I was very excited to hear about a sustainable seafood cafe/restaurant opening up, and even more excited to find it was opening up in my hood, the inner west! So tonight I took my mum (an Annandale local) to try it out as one of our weekly dinners together.
The cafe itself is simply decorated, with classic wooden furnishings (the same chairs as mum) spilling out onto the pavement. I loved the serial numbers “burned” into the tables, quirky but not in a pretentious way. And nice cutlery too (same as mine!).
I knew they were BYO but thankfully they also offered a small but pleasing wine selection. I tried a glass of the Yealands Pinot Gris ($9/$38) at the waitress’ recommendation. It was delicious! Much less dry than my usual favourites, sort of nutty and honeyish, yet not quite sweet. As were we paying later on in the evening the (other) lovely waiter told me it was also sustainable! Happy days. 🙂
Being a hot day we weren’t up for eating a lot, even thought the special of pan-fried wild Alaskan salmon with soba noodles sounded pretty good! In the end we went with a selection of starters, starting with the first dish to catch our eye, salt and pepper cuttlefish with fresh chilli jam ($15). As you will see below, it was so good it deserved a close-up. That chilli jam! Not as jammy as some, with a kick of fresh chilli flavour which made my mouth zing. (As we left I noticed they sells jars of it to take home – next time for sure!) And the cuttlefish was just perfectly cooked, as tender as I’ve ever had, and I loved the unusual texture of the coating – I’d guess made from something like polenta or riceflour, with a gorgeous gritty texture.
Next came the Hanoi prawn cakes with herbs and Vietnamese dipping sauce ($17). These were more expensive than the prawns cakes I ate in Hanoi but they were pretty damn good. The accompanying herbs I’m happy to say weren’t just the typical garden variety coriander and mint, but included some of my favourites such as Vietnamese balm. The dipping sauce complemented it beautifully and every mouthful was a perfect balance of fragrant herbs, soft sweet prawn and piquant nuoc mam cham.
As a nice surprise, the last seafood dish of the night was what my mum called a “new taste adventure”… Albacore tuna, coated in sesame and spices, served with mixed Asian leaves and herbs ($18). The surprise? The “spices” in the coating included sweet heady cinnamon, and a hint of something else Christmassy which I couldn’t quite put my finger on (nutmeg? cloves?), contrasting to the rest of the Asian soy/rice vinegar/sesame flavours and (more) Asian herbs and chilli. I liked it, but I can’t guarantee that everyone else would. And while the tuna was seared as stated on the menu, with jelly sashimi-like insides, I would’ve preferred it a little more blackened and crispy. Just a textural thing. Having said that, it was perfectly enjoyable the way it was.
For a bit of extra vegetable intake we ordered a side dish of stir-fried zucchini and snap peas with mint and chilli ($10). It was ok, but it didn’t really do it for me. Next time I’ll go for the mixed peppery leaf salad with spice roasted walnuts ($8) which, given the quality of their other herby leafy stuff, I’ll bet will be gorgeous.
And yes, I will definitely be back!