Archive for July 2014

Game of Thrones Dinner at Gastro Park

Friday, 18 July 2014

Every year, for a few weeks, Gastro Park does a special Game of Thrones themed dinner to celebrate the season premiere. In March I checked the website constantly to find out when the dinner was but there were no details at all so I thought they must have decided not to do a GOT dinner, and was very sad and consoled myself by going back and stalking Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella’s photos from 2012.

Luckily I was wrong!

They had GOT dinners in June, and then one final one on Tuesday, which I was lucky enough to be able to go to.

Gastro Park is in Potts Point, just down the road from Gazebo, and there was a movie/TV show/something being filmed on the corner so we had something interesting to watch in between courses. The restaurant is dimly lit with appropriate music from the GOT soundtrack playing. A tree sits on a table in the middle of the room, with a jug leaking dry ice smoke to impressive effect.

Our menus came rolled up in scrolls, coffee-stained and tied up with twine, as GOT menus should be, on dragon's egg shaped plates. 

I really loved all the table settings at Gastro Park. The food descriptions were deliciously vague and we spent a good amount of time debating what we thought each course would be.

The first course comes fairly quickly, in about ten minutes. 

We have house baked sourdough, whole roasted garlic, and ‘dripping’.

This is not a candle. It is the dripping. Beef fat (yeah, what?) that they have somehow candle-ised, and you eat it as it melts into the balsamic vinegar. It is delicious, and 100% unhealthy.

The garlic is soft and mushy from being roasted, and we smear it onto the sourdough (crunchy on the outside, super soft on the inside) before dipping it into the fat. I’m not even going to pretend to call it anything else, because it really is. When some drips onto the table, it hardens into a small, round pool of wax-fat, and we pretend not to think about it going down. It’s worth it.

Earth tarts and raw flesh.

The earth tart shell is made of thinly shaved truffle with cheese gratin and is the most heavenly little bite.

And the raw flesh kangaroo carpaccio is just as good, perfectly flavored and not too chewy.

We can’t wait for the next course – ‘Fish on hot rocks (you will cook your own)’. We speculate – maybe it will be like a bibimbap? Maybe we will get a tiny stovetop grill?

After 30 minutes, the fish arrives, and it is literally, on rocks. Thin sushi-like slabs of jewfish on large, smooth pebbles, in a bowl of smaller pebbles, with half a king prawn for each of us. There is also ‘broccoli mud’ that looks like tiny godswoods. We are told to flip the fish so in 30 seconds so it can cook, so we do just that.

The jewfish is delicious – melt in your mouth. We only get one little slice each, so we savour it as much as we can. The broccoli is perfectly crisp and goes perfectly with olive tapenade mud, which is just the right amount of salty.

When we came in, there were a table in front of us who had started just before we did, so their courses were coming a few minutes before ours, so we could see and speculate what everything was before ours came. A second table arrived midway through the bread and dripping, so their first and second courses were about 10 minutes behind us. However, the arrival of our third course represented a shift in our food order for the rest of the night. Half an hour after the fish on rocks, a waitress comes out with three platters of the third course, but our table had not yet been cleared, although we had finished quite a while ago.

Instead of putting our dishes down and clearing the table, which would have taken about a minute, she gave our food to the next table, who somehow had already had their fish on rocks cleared. She left, and ten minutes later our table was cleared. It was another 15 minutes before our blood cake and bitterness arrived, and the other table had already finished eating. By this time, it is already 8.30 pm, which meant it had taken 2 hours for 3 courses to arrive. Don't worry, I assured everyone else. It'll be fine, we only have two more courses left.

The blood pudding and roasted beetroot is served on a stone chunk of treetrunk, and is not bitter at all, but really delicious. The boys, who declared that they had been apathetic to beetroot, confessed that they enjoyed it thoroughly, and gleefully examine the blood red colour of the dish. 

Another 45 minute wait before we finally get onto our main course. The kill of tonight is goat, quail, and lamb. The meats are served with a barley risotto and sautéed kale. 

The goat is absolutely divine. It is in some sort of heaven sauce (really, I cannot describe, and we weren't given anything more than a rudimentary elaboration of 'it's goat', so I really have no idea. But trust me, it was good), which goes perfectly with the warm and comforting barley risotto.

The quail (we were apportioned half a quail each) has crispy skin and is perfectly cooked, and we speculate over the decorative leaves on the plate (probably picked from outside?). 

The lamb doesn't arrive until we are almost done with the goat and the quail, without an apology or explanation, but we are more preoccupied with how it is served. On a stone, but there are only two cutlets for three people. It takes five minutes to flag down a waiter, who confirms that there should be three, and disappears into the kitchen. A replacement lamb dish arrives 15 minutes later, after we have awkwardly divided the two cutlets into 3 portions. It is very rare, but good, and I find myself almost full after it, but I'm much smaller than the boys. They discuss stopping for kebabs on the way home. By this time, the two tables that were in front of us, were onto their 'Final Bites'.

The super rare replacement lamb.

Dessert arrives half an hour later, at around 10 pm. It's a chunk of the wall, with the menu printed on it, which the waitress extracts from a smoking container of dry ice and places onto our plates. 

The menu is printed on rice paper, which is then placed on top of meringue and then frozen. Unfortunately two out of three of our menus are broken, but is still delicious. The dish also incorporates yuzu ice cream, coconut foam, pineapple and basil seeds, and is absolutely divine. The flavours are perfect, and the chunk of wall, has to be broken up into little chunks due to how frozen it is, so you get a little mouthful in every bite.

We wait excitedly for our final bite, as it is getting quite late. The two tables in front of us have paid and gone. The two tables on either side of us, who arrived an hour after us, are onto their dessert by now. Still no final bite. At 10.30 pm, a waiter emerges, and serves the table to our left their final bite, and we finally decide to ask where ours were. They're on the way, we are promised.

Fifteen minutes later, our final bites emerge. The couple on the left have already paid and gone. The final bite is carrot sorbet with toasted marshmallow, served on a tiny stone pillar. I think by this time I was too tired and frustrated to enjoy it properly, and found the sorbet to be too overly carrot-y, and the toasted marshmallow tasted like Pascall's.

Another 5 minutes of hand waving to get someone's attention to ask for the bill, another 10 minutes before the bill actually arrives. We left Gastro Park at around 11 pm, from a 6.30 pm reservation. While the food was amazing, bar the carrot sorbet, the service was unfortunately, quite horrible. There was no explanation or reason as to why tables that had arrived later than us were served quicker, and managed to leave significantly earlier than we did. The mess-up with clearing the tables was one problem, later exacerbated by giving us 2 lamb cutlets although we were a table of three. So while I really enjoyed the ingenuity and deliciousness of the food, the competency of the front of house staff make it doubtful that I will ever eat at Gastro Park again. Which is a shame, since I love A Game of Thrones, and the feast was delicious.

The Game of Thrones menu costs $110 per person, 
not including drinks. 
A glass of Vale Ale cost $10 each.

5-9 Roslyn Street, Potts Point
Sydney, Australia
Ph: 02 8068 1017