Rebecca Varidel
12th Dec 2014

Leigh McDivitt has some familiar favourites on his new menu. Signature dishes he's carried with him from the earlier location of One6Eight. Marriage suits him and the new venue where Amanda McDivitt, a lover of red, has had a lot of design influence as well as creating the wine list and managing the restaurant. She's wearing her new hot 'uniform' of red jeans (embroidered with the One6Eight logo). At the end of the first dinner service, we catch them exchanging a kiss.

The experienced restaurateurs offer the perfect balance of choices in the One6Eight menu: five entrees, five mains, four sides, five desserts.

Summer starters include Heirloom tomato gazacho with fennel and orange salad $15 and Kingfish ceviche with lime and chilli dressing and horseradish ice-cream. Although we shy away from 'trends' the One6Eight menu that Chef McDivitt presents is up-to-the-minute with his topsy turvy use of ice-cream, jelly and custard in savouries - adding the winning entrée Confit of Thirlmere chicken ravioli with charred baby corn and 12yo Glenfiddich custard to the choices. We're seeing these savoury custards about town - an update on the earlier classical presentation and more like a formed sauce - but only in the best restaurants. But then again, with a pedigree including The 3 Weeds prior to his own restaurants, you'd expect McDivitt to fit that bill.

Signature and Amanda McDivitt's favourite, Spiced venison leg with chocolate gnocchi, pea powder and king brown mushrooms is back on the opening Balmain menu with Poached Mulloway with confit cuttlefish, tapioca crisp and shellfish or Braised pork neck with apple cider cloud, caramelised apple, crispy pigs ears and lemon balm. Yet the main that seems the simplest has a real interest as its accompaniment: Hop smoked and blackened rump cap (marble score 3) with grilled baby leeks and golden age ale. The jelly is indeed golden and clear and light and a gorgeous offset to the smoky rare char and ruby jus. Part of the reason we tried the beef was so we could get stuck into the chips, hand cut and cooked in aged beef dripping (with its higher smoking point) they are three crisp steps above other chips around town. Balmain is worth a visit for this side alone. There's also a truffle mash on offer, asparagus with a lemon pistachio vinaigrette or an heirloom tomato salad with watercress anchovy and chilli dressing. Bread is made in house, with Scotch whisky in the starter.

Tempted? You should be. If you're a loyal McDivitt fan, Balmain is worth a visit. If you haven't eaten his food before, make Balmain your next destination dining spot. And if that isn't enough, here comes dessert...

McDivitt's predisposition to whisky shows through again in dessert, this time as bourbon, in Jack Daniels 'Tennessee Honey' ice cream with dark chocolate honeycomb, salted caramel fudge and pine nut praline. Remember if you are ordering Passionfruit and coriander soufflé with ginger ice cream it takes a little longer. As yet undiscovered, is the Chef's playground for two - we'll have to go back to find out what it is...

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233 Darling Street