16 Foster Street
Surry Hills NSW 2010
+61 2 9280 3395
I always look forward to weekends in Sydney. They’re always filled with great company, lots of laughs and wonderful food – and in most cases, food that you can’t find in Melbourne. Melbourne might do coffee, mid-priced dining and understated steez better (sorry, it’s true) but when it comes to fine dining as well as the weird, the wonderful and the totally out there, Sydney is your go-to city.
Nomad in Surry Hills is one of those places; it has also been on my radar for quite some time. First, you have owners Rebecca Littlemore and Al Yazbek setting up a cellar door right in the middle of Sydney with a collection of good quality and underrepresented Australian wines. You then have Head Chef Nathan Stasi (ex-Rockpool and Dinner by Heston Blumenthal) who pickles, cures, smokes, ferments and dries everything he can get his hands on to whip up a Middle Eastern-influenced by Littlemore’s travels and Yazbek’s Lebanese heritage. Throw in a chic warehouse in a little Surry Hills street and BANG! Nomad is born.
Julie and I had dinner at Nomad one Friday evening. It’s a beautiful place – thick warehouse chic, sexy mood lighting and timber furniture all over. It’s spacious, yet somewhat intimate at the same time.
It may have only been 6:30PM when we rocked up but the place was pumping like a 90s rave party; it was packed and noisy. With strict instructions to leave by 8:30PM, we were immediately seated at the bar where we got full view of the open kitchen. (and by that, I really meant the cute guys working in the kitchen)
I honestly can’t remember what wine I had but let’s face it, it was most likely a Riesling.
Having been to Nomad before, Julie knew what to order. Being from Melbourne, I’m not used to going to restaurants and not getting bread free of charge. So when I saw that there was a price tag attached to the sourdough with black salt butter, I immediately thought: ‘Yeah, nah, waste of carbs.’
Julie, however, insisted that the bread was worth ordering. Plus, what’s $2.50 per person? I’m glad I listened to her for the house made bread was lovely with just the slightly hint of smokiness. And who doesn’t like house-churned butter?
Nomad is big on curing and smoking so it would have been silly not to try their charcuterie board.
The contents change regularly and I’ve been told that horse meat was presented on the board served a few times. Sadly, horse wasn’t on the menu that night (we asked) but we did get mortadella, chorizo, kangaroo salami and several pork bits (neck, belly and shoulder).
To me, $18 for two bloody prawns seemed as tight as a guy who insists on going halves on an inexpensive first date. (sorry, I’m old fashioned)
However, they tasted phenomenal – I loved how the prawn’s sweet flesh went well with the nuttiness of the dressing and the sexy smokiness that permutated all the way through.
The wood roasted pork was another standout dish. The pork crackling was beautifully crunchy against the soft fatty meat. And although I’m not a HUGE fan of sweet potato, the gratin was the perfect accompaniment to the pork – strangely enough, the sweetness effortlessly broke through all the richness.
We really couldn’t finish the gratin.
However, we could still squeeze in a bit of dessert. It was approaching 8PM so we were well within time to finish our meal before they shooed us away. We were eyeing the bunuelos (South American donuts) that were making the rounds throughout the dining room so naturally we asked the waiter for some.
Unfortunately, they ran out (WTF? At 8PM?) so we ended up ordering a Pedro Ximenez Magnum each instead. They were no donuts but they nonetheless made us satisfied. (chocolate, a hint of liqueur and super salty peanuts to top it off – what more could you want?)
We thoroughly enjoyed our meal at Nomad; the food was exciting and delicious without being too complicated and left us wanting to return for seconds (or in Julie’s case, thirds). I also liked that in a city where people like to show off, there was none of that here; everything was refined yet unpretentious. Although we had a time limit, we did not feel rushed for the service was very professional, yet relaxed. It was the perfect meal to what had been a busy week in Melbourne for me.
Next time, there better be horse and donuts though.