Bianca: ‘Dragoncello’ was one of those restaurants we saw pop up late last year in Surry Hills and with an interesting name to boot. With an emphasis on foraged and fresh ingredients, Dragoncello has a rather small curated menu offering Modern Australian food.
Team FFS had a midweek booking during one of those torrential rainy and windy days during Sydney’s freak April weather. It was quiet out and we virtually had the place to ourselves, making for a rather intimate dining experience. It’s a small and inviting space, with dark leather seating lining one side of the room and some of the coolest light fitting’s we’ve seen in some time.
We started our meal with an amuse bouche consisting of a shooter of ‘Fish Head Curry’, I’m not going to lie. We struggled. Surprisingly it was the strong smell that was the first challenge, the apple foam adorning the glass was the main culprit and once we took that first initial sip the curry hit was rather pleasant. Definitely an indication that the food was going to challenge our senses and palate.
Up next was the ‘Port & Poultry Pate’ –w/ pan d’Espice and chamomile jelly $11. Alex and I aren’t pate lovers and this was one of Ness’s picks. In saying that it was a rather subtle and subdued flavour without that strong, off-putting gamey after-taste. It was creamy and light but oddly it was served cold, our experiences with pate have always been at room temperature or a slight chill, it was almost like it was brought out directly from a fridge. We loved the accompanying crispy bread/crackers.
We were intrigued by the sound of the ‘Glazed Sweet Potato’ –w/fig leaf cream and licorice $9. The actual sweet potato was lovely but it was really just an ordinary roasted sweet potato. We couldn’t get past the combination of the liquorice, it really wasn’t to our taste at all.
The ‘Pumpkin Pot Stickers’ – w/crispy puffed grains and nasturtium flower gel $17 was an interesting fusion of Asian techniques with typical ‘western’ ingredients. This was one of those dishes that kept the brain captivated with each bite. It was texturally interesting and I enjoyed the addition of the puffed grains.
The last of the entrées was the ‘Eggplant’ –w/kimchi, smoked and pickled octopus $19. The pickled octopus was tender and the eggplant had that charred taste after a quick roast on a burner. Tasty but the price was a little steep for the portion.
Moving on to mains we shared the ‘Slow Cooked Chicken Ballotine’ –w/ hay cream, pickled onion, shiitake mushroom and jerez sauce $36. The slow cooking served the chicken well as it was moist and succulent, the thick jerez sauce (sherry based) was particularly delicious. Comments from Ness and Alex pointed to a strong peppery taste on the actual chicken.
The Second main was the ‘Pan Fried Salmon’ –w/seaweed puree, pickled quince and onion $34. The whole dish was fairly muted and mild in flavour. With nothing blowing us away. There was a strong fennel taste coming through that we weren’t fans of. No complaints about the actual cook of the salmon its consistency was identical to that of a confit protein.
And the last savoury of the evening, was the standout of the night for me. The ‘Fat Potatoes’ –w/ fenugreek leaves $7. It isn’t a stretch for me to label these “The best potatoes I’ve ever eaten in my life”. They were amazing! And I’ve eaten a lot of potatoes in my 27 years!
Lastly, the most anticipated dish of the night. The intriguing ‘Potato Chip Cake’ –w/sour cream snow, salted caramel and pear $16. It was texturally magical. I loved the juxtaposing interplay between the salty chips and the sweet, moist, sponge like cake. I thought the ‘snow’ was freeze-dried cream cheese at first.
On the whole an interesting dining experience at Dragoncello, I admire the chef’s approach to foraging and using seasonal ingredients. But felt the prices were rather steep for most of the servings presented. With a lot of the ‘showy’ ingredients not really adding much to the dishes in terms of flavours and textures.