22 February 2011

Elysium: Woodfired Pizza, Restaurant & Wine Bar officially opens, Randwick (13 Feb 2011)

45-55 St Pauls Street, Randwick NSW 2031
http://www.elysiumrestaurant.com


Ambitious menu hits the spot

Thanks to the Elysium team for inviting me along to the official opening of their new restaurant venture located in The Spot which was previously in a smaller premises on Avoca Street. The restaurant and bar and is one of the largest restaurants in the area including a tapas style bar menu and woodfired pizzas — a very ambitious menu so I hope they have enough staff and kitchen power to pull it off. There’s a private dining room which could get a bit warm due to no available air conditioning and a chef’s table that sits 6 to get you closer to the cooking action. Being one of the only restaurants in the area with a bar could make Elysium a very attractive venue for pre drinks and snack before a movie at the Ritz Cinema if the kitchen and service can manage providing efficient turnaround service.

Tonights opening was a chance to sample some of the final selection of wines which would have taken into account results from their wine sampling events and to try a selection of their new bar menu which is competition for the popular The Spanish Fly nearby and El Bulli across the road. Upon arriving I positioned myself near the well-equipped open kitchen to see Chef Micah calmly at work with his team. I thought I positioned myself well in full view of the staff where they collected the dishes from the kitchen pass but some of the dishes weren’t offered to me like the Antipasto platter ($20), Grilled chorizo sausage ($9), Grilled whole Australin prawns ($10) and Fried zucchini flowers ($14). So I sadly can’t comment on these dishes but they did look very tempting, especially the large sized prawns — I must have forgotten to take off my invisibility cloak or the friendly service had a bit of tunnel vision at the time.

Plates of aged parmigiano reggiano, marinated ligurian olives and grissini bread sticks ($12) were scattered amongst the tables and I managed to quickly try a piece of the flavoursome aged parmigiano reggiano. A Trio of housemade dips with grilled schicciate bread ($10) looked nice and I had a quick taste of each of the dips but wished I tried a bit more. Freshly shucked oysters with fresh lemon ($18 half dozen), with red wine and eschallot dressing ($20 half dozen), with white peach and moscato granita ($20 half dozen) were quickly snapped up but I managed to try one with an excessive amount of red wine and eschallot dressing topping and one with a refreshing white peach and moscato granita — less topping in both would have allowed the true taste of the oyster to shine better. A selection of four types of Toasted bread crostini were decently sized although I had to be careful picking up some of the fragile bases which seemed to break apart easily.

Three types of Savoury pastry tartlets were available and I tried the caramelized onion & truffle oil. The bases were light and thin and I wished I had a chance to try the roasted porcini & button mushrooms and asparagus, gruyere & mascarpone. Reasonably priced Fried baby potatoes with garlic & rosemary salt ($5) was my favourite of the night bursting with flavour from the salt. I think if they had a slightly more crunchy skin texture would have been perfect for me. Arancini of soft goats cheese, peas & mint with tomato dipping sauce ($9) were nicely sized but maybe a more flavoursome cheese would have given them a more exciting taste kick. Roasted confit chicken wings with red wine glaze ($9) were tasty and certainly made the fingers start sticking to the napkin. If you’re not afraid of fat then the Slow braised pork belly with cider & spices ($9) might be calling you. The Grilled calamari with aioli, lemon & parsley ($9) was tender although could have had a slightly more robust BBQ smokey flavour. The interesting Fried sicilian olives 'ascolane' with pork & fennel stuffing ($9) were quite tasty and different to nibble on. Ending on a sweet note the Sicilian style cannoli with ricotta filling ($7) were quite good but the version at Bacco had more noticeable candied fruit and a crispier shell which I think is a key factor to this dish.

SNAPSHOT REVIEW:
PROS: Lots of menu choices, Cosy decor and atmosphere, Reasonably priced tapas, Quality wines, Friendly service
CONS: Ambitious menu will be a challenge to uphold with efficient service, No air conditioning available
MUST TRY: Fried baby potatoes with garlic & rosemary salt, Trio of housemade dips, Other menu items

Plate of aged parmigiano reggiano, marinated ligurian olives and grissini bread sticks ($12)

Trio of housemade dips with grilled schicciate bread ($10)


A selection of wines on offer

Freshly shucked oysters with fresh lemon ($18 half dozen), with red wine and eschallot dressing ($20 half dozen), with white peach and moscato granita ($20 half dozen)

Toasted bread crostini (3 pieces) with chicken liver parfait & apricot confit ($7), with grilled fig, gorgonzola & honey truffle dressing (price?), with wine ripened tomato, onion & basil salsa ($5), with creamed salt cod & herb and brioche crust ($8)

Antipasto platter of sliced cold cut meats, grilled vegetables, cheese and toasted schiacciata bread ($20) — Service didn't bring this one around for me to try

Savoury pastry tartlets (3 pieces) with roasted porcini & button mushrooms, with asparagus, gruyere & mascarpone ($7), with caramelized onion & truffle oil ($7)

Fried baby potatoes with garlic & rosemary salt ($5)
SIMON FAVOURITE :-)

Arancini of soft goats cheese, peas & mint with tomato dipping sauce ($9)

Roasted confit chicken wings with red wine glaze ($9)

Grilled 'rodriguez brothers' chorizo sausage with apple balsamic glaze ($9) — Unfortunately service didn't bring this one around for me to try

Slow braised pork belly with cider & spices ($9)

Grilled calamari with aioli, lemon & parsley ($9)

Fried sicilian olives 'ascolane' with pork & fennel stuffing ($9)

Grilled whole Australin prawns with tomato & avocado salsa ($10) — Unfortunately service didn't bring this one around for me to try

Fried zucchini flowers with pecorino stuffing, rocket salad (not included) and truffled honey dressing ($14) — Unfortunately service didn't bring this one around for me to try

Sicilian style cannoli with ricotta filling ($7)


In the kitchen

Bar area

Restaurant booth seating

Pizza and kitchen area

Chef's table

Pizza oven

Private dining room — some artwork on the wall would make it a bit more welcoming and interesting though

Wine glass and menu cover

Awkward position of table support for sitting feet flat — see my preferred corrected position at Cafe Sydney

Open windows

Outside street entrance

Located underneath Brigidine College


View Larger Map
Elysium: Woodfired Pizza Restaurant & Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

12 comments:

BGDino said...

Hmmm this looks like a must try! Thanks Simon!

joey@FoodiePop said...

Mmmm, fried baby chats look great! Where were the pizzas?

Anonymous said...

Did they promise to let you try everything and then forget about you? The food looks and sounds very average mostly and if the potatoes were the best thing you tasted, then that says something!

Gianna@TheEmptyFridge said...

I agree with joey - where are the pizzas?

such a large selection, and it would be interesting to try - the oyster with white peach and moscato granita sounds very refreshing and new.

Peggy said...

This looks like a great place! Definitely some neat menu options!

john@heneedsfood said...

Looks nice enough. Your between-the-legs-shots always make me laugh

Tina@foodboozeshoes said...

lol at John's comment!

Simon Food Favourites said...

hi bgdino, hoping to visit again to try other dishes.

hi joey, i think the pizza oven wasn't quite working but i believe it's set up now.

hi anonymous, there were a few things i didn't get to try which looked really good so probably still worth a visit to find some tasty dishes.

hi gianna, i wanted to try the pizzas too but alas wasn't being served that night. i think i still prepare my oysters el naturalle :-)

hi peggy, hope you get to try in due course.

hi john, my focus on under the table shots is definitely unique ;-)

hi tina, apparently it can be OK for the ladies with high heels though so they can rest their feet more flat?

King of Coogee said...

We love the atmosphere, the proximity to home, great food and wine list reasonable prices, but the overly high chairs at the bar were uncomfortable and the wait staff need to be more in control of the operation. There was a lot of energy being expended for not much result. However that could have been teething issues so going back next weekend

Simon Food Favourites said...

hi King of Coogee, let's hope the teething issues get sorted out soon :-)

Anonymous said...

Your photos are always really good. This place doesn't know what it is anymore. Are they trying to capture the whole of the food selection of the Eastern Suburbs. Are they a pizza place, a sit down restaurant, a tapas restaurant. Next thing they will be serving thai. Used to be better at the old venue.

Simon Leong said...

hi anonymous, you've made a good point. i was thinking their menu might be just too broad although i've yet to revisit to see how they're going. too many thai already in The Spot although I wouldn't put it past them :-) — I really liked the simplicity of the old venue menu too although Bistro Avoca is doing a great job now.

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