Archive for July, 2011

Pilu at Freshwater

July 3, 2011

Moore Road, Freshwater, NSW

Parenthood is fast approaching. From months, it’s a matter of weeks (now, days). And although our lives will change dramatically, there will always be time for a decent lunch, it just may be a little less frequent. So, we’ll endeavour to make them as good a quality as possible. Which brings us to Pilu. A last minute booking take advantage of a free Saturday.

Our first time here at this north short institution. The location is lovely, a house perched on the hill over-looking the beautiful beach. We weren’t able to get the most perfectly positioned of tables, but every table has a view of some description. Vanessa got the view, but I got the wine, so no complaints.

We of course opt for the tasting menu and settle in for a good leisurely Saturday lunch.

The amuse is a pork/veal ‘bite’.

It’s  a welcome change from the usual soups and croutons and goes down a treat.

The bread is also thoroughly decent – a baguette and a wholemeal. Of course the accompaniement is olive oil and it’s nice and mellow. I think we order more.

We’re nicely settled in and my wine-by-the-glass begins. The introductions are a little over the top and dramatic, but it’s easy to forgive!.

The first dish arrives: Grilled scampi with sea urchin butter

It’s a lovely introduction. The scampi is perfectly cooked, just on the turn. It’s often easy to wolf down prawns, but these were something to savour over, and suck the shells. The sea urchin butter provided some indulgent richness, which although unnecessary considering the quality was of course welcome.

Pasta follows: Ravioli of potato, pecorino, mint with burnt butter, sage and black truffle

An attractive looking dish – butter and sage always bodes well. I’m partial to the idea of potato and pasta. Nothing wrong with double carbohydrates, but although well cooked, it’s a little on the bland side. Because of this the overall smooth consistency works against it. It’s the only average dish of the meal, but in the context of the tasting menu, with the intense ragu that follows, it has its place.

And so on to the very dish: Fregola with tomato and cured meat ragu

Vanessa, loves these sort of dishes. It’s why we’re made for each other… Big, intense meaty tomato flavours. Refinement in the construction, but not at the expense of taste. Every component is the same size, which meats it neat to eat, with pancetta the dominant welcome flavour. It’s great.

Unusually, we get a palate cleanser relatively early in the meal: orange and olive sorbet

It does the job and is very pleasing. Unfortunately the next few courses are exceptionally slow at coming out. But a few free top-ups of wine does the job.

And it is all worth waiting for: Steamed barramundi with olives and vernaccia

It’s a dish that lets the fish do the talking. Normally a little underwhelmed by barramundi, this is exceptional – sweet and succulent. the olive and white wine reduction amplify the flavours. It’s as perfect a fish dish I can remember.

It’s a 40 minute wait for the main – oven roasted suckling pig, served on the bone with condiments

What’s so initially pleasing about this house speciality, is the sense of the main event. All other courses are gearing up for this. A fine selection of pork – the loin, rib and some haunch (i believe) with a big bowl of rosemary & garlic roast potatoes. What’s not to love? There’s no need for saucing. It’s all about the pig and it’s gelatinous and soft where it needs to be, with plentiful crackling. The wait is a thing of the past and it all gets devoured. It requires a bit of effort, but we manage….

And so on to, just the single dessert – saffron donuts filled with cherries, served with sheeps milk ice cream

Again, it’s another cracker. Doughnuts are always a crowd-pleaser, but this exceeds expectations. Cherries ooze out of the crisp doughnuts and the ice cream has a welcome light cheesey note to it. It’s a pity it has to end..

After a dessert wine, we finish with petit fours, coffee and lucrezio liquor, that reminds me of Unicum….An acquired taste. I have that taste…

With the tasting menu and the wait between courses, it’s well after 4pm when we finish. The weather has turned, but it’s a still a lovely place to be to appreciate the view.

We had a lovely Saturday afternoon. There’s worse places to spend the day. We really enjoyed the cooking and the leisurely atmosphere. With kid in tow we’ll definitely come back for the a la carte…