Thursday, August 5, 2010

Put on the red light

Conveniently booked in to dinner after a ‘Sex and the City 2’ showing at nearby Broadway (which wasn’t quite as bad as everyone made it out to be, I thought, but perhaps I just had low expectations), the girls and I had skipped popcorn in favour of the unknown and uncategorised Roxanne in Glebe.

All seediness and insinuations aside, Roxanne is definitely a place to stop in at and check out. It’s a place I’d passed many a time over my years of traipsing around Glebe; never quite making it into the deep, red interior. The other thing that was a hurdle was the menu – it isn’t this way or that. It could be called modern or fusion, but I never really knew what it was, and I’m not sure that I do now.

Cocktail from Roxanne, Glebe Point Road, Glebe

There were a few small tables and a large group in already as we entered, but we landed the drafty table that got the chilly breeze from the door every time someone annoyingly left it ajar. To warm up, drinks were ordered from the brief Aussie-centric wine list and even a cocktail a la Charlotte and Miranda. The well priced house chardonnay turns out expectedly unlike a chardonnay at all; very pleasant and kind of like a subtle sauvignon blanc.

To the menu, it’s a serious worldly mish-mash of items, and quite a lot at that. We could have ventured both European and various types of Asian on the very same menu, but quite not on the same plate. And then there were specials. So much to consider while simultaneously trying to throw out preconceptions that a meal should follow one style or cuisine; although having grown up in a multicultural fashion, the latter isn’t too hard.

Entree special: Semolina coated cuttlefish
We all agree first and foremost that the cuttlefish look like plastic fishing lures – was someone trying to bait us? Overcoming that initial hesitation, we nibble and bite. The cuttlefish was cut into tender strips and lightly deep fried in a coating of pale semolina. I was impressed that of the whole dish, there was barely a piece that was tough or overcooked – this squid’s cousin was looked after well.

Seafood steamed dumplings with home made char grilled tomato chutney
The dumplings on the entrée menu were always going to be intriguing, with a myriad of styles possible. They end up being much like Nepalese momos, steamed in a likely store-bought round dumpling wrapper and served with a tomato achar-like sauce on the side.

The wrappers have a texture somewhat like al dente and are filled with a coarse mince of not particularly discernable seafood bits (though I think I got a chunk of a prawn) and vegetables. It had a lacklustre flavour on its lonesome, helped only slightly by the side of sweet grilled tomato chutney.

Wedges with sweet chilli sauce and sour cream
The potato wedges are actually on the sides part of the menu, and are a hefty serve along with sour cream and sweet chilli sauce. I think this combination is now forever matched in holy gastronomy, but I’d be interested to know if anyone is even trying to come up with something new to dip one’s potato wedges into.

The entrées aren’t the most auspicious start, but the pleasant surprises were to come in the mains. Again, it may have been the managed expectations, but credit to Roxanne, maybe it was just them.

Moroccan lamb cutlets with triple mash, sauteed spinach on jus sauce
The lamb was a popular choice on our table with a gentle push-pull over who would have it. Had I known how good it was, I may have fought just that little bit harder. Three lovely, grill-marked cutlets arrived as a tepee alongside over spinach leaves and triple mash – presumably of potato, sweet potato and pumpkin given its creamy orange hue.

The lamb was cooked to a perfectly tender and juicy medium (though I think it was supposed to be medium-rare), and was satisfying down to the bone. Along with the just sauce over the cutlets, there was a raita-like youghurt sauce on the side, which always creates joy with Morrocan style lamb.

King prawn and scallop risotto with slow raosted tomato and spicy Napoli sauce
In hindsight, the risotto is pretty much paella without the pan and crunchy base, but the seasoning is spot-on with a good whack of chilli in the tomato based sauce. There are a few shelled prawns in addition to the mighty headed one on top and while it's a bit scant on the scallop bits, there were loads of tomato, caramelised onion chunks and sliced shallots.

Cajun style seafood hotpot with king prawn, row on scallops, squid and fish dipped into napolitana sauce served with rice
The seafood hotpot comes with the choice of rice or bread as the side and now looking back at the menu, napolitana doesn't seem a natural player in Cajun style. I could be wrong, but I think this dish represents Roxanne extremely well in its mixed message. Expecting some degree of spice, the hotpot was rather a tame tomato seafood stew, I thought, but at least a generous, hearty serving for winter.

Grilled lamb backstrap with triple mash, horseradish relish and wild berry port sauce
To the second lamb dish with, oddly enough, a side we've seen before - perhaps by placing the two lamb dishes at the two ends of the menu they were hoping their similarity wouldn't be noticed. The sliced backstrap is cooked to a juicy medium-rare and surrounds the aforementioned triple mash like Stonehenge.

While this beautiful cut of meat is impeccably tender, it doesn't quite match the big flavour of the cutlet with bone made for sucking clean. Greenery on this plate are some plain green beans and the seed-y wild berry sauce verges on too sweet for my tastes.

There was a limited dessert menu on offer with more interesting combinations - which seems to be Roxanne's schtick - but we decide to move on. I wouldn't have expected it, but I'm keen to return to try the other corners of the world on their menu I didn't have on this visit. So put on the red light and stop - Roxanne.

Roxanne on Urbanspoon


thang @ noodlies said...

looks like an interesting mix of dishes, wedges, dumplings

Tina said...

Hi Thang - It certainly was an interesting mis, and surprisingly - not a bad one.


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