Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Cross lunching at Concrete Blonde

I don't spend a great deal of time in the Cross these days which means I'm probably missing out on some of the dining options in the area, including restaurants in Kings Cross, Potts Point and Darlinghurst.

Right in the thick of things, up a short stairway on Bayswater Road underneath nightspot and cheap pizza haunt Hugos, Concrete Blonde is flying its modern Australian flag in an expansive space including a bar, some communal tables against an open kitchen and a large sheltered outdoor area.

Outdoor seating area at Concrete Blonde, Bayswater Road, Kings Cross
It's a great spot for casual but stylish lunching and in the evenings, people watching, I imagine.

And with a full bar incorporated into the restaurant, there was no reason to not start a weekend lunch with a signature Concrete Blonde cocktail.

The bar

Bayswater Breeze cocktail (front, right)
The Bayswater Breeze is a refreshing and fruit cocktail of vodka and elderflower liqueur, garnished with fresh passionfruit and overflowing with crushed ice. It was very easy to drink so a good choice with which to start the drinking day.

Seared scallops, wild prawn, asparagus, crisp bread
I love seeing new perspectives on a seared scallop dish and this was certainly not your average scallop entree. The three just cooked scallops sat amid asparagus spears, crisp bread and a fine dice of prawn and other raw, sashimi style seafood in a seafood salad of sorts. The scallop I sampled was sweet, succulent sea perfection.

Smoked ocean trout, slow cooked egg, apple and dill salad
My entree of thinly sliced smoked ocean trout with a gooey slow cooked egg was also accompanied by a thin, crunchy crisp, which came in handy for dipping into the egg.

The egg was nested by sprigs of dill and batons of granny smith apple which had a sweetness that was ideally matched with the smoky yet vibrant fish.

Communal table and kitchen

Inside the restaurant

Char grilled pork cutlet, celeriac remoulade, pear, blue cheese, hazelnuts
There were more than a few dishes I wanted to try from the brief mains menu but the pork cutlet won out - rewardingly so as I spied it coming to our table.

It was quite a large dish with a hunk of char grilled pork sitting on shredded celeriac - which cut through the richness of the meat as did the scattered salad of witlof, pear, blue cheese and roasted hazelnuts alongside.

And as if the juicy and tender pork wasn't enough, there was also golden, perfectly and audibly crunchy pork crackling that almost made the dish on its own.

Slow cooked NZ King salmon, prawn, avocado, fennel
The lighter salmon option featured a slow cooked (perhaps confit) fillet of the fish, which flaked easily into pieces to be eaten with an avocado puree and fennel and pea salad.

The prawn seemed to be an unusual addition but it was so fresh in taste and texture I could have had all prawns and no salmon.

Fennel salad, marinated goats cheese, blood orange, witlof, radish, chives
The mains at Concrete Blonde are quite complete meals with substantial sides, like salads, on the plate - a refreshingly value-oriented approach that's not nearly as common as it should be.

Nonetheless, we sampled the colourful and sprightly fennel, witlof and radish salad dotted with normal and blood orange segments and creamy, mild goat's cheese - covering off on bitter and sweet, creamy and crisp.

Bouillon chat potatoes, rosemary salt, aioli
The waitstaff also highly recommended the potato side dish and after just one bite, I understood why. Parboiled in, presumably, bouillon, these chat potatoes were then lightly smashed and roasted to a glistening, well-tanned state and seasoned with rosemary salt.

They were outstanding as they were, and just scraping in to be 'the naughty side' with the addition of aioli. French fries and pommes puree, eat your heart out - this is the champion of potato side dishes.

Seating indoors and wine cellar

Vanilla panna cotta, rhubarb, strawberry,basil sorbet
After scoffing as many potatoes as possible, as well as the sizable mains, the very enticing dessert menu nudged us into sweets territory too. First was the vanilla panna cotta which wobbled nicely with its strawberry jelly layer.

The basil sorbet was great on its own, weird with the vanilla flavours of the panna cotta, but made more sense with the little piles of stewed rhubarb and strawberry.

Caramelised banana tart, honeycomb, peanut butter ice cream
Not normally a banana dessert person, I was swayed by the banana tart's promised side of peanut butter ice cream and honeycomb.

The tart itself was fabulous: a thin, buttery, flaky pastry topped with banana slices and caramel that had been lightly torched for a hint of burnt toffee. It was also a surprisingly light dessert, though apt after all those potatoes really.

Caranel espresso martini
To top off the sweets, one of the dessert cocktails appealed with caramel and espresso meeting in a heavy hitting martini. It was more caramel than espresso but a fine note on which to conclude lunch in the Cross.

Outdoors, indoors, cocktails, food, casual or big night out: if you need a reason to visit Kings Cross, I think Concrete Blonde has a few.

Food, booze and shoes dined as a guest of Concrete Blonde, with thanks to Wasamedia.

Concrete Blonde on Urbanspoon


Priscilla @ said...

Woo... I'm really liking the look of that pork cutlet. Particularly that blistering skin! crack crack crack...

Tina @ bitemeshowme said...

I've seen several posts about concrete blonde and I still drool at every post. I don't make my way to that area too often either so the only way I can experience is for blog posts like this!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

I'm really tempted to make a version of those potatoes! I think the additional flavour would be delicious!

Mr C @ The Food Diary said...

The salmon looks perfectly done, I haven't had anything like that in so long - now I'm craving it!

Sara - Belly Rumbles said...

There are so many great places to visit in Kings Cross and Potts Point, I really need to spend more time there too.

Love the cocktails at CB, really great.

Vivian - vxdollface said...

Really liking the look of the new menu items, they've definitely improved. Oh and that banana tart <3

Tina said...

Hi Priscilla - The crackling was definitely a highlight :)

Hi Tina - They do some pretty good looking (and tasting) food here!

Hi Lorraine - Isn't it clever?! The crunchy roasting is amazing too.

Hi Mr C - Yeah, it just pops off that black plate, doesn't it?

Hi Sara - I was pretty impressed with the food too :)

Hi Vivian - It looks like they've changed the menu again; hope that tart is still on... :P


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