La vista è bellissima, Ormeggio at The Spit, Sydney
Restaurant: Ormeggio at The Spit
Location: D’Albora Marinas The Spit
Mosman NSW 2088
Chef: Alessandro Pavoni
Hats: 2 (2015),
Saturday arrives and after a delicious yet over indulgent Thursday dinner with the team from work it is with no small effort that Mookie drags me off to coffee at our favourite barista, Forsyths Coffee & Tea, in Naremburn, in the North Shore in Sydney, for a much needed “direct to vein” injection of caffeine. Well maybe not so direct, but I certainly feel a lot better after a cup of their award-winning coffee. I find myself frequently buying coffee at other places just to compare. Revitalised, we head off down Military Road to The Spit to partake again (the second time this year and fifth time all up) of the delights that are Ormeggio. Parking is easy and a short stroll along the bay is pleasant before finding the entrance to the restaurants (Ormeggio and al Fresco delight – Chiosco) temporarily moved due to a significant renovation. No matter, as it’s the view out from the restaurant that is special not the view walking in.
We are a little early and our waiter shows us to our table to await the arrival of our friends, who are hosting us. The folding windows have been opened out and the beautiful view through the boats and across the waters of Pearl Bay to Pine Point beyond. It is a little cool but the sun soon peaks from behind the clouds to glisten merrily on the water – such a blissful setting for a Saturday long lunch. Mookie peruses the wine list, “Do you like anything Pookie?”. They have a stellar range of Italian wines, particularly Nebbiolo, but my favourite is probably the Sforzato di Valtellina, its made by pre-drying the grapes” (I’ve mentally noted this learning for next time). Our friendly hosts arrive, and the menus are presented. We opt for the smaller of the two tasting menus with matching wines. The ladies each choose a cocktail. “Yummy” apparently and Mookie is happy. Cocktails just aren’t my thing, give me a glass of White Burgundy any day!
An amuse bouche arrives promptly, a polenta chip with a smoked cheddar puree and crushed pistachio. Its a strong cheesy flavour and the crunchiness of pistachio and chip contrast well to the creaminess of the puree. Nice bite, let’s get to the food.
Biodynamic veal tonnato arrives to the table next. The plate (or rather the bowl) is wonderful. A lathed depression in a chunk of wood that really makes the course, covered with thin (paper like) slices of radish, as much a work of art as a plate of food. The raw veal (tartare style) hides under the radish slices. Pine nuts and a salty tuna paste complete the dish and the combination of flavour really appeals to my palate – nutty, creamy, salty and umami.
This salty experience continues into the next dish – squid ink and mussel tagliolini, Yarra Valley salmon roe, sea lettuce, fennel foam and bottarga di pilu. Each of the ingredients are a different type of salty except the fennel foam which is a puff of aniseed flavour. (FYI: Bottarga di pilu is sun dried mullet roe). The fennel acts as a light but effective counterpoint bring each of the types of saltiness together in each mouthful. Its a lovely dish, not pretty but very tasty. The Orvieto Secco works exceptionally well with this dish due to its crisp acidity and hints of stone fruit also helping counterpoint the saltiness.
We progress past seafood onto what I think was the weakest dish of the meal, Mookie agreed thinking it was misplaced on the menu. Wagyu beef cheek (does wagyu style rearing even affect the cheeks?), celeriac, daikon, kale, caper leaves. I must say however that I truly enjoyed the salad that sat atop the dish and the caper leaves continued the salty theme from the previous two dishes whilst the beef cheek and celeriac moves us toward the sweetness of dessert. The dish was, for me, unfortunately heavy for a crisp spring day lunch beside the water. Although I do not feel the dish fits with the day, I do however enjoy the Rubrato wine with its dark fruits and spice matches well to the richness beef cheeks.
The waiter asks if we would like a short break, but our hosts and we are happy to continue to dessert, it is however a rare courtesy to be asked (thankyou Luc). The blood orange, chamomile and lantana arrives. Lantana is a pesky bush but it has the most dainty and pretty flower which are lightly placed across the blood orange granita & sorbet which site above and below a chamomile foam respectively. This is a lovely dish, cleansing the palate and leaving a refreshing sweetness in the mouth. The late Riesling is a great accompaniment with hints of lemon sherbet and lime matching well to the blood orange.
Another small break and then the 2nd dessert arrives, another pretty enable of green apple sorbet, yoghurt drops, raisin drops and what appear to be possibly elderflowers sprinkled lightly across the plate. The flavours all pop with a healthy level of sweet and sharp. The frozen yoghurt drops are exceptional. The wine pairing is unfortunately a little unimaginative and probably would have been better served as a double pairing with the previous dessert. The wine in and of itself is excellent but I cant help but think that a late harvest Riesling Semillon blend would not have been a better choice to truly bring out the green apple across the impact-fullness of the frozen yoghurt.
Sated, we sit back to enjoy the sunlight and crisp fresh air flowing through from the bay. Our friends look to us with a mischievous grin, “we are really enjoying this and have a bit more time, would you like some cheese?”. “That would be lovely but please allow me to offer a bottle of wine to match”. I consult with the sommelier and a bottle of the 2007 Perticaia Sagrantino Montefalco from Umbria is selected. The nose is intensely floral aromas with strong tannin coming through. The plum and leather taste accompanies some (but not all) of the cheeses, the blue could only have been paired with a Port, Tokay or perhaps a Krug champagne. Can’t win them all. We sit back to enjoy the bliss that is great cheese and a glass of red as the afternoon slowly passes by to enjoy the view. Did I mention it was one of the best cheese plates we’ve ever had?