I'm a lover of beards, sparkles, travel, animals, and all things this fine city of Sydney has to offer. Founder of vegan travel blog Veg Travel Guide: www.vegtravelguide.com
Published July 4th 2015
Vegan tasting menu
Nestled in the underground basement of the Central Station Hotel, is nel. restaurant, one of Sydney's most creative and innovative dining hotspots. Nel is spearheaded by culinary genius Nelly Robinson and is taking Sydney by storm with its eight course set degustation menu.
Ever struggle with making a single choice from a tantalising menu and wish you could try a bit of everything? Struggle no more. Nel. solves this dilemma by offering diners a seasonal set menu that changes monthly. The set menu costs $88 per person for 8 exciting courses, and can be paired with 10 matching wines for $80 per person. Nel. also offers a full vegetarian tasting menu and can accommodate other dietary requirements if mentioned upon booking.
I'd been hearing great things about nel. so arranged a vegan tasting menu for my partner and I. (If you're wanting to try the vegan menu, make sure you give at leave 48 hours notice so that the menu can be prepared and all the freshest ingredients can be ordered in.) I've been a vegan for almost a decade, and this was one of the best vegan dining experiences I've ever had. Chef Nelly Robinson really knows how to put together plant-based food that is fun, delicious and exciting (an approach that would be great to see other Sydney chefs embrace!)
Now to the food! Our degustation kicked off with fluffy, melt-in-your-mouth tomato marshmallows, with the cutest mini dehydrated carrot sandwiches. Next up was an earthy polenta with pea puree. I'm normally not a fan of polenta but this dish definitely changed my mind! Following this we had a mind-blowing concoction of treacle, sesame tofu, yuzu snow, and soy beans. At this point we thought things couldn't get any better. Then came a delicious mushroom consommé followed by a new take on gnocchi with dehydrated leek and red elk. Our final serving from the savoury section really took us by surprise. Featuring eggplant, turnip, lemon, bok choi, and an unexpectedly green tomato puree, this whole dish was an absolute treat.
There were two courses for dessert. They were both absolutely divine with surprising flavour combinations. First was a mandarin sorbet with carrot and mint. Not only did it taste delicious, but it was so beautifully presented. The final dessert though was the pièce de résistance. It featured flavours of white corn, cherry, and chocolate, topped off with pistachio cotton candy! Hiding underneath it all was some popping candy, which made the dish a delight to eat.
Our perfect dining experience was topped off with a toffee apple flavoured chocolate. This little morsel looked unassuming but came with a warning: don't bite into it, put the whole piece in your mouth at once. This was a fair warning, as I've never had a chocolate explode in my mouth before. Once again it was totally fun and bursting with flavour.