The ninth Dinner Club of the year with the Jacksons took us to try the latest Sydney foodie obsession – Latin American cuisine at Morena in Surry Hills.
Having read a review by Good Living in the SMH which gave it 13/20, I admit I was dubious with Ian’s choice. But I needn’t be. It was wonderful!
Ian has a method to picking his restaurant for Dinner Club; he googles things like “rad restaurant + Sydney” and “awesome seafood + Sydney”. Sometimes it works (Ocean’s Eleven in January this year), sometimes it doesn’t (Zaffran Indian last year) but it’s definitely entertaining! For this pick, he googled “atmosphere + Sydney restaurant” and Morena popped up.
It is a lovely space. Slightly unusual with the hanging globes filled with plants, but it has a nice warmth that generally doesn’t accompany modern decor. Our waitress is Argentinean and she’s attentive and friendly and helpful.
Para Comenzar – entree size
For his starter, Jay orders the Causas 3 which is traditional dish from the coast of Perú, based on potato mash & served w/ a selection of toppings. He had no idea what it was but decided to take a stab and try something different! He loved the small bites of salmon, spinach gnocchi and sweet potato.
Janine orders The Special of Scallops, which we’re told, is going to be included on the menu as of next month. They are pan-friend sea scallops topped with a chimichurri-type salsa and shaved slivers of some type of semi-cured fish.
Ian orders the Caramelised Crispy Skin Port Belly which is a dish served with cumin & lentil crisps served w/ incaberry sauce. He loves it and devours it within moments!
The review I read said this dish is amazing. It’s the Peruvian Ceviche with Pink Snapper cancha & caramelised sweet potato. The snapper is marinated in lime juice to break down the fibers, but it’s not cooked over heat. I have never tasted sweet potato like that before – the little balls of kumera are sweet and have a texture similar to rockmelon. My only negative comment is that the dish could have done without the rock-hard corn kernels. The difference in texture just doesn’t mesh well with the soft fish and sweet potato so it’s a rude shock to crunch these rock hard kernels. But overall it’s fresh and light and delicious.
Platos Principales – main course
Jay orders Seco De Alpaca which is a dish of seared alpaca backstrap w/traditional coriander & beer sauce, celeriac purée & Peruvian style carapulcra. We all have a taste of the unusual meat and it’s nothing like any other meat; it’s dense and game-y but the taste is so mild. The celeriac puree is rich and creamy. It’s definitely a different dish and it’s nice to try something different!
Neen has the Barramundi pachamanca style served w/ roasted Andean corn, bean sprouts, white asparagus, baby spinach & roasted almond purée. It’s fresh and light and the Andean corn is unique – like a giant corn kernel but with the taste and flavour of a white bean.
Ian and I order the Asado Con Chimichurri which is charcoal Argentinian style beef short ribs, smoked salt flakes w/ beats salad & chimichurri salsa. It’s melt-in-your-mouth beef with no bone. Just like a giant, tender strip. The chimichurri is delicious; grassy and garlicy and a really nice accompaniment to the meat. The beetroot smear and yellow pickled beetroots are a little random and don’t really go with the overall flavour of the dish, but they add colour and decoration to the plate. There is so much meat that I give half to Jay to finish. But it is delicious!
Dulces – desserts
The dessert menu isn’t really speaking to us but we all want something sweet, so we order anyway…
Jay has the Clasico de Arros Con Lechey Maiz Morado which is caramelised Limeño style rice pudding, purple corn jelly & semidried berries. He looks at it warily when it arrives in front of him, but one spoonful and he’s in heaven. Luckily for him, he gives me a taste and it’s yum! (It reminds me of a Bill Granger recipe I make each year on Valentines Day for Jay!) The only thing about the dish Jay doesn’t like is the purple jelly cubes which are coated with a sour sugar.
Ian orders the Tres Leches which is a traditional Latin American sponge cake soaked in three kinds of milk, served w/ roasted pineapple ice cream. It is amazing. A dense but somehow fluffy sponge cake which is caramelised on the outside. It is divine. I have ordering envy.
Janine & I ask the waitress if we can just have the Pineapple Ice Cream that comes on the dish Ian ordered. It is made onsite with caramelised pineapple chunks and it’s just a nice end to the meal.
15/425 Bourke St | Surry Hills NSW 2010
ph: 0405 902896 | email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Food: 3.5 / 5
Atmosphere: 3.5 / 5
Value: 3.5 / 5