'Nomad' appears to be a misnomer: this is one place we'd be very content to set down some roots.
October 16, 2013
UPDATE: Due to an electrical fire in September, Nomad had to move up the road into the old Longrain space on Commonwealth Street. But, we have some good news: the OG restaurant will be back up and running on October 20.
It's difficult to know what to love first about Nomad. Walking in off drab Foster Street in Surry Hills' fringe, you're hit first by the simple beauty of the interior design. High ceilings, clean lines and polished concrete create a chic warehouse aesthetic warmed by bursts of colour from scattered jars of preserved turnips, gherkins, cauliflower, carrots and other pickled surprises. Attractive wooden tables are arranged cleverly throughout the large space, but the most coveted seats are those that wrap around the oversized open kitchen: from here, you can whet your appetite with a view of Heston-trained chef Nathan Sasi working his culinary magic.
With 50 hand-picked wines available by the glass, you'll need some time to make decisions; a plate of Nomad pickles ($8) is the perfect accompaniment for the process. The wine list has been cultivated by Rob Geddes, one of only 18 Masters of Wine in the country, and is a proud celebration of Australian viniculture. The menu is intended to shift and transform between every visit, with each iteration showcasing a rising Australian luminary. The inaugural honouree is Michael Hall, whose pleasurable 2012 Adelaide Hills Chardonnay ($15/$72) evokes stone fruit and truffles and whose spicy Flaxman Valley Shiraz is an ideal bedfellow for the rustic Mediterranean feast to follow.
The 'snack' menu of small but explosive dishes offers one hit after another. The Devils on Horseback are succulent prune spheres wrapped in paper-thin pancetta and drizzled with liquid orange blossom marmalade ($8). For another burst of flavour, try the cured bonito, layered with goat horn peppers and thin, toasted pastry for a devastatingly perfect textural balance ($12). The Nomad charcuterie ($24) is a must; the house-cured meats are displayed grandly in the cool room by the kitchen and feature interesting combinations like wallaby with juniper berries and beef heart salami.
The menu expands into more substantial servings like a flavoursome BBQ quail with smoked pork hock and crispy Brussels sprouts ($28) and Chermoula-braised lamb neck with trimmings for two ($36). It's worth ordering one of the barbecued options just to watch the drama of the woodfired grills being raised and lowered over the hot coals in the open kitchen. Whichever delicacy you choose, keep an eye out for the care with which it is arranged on the plate before being gently drizzled, dusted or decorated with pretty, edible flowers. The attention devoted to each dish is palpable, and it pays generously in terms of both aesthetic and taste.
In addition to making its mark on the culinary scene, Nomad is set to become a fully functioning cellar door, offering you the opportunity to taste at the table and then take home a case of whatever you loved the most. All in all, 'Nomad' appears to be a misnomer: this is one place we'd be very content to set down some roots.
Images: Petrina Tinslay.