Precision and innovation.
MUST ORDER Any ice cream. And the bread and butter
WOULD I GO BACK? Certainly
I really like Kensington Street because it’s so easy to access via public transport, and it’s dedicated exclusively to food. I sat outside for lunch in the glorious sunshine, so I only had a glimpse of the restaurant when I first arrived. There was a long, low table, neatly set, and then two-seater tables lining the window wall. It was a bit of a den, but open and not too dim. There are no distractions. It’s just you and the food.
Automata ticks two of my essentials on any set menu: free bread and snacks. These are not only essential because I think they show creativity, surprise and generosity, but they are also so often the most delicious part of a meal.
Two snacks come out. Pressed between two shards of brick pastry was a dill emulsion and prawn mixture with cured herring roe on top. YUM. Less exciting but also delicious was a charred cos lettuce segment with bush butter.
Free bread rolls come out at the same time as the first course, which is not ideal, but I’m rolling with it. This bread has been on my must-try list for a droolingly long time. I saw it on Ardyn Bernoth’s instagram (editor of Good Food) and knew it was just my type. It’s got a brioche formation, it’s warm, has a bit of a crust on the top and bottom, with the centre and sides full of air. Secret to my heart: it’s pull-apart. The butter was the unexpected hero to sweep me off my feet. It was as light as cream, and it took all of me not to finish the rest (by itself, without bread) with a spoon. Bread wasn’t as sweet and brioche-y as it looked, but it had subtle tones of sourdough, or something fermented. When the waitress asks, “would you like some more bread?” my heart skips a bit. Come again, Romeo.
Kingfish tartare with yuzukosho, persimmon, shiso and caper is subtle on the caper, citrus, gooseberry and sweetness, and stronger on the shiso and pepperberry. There were some lovely subtle flavours like gooseberry and caper. This was not the first time I’ve ever eaten a dish wish pepperberry in it, but it felt like it. Genuinely left me with a palate full of pepper. Not sure if it was the yuzu kosho, but there was a roe-like flavour that I loved.
The Black Angus tri-tip with roasted corn and white miso, wood ear and shiitake was lovely. Texturally, I loved the floppy wood ear mushrooms, and I mopped up the sauce of tamari and brown butter with my extra bread. The Angus was cooked how I like it, but some might say it’s overdone. Also, I’d like the recipe for that awesome sweet miso sauce, which could also be used in a dessert.
I think the best is over; and then comes the black pepper ice cream with custard apple, Granny Smith and an almond crisp. This is the most perfectly-textured ice cream I have ever eaten. So so interesting. Warm, spicy, not too sweet (despite custard apple). I’m also biased because custard apple is my favourite dessert fruit/flavour. For more crunch and almond flavour, there should be more almond and less praline in the cracker.
Three courses (with snacks and two lots of bread) for $60 makes this one of Sydney’s best value tasting menus. That’s lunchtime prices, though.
Service was ideal, with fast-paced intervals between courses. Chat was warm and authentic but professional, explaining the elements of the dish and leaving. It’s the small pleasures that impress me, like quality cutlery, napkins and beautiful ceramic bowls. It’s not snobby or showy. The food has nothing to hide behind, but everything behind it is right.
Visit date: 23 May 2018