It’s been so busy lately, but now that things are getting back on track, we should be posting more regularly again… yay! Thanks for being so patient
So a while ago, some of my foodie friends thought to start a 6-week fine dining / home-cooked dinner cycle (over dinner, no less) and it so happened that one of the dinners landed on one of their birthdays!
There were a couple of choices and in the end, the birthday boy chose Balla.
There were a lot of really delicious-sounding dishes on the menu and it took us a while to decide what to get; thankfully we had some pretty nice pickled vegetables and olives to nibble on (we ended up going through quite a few dishes too!).
Ever since I’ve been introduced to Burrata, I’ve been obsessed with it (and it always reminds me of Minh waxing lyrical about it hehe). Interestingly, none of my foodie friends have had burrata before, so I was pretty excited for them to taste it.
I quite sure they liked it – there was nothing left of the dish and it wasn’t me that finished it off! I wish I could have though; I adored the sublime creaminess of the cheese with the smokiness of the grilled vegetables. It was seasoned with garlic and oregano, splashed with olive oil and had just the right amount of lemon zing.
The slow-cooked octopus was amazingly tender and was simply dressed with olive oil and some fresh herbs.
I quite liked the soft potato cubes with the octopus and flavour-wise it was a pretty tasty dish, but perhaps it lacked a little oomph.
The raw kingfish was super fresh and had such a bright flavour that it was just a joy to eat. Though I might have deliberately brushed off a bit of the herbs, as I prefer just a touch rather than a lot.
The toasted ciabatta was really crunchy and I loved the super soft goat cheese – it had such a wonderfully strong, sharp clean flavour. I had forgotten that it was spicy salami on top and my tastebuds gave up their ghosts when I ate it (thinking it was red capsicum, for shame), leaving me with a mild headache.
However, the dinner must go on and my tastebuds rallied for the next course.
The Wood-Grilled Tuna, Borlotti Beans and Balsamic Onions was well-seasoned, though my friend hadn’t decided whether or not borlotti beans were for him, even after finishing the dish. Meanwhile, I loved the hearty beans and found it interesting that the tuna was quite steak-y (it looked like one too!).
The Blue eye simmered in tomato, basil and garlic was soft and scrumptiously flaky; I loved the zesty flavour and acidity from the tomatoes.
The Wood-grilled pork cutlet with sautéed turnip tops, chili and garlic was insanely tender, perfectly seasoned and struck just the right balance of fat and meat. I did find that the turnip tops were a bit too bitter for my taste though.
The Wood-grilled whole spatchcock with garlice and chili, grilled radicchio was surprisingly light – not as hearty as it looked – and had a refreshing zing to the dish.
I had the wonderfully pillow-soft Potato gnocchi with duck ragu. It was quite a hearty dish (quite deceptively filling too!) and the duck was divinely succulent.
Meanwhile, a couple of my friends had the Pan-fried organic Jum Jum Farm Muscovy duck breast, witlof, balsamic which was incredibly soft and juicy; the dish overall packed a punch of flavour.
We also had ordered a delicious side of Roast Rosemary Potatoes and Wood-grilled seasonal vegetables with olive oil, garlic, oregano and lemon, which went well with all of the dishes.
I love eating in groups – you get to try almost everything!
We ordered the wonderfully creamy Zuccotto, which is a traditional sponge dome with chocolate, ricotta and mascarpone (components you can’t go wrong with) and I loved the almost-decadently rich Amedei chocolate crunch.
It was the Rolled chestnut pancakes filled with ricotta that was everyone’s least favourite, as we found the pancakes to be a bit chewy and overall, a bit bland.
The Frangelico burnt cream served with biscotti had a respectable caramelised top (thus, had a most satisfying crack) and was awesomely smooth and creamy.
The Fresh fruit and custard tart came out with a candle on top for the birthday boy and the tart was quite nice. The base was buttery and crumbly, while the custard had a very light zesty tang to it.
It was the Pastries filled with pistachio gelato, vanilla and chocolate cream that also stole my heart. It looked so psychedelic and tasted like heaven.
While Balla’s service was quite attentive and we quite enjoyed the atmosphere of the restaurant, we felt that the dishes were a bit hit-and-miss – a couple of my friends actually left feeling a little dissatisfied. Perhaps I’m just a bit of a greedy guts, but I thought there were more strong dishes than weak ones overall, so I was quite happy with what we had.
Level G, Harbourside,
80 Pyrmont Street
Pyrmont NSW 2009