Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Oscillate Wildly, Newtown

The natural light was enough to light up the entire upstairs dining room at Oscillate Wildly. It's quiet, calm and still. The benefit of being the first ones for the evening is you walk in, the kitchen doesn't sound chaotic, the waitstaff aren't overwhelmed with the diners and everyone is excited for what the rest of the night may hold.

Our friendly waitress greets and informs us of what to expect for our evening meal. Eight courses, optional additional cheese course, and matching wines for those ambitious, non-driving, alcohol-tolerant people. We opted out of the matching wines which meant we could soberly immerse ourselves into the food, giving it our full attention.

The food would be a mystery for the evening as we weren't given a menu and would only receive one at the very end with our bill. It made it all that more exciting and engaging.

Snacks to start

Before our official eight courses started, out came an intriguing array of 'snacks'.

Oven roasted taro root with smoked butter
The taro root pops out of its skin easily, just as the waitress said, and inside is a warm, very light lilac piece of taro. We dip it into the smoked butter that gives it necessary flavour and seasoning. The texture of the taro root is quite starchy and it gets stuck to my teeth and the walls of my mouth. 

It's always a bit more enjoyable when you're presented with food that requires you to use your hands. It adds a further sensory feature to the eating experience.

Sugar cane infused with Gin & Tonic
This was a fun addition to the meal as it was innovative and creative. We were told to bite into the piece of sugar cane and draw the gin & tonic out. The sweet sugar cane juice mixes with the liquid to create a great little something to kick off the rest of the evening.

Homemade sourdough
The bread isn't very sour but it has a great crust to it. The quenelled butter is smooth and spreads easily onto every bite of the bun. It's hard to not eat it all at once as I do try and eat it sparingly in case I need to use it as a sauce soaker.

Swordfish, Meyer, Finger lime
The swordfish belly is slimier than I anticipated and tastes like it was lightly cured by the meyer lemon as it ever so slightly sour. The citrus flavour is reinforced by the finger lime pulp buds.

The finger lime resembles caviar as you bite into them, they would pop and juice would come bursting out. The flavour also has accents of grapefruit in among the lime. 

And from this course forward, I learnt every course would be too beautiful to not take more than one photo.

Kingfish, Kombu, Shiso
The waitress described this course as 'deconstructed sushi'. It was beautiful to look at and amazing to eat. Above the piece of nigiri sushi is a wafer-thin crisp dusted with kombu and shiso powder. I forget which flavour made up what component but it was all very delicious. 

The kingfish itself is cut into thin layers that cloaks the well-seasoned sushi rice. Though I did find it slightly awkward to eat sushi with a knife and fork, the delicate flavours were too brilliant for the mechanics to matter.

Beneath the crackle
Pumpkin, Buckwheat, Molasses
This wasn't my favourite dish of them all as nothing stood out, it needed something a bit punchy. The pumpkin (I believe it's a specific type but I've forgotten the name of) is cooked to soft and the flavours are sweet yet rather mild. The molasses isn't as sharp as I thought it might've been and comes in a foam-like texture. I did enjoy the puffed buckweat however it is softened by the molasses and no longer retains its crunch. There is also a black garlic paste on the base however I wasn't able to taste it.

Bug Tail, Beetroot, Rosella
I couldn't believe how picturesque this dish was, I loved the intensity of the colour and flavour of the beetroot smear, which I think was a puree. The Moreten Bay bug tail is just cooked, slightly transclucent and the flavour is delicately sweet. It's balanced against the dusting of sumac, beetroot and the chervil. I don't remember how the rosella fit into it but it wasn't prominent.

Chicken, Potato, Aji-Verde
The chicken isn't particularly flavoursome but it's just cooked through, perhaps poached, allowing it to be how chicken is supposed to be, soft and tender. It is the chicken skin that holds most of its flavour which I try to divide into every mouthful. 

The opaque crisp film is potato, strong in flavour and gave crunch against the soft meat. Beneath is potato puree and the aji-verde, traditionally a Peruvian herb sauce made with mayonnaise and jalapenos paired with roast chicken. 

However in this case the sauce has been deconstructed, the potato puree acts as the creamy component and the herbs emulsion is created as is. I enjoy this modern interpretation as the sauce can be enjoyed warm and forms a finer form of the original.

After the chicken meal, the sun had set and I didn't want to use my flash on my camera to take photos of the food as the upstairs was a small and intimate space of 5 or so tables. But my partner volunteered and took some great snaps using his phone. 

Beef, Turnip, Lardo 
Even though the beef was noted as David Blackmore Wagyu Grade 9+, I wasn't quite convinced as it wasn't buttery or melting if it had been. But of course it was brilliantly cooked to medium-rare and juicy. The ribbon of turnip was thin and crunchy, adding an extra bit of texture against the beef. 

I didn't want to eat the two together because I thought either one of them would distract the other but when I gave it a go, the two married well. I don't distinctly remember eating any lardo but perhaps it was in the crumb that was sprinkled over the dish.

Gouda, Coffee, Cipollini
This was an optional course to the nine courses of the evening, an additional $10. We were told that the 'cheese course' consisted of cheese and onion, but we did not imagine that this would be brought out. Like the other courses, when the waitstaff described the dish to us we listened intently but when they mentioned 'coffee' and we were perplexed and intrigued. 

On the top layers lies the shaved gouda cheese, sharp, rich and melting. Then below had cooked cipollini onions, not to the point of complete caramelisation, but enough to be sweet yet keep its bite. The specific type of onions used are common in Italian cooking which is elevated by the coffee infusion. 

The whole experience is completely different, somewhat conflicting as you are hit with all of those flavours in various stages of consumption. At first it's creamy yet sharp from the cheese, then the coffee taste hits you slightly, followed by the crunchy and sweet onions, then going back to the coffee and finishing with the onion taste. It's not a familiar flavour combination, not sure if I enjoyed it, but it was definitely fascinating to try.

Milk, Blueberry, Licorice
I wasn't an instant fan when I heard there was licorice but it's subtle and I could only taste it on the first bite. The blueberries are fresh and not at all sour nor too sweet. The milk ice cream is smooth and tastes heavily of churned milk, definitely a noticeable difference to the usual vanilla ice cream. The two are great pairings but not necessarily as ambitious as the other courses have been.

Young Coconut, Mango
We both fell completely in love with this dessert. The twigs are made out of black sesame ash and it dissolves instantly once it touches the tongue. The coconut is the white light airy feature, which I don't know exactly how they made. Under it all us the black stick rice in a sticky, melted mochi-like formation. The elastic texture is weird and wonderful and is contrasted with the mango ice cream that tastes exactly like mango, no artificial sweeteners or flavouring. All of it makes up the perfect ending to a fantastic evening.

Petite fours
Or so I thought... In came the waiter with a plate of petite fours and a brightly candle, but sans the awkward happy birthday song, thank goodness. To the right are blackcurrant gummies, covered with sugar on the outside. It's delicious as the black currant is intense and I very much enjoy the texture as it's a much more solidified jelly. I take little bites, savouring the candy to try and make it last. To the left are chocolate truffles that slowly melt in the mouth to reveal a hazelnut. 

Oscillate Wildly was the perfect venue for my birthday this year. The food was outstanding. The atmosphere was casual but sophisticated. The service was kind and attentive. I had a smile on my face the entire time. The beauty about this place is that they continue to innovate so just because I've dined before, I can always return as I guarantee they'll have a different menu next time. 

A special thank you to my partner for surprising and spoiling me.

275 Australia Street, 

9517 4700

Oscillate Wildly on Urbanspoon