Nom Nom Pom had been telling me about Grasshopper for months, and we recently had the opportunity to try it out. It is hidden down a laneway. It is a small bar. It is unusual for Sydney. That’s all I’ll say. (I refuse to use the M- word in this post, so overused!!)
The atmosphere is welcoming, warm and relaxed, with quirky touches such as giant kung fu images on the walls to keep things interesting.
The use of jamjars for glasses, which everyone else seems to adore, I find utterly pointless. If they were secondhand and in that case a random (and cheap) mish-mash of styles, I could see the purpose. But as they are clearly mass purchased and matching I have to ask the question, why not just buy glasses? WHY???? And if you’re going to have wine glasses as well, it makes the jars for water glasses even more bizarre. Sorry. Maybe I’m just not Melbourne enough? (Damn, I used the M- word!)
We ordered the cocktails which were recommended to us by the waitress according to our individual tastes – they were absolutely spot-on and DELICIOUS. I can excuse/accept/see the point in the cocktails glasses as they were all different and reflected the style of the cocktail. Mine was the #16, a slightly bitter, slightly sweet and super citrussy concoction of apple brandy, grapefruit juice and pomegranate, served in a cute old-fashioned brandy glass with a curl of orange rind. LOVE!
Nom Nom Pom went for the #15, Peruvian brandy, grapefruit juice, lime syrup, sparkling water nad young mint served in – a beaker. Mmm, I find that borderline…
The Original Ms G tried a #17 with tequila, melon cordial, pineapple juice and a smidgen of tonic water to soften the edge of the sweetness. It tasted like those pineapple flavoured boiled lollies you used to get in dodgy party bags. The teddy bear glass jar was very appropriate!
To start, we shared some oysters with lemon and some kind of nam jim-like dressing. They were fantastic oysters, sweet and creamy, and thankfully not overpowered by the flavours in the sauce.
Nom Nom Pom had the duck terrine which I thought was ok, but not as good as my brother’s homemade version. To me, terrine needs to be a little richer and more intensely flavoured.
The three of us ladies opted for entrees as our mains while Nom Nom ordered his favourite steak au poivre with hash browns. I was hugely impressed with his steak – not only was it perfectly cooked, the gravy smooth and dense in flavour, but the hash browns were little morsels of pure unadulterated bliss! Slippery marrow wrapped in some kind of hashed potato and deep-fried. OH! MY! I’ll come back just to eat this dish!
I have to admit, I wasn’t impressed with any of the ladies’ entree-as-mains though. My “tea-smoked salmon” was teeny weeny, and slathered in a dill mayonnaise so strong I may as well have been eating supermarket smoked salmon for all I could taste.
The Original Ms G had the dish I nearly chose myself – confit duck. I think they should really have called it a salad with confit duck. Don’t you agree?
Bluebird the cheese freak had the gruyere and onion tart. It tasted nice, but not amazing, and was really runny. What’s that about??
However, my slight disappointment with these dishes was forgotten as soon as the cheese plate arrived. $26 for four stinky cheeses, thinly sliced pear, a blob of plum and peach paste (now changed to quince apparently), some water and lavosh crackers and a few red grapes.
Every single cheese was AMAZING. I started with the Yarra Valley Black Savourine goats cheese, pronounced it the best cheese in the world, then changed my mind after trying the very stinky and rancid-looking Old Telegraph Fire Engine Red. Whoah!
It looks so wrong, yet tastes so right! The fourme d’ambert (blue) was my favourite overall, but every one of us had a different favourite. That’s how good they all were. And fantastic value too. They went really well with our delicious red wine, too. It wasn’t a matched wine (we went for the cheap option!) but it was lovely and rounded and strong enough to counter the stinky cheeses.
A short stumble downstairs to the bar area past some friendly gnomes found us happily lounging in a dim dungeony basement area while consuming more delicious cocktails, served by surprisingly friendly bar staff. The staff here really are a huge asset as they are so warm, accommodating and professional. Our waitress even came to tell us (on our way downstairs) that the Fire Engine Red was on sale at the moment at Coles, so if we enjoyed it we could buy some to have at home!
My verdict: An overall HIT despite a couple of misses – but ultimately a great place to try, if you’re happy to spend about $70 each for a light meal, cocktail and some wine. I’d personally go again and just order the # 16 cocktail, oysters, steak au poivre and four cheese platter, and leave a happy lady