Bloodwood – Newtown

Bloodwood;  genus Corymbia; is a type of eucalyptus tree which is native to Australia’s arid region, including places like Alice Springs. The tree gets its name from the blood-like sap or kino (plant gum) that is often seen seeping from the bark.

What an unusual name for this similarly atypical but thoroughly enjoyable Modern Australian restaurant in Newtown. It is a non-pretentious casual venue which provides great service and serves top notch food without the expensive price tag. Just like the Aboriginals use the sap from the bloodwood tree to stop bleeding, stomach aches and colds, could Bloodwood be a remedy for solving the currently bleeding food industry?

My visit to Bloodwood was the case of second time lucky. The first time I went there, the waiting list was 2 hours long (walk in system only for groups of less than 8 people) so dinner had to be elsewhere. We went back for dessert and tea and it was pleasant enough to encourage a retry for dinner at this hip restaurant.

So, fast-tracking seven days later, upon the advice of the waiting staff, myself and my eager dining companion came as early as we could (Sunday, 6 pm) to avoid the dinner rush. Woot! We got a table straight away.

Visitors looking for this lovely and inconspicious little restaurant need to look for a dark wooden signboard resembling a recycled part of a door, hanging overhead out on the street, with ‘bloodwood’ written in white lettering. Inside the venue you find bar tables on the side of the narrow walkway leading to the mezzanine level dining room following a nifty bar and an open kitchen.  It’s décor fits Newtown like my jeans fit me (on my skinny days).  This restaurant is full of eclectic bohemian charms, with exposed yellow pipes and light bulbs decorating the ceilings, bare brick walls providing the background and retro red laminated tables, antique chairs and recycled woods pretty much everywhere.

Everything sounds good on the brown paper menu (recycled paper too, perhaps?). The tapas-style are always available. I had always wanted to try their famous polenta chips so it was first on our the order list, followed by venison carpaccio, lamb nuggets which was recommended by their ever-so-attentive and friendly staff, and the chickpea pancake which I ordered after checking out the food at the next table… come on, we’ve all done it!

And OMGAW, the polenta chips were awesome! Marvellously golden, amazingly crunchy and pleasantly fluffy. They are served with pungent (but super-delicious) Gorgonzola dipping sauce of which I can’t possibly have enough. Nom nom nom nom….I’m hungry just thinking about it!

And then we tried the venison carppacio. Great dish. I loved the texture of the wasabi leaf and buckwheat crips. The zing of the stout glaze also makes this dish sing (hey, that rhymes!).

I had never had wasabi leaf before, but to my untrained tongue it tastes mildly peppery with just a hint of wasabi flavour (which I mightn’t have noticed if I hadn’t known what the dish was). I also hadn’t had buckwheat crips before… but it  kinda tastes like…. POTATOS – hope that didn’t make me sound like Jessica Simpson.

Another dish we tried was the lamb belly and pistachio nuggets with jalapenos and green olives which came highly recommended by the staff. The unusual ingredients somehow taste delicious together and it has a great crispy crumble too – perhaps crispier than your typical chicken nuggets. I liked it a lot. It is great ‘comfort food’ and it is the perfect dish for sharing with a companion.

Socca: Chickpea pancake,spiced pumpkin, quinoa, persian fetta and fresh herbs. This was ordered out of curiosity and a healthy dose of envy and gluttony as I saw it being devoured by the table next to us. And it was as good as I imagined it to be: creamy, savoury and fresh. It tasted as delicious as a great pizza would without the guilt of having actually had a pizza. It makes for a great vegetarian dish, too, for the tree-huggers among us.

Dessert…………….I love dessert. And I love dessert selections even more.

We had the bloodwood dessert selection. It offers cream cheese, mango trifles and white choc parfait. It is good. In fact, it is very good. My favourite was the mango trifle. I loved the taste of the port wine jelly in the trifle as well as the poached cherries. It had a drizzly coating of custard and was topped with velvety-smooth yogurt mascarpone. The cream cheese and the white choc parfait were good too. Needless to say, with such a delicious dessert there were no left overs.

Bloodwood’s wine and cocktail list is quite extensive. Their wine list has strong emphasis on organic and biodynamic wines. I’m all for organic Viticulture: less chemicals and pesticides means more wine for my buck so it was ‘happy time’. I didn’t get to their wine this time though, as I was lured by their substantial selection of cocktails:

One singapore sling for me please…oh and a screwdriver‘, I ordered.

My orange-juice-drinking dining companion needed a serious drink makeover. Drinking non-alcoholic fruit juice for dinner is completely unacceptable behaviour when dining with me so spiked OJ it was for you, my friend: screwdriver = orange juice and vodka. It wasn’t on the menu but they were happy to make it so don’t be scared to order off-menu classics next time you come here. Both drinks were fabulous and Mr. OJ was now a cocktail convert – what a successful night all around!

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