(I need to apologise up front for the quality of the photos here as I forgot my camera so they were taken with an iPhone)
A very dear friend of mine who lives in Sydney came to stay on Thursday night and it was a good excuse to go somewhere a bit special for dinner. I’ve been wanting to go to Sparrow Kitchen and Bar for some time so we decided to try it.
The decor is sophisticated yet funky and the atmosphere was upmarket yet relaxed. It was a little bit of a combination of European Delicatessan (loose beige, deli apron for the staff; sauces and pickles served in what looked like washed out baby food jars or maybe more likely, truffle oil jars; and a mouthwatering range of hanging cured meats inside a glass case alongside a very sexy, huge meat slicer) meets upmarket restaurant (low lighting, leather seats, dark wood, marble bar). The wait staff were friendly without being overly familiar and had a good grasp of the very extensive wine list
We decided to ask for guidance on the wine but ended up feeling like we still had too many options and wish the waiter had guided us a bit more firmly. However we were very happy with our choices and I suspect we probably couldn’t have gone wrong from those suggested to us.
We were all keen to try as many dishes as possible so we opted for the shared tasting menu ($55 per person). It was an excellent choice (degustation and tapas style eating is the way to go when someone else is doing the cooking – way too much work to do that kind of food at home!). The two best dishes IMO were the wagyu burger and the poached egg with marrow and brioche followed closely by the duck terrine.
The tiny wagyu burger was big on flavour, with chargrilled crispy bits on the edges of the meat and a perfect dob of tomato relish, with a sprinkling of micro basil leaves- yum!
The poached egg was the best breakfast dish ever according to my partner E and it certainly did have some breakfast flavours although you’d be having a heart attack at a young age if that was your standard morning fare. The stewed shallot sauce was richly flavoured and soaked up beautifully by the thick disc of brioche underneath and a perfectly poached egg on top. I assume the marrow was in the sauce as it was sticky on the lips and so full of flavour.
The duck terrine was packed full of meat that fell apart nicely and with no jelly in sight. The witlof and tarragon added some fresh crunch and aniseed flavour that lightened the meat and the grape gel added an intense little burst of sweetness and moisture. There were also some odd little piles of fine dry breadcrumbs (or something similar) which I found didn’t add anything to the dish and felt dry in my mouth rather than combining with the other textures.
I hadn’t previously tried the pickled white anchovies I’ve been seeing for some time behind gourmet deli counters. I’m not a straight anchovy lover (although I use them a lot in dishes, I don’t like to eat them on their own) and this was a nice surprise for me. They are more like a less intense mini roll-mop than the usual salty, hairy version. They were served in a little jar for us to fish them out of and stuff into savoury choux pastry puffs. (these were the ‘gougers’ mentioned on the menu according to the food dictionary I consulted later) that added a touch of sweetness to the delicate pickled fish flavour.
Having been to Spain a couple of years ago and eaten loads of churros the ones at Sparrow were a bit too crunchy on the outside with not enough fluffy soft centre for us to rate them too highly. The lemon posset however sent me to heaven – thick, luscious, creamy and tangy.
D and I agreed that the octopus was our least favourite, mainly because we thought they missed an opportunity to have some texture by foaming up the potato (and really we’d already had potato foam with the scallop) rather than perhaps layering the octopus tentacle slices with potato slices into a gratin or something similar. The flavours were also a bit overpowering and rich for us. E however loved it and was happy for us to leave it mostly to him.
My little group of three really only had two minor complaints: 1) the food was rushed out somewhat with little pause in between ‘courses’ and too many dishes came at once for us to feel that we could truly savour each one. 2) The wine was poured for us and then the bottle was taken away (just out of reach really) but we found we were often waiting for some time for our glasses to be refilled.
Overall it was an indulgent and enjoyable experience with interesting beautifully presented dishes that packed a punch in terms of flavour and an elegant yet relaxed atmosphere that was quiet even though the place was pretty busy. We were able to speak to each other using our inside voices 🙂 and still be heard comfortably.
Sparrow Tapas Tasting Menu
Hervey Bay Scallop, potato foam, hazlenut
White anchovies, parsley, shallots, thyme gougers
Chicken liver parfait, fig and fennel crostini, pickled walnuts
Duck terrine, grape gel, tarragon, witlof
Chargrilled octopus, potato, paprika
Sparrow’s mini wagyu burger
Red wine poached egg, bone marrow, speck, brioche
Churros, hazlenut chocolate sauce
lemon posset, raspberry, pistachio shortbread
You can check out other blogger reviews of this restaurant at Urbanspoon Adelaide