Get your fix at Fix St James

by Forager on February 14, 2009

Given my kitchen is out of commission at the moment whilst I wait for builders to put my bright shiny new one in, I’m making the most of meals out and trying out new places around the city.

Last night my friend Jo and I caught up after work for dinner and drinks. As we wanted to try out the modern Mediterranean menu and excellent wine list at Fix St James, we met at Bar Europa for a couple of cocktails before hand. The bar wasn’t packed but the bar staff really struggled to deliver our cocktail orders. They took our orders, then halfway through preparation, would serve someone else or would forget and need to be reminded. We ended up canceling our second order and heading straight to the restaurant. This seemed to be a bad omen for the start of the night and as we walked to the restaurant in the drenching rain, the rain maneuvering around our umbrellas and pelting sideways at our legs, I couldn’t help thinking that perhaps we should have called a rain check and gone to our warm, cosy homes instead.

Lucky for me that we didn’t because Fix St James brightened up our nights with delicious fare and fantastic service. We weren’t expecting to have an enormous meal but when we were presented with a tempting degustation menu with more than a few dishes that elicited excited “oohs” out of us both, we couldn’t help ourselves and settled in our seats for the night. Here’s the menu:

Freshly shucked oysters with finger lime dressing
Kingfish carpaccio
Cheese stuffed zucchini flowers
Ox heart tomato panzanella salad
Rabbit and ham hock terrine
Fritto misto

Angel hair pasta with yamba prawns

Grainge scotch fillet tagliata

Watermelon and campari granita with fresh raspberries

We knew of the excellent wine list at this restaurant, but given neither Jo and I are big drinkers (and I was driving), we asked the waiter to recommend us each 1 wine that would complement the degustation menu. We ended up with 2 whites as there was a focus on seafood in the menu – Jo had a SA sauvignon blanc and I had a Marlborough region pinot gris. We sipped these and munched on bread and orange marinated olives as we waited for our first dishes to arrive. We didn’t have to wait long though as we were soon served our first dishes.

We tucked into the oysters first. These were dressed in lime, and garnished with crunchy slivers of cucumber and radish and were just delicious! The dressing was tangy and enhanced the natural aroma of the oyster, the radish and cucumber creating a refreshing contrast in texture to the oyster. Next we had the ox heart tomato salad – the tomato was perfectly ripe and so intensely flavoursome! Some juicy plump slivers of boccarones just topped off a perfect salad.

The zucchini flowers were stuffed with a rich ricotta filling – creamy on the inside and the light batter made it crunchy but not too heavy and oily (just right to avoid that heavy feeling in our bellies). The rabbit and ham hock terrine followed and we tasted this with some interest as Jo had never had rabbit before. The terrine was slightly gamey in flavour but I felt the candied melon dressing on the terrine a strange choice, resulting in a sweetness that overpowered the dish.

The last two entrees consisted of the fritto misto: a selection of fried school prawns, baby calamari and blue swimmer crab perhaps best enjoyed as a moreish beer snack; and the carpaccio which transformed from kingfish on the menu to salmon on our table as the kitchen had run out of kingfish. The salmon had an interesting almost jelly-like texture but surprisingly almost no flavour. Whereas the dressing on the oysters enhanced their natural flavour, we felt the carpaccio dressing drowned out the salmon’s flavour.

The first of the mains was a yamba prawn angel hair pasta dish. The yamba prawns were delicious and the pasta intensely prawn flavoured throughout. We suspect that perhaps the prawn heads were reserved for the pasta sauce. Although filling, I couldn’t help myself and gobbled up all the pasta.

The last of the mains was the scotch fillet – cooked medium rare to perfection and hidden under a forest of rocket and parmesan shavings. The scotch fillet was tender and flavourful and I was disappointed I could only manage a small portion as by this stage I was bursting at the seams.

When I couldn’t possibly fit in another thing, dessert arrived and I found the appetite to try a mouthful. I’m not much of a dessert person but this was brilliant! The granita was the perfect dessert to finish off a heavy meal – cooling on the palate, the watermelon flavours light and fruity, the campari subtle. My favourite part of this dessert was the light sprinkling of crunchy crumbed toffee bringing just the right amount of sweetness to this dessert. I thought it was splendid and Jo declared it possibly “the best dessert” she’s ever had and thought the dessert alone made the restaurant worth a revisit in the near future. I think she was high off that dessert.

Then to our surprise, our heaving bellies were tested again as we were presented with a bonus dessert of baked figs with chocolate ganache. Figs are in season at the moment and these were baked and topped with more of that delicious toffee. The chocolate and cream on the side were a bit too rich for me and returned me from the refreshing note I ended on with the granita to a slightly heavier state – but I wasn’t complaining. It was a bonus dessert and you just don’t complain about bonuses.

I thoroughly enjoyed the meal and the stand out dishes that resonated with both of us were the oysters, the ox heart tomato, the pasta and the granita. We’ll be visiting again – if for nothing else, I’ll be popping in for dessert.

111 Elizabeth Street, Sydney; (02) 9232 2767
Open Monday – Friday for breakfast and lunch; open Tuesday – Friday for dinner (18:00 – 22:00)

Foodie in the know:
Reservations are a must for lunch as this restaurant caters for the nearby office workers (as indicated by the hours); but for more peace, space and attentative service try dinner hours instead.

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