If you’ve read some earlier posts or follow me on Twitter you would know I love Grain, the new bar at the Four Seasons Hotel Sydney. Dylan and I were invited to the opening and have returned several times since. I love the design, being able to sit at the high tables and watch the world go by, and the bar food is like nothing else. Of course my attention always turns back to the food, by Hamish Ingham of Bar H fame.
Knowing it was to be another joint venture with Hamish we were keen to see the new restaurant at the Four Seasons open. Hotel restaurants are often glum, boring, old school places. Yet having previously dined at Bilson’s I knew there was hope for restaurants located within hotels, and having seen what the team had done with Grain I knew there was a lot of potential.
We were lucky enough to be invited to the media launch of The Woods and in short: I was gob-smacked.
Designed by the same team behind Grain – Frost Design, Michael McCann (Dreamtime Australia Design) and Athol Wright (Country Design), as you walk through the hotel lobby and into the restaurant all of your senses will be going a mile an hour. The level of detail in the design is incredible. Everywhere you look there is something more to gaze at and take in. From the wooden tables and chairs, array of tiles around the kitchen, to the ceiling covered in writing, menus and sketches (by Wall Candy) – there is a lot to take in but it’s a great conversation starter (and potentially good first date restaurant?!)
Sourdough bread & our butter ($3.00 per person).
I love Iggy’s and was stoked to see The Woods was serving Iggy’s with Hamish’s hand made butter. You really can’t go wrong with these two ingredients as far as I am concerned. Lather it up and enjoy.
Wood grilled calamari, pork cheek bacon & pickled muntries ($24.00).
Treated with a selection of entrees, the first that grabbed my attention was the wood grilled calamari with a gorgeous aroma from the wood grill. Beautifully grilled calamari tube presented partially sliced for easy portioning between the table. The smokiness of the calamari was balanced with the sweet and slightly tart muntrie berries (which I first discovered over at Grain on the stunning pavlova), pork cheek bacon, baby sorrel and crunchy hazelnuts.
Ash seasoned ocean trout, smoked trout roe & parsley salad ($21.00).
Ash seasoned, the ocean trout was soft and giving, coupled with the pop of the roe and toasted brioche pieces it reminded me of the steamed brioche at Grain in many ways. A wonderful combination of creamy and salty with crispy bread and a refreshing salad.
Salad of cucumbers, grilled sea urchin & yoghurt ($18.00).
I’m not the greatest fan of sea urchin, its creamy spongelike texture or its briny flavour. But I do love cucumbers so this wasn’t a complete loss on me. If sea urchin is your thing then this dish will win you over with the crisp cucumber and tart creme fraiche working nicely with the creamy briny sea urchin. I must be in the minority as this was a huge hit at our table.
Olive wood roasted Milly Hill lamb saddle, celtuce & sorrel ($38.00).
We each ordered a main and although the entire menu sounded delicious I was sold on the lamb as soon as I saw they were sourcing it from Milly Hill. If you see Milly Hill lamb around town then I highly recommend you order it – exceptional quality and consistency – it is popping up on menus at Restaurant Atelier, Bishop Sessa, Restaurant Arras and Buon Ricordo in Sydney, Muse Restaurant in the Hunter Valley and all the way up to Brisbane.
Chefs are treating the lamb with the utmost respect it deserves, allowing the beautiful produce to sing. The chefs at The Woods are no exception, with the olive wood imparting a greater depth of flavour and nicely balanced with the greens and onions.
Aged Coorong sirloin on the bone & black garlic butter ($44.00).
And while I had my heart set on lamb Dylan needed a steak fix. The Aged Coorong glistened on the plate in all its juicy glory. A thin cut it was sliced perfectly and cooked well for its thickness. The real stand-out for Dylan was the black garlic butter which was incredible, though the steak doesn’t come with anything else so some sides are definitely in order.
Shoestring fries ($8.00).
Who doesn’t love a bowl of fries? What about shoestring fries, nicely salted? Yes I really think they are a must order with a steak.
Upside down lettuce ($12.00).
‘Upside down lettuce’ was… well… upside down. I’ve got to say this one is a bit of a wanky name for something as simple as lettuce. Unless there is some historical reference I am unaware of?! Name (and price tag) aside the lettuce was light and refreshing but not something I could see myself ordering.
The Woods tart ($18.00).
Tart me up! Blood plum, ricotta and rosemary. Eeeek I couldn’t say no. And then I heard the tart was cooked in the wood fired oven. Holy moley. The aroma of the tart was incredible, the pastry buttery and flaky, the centre creamy and semi-sweet. I loved the level of sweetness in this dessert, it wasn’t overly rich or heavy. I’m definitely ordering this when I go back.
Chocolate swiss roll, grilled cherries & sesame ($16.00).
I have always been a chocolate girl, but it seems more and more I am moving away from chocolate desserts. While I did enjoy the light swiss roll it was the deliciously buttery tart that won my heart.
On only their second night of operation, The Woods pulled out a cracking meal. It was no surprise to Dylan or I to see Terry Durack award them 15/20 only two weeks later. Hamish, Bec, Josh and the crew are doing a brilliant job and we’ll be back soon to check out the rest of the menu.
A Food Story dined as guests of The Woods courtesy of RF Media.