Newtown isn’t too far from the CBD but it might as well be a world away, with much friendlier service and quite a few interesting restaurants and bars all clustered around the main street. Tonight we are going to a surprise birthday party for one of our friends at a late dinner sitting at Bloodwood, which apparently is one of the most popular restaurants in the neighbourhood.
It’s 8.30pm when we arrive and the whole place is packed, even though the restaurant is located quite a long way down the hustle and bustle of King Street. At first, we are led through the narrow restaurant out to a wooden terrace area outdoors to wait for our table. Once it’s ready, we move inside where softly glowing lightbulbs hang whimsically from the roof with a bright, minimalistic décor as a backdrop.
As we need to wait for the birthday boy to arrive, we start late on our 9 course Banquet menu ($50 per person) and the first course is an intriguing way to begin our culinary adventures tonight. There’s a fluffy scoop of chicken liver parfait, which lives up to its name by pretty much looking like meat coloured ice cream. The light, airy texture is interesting and contrasts with the strong, unmistakeable saltiness of pureed innards. Unfortunately I can’t get the thought of internal organs out of my head and while my taste buds do enjoy the flavour of the parfait somewhat, my brain cannot handle the idea and I only end up eating a bit of it smeared over the rye sour dough slice it comes with.
It’s easier to eat the thinly sliced smoked ham hock terrine, which is packed full of flavours of more familiar tastes and textures. I much preferred this terrine to the one I had the other week, which was just a bit too thick and intense for my liking.
Chicken liver parfait and smoked ham hock terrine with house made pickles
Next up were neat little sticks of polenta chips, crumbed and crispy on the outside and softly moist on the inside. The chips needed the gorgonzola dipping sauce the dish came with to add some melted cheesy goodness to the flavours.
Polenta chips with gorgonzola dipping sauce
We were all hungry for some hot meat by this stage and were very satisfied with the pork pintxo with lima beans and guindillas. The pork had been marinated with a mix of spices which had absorbed wonderfully to create succulent cubes of skewered meat, nicely complemented by the slightly spicy bean mash. The strong flavour of the meat did get a bit too salty after a couple of bites though.
Pork pintxo, lima beans, guindillas
The first of our 2 salads of the night arrived and this one was an appetising with fresh fruit flavours thanks to the pear slices, paired with a light creamy sauce and fregola, which was the revelation of the meal for me. I loved how the fregola added an interesting texture to the salad due to its little bubble-like shape which was reminiscent of a bigger version of couscous.
Fregola and pear salad with fennel, confit tomato, beetroot crisps
The following salad was quite different, with slivers of smoked trout adding bursts of saltiness to a healthy kale salad with Jerusalem artichokes and chunks of nuttiness thanks to the almonds. It tasted more like a regular leafy green salad and got us ready for the next 2 meaty dishes.
Smoked trout, kale salad with Jerusalem artichokes and almonds
The pork and king prawns with hot and sour sauce sounded quite conventionally Asian on the menu and the actual dish itself lived up to expectations, tasting just like something you’d expect to get at a Chinese restaurant. The hot and sour sauce was appropriately tangy and the soft pieces of black fungus absorbed the flavour quite well, but overall the dish was a bit too predictable compared to its more exciting predecessors in this very long banquet.
Pork and king prawns, with hot and sour sauce and black fungus
The stringy beef brisket was also a bit underwhelming, though I did like the little chopped up bits of spatzle (a kind of German egg noodle) sprinkled throughout it.
Coorong Angus beef brisket, spatzle, cauliflower, beans
Luckily the meal did finish off on a high (sweet) note with the 3 different desserts presented to us. We tried the berry coconut sago first, a South East Asian inspired dessert which was a bit too thick and gluggy compared to the ones I am used to having. But it was a nice touch to have the tart berry flavours mixed in as it tempered the heaviness of the sago.
Berry coconut sago
The birthday boy got a slice of superb chocolate torte with salted peanuts and we got another piece to share between the rest of us. It was absolutely heavenly, with layers of rich chocolate on top of a salty, crunchy base with chunks of peanuts. If only there was more to go around between the 12 of us…it was gone in a flash!
Chocolate torte with salted peanuts
The trifle wasn’t quite as sensational as the chocolate cake but had a mix of interesting tastes and textures. It was creamy, with layers of soft sponge cake soaking up the custard and lumpy bits of jelly all thrown in together. It had more of a burnt sugar, caramelised flavour which was a decent way to end this long meal.
Bloodwood is very popular, judging by the amount of patrons on the night that we went and does largely live up to the hype. They serve up visually and texturally appealing food with slightly left field ingredients that you may not have encountered in the Sydney dining scene. Their décor is funky, youthful and modern and provides a lovely, relaxed backdrop to indulge in a lazy long meal like the Banquet menu we enjoyed with some of their famous signature cocktails (we tried their sweet cherry Singapore Sling and Es… Sparkling with kiwi and were impressed!)
416 King Street
Newtown NSW 2042
Phone: (02) 9557 7699