Friday, April 29, 2011

Sprout Dining

2 Honeysuckle Drive
Newcastle NSW 2300
02 4023 3565

Great weather in Newcastle

I have heard great things about the Newcastle food scene. There are great cafes, especially on Darby Street, and we can certainly vouch for that. Great atmosphere, great and friendly service, coupled with great weather, I could've hung out there all day, and just watch the nice cars, really really nice cars drive past. So you could say we had high hopes of the dinner scene, too.

Cafes on Darby

And perhaps there is a great dinner scene. Perhaps just not the night we went. To be fair, it certainly wasn't all bad. But I think that was mostly due to the company. Almost everything else left a sour after taste…

A table was booked for 8pm, and I dunno… If I opened a restaurant, I reckon the table should be ready by about 7.50pm… and NOT 8.35pm. Cuz, you know, people rock up early. Why the hell would you require them to go sit at a tiny little excuse of a bar right at the end of the restaurant? It barely offered any space for people to sit at the bar, without having their butts inches away from diners trying to enjoy their food.

And, I reckon, for a restaurant that charges the $15/$30/$15 3-course menu, it's not too much to ask them to remember who ordered what. Especially since there were only 6 of us… And we really shouldn't need to ASK for bread.

And another thing. I know restaurants are all about atmosphere and all that, but this one had too much atmosphere (read: noise). Not one bit of sound deadening anywhere, and white noise machines were mentioned in passing seriousness. Homer Simpson's famous line of "I can't hear myself think" is putting it lightly. We are sure this was a contributing factor to the waiter bringing us the wrong wine!

2010 Hungerford Hill Fishcage Semillon Sauvignon Blanc - the wrong wine but it turned out to be ok.

So what's good? The food, actually. And the presentation of them - I was very impressed with how the food is laid out on the plate (bar one dessert. You'll see which one I mean).

I shall make no mention of the fact that one of the mains on offer was no longer available, since the replacement turned out to be most likely better than the original item.

The entrees

Duck Terrine with roast duck, house chutney and toast

Zucchini flowers with scallops, capers and fennel

I didn't try the zucchini flowers but it looked really good. The duck terrine? I thought the taste was good, a little salty, and not very ducky. But if you have it with a bit of everything on the plate, the duck, the chutney, the grape and the pickle, the combination of flavours was quite amazing.

The mains

Seafood risoni pasta in homemade tomato sauce

lamb rumps with pea puree, asparagus brussels and salsa verde

Crisp pork belly with confit neck, apple and radish slaw x3

Duck Confit of some sort, as the chicken was not available…

Haha… the pork belly was the choice of the boys, and it did not disappoint! A very crisp skin juxtaposed with soft flesh, and the salad was light and tangy and not overpowering, so you can still get the full flavour from the pork.

The duck confit turned out to be very good. I suspect this would've been much better than the chicken. It was soft and juicy, and overall combination of flavours was divine.

The desserts

After the great entrée and main, I felt the desserts were a bit of a let down. I mean, they were far from bad, but I kinda felt they weren't as good as they could've been. Why do I say that? Well... Ior the life of me cannot remember anything about the dessert. And I know - if a dessert is good, you'd still be talking about it months after...

What's a tarts post without watches??

From L to R: Rolex 16610LV, Citizen Ti Eco-Drive, Rolex 16710 GMTII, Tag Heuer Grand Heuer Chronograph

We did have a great time, as the company was excellent. Great to catch up with old friends, and just chat in general. The food was definitely good and at the price, very reasonable. But they really need to do something about the 1) waiting for table even though we made a booking, 2) the NOISE and 3) the haphazard service. See if this was a rating on one of those other sites where you offer a numeric scoring system, it would be something like a 2 for service, 1 for atmosphere, 9 for food and maybe 8 for value.

But, for now, I simply cannot recommend going there, unless 1) you have time to wait, 2) you're deaf and 3) you're only really there for the food.

Oh... and please do check your spelling.... It's not very professional...

(SK and JH)


The Sydney Tarts said...

Smudges aren't mandatory...sighs...Duck is always better than chicken, say I! Shame about the noise and the incorrect wine. [AP]

initialjh said...

i think this was a case of restaurant being too busy but then again, if we have to suffer no service why go out?