Memories of year ten chemistry came flooding back as I watched Lee Hardy, Head Chef of Graze, the latest restaurant in Pyrmont. Unlike my year ten teacher, Lee was standing over a cloudy bowel of liquid nitrogen freezing tomatoes instead of squash balls. Fortunately this was one science experiment we were actually allowed to eat!
Opening end of September and less than three months old, Graze is possibly Sydney’s best kept secret. This split level restaurant has a sophisticated and comfortable interior. Designers in the City were responsible for the fit out and the clever use of space makes the restaurant feel open and inviting. The exposed timber and impressive light fittings give the downstairs room an intimate and comfortable feel.
Taking their seats and embracing the tradition of mask wearing at Secret Foodies our guests appeared to be intrigued by the white cloud forming at the table in front of them. The theme of the evening was ‘Liquid Nitrogen’ and our unique gastronomic journey started with -196 Chilli & Oyster. We then had +1000 Scallop & Prawns. Both dishes were a marvel, fresh from the markets that morning.
For those who didn’t eat seafood there was the Pickled Baby Vegetables, Woodside Goats Curd, Candied Olives. A delicious combination with beautiful presentation. The candied olives and goats curd was amazing.
For entrée we had Iced Tomato & Basil Salad, Goats Curd with Pedro Ximenez Nitro Dressing. I’ve never had a dish like this and was a hesitantly curious. The sound of iced tomato seemed odd. It certainly was unusual but I was pleasantly surprised. It reminded me of the first time I tried home cooked gazpacho in Granada, Spain.
Our mains did not touch the liquid nitrogen and considering I had the 42 Hour Slow Cooked Spring Lamb, Heirloom Carrots & Peas I was relieved. As you would expect after 42 hours the lamb melted in your mouth. The alternate drop was the Maple Smoked Ocean Trout, Local Asparagus & Sea Vegetables, Lemon Coral. Visually this dish was the most impressive of the evening. The plating told a story. The trout was served on a maple board, the foam and greens resembled a slice of beach right there on your plate. The flavours were just as impressive and the fish was cooked perfectly.
Our vegetarian foodie had the pleasure of trying the Spring Pea Risotto, Smoked Morel Butter. He kindly offered tasting to those around him. Had I been given this dish I may not have been so generous. Risotto is a dish that can so often be the boring fall back for vegetarians but at Graze this dish is a stand out. The pea foam on top of the risotto is unique and adds a soft texture to the rice. The smoked morel butter leaves a delicious taste in your mouth.
It would be sacrilege not to order the Crispy Kipfler Potatoes, Truffle Oil & Parmesan. Don’t question it, just make sure you order these as a side no matter what you order. From someone who usually declines potatoes on the table trust me when I say you will not be disappointed. The smell of truffles alone will make the meal one to remember.
All good things come to an end and for me this meals finale was unforgettable. The entire team came out from the kitchen, lined up with plates with raspberries on them. Lee then scooped chocolate fondant and dropped it in the Liquid Nitrogen for a few seconds. The result was puff of frozen chocolate on the outside and a soft gooey chocolate inside that melted in your mouth. The Nitrogen Poached Chocolate Fondant & Raspberries is a must try on the menu.
Graze is still waiting on their license so we were fortunate to have Wine IQ supply us with an amazing array of wines for the evening. Starting with a Punt Road Chardonnay I then moved on the Eden Valley Riesling, my favourite wine of the evening. I look forward to hearing what our foodies thought.
Graze offers a fresh and unique approach at an affordable price. There are a handful of kitchens in Sydney offering this type of menu. With mains starting from $20-$28 you will struggle to find the same quality at such an affordable price. I predict Graze won’t be a hidden gem for much longer. I will certainly return and have already started spreading the word!