When the seventh tasting course came to the table the fresh herbal aromas uplifted and refreshed before the dish even passed our lips. That might not be unusual for a hot dish but what I'm talking about here is icy cold granita. Evergreen, as the name may indicate, is an all green dish - and the favourite on the menu of Head Chef Federico Zanellato - and bountiful with sorrel, lemon basil, mint, shiso and parsley. And, savoury, light, tanatalising, zingy, it is an incredible contemporary example of the palate cleanser.
But it really is a challenge to pick a favourite here. It was all so good. So, let's start where any fine meal should start, at the beginning...
There's a little bit of a Japanese influence seeping in to the LuMi menu. Understandable when you know that Federico Zanellato is supported by Japanese born Hiroshi Manaka as his main chef. It's a quite delightful combination just under-pinning the hero of modern Italian. Yes the combo works well, and greets you from the start in the first course of Cheddar Sablee, Italian Chawanmushi, Potato Focaccia. I adore a savoury custard and this thin mellow layer had me ready for more. The slim wafer of cheese biscuit and its grated topping were a tasty and elegant starter.
Cheddar Sablee, Italian Chawanmushi, Potato Focaccia
Sand Crab, Dulse, Jerusalem Artichokes, Oyster Powder
Spelt Ravioli, Burnt Butter, Pumpkin, Sea Urchin, Chives
Stinging Nettle Chitarra, Mussel Cream, Crispy Pork, Fennel Pollen
Marinated Bonito, Eggplant, Pistachio
Pig Jowl, Buckwheat, Celeriac
Evergreen, Sorrel, Lemon Basil, Mint Shiso, Parslay
Milk Ice Cream, Sour Cherry, Citrus Sabayon, Milk Crumble, Cocoa Powder
After the sablee, chawanmushi and focaccia, we were led gently by the hand to the sea. The sweet crab held all those beach-side flavours, and although we were looking out from a Pyrmont wharf, they appropriately reminded us we were looking out over the water. Flaky moist flesh, hand picked in the kitchen, sat well with the rest of the toys, particularly the little cubes of Jerusalem artichokes.
Next, softly browned butter pops, glistens and had us licking our lips. This is the kind of love I want on my plate. Pasta Chef Andrea Vailati beams radiantly, smiling as he's cooking, prepping and cleaning up. He also delivered his two pasta courses to us smiling widely. And it's impossible to place one above the other. His fresh pasta is made daily.
For the first, spelt ravioli, here's the tip: place each round of raviolo right inside your mouth. Then, experience the sensual oozing pleasure of warm luscious butter and pumpkin spilling surprisingly inside. And tip number two: I decadently ravished each piece of sea urchin, slowly, leisurely, basking in each millimetre of luscious delight. They are also, I might add, a beautiful combination.
The chitarra was a surprise. The mussel cream was a flavour bomb. Big and bold, it supported the stinging nettle in the pasta. Perhaps the mussels even dominated. I loved the tiny pieces of crispy pork, and, the fennel pollen, but I would have been happy with just the duo of stinging nettle pasta and mussel cream. It was beautiful.
What next? A little interlude that could have been vegetarian. The gently marinated bonito and tiny specks of crunchy pistachio were the accents, the creamy eggplant the star.
The only meat of the menu followed. A soft fine layer on the plate, a light hand created balance, the jowl was unctuous and the perfect crescendo in a long leisurely lunch.
The creamy dessert had the crumble hidden, gentle and harmonious after its big herbal predecessor.
What we discovered at LuMi was a menu that speaks of Sydney now. This is exciting food, that sits back and is as relaxed as the setting; it's welcoming and embracing without being try hard or showy, with interesting ebbs and flows in textures and flavours and colours.
At only $89 for the 8 course tasting menu, such thoughtful and delicious food, relaxed yet professional service supplemented by attention to small details - like all of the pith on my cocktail garnish removed from the rind, crumbing between courses, and the chefs each bringing out plates to the tables - I'm thinking this has to be one of the better value offerings around town.
Wines are international, mostly Italian and also reasonably priced, including a short selection (5 whites, 3 reds, 3 sparklings, 3 dessert) by the glass.
And one more thing. I just loved the restaurant music, sometimes a hard balance to strike, yet in this case it could have been my playlist. I think I said that. Is this my playlist? Though I definitely asked who chose the music. It was Chef, of course. Bravo. The music for me just rounded out what was a truly delightful dining experience.
LuMi restaurant has been opened just three weeks and has delivered just two lunch services. I'm excited to see where it's heading, how the menu will change as the stinging nettle goes to seed, if this wonderful culinary cuddle can evolve.
|56 Pirrama Road|
|+61 2 9571 1999|
Wed 6.30pm – 10.30pm
Thurs – Sun 12.30 – 2.30pm 6.30 – 10.30pm