Tuesday, February 1, 2011

An intimate dinner at Tomislav

As the days go on, I think the company we keep says a lot about ourselves and who we are. For some this doesn't change at all over many decades, and for others it's a dynamic and unpredictable force.

But even in the latter situation, it's nice to have some quiet moments with a couple of good friends to talk about absolutely everything - without restraint: today's fashion, your life path, your ridiculously lowered alcohol tolerance, darn young people, love, life and all that stuff.

View from Tomislav, Kirketon Road, Darlinghurst
Tomislav is a particularly intimate restaurant that's beyond perfect for shooting the breeze with close mates. Located in a cosy space beneath offices, it overlooks the Coke sign in Kings Cross as well as providing a sliver of a Harbour Bridge view.

So intimate it is, you have full view of the kitchen in action, especially if you're sitting inside. The kitchen's warmth and activity travels out to the dining area and makes for an enjoyable, casual environment.

We're looking forward to chef Tomislav Martinovic's dishes incorporating techniques of the school of molecular gastronomy, and we see both the chef and many of his kitchen gadgets over the kitchen bench and pass.

Rice crackers with sea salt and vinegar spritz
Rice crackers are immediately proffered to us by the friendly waitress, with a choice of two flavours. The cracker is like a very thin, non-seafood prawn cracker which maintained its crispness after drenching with the salt and vinegar spray.

The spray was not nearly as lethal as packet salt and vinegar crisps can be, but instead with a restrained underlying sweetness - even after about nine sprays.

Sourdough bread
Iggy's sourdough arrived not long after the playful appetisers, looking great as always, fully of chewy, flavoursome holes. But it certainly got better with house churned butter and an interesting, powdery addition.

Butter with smoked onion powder
We heard right the first time - smoked onion powder. A deep brown powder sprinkled over the quenelle of butter as if someone had mistaken the butter dish for an ash tray.

The colour appearance was certainly intense, though the flavour didn't quite match the intensity. That's not to say the flavour wasn't amazing; expectedly smoky with remaining hints of the onion's sweetness. It certainly lifted the bread and butter experience from the restaurant norm.

Fresh shucked Sydney rock oysters
Big for their variety, the Sydney rock oysters were drizzled with a light soy sauce and topped with a pile of lemon ice, more sweet than tart; making the molluscs icy cold and like a lemonade oyster shooter.

Basmati rice risotto, poached Yamba prawns, chives, lemon zest
Tomislav's signature dish of the basmati rice risotto came highly recommended from the waitress. There was absolutely no regret in ordering it, if one doesn't think about the butter content.

The rice was distinctly un-sticky, unlike arborio or carnaroli rice, with separate grains swimming in the sea of butter with a healthy helping of chives and lemon to lighten the load. The large pieces of chopped prawn retained all their crunch and cap off a superb dish. If only it came in a main size without the cholesterol worries.

Roast Red Gate Farm quail, chilli, coriander, roast pineapple
Sweetness again featured on the quail entree, with four quarters of roasted, brown skinned quail dancing around a slice of roasted, grill-marked pineapple.

The quail was beautifully cooked, pairing rather well with the fruit. The brown sauce was incredibly sweet while the sliced red chilli was more a visual than a taste, like the microherbs.

Roasted blue eye trevalla, baby leeks, tomato chutney, salted caramel
I had only a mouthful of the blue eye trevalla - glistening brown and nicely cooked - and a small taste of the white powdery balls of salted caramel - really just like a subdued sugar cube - over the paint stroke of spinach puree.

The fish fillet itself was apparently cured in salt and sugar, poached and then roasted - which is quite a process that I don't think I will be trying at home any time soon.

Pasture fed O'Connor scotch fillet, roast bone marrow, smoked potato cream
There was definite dish envy seeing the scotch fillet, which arrived ready sliced across a bright slick of mango puree. Both the steak and roasted bone marrow were sprinkled with salsa verde, or similar herb concoction, and while there wasn't much in the halved bone, what was there was eye-rollingly rich and creamy and totally worthwhile.

The steak was tender and juicy as its pink appearance might suggest while the mango was an interesting, tart accompaniment alongside the very sophisticated mashed potato.

Grilled Junee lamb cutlets, lamb rib, mint sauce, baby onions
My lamb dish was quite the artist's palette with many different components, mostly matching well. The three lamb cutlets were a little tougher than I'd expected, while still pink inside. I was most enamoured with the vivid green mint powder dusted over the small onions - full of flavour and adding a Middle Eastern touch along with the quenelle of starchy hummous.

Most interesting was the lamb rib, roasted with a thin, crisp skin and doused in a thick, caramelly sauce. After the skin and several millimeters of meat, the rest of the rib piece was mostly fat which I just couldn't fathom.

Chips and snow peas
We also had thick, crinkle cut chips and snowpeas as sides; the former heavily salted with flakes but in a good and necessary way, and the latter just cooked and dressed in oil.

Amadei chocolate and coconut bar, coconut milk ice, chocolate sorbet
Dessert was a must-do on some minds and we ordered two to share between three of us. The Amadei chocolate and coconut bar was a little unexpected - a flattish square of pressed coconut dusted in chocolate powder - it was bittersweet with a heavy flavour of coconut, or indeed coconut oil.

Coconut milk ice over chocolate sorbet
The little pile of coconut milk ice was a great textural contrast, while the slick of strawberry led to more coolness in the chocolate sorbet.

Presumably also made of the world class Amadei, the pure bitterness with barely any sweetness was a sophisticated taste, rather nice with some of the strawberry in the same mouthful.

Vanilla cheesecake, cream cheese, rhubarb sorbet
Tomislav's take on cheesecake was definitely the looker of our two chosen desserts. An airy hive of vanilla-strong cheesecake held cubes of jellied cream cheese and hid a small biscuit base within, leading to dessert discovery of sorts.

There's more biscuit base crumbled beneath the tart and slightly bitter rhubarb sorbet, and the strawberries with basil reaffirm sweetness. On the whole, it's a dessert I'd have fun with rather than fall in love with - you know, that sort.

And that's really the sentiment I got from the entire evening overall. While I thoroughly enjoyed my evening at Tomislav, too busy to take in views of the Coke sign or Harbour Bridge; it doesn't fall into the lust list but rather the intimate, fun and good times list.

Tomislav on Urbanspoon


chocolatesuze said...

aw man that bone marrow! it is calling to me!

joey@FoodiePop said...

Darn young people? LOL. You know you're getting on when you start thinking like that! ;-)

Love the risotto here, so creamy, so moreish, so killer.

That chococonut bar dessert looks new and fab!

Not Quite Nigella said...

I really like the food here and that cheesecake is my downfall! :)

Richard Elliot said...

I've got a table booked for Satuday night and I'm looking forward to going all the more after seeing your review.

Intimate, fun, good times and innovative food here we come.

Simon Food Favourites said...

those chips looked superb :-) on the wish list now

Tina said...

Hi suze - Mmmm, marrow....

Hi joey - Don't I know it! And that risotto is seriously killer.

Hi Lorraine - The cheesecake is so cute!

Hi Richard - That's nicel I hope you enjoy it!

Hi Simon - Mmmn, very good chips

Angie Lives to Eat (and Cook)! said...

Have been wanting to give this place a go. That risotto looks oh so good! And the cheesecake is quite cute, I love a dessert discovery adventure =)

Tina said...

Hi Angie - Definitely order the risotto if you go!

Gianna@TheEmptyFridge said...

yup..ridiculously lowered alcohol tolerance and how hangovers are so much harder to fix is a popular topic with my friends too!

Everything looks amazing here - and I have been dying to try out the famed desserts!

Tina said...

Hi Gianna - lol, so it's not just us then :D


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