So the weekend’s in full swing and I find myself in beautiful Woolloomooloo to check-out this cool restaurant. The Larder is a spin-off of a well loved institution, Otto Ristorante and offers a more casual dining experience (but doesn’t skimp on the quality – as this review shall show).
Now I have been to Otto several times before and absolutely love it. I first went there when I was 19 to attend a dinner with a former Premier of NSW (its a state in Australia for my overseas readers) and the Chairman of an AFL club (a type of football similar rugby or grid iron), so it has a special place in my heart and the Larder is kinda like their little sister, so I am keen to check it out.
Anyway, I am here to meet a former colleague and dear friend who has made it all the way from interstate for the weekend, so I am super excited as I haven’t seen her in six months! We chat about the past six months, what’s going on, new jobs, the dining scene, politics (don’t worry I am not about to launch into a political speech now)…
Then we decide to focus on the menu and wine list. We go for a lovely (and very drinkable) Italian wine, the 2012 Barone Ricasoli Chianti Classico. A bit of history of this lovely wine. The vineyard is set in a historic 12th century estate, the Castello di Brolio. It is home to the Ricasoli family, an Italian noble dynasty which counts Bettino Ricasoli as a member, who was Italian prime minister and a key figure in the unification of Italy.
Back to the wine itself, it’s a full-bodied wine with the fresh taste of strawberries and intense sweet cherry flavour, and hints of cinnamon and menthol singing together in what is a symphony of viticulture… it trips the light fantastic. Perfect for a leisurely lunching afternoon.
First we have the Twice baked pecorino and truffle soufflé with crispy eschalot The soufflé is amazing, the pecorino cheese is rich and adds such a decadence to dish, while the crispy eschalot sprinkled on top along with the roast hazelnuts on the base provide a beautiful set to crunchy textures to pair with the soft doughy inside of the soufflé. The crispy cooked cheese edge on the side is the ultimate cherry on this beautiful dish. It’s a plate that is etched in my memory… I just love it.
Now we have a special of the day, the Oxtail Terrine with Artichokes and Capers. The soft juicy flavoursome, braised “fall part” ox meat which forms the terrine is an absolute delight. It’s the star of the dish! The artichokes, herbs and all other accompaniments are just that, small players dancing around the oxtail letting take all the (well deserved) limelight. The dish really goes to the heart of everything a Sunday Lunch should be!
From the Specials Menu again, we also order the Dory with herb butter coating. What I love about this place is the simplicity of the dishes which let’s the produce shine, The fish is soft and succulent, with a fresh sea taste and only lightly uses the herbs and butter as a gentle aide, to shine like a lighthouse on a cold winter’s day. Working through the crispy skin to the succulent flesh is the basic textured experience while the light butter and herbs add both the aesthetics and fragrance to this simple but elegant dish.
The Wagyu rump, oxtail vinaigrette, Warrigal greens and mushrooms is next. I actually was caught up in conversation I forgot take a photo before it was plated, so here’s how it looked on my plate. The beautiful soft, tender succulent wagyu is full of juices and the rich marbling that makes it such a pleasure to eat. Again another classic “focus on the produce” dish… I seriously love this place.
With the good food out of the way, we move onto cocktails. I opt for the Aperol Splitz (which I had in Venice recently and was beautiful – review here). and my friend has an Amaretto Sour. The Aperol is refreshing with a little bitterness and bite at the end, perfect for the afternoon.
Although it is winter, the sun chooses to defy that cute Channel 9 weather girl’s predictions and showcases its radiance over Woolloomooloo Wharf. My friend and I do a bit of people watching…. as the Sydney set are out on their social duties of lunching and gossiping. We make a note of the best dressed and worst dressed of those sitting around us as the afternoon progresses. I really should have been a host on Entertainment Weekly.
Then it’s dessert, I opt for the Frozen Nougat Bar, which has this thick creamy honey frozen sensation with bits of praline/brittle on the outside. Again the crunchy textures of the brittle is paired perfectly with the creamy nougat… for a “frozen, creamy, crunchy” taste sensation. My friend opts for another cocktail… this time a Negoroni, which she notes is quite strong!
Lunch is over… we agree its been way too long and try to work out when our paths will cross again… The weather does turn on us and it starts pouring with rain. She races off to meet a friend and I have to jet over to the Northern Beaches (and subsequently get drenched in the pouring rain… so not cool).
The Larder is such an amazing place, its got style, great food, it borrows the Otto Wine List and you get the same view….just love it.