Monopole – Potts Point
Posted on September 20, 2013 by WX
If being a finalist in this year’s Best New Restaurant category in the SMH Good Food Guide doesn’t spark your interest, then I am not entirely sure what you are doing here. Monopole is the second brainchild of the incredible Brent Savage, who brought us Bentley in Surry Hills.
Located on the busy Macleay Street in Potts Point, Monopole oozes a somewhat masculine overtone in its dark wood finish and dim golden lighting. Lines of wine bottles line the walls, subtly reminding you that the wine is where one should draw his attention to. It doesn’t take long to relax into its soothing atmosphere, especially on a gentle Spring evening after work.
Selection of House-Made Charcuterie $26
The in-house charcuterie platter is a definite must. A selection of four was served on a nice round of wood, with a serve of pickled radish and cabbage in the centre. The cured & smoked duck breast was luscious and velvety with a soft hint of woodiness, perfect with the glass of pinot noir we had on the side. The cured Rangers Valley Tri Tip was a pleasant surprise – delicate, floss-like shavings simply disintegrated on the tongue, almost a playful catch-me-if-you-can moment for the diner. Despite its marbling, the tri tip felt lean, and was definitely not too rich.
Chicken Liver Parfait, Grilled Sourdough $14
The menu here at Monopole is incredibly understated. A no-nonsense menu is minimalist in design and gives nothing away. A simple “Chicken Liver Parfait, Grilled Sourdough” turned out to be one of my favourite parfait experiences – improbably light and fluffy, and cleverly topped with a very lightly acidic salad of cress and radish to cut through any residual richness whilst giving the dish some much needed colour. We wished for a few more slices of sourdough, but it was nothing that a teaspoon and a professed glutton could not resolve.
Calamari, Black Sausage puree & Broadbeans – $20
They say that a great chef is someone who can turn a simple ingredient into an unforgettable meal. For me, calamari is one of those ingredients that I tend to overlook on a menu because so many places either get it wrong, or are simply too afraid try something different. Here at Monopole, the humble calamari is paired with a puree of black sausage, sprinkled with the freshest broadbeans which are just in season. The black sausage puree was absolutely delectable and allowed the sweetness of the calamari, cooked to perfection, to seep through. A light crunch was provided by what we presumed to be toasted corn kernels, which gave the dish an added textural dimension. It was a fairly rich dish which probably could have benefited with a touch of lemon or pomegranate.
Pork Belly, Smoked Corn, Shaved Fennel & Saffron $20
And then there was the pork belly. Usually, not much needs to be said about pork belly. Expectations, as they usually stand, involve something along the lines of sweet, juicy fat with a nice crisp crackling. It’s tried and true, and surely, there’s nothing more in the bag to surprise with, right?
And then it’s as though Brent Savage slaps you across the face with a slab of prime pork belly and tell you to wake the freak up and stop sleeping on your food.
“Pork Belly, Smoked Corn, Shaved Fennel & Saffron” he says on the menu. Sure, sounds reasonable? Except that the dish might as well be called Confusion on a Plate, in a good way. Take a small mouthful everything and you find all the elements there: crisp crackling, juicy fat, pickles, smokiness, saltiness, sweetness – yet for some reason you know things aren’t quite the way you used to know them. The smoke wasn’t coming from the corn slices, but rather, from the corn puree. Saltiness was not from the crackling, but the dust of olive tapenade on top of the puree. Acid was not from what you thought to be pickled fennel, but the slices of pickled corn from where you expected the sweetness which now comes from the pork itself. And the breakaway from all the exciting flavours fell to the fennel shavings, which almost rarely finds itself as the tastebud oasis on a plate.
In other words, it was good – nay, excellent.
Rice Pudding, Grapes & Spiced Custard $14
As a grand finale to a wonderful night out, a dish of rice pudding with spiced custard was served up. Light, creamy and not-too-sweet, it was simply the perfect finish. I would have partied on with some more delicious wine and cheese, but alas I spare DL the nightmare of unleashing the cheese monster in me.
All in all, Monopole strikes a well-executed balance between fine food and wine, and casual eating. The chefs here display incredible finesse in turning simple ingredients into memorable moments and utterly distinguish themselves from many other casual eateries at this price point on this quality alone. It’s a place I would have no qualms recommending, and am looking forward to revisiting. Happy times ahead.
71A Macleay Street
Potts Point NSW 2011
Tel: (02) 9360 4410
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