of Tomislav’s molecular gastronomy. The refreshing flavour from the mint went well with the lemon cheesecake. The grilled pineapple was great too! I love how the juicy, sweet pineapple had smokey flavour from the grilling. And finally the best part of the dessert: the strawberry frozen yoghurt. If only all frozen yoghurt was this good! The strawberry flavour was amazing and tasted natural, no hint of artificial flavour at all. According to Tomislav on his Twitter page, the frozen yoghurt was inspired by Wow Cow. Wow Cow is great, but methinks that they need to contact Tomislav for his recipe!

11th Course

Peppermint tea 

The lid on this tea cup is really ingenious. It keeps the tea warm and is attached to the tea bag so you take the tea bag out by lifting the lid.  

sour apple raspberry and lemon lollies     
Cute little house made lollies, full of sour fruity flavour that just melt in your mouth. Nice little petit fours.
Highlight: So many things impressed me about this meal that I am finding it hard to narrow it down to one highlight. There wasn't one dish that stood above the rest. So the highlight of the meal was molecular gastronomy. All the different creams, ices, ice creams, mousses, crumbs etc made the food interesting and exciting.   
Lowlight: Portions can be quite small. This works out to be alright because there are so many courses spread over 3 hours, but I would have liked more than one scallop, for instance.  
Overall: Tomislav serves up creative food keeps us on our toes by combining (sometimes contrasting) elements together to create unique, exciting food that has great balance of flavours. 8/10 (Excellent)

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