By Greedy Financier
When I think food and science, I think Heston Blumenthal. Watching him on TV experiment with food never ceases to amaze me. His restaurant in the UK, The Fat Duck, is at the very top of my list of restaurants to go to, but unfortunately until I have the time and funds to get over there, I have to make do with what I have here in Sydney. And a relatively new restaurant in Potts Point might quite possibly be the closest thing in Sydney to Heston’s restaurant (in my opinion, without actually having been to The Fat Duck!). Gastro Park was awarded 2 Chef’s Hats within only 8 months of opening – a tell-tale sign that the restaurant must surely be good.
Gastro Park Signage
We walked through the doors of Gastro Park on a cold windy evening, and were immediately grateful for the warmth of both the room and the wait staff. We were presented with an a la carte menu, but chose to go with the 10 course degustation (they also offer a 7 course degustation) celebrating Gastro Park’s signature dishes.
Puttanesca Wafer and Cured Blackmore Short Rib Grissini
First up were some rocks – well that’s what I thought they were until the waitress explained we were to eat only the food being held in the rocks (I was a little disappointed that I couldn’t eat the rocks!). One was a puttanesca wafer – my understanding is that puttanesca is a type of tomato sauce usually containing olives, garlic, capers, hot pepper and sometimes anchovies – but regardless of what puttanesca is, the wafer had a texture and taste reminiscent of eating dried fish or squid. The second of the rocks held a grissini (breadstick) wrapped with cured beef short rib – the beef was wonderfully tender, slightly sweet yet salty, and went well with crunchy breadstick.
Tuna Carpaccio, Marinated Prawn, Tuna Bone Marrow, Tomato and Soft Herbs
Second course was tuna carpaccio and marinated prawn. The tuna and prawn just melted in my mouth, and was accompanied with an amazing tangy but sweet lime jelly. The dish also contained tuna bone marrow – I love eating beef bone marrow, and wasn’t sure what to expect from the tuna, but it was interesting – it was almost like eating plain flavoured jelly, but with a slightly fishy aftertaste.
Foie Gras, Wild Hare, Beetroot, Plum Vinegar, Red Cabbage Granita
Third course was foie gras, hare, beetroot and red cabbage. This was the bf’s favourite dish of the night. Under the layer of rich buttery foie gras was a piece of hare (cooked rare) – and it was paired perfectly with the sweetness of the beetroot and red cabbage granita.
Soy and Mustard Glazed Swordfish Belly, Pickled Cucumber
Fourth course was swordfish belly. The waiter informed us that this was his favourite dish from Gastro Park – and it did not disappoint. The soy and mustard glaze imparted a mellow sweetness to the fish, which was accompanied with zingy pickled cucumber. It was a superb balance of sweet and sour.
Veal Sweetbreads with Madeira, Sauteed Kale, Caramelised Onion and Soubise
Fifth course was veal sweetbreads. I’ve had sweetbreads once before, and was a little hesitant about eating them again. However, the sweetbreads here were surprisingly tasty. They were creamy and smooth, topped with a sweet Madeira sauce, and paired with caramelised onions that were bursting with soubise (creamed onion foam) and of course, flavour.
Liquid Butternut Gnocchi, Mushroom Consommé
The sixth course was gnocchi with mushroom consommé. This had to be the prettiest dish of the night, and was one of my favourites. The consommé had this lovely earthiness about it, and was complemented beautifully with the robustness of the cheese crisp “nest”. The real star(s) of the dish though, were these magnificent gnocchi balls. They were so delicate, and when placed in your mouth, they would explode, literally, with liquid flavour. It was amazing.
Liquid Butternut Gnocchi, Mushroom Consommé
The seventh course was Gastro Park’s signature crispy scaled snapper. I have to admit fish scales give me the chills – I can’t stand them. Gastro Park was really pushing it – serving up items that one would not usually eat in the mainstream. However, the scales were so perfectly crispy, and the fish cooked so impeccably, that I didn’t even notice I was eating scales. It was accompanied with a trio of calamari – crackling which reminded me of Chinese prawn crackers, tubes which were delicate and thin, and scored pieces which were plump and juicy. And finally, the potato puree – it was wonderfully velvety and smoky, and I would have happily eaten a giant bowl of the stuff.
Crispy Scaled Snapper, Smoked Potato Puree, Calamari Crackling
Eighth course was goats cheese. I don’t usually order cheese at a restaurant, but I have to say, this dish was actually quite delicious. It was a joyous and well balanced combination of textures and flavours – the mild robustness of the different textures of goats cheese, the crunchiness of the breadstick, the plainness (in a good way!) of the celery, and the sweetness of the apple – all just worked together to create a fantastic dish.
Textures of Goats Cheese, Apple and Celery
The ninth course was a chocolate sphere with cookies and cream. I had seen other tables eat this dessert, and I was hoping all night that one of our desserts would be the chocolate sphere (we didn’t know what was being served in the degustation). I was pretty excited when they placed the chocolate sphere in front of me – it looked incredible. And it tasted just as amazing.
Chocolate, Honeycomb, Mandarin Sphere, Cookies and Cream
As soon as my spoon hit the perfectly tempered chocolate shell, a distinct cracking sound resonated throughout the room, and a wonderful honeycomb cream oozed out. The honeycomb was decadently sweet and delightful, with just a hint of mandarin. The cookies and cream added another dimension of creaminess, crunchiness and indulgence. This dessert is what dreams are made of! (Well, I still dream about it!)
The Insides of the Chocolate Sphere
We thought the chocolate sphere was the last course of the night – mistakenly counting the two rocks as two courses, and a young waitress telling us it was the final dessert of the night. But then another lovely waitress came around informing us that we weren’t done, and there was still one more dessert. I was thrilled! Last, but not least, was liquid nitrogen pavlova. The pavlova was an interesting sensation – instantly melting in my mouth. Tropical fruits complemented the pavlova, and added most of the sweetness to the dish. Overall, it was quite a refreshing dessert.
Nitro Pavlova, Pineapple, Coconut, Papaya
At the end of the night, I requested a menu for the degustation – only to be told there was no specific degustation menu. But, the wait staff were lovely enough to bring me an a la carte menu numbering the dishes we had just eaten.
Gastro Park Menu
Gastro Park is definitely one of the best restaurants in Sydney. They serve up incredibly unique and creative dishes, which taste amazing. Every single course was an impeccable well balanced combination of flavours and textures. And I can’t praise the wait staff enough – they were welcoming, attentive and accommodating. It’s not often that you come across a restaurant where the service is just as good as the food – which was superb.
Lunch: Thursday to Saturday 12.00pm – 2.30pm
Dinner: Tuesday to Saturday 6.00pm to 10.00pm
Ph: +61 2 8068 1017
5 – 9 Roslyn Street
Kings Cross, Sydney