Annata is a modern Australian restaurant on busy Willoughby road in Crows Nest. In an area of Sydney where offerings tend on safe, the menu is creative and the bar plays a large part in it (the owner Christian Blair is a former bartender at Eau de Vie).
"Did you see my park?" I said to Mr NQN proudly, beaming. I had just manoeuvred into a high pressure parking spot with three cars waiting and I was feeling pretty proud of my driving.
"Yes I did, I am sitting next to you," he said dryly. "I wonder if anyone from those three cars is going to come over and compliment me on my park," I say half joking (ok full joking).
We had just parked around the corner from Annata in Crows Nest. Having attended a function north side and grazed on canapes it was then time for something a bit more substantial. From the outside it looks like one of those old skool Italian restaurants with half moon windows but inside it's more modern and fairly full this Thursday evening. The head chef is Daniel Webb.
Service is friendly although they really do push you towards the set menu or the tasting menu. We aren't overly hungry because of the canapes but we are pushed towards ordering more food than we want.
We start with some deep fried onion petals with a thick parmesan custard. I love onions so I do like this treatment of the onion intensify the flavour and sweetness. The parmesan custard has is good but I think I might have preferred a less solid texture (it's spreads like a firm pate).
They explain that rosé veal is a type of veal that sits between veal and beef where they are despatched at 5-9 months instead of 5-9 weeks and is designed to make use of the male calves in the dairy industry. They advise us to scoop pieces of the veal tartare onto the pieces of crispy tendon but it only really works for the large pieces of tendon. Otherwise it's a nice tartare with the diced pear giving it freshness. I did order it for the smoked eel parfait which I really like with it.
This was a strong recommendation from our waiter. While I loved the flavours of the lime pickle, creamy labne and finely shaved fennel, the octopus was a bit tough to chew.
Then comes my favourite course of the night. And while I can't ever see myself becoming a vegan, my favouite dish is actually a vegan dish. It's miso roast king brown and shiitake mushrooms on a bed of wilted choy lan, black quinoa, black and white sesame seeds and a rich, aromatic broth. The whole dish is so full of flavour and depth and I really enjoy this.
I love vadouvan so I was drawn to the saddle tail snapper with creamy, pureed cauliflower, finely sliced cauliflower florets and farro cooked with vadouvan spices (curry and onion). The crispy skinned fillet is moist inside and it's a lovely dish although by now we are really too full to finish it. We noticed that the other mains do tend to be quite small too so that's one thing to keep in mind.
I have a weakness for Japanese curry fries (the ones at Belly Bao are so good!) so when I see Japanese curry aioli I have to order them. They're sprinkled in herb salt with a pot of curry aioli. I think I would have loved the curry flavour a bit more pronounced but they're crispy and quite moreish.
Although we couldn't finish our savouries we of course leave room for a dessert. It's a three layered puff pastry that has been flattened to a buttery, caramelised crisp. It's paired with a layer of pain d'epice, quince cake, quince jelly, chestnut custard and a scoop of brown butter ice cream. The flavours are wonderfully wintery. Although it can be a challenge to get a bit of everything in one mouthful I really like this dessert especially the crispness of the pastry and the quince jelly, chestnut custard and brown butter ice cream.
So tell me Dear Reader, do you often order the set or tasting menu? What do you think of rosé veal? Would you be more likely to eat it?
This meal was independently paid for.
69 Willoughby Rd, Crows Nest NSW 2065
Monday to Thursday 4–11pm
Phone: (02) 9437 3700