It was a cold and dreary day in the middle of summer but it was my thirtieth birthday and nothing could put a dampener on my spirits – not the lack of sleep from being out the night before, the pounding headache or the never-ending rain.
Dylan had organised a surprise birthday lunch for me. I knew he had organised lunch and I knew my family were coming along but I didn’t know where we were off to. That is until we were driving along and he turned left towards Mosman; immediately I knew we were going to Ormeggio and I’d be able to tick another restaurant off my bucket list.
Ormeggio at The Spit is Alessandro Pavoni and Fraser Guthrie’s Northern Italian restaurant located on the waterfront at The Spit in Mosman. Since opening in 2009 Ormeggio has consistently been placed in the Australian Gourmet Traveller’s Top 100, was awarded one hat in the 2011 and 2012 SMH Good Food Guide awards, and recently won a coveted two hat status. The day before my birthday Marco Pierre White dined at Ormeggio and left a napkin note for Alessandro claiming the restaurant deserved three hats.
Two courses – $59.00 per person / Three courses $79.00 per person / Four courses $95.00 per person
We struggled to decide what to have but as the waiter explained we could order a different number of courses each things slowly began to fall into place. Three of us decided on three courses and the other four chose to have four courses. Surprisingly Dylan and I were only up for three courses – purely because we were still recovering from the epic feast at Quay the night before.
Mushroom tapioca, cream cheese.
Once our orders were placed we were greeted with a complimentary amuse bouche. Best described as mushroom flavoured fine-dining style prawn crackers with a hit of cream cheese. They melted in the mouth and were extremely delectable.
Warm sourdough, freshly churned sour butter, sea salt ($8.00).
Of course lunch would never be complete without warm sourdough and freshly churned butter. I couldn’t help but laugh as my brother compared the layout of the bread slate to Skyfall – yes, the James Bond movie. Apparently the bread was the house, the butter the church and the salt the iced lake. Ahhh if only I had his imagination! But back to the bread, I do love my bread and enjoyed watching the lathering of butter melt away on the warm sourdough. A sprinkling of sea salt and this was bread and butter at its best. Needless to say I devoured it.
Hand picked mud crab meat, burnt butter, almond, chives, tapioca.
The first thing that caught my attention on the menu was the mud crab and I wasn’t alone. More than half of our table ordered the same dish. Crisp tapioca pearls brought a light and airy crunch to the mound of fresh mud crab surrounded by burnt butter and almond milk. My entree was on the smaller side but on this particular occasion that suited me just fine. And as they say, quality over quantity and this was an outstanding dish.
Carnaroli risotto, buffalo mozzarella, tomato, capers, olives, basil.
Dylan’s entree was more substantial than mine and I must say I had food envy when I tried this. I could tell how great this was going to be just from looking at it with each grain of rice holding its own. One of the most beautiful risottos I’ve ever eaten. Cooked to perfection, the rice had a wonderful texture and bite to it. There was a huge hit of tomato from the tomato consomme followed by aromatic basil and creamy mozzarella. Quite the opposite of my dish with its big punchy flavours but I loved them both in their own right.
Charcoal wagyu beef rump cap, watercress, baby beetroot, sesame seeds.
Dylan and I both chose the beef for main. Two plump strips of wagyu rump cap which had been cooked low and slow until meltingly tender. The rump was extremely lean which lead me to believe it was grass fed beef and the cooking technique employed was perfect to extract maximum flavour and juiciness. Nuances of charcoal permeated the beef, of which the crumble of black sesame seeds paired so well. Purees of watercress and sesame made for distinct flavour combinations with the beef and the pickled baby beets added tang and texture.
Banana, textures of coffee, cardamom ice cream.
I have a slight obsession with banana desserts and although there was a chocolate option, I couldn’t go past the banana. Big chunks of ripe caramelised banana combined with ‘textures of coffee’ in the frozen coffee dust and coffee crumble, cacao and the distinct flavour of the creamy cardamom ice cream were in harmony and made for a brilliant dessert. Big tick.
Amedei tuscan black chocolate, pear, piedmont hazelnuts.
Dylan went for the chocolate. Rich chocolate brownie, bitter chocolate and hazelnuts all balanced with sweetness coming from the poached pears and pear sorbet. Dollops of hazelnut mousse tied the soft brownie to the silky smooth pear beautifully. Every element of the dish had its place and there was no faulting this dish, it was stunning. Dylan loved every aspect of this dessert just as much, if not more, than I did and it became another pear dessert making its mark on Dylan.
These little bites of chocolate on their own simply shouted out high quality ingredients. Moreish, not too bitter, not too sweet. A classic combination of dark chocolate and well balanced inclusion of orange essence.
Italians sure do closely follow Australians in the coffee ranks (though I’ll grant them the winner in the espresso category) and our coffees were no exception. My macchiato was nicely rounded and served in a cute little cup.
And look at Moo Cow who joined me for the birthday feast. I work in paper and print and just love cute little cards
Some dishes shone far more brightly than others and while I was impressed I wasn’t wowed. I’d disagree with Marco Pierre White’s three hat claim, I feel Ormeggio is just right where it is.
Ormeggio at The Spit
Mosman NSW 2088
(02) 9969 4088
Ormeggio at The Spit Website