The Date: Tuesday 12th April 2011
My Date: Dad. We did another of our “dinner & a movie” dates. The movie? The Company Men. A flick about the GFC in the US and how men within a global business affected by the recession, handle their new & dire circumstances. With an all-star cast including Ben Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones, Kevin Costner and Chris Cooper, it was high on emotion and full of important lessons. The dinner? The northside’s buzzing new eatery Neutral Bay Bar & Dining.
What Is It: Owned by Alex Kearns of Glebe Point Diner fame and open for around 12 months, I’ve been busting to eat at NBB&D from day one. Nestled between the TAB and a Subway on busy Military Road, it’s funky wooden sign and stripy red windows certainly make it stand out as a cut above it’s neighbours. Step inside and there’s a cow hide and comfy couches in the bar, stroll down the back to the restaurant and position yourself in high-backed, cushiony booths and try and decide which item on the menu you DON’T want to order.
• Entree: Thirlmere goose liver pate, pear & ginger jam; House salted blue eye fritters – one creamy and rich, the other crispy and fresh.
• Main: Whole Pure Suffolk lamb, roasted peppers, cherry tomato & spring onion; Rigotonicini, braised rabbit, boozy muscatels, pancetta & mascapone – as fantastic as my lamb was (though in hindsight I should have ordered some greens on the side), I had order envy the moment Dad got his rabbit pasta.
• Dessert: Raspberry, black fig & cognac trifle (to share) – VERY boozy, but a wonderful combo on flavours. And visually stunning.
• Compliments of the chef: Spencer Gulf squid with aioli; passionfruit marshmallows – compliments indeed. Best squid & aioli EVER.
We Drank: cocktails (a Passionfruit Sling – Tanqueray, passionfruit, house honey syrup, lemon juice & mint, served long) – a bit OTT for a Tuesday night, but hey! – and a bottle of Spanish wine. It was a great wine list.
Cost: not everyday-eats cheap, but not blow your budget expensive. Somewhere in the middle. Entrees $12-$24, mains $24-$35, desserts $14, small treats under $10.
The goose liver pate. Hello? I mean look at that photo of it. It looked like a scoop of ice cream. I literally gasped when it was put in front of us. And it was creamy and delish.
Having a little flirt with the cute waiters… Inappropriate with Dad in tow? Hey, a girl’s gotta do…
That we were the lucky recipients of the chef’s experiments. The passionfruit marshmallow was like eating passionfruit flavoured air. Light, fluffy and squinty tangy.
The aioli. O. M. G.
That it’s walking distance from my house.
That even though I’d read about it in more than one review, I forgot to try the house specialty of pork belly and kingfish skewers. Gives me an excuse to go back.
The décor. Caramel leather booths. An Eames coloured coat rack.
Loathed: It was a bit empty, so there wasn’t much atmosphere. And the smells from the open kitchen getting into my clothes – it was all a bit smokey.
The Final Word: How soon is too soon to go back? I want to be a regular. It rocked my world. OK OK. A little too much you think? I urge you to try it and then tell me if I’ve been too effusive in my praise. I think I’m in love. And not just with the waiters…
Neutral Bay Bar & Dining
132 Military Road, Neutral Bay
Monday – Saturday, 5pm – late
Fridays for lunch; closed Sundays