We had one of the best dining experiences of our lives last night and it was so bloody good that I've edited the photos and written this post within 12 hours 😍. Nel. Restaurant is an Australian modern restaurant that became really popular for their Disney inspired tasting menu last year.
We have been following their instagram since and when the theme returned, we rushed for a reservation (although we do wish we had tried the British menu earlier). It was nice to see they were almost booked out for the next 4 weeks during these tough Covid times. Even during our Thursday 8:30 pm we could see the restaurant was packed.
Tasting menu included an 11 degustation course for $135 pp.
Matching wine pairing was $105 pp. Mick and Nick went all out on this.
Our first entree arrived in this mysterious Alice in Wonderland book, based off the scene when Alice had to eat the cake to shrink/grow. Eat me was composed of a delicate short bread with a cheese filling. It had a very milky and sharp taste in a quick dry bite. Our friend, Nick, is not a cheese fan but he really appreciated this.
This next dish arrived with burning flames but I was not quick enough to capture the fire 🔥. Dragon Fire was inspired by Mushu from Mulan. It was a moist prawn dumpling covered in a crispy black layer (didn't catch the ingredient) and dipped into a mixed yuzu sauce. The presentation blew everyone away because the dumpling looked very burnt and was deceptively good. The filling was a juicy and savoury bite of prawn. The sauce cut through the flesh with its subtle acidity. Everyone was saying they could eat this over and over 😂
This mug was cute! Runaway to the Circus was obviously inspired by Dumbo, the elephant. This was a crispy chicken wing on a bed of unsalted peanuts. The others were amazed because their wing was de-boned but I was not fussed with sucking on the bone because the meat was soooo tender, it fell off with a touch of my tongue. There was a mild savoury taste with a subtle nutty flavour. While writing this, I have realised the chicken wing was symbolic for Dumbo's ears..... 💡
Woah!! You shall go to the Ball arrived in a giant pumpkin and it was so heavy our waiter struggled with balancing his tray. Inspired by Cinderella, this was a pumpkin brioche on pumpkin seeds with pumpkin infused butter. This was such a memorable presentation for a staple entree (bread and butter). The brioche was doughy and delicious with its mildly sweet pumpkin taste. It was not as overly sweet as typical brioche breads usually are. The pumpkin butter (no photo) was light and creamy and glided easily on to our bread. We ended up licking the bowl because we could not get enough of it.
Starting our mains, we had Bambi & Thumper with a red sparkling wine 2018. This was sliced venison with rabbit nugget, enoki, some other mushroom and emulsified 'soil' (my phone autocorrected this so I have no idea what the sauce actually was LOL🤣). A little morbid in creation but absolutely finger-licking delicious in taste. "This is a nugget of dreams" - Our friend, Allie. It was slightly dry but due to its small bite size, it was a good balance of meat and batter. The venison was savoury, mouthwatering and peppery. And the mushrooms were delicious. I ate them all despite my hate for the mushroom texture. You know it was good if the chef can make me eat mushrooms.
We had to stir the Steal from the rich, give to the Poor for a golden surprise and viola; beautiful golden bubbles in the soup. The theatrics and interactive dish was amazing. This was a mushroom soup with onions, paired with a white wine from Hunter Valley 2011. The soup was mildly savoury and warm temperature with a thin consistency. The onions was rich in sweetness and cut through the savouriness well. There were starchy potato cubes floating in the vibrant coloured soup. We loved the alfalfa sprouts for texture. It was a really cosy dish and very creative as soup is indeed a poor man's meal.
Life motto, Just keep Swimming! This delicious John Dory fish with foam was paired with an exotic blue wine (NV VHS x Nel Cuvee) made from butterfly pea berries. This dish was hitting all our senses. The smell was like an ocean. The colours were vibrant with the blue wine and white foam. The taste was delightful! 🐠 The fish was fresh and succulent with a strong umami taste. The foam and cream were more bland, accentuating the fish's flesh. There was rosemary and some nuts that brought forth a depth of flavour to the bite. The wine was a citric sharp taste. Every element of this dish and drink was really creative, fitted the theme and combined into a well balanced bite. SO GOOD!
Our Donald a Paris arrived in two parts. This was fried duck meat with spicy mayonnaise. We loved the cup; it was a quirky ceramic duck foot. The meat was compact and a little dry but the mayo added a moisten kick to the bite.
"I got less sauce because of you" - Nick. I am thankful for friends who put up with my embarrassing photography LOL THANKS GUYS! 🥰
But wow, this dish... the second half of Donald a Paris was a succulent piece of duck breast with potato, butter, purple pear puree and rosemary in the sauce. It was an extensive list of ingredients so hopefully I caught most of it. The duck meat was tender as fuck! Wow! Juicy and coated the inside of our mouths with its rich goodness. The potato was soft and buttery. There was a slight sweetness from the creamy puree that cut through the meat. Everything was balanced and just so delicious. This word has been used a lot but what more can I say for such a perfect dinner 😆 This was paired with a 2019 red wine.
Moving on to desserts, we have this adorable Melted Snowman with a clear wine, inspired by Frozen. This was a mousse with rum sauce on a chocolate base. The presentation was on point to the real Olaf ⛄ It was a nice ice cream with bits of sweet fruits and some citric flavours. Eating it with the base tasted like a soft oreo. The rum was mildly infused and not overwhelming.
They brought out this rose for the next dessert. Can you guess the inspiration?
The show was amazing! The server sprinkled nitrogen hardened rose petals over the Roses are Red, Beasts are Blue and it was so beautiful, I wish my camera could have captured the magical experience. This was a chiffon cake with raspberry mochi, lychee sorbet and chocolate twizzle. I probably missed a bunch of ingredients there. The best word to describe this? SPECTACULAR!!! 😍
Best dessert we've ever had? Possibly. The rose and lychee combo was delish! The lychee flavour was strong and saturated the sorbet. The little cream in between the layers enhanced the fruits. The raspberry squirts was flavourful and sweet. It was an amazing dessert that made all of us wanting more. This was also paired with a sake - what a great selection and variety of liquor!
Our final dessert was Imagination, inspired by Peter Pan or as Nick said: "this is Basil the great mouse detective" 😂🤣. This was a fine, crispy pastry that was delicate to eat. The blue cream was bland and the red filling was very sweet, like jam, but I did not catch the ingredients here. It was a balanced bite and a great way to end the dinner. We absolutely loved the design of the plate too.
We also ordered a Moana cocktail. This was citric and mildly sweet with a good amount of tart that made it so easy to drink 🤪 I ordered 2015 champagne advertised on their IG and yes, I skulled it because it was another easy-to-drink glass.
Our bill arrived inside a book so opening the page helped dampened our shock at seeing the damages 😂
As we were leaving, Kyle, the GM, introduced us to Nel, the owner!! I had a fan girl moment HAHAHA 😍 But seriously, the vibe of this restaurant was phenomenal. Every single person was friendly, chatty and humble. It made the already-fun experience feel really personal and special. It was such a comfortable environment where diners could make embarrassing jokes (like guessing accents) and not feel ashamed in such a classy setting.
No wonder they're booked out for the month! There was a great variety of ingredients and liquor for a great price. Everything tasted delicious as I've written over and over. And again, staff were attentive, informative and absolutely excellent people. Even Nel was so thankful and we're so glad he achieved the restaurant he had envisioned.
We even declared a few times during dinner that "this is our new favourite restaurant in Sydney" and yes, Jarrett, you played a part in that (he was listening in when we made our declaration LOL). And we weren't lying. We went home to plan our next visit for the next tasting menu 😆 We are looking forward to returning!
I loved the interior.
So if you've stumbled upon this post, and the Disney menu is still on, hurry your ass to book a reservation!!
Thanks for reading! Happy eating friends!