For weeks, a large section in Parramatta’s Centenary Square was cordoned off by construction gates with a large Channel 7 banner running along it. Many passers by watched in anticipation to what was happening. The corresponding tv adverts revealed the title and the premise of the show Restaurant Revolution and finally the barricades came down to unveil the pop-up restaurant.
We came to visit Somewhere Nice on a cold winter’s night to see what the fuss was all about.
The design of the logo was cute and the name made a play on the general “where do you wanna go for dinner” conversation.
There was a reasonable wait outside as the small dining area was currently full and although it was absolutely freezing that evening, we stuck it out determined to try the food.
We were presented with a reasonably sized menu; three options for each section of the meal at a $65 a person cost. Based on the cost of the menu and the type of food, it seemed targeted for above casual dining but on the cheaper and more relaxed side of fine dining.
Looking at the menu at first glance, it didn’t have a distinct theme or cuisine and there didn’t seem to have a flow to the dishes between each other.
Our waitress and restaurant manager greeted our table with a smile and had utmost confidence in their menu and the staff which was nice to see.
The Pork Rilette was very different to rilettes that we’ve had in the past.
We were served a small scoop of rilette buried under buttered/soy garden vegetables.
I’m normally used to seeing Pork rilette served with pickles and another garnish or two and toasted bread to top it off.
However, it seemed to me the choice of carrots and cucumber didn’t quite suit the Rilette meal.
The pork had that distinct aromatic taste but was overall very bland and quite dry.
|Kingfish Sashimi, Wild Rice, Honey, pickle|
Initially, I was a little unsure of the combination of sashimi and honey but upon trying the dish the two ingredients went wonderfully together.
This dish is almost like a deconstructed fancy nigiri with the extra addition of radish and pickle to garnish.
However, my biggest criticism is that the dish was called ‘sashimi’ but the sashimi itself was small in portion and was overpowered by the other features layered with it.
Despite the nice balance of flavour, I was grumpily wishing I had a little basin of soy sauce to slather over the whole dish.
|Lamb & Three Veg|
The lamb and three vege was plated beautifully and was certainly not the generic ‘lamb and three vege’ you’d get on a regular mid-week dinner.
I loved how the vegetables were presented in different forms, however broccoli was just a little boring – nothing special.
The sweet potato mash and the beetroot were a nice addition to the rich jus that accompanied the lamb. At first glance the lamb appeared medium rare but some of the cuts were inconsistent, a bit on the dry side and overcooked. Apart from that, the lamb was reasonably seasoned and brought life to simple flavours.
|Beef, Seasonal greens and mash|
Accompanied by a similar jus and some nicely roasted vegetables came a beef dish cooked just right. At first, the beef appears dry and seems like it may have lost all its juices in the process. However on the first bite it was perfectly seasoned and had a great char, the choice of cut was fantastic and the chef had treated the meat with respect.
The beef came with a similar sweet potato mash, spinach and roasted brussel sprouts. I’ve had a range of brussel sprouts sometimes great sometimes unbelievably bitter. These brussel sprouts were a combination of both. The crunchy outside was salty and crunchy and absolutely delicious, but the centre was awfully bitter.
Apart from the sprouts, I was very happy with this main. The flavours in this dish and all the elements were well balanced with one another.
One of the desserts on the menu drew my attention straight away as it was something I haven’t seen done before. A sweet version of arancini was sure to be interesting as in theory of course it would work fine with glutenous rice but I was keen to see how it would be executed.
The arancini arrived at the table piping hot and upon cracking open released a thin ribbon of steam.
The outside of the arancini was crunchy but lacked the little flavour that’s associated with its savory brother. The inside was an aromatic coconut glutenous rice that matched the palm sugar syrup.
Although the coconut milk had a saltiness that should balance the flavour, the palm sugar was unbelievably sweet.
The dish was overall quite heavy and lacked a bit of depth of flavour. The only flavour it had was sweetness. There was an impressive show of texture and the innovation that went into this dish was great but it does need a little more work.
|Chai Latte Panna Cotta|
A beautifully plated dessert, it was all the elements of the hot drink favourite broken down in a textual form. The chccolate soil had chilli strewn through it and the honey glazed toasted walnuts and was a wonderful garnish over the whole dessert.
The apple added a freshness and slight sweetness to the dish, and with the earthy walnuts they both brought crunch to the dish. The chocolate soil was fine and not too rich or moist. The chilli had a reasonable kick but not enough that it overpowered the other flavours.
The panna cotta was gorgeously smooth and creamy and was a fantastic base for a ‘build-your-own-chai’. Despite the other elements, the panna cotta still held a reasonable amount of spice and flavour that held the dish together. I loved it, but my only criticism is that the panna cotta was a little small for the rest of the elements.
Overall I found that the dishes had the right flavours there but were a little bit off in terms of balancing the quantities. A lot of the dishes seem to need a little bit of polishing here and there but can be forgiven for a first-time restaurant owner. The dishes were well thought out in both flavour and presentation but definitely needed that little bit of a kick.
The staff that evening were beautiful and lovely and it was nice to see Dom come and visit tables on request. His mum was acting manager that evening and she was an absolute angel! I wanted to come back just because she was so sweet.
It’s unfortunate to see the show with poor viewer ratings, nevertheless I wish Dom the best of luck and congratulations for all his successes so far.
Let me know about your experiences with Restaurant Revolution or Pop Up Restaurants in the comments below
Tweet me @jayybearable
FB me /jayybear
Insta me @the.eatventures