As part of the NSW Food and Wine Festival which ran from February 7 to March 1 this year, Field House Restaurant & Bar offered a three course dinner with matching wines for $69. Jono and I decided to try this out.
Arriving at Novotel Hotel at around 8:30pm, I was surprised by the appearance of the restaurant. It was in an open space, with white plastic tables and black chairs, and it looked more like a canteen than a restaurant inside a hotel. There was only one other diner at that time, and the staff were shocked that we were intending to dine there. When I told them that we had a booking, which I made a few days beforehand, they were not able to locate it.
We sat down at our tables and were given the menus. I noticed that not all tables had both salt and pepper bottles on them – some tables had a bottle of each, while other tables only had one bottle of either.
The special menu the NSW Food and Wine Festival allowed us to choose a dish from a choice of three in each course. Each dish came with a specific matching wine.
When the meals were served, no one explained the food nor the wine to us. The food and the glasses of wine were just popped onto the table, with little to no explanation. The service from the staff was simply non-existent.
Now onto the food.
Confit Bryon Bay pork belly, apple & ginger salad, chilli caramel
(2006 Blickling Estate Cabernet Sauvignon)
Jono ordered this choice for his entrée. He was disappointed with the skin of the pork belly, as it was neither crispy nor soft, but it was rather chewy. He described the meat as tough and chewy as well. However, Jono mentioned the saving grace of this dish was the caramelised sauce which provided a good balance to the salad.
I had a taste of the pork belly and it was definitely undercooked.
Nelson Bay king fish ceviche, jalapeno chilli, avocado and heirloom tomato
(2013 Audrey Wilkinson Semillon)
I ordered this dish, and noticed that the fish slices were too thick. I had a bite of the fish and it was not seasoned. Eating the fish with the jalapeno was a big mistake – the jalapeno was too hot and spicy, and it completely overpowered the delicate flavour of the king fish. Maybe the chef should have removed all the white parts from the jalapeno so the chilli taste would have been milder and then the flavour of the fish would have come through in this dish.
The wine matched was too light for the spicy flavour of the jalapeno.
Pan roasted Coffs Harbour jewfish, smoked baby beets, pancetta & saffron butter
(2009 Poole’s Rock Chardonnay)
Jono ordered the fish. To him, this dish was very enjoyable, with the fish being well seasoned and all the other ingredients in this dish working well with each other.
New England lamb rump, primavera potatoes, garden peas & mint puree
(2011 Audrey Wilkinson The Lake Shiraz)
I ordered the lamb for my main. The smokiness of the crust on the lamb, when removed, revealed succulent and juicy meat, and this was well matched with the sides and the heavy, fruity and tarry wine. This was a very nice dish.
Jono also tried part of my dish, and noticed that the sauce for the dish had a very heavy garlic flavour, which ironically, was more prominent than the chopped garlic on top of the potatoes. He also enjoyed how the strong, garlicky and spicy sauce matched the smoky flavour of the meat, yet providing a contrast to the soft texture of the meat.
NSW cheese collection, sourdough bread and dried fruits
(2003 De Bortoli Botrytis Semillon)
Jono ordered the cheese plate for dessert. This was quite big serving for one, with a good variety of bread and a standard selection of cheese. The dessert wine was a bit too sweet for the cheese.
Flourless baked Batlow apple tart, cinnamon ice cream and biscotti
(2010 Krinklewood Lucia Botrytis Semillon)
As the waitress was preparing the wine, I noticed that she poured the same wine as Jono into my glass as well. So I asked her whether both the wine for this dish was the same and she answered in the affirmative.
I did not want to make a scene, but the menu clearly stated that the matching wine for my dish was the Krinklewood Lucia, not the De Bortoli. It was very disappointing that the staff did not even know the menu.
The dish itself was also disappointing, the apple tart was too sour, while the biscotti was a bit stale. The honey flavour from the De Bortoli dessert flavour actually made the apple tart more sour.
Overall, given the level of service from the staff, and the inconsistencies in the food being presented, I would not come back to this restaurant any time soon. I expected more from a Novotel branded establishment.
Field House Restaurant and Bar
Address: Novotel Sydney Central, 169-179 Thomas Street, Sydney
Phone: (02) 9281 6888
Opening hours: 6:30am to 10:00pm, Mon to Sun
Accepts MasterCard, Visa and American Express cards