We'd initially been thinking of trying our luck elsewhere, but when we couldn't get a table I made a booking at Nomad. In the randomness of the Universe, this turned out to be a massive stroke of luck as Nomad is a GREAT restaurant with terrific food (and wine).
The space is cavernous by anyone's definition and you'd think in a vast room of cement floors, high exposed ceilings, brick walls and wooden tables it would be overbearingly loud. But it's not. There's some crazily good acoustic shenanigans going on here as the space is really very quite. The music is set at just the right volume, and even when the space fills to its capacity of 150 people everything is...hushed. The restaurant has a lovely ambiance and things just hum along at a nice volume.
We start off with an order of woodfired Ssurdough with black salt butter ($2.50pp). The bread is good (fresh and airy with a great, firm crust) but the butter is OMG good. I'm wondering can I just forgo the bread and eat the salty, creamy butter with a teaspoon instead? Surely there's nothing wrong with that?
We order a few small plates to nibble on over a glass (or two) of Pinot Gris (best wine ever by the way).
First up is the Nomad pickles and olives ($15.00). The pickles are made in-house (as is just about everything else) and you can see big jars of them dotted around the restaurant. I really love pickles...I grew up eating them and I find them hard to pass by if I seem them on the menu. I love the variety of pickled "things" that Nomad give us - carrots, radishes, chillies, cauliflower, onions and some other things I can't identify (but am more than happy to eat). Beware the red chilli though - it'll blow your socks off.
A terrific selection of housemade Nomad charcuterie ($26.00) which comes with horse salami (which is delicious by the way) along with pork, ox tongue and other yummy things!
It's the first time I've ever seen horse on a menu in Australia and I'm intrigued. We're told the horse comes from a farm in WA and the salami is made in house. I know some people have objections to eating "cute or beautiful" animals such a horse, but if you eat cows, pigs, sheep (etc etc) then there really is no difference to eating any other animal. Why do our sensibilities tell us that's OK to eat some animals but not others (there's a lot of writing out there on the internet if you're interested)? For me, I am more concerned with how the animal was raised and treated during it's life rather than what it is
Our small plates quickly disappear and we move onto the BIG PLATE section of the menu...dun dun dun dun.
Mr Shawn is determine to order the BBQ Carrots ($18.00) - something he's being seeing on menus (outside of Chinatown is)! There's no argument from us, and the carrots really are delicious. They come sprinkled with a nutty almond dukkah and whipped labne.
Reminiscent of the freakishly awesome grain salad at Jimmy Grants - Nomad's tabbouleh of toasted grains and rice with sour cherries and Nomad ricotta ($21.00) - is a winner! I love the little chunks of ricotta dotted throughout the salad, the mix of textures - soft, creamy, crunchy is great fun.
And on to the main event *happy dance* - a plate filled with luscious, fatty (in just the right way) wood-roasted Pork with the most EPIC slab of crackling served with romesco aioli and lemon ($34.00).
The pork comes with a bonus pan of sweet potato gratin on the side that reminds a bit of the candied yams I've tried on Thanksgiving before.
We weren't going to have dessert but in the end we felt like we wanted something sweet to end the meal on. We choose a light, refreshing (and brain freezing) dessert of Buttermilk Cream with cherries, sangria ice and fresh figs ($14.00).
I enjoyed our meal at Nomad immensely and cannot wait to come back. I thought the menu was really great and the decor of the room was comfortable and inviting. Two hoofs up from me.
Nomad is at 16 Foster St, Surry Hills. Phone them on 9280 3395.