Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Bourbon: NOLA nights in the Cross

Posted by Kath

In the wake of the lock-out laws introduced in February this year, there appears to be a definite change in the Kings Cross air - but we're yet to see which way the change really swings for the hospitality industry.

With a more relaxed menu and approach than a year ago, The Bourbon's decor and daily food and drinks specials, including a half-price late night menu, offer an inviting scene for those after a quick burger, a bite with few cocktails or a more substantial meal from the New Orleans/NOLA-inspired menu.

The kitchen in action at The Bourbon, Darlinghurst Road, Kings Cross
With a renewed focus on accessibility and affordability, gone is table service in the front of the venue in favour of ordering food and drinks at the bar, and the inclusion of six burgers on the menu (there's table service in the rear dining space and set menus for groups).

We were treated to a chef’s tasting selection to guide us through the new menu, which retains many aspects of NOLA influence. (Note: most dishes shown below are smaller tasting sizes and not the full menu size). 

Maple Rose Sour (left) and Velvet Vivant Martini (right)
The cocktail menu has improved significantly in the past year and we started with something you'd expect at a venue named The Bourbon: the Maple Rose Sour.

Their take on the classic whiskey sour comprised Bulleit bourbon infused with rosemary, cloudy apple and lemon juices, green chartreuse, maple syrup and chocolate bitters; the latter few ingredients adding a nice hint of sweetness.

The Velvet Vivant martini had Ketel One vodka, elderflower liqueur, lemon, pink grapefruit and agave, which while refreshing, became a little too acidic for my tastes.

Little Black Drink (LBD, left) & Ginger Rogers (right)
The LBD, or Little Black Drink, was a clever take on an espresso martini, comprising almost all my favourite things to drink in one glass: vodka, espresso gelato, maple syrup and shot of espresso.

The sweet, light and refreshing Ginger Rogers was a fruity affair of Tanqueray Gin, pomegranate liqueur, berries and lime juiced charged with ginger beer.

Spiced nuts and olives
To kick off the meal and accompany drinks, we had a selection of spiced nuts, olives, hummus, pickled chillies and bread.

The crunchy, spiced peanuts and cashews had a nice dusting of flavour with a mild heat kick, while the olives of varying types and sizes were lovely and salty.

Pickled chillies, hummus and bread
The hummus was more toned down than I'm used to but still had a nice smooth texture; great for slathering over grilled bread.

The highlight of the board, though, were the pickled chillies with such a delicious vinegary heat to them, I would have eaten them all if I didn't have to save room for the rest of the meal.

Scallops with grits, bacon, apple and fennels
Having never experienced New Orleans food, other than vicariously through watching Top Chef, I was excited to see what The Bourbon's menu had in store.

Our first and probably my favourite dish of the evening was the seared scallops which were plump, tender and beautifully caramelised on the surface.

These excellently-cooked molluscs were accompanied by a slice of crisp bacon atop a bed of creamy grits which had a distinct corn flavour. A salad of fennel and apple on the side freshened things up.

Fried chicken, waffles and hot sauce
Next we were delivered a Southern classic: fried chicken and waffles, garnished with chilli, coriander and Spanish onion. The chicken was tender and moist inside, while the batter was crispy and very well seasoned.

The waffle underneath the chicken was a sweet contrast to the savoury chicken while the tangy, fiery-red hot sauce adding extra zing, perfect for those that don't mind a bit of spice.

Alaskan crab, spiced butter and grilled bread
Another highlight of the meal was the signature Alaskan crab legs, with a surprising amount of sweet meat in each leg, considerately pre-cracked and smothered with cinnamon-spiced butter.

The spiced butter pooling on the plate was too good to waste, with sides of grilled bread provided to help mop up every last drop of buttery goodness.

Jambalaya - risotto, spices, bacon, shrimp, watercress
With no hint of slowing down, our next course was a Cajun classic of jambalaya. Like any good comfort food, the jambalaya - similar to an Italian risotto - was deliciously filling with a tomato base, bits of salty bacon and shrimp and again, a good kick of heat mixed through the rice base; all topped off with lightly pickled Spanish onion, watercress and fresh chilli.

Seared swordfish with 'hot fanny sauce' and iceberg & fennel salad
The second last savoury dish of the night was a perfectly cut piece of swordfish; tender to eat but also surprisingly meaty for a small slice of fish. Drizzled all over was the 'hot fanny sauce' of capsicum, onion and a hint of chilli.

While this dish was visually pleasing, the flavours didn't pack as much punch as the previous courses, although that could have just been my taste buds in NOLA overdrive by this point in the night.

Grilled pork chop, potato hash, chipotle butter and crispy onions
We ended the savoury portion of our NOLA journey with a slice of the grilled pork chop, which was a juicy morsel laid atop crunchy and salty potato hash.

A garnish of crispy onion ring and watercress completed the dish, although a larger serving of salad would have been ideal to balance out the rich flavours of the pork.

Banoffee pie
A Banoffee pie ushered us into the final leg of our journey - dessert - which had one overarching theme: cream.

A sizeable cloud of chocolate shaving-topped whipped cream hid a treasure trove of gooey, warm caramel and banana, all encased by soft, buttery pastry that melted in the mouth.

Waffles, vanilla bean ice cream and chocolate sauce
Bringing us back to happy childhood memories were the waffles with squares of vanilla bean ice cream and lashings of chocolate sauce. The waffles were a simple dessert that ticked all the boxes and left smiles all around.

Strawberries and cream - vanilla ice cream, meringue, fresh strawberries 
and strawberry sorbet
To top off the epic meal in true American style, we finished with a veritable mountain of fresh strawberries and cream, with crumbled meringue covering scoops of smooth strawberry sorbet. Refreshing richness has never made so much sense.

It was easy to forget we were in the heart of Kings Cross. Indeed, the last time I had a night out in the Cross it was definitely not for a sit-down New Orleans-influenced dinner. With the new approachable and relaxed menu, live bands and ample seating room, The Bourbon is sure to become a place in the Cross to start and end the night in NOLA style.

Food, Booze & Shoes dined as a guest of The Bourbon.

The Bourbon on Urbanspoon


Helen (Grab Your Fork) said...

Um fried chicken and waffles? Yes please!

The Sydney Noob said...

wow real soul food in Sydney, will have to try someday! nice write up!

Kath said...

@Helen - Agreed. You always win with Chicken and Waffles.

@The Sydney Noob - Thanks! Definitely something different to check out and enjoy in the cross!


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