Graze, Pyrmont

21 February 2011
by Phuoc

Some people aren’t quite use to the idea of molecular gastronomy. “Just give me my steak and veggies! I don’t need it to be deconstructed…” I, on the other hand, love the idea of molecular gastronomy! To me, it is merely a science experiment, but the best thing is that you get to eat it; mmmm tasty experiment… I love how it may provoke different senses and the different techniques used to cook something.

There was one dish that made me want to try Graze. For those who follow me on Twitter, you know that I have an obsession with liquid nitrogen, especially since I deal with it at work. There was one dish that made use of this, but more on that later in the post.

One of the first things I noticed was the use of petri dishes for olive oil and salt & pepper on the tables. I kind of felt like being in the lab again (now all we need is a bunsen burner for the table lighting, and beakers and test tubes for drinking glasses!)

To start the night off, we had some warm bread rolls with some house cured olives ($6). The olives were very plump and meaty, and the serving was quiet generous. The best bit was dipping the bread into the oil left over from the olives; absolutely wonderful.

We moved onto the 1000 degree scallop with sesame and tonka bean ($3.50 each). I’m not exactly sure what was meant by “1000 degree” but it was nicely cooked. And although I can see something which resembles grated tonka bean on top of the scallop, I couldn’t actually taste it as I felt the natural flavour of the scallop dominated it.

Possibly one of the highlights of the night was the smoked chicken croquettes with sweet corn puree, basil mayonnaise and baby cos & pancetta ($12). Uber crunchy on the outside, the innards reveal a pillowy-soft potato puree encasing a piece of tender chicken. The sweet corn puree was absolutely divine; I felt so wrong eating it with my knife! The mayonnaise was silky smooth and the basil flavour wasn’t too overpowering. I honestly think this dish could do without it and have a double the serving of the puree. Ahhh bliss..

This dish actually came after our mains. Which may be due to the fact that there may have been some confusion when we were ordering. We had initially ordered the first three items with one waitress as we couldn’t make up our minds to what else to have and how many entrees to share, then when another waitress came around we ordered the prawns (as an entree), two mains, a side and two desserts.

When the torched prawns with spiced lime salt and vanilla mayonnaise ($19) came out we were actually starting to feel quite full (mainly due to the side we had ordered). Our first thoughts were of how to eat them. 5 prawns were plastered on the forks, so the only logical way to eat them was from the tail side. The feature of a vanilla mayonnaise was definitely intriguing, fortunately for us there was only a hint of vanilla to this mayonnaise. For something that sounded very interesting on the menu, it was no doubt that, however it just didn’t seem to impress me that much.

Looking over the menu before I got to Graze, I knew what I was going to order for my main. The maple smoked ocean trout, local asparagus, dukkah and lemon coral ($26) dish was indeed an impressive sight; I have never seen anything quite like this before! Three pieces of ocean trout were placed on a wooden plank above a glass tank. The components below resemble a scene from the beach; local and sea asparagus for the seaweed, dukkah for the sand and a lemon foam for the frothy sea water. Now this was what I was expecting. The ocean trout was wonderfully smoked and cooked perfectly, the foam was dense and refreshing, and the dukkah and asparagus provided texture to this stunning main. Everything complimented each other perfectly.

Looking not so spectacular as my main, Ant ordered the 65 degree blue eye trevalla with black olive, tomato and basil oil ($22). Now I must assume that it was cooked sous vide at 65 degree as the result was a succulent piece of fish. I tried one of the tomatoes which literally exploded with flavour; it was like someone had injected an intense tomato concoction of some sort into a small cherry tomato. The simple Italian flavours worked well in this dish.

Fearing there won’t be enough food we ordered the side of crispy kipfler potatoes with truffle oil and parmesan ($10). I couldn’t smell too much of the truffle oil nor taste much of the parmesan but these were the most delectably, crunchy potatoes I’ve ever had. Although they were super crunchy, they still remained soft and fluffy on the inside. There goes my diet.. But all is forgiven as they were pretty amazing.

A beautifully presented plate of passionfruit meringue, sable shortbread and blackberry gel ($10) is ordered by Ant as he loves all things passionfruit (well he had no other choice as I bagged the only chocolate dessert). A thin layer of blackberry gel is painted onto the plate which doesn’t allow you to enjoy it much as it merely serves as aesthetics. Crumbly disks of sable shortbread are topped with toasted light-as-air-meringue and the smooth passionfruit curd provide a nice tang to the dessert.

Now this was the dish I was very eager to try. The nitrogen poached chocolate and cointreau fondant ($14) may just look like a blob of space junk or a brain of some sort but inside reveals a velvety chocolate mousse. As liquid nitrogen snap freezes things instantly, I was expecting the frozen fondant to crack as I pried into it but it didn’t. The mousse wasn’t too rich nor strong with cointreau. Liquid nitrogen-frozen raspberries, a raspberry coulis and crumbs perfectly accompanied the mousse and provided a lovely contrast in texture.

Towards the end of the night I saw another fascinating dish being brought to a table. My guess was that it was the jamon & cheese toasty with cauliflower milkshake ($14); the milkshake was in fact cauliflower soup and it was served in a clear perspex milk carton and the diner would pour it into mini cups. Cute! I would like to see how the other dishes were presented, so I can rule out that I simply didn’t make a good choice with the prawns.

Graze is still a relatively new restaurant; only having opened at the end of September last year, offering a reasonably priced menu and I am happy to be able to stumble upon this little secret gem (though not for much longer).

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  1. joey@FoodiePop

    Fab! I love weird science-tinkered food too. 🙂 The presentation of the scallops looks interesting and that dessert plate looks heavenly.

  2. Jacq

    i love molecular gastronomy and the food here looks great! interesting presentation with the scallops and prawns but i don’t think i could go past the liquid nitrogen dessert, it sounds awesome! love the petri dish presentation too

  3. Tina@foodboozeshoes

    Wow – impressive desserts, and mains looks pretty good too. Not sure about the forks as skewers though…

    Wouldn’t have thought a place called ‘graze’ would have anything to do with molecular gastronomy – but there you go!

  4. Helen (grabyourfork)

    So much random fork stabbage. lol. The skewered prawns do look a little odd but I confess I’m much more interested in those chicken croquettes. They’d be amazing with the corn puree!

  5. Richard Elliot

    This place is pretty close to where I live. From your review the food looks really good and at reasonable prices, so I’ll put it on my list to check out.

    Have you had the chips at Tomislav? I wonder how the kipfler potatoes compare ?

  6. Irvin

    I have a love/hate relationship with molecular gastronomy. Having played a little bit with it (I once made caramel dust) I decided it really wasn’t something I was interested in doing in the home kitchen, as it was always “interesting” but not necessarily all that tasty.

    In fact, my issue with molecular gastronomy is that, often you leave the meal saying “Well, that was an interesting experience” but not necessarily “that was an amazing meal.” I’ll take amazing, tasty, delicious, over interesting, curious, and different any day.

    But when you get both, and the meal is both interesting AND delicious, then it’s sublime. I just feel like too often the technique overshadows the flavors and food.

    That said, your meal seemed to strike a good balance of technique and flavor. Also, the petri dishes that hold the olive oil is kinda awesome. My partner is a science geek so I know he would love them!

  7. mademoiselle délicieuse

    The lemon coral completely roped me in! I’m thinking perhaps those puffy clouds could be enjoyed for dessert? And although the blackberry gel painted on the plate offers lovely colour contrast, I would’ve wanted to have been able to taste it properly too.

  8. Gianna@TheEmptyFridge

    Whoa – everything looks deliciously awesome. I loved the presentation touches, like the petri dishes and individual forks for all the entrees. And I think your blue eye travella looks pretty darn impressive! But the dessert – oh wow! I would have loved to sneak into the kitchen when that was being snap frozen!

  9. Peggy

    The presentation of all of those dishes is astonishing! Definitely very beautiful! And I love the petri dish presentation of the oil!

  10. MelbaToast

    I’m impressed that the prices are this place are so reasonable as I always thought molecular gastronomy would come with a hefty price tag.

    Those prawns do look a little odd – like they’ve had an accident trying to get onto the fork. And the space junk and brains dessert – what a great description!

  11. nic@diningwithastud

    Haha I choose my dishes online before I even get there too. Its so exciting when you are trying a new place to go on and aticipate the night.
    Love the petri dishes and your main looks fab!! 🙂

  12. Gastronomy Gal

    ahhh looks good although i would be really unsure how to eatr those prawns too!

  13. Kay@chopstix2steaknives

    Aah…. This is in my old hood!! Wished I am aroundto try it, the food definitely looks interesting.

  14. Phuoc

    Joey: Cool! Glad to know that I’m not the only geeky one 🙂

    Jacq: Although it is not quite Heston-style molecular gastronomy, it is good enough and at an affordable price since we don’t have that many restaurants like that in Sydney, let alone Australia (I think we are definitely lagging behind on that aspect).

    Tina: When we were deciding on what to order for our entrees, the waitress explained that the entrees are meant to be shared and “grazed” upon. I don’t know whether the name of this restaurant was due to that concept or not.

    Helen: Yes, lots of fork stabbage indeed; it’s so random! Man.. those chicken croquettes were amazing!

    Richard: Cool! I hope you enjoy it if and when you get around to trying it out. Unfortuately I didn’t try Tomislav’s triple-cookies fries so I wouldn’t be able to compare but I’d imagine they’d be quite similar.

    Irvin: You’ve mentioned some very good points there and I can agree with you. However I am a bit more forgiving if I had an “interesting” meal, but I totally understand that it’s not for everyone as they would prefer to walk out feeling full and content. I guess the balance in my meals between technique and flavour was there because the technique isn’t as over the top as Heston and Ferran.

    Mademoiselle délicieuse: Totally agree with you there in regards to the lemon foam; if they could make different flavours, that would be awesome (maybe the prawns could also do with some foam treatment).

    Gianna: It would have been totally awesome for them to prepare the frozen fondant at the table though.. I like my liquid nitrogen 🙂

    Peggy: Presentation here is definitely quirky and cool!

    MelbaToast: That was one of my first thoughts as well when I was looking at the menu, that the prices were affordable. Well.. I couldn’t think of a better way to describe the frozen fondant 😛

    Nic: Indeed, it was a while since Ant and I went out so I was quite excited about the night and you have to suss out the menu before going so you know what to have and try out.

    Gastronomy gal: It was random and funny presenting the prawns like that, I wonder how they got the prawns on like that as I would imagine myself tearing it if I tried!

    Kay: I hope you get to try it in the near future.

  15. Martyna (Wholesome Cook)

    We’ve been meaning to eat at Graze for quite some time now as it is literally a few minutes down the road for us, and from looking at their menu, the dishes sounded interesting to say the least. Now having read your review and looked at them they are even more intriguing! Love the look of the choc fondant and your main. I’m not sure we’ll be ordering the prawns though…

  16. Phuoc

    Martyna: The dishes are indeed fun and quirky! Hope you get to swing around to try it out soon. A friend told me the cauliflower “milkshake” (soup) is nice (that’s if you like cauliflower). But do try it! Oh and get those croquettes! Mmmm..

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