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Asian Fusion Fine Dining Modern Australian

Odd Culture – Newtown NSW Restaurant Review

Fermented things have recently and unfortunately become my enemy, and so naturally one of my last dines of the year was had at one of Newtown’s newest wine bars with a focus on cultured and fermented foods.

The Beer Bread ($5 for 3 pieces) was your classic house-made sourdough with salted cultured butter. It wasn’t mindblowing, but it did actually have a bit of a beery flavour to it, which made it many times more interesting than yet another bread. And a soft, salted butter and bread is always a winning combination.

The delightfully small and expensive fish on toast ($10 each) was an interesting and probably South East Asian inspired mouthful of mango and fish. The toast base was extremely buttery, with a mouthfeel that reflected its many unseen layers. The scallop sashimi, as well as possibly some other white fish, was soft and sweet, and complimented by the soft ripe mango. The jalapeno advertised was not easily found. This was a really great snack, but I wish it were a bit larger or a bit less expensive.

The beef tartare ($20) was a bit different to the normal formed slab of raw meat, instead in this mixed in with puffed rice and seasonings. Herbs were used to great effect in this dish, imparting a unique flavour. It was however a little bit physically difficult to eat, and a bit of cracker would’ve gone a long way.

Recently burned by a $12 fermented tomato, I was a bit hesitant and wary about the tomato dish, ($22). It turned out however that I was foolish in my concern, as one taste of this tomato dish was able to justify their price. The tomato in this dish was fresh but umami, and delightfully sour but also tempered by the creamy soy milk yoghurt on top. It was an unexpected but wonderful fresh type dish, even suitable for vegan-types.

The chicken liver pate ($16) was really good. I particularly enjoyed the thick cut and lightly salted potato crisps, which had such an amazing crunch that is probably better than any other potato crisp I’ve ever had. They had the perfect size and structural integrity to scoop up (probably too many) gobs of rich, silky smooth chicken liver pate and deliver them to my mouth. The fish sauce caramel base was inventive and delicious, and while my girlfriend didn’t like this dish she was wrong. I only wish that these same chips could’ve been available to scoop up the beef tartare.

The blood pancake ($26) with pork jowl, fried egg, and maple syrup was much sweeter than I thought it would be. Looking at the photo and ingredients list you would likely imagine a savoury dish, but the truth of the matter was that even if the pancake had been savoury in and of itself, the swimming pool of maple syrup would’ve taken care of that. Despite the pork jowl and blood, the pancake was ultimately only a little bit savory, the majority of the flavour coming from the maple syrup which soaked through the entire cake. While I did enjoy the interesting texture, I think ultimately this leaned too much into the sickly sweet side of the flavour scale.

The koji roasted chicken ($42) was good but not a revelation. Juicy, succulent and tender, the chicken was well cooked, with a koji-miso flavour. I didn’t realise that there was congee in the dish, which I am only just seeing now looking at the photo. That might have added something to the experience, but really (and my girlfriend will attest to this) I can cook something similar and not spend $42 doing it.

This semifreddo ($16) with black sesame and white chocolate was very good. Specific details escape me but even the bed of crumbs was delicious.

The panna cotta ($14) with fig leaf and blueberry was visually interesting but orally mediocre. A good choice if you like juicy stewed berries, but a boring choice if you can choose the semifreddo instead.

COMMENTS
Overall I quite enjoyed our meal at Odd Culture. Many of the dishes were very good, and even the least good dishes were at least OK. I’d probably not go again until their menu changes, but could recommend it to a colleague or friend. The chairs were sadly not comfortable.

Odd Culture Newtown
266 King St, Newtown NSW 2042
(02) 8317 3057

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European

Cafe Paci – Newtown NSW Restaurant Review

My partner and I have been having a lot of Japanese food recently, so the decision was made to change it up a bit. We took inspiration from some instagram foodies and decided to hit up Cafe Paci in Newtown for a rainy day lunch.

rye taco with ox tongue and sauerkraut ($10 ea)

First of all, we were totally upsold on this rye taco with ox tongue and sauerkraut ($10 ea). We had originally decided on sharing the one taco between the two of us, however with some nudging from our waitress I caved and we ended up spending $20 for 2. I really loved the warmth and soft texture of the sourdough tortilla, which was completely unexpected. The thinly sliced ox tongue mixed well with the sauerkraut flavour and cream, and overall the taco made a nice and warm and wholesome morsel. My partner however didn’t agree, didn’t like it very much, and thought that we could’ve done with only half each. She therefore lied when the waitress came back and was like, “see! I told you one wouldn’t have been enough!”

Chicken liver Paris-Brest, almond, w’ onion jam ($18)

This Chicken liver Paris-Brest, almond, w’ onion jam ($18) is probably the most photographed sandwich I’ve seen over the past weekend. It is basically a sandwich made of a huge volume of pate, and an overwhelming quantity of onion jam. The bread I enjoyed, and I also enjoyed the thick cut almonds atop it. The pate had a smooth mouthfeel and a strong flavour, however I felt the overall balance of the dish was upset as the quantity of the rich pate was far too great for the quantity of the bread. The Paris-Brest seems to be quite well received, so perhaps this is an issue of personal taste rather than of objective fact. I would’ve liked more bread.

Potato dumpling with XO trout ($26)

Next was the Potato dumpling with XO trout ($26). I am actually offended by this dish. In my language when someone says dumpling this generally involves a bit of pastry wrapped around a filling. Knowing this, I fully expected some kind of potato-based dumpling wrapper with an XO trout filling. What I got instead were GNOCCI. Why not use the word gnocci? How is the term “potato dumpling” more descriptive than “gnocci”? What’s worse, the XO trout was actually just XO sauce MADE FROM trout. Again I fully expected a substantial quantity of fish.

To be honest though, getting past the initially disappointment of not really getting what was described and what I expected, the dish was not bad. My partner certainly enjoyed it a lot – she is a big fan of potato after all. The gnocci was soft, sweet, sticky, and had a delicate and mild flavour. The XO sauce, seemingly made of trout but not containing much trout was quite good, tangy, and not as spicy as most XO sauces are. If I were to name this dish with a bit more integrity I would have called it “Gnocci in XO sauce made with trout.”

This Mortadella ravioli with fermented chili butter ($26) was so delicious that it deserved two photos. The ravioli pasta itself was very al dente, something odd for me to enjoy as I usually prefer my pasta softer. The physical strength of the pasta was of course to protect the stronghold of flavour within. The ravioli, once bitten, releases a burst of chilli cheesiness that overwhelms the palate with umami. This was a truly delicious dish, and I wanted to mop up every last drop of the chili sauce. I did manage to stop myself from licking the plate.

Pain Perdue with cardamom caramel & vanilla ($15)

The Pain Perdue with cardamom caramel & vanilla ($15) is a piece of bread coated in a crispy caramelised outer surface, served with vanilla ice cream. It was quite sweet, but we enjoyed the contrast in flavour, warmth, and texture betwen the ice cream and the bread. It had a nice cardamom taste to it, however I probably wouldn’t get it again for $15.

Overall I had a pretty good time at Cafe Paci. The ravioli with fermented chilli butter and the ox tongue tortillas were definitely the standouts, the others were forgettable, and I would even go so far as to recommend avoiding the chicken liver Paris-Brest. They also had a $60 roasted whole duck which looked amazing on the table next to us. Perhaps we’d come back just for that.

3.5/5 (too many misses).

Cafe Paci
131 King St, Newtown NSW 2042
(02) 9550 6196

Cafe Paci Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato