But the best part, tucked into the back of the store, is the Cara&Co restaurant – a fashionably-fitting fine diner with a truly unique, international approach.
|Cara&Co concept store and restaurant, Level 4, Westfield Sydney|
The dining proposition is very much in line with the retail store: innovative and unique. On top of that, I can’t think of another eatery in Westfield Sydney that suits its surrounds as well as Cara&Co.
|Cara&Co restaurant dining room|
Warm hand towels, naturally, like those available in most restaurants in Japan to clean your hands before a meal. This sense of whimsical theatre sets the scene for a fun, intrigue-filled dinner.
|Sourdough rolls with butter and black salt flakes|
To go with tastings of the new winter menu, a pinot noir by the glass was a pleasant, fruity ride that ended up matching the highly varied meal well.
|Tuna mousse, pumpkin cream, pumpkin cracker, nitro lime|
The punchy flavours of every component were a pleasant shock to start, and readied the palate and mind for an evening of surprising flavours and combinations.
|Goat’s cheese lollipop, mandarin glaze, quinoa crunch|
One bite of the lollipop had all the childhood joy of confectionary, so it might have been nostalgia, on top of the glorious textures, that made it so very satisfying.
|Beef tartare, Avruga caviar, quail egg -20°, chives|
The first artwork of beef tartare arrived fenced with sourdough crisps, a covering of Avruga caviar and a quail egg yolk ‘cooked’ at -20°C.
The egg yolk had a unique, soft ganache-like texture and added richness to the luxurious dish which we, of course, wiped clean.
|Scallop, goat's cheese, cucumber, apple, avocado|
The thin rolled pickled cucumber, flat rounds of apple, tiny cubes of cucumber jelly, dots of spicy avocado puree, and the apple and coriander sorbet made for a potentially different flavour in every mouthful of scallop, but their all-round fresh flavours worked together.
|Rock flathead, cauliflower, peanut, gherkin|
I wasn’t sure I heard correctly at first but the cauliflower puree with peanut butter was an out-of-this-world, crazy-genius pairing that – believe it or not – worked with the fish and even more curiously, with the gherkin.
For pickle lovers, the slime-green gherkin jus is heaven while the cauliflower foam, silver-painted peanuts and puffed quinoa brought textural contrast.
|Veal cheek, mustard, aioli, egg yolk, lettuce|
Covered in airy aioli from a syphon and a crumble of egg yolk and sourdough crumbs, the veal cheek was finished at the table with a mustard sauce.
The fall-apart meat wasn’t overly rich, as beef cheek sometimes can be, while the lettuce salad interestingly starred only the refreshing stem-like centres of lettuce and not the leafy parts, tasting more of lettuce than any salad I’ve had before.
|Kangaroo tenderloin, artichoke, black lentils, parmesan, cabernet sauvignon|
The kangaroo tartare was unbelievably tender, with a velvety and clean mouth-feel. Paired with a parmesan cheese marshmallow – ‘crumbed’ with pungent shreds of parmesan – Skippy never tasted better.
The tenderness of the raw kangaroo tartare, however, served to highlight the slight chewiness of the lean grilled striploin. The artichoke, grilled and in a puree form, didn’t excite me nearly as much as the black caviar lentils which, a little al dente, were an exemplary example of a legume.
|Wagyu rump, wagyu bacon, eggplant, miso, carrot, anchovy|
The wagyu bacon was as divine as it sounds and the highlight of the dish: crispy, salty and fatty bits of presumably smoked and cured wagyu beef.
The beef-fest was paired with grilled Thai eggplants; an eggplant puree spiced with cumin and miso paste; fresh carrot shavings and an anchovy puree that tasted of much more than salty fish and cream.
|Dark chocolate cake, raspberries, coconut,ginger, lime|
All sorts of raspberry were randomly arranged on the plate rim: fresh berries, jelly, puree, coulis plus the nitro-treated raspberry bits on top of the sorbet. My favourite part, however, was the airy, foam-like coconut marshmallow covered in chocolate shavings which reminded me of a very high quality Snowball.
|Nutty lemon - hazelnut, lemon|
Hazelnut crumbs and hazelnut sponge with lemon curd and limoncello ice cream combined for a harmonious balance of nuttiness and tartness, while the caramel sheet and silver-painted whole hazelnuts tipped it over to posh dessert land.
The sour cherry jelly didn’t impress me like the mini pistachio macaron, particularly its white chocolate ganache filling sprinkled with ground coffee.
Lastly, the caramel fudge with almond flakes was chewy perfection, with an odd dab of mango coulis and black salt which might have been better combined into the fudge. Nonetheless, it was a delightful ending which saw us completely stuffed and satisfied.
|The closed retail section|
The space is comfortable in its own skin, not to mention the impeccable service, truly innovative dishes and fun presentation. Now if only my winter wardrobe would pick up some of these traits.
Food, booze and shoes dined as a guest of Cara&Co.