Thursday, 10 February 2011

Restaurant Review: Tomislav, Darlinghurst

Anyone who reads the blog will realise that I like eating out. The majority of places I visit are reasonably priced, but I decided this year I'd set aside a (modest) pot of cash to dine out at some of Sydney's more expensive restaurants. The first cab off the rank, so to speak, was Tomislav.

For me the prime appeal of Tomislav Martinovic's restaurant was that he has trained with Heston Blumenthal in the UK, and from the reviews that I've read his style of food seems similar. Think interesting ingredients paired together, dusts and foams. I'm not really sure what molecular gastronomy is but I think Tomislav falls into the category.

Looking at the menu, anyone who has watched Heston's series In Search of Perfection will see ideas from the show. My thoughts were confirmed when we were talking to the waitresses and she effectively said "Have you heard of Heston's famous triple cooked chips? We serve those too".

Some people might view this negatively, but I don't think Tomislav's is trying to be a copy of the Fat Duck. It's trying to be it's own place. And why not take some of the best ideas from somewhere you used to work and give them your own twist?

We started with the sea salt and vinegar rice crackers which the waitress sold as tasting just like your favourite crisps. The plain crackers are served with a small bottle. Using the recommended three sprays the crackers had a sharp salt and vinegar flavour. They were certainly better than the only other DIY crisps I've had; the Salt 'n' Shake from my childhood.

Remembering the use of basmati rice in the risotto episode on In Search of Perfection, I decided to order the basmati rice risotto, with grilled Yamba prawns, chives and lemon zest. The risotto didn't ooze like you'd expect from a classic arborio risotto. Consequently it felt lighter, despite the liberal use of butter. The sweet prawns, cut of lemon and liberal use of chives gave the rice a great flavour. The small squares of nori worked really well too.

As a main course I chose the grilled Junee lamb cutlets, lamb rib, mint sauce and purple roast onions. I had to double check the with the waitress as she put the plate down in front of me that she said it was served with hummus. For me the best part of the dish was the sweet and caramelised lamb rib. The lamb cutlets were served pink and nicely tender. I'm not sure it was the correct etiquette in  smart restaurant, but I picked up the bones to gnaw on them! There was only three mouthfuls of the mint sauce and it was gone so quickly I didn't get to appreciate what was probably the 'genius' of the dish.

I forgot to take a photo of the triple cooked chips. Every chip, no matter the size, was crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle. They were over salted for my taste, but damn fine chips. It was impressive they were all cooked so consistently.

There's no escaping the fact I ordered the wrong dessert. I'm actually a bit confused as to whether it was a dessert or not. The crumble with popping candy sounded interesting, but I struggle to order crumbles as my mum makes such a good one. The signature cheesecake almost got my vote, but as it was ordered by my friend Ali I decided to go for something different. After taking advice from the waitress I ordered the Saphire blue cheese, pickled tamarillo pie and clotted cream ice cream.

I was hoping for a sweet finish to the meal, which this dish definitely wasn't. Checking on the website it is listed separately from the other desserts under 'Cheese Course'. However, on the menu we were given in the restaurant it was classified with the other desserts.

The waitress recommended eating all three components together. However, the cheese over powered everything else. I think the sour from the 'pie' and crunchy celery hidden under the ice cream could have balanced the cheese, but there simply wasn't enough of them. Probably partly my expectation of wanting something sweet, but the dish didn't work for me.

During dinner we were sitting close to the open kitchen which takes up almost half of the restaurant. The kitchen worked quietly and efficiently with Tomislav himself orchestrating proceedings. It was interesting to see the small group of kitchen staff working methodically.

Despite my slight disappointment with 'dessert' Tomislav was definitely a good start to my (small) extravagant dining spree. Excellent ingredients with innovative touches.

Tomislav on Urbanspoon


  1. so how was the pricing for the dishes? the French have cheese for dessert every day, actually after every meal sometimes. perhaps there wasn't really any 'genius' in the lamb dish but just a nicely cooked lamb dish. i love lamb cutlets! :-) you didn't take a photo of the triple cooked chips — they must have been too good at the time to stop to take a photo.

  2. The French would usually have a lovely tarte aux pommes and cheese with a glass of red wine. They don't mess around!

    It isn't cheap, but for the quality I didn't think it was too bad. Starters around $22, mains $35 and desserts $16.

  3. My take on it was that it was interesting, tasty food but in a lousy location.

  4. I don't mind cheese for dessert! I've never been to this place, but wouldn't mind trying it out :-)

  5. I could never have cheese for dessert, I'd be happy to have the cheese but need a sweet fix to finish of my meal =)

  6. Hmm, not sure about celery in a dessert... <3 that risotto!


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