Thursday, July 28, 2011

Gotham: A bit of New York on Oxford Street

Oxford Street was a Saturday night go-to place in my younger days – a street filled with clubs before Kings Cross hit my radar. Drinks, dancefloors and perhaps some late night coffees were the go, while food was rarely a consideration (Mortal Sin cheesecake and Hungry Jacks aside).

The bar at Gotham, Oxford Street, Darlinghurst
But with age comes earlier bedtimes, less stamina for all-night dancing, and way less capacity (and desire) to drink and particularly shoot drinks.

And it’s as if someone knew this and opened up Gotham on Oxford Street late last year – a sophisticated and stylish bar (circa 1950s New York, apparently) with an admirable, restaurant-level menu of food to go with the imbibing of alcoholic beverages, and seating arrangements of almost any desire.

Seats inside Gotham
The luxe, worldly interior is a welcoming haven of dark hues, with long tables and bar seating at the front supplemented with plush armchairs and huge square booths further within.

There’s a fireplace that appears to be a warmth placebo, as well as an extended upstairs level that seems perfect for a Saturday night party.

Upper East Side cocktail
A nickname for New York, as well as a commonly-known superhero city reference, the Gotham theme runs throughout the cocktail menu designed by Dane Reid (ex Jimmy Liks).

My choice of the Upper East Side is served short; a mix of muddled fresh pink grapefruit shaken with Cointreau, gin and a dash of Campari. Its sweet and slightly bitter profile, along with the cute pinkness of the drink, manages to erase thoughts of the freezing outside conditions.

The Big Apple cocktail
The taller Big Apple cocktail features fresh Granny Smith apples and some slightly artificial tasting green apple flavouring, shaken with mint leaves, gin and white grapefruit juice. It’s not as impressive as the Upper East Side, nor as sweet.

Glass of white wine
There's also a classic cocktail menu and a decent-sized wine list (Wine Men of Gotham shiraz is very, very good), but I was keen to try out the share plates on the menu as they appear a lot more creative and substantial than your average bar menu. No nuts or wedges here – we’re talking stuffed and fried green olives, zucchini flowers and pissaladiere.

With a proper kitchen and recently appointed "lead culinary consultant" Laif Etournaud (previously from Onde, Bistro Moncur and Berowra Waters Inn), these are some serious shared eats.

There’s also a choice of five main meals plus sides for those hungrier souls; although I really gravitate towards the idea of lots of share plates when drinking.

Duck liver parfait with cornichons and sourdough
I’ve decided I prefer parfaits to pates for their smoothness and lower likelihood to start me thinking about animal organs.

This textbook quenelle of duck liver parfait was supremely rich and creamy with a detectable liver-liness; gorgeously luxurious slathered onto the thin, toasted slices of sourdough bread. The cornichons and pickled onions add tart relief from too much richness, which isn’t altogether a bad thing in this case.

Pan fried olive and parmesan sandwich
As a carbs and cheese lover, I had my heart set on the rather ingenious sandwich on the menu. What looked like two slices of pan-fried sourdough bread were indeed two pan-fried sourdough sandwiches, crammed full of melty parmesan cheese and olives that I didn’t see as I scoffed the thin sandwich.

I’m all for cheese toasties at the worst of times, so this pimped up version was easily my favourite dish of the night. The crunchy bread contrasted superbly with the chewy parmesan cheese; the olives provided the flavour hit while the chopped parsley atop delivered some necessary freshness.

Crisp chicken wings with lime mayonnaise
The highly recommended chicken wings were definitely on my want list, and arrived as a basket of mid-wings with a zingy, citrusy mayonnaise dipping sauce. Not so much crisp as really not, the wings were nevertheless juicy and fell apart easily, with a delightful but subtle spice marinade making the skin the best part.

However, a subsequent visit to Gotham found their chicken wings closer to crisp with an impactful salt and pepper seasoning on the burnished skin of juicy, juicy mid-wings. I also noted the fun comic sheets beneath lining the basket - look out for Batman here!

Sugar cured ocean trout with horseradish cream and grilled sourdough
The generous serve of sugar-cured ocean trout was very tempting to the eye. Splodges of dill-spiked horseradish cream upped the flavour ante although it seemed to lack the taste of horseradish.

The ocean trout, cut to a good thickness, was pert and bouncing with fresh flavours, served with more bread and watercress sprigs.

We continued the sharing theme with one main between two of us: the choice a toss-up between the Kinkawooka mussels and the Angus sirloin. It went the latter, although the entire mains menu sounded pretty appetising.

Grilled Angus sirloin (150-day grain fed) with fries and beurre marchand
Our requested medium-rare was more on the rare side of things, but easily and quickly rectified by the kitchen. However, the beurre marchand sauce was a complete revelation: a shallot and red wine reduction that’s then mixed into butter with lemon juice and parsley, and served a little like Café de Paris butter – but so much better.

With a slight tartness and rich, caramelly flavours from the reduction, it reminded me a little of the retro Diane sauce, but nothing nearly so heavy. It even made a great dip for the french fries.

We had our chewing work cut out in some parts of the long-ish sirloin steak, but the tender, perfectly medium-rare sections made it completely worthwhile.

Warm Madeleine with sauternes, home-made quince paste and double cream
The beauty of shared meals is a higher chance of there being space in my belly for dessert; a shared one, that is. Madeleines sounded a lighter treat than brownies, though they arrived with a quenelle of double cream.

The hot, crisp-surfaced madeleines were simply perfect: deep brown shell shapes of an eggy cake, crumbing delightfully and served with an unexpected quince paste – the match surprisingly appropriate given the paste’s subdued tartness.

Although fairly quiet on an early weeknight, in all I found Gotham quite appealing and adding a little bit of classy eating and drinking to the popular street. It may not exactly be a slice of New York, but Friday happy hour cocktails and the welcoming furniture will see me back. Oh, and the parmesan and olive toastie – of course.

Food, booze and shoes dined as a guest of Gotham with thanks to Folke.

Gotham on Urbanspoon


Ramen Raff said...

Did you bump into Batman by any chance? hehe j/k

I'd love to go here! seems very cool and food looks great esp. the chicken wings and pan fried olive & parmesan sandwich!

chocolatesuze said...

woah that quenelle of duck liver parfait looks perfect!

Jade said...

Wow! That place looks amazing! I love the clock face window xx

gastronomous anonymous said...

i have always wondered about this place! thanks for the review.. will check it out.

MissPiggy said...

I'm going here for dinner tonight - I've already stalked the menu and have my eyes set on the muscles, and now thanks to your post the chook wings as well.

gbf said...

that duck liver parfait looks awesome! yum...great snaps. dayle

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

We walked past here the other night and it looked quite eye catching with the clock face behind the bar.

Dumpling Girl said...

Love that clock, but more importantly I really want that toastie and the fried chicken of course :)

joey@FoodiePop said...

The sirloin looks very simple but wonderful .... good amount of fries too. Mmmm.

Tina said...

Hi Ramen Raff - Only on paper (beneath the chicken wings)! I like the venue more and more, each time I go :)

Hi suze - Sure was! Tasted awesome too!

Hi Jade - That bar back is quite the stunner :)

Hi gastronomous anonymous - No probs - hope you enjoy :)

Hi MissPiggy - Hope you enjoyed it. Love to know how the mussels are.

Hi gbf - Thanks!

Hi Lorraine - I think that bar back draws in a lot of people!

Hi Dumpling Girl - Yes, more importantly, the toastie was amazing!

Hi joey - The butter sauce was definitely the highlight of the steak :)

Sasha Chua said...

"But with age comes earlier bedtimes, less stamina for all-night dancing, and way less capacity (and desire) to drink and particularly shoot drinks." - I just couldn't agree more. Or maybe it's because we started partying too young? Hahaha, just kidding!

Anyhoo, this Gotham place sounds exciting. Basing from its looks, the ambience seems like I and my friends will be having a good time while reminiscing the fun and a little embarassing past experiences of partying and getting wasted.

So how would you rate the restaurant from a scale of 6-10?

Simon Leong said...

the food was quite good. looks like you made some good choices. review coming soon :-)

Anonymous said...

Everything looks so good... I love your blog!

Tina said...

Hi Sasha - Yeag, Gotham definitely has a great vibe going on, and now some pretty awesome eats too, as you see. A 7-8 from 10, I say. Even though sometimes I miss it, I'm glad the partying days are over :)

Hi Simon - Sure did. Look forward to seeing your point of view.

Hi riotersbloc - Thanks

Corinne @ Gourmantic said...

No Batman or did you bring your own? ;)

Craving the duck liver parfait and madeleines now!

Two fit and fun gals said...

the madelines look adorable! love madelines :)

Tina said...

Hi Corinne - Well, there was one underneath the chicken wings...

Hi Two fit and fun gals - Yep, especially the freshly baked ones..!


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