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Monday, August 09, 2010

Tomislav, Darlinghurst

EDIT: Tomislav has closed

Is the essence of good food a sense of fun?

I can't help but break out into a smile when our rice crackers arrive, not the bubbled crunchy discs from a supermarket, but a slate grey tile covered with a crashing surf of delicate shards that are almost see-through.

Rice crackers with sea salt and vinegar $8

In one corner is a spray bottle filled with vinegar, along the side of the tile is a scattered trail of sea salt. "We find that two or three sprays tends to be sufficient", says Gavin, our smiling maitre'd.

The crackers are made from sheets of rice paper, brushed with egg white and quickly deep-fried. It's hard to be serious when you're spraying your light-as-air rice cracker with vinegar, and it's even harder not to resist another, once you've relished its delicate disintegration, its brittle crunch and its complete absence of any oily residue.

Iggy's bread with butter and smoked sea salt

With a CV that includes stints with Matt Moran, Guillaume Brahimi and Eric Chavot (Capital Hotel, London), it's Tomislav Martinovic's experience working alongside the Fat Duck's Heston Blumenthal that seem to impact the menu most.

The restaurant itself is smaller than you'd expect, a small and cosy space decorated with Japanese gold crane wallpaper. You would hardly know it's there, tucked away a few steps from Victoria Street on William Street, but once you're seated inside, the view of the iconic Coca Cola sign is incredible, the bright lights of Darlinghurst beckoning silently.

Basmati rice risotto $19
Grilled Yamba prawns, chives and lemon zest

Basmati rice risotto is a twist on the usual arborio version, made with a specially aged Pakistani rice, Tomislav explains to us later on in the evening. He uses acidulated butter, chives and lemon zest to create a lighter finish, the dish scattered with plump and sweet Yamba prawns.

Poached Comboyne hen's egg $19
peas and ham with warm potato cream

The poached Comboyne hen's egg arrives in a deep conical shaped bowl, hidden beneath a fluffy foam of creamy potato. In amongst the cubes of ham and slivers of pea, your spoon will eventually find a magical 62C egg, the optimal temperature to enable the egg white to cook whilst the yolk remains runny. It takes 70 minutes in a waterbath for the egg to reach this stage, an investment in time for a guaranteed pocket of liquid sunshine.

The huge cracker on the side is made from batter that has been baked until crisp.

2009 Belgravia Gewurtztraminer, Orange, NSW $10 glass/ $47 bottle

The maitre'd had offered to pair my dishes with wines for the evening and I'd happily agreed. My egg is matched with a 2009 Belgravia Gewurtraminer, the sweetness of the yolk enhanced by the wine's crispness and citrus notes.

Poached silver dory fillets $31
with cauliflower, parsley crumbs and king browns

Poached silver dory fillets are served on a grey slate tile, a striking background for the pristine rectangle of cauliflower mash. The fish is cooked to a flaking perfection, but I love the rubble of king brown mushrooms, cauliflower florets, green beans and parsley crumbs even more, a party of textures and flavours on the tongue.

Pasture burrawong duck breast $32
with onion, baby cos and olive oil sponge

I opted for the Pasture Burrawong duck breast, the skin crisped to a golden honey hue, whilst the flesh is soft and tender. A beetroot slick adds colour and sweetness, and a roasted onion puree languishes between a swirl of vegetables and an olive oil sponge that is fluffy beyond belief.

Olive oil sponge

2008 Brodie Estate Pinot Noir, Martinborough, New Zealand $72 bottle

My duck is paired with a 2008 Brodie Estate Pinot Noir, a silky and well-balanced wine with characteristics of cherry.

Apple crumble $15
with macadamia sponge and clotted cream ice cream

Apple crumble arrives looking more like a tart with a crumble topping. After one spoonful I pause in confusion, then realise that included in the crumble topping is popping candy. Tomislav tells us that whenever guests order this dish, he loves to watch their reaction, catching that moment of surprise when the dessert is not exactly what they think.

Thick slices of candied apple match well with the slab of macadamia sponge, a quenelle of clotted cream ice cream cool and satiny smooth.

Vanilla cheesecake $15
with cream cheese and rhubarb sorbet

Vanilla cheesecake is not what you'd expect either, a far leap from the biscuit crumb base and yellow filling most people envision, and instead looking more like a UFO. A flying saucer of mousse comes with cheese jelly windows, cubes made from cream cheese, cream and gelatin. A quenelle of rhubarb sorbet provides sweetness and some welcome acidity.

Tomislav owner and head chef, Tomislav Martinovic

Toward the end of service, Tomislav generously sits down to have a chat with us. He tells us about how his Mum would bake something every weekend, sometimes mid-week as well. The restaurant doesn't have a dedicated pastry chef but desserts are something close to his heart and will always feature.

He likes to change the menu regularly, although he thinks that some key dishes - like the cheesecake - will probably remain permanent. He laughs as he admits that he quite likes it when diners come in to find a dish is no longer on the menu!

"I want to create dishes that are interesting," he says, "and to layer flavours and textures so people aren't bored when they start eating. I want people to have one forkful and be surprised by what they find. I want them to have one forkful and immediately want more."

Grab Your Fork and companion dined as guests of Tomislav Restaurant.

Tomislav on Urbanspoon

2/13 Kirketon Road, Darlinghurst, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9356 4535

Opening hours:
Tuesday to Sunday 6pm-10pm

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Tomislav, Darlinghurst (Oct10)

Darlinghurst - Big Rig Diner
Darlinghurst - Boon Chocolates
Darlinghurst - Govinda's
Darlinghurst - Rise
Darlinghurst - Sel & Poivre
Darlinghurst - Victoria Room high tea
24 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 8/09/2010 12:15:00 am


  • At 8/09/2010 2:17 am, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…

    teehee cheese jelly windows! windows to my jelly filled soul!

  • At 8/09/2010 5:48 am, Anonymous Maria @ ScandiFoodie said…

    Pretty creative looking dishes! I've been wanting to try this place out :-)

  • At 8/09/2010 8:02 am, Blogger Stephcookie said…

    Ahh this all look so fun, from the spray bottle to the popping candy. Would love to try that apple crumble dessert.

  • At 8/09/2010 10:15 am, Anonymous Matthew (Masterchef) said…

    This restaurant looks amazing. I use tiles to present some of my food too. It's very in at the moment

  • At 8/09/2010 10:57 am, Anonymous john@heneedsfood said…

    Go Tomislav! Lovely looking food you had Helen, though I'm not a fan of eating off slate. A bit like nails on a chalkboard, for me

  • At 8/09/2010 11:28 am, Anonymous billy@atablefortwo said…

    I am very intrigued with the olive oil sponge, how did he do that?!
    I really love his plating, definitely one of the best in Sydney.

  • At 8/09/2010 12:00 pm, Blogger Anna said…

    Beautiful presentation, and lovely that he had a chat with you at the end of the meal. I love hearing about people's culinary inspirations, especially when then involve mums.. Awwww :)

  • At 8/09/2010 1:27 pm, Anonymous Honey @ honeyandsoy said…

    How interesting are those dishes! Each one of them had a twist that just makes them special. When I saw that atomiser, I thought.. Wha..? What am amazing experience! :)

  • At 8/09/2010 2:38 pm, Anonymous Hannah said…

    *hyperventilating* Spray bottle of vinegar? Smoked salt? Olive oil sponge? Oh, Helen. I feel embarrassed about our My's Restaurant experience ;)

    (I'm also in love with that cheesecake, although I think more "Dr Who villain" than UFO...)

  • At 8/09/2010 3:35 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The menu are really creative and fun! I haven't been there but would love to try out these interesting dishes.

  • At 8/09/2010 4:39 pm, Blogger OohLookBel said…

    All those dishes look so imaginative (not to mention tasty!). I'd love to be able to cook duck like that some day...

  • At 8/09/2010 4:51 pm, Blogger Iron Chef Shellie said…


    Looks amazing.... and if you are dining as a guest.. I'd happily accept wine at $72 a bottle :P

  • At 8/09/2010 4:59 pm, Blogger Laura said…

    Its just looks stunning

  • At 8/09/2010 6:15 pm, Anonymous Mrs Pigflyin said…

    Very nice presentations and interesting ideas! Is the texture of the olive oil sponge more like a souffle or chiffon cake?

  • At 8/09/2010 7:14 pm, Anonymous Tina said…

    I thought the cracker with the egg was honeycomb!
    And the olice oil sponge looks sensational.
    I missed out when my mates went to Tomislav - but it's still definitely on the list

  • At 8/09/2010 11:00 pm, Blogger Rita (mademoiselle délicieuse) said…

    This is the place that people keep telling me to go. I'm suitably intrigued by all the holes in the olive oil sponge.

    And yay for 'liquid sunshine'! =D

  • At 8/09/2010 11:20 pm, Anonymous Trissa said…

    Hey Helen - rarely do I read a post on a restaurant and say Yes! I want to go there NOW! This is one of them. The food looks soooo damn fun. This chef clearly has a sense of humour and great imagination.

  • At 8/10/2010 2:37 am, Anonymous pierre said…

    hi there
    Waouah !! thanks for the sharing of your meal this chef is amazing and very creative !! I particularly appreciate the apple crumble and the destructured cheesecake !! You are lucky to have such awesome chefs !! bravo to Australia !! Pierre de Paris

  • At 8/10/2010 9:33 am, Anonymous linda said…

    wow.. this looks like a fantastic meal. I love every single aspect from the entree down to the dessert. i also love the fact that chef Tomislav is not afraid to play around, making the meal more interactive, definitely a Feast for the senses.

  • At 8/10/2010 4:22 pm, Anonymous Betty @ The Hungry Girl said…

    Wow, where to even begin! Everything looks and sounds so interesting and unique. I love the poppy candy on the apple crumble! And the vinegar spray is so cute!

  • At 8/10/2010 8:19 pm, Blogger Simon Leong said…

    looks like a very interesting menu. no need to go to Fat Duck in England now :-)

  • At 8/17/2010 7:16 am, Anonymous Forager @ The Gourmet Forager said…

    Looks like a very delicious meal - loving tasty food you can have fun with too!

  • At 8/23/2010 3:12 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi chocolatesuze - Heh, I knew you'd like that line.

    Hi Maria - It's a great little spot. Hope you get there soon.

    Hi Stephcookie - Looks like you created a fantastic version of it yourself!

    Hi Matthew - I wonder what's next for presenting dishes on? lol

    Hi John - haha, the slate wasn't too bad. No nails on chalkboard sound effects here.

    Hi Billy - The olive oil sponge was awesome. Would love to know the recipe!

    Hi Ladybird - It was very insightful having a chat with Tomislav after our meal. And yes, it's always nice to hear about the influence of mum's and the memories of cooking.

    Hi Honey - The atomiser was the best part. Much fun!

    Hi Hannah - It's always about the company :)

    Hi Ellie - I think you'd enjoy it. The olive oil sponge even reminded me a little of Chinese steamed sponge cake.

    Hi OohLookBel - The dishes were great. I think injecting fun back into food is a great way to enjoy your meal.

  • At 8/23/2010 3:19 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Iron Chef Shellie - lol. I think we should all include popping candy from now on!

    Hi Laura - It was a lovely meal!

    Hi Mrs Pig Flyin - The olive oil sponge was more like a chiffon cake, or a very fluffy "mah lay goh". It was fantastic.

    Hi Tina - lol. Honeycomb would definitely be a twist! You should definitely make the trip - lots of cool menu items.

    Hi Mademoiselle Delicieuse - Haha, you are my liquid sunshine? lol

    Hi Trissa - lol, I am sure you will get there soon. Lots of interesting dishes and who doesn't want a spray bottle with their appetisers?

    Hi Pierre - I think Australia is very rich with talented chefs. You are right - we are very lucky :)

    Hi Linda - I agree, it's always heartening when chefs have a sense of humour. Food should always be enjoyed!

    Hi Betty - The vinegar spray was very cute. Imagine you could carry one around in your handbag for dining and self-defence purposes! lol

    Hi Simon Food Favourites - Oh I still would be keen to go to the Fat Duck! lol

    Hi Forager - Yes we need fun food and more of it!


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