Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Gastro parK, Potts Point

Cheesecake Boy has an uncanny way of guessing all my special occasion surprises, be it for his birthday, for Christmas or for any of our anniversaries.  It is majorly frustrating at times, I even playfully threatened I would return his birthday present this year, if he kept guessing where we were going to lunch for his birthday.  I knew that I had to be extra tricky with his birthday lunch and chose a place that Cheesecake Boy had been curious about and didn't want me to try without him first, but at the same time I had not harped on and on about how much I wanted to go.

That's how we ended up at Gastro parK, and to my delight Cheesecake Boy had no idea that this place was going to be my choice this year.  It was definitely the first time that any of my surprises have worked in my favour.  The only problem was that Cheesecake Boy's early birthday breakfast turned into a late birthday breakfast, so we were a bit stuffed for our lunch booking much to my dismay.  However, running late stresses me out a bit, so it burned off a few calories so by the time we got there, I was starting to feel slightly hungry again.  It's hard to miss the stunning building that Gastro parK is in, but the only issue was that it was hard to find parking around there.  Nothing was going to deter me though, as I was totally looking forward to our experience.

We were presented with the menu, and the amount of snacks that I wanted to order of the menu had Cheesecake Boy's head spinning.  However, we were not super hungry so we settle for one snack and entree to share, one main each and dessert if we were still hungry.

I needed a drink so the cocktail of choice this lunch was the Daisy de Santiago that was a lovely concoction of white rum, chartreuse, lemon juice, mint and berrie's.  Icy with a sweet citrus overtone would be how I would describe how this cocktail made my taste buds sing. 

Daisy de Santiago, $18

We'd had a great morning so far, so I figured more happy drops were in order.  Gastro parK offers a small, but good range of wines by the glass.  I prefer less options, as it keeps me from umming and arring for ages.  Yes, I am one of those indecisive types when there are too many choices on the menu, but once I'm set it's all good. 

Wine by the glass choices

I'm partial to a good Riesling, and this one was lovely.  You could really taste those fruity notes and the nice crispness and acidity without the Riesling being overbearingly sweet.

2009 Dr Loosen Dry Riesling, Mosel, Germany, $12

Complimentary bread came our way twice, as Cheesecake Boy is always keen on good butter.  I can't blame him when the whipped butter was accompanied by sensational Sonoma bread.  The bread had a lovely crisp crust and the crumb of the bread was beautifully soft with a rich moistness to it.

I love unusual servingware, cutlery and all sorts of trinkety things, so I had to take a picture of my lovely curved oyster fork too. 

I wanted a more adventurous snack, but Cheesecake Boy loves oysters.  Don't get me wrong, I love oysters too.  However, I was more seduced by the foie gras, truffle and mushroom toast or the cured Blackmore short rib grissini, but it's Cheesecake Boy's birthday and we go for the Pacific oysters.  We chose a selection of both natural and mignonette oysters.  I loved the mignonette sauce, it was the perfect blend of sweetness and acidity.  Although the actual oysters were rather plump, after having oysters in Tasmania, it's harder fall in love an oyster in Sydney now.

Pacific oysters: natural and mignonette, $4 each
Of all the dishes on the menu the liquid butternut gnocchi, mushroom consomme and sage was the one that I insisted we had to order, even though it was Cheesecake Boy's big day.  I can honestly say that if we didn't order this, I would have regretted it.  As this was when the fun began, and my mouth felt a roller coaster of sensations.  I must back track and start at the beginning though...

Liquid butternut gnocchi, mushroom consomme and sage, $26

When the gnocchi was presented to the table, the accompanying vessel of mushroom consomme was poured into the gnocchi filled bowl.  We were instructed to eat the crisp Parmesan wafer separately and to make sure that we did not pierce the gnocchi before consuming it.  At first bite the silky gnocchi burst and engulfed my mouth with a luscious liquid of butternut pumpkin.  Before I knew it, the gnocchi literally melted in your mouth and I was struck with a sense of wonderment.  The taste of the liquid butternut pumpkin of the gnocchi was a lovely contrast to the the rich mushroom consomme, and the Parmesen crisp with the enoki mushrooms added to the textural dimensions of this glorious creation. 

When Cheesecake Boy's main of crispy scaled snapper, smoked potato puree, calamari crackling with ink sauce was served, Cheesecake Boy looked at his dish and hesitated as he inspected the sharp and crisp fish scales.  This dish initially intrigued, but eventually curiosity turned into delight.  The snapper was wonderfully succulent, but it's the scales that win you over.  I have never had a piece of fish that will give you the same sensation as the popped scales on this snapper.  The other highlight was the lovely calamari crackling that had a slight saltiness to it.  The sweetness of the snapper, saltiness of the crackling and squid ink worked well with the subtly smoked potato puree. 

Crispy scaled snapper, smoked potato puree, calamari crackling with ink sauce, $39

My main of saddle of lamb, globe artichokes, seasonal mushrooms with jus gras was lovely.  It wasn't as creative as Cheesecake Boy's main, but it was exceptionally executed.  Definitely up there as some of the best cooked lamb that I have ever ate.  The lamb was wonderfully moist and flavoursome, and I enjoyed the simplicity of the mushrooms and the slightly sour artichokes with the jus gras.

Saddle of lamb, globe artichokes, seasonal mushrooms with jus gras, $38

I don't know about you, but desserts at the end of the meal seal the deal for us.  Now initially Cheesecake Boy wanted to have a dessert between the two of us, and I did tell him that was going to be the plan, but I knew in my heart that I wanted us to have a dessert each.  However, by the time we were ready for dessert, some stunning creations had been circulating the room that spiked Cheesecake Boy's interest, so I knew I could ask for two desserts easily now.  I spied the 'textures of rhubarb and citrus' with its vivid yellow, orange and red hues.  However, Cheesecake Boy was drawn to the chocolate, honeycomb, mandarin sphere, cookies & cream and the nitro pavlovas he saw on several other tables around us.

When Cheesecake Boy's chocolate, honeycomb, mandarin sphere, cookies & cream was served to me, Cheesecake Boy's face dropped.  I giggled and told the waiter that the chocolate sphere was actually for Cheesecake Boy and the waiter said that I being the lady should have the privilege to tap the sphere and wait for the surprise. Cheesecake Boy ever the gentleman easily obliged, as all three of us agreed that sharing is caring after all. 

Chocolate, honeycomb, mandarin sphere, cookies & cream, $22

My first gentle tap led to a flood of liquid caramel and chocolate oozing out of the white chocolate sphere.  Cheesecake Boy's dessert plate was a delighful whirl wind of chestnut puree, nitro brownies that were reminiscent of a cold fudgy Mars Bar, a soft and slightly chewy chocolate meringue strip, minitaure cookies and cream macarons and more chocolate and caramel goodness.   The ingenious thing about this creation is that there are so many elements on the plates.  However, all elements work in perfect harmony and not for a second did I think this dessert was too rich (bear in mind we are truly sweet tooths though).

I loved my frothy nitro pavlova, guava, pineapple and coconut creation.  Don't expect a traditional crisp pavlova merguine.  This is what I imagine eating a snow cloud would be like... cold, a bit of bite like fairy floss and then before you know it everything has dissolved, except the pavlova was also surprisingly creamy.  The subtle combination of flavours and textures at play with this dessert were stunning.  I was partial to the lovely and refreshing guava sorbet, and I thought the sweet pineapple slices were a nice touch.

Nitro pavlova, guava, pineapple and coconut, $20

It's been a while since I've had a meal that surprised and delighted me to this extent.  The food really played with my taste buds and my mind.  It's a rare combination, and an experience I would love to repeat again soon.  If you have a sense of adventure and don't want to stick with the mundane, than you should really let Gastro parK take you on a gastronomic journey that you'd be unlikely to forget anytime soon.

Dining away, Dumpling Girl.

Gastro parK
5-9 Roslyn Street 
Potts Point NSW 2010
Ph: (02) 8068 1017

Gastro Park on Urbanspoon


Mel said...

Wow, this looks like an amazing place - great for a speical occassion. The desserts look OMG, and your gnocchi dish - wow!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Oh so this is where it is! I was wondering where in Potts Point it was :) The food looks lovely!

Lil said...

Wow the dishes look so creatively presented!!

Jen said...

Wow your post has me intrigued about this place. I have to try it. The snapper and gnocchi look amazing!

Dumpling Girl said...

Hello MissPiggy, I had a really great time, and the dishes really blew me away. The gnocchi was my favourite.

Hi Lorraine, lol, I had the same issue I couldn't picture where this place was on the map, it's easy once you know that's it's near Kellett Way.

Hi Lil, the dishes are stunning aren't they?

Hello Jen, they were both amazing. I guess I went in not really knowing what to expect, so it made the surprises more fun :)

sugarpuffi said...

omg i just heard about this place not long ago and here u are, already blogging about it! the presentation for the liquid butternut gnocchi looks sooooo awesome! definitely on my to visit list now!

Dumpling Girl said...

Hi sugarpuffi, definitely a place to put on your list :)

chopinandmysaucepan said...

I have read and heard a lot about this place, definitely a wow factor.

Dumpling Girl said...

Hey chopinand, definitely a wow experience in many ways.

susan said...

I have never seen desserts like that before, so cool!

Dumpling Girl said...

Hi Susan, me either until I visited this place, they are just as good to eat too.

Julie said...

hope to visit soon. People on twitter keep talking about it ;)

Dumpling Girl said...

Hi Julie, lol I don't have twitter, so have not heard of the tweets, but it's a fantastic experience.