Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The locals' Woodland Kitchen & Bar

Posted by Jan

Ideally, every suburb should have a reliable dining option that locals can just wander to for a good meal - something that's more than takeaway but not too fancy or difficult. Woodland Kitchen & Bar is Neutral Bay's newest dining addition and fits the bill perfectly.

Dining room at Woodland Kitchen & Bar, Grosvenor Street, Neutral Bay
Re-emerging from what used to be the northern outpost of Pony Dining, Woodland Kitchen & Bar is husband and wife duo Damien and Jenni Heads' first solo venture (you may remember Heads from such shows as Ready, Steady, Cook).

Chef Damien Heads
With a wealth of experience between them, they have created a modern Australian menu with a casual yet personal approach, most suitable for the sophisticated, well-serviced neighbourhood.

Being locals to the area, their approach is no-fuss, honest flavours and simple food. This comes through strongly in the menu that includes hot and cold seafood, steaks, share plates as well as a $10 children's menu.

Oyster shot, Bloody Mary
We started with sweet, briney Sydney Rock oysters from Wodongo Inlet in a shot glass of spicy Bloody Mary tomato mix. Never the prettiest starter, I found it tough to stop myself from having more than my fair share of the excellent oysters. 

Yellowfin tuna sashimi spring roll , soy bean sauce
Retrieved from the Pony Dining menu, the tuna sashimi spring roll is another example of why we love Sydney summers and seafood so much. The raw tuna encased with crisp spring roll pastry and served with edamame beans, whole and puréed into a sauce, was a casual and light option perfect for summer grazing. 

Grilled ciabatta, whipped fetta and marinated olives
A shared plate that could have been dinner alone for me featured a divine whipped fetta cheese, served with plenty of smoky, grilled ciabatta bread and a small selection of olives.

Sauteed calamari and chorizo
The very classic pairing of chorizo and calamari was complemented with a rich tomato sauce, white beans and grilled sourdough bread. The hint of sherry vinegar in the calamari sauce added a bit of tang to this tasty, tapas-style dish. 

Baked onion and goats cheese flan
Grilled asparagus and watercress were great additions to the baked onion and goat's cheese tart. The freshness and added crunch of the vegetables complemented the rich pastry and goat's cheese very well. 

200g grass fed eye fillet steak
From the mains the eye fillet steak was cooked medium-rare as requested with perfect cross-hatch grill marks, and was served with a red wine jus, roasted baby carrots and eschallots, and a salsa verde.

Lamb backstrap 
The tender lamb backstrap from the woodfire grill was served on a bed of hummus with smoky eggplant, tomatoes, quinoa and a salad of celery leaves, tarragon and chervil.

I wasn't sure what (everyone's favourite super-grain) quinoa would bring to the dish, but it tied the rest of the ingredients together quite unexpectedly and added a lovely texture to the salad and lamb. 

Potato gnocchi with roasted pumpkin, burnt butter and salted ricotta
Despite being quite full, I couldn't help but offer to help finish off the soft, melting potato gnocchi with sweeet roasted pumpkin cubes and salted ricotta slices. It would have been a sin to leave a single pillow of goodness behind. 

Tasmanian Salmon with pickled beetroot, orange, fetta and mint
Also from the woodfire grill, the large fillet of salmon was cooked perfectly with a nice addition of fetta cheese and mint, and orange segments and pickled beetroots that cut the richness of the salmon.

Sides of chips with roasted garlic aioli and a salad of rocket, pear, fennel and parmesan
Golden, thick cut chips with a roasted garlic aioli were a crowd-pleasing side along with a fresh salad of rocket leaves, pear, shaved fennel and parmesan cheese shared at the table.

Caramel and chocolate tart with fresh honeycomb and double cream
I'm glad I made room for dessert: a not-run-of-the-mill caramel and chocolate tart served with freshly-made honeycomb. There was a slight bitterness of golden syrup that was heated to just the right temperature before burning - the hallmark taste of a good home-made honeycomb that you just don't get in commercial honeycomb.

Woodland Kitchen & Bar's honest and uncomplicated approach to well-cooked food is what every neighbourhood bistro should have. I can just imagine myself as a local coming back again and again for, "my usual, please". If only every suburb could be so lucky.

Food, booze and shoes dined at Woodland Kitchen & Bar as a guest, with thanks to Agency G.

Woodland Kitchen and Bar on Urbanspoon


Rita (mademoiselle délicieuse) said...

Didn't realise Pony had disappeared from this spot! Hadn't had a chance to try but it did look busy whenever I went past. This new guise looks promising though.

Also, love the updated look of your blog!

Tina said...

Thanks Rita ;)


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