Located conveniently near Balmain East Wharf is a new restaurant, Picada. Picada is opened by 2 chefs who worked previously at the 1-hatted restaurant Catalina, Vladimir Alemany and Roberto Araneda. Picada serves modern Australian food using flavours from their Latin American heritage.
Picada is located in a great spot for a date night. It's far enough away from the hustle and bustle of the CBD, but still a synch to get to. Just hop on a ferry from Circular Quay or Darling Harbour and you can enjoy a nice ferry ride across the harbour with some great views, which is something that I often take for granted being a Sydneysider.
Picada is located in a heritage listed building on Darling St. The trek to the restaurant is on an uphill slope; just be thankful that the walk to the ferry after dinner is downhill :) There are two dining rooms at Picada and my wife and I were taken up a narrow, steep staircase to a small, cosy room that could barely fit 8 tables or so.
It turns out that this is the room where they are putting all the "voucher diners". We came tonight with a voucher from Ouffer that gave us a 3-course meal each for $49 ($119 value according to the voucher). This is amazing value, in anyone's book!
The menu at Picada consists of a large range of entrees and a much more compact offering of mains, sides and desserts. Instead of going down the traditional 3-course path, ordering a number of these entrees and having them as tapas is definitely a good option. As most of the menu consisted of dishes that had something written in Spanish, and given my limited knowledge of South American cuisine, our waitress practically had to explain the entire menu! She was more than happy to oblige and was friendly and helpful, definitely making it easier for me to decide what to order.
Our waitress did explain to us as we were dining on the Ouffer voucher, the ceviche and the garlic prawns are excluded from the menu. Anything else was fair game. We did encounter a little mishap at the end, more about this later.
|Pickled saffron scallops with salmorejo and basil oil (normally $16)|
|Ox heart tomato with house made crumbed burrata (normally $17)|
The main selection was concise with a fish, a beef, a pork and a risotto dish.
|Char grilled angus sirloin with caramelised onion puree and papa rellena (normally $30)|
As I always do, I asked for the steak to be cooked medium-rare. It was more medium than medium-rare, but sirloin was well-seasoned and had great flavours. The onion puree had a subtle sweetness, whilst the chimichurri was punchy and spicy.
|Tomato risotto (normally $26)|
|Corn on the cob with chipotle butter ($8)|
Picada has a simple offering for desserts with a chocolate mousse tart, creme brulee tart, churros and affogato. We decided to share the churros and the creme brulee tart.
|Churros with dulce de leche (normally $12)|
|Creme brulee tart (normally $12)|
After an enjoyable meal, we asked for the bill knowing that we had to rush for the ferry home. If we missed this one, we would have had to wait another hour! As we were about to settle the bill, our waitress rushed over to our table and tried to add the cost of the burrata entree to our bill, supposedly because this was one of the dishes excluded from the Ouffer deal. This was certainly news to us and we were definitely not told this. After she consulted a manager about this, luckily they decided not add this to our bill. So just a little mishap, and perhaps miscommunication (I checked my voucher later and it did not list the burrata as one of the exclusions); hopefully these sorts of issues will get ironed out, because I am more than happy for a return visit to Picada.
Highlight: Deep fried goodness in the form of burrata and papa rellena.
Lowlight: Some repetition of flavours in several of the dishes, especially tomato and basil.
Overall: I am surprised that Picada has not been talked about more. The food here tastes great, with the flavours of the chefs' South American heritage clearly shining through. And well priced to for this type of establishment, at roughly $60 for 3 courses. 7/10 (Great)
Contact no: (02) 9810 6351