My partner and I recently had the chance to eat at Contact Bar & Kitchen in Woolloomooloo for a weekday lunch.
To our surprise, there was plentiful street parking, however limited to only two hours per section. It was a very wet day, and it was nice to get out of the rain and into the warm restaurant. Service was absolutely impeccable. I believe our waiter was Diego (but it may have been Stefano – he had the less hair of the two, but an amazing eye for service.)
We settled in for a long lunch, and on the advice of our waiter had our dishes staggered.
We were started with this Amuse-bouche – a spinach, zucchini, and celery soup served in a small beaker with single crouton. I enjoyed this thick and flavourful soup, and the crunchy texture of the crouton. This amuse-bouche came as a complete surprise to us, and if we had known we were going to get we may have not ordered the next dish.
Our first dish was the pea, spinach, white pepper, herb croutons, goat’s cheese soup ($16). As we were sharing all of our dishes, our waiter made the thoughtful suggestion of splitting the soup into two separate bowls for each of us. Pictured above is half a serve. I enjoyed the thick pea texture of the soup, and thought that the addition of goat’s cheese in some mouthfuls made it basically two soups for the price of one – the goat’s cheese being transformative whenever it entered the mouth. A special mention to the herb croutons which sacrificed themselves to suck up the soup flavour to a high degree. Very absorbent.
Next came our Squid ink spaghetti with sea mullet, salmon, mussels, clams, octopus, bonito, furikake, cherry tomatoes ($33), and probably the start of our downfall. I had convinced my partner that based on available information online that the dishes would be small, and that we would have plenty of room to fit two pastas, two mains, and a soup. How wrong I was. The pastas at Contact Woolloomooloo are actually quite huge. The fact is that the utensils provided to serve the pasta (photographed) are actually huge themselves, as is the massive prawn centrepiece. It is therefore difficult to get a good perspective of the size of this pasta dish visually from a photo.
I actually really enjoyed this squid ink spaghetti with seafood. I liked that the sauce was creamy but not heavy, and translucent rather than opaque. I liked that it was thick enough to coat the spaghetti, but not so thick that the sauce felt like a meal in and of itself. I absolutely loved the interplay between the tomato and the sauce base, and enjoyed the fresh seafood as well. The octopi were my favourite element of this pasta, and I’d probably get one just with octopi by itself if I could – they were just so delicious. I can whole heartedly recommend this dish – just don’t go in thinking that it’s small – it’s either a full meal for one, or half a meal for two.
Next on our culinary journey was the truffle spaghetti (usually a coxetti) with forest mushrooms, roma tomato, brie, garlic, white wine, truffle oil ($28). This pasta was a very creamy celebration of truffle and mushroom flavours. My partner really enjoyed this pasta, however again it was an absolutely huge serving. We saw the writing on the wall, and after each sampling a serving we asked for it to be packed for takeaway, a nonstandard request which the staff thoughtfully obliged. Our waiter commented that chef was very generous with his servings, and we agreed.
Next was the Poached Yellowtail Kingfish with broccoli, soy, pearl cous cous, ginger, viola ($36). Two confounding factors make my review of this dish less reliable. The first is that after two soups and two pastas I was already reaching my limit of abdominal distension. The second is that we had just about reached our 2-hour parking limit for Zone 28, so I had to venture out into rain and move my car around the corner into a new parking zone. The fish was served whilst I was away, although our very helpful waiter did offer to keep it under heat until I returned. My partner, who had the opportunity to eat this dish from hot, thoroughly enjoyed it. She isn’t usually the biggest fan of fish, and the last time she had cooked whitefish that wasn’t toothfish she hated the texture. This was the first time that either of us had had kingfish that wasn’t at least a little bit Japanese – we mostly have kingfish either raw or aburi as sashimi or sushi. I personally found the kingfish a bit tough this time – a texture that was accentuated by the thick cut of the portion that we got. Perhaps I wouldn’t felt differently if the fish had been cut into thinner steaks, but we will never know. My partner enjoyed the soy bath, pearl and cous cous, and ultimately the dish as a whole more than me. While I understand that this kingfish wasn’t given all of the opportunities in life that it could’ve, I wouldn’t order it again.
Our final dish was the Black Angus sirloin with portobello mushrooms, thyme, pumpkin-potato, horseradish, rosemary, black mustard seeds ($35). I find it very hard to judge this dish fairly. On one hand, I was absolutely stuffed from the preceding five courses. On the other hand, it is true that I didn’t enjoy this as much as I had expected from reading the other online reviews. What I can tell you was that the pumpkin-potato mash was absolutely divine, very creamy and not overmashed. The portobello mushrooms were grilled to perfection and remained juicy enough to provide umami bombs with every mouthful. The beef itself we had medium-rare, and while I did enjoy it I didn’t feel like it was anything to write home about. We did appreciate the plating, of course, and my partner actually did like the beef a lot more than me.
All things considered we had a very nice and luxurious two and a half hour lunch at Contact Bar & Kitchen in Woollomoolloo. The servings were very generous and the service was second to none, so much so that we actually ended up tipping more than we ever have for any meal – including $500+ degustations. I would definitely recommend paying Contact a visit, especially if you can book a 30% or 50% off slot, but even if you can’t , their lunch specials ($25 for wine and a meal) are a good deal.
Contact Bar & Kitchen
88 Crown St, Woolloomooloo NSW 2011
(02) 9281 2114