A Friday long lunch / Christmas in July at Nel restaurant
Turkey, cranberry and gravy sounds pretty normal on a christmas-in-july menu. But we are at Nel restaurant, where chef Nelly Robinson has a reputation for putting a very modern spin on his dishes so I’m really looking forward to seeing what he is going to do with this very traditional concept.
We have a bit of a wait to find out as it’s half an hour before the first bit of food comes out and forty five minutes before the first wine appears. We are a bit ravenous, but as it turns out, it is well worth the wait.
First to arrive are buns, little finger food sliders really, of very succulent turkey with cranberry and gravy. Instead of bread, we are served a delicious caramelised onion and rosemary scone, which we can slather in warm butter.
Tuna, yuzu, treacle, edamame certainly sounds much more ‘mod aus’ than traditional christmas-in-july. The fresh firm tuna cubes coated with sesame seeds absolutely zing with yuzu snow on top and work well with the 2014 Moreau Noudet Petit Chablis from Burgundy
The plate of beef, oxtail, chestnut and brussel sprout is a visual delight, providing an abstract speckle of colours and flavours.The beef melts in the mouth, the oxtail has a lovely intensity and the brussel sprouts would convert anyone. I’m very happy with the matched 2015 Pret-a-rouge syrah blend from Alpine Valleys Beechworth.
The sweet surprise
First we pour a 2011 Kiralyudar Tokaji Ferment Sec from Hungary. The dessert of currant, nutmeg, apple, brandy is like a deconstructed apple pie crossed with christmas cake, and rather gorgeous. And the final surprise is coconut, passionfruit. It comes out hidden as white balls in a tray of white snow, decorated with pinecones (and yes, I wondered for a minute whether they were edible too). Instructed to put it into our mouth whole, the intense passionfruit centre explodes out of the coconut ball to smiles all round.
Compared to last time I was at Nel’s, the basement was lit brightly and warmly this time, creating a cosy industrial vibe. And the open kitchen reinforced the same feeling.
I’m not traditionally a Christmas-in-July fan, but if it’s as imagined by Nel, then I’m in! Do you like Christmas-inJuly, where have you had a good one?
Best bits: the beef and oxtail; the coconut passionfruit
Worst bits: the very slow food service
Where am I? Nel, 75 Wentworth Ave, Surry Hills, NSW 2010