It's our anniversary and falling on a Monday, there's not a lot of choice out there when it comes to dining. To kill a few birds with one stone, we're staying at the new Hilton South Wharf and coupling that with dinner at their main restaurant Nuevo 37.
The executive chef is Ramon Freixa, a name you'll see on the plate that sits in front of you at your table. He was recently in town at the end of July to launch his second menu for Nuevo 37 and it's this menu that we're here to experience.
We peruse the menu while sipping on glasses of Lastau Manzanilla - to nourish our mental activity three snacks are brought to the table
At the base is pineapple jelly and it's topped with a coconut cream foam and a pumpkin crumble - besides the obvious question as to how you set pineapple, you might think that this would have been a jarring flavour when served with olives and tomato. Remarkably though, it worked unbelievable well.
Not much thought is really needed though - we've gone for the degustation, of which there are two options, 5 or 7 courses
We opt for the seven with matched wines.
The meal proper begins with the Amuse
a deconstructed Bloody Mary. On the spoon are pearls of spicy tomato gazpacho - in the cup, at the base is a cucumber gel topped with a clear tomato broth, a celery stick is used to mix the gel and broth. Place the pearls in your mouth and they begin the pop and burst in the heat, releasing their quite spicy goodness. The cucumber broth clears and refreshes.
Good crusty sourdough - olive and plain and served with Spanish Olive oil.
Onto the first course, this is simply listed as Cool
To drink: NV Tattinger
Blanco con un punto Nero - White with a Black Spot
Cauliflower Gel, Smear of Sweet Garlic Puree, Confit of Salt Cod, Liquid Almonds, Almond Ice Cream, Caramelized Black Garlic
Various shades of white with an intriguing black spot in the form of black garlic - hard to define the flavour, notes of cocoa in a chewy paste like texture. It's really interesting to taste the different components and see how they react with each other.
Second Course - Warm
To drink: 2007 Pieropan Garganega Soave
Coffin Bay Scallops, Oyster and Cockles served with white and green asparagus, baby leeks, bound in a delicate buttery sauce. The oyster in particular was quite fascinating, though warm, none of those subtle flavours had been lost, the taste was as if you'd just plucked it from the shell. The aspargas makes me happy that it's finally asparagus season.
Third Course - Seafood
To drink: 2007 Stonier Reserve Chardonnay
Seared Hapuka served on a bed of champagne lentils with chorizo and shiitake, it's topped with julienned granny smith apple and a touch of honey. Chorizo brings lovely spicy smoky notes to the earthy lentils, a classic combination that works well.
Fourth Course - Rice
To drink: 2008 Lucinda Estate Reserve Pinot Noir
Rice Bomba from the Ebro Delta served with charcoal vegetables - thai eggplant, carrot, asparagus, leek. The quality of the sofrito, the intensity of the flavour that it imparted to the rice was incredible. Put a big bowl of this in front of me now and I'll eat it all and then ask for seconds.
Fifth Course - Meat
To drink: 2006 D'Arenberg Coppermine Road Cabernet Sauvignon and 2005 Albet i Noya La Milana
To the left of the plate, prosciutto rolled rabbit leg, potato mashed with bone marrow (!), panko crumbed rabbit cutlet, rabbit kidney, rabbit food (carrots, beans and leaves)
To the right - rabbit stew
If I'm having another bowl of rice, could I also have another serving of rabbit stew and a dozen or so of those rabbit cutlets. Rabbit stew sounds so simple but once again the flavour that is delivered is just so divine. Forget about those Robuchon mashed potatoes, bone marrow is the way to go.
Sixth Course - Milk
Swiss Gryere with spicy chutney
We're a bit slow - wondering what Milk would be when all of a sudden it was duh, it's going to be cheese!
Seventh Course - Sugar
To drink: 2004 Disznoko Late Harvest Furmint Tokaji
A dessert from the Guggenheim Museum in Bilboa - a cube of Valhora chocolate, sliver of sponge at the base, two layers of chocolate mousse, finished with a dark chocolate glaze and a garnish of tomato and micro basil- there's even a sprinkling of gold dust.
Petit Fours to finish:
passionfruit jellies, blood orange cream filled chocolates and various chocolate coated items (coffee beans, corn, pumpkin seeds)
We were particularly impressed with the timing of our meal - the courses were spaced with impeccable precision. Service was also very good, the staff showing good knowledge of the dishes and the wines, water glasses were also topped up, there was never any need for us to ask for anything. Food wise, we were equally impressed - well balanced, well executed, excellent ingredients and a purity of flavour - the wines also were very well matched. All in all, a great first impression and a place we will most surely visit again.
Hilton South Wharf
2 Convention Centre Place
Phone: +61 3 9027 2126
Lunch - Monday to Friday - 12pm to 3pm
Dinner - Monday to Sunday - 6pm to late