Gastro Park

I’m still finding my feet in Sydney. Still finding my friends, still getting lost and still finding out about the latest restaurant to cause a fuss.

Gastro Park came up in a recent conversation and, luckily, was shortly followed by an invite, with a group of new friends. Gastro Park is one of the new places which seems to be appearing in every lifestyle magazine and newspaper as Grant King’s (ex Pier) new place.

Miss P, Sugarpuffi, CreamymiddlesIDreaminChocolate  and I were booked for a late Saturday lunch. I arrived to find a fairly quiet restaurant. Maybe it was the combination of the location, being Saturday and late lunch time but I thought it would have been packed. Good for us anyway.

The service was friendly. The interior of the restaurant is very simple. The tables and chairs are likened to a nice cafe althought the artwork is certainly not. The modern bold coloured painting  is on loan from the Tim Olsen Gallery. Unfortunately they have to return it soon or pay the $10,000 price tag. It really does sit well on the concrete wall though, shame.

Gastro Park have a snacks menu. I guess you can describe them as being between an amuse bouche and an entree in size. On arrival the snacks did not fail to have us wide eyed.

Could you ever imagine the Putanesca Wafer ($6) would come out like this???

The onion and mushroom macchiato with caramelised veal sweetbread ($9). I LOVE sweetbreads and the sweet caramelisation always brings enhancement to the little glands. The onion froth was full of flavour and the mushroom broth worked well with it.

What a beautiful plate, Raw scallop, tune bone, marrow, lime, sea salt, olive oil and chives ($16). I was torn between this and the sweetbreads but I love them too much to pass them over.

I chose the seared scallops, serrano ham, creme carrot, endive caramel and marcona almonds($26) next. It was enjoyable and the flavours worked but was there some serious, ‘not quite right’ crunch to the outside of one of my scallops. Alot of thought has gone into plates that complement the dish. That plate is gorgeous, isn’t it.

The word on the street is the snapper($39) is amazing everyone. So of course I had to see what the fuss was about. The calamari crackling was curiously good, I was just so intrigued how they did that? The scales are left on the snapper and hot oil is poured over them to crisp them up and make them palatable. It was an interesting texture at first and I liked the thought of the scales being edible but the novelty wore off especially after finding a few that had missed the hot oil.

The truffle dish of the day was seared scallops, sweetbreads and a mushroom and truffle jus. Even though the scallop was layered with truffles the flavour was quite delicate. I think thats why the original price of $55 kept reducing until we got the final bill of $39. Not enough truffles left at the end of service.  Not to worry, I’ve been spoilt with truffles before, was good of them to adjust the price accordingly.

The difficult choice of choosing dessert was quickly made once I saw the word rhubarb. I just love the stuff. It was an interesting array of rhubarb and citrus textures($20).

The other popular choice is the chocolate, honeycomb and mandarin sphere, cookies and cream($22). Lots of excited faces around the table when cracking open the sphere to find the creamy chocolate oozing out. I stole a bite of the ‘honeycomb’ that actually tasted like weetbix to me. I was happy to stay with the rhubarb.

Photo kindly courtesy of The Adventures of Miss Piggy

There is a balance between the basic simple-lined interior and the thought provoking, extroverted food. It makes it a comfortable space to enjoy the experience without the starchy clean lines often associated with this style of food. The crazy Gaudi-esque exterior is the perfect exterior to house the surprises inside.