Thursday, February 13, 2014

Open to the Public Dining Room

I don't think there can be too many complaints about Sydney's summer this year – there have been so many glorious, blue-skied beach days, albeit many wasted in the office. That aside, I was delighted to have made it to picturesque Balmoral Beach one weekend to dine at the waterfront Public Dining Room.

Inside Public Dining Room, The Esplanade, Balmoral Beach
Named for its earlier heritage as public baths, Public Dining Room occupies an expansive, light-filled space looking out to the water. Nearby parking isn't fun but the natural, Scandinavian-look fitout makes for a perfect beachside haven and builds on the menu's fine yet casual approach.

Fried whitebait, aioli, lemon
As is the desire for waterfront dining, there's a strong seafood presence on the menu with heavy hints of the Mediterranean, particularly Italian cuisine.

We started with an Aussie sauvignon blanc that tasted a little too young and acidic, although this was placated by the pretty display of lightly fried whole whitebait in a fryer basket.

From the snacks menu, these little fish were fantastically fresh on their own in a pale, crisp batter, lifted to great heights with fresh lemon and a dip into thick, creamy aioli.

Seared scallops, chorizo, red pepper, pickled cauliflower
From the tempting entrée menu but requested in a main size, the seared scallops were served in a pretty array alongside diced chorizo and red capsicum with tiny florets of pickled cauliflower, all atop green swirls of what could have been an avocado puree.

'Melting' Huon Valley Tasmanian salmon (sous vide), snow pea puree, shimeji mushroom, beurre blanc and hazelnut
The salmon main was a sight to behold – not a carbon copy grilled salmon main as is ubiquitous through Sydney, but a thoughtful and creative construction featuring sous vide slow-cooked Huon Valley salmon that really did melt in the mouth.

The fish fillet was served with its own skin – artfully deep fried to golden crisps – a chlorophyl-green snow pea puree and a salad of shimeji mushrooms, snow peas and baby spinach leaves. A foamy beurre blanc butter sauce brought additional flavour to the fish, while a trail of crumbled hazelnuts added texture, perhaps unnecessarily.

Brodetto - Italian seafood soup, NZ clams, octopus, white fish, prawns, scallops, bruschetta 
Despite the warm day outside, I couldn't resist ordering the brodetto Italian seafood soup, with an envy-inducing variety of seafood in a tomato-based broth, served with toasted bread on the side.

Heavily fragrant with fresh dill, the dish featured a wonderful showcase of Australasian seafood: New Zealand clams and mussels, tender slices of octopus tentacles, pieces of salmon and a white fish, a couple of scallops and a large peeled prawn. To me, it represented a bowl of Australian waterside dining.

Too eager to check out the beach, we skipped dessert in favour of Gaytimes and Calippos later in the day on the beach. On a perfect Sydney beach day, I'm more than open to the idea of returning to Public Dining Room.

Public Dining Room on Urbanspoon


john | heneedsfood said...

It's such a gorgeous spot down there. Pity it's a bit of a pain to get to with public transport from my neighbourhood.

Jacq said...

I tend to avoid Balmoral because of how much of a pain it is to find parking, but the food here just might tempt me to go, especially that seafood soup!

Vivian - vxdollface said...

ooh very interesting, that slow-cooked salmon sounds scrumptious!

chocolatesuze said...

mmm that salmon!

Chris @ MAB vs Food said...

What a lovely location! Everything looks great! Salmon looks absolutely amazing!

Tina said...

Hi John - It's a great beach but pity about the parking too...

Hi Jacq - It's such a chilled out beach - less hectic than a lot of the eastern suburbs ones.

Hi Viv - It was easily one of the best salmon dishes I've tasted for a long time.

Hi suze - Yep, pretty amazing.

Hi Chris - It all made for a lovely day out :)

excusemewaiter said...

I've been wanting to go to the Public Dining Room for ages! The food looks stunning.

Neil Chung said...

But Balmoral seems like a world away. The food looks good enough to draw me out but.


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