Gorgeous gastronomy at Gastro Park
A couple weeks ago, a dear chef friend of mine and I had an absolutely stunning farewell lunch at Gastro Park. The place has two hats but honestly in my opinion it is completely on par with the three hatted restaurants in town (of which there are very few). Its location is interesting because it’s just off a very trashy section of town in Kings Cross, so shortly after traversing drug-addicted homeless territory, you happen upon this lovely little haven which is sleekly outfitted and fairly small. The emphasis here is creative ways of serving what otherwise might be considered fairly normal food, and it totally blew me away.
One of the many advantages of having chefs for friends (aside from the obvious fact that because of the amazing things that they do all chefs are basically automatically cool) is that the chef world is very small in a city and probably throughout the world, so travel with a chef to a restaurant and behind the scenes in the kitchen they will make cool things happen for you. Behold the spectacle of food that we were served, which was surprising, delightful, and utterly delicious.
House sourdough with butter and sea salt. I have to say this was the best sourdough that I’ve eaten in recent memory, mostly because of those delightful little seeds on the side. I could have downed an entire loaf in one sitting so it’s really good they only gave us a few pieces.
But this was even cooler presentation – just some crackers served in a little TREE. It was this amazing crunchy black cracker with little dabs of goat cheese – and I just really enjoyed removing it from the branches of this little tree
Duck foie gras rolled in toasted grains with rhubarb licorice. Firstly, I must note that all their plates were just awesome. They were these cool black stones and it just really made the food stand out even more. Secondly, I am honestly not a fan of foie gras but I chomped this down no problem. I loved that it almost had a breakfast-y feel surrounding the actual main attraction because of the toasted grains and rhubarb. Fantastic contrast in flavours!
Liquid butternut gnocchi, in a mushroom consomme with shimiji (a type of mushroom) and an onion crumb. Let’s talk about these little balls of butternut squash-ness. They burst in your mouth and defied everything I’d previously thought of the definition of gnocchi. So fantastic. And the broth was delicious as well – flavourful without being heavy at all
Pork belly with carrot puree and pork crackling on top. Pork belly is a bit more usual but I loved the addition of the pork crackling on the top because it almost looked like popcorn. And how cute is that little carrot top sticking out of the puree?
Cauliflower tofu, leaves & crisp, roast scallop, lobster reduction. You can’t really see it here but in the centre of the dish is what LOOKS like a piece of tofu, but it is actually pureed cauliflower that is then seared. And they’ve used the leaves of the cauliflower to provide a crispy garnish to the perfectly seared scallops. Yes, I was very impressed.
Roast veal sweetbreads, turnip & potato ravioli, wild sorrel, stems & leaves. This is more of a chef dish than a me dish, as I’m not really a fan of sweetbreads, but I did try one bite and they were fine. Sweetbreads are pretty ugly looking so the fact that they manage to make this dish look lovely is a feat unto itself.
Crispy scaled jewfish, smoked potato puree, calamari crackling, ink sauce. Talk about elevating a piece of fish! This calamari crackling thing on the top was like a crunchy cracker that tasted like calamari. I do not even know how they made that happen but I just enjoyed. And the fish was a nice solid white fish that actually went quite well with the fancy mashed potatoes, although I never would have thought of pairing the two
LET THERE BE DESSERTS. This one was a chocolate, honeycomb, and vanilla sphere, with cardamom, saffron, and ginger. It reminded me of Dippin’ Dots, this ice cream phenomenon in the US that I vastly enjoyed when I was growing up that was just like ice cream in little ball form. Of course, this was infinitely better. And when you cracked open the chocolate sphere, honey poured out, and everything mixed together was just heaven. The way to my heart is through a good dessert, and this made me fall in love with this restaurant.
But it was a toss-up as to what was the better dessert between the former and this caramelised apple skins and flesh, pain perdu, and balsamic ice cream concoction of DREAMS. Because I’m such a chocolate lover, impressing me with a non chocolate dessert is very difficult. This dessert along with the strawberries and cream concoction at Sepia stands out in my mind (yes, more so than the Snow Egg at Quay) as one of the most heavenly things I’ve ever tasted. Each component was just so fantastic. On the far left was some chantilly cream that was covered in delicately shaved macadamia nuts, there was an apple honey sauce along the bottom, little jelly-fied pieces of apple, that amazing non-sweet ice cream, a tiny square of perfectly fried bread that was like french toast on crack, and then the little branches which were caramelised apple skins. Wow. No words. Just eating.
So yeah, just had to rave about this experience because it really was out of this world. What a way to end all of my amazing fine dining experiences in Sydney. I am truly lucky to have had the opportunity to dine at so many spectacular places with such great company. My palate has developed beyond my wildest dreams and I have the utmost appreciation for the incredible innovation happening in the Sydney food scene. I have a hunch this place can get to three hats pretty soon, so get in there ASAP. It’s not cheap (no fine dining here is), but it is some mind-blowingly good food with a side of delightful innovation that makes you appreciate it all the more!