Saturday, October 2, 2010

Cotton Duck - Holt Street, Surrey Hills

The address sounded familiar - my sons once had a design studio on an upper floor of this renovated warehouse however I didn't recognise anything about the new ground floor.  Gone is the drab street front and replacing it is something quite sophisticated and exciting.  Cotton Duck is the latest venture of Jared Ingersoll following the success of Waterloo's Danks Street Depot.   Polished concrete floors and exposed bricks give a hint to the original building and the  internal dividers of stark concrete housing living gardens are an interesting feature.  If I had to describe the interior in 3 words I'd choose 'fresh, innovative and stylish' - these words are also reflected in the menu.   

There is a theme of blending old with new and whilst we noticed many innovative features of this restaurant, some great traditions have returned such as making reservations.  Don't laugh!   It's refreshing when you arrive at 8 with a party of 4  and your table is waiting!  I also liked the fact that we were blissfully unaware of the number of people sharing the restaurant - good acoustics and relaxed spacing.

Cotton Duck lighting - more like a work of art - I later discovered that it was.  This lighting once adorned the Powerhouse Museum, created for a special Eat Green Design dinner by Hannah Tribe.   Once again these lights illuminate dishes made from fresh and sustainable produce.  

Newly opened in mid-September my eldest son & his girlfriend had already dined at Cotton Duck. They were so impressed that when they heard I was coming to Sydney they decided that I had to try it too.

As we walked through the door the waiter recognised David and Emma from the previous week and there was a little friendly banter which sounded like old friends were being welcomed back.

I've heard the menu described as a "DIY degustation menu" with 2 courses for $55 or 4 for $85. We all chose the $55 option and whilst the servings are modest I must say that after the 2 courses plus bread, a tiny starter and a shared dessert I left feeling more than satisfied. Mind you, some with a heartier appetite might do well to order the 4 courses - how lucky to sample even more of this delicious menu.
A slice of organic pork sausage with celeriac remoulade
Dinner commenced with this beautifully prepared morsel of organic pork - deliciously spiced and complimented by a crispy yet creamy celeriac remoulade - a perfect way to prepare the taste buds!

Tuna Tartare - tuna, cured salmon and beetroot chips
David's first choice was the Tuna Tartare which comprised 2 types of fish with crispy beetroot chips.   As a photographer I'm drawn to the aesthetics of food - for me it's not only about taste but equally about the beauty of the food and its aroma.    Presentation at Cotton Duck is a priority.

Emma's choice - Hiramasa Kingfish poached in butter and served with spring vegetables

Mushroom vol-au-vent:   king browns, shiitake with chicken and heart jus

Bryan and I both chose the Mushroom Vol-au-vent. I was wondering if it was going to be a bit of a nostalgic return to the 70s however Cotton Duck's dish bore no resemblance. The emphasis is on the filling - gone is the sauce.  A light pastry case brimming with king brown and shiitake mushrooms and chicken.

For my vegetarian son, this course was made with mushrooms only.   If there is one suggestion I'd make it would be to offer a vegetarian choice.  Having said that, Bryan's request was met in an obliging way.   He also enjoyed the peas and beans in parmesan jus.

Peas and beans - a plate of spring peas and broad beans in a parmesan jus

Organic pork with sweet vinegar tomatoes, fennel seed and soubise - a rich, velvety sauce made by combining bechamel with pureed cooked onions and sometimes a small amount of cream

Emma and Davy ordered the organic pork - a dish they both enjoyed although preferred the pork belly they'd ordered the previous week (not available on this night).

The open kitchen allows you to see Cotton Duck chefs cooking and creating

Now I have to say that by this stage,  everyone felt satisfied.  Did we need dessert?  No.  Did we want dessert?  1/3 of the menu is desserts and they looked so tempting.   We decided to share the chocolate and raspberry tart.  Well, 3 of us did.   Youngest son was adament he didn't even want a spoonful - that was until he heard and saw our reactions.    In front of us was placed a baked chocolate case filled with creamy raspberry mouse and fresh, organic raspberries.  The chocolate base was delightfully thin and crisp.   The sweet and tart sauce was then poured into the centre.   Bryan couldn't resist and whilst he's not a fan of the fruit - these fresh berries impressed.    Amazing how a single tart can make a table smile.  :)

Chocolate and Raspberry tart - baked chocolate with a raspberry mousse

Cotton Duck offers a good list of wines and boutique beers.   Whilst the sons stuck to the 'Pigs Fly' pilsner, Emma and I shared a 2009 Word Of Mouth reisling.     Before we left a plate of warm citrus flavoured madeleines were offered.   Cotton Duck isn't just a restaurant - it's a dining experience for all senses.

50 Holt Street
Surry Hills
Sydney NSW 2010

p: 02 8399 0250
e: /

Open for lunch on Thursdays and Fridays, 12pm - 3pm and dinner, Tuesdays through to Saturdays from 6pm.

Photography and blog by Ann McLeod

Cotton Duck on Urbanspoon 

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