As individuals our identities are important. None of us would like to experience identity fraud, and the associated stress and potential damage to reputation that results. In the culinary world chefs often try to secure their identity by naming a restaurant after themselves, especially if they already have a good reputation before venturing out on their own. Sometimes however, that is not enough, as Harlan Goldstein learnt. Recently opened, Gold by Harlan Goldstein, sees the chef claiming back his identity in a way that is as big and bold as the man himself.
The a la carte menu is eclectic, with Signature Sandwiches and Wood-Stone Fired Flatbreads sitting next to Wagyu Fiorentina and Boston Lobster; vegetarians have been considered. There was plenty of dishes that appealed and selecting took some time, but in the end we stuck mostly with signature dishes.
After kicking off with a selection of jet-fresh oysters we opted for Foie Gras - Green Apple "Ice" and Black Fig Jus, and Hokkaido Sea Scallop Carpaccio - Slow-Cooked Egg and White Truffle Dressing.
Foie gras is a preferred guilty pleasure of my companion (on that night) and he finds it hard to resist. It turned out to be a great choice. The apple component of the dish was served three ways - puree, sliver and ice - the variety of textures, temperatures, sweet and tart flavours made for a varied journey for the palate...and it had me thinking that apple is the new fig when it comes to foie. The fig jus (with pieces) was also outstanding, again sweet and tart with different textural elements. I have eaten great foie gras dishes in the past but this one stands out as one of the best ever and my companion suggested that we might even have room for another serving it was that good.
There was something sensual, almost sexual, about the scallop dish, from its appearance with the oozing yolk to the mouthfeel of the fabulous, sweet scallop and the grainy texture of the truffle. The use of truffle was measured and clever - smell the dish before putting the scallop in your mouth and truffle is the predominant flavour, but without taking in the aroma the scallop is the predominant flavour. Our only complaint was the egg, some of the white was a little underdone, and the egg was cold, which I didn't like, my companion didn't mind. I did check to make sure, and was told that the egg was meant to be cold - I imagine this makes things easier for the kitchen but I think it would be a better dish if the egg was warm.
Goldstein is not shy when it comes to flavour, which we were reminded of through our main choices of 5J Iberian Pork Rack - Spinach, Melting Scamorza Cheese on Fresh Tomato Basil Sauce, and Wagyu Beef Cheek Ravioli - 12 Hours Slow-Braised Wagyu Beef Cheek, Foie Gras and Black Truffle Sauce.
My companion said, "This is pork!" of the perfectly cooked rack. He was not stating the obvious...he meant that all that had previously been eaten in the name of pork had been nothing more than a poor imitation. My notes are filled with a pasture of gustatory praise prefaced by "SO": big, bold, rich, fab, succulent, uber tender, insane, yet mellow and subtle - each mouthful had flavour intensity and balance off the charts. Of course a lot of this is the result of using such excellent produce but the execution of first cooking sous vide and then roasting to add colour and caramelisation did justice to the pig.
"Loopy" is what appears in my notes about the pasta dish, everything about this dish was in-your-face intense. The richness of the truffle sauce was surpassed by the deep robustness of the beef cheek, which was further heightened by the dollops of foie gras. The varied tastes contrasted, while complementing, much like duelling banjos, not fighting but pushing each other to go further. It packed such a punch that I was down for the count after one piece. My friend happily ate my second ravioli, which made up for one of his that had sprung a leak during cooking and was slightly watery.
A lovely salad of Wild Rocket - Vine-Ripened Cherry Tomatoes, Parmigiano and 25 Years Aged Balsamic, a sufficiently ballsy contrasting accompaniment.
The Gold Standard
I can always find room for a little sweetness after a big meal and we decided to share Chocolate Chip Panna Cotta - Raspberry Jelly, Crumble Crunch, Nutella Gelato and Amaretto Foam, and Gold's Warm Flowing Chocolate Cake - "5" Spice Gelato and Forest Berries.
Gold's Panna Cotta is not your average, each element is layered in a glass...providing for creative combinations on the part of the diner, each mouthful potentially different. Personally, I found: the amaretto a tad strong...and the best combination a little of each component on the spoon.
I didn't think the chocolate cake flowed as much as it promised, but it was oozy enough to satisfy and I really enjoyed the complementary five spice gelato. The addition of berries and mint adding freshness with crunch from a tuille.
Some of you may be thinking that this is one of the most complimentary (perhaps even gushing) reviews I have written in some time, and you would be right...but it was also one of the better meals I have had in some time.
Ambience, Service, Price, Other Menus, Wine
The ambience is warm and inviting. The space sumptuously appointed with plenty of gold features, and design elements abound. The dining room lighting is well thought out with light shining between tables not on tables. When you enter you walk past the small bar area with its gold glass bar, through to the warmth of the dining room and out to the al fresco deck, itself a beautifully designed space that features water and fire...think the Feng Shui master was consulted. My favourite design element is the collection of photos of Goldstein, giving you a peek into his past. The service matched the ambience and Goldstein engages with diners and happily recommends dishes.
Prices in order of above: Oysters (price depending on variety), $198, $178, $388, Pasta two sizes available - our pasta $198/268, $128, $88, $108. In addition to the a la carte, Goldstein offers a four- and five-course tasting menu priced at $780 and $880. There is also a value-for-money three course lunch that changes weekly priced at $218, with the first course being a buffet selection of appetisers and salads. In addition, there is also a Tapas/Hams/Flatbreads menu available on the al fresco deck.
The extensive wine list offers something for all tastes and budgets. While we enjoyed some excellent wines by the glass ($68up), and a bottle of wine can be had for $480, for those looking to impress there are plenty of options in the tens of thousands all the way to a rare Jeroboam of 1945 Chateaux Mouton Rothschild (one of only 24 in the world) priced at $2.38million.