J still talks about how much he enjoyed our first dining experience at Ormeggio at the Spit, and that was two years ago. And he wasn’t feeling well that day!
He has always been keen to go back, and a weekend in Sydney before he flew out to the States for another work trip provided the perfect opportunity. Like our last visit, we were dining Sunday lunch time, and again like last time, Sydney had turned on a cracker of a day, despite it being the middle of winter. In fact, I had seen tweets and blog posts about how much rain Sydney had experienced the previous weeks so I think we were very lucky.
We caught a taxi from our hotel in Darling Harbour, and thankfully, knew where Ormeggio is located as our driver wasn’t too sure. If you are coming from the city pull into the car park on the left before the Spit Bridge. Ormeggio is located behind the boat shop.
We were about 20 minutes early for our 1pm booking, but there was no issue with being seated. It seemed that most people had 1pm or later bookings as there were only 3-4 occupied tables when we arrived but the place was full by 2pm.
We were led to our table by a gentleman who I presume was the maître d’ (I am 99% sure he was the maître d’, and for arguments sake this is what I shall call him for the remainder of my post).
As we walked past the other tables, he said “You are seated on the deck today, you must have booked well in advance”.
I was so excited (small things!). There are four tables on the deck and they have such a beautiful view, and I had said in my previous Ormeggio post that “I imagine that sitting down at the end where there is a deck over the water would be spectacular.” I was right.
(I will let you in on a secret, I only booked this lunch nine days prior to the date, so I am not sure how I scored such a prime position, but I am not complaining)
This is the view back into the restaurant, it is only a small space.
Not only did I have my new camera, but an amazing view in which to try it out. Though J did point out that I had the same problem I had the night before, with the light being in front of me, however, at Rockpool it was artificial light from the kitchen, and here it was beautiful sunlight.
Would you like to see some photos of the view? Sorry, you will have to wait (or scroll down). I did take what felt like a zillion photos, but for the first half of our lunch the Perspex blind was down. About half way through, the blinds were rolled up, letting in a lovely breeze and also making for better photos.
We decided to kick off proceedings with a glass of Italian bubbles. We asked the maître d’ for his advice and he said they had two Italian sparking varieties, a prosecco and another one starting with F, which of course, despite my research, I can’t find the name of. But it is made in the traditional champagne method and we went with it as we had not had it before. I did take a lot of photos of glasses of wine, as I was still playing with my camera, so here is one of the bubbles!
Now, I am normally pretty good with deciding what I want to order in restaurants (especially when I can menu stalk online and decide before even stepping through the doors) but I was turned into a dithering indecisive mess at Ormeggio. We could choose three a la carte courses for $79 or four for $95, or there were two degustation options, one of five courses or one with eight.
In regards to the degustation menu I enquired about substituting the seafood dishes and the maître d’ offered me the vegetarian menu. Oh dear, more choices! I can say that if I was going to turn vegetarian, Ormeggio would be the place to do it!
After much back and forth with J, and with the maître d’, we ordered three courses and decided to see how we felt after those and order dessert if we had room.
Once we finally gave our order to the poor maître d’, a canapé of mushroom tapioca crisps appeared on the table.
Mmmm, crunchy deliciousness.
I am sure we didn’t need it, but we also ordered the warm sourdough with freshly churned sour butter and sea salt.
I love when restaurants serve the bread warm, but I don’t like having to pay for it, which is probably the only negative about our whole lunch. But of course, we chose to pay for it so I can’t really complain. J declared this bread better than Rockpool’s the night before, but I disagreed.
We had finished our sparkling and again asked the maître d’ for wine recommendations. He said they could do a wine matching for us, either a half glass, or full glass, per course. We thought that sounded good so asked for a full glass per course.
It turns out the Sommelier only poured half glasses for the two selections he poured for us, but we didn’t mind, we didn’t really need that much, and we were charged accordingly, so all good.
J’s first course was the octopus, Jerusalem artichoke, cavolo nero, pancetta glaze, paprika.
He said you could barely tell you were eating octopus, but he meant this in a good way.
One of the reasons I was being so indecisive over my choices was because I really wanted the vegetarian pasta dish, and the vegetarian risotto dish, and I wasn’t sure if two carb heavy dishes would be too much. In the end I decided I should just order what I want and stuff the consequences.
So my first course was the tortelli filled with burnt eggplant, topped with spicy pistachio, Pyengana cheddar and mint.
The waiter explained how they literally cooked the eggplant until it was burnt, which made for a wonderful smoky smell and taste. I could smell the smokiness as soon as I cut open the tortelli. The Pyengana cheddar was in a foam format, though I thought it was more liquid cheese than a light airy foam, but I preferred the liquid version anyway. The whole dish was absolutely divine. I ate it so slowly, savouring every mouthful, and then using a piece of bread to mop up the excess cheese. I can’t explain how much I loved this dish; smoky eggplant, rich cheese, it all worked and this was, for me, the dish of the weekend.
When discussing the menu with us, the maître d’ had said that some of the dishes had the option for a truffle supplement ($15 for two grams). He told us which ones, but I can’t remember what three of them were, and I remember thinking a few of them were odd choices. None of the options I had my eye on were included but I wasn’t fussed.
J did choose to have truffles on his next dish, the tagliolini, chestnut mushroom, porcini, dill.
He loved it.
I had originally chosen the carnaroli risotto with parmesean and mandarin, as I love risotto and knew Ormeggio would do a good version. However, after our order had been placed, the maître d’ came over and said chef would be happy to do a truffle risotto for me. Now, despite what I have said both on this blog, and when commenting on other blogs, about not getting the hype about Australian truffles, I didn’t hesitate to say yes to this offer.
There were a few reasons for this. Firstly these were NSW highlands truffles, which I have not had before. Secondly, $15 is such a reasonable price to pay, I couldn’t say no to that. And finally, the truffles were being served on risotto. I firmly believe that one of the reasons I haven’t got excited about truffles before is because of what they have been served with, but I know, from The French Laundry, that they work spectacularly well with risotto.
Two grams doesn’t sound like a lot of truffle, but as you can see it was the perfect amount. The risotto still had a bite to it, but not too much, and was lovely and creamy. Hands down the best truffle dish I have had in Australia.
This was about the time the blinds were raised, so let’s have a look at the view.
What do you think?
We managed to tear ourselves away from the view in order to enjoy our main course.
J had the mulloway, macadamia, leek, jalapeño, salicornia powder.
And I had the braised lamb, cauliflower, silver beet and horseradish.
The horseradish had been given the liquid nitrogen treatment, and was added to the dish at the table, by chef himself, Alessandro Pavoni.
I didn’t take a photo after uncovering the lamb but it was tender and had great flavour.
And I drank a rose with it! The maître d’ had said they were finding it a challenge to match a white wine with this dish and asked if I was OK with rose. After a bit of ummming and aahhhhing, I said OK. I am glad I did. I do remember that this was from Gary Farr in Geelong. All the wine matching for the day was absolutely spot on.
There is a bit of molecular gastronomy going on at Ormeggio (a foam here, some powder there) but it is not in your face, or too weird, in fact I barely noticed it (which is a good thing).
We had prime position when traffic stopped and the Spit bridge went up to let this yacht through.
And then about seven boats came through the other way! We were wondering what the process was, ie, did they have to wait for a certain of number boats before the bridge opened? I have just looked it up and learnt that there are set opening times, and we were there for the 2:30 one.
The maître d’ had also let some of the other diners know that the bridge was opening and they came out on the deck to watch as well.
We were done with the savoury courses and thought it would be prudent to have a look at what was on offer for dessert.
There were three options which made it easier to decide.
J had the carrot, fennel seed ice cream, farro cream, vinegar caramel.
The carrot was in a sponge format, and as bizarre as this dessert sounds, it worked very well, but we both thought the vinegar caramel was the star, it was amazing, and brought everything together.
I had the amedei tuscan black chocolate, mandarin, cilantro, cocoa.
A very good dessert, but a little too savoury for my taste buds. I like that big sweet chocolate hit (like what I had at Rockpool the night before), this one was more up J’s alley.
Here’s another shot of the view as the sun got lower. There is something about the way that sun sparkles on water that soothes my soul.
As much as we could have happily sat and enjoyed the weather, the view and a few more wines, I had a plane to catch. A taxi was called and as the driver phones on approach, we were able to wait inside the restaurant.
When we first dined at Ormeggio, they had one hat, they now have two, and I can see why. The food and service were magnificent, and this meal would have to be up there as one of the best we have ever had.
J ate out in Sydney with his business partners the next three nights (including another Italian establishment) and said nothing came close to Ormeggio.
I will leave you with two more photos of the view.
This is one of my favourite photos from the day and gives a great perspective of the restaurant’s position on the water (and J looking quite contemplative!).
And this is a panorama shot from our table.