Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Foveaux: Understated in Surry Hills

There are plenty of brash, brazen personalities out there and there are also the shrinking violets. While I wouldn’t necessarily place myself in either camp, something has to be said for the understated – the ones that surprise and impress without hype or fanfare. Like Foveaux in Surry Hills.

With a chef’s hat attained in last year's awards, Foveaux is that quiet achiever down the back of the class. My second visit to Foveaux was via voucher deal, with two courses each and to which we added wines by the glass like the bold, berry-bursting Tellurian Shiraz, sides and dessert.

Chestnut soup with ciabatta breadcrumbs and sage oil from Foveaux,
Foveaux Street, Surry Hills
We started with bread accompanied by plenty of butter and a complimentary amuse bouche featuring one of my favourite nuts – the chestnut. Amid the warming soup were extraordinarily crunchy ciabatta breadcrumbs and a barely noticeable sage oil.

Caramelised venison tongue, nham pla prawns, crispy pork skin, cauliflower cream, cashew, shiso and mint
With an ingredient as uncommon as venison tongue, it was a must-order of the entrées. The flavours of the nham pla prawns outshone the venison tongue however, but the latter had a sweetened and meaty chew that was surprising and impressive with the fresh torn herb leaves.

Seared bonito, black sesame, mushroom milk, puffed rice with pickled vegetables and elk
The barely seared bonito entrée was served cold; pink in sashimi-style in the centre with a black sesame crust on its skin side.

There was a lot going on around it but all of it harmonious: the thin rounds of pickled carrot and radish cutting through the aerated, meringue-like mushroom cream, which rounded off the soft, yielding fish.

Roasted veal sirloin, caper and veal chip, white anchovy puree and Brussels sprouts
With the onset of chilly winter weather, it was impossible to ignore the heavier proteins of the mains menu. Not the hugest fan of anchovy but club leader for Brussels sprouts and veal, it had to be the roasted veal sirloin for me.

Done medium-rare, the slices of veal were tenderly juicy though needed the generous splodges of anchovy puree which were distinctive but not overly salty.

The ‘chip’ was a crunchily crumbed specimen of pulled veal and capers; a bit like a Chicken Chippee but infinitely better – an ingenious and utterly divine emphasis of veal in the dish.

Roasted venison leg, mushroom puree, juniper oil, spaetzle, pickled red cabbage
with apple and Spanish onion
The venison leg didn’t look too different to the veal, and had no gamey flavour whatsoever in its medium-cooked state.

The earthy-hued mushroom puree added interest but couldn’t compete with the German influenced pickled red cabbage with spaetzle: sweet with apple and so fragrant with juniper oil that my one taste had me in a gin and tonic mindframe.

Green beans with confit garlic, oregano and lemon
We also indulged in sides of a luxe, thick and creamy potato puree and shiny green beans, tossed with confit garlic slices and lifted with lemon and oregano.

Thyme parfait, lemon curd, blueberry sorbet, pistachio and dried lemon sponge
With the decision made for a dessert to share, I was immediately intrigued by the thyme parfait although the resulting dessert was less herbaceous than I expected.

Nonetheless, the varied combination of the creamy blocks of parfait, tart lemon curd, and dramatic blueberry sorbet accompanied by fresh berries and crumbled nuts worked a treat. Especially with the phenomenal dried lemon sponge which had taken on biscuit-like characteristics with a subtle citrus note.

It was warming to see the cosily full dining room and indeed, the joy on the faces of diners when interestingly-presented dishes arrived to the table. Foveaux doesn’t subscribe to hype or fall head over heels into new trends, but its understated class and reliability make it a shining star of its food-centric postcode.

Foveaux on Urbanspoon


john@heneedsfood said...

Wow, each dish has such wonderful intricacies and flavour combinations. I must get there sometime.

Missy Piggy said...

I had my first ever degustation at Foveaux - loved it! I LOVE anchovies, but detest brussel sprouts (unless they're from Porteno of course).

Tina @ bitemeshowme said...

I've walked passed this place so many times and I don't even know why I've not gone in. Everything does look special in it's own way. Perhaps I need to get myself there to have a taste!

joey@FoodiePop said...

I should haul my arse here but there is so little time and money!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Hehe the onset of chilly Winter weather? But it's almost Spring now :)

Andy said...

Yes the degustation there is one of the best in Surry Hills

Anonymous said...

We had almost exactly the same dishes, and while they were nice, I found the whole experience hugely underwhelming. I'm so glad we had a voucher, as I would've felt a little miffed if I'd had to pay full price. In fact the only dish which really impressed me was the oyster with vinegar pearls, which weren't included in the deal menu. Oh well! Personally, I wouldn't go back - I'd rather save my money and go somewhere else.

Tina said...

Hi John - You must, they're so underrated! And they retained their hat this year :)

Hi Miss Piggy - Ever since Porteno, I adore Brussel sprouts of almost every kind!

Hi Tina - Definitely! Such a great venue that's not overhyped like so many.

Hi joey - The blogger's conundrum...?

Hi Lorraine - Teehee, I went some time ago and the heavy proteins were all I could look at!

Hi Andy - Oh, I've still yet to try the degustation; thanks for the reminder :)

Hi scoffandquaff - Oh, what a shame you didn't enjoy it as much. I think for what they are, they're not unreasonably priced, but the voucher certainly helps.


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