Thursday, May 24, 2012

bloodwood: Where the bloody hell have I been?

It’s been more than a year since bloodwood popped up on my radar: my first couple of visits were drinks-only affairs while a drop-in over the December festive season sadly saw them closed for a week or so.

But post my dinner visit recently, I’ve been wondering: where has bloodwood been all my life? And indeed, where have I been when I should have been in their mezzanine dining room all this time?

bloodwood, King Street, Newtown
The industrial chic fit-out reminds me a little of another venue but suits the space and Newtown down to the concrete ground. The front bar area is cosy, as too the open kitchen we pass before heading up a few steps to the table settings for couples and fours in the main dining area.

Polenta chips, gorgonzola sauce
We order their signature polenta chips as we pore over the very approachable wine list, with plenty of options by the glass. The 2009 Font De Michelle Font Du Vent Cotes du Rhone is an affordable choice that has an almost abruptly short length, not all a bad thing with the pungently creamy gorgonzola sauce.

The polenta chips are perfect bricks of yellow-gold ground cornmeal seasoned with salt flakes. Impossibly crisp on the outside and soft, piping hot and creamily textured on the inside, the chunky polenta chips were the perfect instruments to devour the pot of gorgonzola sauce, wiping it clean and even getting a top-up.

Pork pintxo, lima beans, guindillas
It was easy to pick the pork pintxo from the menu, especially after the waiter’s description of the grilled pork with paprika and other spices, served with lima bean puree and pickled guindilla chillies.

Nothing smells quite as good as charred meat on a stick, and this was certainly a highlight of the meal. Topped with a sensational tart green sauce and a bunch of the not-spicy guindilla chilliess, the tender pork was lean and full of flavour; the bean puree adding a necessary carbohydrate base.

Spanner crab, green asparagus, brown butter, bread crumbs, parsley
There was definitely no skimping on the amount of spanner crab flesh, tossed with parsley and topped with bread crumbs, all piled on top of the grilled asparagus spears. The whole lot was quite drenched in the sauce of brown butter, making it quite a rich dish, particularly after it cooled a little.

We also had an overflowing bowl that was the leaf salad - definitely the biggest I’ve seen on a restaurant table, although admittedly it wasn't really a side dish. But with thin, salty shards of crisp bresaola, this salad was bliss, helped by the fact that none of the leaves – red witlof included – had any bitterness about them.

Coorong angus beef brisket, spatzle, cauliflower, beans
To drink with what would represent a main dish at bloowood (larger size and price tag), I switched to the bigger, bolder 2009 Telmo Rodriguez Dehesa Gago Tempranillo which was fruity enough hold up against the almost cloying sweetness and richness of the South Australian angus beef brisket.

The brisket must have been braised for many an hour, possibly in dark soy sauce, to achieve the tenderness that allowed it, and all its muscle and connective tissue, to be pulled apart with forks alone.

The crisp surfaced bits of spatzle, pan fried with cauliflower florets and green beans, were a tad on the oily side given the already rich, fat-melded beef brisket, making it a slight struggle to finish.

bloodwood trifle – fresh berries, pound cake, port wine jelly,
vanilla anglaise, yoghurt mascarpone
There was only stomach capacity for one dessert to be shared between two, which had to be bloodwood’s take on the retro trifle.

The current iteration of the perennial dessert featured fresh berries, including stunning blueberries, combined with a fragrant vanilla anglaise. The pound cake acted as a sponge to all the dairy goodness around it, while I could have easily gone a bowl of port wine jelly on its own.

Paired with the oaky, candied pineapple tones of the 2007 Grande Maison Cuvee de Angus, it wasn’t an overly sweet finish to the meal, at which point both the dining area and front bar were packed full with a broad range of punters. And with very good reason too – the food and wine are interesting yet approachable, mashing new and familiar with touches of both high-end and casual.

While the fine dining pedigree of the three bloodwood chefs/owners is well known, it was also a lovely surprise to find the professionalism and high standards also flows through to the service. Despite the casual-cool atmosphere, the top-notch service really elevated my experience of bloodwood to something special. I know where the bloody hell I want to eat more often.

Bloodwood on Urbanspoon


john@heneedsfood said...

My thoughts exactly on the brisket dish. I had it recently and almost struggled with the added oiliness, even a slight bitterness coming from somewhere. Despite that, the food is always top notch.

Buggles and Squeak said...

We love Bloodwood - have visited many times and still haven't got round to blogging it.
I guess another visit is due soon...

joey@FoodiePop said...

The food is certainly good here, especially at this end of King St.

tastyfoodsnaps said...

ive never heard of bloodwood! the asparagus with spanner crab looks good :)

missklicious said...

I loved Bloodwood! You got some nice shots, it was too dark to take any photos the night I went (Earth Hour night)

Dumpling Girl said...

Hehe love the catchy title of your post, exactly how I felt when I went in January this year. Love this place.

gaby @ lateraleating said...

Oh, I didn't realise they had Cotes du Rhone in the menu. Maybe they didn't have it when I ate there. Judging from the photo they haven't increased the amount of sauce served with the polenta chips, they should!

MissPiggy said...

I loved my brunch at Bloodwood - the polenta chips were lovely, and the spanner crab salad was so beautiful.

Richard Elliot said...

Pleased to hear you finally made it to Bloodwood for dinner. I loved my set menu dinner earlier in the year, probably my favourite evening of the year so far.

tania@mykitchenstories said...

Oh I love Bloodwood. Everything is so layered with flavour. Sham about the brisket.

Matt said...

Hey Tina, sorry to be pedantic but the industrial chicness of Ms. G's should remind you of bloodwood, and not the other way round, considering bloodwood opened 12 months prior ;)

Tina said...

Hi John - Yes, but it was a small blip in a fabulous night :) Can't wait to return!

Hi Buggles and Squeak - They're really doing something inventive and unique so it was a great experience.

Hi joey - There's still a relative dearth of places down that end of King Street, but it's definitely picking up.

Hi tastyfoosnaps - I'd highly recommend it as a unique yet very Sydney place to visit.

Hi missklicious - Thanks. I was struggling a little, and the seating is so intimate too... :)

Hi DumplingGirl - Hey, I figured if Australian tourism can use it and not be considered overly offensive, so can I ;)

Hi gaby - We had to get a sauce refill!!!

Hi MissPiggy - The polenta chips are definitely a must have but the pork pintxos was by far my fave dish of the night.

Hi Richard - Took me long enough! Hopefully the retun visit is a lot sooner ;)

Hi Tania - You're right about the flavours!

Hi Matt - Indeed, although I was referring to my personal experience as I'd visited the other before bloodwood ;) Great job on it


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