Thursday, February 26, 2009

Sparrow Bar & Kitchen

Kate and Jackie were my dinner compadres helping me get into the groove with the Adelaidian restaurant scene. In the three months while I was away it seems that the cities restaurant frontier has taken a beating. A combination of a decline of customers and the increasing difficulty of paying bills, staff and meeting deadlines has become excruaiting thanks to the hard hitting effects of reccession. Travel and Living's, My Restaurant Rules 2003 winners, Greedy Goose (also where I did some part-time work) on Melbourne Street shut down over Christmas as well as Number Ten, a chic Italian restaurant on O'Connell Street. The Sparrow Bar & Kitchen seems to have sprouted up overnight in the place of Number Ten. Boasting an open air courtyard in pale blues and greys, the place is super-chic and very inviting with the view from the trendy suburb making it a definite place for the cities 'it' crowd to be spotted.
The place piqued my curiosity over the weekend when I popped up in to the neighbourhood for weekly groceries. The very same week I was experienced a truly unforgettable tasting menu.
Having taken the time to browse through the menu the day before I had a narrowed my selections down to a few with much difficulty. This is always a good thing in my opinion - visiting a restaurant and being spoilt for choice that is. If a menu can tease you and entice you back for more this can only mean one thing - the beginning of a new relationship!
Accompanied by food loving friends a unanimous decision to sample the tasting tapas platter at $ 65 per head settled our dining arrangements for the evening. With that, we sat back realizing on a bottle of fine Spanish Wine that Jackie ordered after consulting Dan the friendly in-house sommelier.

Tuna tartare, carrot and ginger emulsion

Perfectly balanced the ginger is not overwhelming, instead interestingly it adds complexity to the simple yet fresh carrot flavour. The texture of the firm tuna bits in this dish is an extraordinary contrast to the smooth emulsion of root veggies and the highlight in this appetiser.

Octopus carpaccio, potato foam, paprika

The paper thin slices of octopus carpaccio showcase the chef's mastery and skill of his knives. The beauty of this dish lies is in the unique subtlety of taste. Potato and octopus are naturally mild in flavour, potato starchy at most and octopus more radiant in terms of texture. However the addition of just the right amount of paprika brings the dish to life, accentuating dimensions to the dish that seem to be underlying, yet dormant without the activation of the spice. This clever combination of potato puree on top of the slippery slivers of octopus and finished with paprika is the penultimate textural marvel and most unique component of the tasting menu.

Duck doughnut, porcini salt followed by Gorgonzola arancini

The duck doughnuts will blow you away. The meat is packed with smoky flavours and eaten with the porcini salt you will die and go to heaven! The deep-fried Gorgonzola dumplings were tasty, but too heavy for my liking.

Chicken liver parfait, fig and fennel crostini, pickled walnuts
Normally not one for chicken liver pate I was bowled over by this ultra-smooth pate. Served up with the most delightful combination of fig and fennel crostini and pickled walnuts, the flavour is sublime and powerful you hesitate to try anything else for fear or the taste leaving your palate.

Smoked eel croquettes

A crisp, golden breaded crust yields a soft, fleshy bite of eel, and with a generous dip into the garlic aioli dip you will be hooked.

Salt cod puree, mache salad, cornet
The filling of salted cod puree is just so good, however unfortunately the dish fails to come together because of the cornets. The pastry is too buttery and this reflects in a salty, rich contrast all too overwhelming for the cod to hold its own. Replacing the cornet with a crisper, thinner cracker would do the dish much good.
Beef crudo, 62 degree egg

Love at first sight: I am a fan of anything tartar so this dish is God sent. I am still inquisitive though why 62 exactly?

We enjoyed not just one but two bottles of the 2006 vintage, Telmo Rodriguez ëLZí Tempranillo, Rioja, Spain

A peppery pick the bold flavours held their own against they array of samplers we experienced over the course of the evening. A lovely food wine, perfect for bold meaty dishes, so it fared very well with our mains.
Braised rabbit leg, gaunciale, tomato, chorizo, raddichio

Braised pork tail, pedro ximenez, bay, thyme, petit herbs

Braised goat leg, green olive, sherry, parsley, shallot

We tried one of each and got tasting platters to try a bit of each. The goat was fabulous, the tender melt-in-the-mouth meat blowing me away. The rabbit was just passe, actually far too reminiscent of chicken. Lately, I haven't enjoyed a good rabbit dish! The pork was absolutely hearty and the textured fat on contributed deep and intense smoky flavours.

Gorgonzola ice cream, pickled celery, muscatel followed by Churros, gianduja chocolate sauce
To finish the night in the luxurious style that we relished our meal in we opted for a beautiful regional South Aussie Tokay to accompany our multiple dessert platters. Just when I thought life couldn't get any better the chef invented Gorgonzola ice cream - hello, this is just beyond amazing. Forever perplexed with the option of dessert or cheese I just found the answer to my prayers! The churros were marvellous, perfectly hot, sugary, delightful with a bit of chocolate.
Torched to a gentle brule ressembling crust the lemon tart was a perfect treat and is well balanced with just the right amount of sweetness! Go ahead, don't think about, book a table quick and try the mind-boggling menu for yourself...

Lemon tart, mascarpone

Sparrow Kitchen & Bar on Urbanspoon

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