The brainchild of Australian Chef Clayton Wells behind Sydney’s popular Automata, Blackwattle promises simple, uncomplicated cuisine that allows the freshness of the ingredients to shine.
We decided to check it out on the night of its opening and there was already quite a crowd. And no wonder, with Automata ranking 9th among Sydney’s best restaurants.
Blackwattle is named after a type of tree native to Australia. It had a relaxed yet modern ambience with an open kitchen so we could see all the action as we sat right outside it.
We went with the pre-fixe menu for dinner which came up to $115++ per person. But don’t expect the same dishes each time you return. The chef aims to surprise.
Overall: ★★★1/2 Western ingredients, Asian flavours.
So let’s begin with the appetiser of Stormshell Clam, rosemary dashi, aerated cream and the Fried Cheese and tapioca, espelette pepper.
The stormshell clam had a firm texture and was quite tasty, and I appreciated the subtle scent of rosemary. The fried cheese tasted like a regular cracker but went well with the spicy pepper. A decent start.
Let’s move on now to the starter of Amaebi, fennel & ink, parsley, xo & red vinegar.
This dish tasted distinctively Southeast Asian. There was something about the spices used and the savoury sauce that reminded me of something almost Peranakan. But the sweetness of the Amaebi was slightly overwhelmed by the heaviness of the seasoning which was a pity.
Next up, something light to cleanse the palate – King Crab, braised pumpkin seeds, egg yolk, white pepper broth.
I’m a huge fan of a good seafood broth and this was very well done. The king crab was succulent and sweet, and served in a generous portion. And the broth was peppery, fragrant, and very comforting. I’ve also never had pumpkin seeds in soup before and had an almost bean-like texture that made the dish more substantial.
This next one really surprised me. It doesn’t sound like anything too impressive – Roasted Lettuce, green sauce, lardo, fried capers & herbs. Basically a tasteless veggie dish right? Wrong.
It’s not difficult to make a great piece of meat or seafood taste good, but to make a vegetable-only dish truly exception takes real skill. And this one hit the spot. The lettuce was well-seasoned and cooked in the most heavenly lardo. The capers and herbs also added some unique flavours that oddly enough came together really well! Coupled with a creamy, slightly tangy green sauce that cut through the fat, this dish was definitely one of the dark horses that really came through.
And now, on to some meat! It is Australian cuisine after all, and I was excited to see what they had in store. This is the Grilled Beef Tri-Tip, burnt carrot, wood ear mushrooms, tamari sauce.
Again, you’ll notice slightly Asian flavours. The beef was done a pink medium rare, but the tamari sauce was a little boring. Although the burnt carrots added a sweet charred flavour and I loved the creamy mustard on the side.
And finally, it was time for dessert – Yogurt Sorbet, shiso, oxalis, black grapes, roasted kelp oil.
Yes, kelp oil. This was definitely a good attempt at something different. The yogurt was light and refreshing as a sorbet, the black grapes and shiso adding a little sweet and sour, but I really enjoyed the slightly bitter, earthy fragrance of the oxalis which brought all the flavours nicely together.
Overall, don’t expect anything mind-blowing, but you’ll definitely get your money’s worth of quality ingredients and clean, well-executed dishes from on of Australia’s up-and-coming young chefs.
97 Amoy Street
+65 622 422 32