A birthday bite to remember at Oscillate Wildly, Newtown for Mr L and moi

September 2, 2009 at 1:12 pm 2 comments

 A birthday bite to remember at Oscillate Wildly, Newtown for Mr L and moi



“Oscilatte Wildly” = two words. Upfront, our verdict in one word: brilliant.

Preamble ramble

I had read that Oscillate Wildly, the one hatted restaurant in Newtown was generally booked out for two months in advance, so I knew it was a long shot when I phoned last Wednesday hoping for a table. I spoke with Adrian, the friendly-voiced fellow on the other end of the phone and said “Hello Adrian, I know it’s an incredibly ridiculous long shot, but is there any chance at all that you might have a table for two available this Friday night?” The response was “No”, followed by “But we did have a cancellation a moment ago for a table for two. We do have two other couples on the wait list for that table, but I’ll phone them, then phone you back, okay?” Absolutely!

We exchanged numbers and I carried my phone with me all night in the hope my new friend Adrian would phone me back…

I heard nothing that night, so I phoned at about 9:30 the next morning. Listened to the answering machine tell me to phone between 3-6pm for bookings, and set my Outlook to remind me. At about 3:30 I phoned through and spoke with a lovely, equally friendly lady. I explained the conversation that I’d had with Adrian and she said “Well I’m sorry we didn’t get to phone you back last night. I’m still waiting on another lady to phone me back about the table for two, but let me just check on something….” (insert hold music here) She came back onto the phone and said “You know what? You seem so enthusiastic that I’m just going to give you the table, it’s your lucky day.” I gushed my thanks and we agreed that Mr L and I would arrive for an “early sitting” at 7pm.

I had a spring in my step from the moment I hung up the phone… I don’t know how I’d done it, but with a combination of luck and sheer enthusiasm, I’d sweet talked my way past a two month waiting list into a table at Osciallate Wildly for Mr L’s birthday. Brilliant!

On Friday afternoon, Mr L was extremely excited but had no concept of why… Our destination was a secret you see, which meant I was in charge of getting us to the restaurant on time.  Let it be noted that noone has ever accused me of being too punctual.  I figured we’d need about half an hour to get to the restaurant – and therefore needed to leave home at 6:30.  At about 6:40 we pulled out of the drive way.

Mr L had been requested to find directions to Australia St, Newtown, and given no other detail. I put my foot down on the accelerator and we fanged over the Harbour Bridge, through Glebe and to the back of Newtown. We were running late. It was my fault (as per usual) and, like David Bowie and Queen who were aptly playing on the radio, I was under pressure. My palms were sweating. I couldn’t let my restaurant friends down. Normally he would have been scalding with his criticism at a time like this, but given the circumstances, Mr L was providing calming encouragement. For that, and for his deft Google Maps operation, I was thankful.

Somehow, we managed to get from Neutral Bay to Australia Street, Newtown in about 17 minutes flat. That included the packed, peak hour traffic on the Harbour Bridge and sitting behind inconveniently sensible drivers slowly moving off Anzac Bridge! I must have really been driving fast. In any event, when we were pulling onto Parramatta Road, I figured I’d need to tell Mr L where we were going in case he needed to go in to meet my new friends while I parked the car.

I found a spot around the corner. Perfect. Now for the main game.

The main game

I sort of calmly walked a bit, then excitedly ran a bit to get to the restaurant. I was greeted by none other than Adrian, and then found Mr L sitting in the back, right hand corner of the restaurant. A glass of Squawking Magpie Sav Blanc was poured for me (yes, I had a glass of wine) and Mr L had a coopers in hand. We settled in for the fiesta.

Oscillate Wildly's 8 course degustation menu - well worth the price, and if you have one, the wait

Oscillate Wildly's 8 course degustation menu - well worth the price, and if you have one, the wait


First up – the bread rolls. Sour dough. Just right. Hot from the oven. Delicious. We had to remind ourselves that we had eight courses, so not to peak too early. Still – the rolls were gone before they even had a chance to announce their arrival. All that remained of them was a lingering fresh bread aroma.

Adrian arrived around the corner with elegant glass bowls filled with jerusalem artichoke soup, topped with walnut crumble. It was smooth and flavoursome. Just as a good soup should be. Down the hatch it went.

The second course was our favourite.  On the menu it’s simply called “scallops, picada, foie gras“.  Essentially, two perfectly seared, plump and juicy scallops sit on top of a perfect smear of foie gras, accompanied by a strip of crumbly, nutty praline-ish goodness (that was the picada.)  When the three elements sat on the palate at once, they reminded me of a Guilian praline.  Soft, creamy, delectable.  Microherbs sat amongst the picada.  The dish was a masterpiece.

I borrowed the following shot from Foraging Otaku. I felt weird taking photos in such an intimate restaurant, so I didn't get many shots. My thanks to Foraging Otaku who own the full copyright and have also written an excellent piece on Oscillate Wildly

I borrowed the following shot from Foraging Otaku. I felt weird taking photos in such an intimate restaurant, so I didn't get many shots. My thanks to Foraging Otaku who own the full copyright and have also written an excellent piece on Oscillate Wildly

The next course was described as “bantam egg, Ortiz anchovies, rye” on the menu.  Adrian told us that the “bantam” is a small chicken.  It is used in this dish because the egg is very rich and brings an extra volume  of flavour to the dish.  The egg is slow poached on a very low heat.  It was wobbly and I could tell that it would run like a proper poached egg should.  It sat on a bed of dark, rye noodles which were about the same size as thin hokkien noodles.  I don’t know where the anchovy lived within the meal – perhaps it was infused in the noodles?  Along the top of the egg ran a thick line of “parsely powder”, designed to intensify the flavour of the dish.  It did.  The dish was amazing – like nothing I’ve ever tasted.  Too hard to explain.  The textures and flavours mixed to make something I could not make sense of.  But I liked it, and I’d have it again!

A break in our programming to examine the situation…

We sat there waiting for our fourth course feeling a bit dazed.  I was starting to feel a bit like I was sitting in Willy Wonker’s Chocolate Factory and Daniel Puskas, the Head Chef was Willy Wonker.  I was Veruca Salt (the character, not the band) and I had just put something in my mouth which was created in a lab.  I couldn’t believe my palate.  But I had no concern that I was going to get sucked up a tube, or inflate and turn into a giant, round, purple beast.  I was excited to see what would come next.

Back to the game

Our next dish was described on the menu as “mulloway, fennel, speck, black sesame pearls“.  Mulloway is another name for jewfish.  I like jewfish.  I think to myself that I’m not really that keen on fennel.  I know I like speck.  The pearls intrigued me.  In we both went.  Seems I like fennel.  What’s more, I love the combination and I’m SO going to be crisping speck in the future!  The whole lot sits in a fennel veloute (fancy word for foam) it’s light, but satisfying.

Thanks again to Foraging Otaku - this is your pic of "mulloway, fennel, speck, black sesame pearls"

Thanks again to Foraging Otaku - this is your pic of "mulloway, fennel, speck, black sesame pearls"

I know I’ve said a lot already and we’re only at course four, but I’m clearly excited about this experience!  I just want to tell you quickly that I asked about the black sesame pearls.  One mustn’t ask where to buy these things..  It seems one doesn’t go to a shop and buy a black sesame pearl.  One makes the pearls using some sort of roasted sesame extract which is eye droppered into poaching liquid (? – don’t quote me on that) and cooked at a certain temperature..  Eventually, someone clever within the Oscillate Wildly kitchen determines the pearls are ready, and the pearls are ready!  Amazing…  Remember what I said about the Chocolate Factory?

Dish five: “chicken, celeriac, puffed grains” – from above, the chicken looks to me like thick slices of bread roll, browned on top with roast sesames.  It’s sitting on a bed of charred grains and a celeriac puree.  I taste the grains first – they pique my interest.  I taste them again.  They taste like burnt popcorn, but they resemble something like dense, puffed rice in texture.  I think I love them.  I cut the chicken.  It’s so tender, but so perfect and round and so evenly and expertly cooked that I feel like it’s a trick.  The celeriac is a good plate fellow for the chicken and grains.  It works. 

Foraging Otaku's pic of "chicken, celeriac, puffed grains" - thanks again!

Foraging Otaku's pic of "chicken, celeriac, puffed grains" - thanks again!

Break time…

We’re feeling a bit full and voice that to our hosts.  They tell us not to feel obliged to eat everything.  (Does not compute for me, but Mr L takes note.) 

We also notice that they slow down the service to give us a breather.  While we’re catching our breath, we notice a steady stream of diners arriving to fill up the tables around the restaurant.  We’d originally thought that they must do two sets of sittings per night, but after asking the lovely lady that also served us with Adrian (I’m so sorry – I wish I caught your name – you were so tremendous with us!) we determined that they just stagger the bookings throughout the evening, starting from 6pm and with the last table seated at 8pm to ensure diners get the best from their degustation dinner.

The pork

I broke the rule of not taking photos when the pork came out.   It just looked incredible on the plate.  Sitting to the left of the pork, and on top of the round kartoffel knodel (the round potato dumpling) were dehydrated cabbage leaves.  They looked so elegant on the plate, and quite despite my distinct lack of love for cabbage (aka “kale”), I wanted to eat them!  So I did – like the parsley powder previously, they were intensely flavoured, and we went on to discover that everything else on the plate was too.  The pork did not have crackling, which was a bit disappointing for a crackling lover like me, but the meat itself was bursting with flavour and had just enough fat on it to almost make up for the lack of crackling.  A salad accompanied the dish, which was helpful for breaking up the richness of the pork, cabbage and potato. 

The "pork, kartoffefel, knodel, kale" dish - our sixth course.

The "pork, kartoffefel knodel, kale" dish - our sixth course.

The extra dish… if only we had the power, captain!

At this point, we were offered the option to take up an extra course – a platter of delicious sounding cheeses.  Knowing our (read “my”) propensity to overlook our capacity, we (read “Mr L strongly recommended that I”) took the adult approach and regretfully declined the offer of the extra dish.

 Deep breath… time for dessert. 

After a while our “calvados, custard, jasmine, pink lady” dessert dish (one of two!) arrived.  Sitting on top was a good dose of persian fairy floss which provided Mr L with comical inspiration that had me laughing my head off!  When I wasn’t watching, he picked up a piece of the fairy floss (who says one can’t play with one’s food on one’s 34th birthday?) and stuck it to his top lip.  He then impersonated Brad Pitt’s hillarious Italian pronounciation of “bongiorno” and “grazie” from Inglourious Basterds.  My raucous laughter didn’t raise an eyebrow, for by this stage, the restaurant was filled with diners maintaining a steady buzz of chatter and giggling.

Anyway – back to the dessert!  The combo was going to be interesting for the birthday boy does not love custard nor cooked fruit.  I looked on with baited breath.  Somehow, Willy Wonker worked his wonderous ways with this particular dessert and it got a big, smiling thumbs up from Mr L.  Hoorah! 

Thanks, thanks, thanks Foraging Otaku!  The "calvados, custard, jasmine, pink lady" dessert - the first of two
Thanks, thanks, thanks Foraging Otaku! The “calvados, custard, jasmine, pink lady” dessert – the first of two

The finish line

We had the finish line in sight.  We’d seen, tasted, touched, smelt, listened to and learnt so much.  We almost didn’t want it to end, but then we were getting oh so full, and bed was calling.  The final dessert was “pear, chocolate, celery sorbet” – sounds strange, I know.  Adrian told us that the trick with this one was to not try and separate the elements “put some of everything in your mouth at once.”  His tip paid off – together, it worked.  Separately, the celery sorbet was intriguing, but a bit weird.  The ganache was made of 71% cocoa chocolate, so was bitter in taste  – but still moreish for a chocolate lover like me.  The round title at the bottom is poached pear.  Swimming around the outside of the pear are basil seeds.

By this stage, I’m not planning on asking if the basil seeds are actually seeds that come from a basil plant.  I don’t know if they do or not, but I don’t really care.  It all works, and again, I’m blown away by the brilliance of the unexpected group of flavours.

Foraging Otaku's pic of the "pear, chocolate, celery sorbet" dessert dish - our second dessert
Foraging Otaku’s pic of the “pear, chocolate, celery sorbet” dessert dish – our second dessert

Tea and wine

It wouldn’t be right for me to wrap up without telling you that Mr L had a great sticky with dessert.  I think it was Italian (?)  I had a sip, it matched perfectly with the first dessert.  Just like Adrian’s counterpart assured us it would.  Mr L was in heaven!

Coffee and tea is included in the cost of the $95 degustation.  I asked what kinds of teas they had and I was given a long list which appealed to my tea loving side.  I set out to get a black tea and ended up with some sort of burnt grain sencha.  I’ve been thinking about it ever since, and feel I might have to go back just for the tea 😉

The low down

Oscillate Wildly is located at 275 Australia Street, Newtown (02 9517 4700) it is open from 6-10pm Tuesday to Saturday.  Phone way in advance if you’re looking to book for a special occasion. 

I believe they also hire out the entire restaurant, but you have to be willing to pay the equivalent of $95 x 28 (number of seats) + incidentals – ie. booze or corkage; tips; etc.  If it’s still there, maybe I’ll hire it for my 40th – hopefully it will still be as magical in eight years!

Thank you to Foraging Otaku for unknowingly allowing me to borrow your photos.  They are terrific and I love your blog post on this topic too!


Entry filed under: australia, Chocolate, Degustation, Dinner, sydney.

A gorgeous gluten free quiche – mostly thanks to taste.com.au A Father’s day special: brunch at Garfish with my Dad. Plus a big happy Father’s Day to all my favourite fathers!

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Andrew McKinnon  |  April 12, 2010 at 10:41 am

    here is one that i want to go to…not fine dining by any means but looks fun


    • 2. myfavouritefruits  |  April 12, 2010 at 10:44 am

      Andrew, Great idea – I don’t know that I’ve been to a dedicated Swiss restaurant before. I’d love to give it a go. And they serve escargot – tres fab!


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