Date of Visit: October 26 2013
Destination dining in hotel restaurants is very popular in Asia and I am perplexed as to why it is not catching on in Sydney. Perhaps, it has to do with the perception that hotels often overcharge – think bottled water. I love good food, and do not mind paying extra for restaurant interiors (e.g. ambience). My rationale is that, since I am already forking out for a grand night-out, I might as well get a great all-round experience which includes atmosphere and service.
Much has been written about the ‘new adventurous destination restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel‘ and its interior. Moreover as a fan of the now defunct, very posh Kable’s, with fond memories, I am eager to appraise whether The Woods matches the Four Seasons’ fine dining experience.
Described a festival of wood, there is a lot of Australian hardwoods in rich caramel and dark chocolate colours at work in its interior. A beautiful space with a lot going on – wood-fired oven, open kitchen, ‘vertical herb gardens’, timber racks stocked with bottles and a ceiling with mural of recipes and diagrams to boot! Unfortunately, the lightings were very dim and monotonous, thus made my eyes very tired.
Decor was nice but why seat our party of 3 to a table at the top of the disabled ramp away from the main restaurant? There were PLENTY of tables in the ‘main restaurant’ – PLUS I made my booking a week in advance!
Nevertheless, despite the lack of white tablecloths, I was anticipating a Morton’s style of experience – not sure why, but to me, grills make uncanny references to American steaks. I have made a point of dining at a Morton’s at any cities that has a Morton’s, much like Planet Hollywood in my younger days! My menu was always their pulled porked sandwich – call me silly! 😛
Back to The Woods, this restaurant is helmed by rising Australian Chef Hamish Ingham of one chef-hatted Bar H fame.
Although The Woods made references to wood-fired oven, it was puzzling that the breads arrived stone-cold.
Melted blob of house-churned butter – but no flaked salt in sight! What about a candle for the table?
I am actually pretty impressed with the wine list. We had an Italian Sangiovese – I seldom order Aussie nowadays when I dine out, I prefer to be ‘adventurous‘.
I am uncertain as to where to put the menu at The Woods, whether a fine dining menu or a hotel menu. It seems to me neither here nor there…
To kick off the lackluster night…
A plate of Oysters comprising of Petit Clair, Clair de Lune, Moonlight en Surface, Moonlight Kisses and Rusty wire. I was advised to eat from the smallest oyster to the largest – delicate to the strongest. My favourite in the assorted oysters was Moonlight Kisses, overall the oysters were very briney and had strong smells – might be off?
Duck and pork terrine accompanied by radicchio salad came across as dry…
Hmmm… never encountered a sirloin steak with bone before… burnt and charred…
Whole line caught John Dory Fish grilled over apple wood – serves 2… burnt and charred… (Can’t smell apple wood)
The waitress had to be reminded of our salad…
Since October was Good Food Month, with a special Let’s Do Dessert segment, The Woods’ featured dessert was Wood-fire pear tart tartin with smoked vanilla ice-cream and verjuice caramel with a glass of Brown Brothers dessert wine, all for $20. Whilst I enjoyed the caramelised pear segments, but I couldn’t detect any smokiness nor vanilla flavour of the smoked vanilla ice-cream – only milkiness… The thin base was akin to the flaky croissant.
The Woods definitely does not fit into the profile of a 5-star property such as Four Seasons. It didn’t come a surprise to me that the contract is not being renewed (here). This is more a tapas/ bistro joint – we quickly vacated when the boisterous private party crowd came at 8pm to be seated at the large tables near us. To its cred, it IS an impressive place to hold parties!
At the time of writing, The Woods scored 86% out of 51 votes