Sunday, 15 March 2015

Public Dining Room, Balmoral Beach

It becomes a special occasion when Public Dining Room offers 50% off on food at the end of your meal. We did it last year and no doubt when Dimmi sent me an email with their weekly specials and Public Dining Room was listed, we knew there was no other option but to make reservations and eat our hearts out. But of course with such an epic deal, it never comes easy. 

In order to claim the offer, you need to book via Dimmi or Urbanspoon but for days it told me my chosen date (the offer was limited to Monday, Tuesday or Thursday, before a certain date) was fully booked, which I of course did not believe. So I refreshed it constantly, tried during different times of the day and finally, one day opened up and I booked immediately. I tried to see if any other days were free but nothing. And soon after there were no bookings for any day yet again. It's quite a mystery but was it all worth it?

Candied walnuts, murray river pink salt, $8.00
We decided to go all out and order some snacks to start so we could nibble while we deliberated on the food for the rest of the evening. The candied walnuts are crisp and crunchy, possibly because the nuts were first roasted the sugar syrup may have hardened further. It has the right balance of sweetness from the candy coating and the sprinkling of the Murray River pink salt, making them moreish.

Marinated sa olives $9.00
I did my best to try a couple of these marinated SA olives, as I always give olives a go hoping one day I'll like them. Unfortunately, this was not that day. However my partner did compliment them as they aren't too salty with just enough rosemary flavour coming through, as well as the sweet olive oil coating the skin.

The waitress kindly came over to our table with a plate of warm slices of bread, which looks like rye sourdough though she didn't announce it. It's soft, not too sour and the butter on the table glides on smoothly.

Wild king fish carpaccio, chilli, capers, soy reduction, pomelo, sorrel, wasabi oil, $26.00
The wild king fish carpaccio is just as beautiful as it was delicious to eat. I loved that the king fish isn't sliced paper thin but rather if it was to be served as sashimi. But it's thick enough so it doesn't just melt in the mouth, allowing the slight cured flavours to emerge as you chew and the sweet fish being the predominate taste. Kingfish is my favourite fish to eat at its raw state, as it's lighter in flavour, slightly sweet but also a little tangy. The chilli and capers provide flecks of heat and saltiness to the fish. The soy reduction and wasabi oil mimic balsamic vinegar and olive oil and is the suitable dressing for the fish with the prominent horseradish notes. Bursts of pomelo unexpectedly pop up which is always the best accompaniment to kingfish. The sorrel makes a pretty garnish, tasting like spinach.  

Fried zucchini flowers, ricotta, parmesan, papillon roquefort, celeriac & cabbage remoulade, pangrattato, $24.00
It may not look as appetising as the kingfish but it certainly makes a statement in taste. The fried zucchini flowers are lightly battered and stuffed with ricotta and papillon roquefort, allowing for a crunchy exterior and smooth cheesy centre. The use of the two different cheeses make the filling tasty but not heavy as the ricotta gave it lightness and the blue cheese seasoned it all without dominating. Besides the cheese filling there are also a generous gratings of parmesan that lay over the flowers. All three cheeses manage to shine on their own without clashing against one another. The celeriac and cabbage remoulade provided a crisp salad against the fried zucchini flower and the pangrattato is another textural flavouring element.

Chargrilled chicken breast, skordalia, honey & orange balsamic glazed radicchio, spiced hazelnut & wattleseed, $39.00
My partner ordered the chicken and he enjoyed it but thought the spiced sauce was quite overpowering which I agreed when I tried it. I was hoping to taste more of the chargrilled chicken but it gets slightly lost when there are dominating components on the same plate. There are honey and orange balsamic glazed radicchio, fresh whole fig, spiced hazelnut and wattleseed, and also 'skordalia', thick garlic puree. As much as they compliment each other, it's hard for the chicken to not get lost amongst it all.

Broken nicola potatoes, marjoram butter, $9.00
On the few occasions I was able to take a break from my main, my attention was directed towards these broken Nicola potatoes, the perfect waxy buttery interior against the crispy skin that has slicked with the marjoram butter. I forget how essential it is to choose the appropriate potato depending on what you want to be cooking and what a difference it makes when they're waxy for roasting or starchy for mashing.

Brodetto - italian seafood soup, white fish, prawns, scallops, black mussels, bruschetta, $40.00
I try the soup first and it's rich with the taste of the sea. I forget seafood does get a bit salty so for those with a lighter palette might not enjoy this as much. Besides the saltiness, the tomato, onions and parsley come through in the soup, making it sweet and hearty. There are clamsblack mussels, a giant prawn, a scallop (still beautifully translucent in the middle), barramundi pieces and even salmon - all prepared and cooked perfectly. I cannot praise the chef enough for giving each individual seafood such care and attention. Nothing was rubbery, grainy or dry, they were all cooked as they should be. The bread is thick and soaks up lots of the soup but doesn't get too mushy. It was difficult to finish all the soup but I did, and it was thoroughly satisfying.

Mango & lychee bombe alaska, coconut crumble, green mango, toasted meringue, $18.00
A dessert mainly composed of fruity elements always ensures it's never sickly sweet but light and refreshing which I much prefer finishing with at the end of the meal. This was simply glorious. I immediately break open the bombe alaska casing, a perfectly toasted meringue to reveal mango sorbet and lychee ice cream. In order to truly appreciate the taste of it all, you need to have a spoonful with a little bit of everything: tangy icy mango sorbet, smooth subtly flavoured lychee ice cream and the sweet marshmallow-y meringue. It's simply a tropical party in your mouth. Then of course with all Public Dining Room dishes, there are other textural elements: the coconut crumble that accentuates the tropical flavours further, balled fresh fruit including green mango and also dollops of mango puree. The perfect summer indulgence.  

Textures of chocolate, vanilla creme, hazelnut crumb, passionfruit sorbet, $18.00
Upon choosing this dessert, we interpreted the 'textures of chocolate' in its literal sense, we imagined various chocolate forms on a plate. So when the actual plate came to the table we were a little confused. On the plate lies a quenelled of sour passionfruit sorbet dotted vanilla cream on a floor of gold dusted hazelnut crumb. Now for the main event, the chocolate textured cake slice is rich and decadent. Beneath the dark chocolate casing are layers of white and milk chocolate textures: smooth and creamy perhaps a mousse, something in the middle that I've forgotten, and a biscuit like base. The sorbet contrasts the chocolate textures nicely but I do prefer the bombe alaska - it's really hard not to. 

And to answer the question I asked at the beginning, yes it is. It's hard not to fall in love with the restaurant as it plays out the perfect setting for a beautiful meal. We got to taste some incredible creations that's inspiring and memorable which I'm sure we're going to reflect on for months. A chef's attention to detail doesn't go astray because you find yourself noticing depths of sensations and flavour combinations as you dive further into the dish and uncover more surprises. It becomes something more than just eating but receiving the full experience, the way the chef purposely intended.

2a The Esplanade 
Balmoral Beach

9968 4880

Public Dining Room on Urbanspoon


  1. looks like an amazing meal, especially the desserts!

  2. I've been meaning to check this out, looks really nice!

  3. I love how descriptive you are regarding the taste of your food. Just reading about it makes my mouth water! It’s great that your efforts in booking a reservation paid off, and that the restaurant delivered a pleasurable dining experience for you and your company. Cheers!

    Chris Carpenter @ Domenico's Monterey