[invite] Bianca: The recently refurbished Mona Vale Hotel has relaunched as The Park House Food & Liquor and not without some furore (google ‘park house pazaar collective’). I won’t go too much into the drama as I’ve never been to Pazar and I was going to the Park House fresh.
First things first, the space is gorgeous. With an outdoor courtyard/bar, main restaurant and a comfy lounge area, it’s a really versatile, bright and welcoming design. It’s menu focuses on Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, Southern Californian & Mexican flavours but I’d say the bulk of the menu is geared towards a Middle Eastern slant.
Starting with some drinks, I opted for the Zephyr Evolution $18, a tropical fruit and rum-based cocktail that will surely be on high rotation in the warmer months. My only criticism, lose the cardboard straw. Mine turned to mush halfway through our meal so I abandoned my drink.
An absolute must order is the Hummus & lambs tongue crest, ferments & olive oil $9. As far as Hummus goes, this was a fantastic, delicious version. The fermented chilli giving a muted gentle kick. Seasoned perfectly, with the sumac adding a tangy twinge. Served alongside housemade crisp lavosh, it was the perfect dipping accompaniment.
Some forward thinking had us prepare for some future dippage and so the Park House wood-fired bread, Simit, flat-bread & Foccacia $5 made an appearance. This was disappointing. The flat-bread went hard very quickly and lacking that pillowy softness you get from a great Lebanese/ greek style flat-bread. The Foccacia was probably the best of the lot but I’d recommend sticking to the lavosh.
We’re fiends for cheese and LOVE Burrata. So no guesses as to what we picked next. Local Burrata, baby tomatoes, olives, basil, pickled onion & olive oil $19. As good as they come, simple in concept but the quality of the ingredients was obvious. Particularly the baby tomatoes, sweet yet seasoned beautifully.
Zucchini Herb Fritters, sumac, yoghurt and coriander (4pcs) $14 are a great alternative to your standard falafel. They were fairly soft but bursting with flavour, a citrus twang and sourness creating interest with each bite.
Alex loves octopus (I think he closes his eyes and wishes he was back in Croatia). So he’ll usually voice his requests whenever it makes an appearance on any menu. Twice Cooked Wood Roasted Freemantle Octopus -w/ mole Verde, yoghurt, red cabbage salad $24. Tender to the bite but with a lingering smoky aftertaste, I probably wouldn’t order this again.
This is a perfect example of vegetables bringing some wow factor to the menu, it’s not all about the proteins these days. Ash-Roasted Pumpkin, feta, almonds & salsa verde. There was an intense smokiness permeating this dish, the skin tasted very charcoal-esque but it is edible. I loved the texture of the toasted nuts and the caramelised notes from the various parts of the pumpkin.
I initially baulked at the suggestion to order the chicken but we really would have missed out there. Harissa Spiced Chicken, Tahini yoghurt, pickles and herb salsa (half portion) $26. Incredibly moist and juicy, with a lovely roasted caramelised skin. A burst of citrus sitting at the front of the palette and with a sharp punchy note from the green salsa.
And despite our questioning whether we could even attempt dessert… we soldiered on. The Epic Chocolate Brownie w/salted caramel popcorn $12 was a no-brainer. If chocolate is your weakness, then you’ll love this. It’s rich, sweet and perfectly accented by the salted caramel.
Despite its gorgeous presentation, the Baklava semifreddo -w/pistachio Brittle $10 fell a little flat. I enjoyed the varying textures of the dish but I didn’t get any discernable flavour from the semifreddo and the meringue had a faint element of egginess that really wasn’t that enjoyable.
It’s a massive drawcard for the area and if I lived nearby I could see it becoming a regular haunt. But it is a good one to keep in mind for any future trips to the Northern Beaches.
Photos by Alex
*For Food’s Sake dined as guests of The Park House Food & Liquor.