Monday, February 3, 2014

Nomad: Wander in and lust

I was smitten by Nomad on first appearances alone. Drawn into the restaurant the first time by familiar faces in the Foster Street window counter seats, it was a joy to marvel at such an ambitious set-up: a bustling and welcoming open kitchen; a dedicated cheese and charcuterie room on one side; and multi-faceted dining arrangements spread around the former warehouse space.

Charcuterie and cheese room
On return another night to the luxuriously vast restaurant, filled with covetable furniture and pretty crockery, we nabbed one of the last seats for two, sans booking, before a walk-in waitlist formed.

Sitting at the wide drinks bar, a full section away from the kitchen counter seats, it was some of the most ample tabletop space I've ever experienced – for dining tables generally, let alone a countertop.

It's also a good perch to watch the happenings of the bar, front dining space, walk-in crowd, and yonder kitchen with a glimpse of the long group tables around the side.

Wine and water
There are many reasons to like, or at least be interested, in Nomad. The owner is a former Toko owner; the young gun chef has worked with Neil Perry and Heston Blumenthal; there's a wood-fire oven in the kitchen; and the offering is billed as 'food, wine and cellar door'.

The wine focus is obvious in the menu which commences with a full-page winemaker feature then two pages of wines – all offered by the glass and listed with their respective winemakers. Bar staff will happily provide tastings before you order a glass even, although the full cellar door concept is yet to come to fruition.

We had water – iced, not the "ambient" option – and the McLaren Vale Dowie Doole 2013 Chenin Blanc which was just a little too young with acidic green fruity notes.

Nomad pickles and olives
Much has been made about the fact that a lot of the menu at Nomad comprises house-made produce: the pickles, vinegar, charcuterie and bread for starters.

The bowl of pickles included cabbage, ribbons of carrot, whole radishes, skinned cucumber, very sour and seemingly de-coloured beetroot, and my favourite, the turmeric-tinged cauliflower.

The accompanying dish of olives held a range of olives in the full range of sizes, most of them the tiny ones.

House made Nomad charcuterie 
I get pretty excited about charcuterie generally but both the artisanal and local qualities of the Nomad charcuterie selection has no peer in Sydney.

We had a selection of six cured meats on, basically, a treated slice of a tree. There was sausage-y mortadella in the middle, pale pink fennel salami, sensational bastourma cured beef, another peppercorn-studded salami which I didn't quite catch in the waitress' spiel, chilli salami and fatty lardo.

I jealously spied nduja salami paste on another platter later in the evening, so there must be a rotating, dynamic range of charcuterie on offer at any point in the day.

Woodfired sourdough, black salt butter
Awkwardly, the charcuterie does not come with bread but a single order of soft house-made sourdough bread, served as half a slice, comes quickly enough along with a circle of house-churned butter "inoculated" with black salt from Cyprus.

Foie gras and chicken liver parfait, radish, Iranian plum
The parfait, however, does arrive with toasted and unnecessarily buttered sourdough. The single parfait quenelle, at $26, is served with pickled radish and tiny chillies, and a dab of jammy Iranian plum conserve.

The parfait combining foie gras and chicken liver was stellar – so creamy and rich in mouthfeel, impeccably smooth and a dish that's turning around my opinion of liver, albeit at a high cost.

Smoked wagyu tongue, mojo verde
Still from the smalls menu, we were keen to see how the wagyu tongue would be served. Unexpectedly, it was presented on a single skewer with thin, folded slices pierced and served with a peppy sauce of what seemed to be chopped pickled chillies and coriander.

The smoked tongue was grilled for crisp surfaces and was deliciously, if not astoundingly, tender; basted with a sweet sauce not unlike barbeque sauce. In fact, my initial thought after having a piece of tongue reminded me of pizza of a barbeque 'meat lovers' style – and I loved it; the tongue, that is.

BBQ carrots, almond dukkah, labne
From the menu of larger plates, we had barbeque carrots – whole baby ones and squat, little, almost-round ones, garnished with their own green tops and a nutty dukkah.

The carrots were great – soft and earthily sweet – but I was enamoured with the piped labne strained yoghurt cheese. It was really a match made in food heaven, though for me it became more a labne dish with carrots than the other way around.

Wood roasted pork, silver beet, mojo potatoes
We went for the wood roasted pork belly as a shared main, which arrived in two parts: four thin slices of pork with wilted silverbeet and a bowl of fried kipfler potatoes with a spiced capsicum-like red sauce.

The pork had a fair bit of fat and delightful crackling, and was seasoned with salt, pepper and olive oil so simply so as to almost verge on plain, especially compared to the spirited, thick sauce on the potatoes.

Roundstone 2012 Gamay Noir
The Vinoque Roundstone 2012 Gamay Noir (from the De Bortoli winery) was an interesting, self-selected match to the pork, with spicy notes in the medium-bodied red against the fat of the pork.

I had really wanted to try one of the house-made cheeses as dessert, though my eating capacity had other ideas, and so I'm sensibly leaving that for next time. And there most certainly will be next times.

Pickles in jars
Nomad is the whole package. It's the restaurant, food and wine experience I look for when I eat out with a bit of money to spend. The space and crowd are both very Sydney-right-now and perhaps a little pretentiously so.

But the food is interestingly clever yet heart warming and belly lining, and comes out from the kitchen super fast. You'll probably never see more wines offered by the glass in a restaurant and once the cellar door comes in, it will bring a new dimension to city dining.

I adored sitting at the bar where we weren't at all rushed (though it seems there are set sitting times for certain bookings) and honestly, I may have settled in for the night were there not a queue at the door. Wander in to Nomad, and see if you lust it like I do.

Nomad on Urbanspoon


Chris @ MAB vs Food said...

I want that foie gras and chicken liver parfait. Sounds heavenly! I am guessing it was amazing given that the chef has spent time at Dinner by Heston preparing meat fruit!

Amy zhong said...

ive heard so much good stuff about this place! that roast pork looks good!!!

chocolatesuze said...

ohmygod i want that parfait right now

Melanie Y said...

I'm really keen to check this place out soon. I like the sound of the space and all the yummy cured meats on offer.

Cindy (a foodie's joy) said...

Isn't the parfait oh so good?!? Loved it when I was there too!

Annie said...

definitely wanna try the charcuterie when i head to this restaurant soon. loving the look of that parfait!

missklicious said...

This has been on my radar ever since it opened! The food looks impressive

Helen (Grab Your Fork) said...

Love that they make their own charcuterie here. The parfait is amazing - so incredibly smooth and rich.

Tina said...

Hi Chris - It was pretty darn good; one of many highlights of the night :)

Hi Amy - Yeah, a few mixed opinions but positive mostly.

Hi suze - Right up your alley I think ;)

Hi Melanie - It's a great space; and the charcuterie is amazing :D Can you tell I'm a fan?

Hi Cindy - I adored the wagyu tongue as well. Can't wait to go back to try more food :)

Hi Annie - I think the charcuterie is a must-order.

Hi missklicious - I would definitely recommend this..!

Hi Helen - It's a beautiful thing isn't it? I need to try some cheese next time :)

gaby @ lateraleating said...

Looking forward to visiting Nomad very, very soon.

Priscilla @ said...

Great review! I can't wait to try this. I've been scouring the menu and funny, I would have ordered exactly the same dishes as you have!


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