Thursday, June 18, 2009

A little bird crush

For the single, a crush is like a little - or sometimes major - diversion from the norm. A bit of excitement, however gibberish-tongued and heart-wrenching it is. A fantasy away from the daily grind. Until the inevitable flattening of the crush, when it's squeezed the heart just a little too much to bear.

Thankfully crushes on restaurants and other establishments of eating are a little more reciprocal. There's a delicious reward at some point in the relationship. And that's all you need - a little love in return.

The Falconer is perched quietly on the oft loud and boisterous Oxford Street, surrounded by few like it. It's right next door to an independent supermarket towards the Hyde Park end of the street; an endearingly easy stroll from more city centre.

It's moodily-lit but unpainfully funky, oozing with charm from another time. The cushioned booths are comfy, the music is inoffensive and the service is arms-length friendly - all very, very good signs at an early stage.

Menu at The Falconer, Oxford Street, Darlinghurst

The menu also signals goodness: an interesting beer and wine selection, including options for half bottle carafes, and my struggle to choose from six of each mains and pastas. Luckily the entrees are easier to deal with - the tasting plate eliminating the need to choose one lust over another.

Entree tasting plate

Two baked, stuffed baby bell peppers sit squat and cute at one end of the rectangular plate, lids concealing a smoked paprika rice that's several minutes before al dente and a little knob of goat's cheese. The sweetness of the peppers is heightened and makes for a lovely contrast with the stuffing.

A pair of golden polenta crusted arancini spheres sit in a splash pool of a tomato-based sauce. They're filled with zucchini, tarragon and the flavour-maker of Fontina cheese, but a little dry and needing more sauce.

The couple of prawns arranged in union on a garlic, chilli and smoked eggplant puree are a swoon-worthy highlight. The sultry smokiness from both the prawns and the puree has me wanting more of the fresh, firm, tail-on, de-veined crustaceans.

And sweet simplicity of fresh flavours wins us over with the sugar-cured Petuna ocean trout. The lime acidity and dill thud of the dressing clothed the trout smartly and sharply - a smooth operator here.

Jealousy is a one-way street, usually anyway, and it's true tonight when I passively concede my first choice main to another diner. Envy and regret are painful in any situation - culinary or not.

Slow braised veal shank with celeriac puree and porcini jus

The apple of my eye turns out to be a lean, dark hunk of a dish. The caramelly surface of the veal shank comes away from the bone with a fork, providing serious depth of flavour in both the meat and the rich jus. With a mouthful of the smooth celeriac, food like this makes me glad it's winter.

Grilled Wagyu beef bavette with sweet and sour root vegetables

The wagyu comes out looking like a platter on another long rectangular plate. A little rarer than the requested medium-rare, the cut of meat is a little tough on the tooth but completely redeemed by the accompanying jus; a suave, smoking chair kind of feel with luxuriously rich flavours perhaps even overshadowing the meat. Cubes of parsnip soak up all the juices and pickle onions add a tart lightness to the overall.

Pappardelle with braised Bangalow pork, fennel, thyme and tomato

My pasta dish is the lightweight in comparison to the beef dishes, but heavy on the pork portion. Chunks of the tenderest Bangalow pork, fatty goodness here and there, are covered in a fennel-strong tomato sauce. The thin pappardelle struggles to keep up with the abundance of pork, but aided by my requisite order of a rocket, radicchio, pear and parmesan salad wth aged balsamic.

With the main event over, we brush aside petty jealousies and silly fantasies to lock eyes with the dessert menu. The Falconer has a few stickies on offer as well, and after my meaty meal a glass of moscato turns out to be the only thing I need.

Vanilla bean creme brulee with rhubarb and almond tuile

I find it tough to resist the charms of a mouthful or two of the creme brulee, though. Served with a crisp, paper-thin tuile of almond exclaimation, a cracking toffee layer reveals a thick and creamy custard sugar-high. It makes the shy, quiet type out of all of us.

Sitting cosily in our darkened booth, it feels like we've just gotten to know The Falconer so I'm no longer judging a bird by its feather. And how do I feel about it? I'm smitten and can't wait to see it again.

The Falconer on Urbanspoon


Betty said...

wow. sounds like it's the start of something beautiful! lol.

Tina said...

Hi Betty - it's still early days, but I think it is :D


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