Yes you read correctly, we were headed for Newtown where a small intimate group of foodies were to embark on a culinary adventure and participate in our first Inner West secret dinner.
When thinking about the Newtown food scene the first word that springs to mind is ‘Thai’. Initial thoughts may be right, there are a lot of Thai joints in Newtown. But nestled amongst the Asian strip of King St is Bloodwood, where you won’t see claggy pad Thai anywhere on the recycled paper menus. Having opened just under 12 months ago Bloodwood restaurant is a must-try and the surprise destination for Secret Foodies #15- ‘The Vintage Table’.
The first thing you’ll notice about Bloodwood is the relaxed and funky fit out. The use of recycled and raw materials is thanks to local designer Matt Woods. Unique fixtures include second hand chairs and of course the large vintage table and private dining space where we aptly take the name for tonight’s dinner. Exposed brick and old, recycled bottles line the walls of our dining space. The energy is buzzing and the friendly staff make you feel at home the minute you walk past the exposed kitchen and downstairs to the ‘Vintage Table’. It’s easy to forget you’re in a restaurant and not sitting around someone’s dinner table at home.
Mitch Grady, one of the three owners of Bloodwood explains that the table itself was an eBay score and took two trips to Freshwater and a small army to dismantle and reassemble it in its current space. Mitch, along with Claire Van Vueren and Jo Ward are ex-chefs from highbrow French restaurant Claude’s in Paddington. These three friends live in Newtown and wanted to bring the same quality dining experience to the inner west whilst keeping that Newtown, indie feel. You won’t find any crisp white table clothes, air of pretension or the price tag that comes with it at Bloodwood. As Claire said, “people would come to Claudes once every six months. People can come to Bloodwood once a week”.
Bloodwood is all about a shared style of eating and typifies the label Modern Australian with influences from all over the world featured in different dishes. The local community is also supported as plates of light rye sourdough from Luxe Bakery are placed before us with bowls of olive oil. We’re also given plump, juicy marinated olives to nibble while we sip our cocktails, a strong Negroni Noir. A lethal combination of Bombay Sapphire, Campari, Averna, Cinzano Rosso and Angostura Bitters that could easily knock your socks off.
Bloodwood has a number of great organic wines thanks to in-house sommelier Gabrielle Webster (aka Mistress of the Vine). Upon her recommendation we move on the 2009 Munco de Yuntero as we enjoyed smoked ham hock terrine and house made pickles. Possibly my favourite dish of the evening was the chicken liver parfait. It was the most amazing parfait I’ve ever had. I know that’s a big call but it was smooth, creamy, fresh and oh so tasty.
The polenta chips have become a much talked about staple at Bloodwood. Read any online review and they’re sure to mention these golden delights. Yes, they are as good as people say they are and the gorgonzola dipping sauce is a delicious compliment. I’d recommend people try them but at the end of the day it’s polenta and there are much more satisfying dishes on the menu. After serving polenta chips to a full house 6 days a week for almost a year you could forgive the kitchen for never wanting to see another bag of polenta again!
Now when the sticky glazed chicken wings are laid on the table you will stop mid conversation and pay attention. It may not be by choice but the amazing smell of soy, ginger, shallots, cinnamon and palm sugar will smack you in the face regardless. Don’t worry you’ll enjoy it!
There are plenty of vegetarian options at Bloodwood such as the baked mushrooms done in a white wine, garlic and green sauce. Who needs meat when you have three different types of mushies including field, king oyster and pine mushrooms covered in a delicious salsa verde?
For the seafood lovers you’ll enjoy the grilled cuttlefish with cucumber and herb salad and a mustard cream dressing. This is the type of dish you could enjoy to yourself as a main if you’re not the sharing type. Likewise with the Asian style dish of king prawns and pippies cooked in xo sauce and fine egg noodles. Both great dishes to have on their own but far more fun to share!
The grilled milk-fed lamb served with braised eggplant, green chilli and yoghurt sauce (I also think I tasted pumpkin in there?) will satisfy our carnivores. This would be a great dish to share with a salad and the polenta if you were looking for a small but satisfying meal over drinks. I’d recommend a bottle of the 2009 Mundo de Yuntero Tempranillo/Merlot Blend as a nice accompaniment.
The sharing continued into desert and we had three different dishes to try. The infamous Bloodwood trifle involved hazelnut dacquoise sponge cake, peach custard, port wine jelly, fresh grapes and yoghurt mascarpone. I’m a trifle lover from way back, it’s a dish passed down over the years to the women in my family. I am sorry to say Grandma but Bloodwood’s trifle tops yours…only just!
The calvados crème brulee with toffee apple, fresh blueberries and apple crisps was absolutely devine as was the sugar daddy torte- a chocolatey and sherry filled delight with tough pastry on the bottom and buttermilk mouse on top! Whatever you do, make sure you try at least one of these desserts when you head to Bloodwood. You’ll regret it if you don’t.
Bloodwood is a cool, relaxed place with great food, wine and atmosphere. It is the perfect place for a casual catch up with friends or a special occasion downstairs at the ‘Vintage Table’ that won’t cost your friends the world. Head to Bloodwood and you’ll find top class food in a causal dining space with friendly staff.