It’s been a loooong time since I visited Oskars, actually it was BC: Before Children, which is now 5 years (!). I always wonder what a restaurant will be like after a change of owners. I’m happy to say it’s great – loved the food, superb service, and firmly back on our radar.
For those of you who don’t know, Oskars was owned by the same couple for many years. Four years ago new owners took over so I was wondering what it was like (was it still as good as it always was…?). Cue: Oskars inviting me along to sample their menu. So yep I was excited – moreso because it was my husband’s birthday, we had babysitters, and we had an actual date. Imagine that! 😉
I’ll say here, dear readers, that if you don’t know me already, if I don’t like a restaurant I won’t blog about it – regardless of whether I’m being shouted a meal or not. If I don’t have good experience, I provide feedback to the Owners. I just think everyone has bad days, and there’s enough negativity in our world. OK, now I’ve got that off my chest I’ll get off my soapbox (suffice to say, if this blog post exists we enjoyed our lunch).
We arrived and were seated at one of their amazing seaside tables with a view. I have to share it. It’s just spectacular looking out at the beach and the endless horizon. Such a beautiful, romantic venue.
The lovely Owner Melanie, and Manager Dale, suggested we sample the 7 course tasting menu ($75 pp) to get a sample of their menu – done! As I was designated driver, hubby opted to enjoy the matching wines (rookie error… but it was his birthday… also, don’t worry, I did sample a little with each course).
First up was the Fish Dumpling – water chestnut, fermented chilli, soy, served with a 2016 Sunshine Bay Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough, NZ). These soft dumplings were perfectly cooked with a nice caramel flavour, just a bit salty for our liking. The wine was perfectly matched and actually seemed to reduce the saltiness of the dish.
Course 2: Mussels with Kim Chi, smoked garlic and soured cream, paired with a 2016 Leeuwin Estate Art Series Riesling (Margaret River, WA, Aus). The dish was topped with some basil oil which made the presentation ‘pop’. I don’t eat mussels (I know, eye roll!), but hubby said that these were some of the best mussels he has ever tasted – super fresh, sweet and delicate. He felt that there was a lot going on with the sauce, some great textures and flavours, so perhaps a bit too much sauce. Also another great wine, artfully partnered with this dish.
Next up was Tasmanian Scallops, cauliflower, pancetta, gruyere, paired with a 2105 Xanadu Chardonnay (Margaret River, WA, Aus). We are both big fans of scallops and Margaret River Chardonnay, so this dish and the wine didn’t disappoint. The fresh scallops were served in shell with roe on, with a silky, creamy, delicious sauce with spikes of Gruyere flavour. Mmm.
Course 4: Hand rolled Spaghetti with crab, chilli, basil, heirloom tomato, paired with 2106 Cotes de Provence Rose (France). I’ll be honest, I wasn’t really looking forward to this dish because I don’t love crab. But this was an absolute standout for me. Fresh, just picked flavours of tomato and herbs, sweet crab meat, al dente home made pasta, with a creamy texture. I will go back to have this dish – that should speak for itself. And the Rose tasted wonderful with it, lifting the sweet, fresh flavours.
Next course was Market Fish (Tasmanian Salmon) roasted in Bonito butter, pomegranate, caper, paired with 2017 Dominique Portet Fontaine Rose (Yarra Valley, Vic, Aus). Another great wine match from our amazing waiter (more on that later), Salmon skin was deliciously crispy, the fish was well cooked, served with salty caperberries, crunchy pomegranate and garnished with Radicchio and Baby Shiso leaves.
I was looking forward to the next course because I love Pork Belly – this was slow cooked and served with pickled date mustard, jus, perfectly paired with a 2016 Paringa Estate Pinot Noir (Mornington Peninsula, Vic, Aus). This was a second highlight for me – why? Perfectly cooked, soft, melting pork belly, rich red wine jus made from the Chef’s own Master Stock, the sour and sweet flavours of the mustard cut through the fat and highlighted the sweetness of the pork. And the Pinot was a great match. Yum.
For our last course, dessert: Peanut Butter and Popcorn – salted caramel and raspberries, paired with a 2012 Margan Botrytis Semillon (Hunter Valley, NSW, Aus). The crunchy, caramelly popcorn, combined beautifully with the soft peanut butter mousse, sweet caramel and shortcrust tart base, and the wine perfectly complemented the dessert. Another one I’d go back for.
At this point our lovely waiter David spoke with the Head Chef, Dan, who sent us out one last surprise. What an amazing looking dish and technical feat – Strawberry and Peppermint Cream Cheese Mousse, Lemon Myrtle, Peanut and Szechuan Praline, Beetroot and Rose Meringue ($15). This was paired with a Seppeltsfield Grand Muscat (Rutherglen, Vic, Aus). This looks almost Heston-ish (that’s totally a word, right?), the shiny ball of chocolate cracks to reveal the soft mousse inside, nestled atop an earthy beetroot and rose meringue. Since we were already full, we found this dish quite rich, but we really enjoyed it regardless.
What makes a great restaurant? Well of course, the food. But before that, and throughout the whole experience is the service. It’s something I think we take for granted that can absolutely make or break your dining experience.
From the moment we arrived the Manager Dale was very welcoming, then our waiter David took over. What a consummate professional, a true Sommelier who knows the flavours of the menu intimately and really knows his wines and how to match them. We loved chatting with him about his choices, and nerding out on which wine varieties he would choose. He’s an absolute asset to the Oskars team – seek him out if you geek out on food like us. Don’t get me wrong, the service from everyone else on the team was also great, David was just a standout.
So what are our thoughts on the food…? Chef Dan and team produce high quality meals made with fresh, well-selected produce, a clear reverence for fresh seafood, attention to detail and great presentation (extra points for the strawberry dessert!).
Really dear readers, the one question I always ask myself is: would I go back? Yes I would. I think that’s a good enough recommendation in itself.
Loo review: 7/10 – clean, fairly modern facilities. Nothing fancy but they do share the loos with other restaurant tenants in the building (tip: get the code to use the loo).
43 Goodwin Terrace, Burleigh Heads
(07) 5576 3722