16 Foster Street, Surry Hills
NSW 2010, Australia
Telephone: (02) 9280 3395
While in Sydney, I had heard that the hottest restaurant in town was Nomad—a local spot that celebrated Australian wine. As an oenophile, I was intrigued and tried to get a reservation...to no avail. However, the determination of the concierge at the The Darling Hotel ended up scoring me a reservation for my last night in town. The meal was a send off I won’t soon forget.
Australia is a casual country and there are few venues that require you to dress for dinner. Nomad is the epitome of fine dining in a casual setting. Monied denim-clad hipsters and local foodies lined up to be seated. Reservations are made months in advance. The restaurant is large, modern, cozy but still a blank canvas. The focal piece is the open kitchen and I was seated along the bar style counter with a direct view of the team of chefs. I was closest to the pastry chefs and watched a pair assemble desserts that were stunning works of art. But I digress…
The hostess was sweet and charming enough that she convinced me that the bar seating at the kitchen counter was preferable to a table. I’ve always had an aversion to sitting at the kitchen—perhaps I feel like some of the special magic is gone if I can watch people create my dishes. Maybe I value my personal space and don’t want to have forced conversation with the strangers sitting inches away from me. But at Nomad, I was mesmerized by the scale and precision of their kitchen. And in all honesty, I am glad I was seated there and got to soak in all that was going on.
Nomad serves small plates—which I love—because as a single dinner, I get to sample more dishes and find more favourites. Like their wine, the restaurant aims to serve local fare in an elevated fashion. The menu is eclectic but with enough variety to be able to easily find several choices.
After my cocktail, my server went through the menu with me and was quick to point out her fave selections. She also suggested which dishes paired well together and helped me gauge how many dishes were enough. She did a great job of pairing wine for me when I let her surprise me. Though I only had two glasses of wine, she was extremely knowledgeable of the vineyards and made perfect choices for me. The restaurant serves over 50 wines by the glass while specializing in boutique Australian wineries. And if you find a wine you love, you can pick up a case at the Nomad Wine Store.
On to the food. I tried several dishes including the following:
Grilled Scallops: The scallops were cooked with chorizo that gave a smoky heat to the dish. Pickled apple garnish brightened up the dish.
Savoury churros with truffle dip: Imaginative and so delicious. Small churros that were lightly salted and the dip was a perfect pairing.
Blackened cauliflower dish: This is easily one of the most unusual dishes I’ve ever ordered. Blackened cauliflower doesn’t sound appealing but it came very highly recommended. It is charred on the outside and then dusted in fresh parmesan, drizzled with olive oil and served with roasted pine nuts. The flavour that came from this simple dish is indescribable. Perfection.
Tiger Prawns: Simply cooked in a bag with herbs and lemon. Delicate and delightful.
Since I spent the night watching chefs create beautiful desserts, I knew exactly which one I wanted to order. Though I don’t recall the name of it, it was delicate mousse topped with a single raspberry, then covered by a pyramid of meringue shards. Finally it was garnished with a scattering of violet petals. It was delicious as it looked.
The evening of dining was near perfect with excellent service and outstanding food and wine. The menu here changes seasonally and would definitely be worth a return visit or two. Although this restaurant is in the middle of trendy Surrey Hills, Nomad is a destination in itself.