The Tilbury Hotel in the heart of Woolloomooloo is a Sydney institution… many lazy weekend afternoons are wasted with jugs of potent cocktails surrounded by cool guys and girls. It sits directly opposite the Finger Wharf (view below from my lunch at The Larder).
On the ground floor away from the parties, there is an amazing restaurant with a focus on good food paired with such a lovely lazy kinda atmosphere. I actually had one of my first work lunches here, quite a while back. So there have been some fond memories.
I arrive on a sunny (but chilly) afternoon and make my way to the restaurant. The host is lovely, she finds me a suitable table and I sit back, unwind my lovely scarf and gaze at the beautiful courtyard.
To kick-off, there is a complimentary amuse bouche – a shot of carrot soup. There is also some fresh bread with a lovely creamy butter and black and white rock salt for that little extra flavour. Nice little introduction to lunch.
The entrée is a Dressed Alaskan Snow Crab with Fennel Puree, Bronze Fennel, Capers and Lemon. The sweet succulent crab meat with the tangy capers and creamy oily lemon aioli is amazing. The flaky crab meat is a beautiful tasting experience. The soft crumbly brioche and crunchy fennel adds some amazing texture and further enhances the richness of the dish. It’s a decadent dish.
This is paired with a lovely glass of 2013 Little Goat Creek Sauvignon Blanc. The waft of beautiful passionfruit and apple fragrances ascend through the nose. The tang of full passionfruit and light citrus flavours fill the mouth with crisp finish. The tangy citrus flavours are perfect and cut through the rich creaminess of the entrée. It’s a beautiful experience.
House-Made Gnocchi, Braised Oxtail Ragout, Parsley & Parmesan. The rich, and oily, fall-apart oxtail meat is stirred through the pillowy gnocchi. The texture of the soft stewy ragu pairs with the grainy moist potato gnocchi texture. The parsley adds a little colour contrast while the parmesan adds a little sharp rich creamy overlay to what is already a very rich dish. I stop to savour this moment, feeling oh so content about it. Its winter and this is the very definition of comfort food.
To pair with the Gnocchi, I have the 2013 Puku Pinot Noir Martinborough, NZ. The wine has the wonderful rich aromas of cherries and plum followed by a spicy oak overlay. It’s a meatier pinot (in fact it has some Shiraz traits). Its medium weight with flavours the rich taste of dark cherries, plum and smoky spices. It’s such a delight to be paired with the gnocchi.
Banana Tart Tatin, Peanut Butter Ice Cream. The stringy soft texture of the banana is enhanced through the caramelisation process while the extra caramel drizzled on top of the tart clings to the banana. The flaky pastry base just turns into this crunchy mess in your mouth, the satisfaction of the soft banana, the sticky sweet caramel and creamy sweet/saltiness of the peanut butter ice-cream and flaky pastry doing a little dance across your mouth is divine.
I enjoy the dessert with another glass of the Puku Pinot Noir and watch the afternoon fade away… the best moments are spent with just you. The service was amazing and efficient, the menu was just good old fashioned comfort food and the wine list certainly offers variety.
Life can be timeless if you don’t keep looking at your watch and just stop to admire the wonderful things in front of you… such as a lovely glass of wine (or the wine collection below)!