I was looking forward to this dinner for some very good reasons.
1) Quality girl time with Joanne! It's just so cosy, chatting and musing about lifestuff with someone you've known for over a decade.
2) The enticing menu on Bramble & Vine's website, their attention to fresh, locally sourced products, and the magnificently positive ratings on Urbanspoon.
3) The hospitality I experienced in a mere phone call. It's almost impossible to not warm to a place when you call to make a booking and the response is an effeverscent exclamation of "Oh, that's wonderful!", as if you'd just informed your favourite aunt that you were coming to dinner.
I can say that the evening satisfied me on all counts. The conversation flowed, the food was delicious, and our hostess (whom I believe is co-owner Leila) was welcoming and enthusiastic.
This is what we had...
Chicken & pistachio sausage with barberries, pomegranate, rose petals & cous cous. A gorgeous dish with inspiration from the Middle East. Tangy, savoury, nutty... it was an artfully conducted orchestra of both bold and subtle flavours.
|Chicken & pistachio sausage with barberries, pomegranate, rose petals & cous cous. $26.|
Fish of the day served on red rice, quinoa & a seafood bouillabaisse. The first thing we noticed was the non-existent red rice - it turned out that they forgot to tell us beforehand that it wasn't available that day. Fortunately, taste-wise, we didn't really miss it. The rockling was decently cooked, and the fried ginger on top was a nice touch. The bouillabaisse was light, yet flavourful, and I mopped it all up with the quinoa.
|Fish of the day served on red rice, quinoa & a seafood bouillabaisse. $26.|
Kipfler potatoes with thyme, rosemary & bush lime aioli. Done the rustic way with thinly sliced, different-sized pieces, the textures vary, mostly crunchy, some just tender. There were a few pieces that were a tad greasy, but I enjoyed more than my fair share. They were quite dangerously moreish with their herb-infused goodness, and a fabulous alternative to regular chips/fries. The aioli was creamy, silky, and had a very sharp tang of bush lime.
|Kipfler potatoes with thyme, rosemary & bush lime aioli. $8.|
Apple & rosewater sorbet with vanilla geranium crumble. So very pretty; I can only imagine all the effort that went into it. The apple chips on top were light as a feather, sensationally crisp, and concentrated with a glorious natural sweetness. Beneath them, gentle apple sorbet is balanced gracefully on rosewater gel and shortbread. Scattered across the plate, the vanilla geranium crumble was intriguing and I wished there was more. I wasn't too keen on the shortbread (it had a distracting milk-powder quality to it), but other than that, this dessert was pure elegance.
|Apple & rosewater sorbet with vanilla geranium crumble. $12.|
As you may have noted, there were some little quibbles here and there; however, they hardly detracted from what was, overall, a truly sensuous and delightful meal. Joanne said, "I'm very impressed with the food here," and I have to agree. If you're looking for a north side restaurant that serves up harmonious flavours without the hipsters and the hype (for now, anyway), this is a good one to add to your list.