If the hanging jamon don't catch your eye, the rows of salami will. The cured meats aging room at Nomad is more than just a visual treat - everything in there has been made in-house. It's just a waiting game now. The jamon has at least another year to go, but the wallaby salami we tasted was delicious, spiced up with juniper berries.
Nomad only opened last week but on its first Friday lunch, the place already has a happening hum from local office workers and group bookings. Al Yazbek (one of the founders of Toko) and partner Rebecca Littlemore are behind this latest venture, opening up on the former Spence and Lyda site on Foster Street (just a few doors up from Madame Nhu/ex-Cafe Ish).
Restaurant Nomad dining space
It's a huge space that seats up to 150 people but the dining room is cleverly broken up into different sections, including counter seating along the front windows, stools around the bar, and banquette seating down the side near the kitchen. We head straight for the kitchen counter stools, giving patrons a close-up look at all the action in the kitchen. From here you're sitting less than an arm's length away from chefs shaving salami on the sexy Berkel flywheel slicer and the pastry chef stacking alfajores biscuits with dulce de leche caramel.
House-made cheeses being aged
Nathan Sasi (ex-Rockpool, Alira and Sean's Panaroma) heads up the kitchen, newly returned from overseas with stints at Moro and Heston Blumenthal's Dinner in London, and Husk in South Carolina.
There's plenty of action on the wood-fired grills too, with individual platforms that can be raised or lowered over the licking flames, responsible for barbecuing scampi with za'atar ($22), King George whiting ($26), quail ($28) and adding a smoky tinge to purple sprouting broccoli ($12).
Nomad pickles $8
We start with the housemade Nomad pickles, an assortment of carrots, daikon, beetroot, radish, cabbage and cucumbers that vary in sourness, saltiness and crunch.
Smoked wagyu tongue with mojo verde $8
The smoked wagyu tongue is a highlight, fine slices of smoked wagyu folded into quarters, skewered ad the finished on the woodfired grill until the edges caramelise. The tongue is soft and tender, enhanced by the charred crispy edges and a refreshing mojo verde dressing across the top.
Pigs ear schnitzel $12
There are four bocadillos available on the lunchtime menu, and although I'm tempted by the soft shell crab ($13), beer braised shortrib ($13) and lobster roll ($18), my heart immediately falls for the pigs ear schnitzel.
It pays off. The pigs ear is amazing - served whole but cooked (presumably sous-vide?) until the entire ear is soft and gelatinous. The entire thing is then crumbed and deep-fried, providing a contrasting crunch to the gelatinous insides.
Iceberg lettuce with Ortiz anchovy and salted haloumi $12
The iceberg lettuce is remarkably crisp but only has a whisper of the housemade salted haloumi, shaved finely across the top with three tendrils of fine Ortiz anchovies.
Foie gras and chicken liver parfait $25
Foie gras and chicken liver parfait is every bit as rich and decadent and you could hope for. It's smooth on the tongue but a party on the palate, elegantly balanced in flavour, creaminess and a sweet lingering finish. It's sweet enough to not really require the Iranian plum jam on the side - although that's delicious too - but the pickled radishes do provide refreshment. Melted butter on the thick slabs of toasted sourdough wasn't really necessary either.
There's plenty to like about Restaurant Nomad, especially with a bounty of unusual dishes to choose from on the menu. I'll be ordering the wood roasted bunuelos (a South American and Spanish round donut ball) served with Pedro Ximenez and jersey cream on my next visit, and checking up on the hanging jamon too.
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16 Foster Street, Surry Hills, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9280 3395
Lunch Monday to Friday 12pm - 3pm
Dinner Monday to Saturday 6pm - 12am
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10/08/2013 12:38:00 am