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Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Oscillate Wildly, Newtown

Oscillate Wildly is one of those few Inner West dining secrets which consistently lives up to the whispered hype. The menu is creative enough to intrigue, but honest enough to please the foodie purist.

Owner and maitre'd Ross Godfrey is a self-confessed 80s fan, and it was The Smiths homage to Oscar Wilde which gave inspiration to the restaurant's name. It's a funky name which sticks in the head, even thought the lyrics are a little unusual!

With eager diners seated on a tiny floorspace that just seats thirty, it' s no wonder that Oscillate Wildly is fully booked every night. The intimacy of the venue adds to the ambience and Ross is always the perfect host as he juggles orders, plates and corkscrews with charm and personal reassurances.

This was my second visit here and once again the menu offered up a dizzying array of choices.

Our entrees were all pleasingly executed but the unanimously voted 'pick of the lot' was the blood sausage and scallops (modesty prevents me from saying this was my pick... oh, oops). The crispy fried spicy blood sausage contrasted nicely with the perfectly cooked scallops. Soft ribbons of squid ink pasta bathed in a slinky butter sauce slid down the throat with ease.

Portuguese blood sausage, seared scallops, squid ink pasta and oregano butter $14.00

The duck salad worked well with the peaches; the fish was moist and tender; and the prawns were bursting with flavour. The fried banh trang rice paper was unusual too, although not fried enough to be quite as tacky as nem ran or cha gio spring rolls.

Shredded duck and peach salad $14.00

Pan-fried prawns in crispy rice paper with green papaya salad $14.00

Pan-fried red fish fillets with fish roe remoulade and crispy garlic $14.00

If the "plates licked clean" phrase means anything, then our mains were definitely winners too. The spatchcock was a little tricky to dissect with knife and fork but the hazelnut flavours were quite simply... divine. The barramundi and silver dory were both proclaimed winners too.

Crusted spatchcock with a hazelnut, roast garlic and zucchini stuffing and wilted bok choy $22.00

Pan-fried salt water barramundi fillet with kumera chips and lime mayonnaise $22.00

Silver dory (fish of the day) steamed with garlic chives and preserved lemon with apple and celery mash $22.00

I was on a bit of a flavourfest tonight and went with the roulade of veal. Thin slices of veal were wrapped around kidneys and capsicum before being baked in the oven and then quickly pan-fried. I'm not a huge fan of kidneys but after a few mouthfuls, the earthy flavours definitely grew on me.

The accompanying white bean puree tasted a little grainy at first too, but again, this grew on me and seemed to evoke salivary flashbacks to provincial French cooking. I was pleased I chose this dish as it was definitely one I would never cook at home or in truth, be likely to find elsewhere.

Roulade of veal with kidneys, sun-dried capsicum and thyme and a white bean puree $22.00

The beans with macadamias were unanimously popular too. We exclaimed over the juicy greenness of the flavourfresh beans, and its pairing with macadamias will have me copycatting this concept at home.

Green beans, crushed macadamia nuts and garlic $6.00

Ahhh... desserts... the gastronomic climax of the evening in my humble opinion. We were all a little surprised at the appearance of the tiramisu parfait which looked nothing like we expected. The tiramisu was sweet but strong with coffee flavours and disappeared rapidly.

Tiramisu parfait with an espresso toffee $10.00

The honey and pinenut tartlet was also dissimilar to what I expected. I envisioned a small baby tart (ie. a tartlet!) or something akin to a pecan pie. The drool-inspiring chunk of open pie was not as sweet as I anticipated and the cinnamon ice cream was creamy and delicious. (Mental note: go for the honey and pinenut tartlet next time!)

Honey and pinenut tartlet with cinnamon ice cream $10.00

In an embrace of all things retro, I had the mixed berry bombe alaska which someone likened to a liquid version of a Monte Carlo. The sticky meringue, sponge cake and raspberry sauce did taste somewhat similar although I did have to reach for the water a couple of times, and by the end I'm sure my teeth were hurting from all the sugar.

Mixed berry bombe alaska $10.00

Oscillate Wildly has an enviably fine-dining style menu that wouldn't look out of place at a two-hatted restaurant at ridiculously low suburban-style pricing. Three courses of ingenious flavour pairing for $43 is incredible value.

It's a small venue--the bathroom is out the back and patrons have to literally step into the narrow kitchen where the two regular chefs are cooking a frenzy in a space the size of the broom cupboard.

Mindful of the size of the room, Ross takes a maximum group number of eight, so as not to disturb other diners. Last time I was here I even watched bemused but impressed as he diplomatically shooshed an increasingly raucous group of six diners.

It's this unique combination of charm and style which makes Oscillate Wildly such a pleasure.

Courses priced separately or 3 courses $43.00
Menu changes regularly (two options from each course are changed every two weeks)

Oscillate Wildly
275 Australia St, Newtown
Tel: 02 9517 4700

Related GrabYourFork posts:
Oscillate Wildly, February 2006
Oscillate Wildly, October 2005
5 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Anonymous on 1/25/2005 11:59:00 pm


  • At 1/30/2005 11:28 pm, Blogger Reid said…

    Hi AG,

    I remember that Smiths song. =)

    The name is cool and food looks great. I always meant to ask you...do you eat all of these yourself (not at once of course). Or are you dining with lots of people. I'm surprised at the number of dishes at any given restaurant that you will feature. Makes me feel inadequate.

    BTW...I think you eat out more than I do. =P

  • At 1/31/2005 4:47 pm, Blogger pinkcocoa said…

    hiya AG
    blood sausage...very very interesting. What does it really taste like? It reminded me of the Chinese pig or duck or even goose blood jelly! Oh and like the word "copycatting". hehe. Desserts look good too. $43 is a very food price for 3 course, I would say. ;-)

    haha! I also have that "wait. dont eat first before i get them on my camera" attitude!! But I don't photograph every time I eat out. It depends on the people I am going out with, I guess. So I think it would be fun to go out with you! hehe. A whole tableful of food photographers! *yay*

  • At 1/31/2005 8:51 pm, Blogger Ms One Boobie said…

    I did like Oscillate Wildly.. if i remember correctly.. their menu changes constantly.. ??? no..??
    The last time i was there.. i had their fish pie.. ;) love it..!! absolutely fabulous.. lite and fluffy.. ;) But i was there in the evening.. and was really intrigue by the ceiling light they have hanging on the ceiling.. so beautiful.. ;)

  • At 1/31/2005 8:52 pm, Blogger Ms One Boobie said…

    Oops.. forgot about the prices too..AG.. pretty reasonable.. we paid like A$120.00 for 3 pax.

  • At 1/31/2005 9:50 pm, Blogger Ms One Boobie said…

    Was only in Syd .. for 6mths.. but i was in the hotel industry for 15 yrs... so alot of courtesy meals.. restaurant inspections.. hotel inspections.. and so forth.. and i'm lucky.. my boss likes me.. hehehe!! so he brings me along.. for his little food thingie all the time.. ;) Cheers..!


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