Sunday, July 6, 2014

Stanley Street Merchants (Icon Park) - Darlinghurst

I'm not good with details. So when my friend say's - let's meet at 11.30am for brunch, 11.30am is the time I think I need to get there. Any changes that occurs in following email chains just go 'whoosh' over my head. As such, I roused/pulled hubby from our warm beds early on a Sat morning to make it to Stanley Street Merchants at Icon Park at 11.30am only to find out that the kitchen wasn't going to be open til 12noon - nor were my friends going to arrive until that time. Nonetheless, they were happy for us to chill and sip our coffees and sneak glances at Matt Stone (recently on MasterChef - all about sustainable cooking and worked at multiple famous places) as he chilled out with his chefs and waiters.
The coffee was good. The vibe was good. The aromas wafting from the kitchen was enticing and we were so focused on eyeing their busy-ness we didn't even realised that our friends snuck upstairs. In our defense - they didn't see us either!

We pretty much had the whole upstairs area to ourselves. As we were a party of 8, they said that we had to get the set menu. There's no actual 'menu' but we realised soon enough that getting the set menu meant that the chef just dishes share plates out for like 3 hours until we can eat no more. Throughout this time, I seriously felt as though I ate a whole Australian farm... not sure if that's a good or bad thing.

First thing to come out was pickled vegetables. Cauliflower was a big chunk of the ingredients on the plate, and it just so happened that I like cauliflower and I like pickles... So I found this refreshing and tasty. One of my friends disliked veges and dislike pickles... I felt as though she didn't really get much food the whole lunch as we got a whole lot of veges done in different ways.
The baked spiced cauliflower (I think Cumin?) came out next. As I said - I like cauliflower so I liked this. However, I think I would have liked it just as much (maybe more) if there were no spices on it.

I was unimpressed by the next dish. The negative space on the plate just highlighted the creepy crawly creatures hiding under the sparing green leaves. Yes - grasshoppers and worms. Deep-fried and seasoned. But I hate insects. I want insects far far far away from me - yet it was on a plate, served as food... and my friend was emphasing how natural and normal it is to eat insects as it's super sustainable and in years to come, we might just all be eating these creepy crawlies....*shivers* Some of my friends lapped this up - couldn't stop eating it. "Just like chips" was how they described it. Me? I had to deliberate within myself and psych myself out to put a grasshopper in my mouth - chew - swallow - water - gargle. Not my type of food. End of story.

I don't normally eat eggplant, but for some reason, when it's in the form of baba ganoush I don't mind it. This baba ganoush combined with the thick cut grilled bread was yummy and smoky. Really really smoky. It made sense for the eggplant to be the smoky thing... but somehow, I felt like it was the bread that had the smoky flavour. Maybe the grasshopper that I ate just before this altered my immediate mental capacity...

The favourite dish of one of my friends was the beef tongue 'kimchi' burger. I use the word 'kimchi' lightly because it didn't taste like kimchi - just lettuce. The beef tongue was really tender though and the brioche was quite good. Not a bad little slider.

More veges came. I think it was carrot, parsnip and sweet potato? with labne and a sprinkle of smokey dust. There were also these really tasty seeds sprinkled on top... don't remember what they were...
The next dish was the chicken confit with sweet corn puree, artichoke chips and friend corn husks. Corn husk is normally part of the corn that I chuck out so I was really eager to see what it tastes like on a dish. Result? I think I chuck it out for good reason. The chicken wasn't as tender as I expected but it was tasty enough with the corn puree to carry it.
Next up - Kangaroo loin with some bush berries and wilted greens and mash. I don't usually eat kangaroo. This didn't change my mind. Hubby ate a bush berry and got the shock of his life - super strong, akin to warheads. The greens also had a really strong bittery aftertaste. Though the mash wasn't spectacular - that's what I stuck to in this part of the meal.

Then it was dessert time! White chocolate mousse with white chocolate spaghetti and kale & cucumber granita. I quite liked the white chocolate and I quite liked the granita. Separately. But eaten together? It was a bit odd in texture and flavour.
Last but not least - cheese platter. A super creamy mild blue cheese and a reasonably strong and tasty cheddar. Loved them both! Served with honeycomb, fig and a jam.
This meal took much longer than we expected. It also left a bigger dent in our wallet then expected. I seriously felt like I ate an Australian farm an though it was an interesting experience, I'm not sure if I would return. If you'd like to try - I think they will be open for another month or so?

Food - 7/10
Service - 7/10
Ambiance - 7/10
Value for money - 6/10
Overall - 27/40

Stanley Street Merchants
78 Stanley Street (temporary location)
NSW 2010
Tel: (02) 7901 0396

1 comment:

Helen (Grab Your Fork) said...

Wow love the look of the cauliflower!