It’s a treat to be served freshly churned butter with sourdough upon your arrival to a restaurant. Not only is the butter churned in house, it’s whipped until light as a cloud and sprinkled with onion powder. This is what is laid on our table when we sit down at Tomislav.
The restaurant is named after Head Chef Tomislav Martinovic who has worked with chefs such as Matt Moran, Guillaume Brahimi and Heston Blumenthal. It comes as no surprise then that while the menu reads as normal, there are quirky molecular gastronomy elements to each dish which delight me with each bite. This quirky-ness is reflected in the decor of the small restaurant, which includes an eclectic mix of Japanese-themed wallpaper, dark brown wooden tables and chairs, and bare light bulbs hanging from the concrete ceiling.
We start with the rice crackers – paper thin crackers which are made from rice paper brushed with egg white and deep fried. It seems as though the crackers will be far too fragile for the dense-looking sour cream dip, but we find that this too is airy and light like a foam so that the crackers scoop up the sour cream and chives with ease. All in all it acts as a great starter with the lightness in texture and flavour, whetting our appetites for the dishes to come.
We’re intrigued by the kangaroo tartare and it is presented beautifully as little dollops of kangaroo on a crisp cracker. The hazelnut dressing provides a little acidity and nuttiness to balance the gamey flavour of the kangaroo.
There are so many delicious sounding dishes on the menu and we want to try them all. We have our eyes on a few entrees and a main to share and the waitress kindly suggests that they can be served in pairs, like a mini-degustation of sorts. We like the sound of that and go ahead with our choices, the first of which is a clear heirloom gazpacho with foie gras, cucumber and scampi. The gazpacho is poured at the table, creating a clear pool around the tomatoes and scampi. The foie gras has been frozen and grated into small crumbs and is separated from the gazpacho by a fried brioche cube. The flavours of this dish are a great combination, with the acidic and cool tomato gazpacho, the sweet grilled scampi and a slight richness from the foie gras and brioche. Scampi is one of my favourite foods of all time and this one is cooked perfectly. It’s too good to share and I very reluctantly relinquish the other half of it to Sir D.
The poached yellow fin tuna is ever so lightly cooked that I’m not even sure that it has been cooked! But while it looks like slices of tuna sashimi, the poaching creates a subtly less chewy texture which differentiates it from tuna sashimi. It’s dressed lightly with soy and vinegar, and alongside the tuna is a slick of avocado puree sprinkled with tiny cubes of crunchy apple, microherbs and a wedge of crispy cracker. The parsley crumbs are created by blending parsley with cream and freezing it, before pulverising it into crumbs using a PacoJet. The result is a pile of vivid green parsley crumbs which melt on the tongue into a parsley cream.
The Basmati rice risotto is one of my favourite dishes of the night. Even Sir D who isn’t a risotto fan loves this dish. The unique use of Basmati rice gives the risotto a bit more bite than usual which is a nice change from the gluggy mess that risottos can turn into. The lemon zest gives it some zing and I love the sweet nubbins of prawns in the dish. It is also the perfect portion size as well leaving you just satisfied and not suffering from carb-overload.
I loved the presentation of the beef on a black tile. The beef was absolutely delicious although there were a few gristly bits towards the ends. I loved how the steak was pre-sliced = less cutting more eating! The mango puree was an interesting addition and the sweetness worked surprisingly well with the meat. The horseradish creme again was light and airy like the sour cream with the rice crackers. The bone marrow was super rich and gelatinous and I relished every last bit of it.
We couldn’t resist ordering the crinkle cut chips but sadly these didn’t live up to our expectations. They weren’t as crisp on the outside as we would have liked and they also arrived very heavily salted which seemed to be consistent across a lot of the diners on the night. I think one of the chefs may have copped a bit of yelling for it as well….
The apple crumble was certainly different to what I’m used to. The traditional thick, crunchy flour and brown sugar crumble is replaced by a fine crumble and popping candy (yay for popping candy!). The apples are also deeply caramelised and sit on a bed of macadamia sponge. The clotted cream ice cream was the perfect foil to the sweet, syrupy apples.
The cheesecake didn’t look at all like a cheesecake but definitely had the right flavours. The cream cheese mousse is dotted with cubes of jellified cream cheese and accompanied by a bright rhubarb sorbet which is nice and tangy. There are also some slices of rhubarb poached in grenadine to give it a vivid red colour and a bit of sweetness. And let’s not forget the cheesecake base, which is represented by the crunchy biscuit crumbs sitting underneath the sorbet.
The quirky food and textural contrasts definitely make the meal at Tomislav memorable. While I know that some people don’t like foams or any fancy molecular gastronomy stuff, the great thing about the food at Tomislav is that the special techniques are there to complement the food and bring another dimension to the flavours and textures, rather than just being used for the sake of novelty. Yes, the fancy tools and special effects are cool, but it’s the deliciousness of the dishes that will keep me coming back for more.
Level 2/13 Kirketon Road
Darlinghurst NSW 2010
Ph: +61 2 9356 4535
Lunch: Friday, noon–3pm
Dinner: Tuesday to Saturday, 6pm–10pm