Nomad Surry Hills is a restaurant that’s been on my Sydney list ever since I started reading about it when it opened late last year. Head Chef Nathan Sasi (Rockpool, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal) has been handed the reigns of a restaurant for the first time by owners Rebecca Littlemore and Al Yazbek and has taken the “house made” philosophy to another level, with as much as possible being made on site.
Nomad fills a big space, occupying the space that housed furniture store Spence & Lyda. Exposed brick, high ceilings, concrete floors etc are all here, with a cafe section at the front followed by several tables around what is the central highlight of the space, the massive open kitchen and bar that envelops it. It’s a vibrant, loud space however the sounds of the kitchen and surrounding conversations are never too loud as to make conversation on the immediate table a problem.
Drinks wise the focus is local, with a small range of Australian craft beers and a very impressive, completely Australian wine list that features many smaller independent winemakers. Moving on to the food, it’s all about quality ingredients and perfecting the art of having control of as much of the process between sourcing the ingredients and putting them onto a plate as possible.
As mentioned before if something can be done in-house at Nomad, it probably is – smoking, fermenting, pickling and even the cheese and yoghurt are made on site, with the jars that contain the pickles dotted throughout the restaurant as a statement of intent. Flavours are Mediterranean with a strong Lebanese influence, in a nod to Yazbek’s heritage and the entire menu is designed to share.
Beer Battered Piquillo Peppers With Goats Curd & Black Olive ($16.00)
The meal kicked off with the piquillo peppers and they were representative of the menu as a whole. Relatively simple dishes with a strong focus on quality ingredients. The batter was light and crispy, the peppers were firm and sweet and the goats curd which had specks of black olive throughout was very creamy. The contrasting flavours and textures worked really well together.
Housemade Nomad Charcuterie ($26.00)
The housemade charcuterie which I had heard so much about was a must order item and it did not disappoint. Nomad has been known to change things up, using things such as horse and wallaby alongside the usual suspects. On this occasion the mortadella in the centre was a highlight on the plate – it was unlike any mortadella that I’ve had before, very with quite a subtle flavour. Other items on the plate included chorizo, pork and fennel sausage, jamon, pork shoulder and beef heart salami. Every one of the options on the plate was outstanding.
Goats Cheese Churros With Truffle Honey ($17.00)
The goats cheese churros stood out as my least favourite dish of the night. It was by no means bad, however my friends and I all agreed that the strong cheese flavour of the churros (which were light and not too oily) overpowered the very tasty truffle honey dip. We actually forgot that there was truffle in the dip until we’d eaten the churros and finished off what was left of the dip by itself.
Raw Kingfish With Harissa, Blood Orange & Fennel ($24.00)
A light option that didn’t disappoint was the raw kingfish which was dense and soft, but not too much so. The harissa, blood orange and fennel all combined beautifully and it was a dish where you wanted a bit of everything in each mouthful to get the full effect of what was going on.
Wood Roasted Bone Marrow With Parsley & Horseradish Salad & Grilled Toast ($30.00)
I’ve been a big fan of bone marrow cooked this way ever since I first tried it at London’s Hawksmoor. It’s not as common as I’d like so whenever I see it on a menu I need to order it. The meat at Nomad is cooked in a big wood fired oven and that beautiful wood flavour permeated the bone marrow which was paired beautifully with the house made sourdough. The other elements of the dish were nice, but for me it was all about the toast and bone marrow – nothing else was required.
Wagyu Skirt Steak With Butter Poached Radishes & Gentleman’s Relish ($39.00)
The wagyu skirt steak was another winner, although 2 of my friends did mention that the found both the steak and radishes to be too salty. I also found the radishes to be too salty however I thought the salt levels on the steak itself were just right as I’m a big fan of steak with a salty crust. As was the case with the bone marrow, the other items on the plate were nice, but with meat this good, that’s cooked this good, nothing else is required.
Daintree Estate Chocolate Cake With Iranian Apricot, Nomad Crème Fraîche ($17.00)
The Daintree Estate Chocolate Cake was, quite simply, a really nice chocolate cake. I couldn’t taste the apricot coming through as the intense chocolate ganache that was covering the cake made most of the other flavours obsolete.
Buñuelos With Rose Water & Cardamom Custard ($14.00)
Buñuelos are, quite simply, doughnuts. These ones were light and fluffy on the inside with just the right amount of crunch on the outside. Rose and Cardamom is a classic combination that I’m a big fan of and the balance between the flavours in the custard was perfect.
I, along with the 3 friends I had dinner with all really enjoyed our meal at Nomad. The big space threw me at first, as I’ve become accustomed to the smaller, more intimate spaces that many new restaurants are opening in these days however it worked well and never felt like it was cavernous or overbearing. The atmosphere is lively, service is attentive and, most importantly, the food is excellent.
16 Foster Street
New South Wales 2010
Telephone: (02) 9280 3395
Dinner: Mon – Sat: 6:00pm to 12:00am
Lunch: Tue – Sat: 12:00pm to 2:30am