Ever since my friend Carrie raved about her visit to Universal Restaurant on her birthday last year, about what a genius Christine Manfield was, I knew that I had to try it. It wasn’t until this year and on the occasion of a very special friend’s birthday (Hi El!), that I got to try it. It’s location in the Republic 2 Courtyard in Darlinghurst, creates a perfectly laid back atmosphere, however the service and food are far from laid back!
The service was wonderful with super friendly and knowledgeable staff. Once we were seated, we chose some pretty mean cocktails and perused the menu. The menu is designed to be a sort of design-your-own-degustation, where they recommend you choose 4 meals plus dessert. The menu options are also listed in order from lightest to heaviest meals. Needless to say, we had a tough time choosing because everything sounded so good!
Tea Smoked Aoraki Salmon and Pacific Oysters, Morcilla and Green Apple Salad $28.00
The tea smoked aoraki salmon was the first thing that I saw on the menu and I decided that I had to have it! Beautiful pieces of salmon with a wonderfully smokey flavour and plump oysters topped with morcilla and green apple salad, salmon roe and salmon skin! A beautiful dish with wonderful flavours!
Fennel Falafal, Spiced Yoghurt, Globe Artichoke, Broad Bean and Red Quinoa Salad $25.00
The fennel falafal was definitely not your ordinary falafal, looks and taste wise! They had the ubiquitous crispy and crunchy shell with soft and spongey innards, and they went perfectly with the spiced yoghurt. Make sure you get a little bit of everthing in each mouthful to fully appreciate this dish!
Sichuan Pepper Spiced Duck, Asparagus, Lychee and Watercress Salad $27.00
My photo doesn’t do this next dish any justice (sorry!). But the sichuan pepper spiced duck dish certainly packed a punch! Fragrant pieces of tender duck meat with a salad of asparagus, lychee and watercress. I loved the lychee in this, the perfect flavour combination to complement the duck.
Fragrant Lemongrass Oxtail Consommé, Beef Cheek Wontons, Shredded Veal Tongue, Snow Fungus $26.00
Our final savoury meal was the oxtail consommé. Beautiful looking beef cheek wontons looked so perfect and almost too good to eat (almost!). So, full disclosure: I have an extreme bias towards wontons and I am very easily pleased with those mini parcels of joy! The wontons at Universal had the silkiest and softest skin with rich and tender filling of beef cheek. The consommé was smooth, light and flavoursome. Definitely one of the highlights of our meal!
Gaytime Goes Nuts $18.00
Anyone who watches Masterchef will have heard of Christine Manfield and her freaking amazing desserts! There were so many awesome sounding desserts, but I only had eyes for Gaytime Goes Nuts! Seriously, the name is the best description for this dessert. And old-skool classic, the gaytime ice cream (which I have always LOVED), gets transformed! Hazelnut chocolate, caramel, honeycomb all encased in a cylinder shaped honeycomb brittel. At some points it was intensely sweet, but I don’t think I could fault this dessert!
Exciting ‘flavours of the world’ cuisine, with tonnes of flavour packed into each dish. The presentation of each dish was beautiful and exactly what I would expect from a restaurant of this calibre. The prices will set you back a little bit, but it’s definitely worth it for a special occasion.Universal Restaurant Republic 2 CourtyardPalmer Street (between Burton & Liverpool Streets) Darlinghurst NSW 2010 Tel: (02) 9331 0709 Open Lunch: Friday (from 12pm) and Dinner: Monday – Saturday (from 6pm) http://www.universalrestaurant.com/