Like the annoying, persistent child that always has to ask "Whyyy?" I must always ask why a restaurant is given a certain name. But that's not always necessary. Take the restaurant Woodland for example. When you walk into the restaurant space, the first thing that strikes you is all of the wood decor. Add to that the wood burning oven and well the name is just a natural association.
Woodland is the result of chef Damian Heads' (formerly of Pony of Neutral Bay and The Rocks) split with his business partner. Pony still remains in The Rocks but Heads and his wife Jenni have turned the Neutral Bay Pony branch into Woodland. Girl Next Door and I are frightfully early this Tuesday night so we nab an easy park and find ourselves the first guests in the restaurant.
Service is friendly and we're shown to our table at the banquette alongside the bar. It's a large rectangular space with a small bar area at the front and two rows of banquettes at either side. Something from the wood fired oven is a given and Girl Next Door and I dither over the pork or the lamb before deciding that we should just order one of each. The wine list is mostly Australian and Girl Next Door orders a glass quipping that it's "Wine Tuesday!". As we're the only diners for a while our entrees come out quickly.
Grilled halloumi, smoked tomato relish $15.50
Oh how much do I love halloumi? The entree comes out as four, fat squeaky pieces of halloumi with a divine smoked tomato relish. A squeeze of lemon is all this needs and I find myself pining for more.
Sauteed calamari and chorizo $16.80
The sauteed calamari comes in a tomato based sauce studded with cubes of chorizo and soft white beans with grilled sourdough. The calamari which you either cook quickly or long and slow is quite chewy and needs more time in the oven although the sauce is flavoursome.
Pork Cutlet $32
Our two main items are done in the wood fired grill and they use iron bark wood from a licensed forestry. The pork cutlet is huge but is on the dry side. It is served with a jus, sauteed kipflers, peas, speck and crunchy crackling but needs more sauce to balance the dryness of the meat like an apple and fennel sauce or something similar.
Lamb Backstrap $34
The lamb backstrap was tender and cooked medium rare which is how we both like it. It did need a bit more flavour to it or perhaps more seasoning. The smoky eggplant was delicious but there just wasn't enough of it on the plate and the quinoa and tomato herb salad were good accompaniments but these ingredients also needed seasoning.
Burnt orange ice cream $8
It's a "school" night so dessert is ordered while it is still light outside as we have to make our way back to the other side of the bridge (more a mental barrier than a physical one). The burnt orange ice cream is gorgeously creamy and refreshing, like a creamy marmalade ice cream or tangy orange curd cream. Girl Next Door and I are too busy talking to notice that the dark has now fallen so we pay our bill, the restaurant now busy and take the drive back across the bridge.
So tell me Dear Reader, how often do you eat out during a week? Is it mostly during the weekend or do you also eat out during the week too? Is it mostly for breakfast, lunch or dinner?
This meal was independently paid for.
19-25 Grosvenor St, Neutral Bay NSW 2089
Phone:(02) 9904 3400 Lunch . 7 days from 12-3pm
Dinner Monday - Saturday from 6pm
Bar Monday - Saturday from 12pm
Breakfast Saturday - Sunday 10.00am-12pm