Lex’s mum’s birthday falls in between Christmas and New Year’s. Each year we get Lex’s brothers and their girlfriends together and surprise Sue with lunch. Last year we cooked up an Italian storm at home, the year before we dined along the waterfront at Sails. This year we decided to take Sue to Chiswick, Matt Moran and Peter Sullivan’s nine month old ‘neighbourhood restaurant’ where they have their own kitchen garden, and the focus is on great, seasonal produce.
Sashimi kingfish, avocado, radish, nashi pear ($20.00 weekdays / $21.00 weekends).
To start I chose the sashimi as I felt it would be a good balance to the fried chicken Lex & I were sharing. We are lucky in Sydney (and Australia) that there is always superb seafood available to all restaurants that are willing to procure it. Spectacular sashimi is not only to be found in the finest of Japanese establishments but at Chiswick too.
Delicate and fresh the kingfish was amazing. There was great punctuation in the accompaniments that really set up the dish to reach the levels it did. Radish doing its peppery best, avocado a great creamy addition, parsley with an herbaceous tone and yuzu jelly there to knock your head off with a citrus blast. It was so Japanese but also so very not, a perfect start for me.
Crisp buttermilk chicken, cabbage, harissa, mayonnaise ($20.00 weekdays / $22.00 weekends).
Having heard quite a lot of gushing reviews on the buttermilk fried chicken meant we had to order it. If I am to be totally honest I have eaten plenty of fried chicken (come-on, KFC is everyone’s dirty little food secret) but never before had I sampled the buttermilk variety. I know it is supposed to be the most ‘amazeballs’ way to prepare fried chicken but I never really had any inclination to try it.
All of that aside, when I actually tasted the chicken I was pleasantly surprised. Most of all I was impressed by how not oily the chicken was. Before me were just perfectly moist pieces of chicken enclosed in a crispy casing that was impeccably seasoned. To add to the joy was the chorizo mayo, a perfect touch for the dish.
Hand cut chips, lemon thyme aioli ($9.00).
For some reason we decided on two serving of the hand cut chips which, had we thought about it, was a little daft (so many chips on the table). The chips are great as they teetered on the edge of being crunchy and soggy (in a good way) which for me is the best place to be and the aioli was light and not to overbearing as to mask the flavour of the potato.
Wood roasted Moran family lamb, green olive & fennel ($59.00 weekdays / $65.00 weekends).
Since Lex & I were the only ones to have eaten at Chiswick before we knew no matter what the wood roasted lamb was a must. As it serves two we thought it would be best to share between three and order another main of which we would also share.
Once again it was ever so soft and like butter – able to be pulled apart with just a fork. I went entirely for the darker meat this time as its rich flavour is leaps and bounds above the rest. Not one to disappoint the lamb had flavour in spades, oozing hints of the wood firing used to slow cook it to utter perfection. My only real negative comment is that the accompaniments were just way too lacking for such a large portion, why can’t they just throw a huge dollop of hummus and mint sauce on the plate so you can lather the lamb in condiment heaven?
Spanner crab linguini with peas and asparagus ($30.00 weekdays / $33.00 weekends).
The second main to be shared with the lamb was the pasta. A recipe that has no doubt gone through many variations since our last visit yet one that still clung to the basic mantra. Shellfish, snow peas, chilli and of course some luscious handmade pasta. It is a winning combination so why fight it. It was in stark contrast to the lamb and that made it all the more impressive. As Lex has said previously “light, fresh flavours” really make this dish so easy to enjoy in every incarnation.
Mango & vanilla bombe alaska, red currants ($15.00 weekdays / $17.00 weekends).
I have this thing with not wanting to order the same as anyone else at the table (unless it is steak) so for me dessert would be decided by what everyone else chose. Lex tried (and failed) to assert that I was going to get the poached pears and that it was a sure thing (pear is quite a common dessert choice for me) so out of spite I was not getting the pears. When all other choices were made it was the bombe alaska that made the cut.
First order of the day was to slice through this puppy to reveal the glory inside. The ice cream centre was nice and soft (not icy at all) and tasted amazing, the mango coulis was show-stoppingly good with such a huge burst of flavour but it was the meringue I just loved. Being somewhat of a Pavlova master I know a good meringue and this was sensational. My expectations were high and I was glad to see this dessert delivered all I hoped for.
CHISWICK knickerbocker glory ($15.00 weekdays / $17.00 weekends).
Our last foray into the world of the knickerbocker glory did not end so well so when Lex decided on it I was reluctant to share my dessert with her. Thankfully my fears were unfounded as the Chiswick rendition was spot on. Silky vanilla ice cream to start with and then layers of strawberry, cream, meringue and mango to make for one outstanding dessert. I actually need to admit I probably ate way more than Lex realised it was that good (shhh, don’t tell her).
Flourless chocolate cake, hazelnuts, vanilla ice cream ($15.00 weekdays / $17.00 weekends).
Just about everyone else at the table ordered the flourless chocolate cake. Rich, rich, rich, the vanilla ice cream was the perfect side to such a rich dessert. Definitely one for the chocolate lovers.
The food at Chiswick is always a winner. The restaurant was packed as always and the noise levels through the roof. It was much more pleasant towards the end of the meal as other tables departed.
And so another year of birthday celebrations was complete. Where to in 2013?
65 Ocean Street
Woollahra NSW 2025
(02) 8388 8688
Chiswick Restaurant Website