Brigade Dining

Carl Screwvala
29th May 2016

Having been taken over by the Bayfield Group last year, Woollahra’s art deco hotel, The Light Brigade transformed the previous two storey restaurant La scala into a tastefully redesigned restaurant Brigade Dining, pitching above the group’s other holding the Dee Why Hotel into the gastro-pub’s vocation in casual yet up-market dining, with elegant plating and menu prices to match.

Renovations have continued to expand the kitchen to cater for two new venues in the complex - a lounge and a roof bar - allowing the hotel’s broad mid-upmarket appeal to shine through for the Paddington set. Certainly the atmosphere in Brigade Dining continues this theme, with tasteful angular interior design and a nod to art deco greens, browns and black and white fittings, without ever overstepping into novelty, and retaining its contemporary simplicity.

Having opened their new Modern Australian beginning as Brigade Dining with delicate but bold combinations last summer, Executive Chef Marco Adler’s winter menu continues this direction with a vibrantly planned menu of bold flavour combinations. Yet it retains simplicity with a focus on only a few key ingredients per dish, a pedigree of his background in asian cuisine combined with inspiration from the Italian heritage of quality ingredients over complexity.

We start with one of the new signature appetisers and a must-try: squid ink crackers topped with Queensland spanner crab and a sorrell panna cotta. The deep richness of the cracker grounds the light fluffiness of the crab and is balanced perfectly by delicate and airy sorrell panna cotta. The herb has a light citrusy scent that gently grants a dessert-like indulgence to the dish.

Next up was a beautifully creamy whipped Roe, served with radishes from organic producers Johnstone’s Kitchen Gardens and malt bagels. The Roe was addictive, the kind of thing you make a batch of for a dinner party then secretly devour the lot before anyone arrives. The accompaniment seems misplaced however - the chewy bagel detracting from the delicious strength of the roe, whilst the radish added little beyond a watery bite.

We moved on to a couple of small plates - Hiramasa kingfish served sashimi style with zucchini and chicken fat dressing. The fresh full body of the fish was offset by an array of flavour drops around the plate including the roasted chicken skin render, the earthiness of which worked well. Following on from that were Scallops - surely the benchmark of the upmarket hotel kitchen. These unfortunately came out a little drier than the buttery melt in the mouth experience you might expect, but were compensated by a bright creamy apple turnip puree with chorizo crumb and dehydrated apple. In both cases the fish was left to play second fiddle to the inventive accompaniment, which saved the scallop dish, but perhaps shouldn’t have needed to.

Mains took the form of pork belly, and a pancetta wrapped monkfish. The pork belly was enjoyably fuller bodied than normal, but perhaps resultantly also a little dry. Pared with curry prawns, pear, red elk and charred onion, along with an incredible side of potato and smoked manchego dauphinoise however, it shone through.

The winning dish today however was actually one which stayed in more modest terrain - a pancetta wrapped monkfish served with cabbage and parsnip, which was wonderfully balanced and a delight in texture and salty flavour. Sided with broccoli rabe topped with whipped feta and dukkah (cheese being my perennial worship-worthy ingredient of any dish), it won the night hands down.

We certainly didn’t need dessert, but we redoubled our efforts and rounded off the night with a couple of classics: a dark chocolate and salt caramel ganache with chocolate mousse and coconut providing the usual orgasimic chocolatety delight, and a simple cheddar and cracker dish to wash down with our dessert wine (a beautifully vanilla frangranced De Bortoli Noble One semillon).

All in all, the inventive culinary creativity and softly elegant surrounds matched with a friendly and down to earth atmosphere certainly make Brigade Dining worthy of a visit - particularly as the two new venues drive the Light Brigade complex into a pillar of the Woollahra community.

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Level 1, 2A Oxford Street
+612 9357 0815

Mon – Sat 6pm – 10pm

Sun 9:30am – 2:30pm!/pages/Sydney-Australia/The-Light-Brigade-Hotel/72727513665