Located amongst various shops, restaurants and cafes on King St, it would have been easy to walk by and miss it completely. Luckily, we had a local who was leading the way. (Thanks Michelle!)
Entering into a dark - this will become very obvious in the photos - area with small tables and stools, behind which was a bar, it was immediately apparent that we should have gotten there earlier. We were politely greeted and told it would be a 1.5 hour wait for a table in the restaurant (Dani's jaw dropped) but that we were likely to get a seat in the bar area in 5-10 minutes. Yes, as seems customary in popular Melbourne and Sydney restaurants these days, there was a wait for the waiting area and no you cannot book (unless there are 8 or more of you). So we must confess that we never actually saw the main restaurant.
As it turned out, the bar area was more than able to cater to our needs. Granted the small bar tables aren't great for sharing plates of food, but we managed. And for the experience that followed - it was worth it.
We ordered a bottle of Heathcote Shiraz (the name escapes us but it cost $55). It was smooth, very smooth for a Shiraz, but still had enough body to ensure your tastebuds know they're alive.
There were so many appealing items on the menu it was hard deciding which ones we should order. Rather than getting carried away and ordering everything, we settled on a few dishes knowing we could order more later.
The first dish to arrive was the Kingfish, ocean trout ceviche ($16). I don't know if we really had any preconceived ideas about this dish, but it didn't look like anything we expected nor did it taste like anything we expected - it was surprising and delicious. Hold that... delicious is not a good enough word to describe this dish. The fish was fresh and melted your mouth. The avocado mayonnaise, which we initially thought was wasabi mayonnaise and ate with hesitation, complimented the fish and buckwheat crisps perfectly. In fact it was so nice that when the Polenta chips arrived, we occasionally ditched the accompanying sauce in favour of the avocado wonder-spread.
As the Polenta chips arrived we realised that fitting multiple dishes and three wine glasses on our tiny table was going to challenge us (and the staff) all night. The chips were thick cut, pleasantly salted and served with gorgonzola sauce. While this was not our favourite dish, it was nice to know that a healthier version of the traditional hot potato chip can still taste pretty good and is definitely just as filling.
Having been told that the asparagus at Bloodwood was the best Michelle had ever eaten, we eagerly awaited the next dish - Spanner crab, green asparagus ($21). And what arrived was a minced mixture of spanner crab, bread crumbs and parsley covering rows of gleaming asparagus. The combination was fantastic. Chunks of crab meat big enough to sink your teeth into were tender and juicy, and the bread crumbs added buttery flavour and texture. While we're not sure if it was the best asparagus we've ever had, it might have been the best dish of the night.
Meat was next on our agenda and we ordered the Fried Holmbrea Chicken ($32) - a scrumptious chicken dish served with a cucumber and green capsicum salad, and black sesame yoghurt. The batter somewhat resembled KFC's 11 herbs and spices, but the chicken was pure meat, no bones, and was infused with the flavours in the batter. Yum! The salad was refreshing and the black sesame yoghurt may have looked interesting (somewhat purple) but worked perfectly with the chicken.
Deciding to set aside our desire for more meat (beef and a charcuterie plate), we moved on to dessert. And boy were we in the mood for dessert - all of it. The words fig and dessert piqued Dani's interest. Just the mention of dessert won over Dan. And the thought of cheese had Michelle drooling all over the table.
Clearly in the mood for the sugar, we might not have photographed our dessert before demolishing it. And for this, we are sorry. We can, however, tell you that we ordered the dessert selection ($23). Three different yet equally tantalising desserts offered an array of berries, cream, pound cake, fig sticks and other tasty unidentified ingredients. They looked beautiful and tasted... heavenly.
The cheese selection ($26) included 3 cheeses. We have no idea which three (we really must get better at paying attention to the details) but they each offered a different flavour and texture: one soft, one hard, one blue. The pinot noir raisins were much appreciated too.
With all the dishes cleared, we finished our second bottle of wine and blissfully talked the night away.
Bloodwood offers flavoursome dishes designed for sharing in a relaxed yet busy environment. And despite how busy it seemed, it was so easy to get lost in the great food and conversation that the cramped tables around us seemed to disappear - except when we wanted to have a stickybeak at what they'd ordered of course.
Cuisine: Modern Australian
Location: 416 King St, Newtown NSW