Living in Sydney has its perks: awesome coffee, beautiful weather, and a plethora of new restaurants opening up every other week. On the flip side, we tend to get so caught up in the influx of trendy eateries that we lose sight of the awesome ones.
Neutral Bay restaurant, Woodland Kitchen and Bar is among said awesome ones.
How do I know? I’ve been going there for over five years, and it never ceases to excite me. It’s trendy without being hip, the menu is delicious, and the staff don’t have an iota of pretence. It really is the ideal spot for a date night dinner in Sydney.
Don’t worry, there won’t be any wacky, new-age ingredients you can’t pronounce in front of your paramour, no dehydrated whiskers, just delicious and honest food from a chef who has been in the biz for over 20 years. Remember Damian Heads from Ready Steady Cook? Of course you do. These days, he’s running this awesome restaurant with his wife Jenni, and they would love you to pay them a visit.
And when you do, you’ll be delighted by the awesome menu. Think of share plates like Hirasima sashimi salad, woodfired haloumi, and of course freshly shucked oysters for that third date vibe (winky face).
Don’t be afraid to start your night off with a glass of bubbles or a cocktail. If you popped by Woodland Kitchen & Bar during the day, you’d find head chef and owner Damian Heads making everything he can from scratch. He’s in the kitchen preparing marinades and dressings, and behind the bar juicing limes and extracting seeds from pomegranates for your cocktails.
All of the locally-sourced meat is cooked to perfection over the famous woodfire grill in the kitchen, where it is prepared over slow-burning iron bark timber that results in that irresistible smoky scent that makes you dribble on your plate (or was that just me?). Case in point right here is the wood grilled pork loin, it’s incredibly juicy, tender, and one of those dishes that you’ll be sad to split, but will anyway because #romance. It’s served with puy lentils, sautéed spinach and some damn fine crackling for the crunching. Dabble in a bottle of red from the wine list, it’s chock-full of local wines and a few cracking international ones in there too.
Vegetarians need not fear, they can make plenty of friends with the sautéed potato gnocchi, made fresh and tasting like little clouds of happiness, and served with swiss brown mushrooms, peas, kale, and pecorino. You bet your behind it’s delicious.
Dessert? Thought you’d never ask. The caramel chocolate tart is a must, especially with its sultry salted caramel drizzle, dollop of double cream and crunchy honeycomb. Just like Fergalicious herself, it makes ‘dem boys go loco.
It’s the kind of place that will cater to your any occasion, from tinder meet-up to anniversary dinner and all the way to *gasp* meet-the-parents.
Hey, look, they don’t discriminate, if you’re not coupled up, there is still plenty of room for you unattached legends to get involved over a couple of beers, a few glasses of bubbles, and an epic meal in Neutral Bay.
In case you were wondering, I’m really encouraging you to take a well-earned break from all of the newbies in Sydney and head into this time-tested restaurant on Grosvenor Street.
I used to hate it when people used the word ‘honest’ to describe food, like it was a liar or something, but after one too many mac and cheese spring rolls, I know what they mean. Woodland Kitchen & Bar isn’t lying to me, and I bloody love it.
Image credit: Jackielyn Powell