Enter The Woods restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel Sydney and you are greeted with the soothing aroma of burning wood. The latest addition to the Sydney dining scene opened for business this week after much anticipation.
The Woods, Four Seasons Hotel Sydney
The décor is the first thing that leaves you in awe. The open plan restaurant with split-level dining stands as testament to its name and follows the theme of its older sibling, Grain Bar which opened earlier in September.
A tall, wood-fired oven and grill stands tall to one side with a hand-hewn wood block in front displaying Iggy’s bread and house-made butter. The low-benched open kitchen with granite top offers a view into the kitchen and a decorative live herb wall adds a touch of provincial elegance.
Wood-fired oven, Iggy’s bread and house-made butter
The design is the collaboration of designer Michael McCann and Executive Chef Hamish Ingham whose food philosophy celebrates the simplicity of the best ingredients through the nature of burning wood.
Various types of wood in use
The menu is divided into sections that build from smaller dishes to the more substantial leading to the “Meat from the Wood Fire” part that makes it a difficult task to choose and tempts you into coming back.
Ash seasoned ocean trout, smoked trout roe and parsley salad ($21)
From the smaller dishes comes the ocean trout with a light and balanced seasoning accompanied by a smoked trout roe, a refreshing salad of parsley with thinly-sliced onions and lightly toasted white bread. The roe pops in the mouth with subtle smoke and a lot of flavour.
Salad of cucumbers, grilled sea urchin and yoghurt ($18)
Grilled sea urchin and cucumbers come together in a salad accompanied with yoghurt. What seems like an unusual pairing at first works well as the delicious richness of the sea urchin contrasts with the cucumber.
Wood grilled calamari, pork cheek bacon and pickled muntries ($24)
The wood grill aroma of the calamari immediately seduces the senses. The calamari is exquisitely cooked and beautifully presented, thinly sliced but attached. The pork cheek bacon adds a touch of naughtiness to the dish and the pickled muntries, a native berry, adds a tart flavour – a must-have dish that celebrates a melody of flavours.
Mallee wood roasted spatchcock, radicchio, pine nuts, currants and preserved lemon ($30)
From the mains section, the Mallee wood roasted spatchcock is succulent and flavoursome and a generously sized dish. The crisp skin of the spatchcock with its accompanying textures and tastes provide a striking take with the sweetness of the currents, the bitterness of the radicchio and the acid from the preserved lemons.
Greenstone Creek scotch, grilled sour onions and sage ($40)
From the woodfire menu comes another well-portioned dish. The Greenstone Creek scotch, with grilled sour onions and sage is a celebration of The Woods’ ethos on a plate. The scotch fillet is perfectly cooked and the aroma and flavour of the wood makes this the standout dish of the evening.
Upside down lettuce ($12)
A side of upside down lettuce is available though a little ordinary and steeply priced at $12. Other choices include shoestring fries ($8), Hasselback potatoes ($9) and green beans and almonds over embers ($9).
The Woods Tart ($18)
Save room for dessert as The Woods Tart is not to be missed. Today’s tart has blood plum, ricotta and raspberries with tiny sprigs of thyme and a vanilla bean ice cream. The fruit is not overly sweet and the savoury notes from the thyme makes this dish a guilt free indulgence. The fillings change but the delicious caramelised puff pastry will have you secretly picking any crumbs off your plate.
Chocolate Swiss roll, grilled cherries and sesame ($16)
For a sweeter and richer option, choose the chocolate Swiss roll with spirals of chocolate and sponge sprinkled with salt flakes. Grilled cherries and a decadent sesame ice cream put a sweet end to the meal.
The bar area
The Woods also features its own bar which offers a lighter food menu. There is a semi-private dining room with a separate entrance which can be used for bookings and functions.
If you can prise yourself from enjoying the food or watching the chefs in the open kitchen, you may find yourself staring lovingly at the ceiling art. Handwritten recipes, kitchen illustrations and a letter to Hamish Ingham about fiddlehead ferns add a provincial touch perhaps reminiscent of the illustrations in Julia Child’s book Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
More photographs of The Woods below:
Vertical herb garden
Recipes and illustrations on the ceiling
Semi Private Dining Area
Elegant space to sip champagne
The wood-fired oven
L-R: Chef Joshua Niland and Executive Chef Hamish Ingham
The Woods has succeeded in creating an exquisite dining space far removed from the traditional style of hotel restaurants. More of a restaurant within a hotel, it offers Sydney-siders, visitors and hotel guests alike a unique experience in which to lose themselves in the aromas, flavours and sights that the venue has to offer.
Gourmantic attended the media launch of the Woods on Tuesday 4 December 2012 as guests.
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