BUZO, Woollahra Review: “Our evolution begins by not being defined by one country”

Growing up, I had a very Asian style eating habit.  If I was at home, meals were hot, served with meat, some veggies, sauce or soup and then served over rice.  I can’t walk past a Thai, Vietnamese or Filipino place without going, “Oooh, I could go a round of rice and chicken”.

It’s a habit I carry today.  I think of Asian food as “comfort” food, reminding me of my mother and grandmother, who did most of the cooking when I was growing up.  Alright, stuff it, all of the cooking (I cook now, though).  I order pho whenever I see it on a menu.  I crave sinigang when I’m flu-ey.  One of the best “stay at home” I’ve had nights involved being home alone, binge-watching Scrubs and chowing through a massive bowl of massaman curry with white rice.

So if Asian food was my comfort food, my “exotic” food was … yep, European food.  Roasts and steaks and pasta and gravy and veggies.  For many, Western/European food was the norm.  For me, it was the exception.

Thankfully, my sense of culinary exploration has expanded, just like Sydney’s dining culture.  I’m happy to say that there’s so much good food in Sydney right now.  You could be in Cabramatta for Vietnamese and head to Rockdale for Greek.  Leichhardt’s traditionally been the mecca for Italian cuisine.  Liverpool Street in town is the historical epicentre of Spanish cuisine in Sydney.

And Woollahra? You only have to walk through its tree-lined streets and wander past the stately homes to know that restaurants in this affluent suburb of Sydney are sophisticated, slick and smart.  Like BUZO.

Re-opened in 2015, BUZO is a reflection of owners Mark Campbell and Phillip Fikkers‘, along with head chef Jason Dean‘s, take on modern European cuisine.

Which couldn’t come any sooner – I’m all done with Sydney’s obsession with burgers. BUZO define modern European cuisine as a mix of European and Mediterranean style cooking, (they say, “grilling, roasting, olive oil, garlic and fresh herbs is probably the most obvious characteristic of Modern European food”).  Now their focus is on the bringing out the essence of this continent’s cuisine. With so many regions and countries, by definition, “Modern European cuisine is one that experiments with techniques and ideas from many different countries”.  BUZO want to focus on a more relaxed style of European dining, keeping the style and class that brings people through the doors incorporating a mixed bag of ingredient selection and preparation.  Nothing is stodgy and heavy here.

Petits Fours: Almond and apple financier, rosemary passionfruit marshmallows

Petits Fours: Almond and apple financier, rosemary passionfruit marshmallows

Phillip Fikkers is quick to point out BUZO’s point of difference.  “By offering fresh and exciting dishes, we are evolving BUZO away from the heavier classic Italian style dishes into a stylish, neighbourhood restaurant in tune with its fashionable locale, where people return for the style of food rather than one particular dish.”  He says, “While we still draw inspiration from Italy, our evolution begins by not being defined by one country. Our direction comes from modern European cuisines and features a lighter style of cooking fluidity than the traditional heavier European style. With a focus on seasonal produce, the new menus are more refined, delivering quality and a lighter style, reflecting the season”.

And what a stylish place it is.  BUZO is dim lighting and understated elegance, in keeping with everything you associate with Italian style.  Downstairs is the bar area, cosy and narrow and enough to know that you won’t be down there for long.  A glass of their 2013 Paterna Chianti Sangiovese from Tuscany ($14), or the 2013 Filippi Soave Classico (a Garganega, $16) from Veneto/Venetia (where Venice is located, paired with a plate of Cured wagyu tartare, roasted kale, sweet onion and mustard ($21), is a perfect start to the experience.

Cured wagyu tartare, roasted kale, sweet onion, radish & mustard

Cured wagyu tartare, roasted kale, sweet onion, radish & mustard

If you’re unfamiliar with the deal, Maître de, Stephen Laing (you might have seen him at Cho Cho San in Potts Point), can assist with choices on the wine list (lots of Italian varietals).  You can also BYO, on Wednesday nights only.

Upstairs is the main dining area. It’s smaller than I thought (I don’t know what I was expecting, to be honest), but I welcomed its limited floor space.  Sick of the behemoth caves and louder than loud restaurants?  Well, BUZO doesn’t have that vibe :) 

BUZO have created an Evolution menua six-course extravaganza that brings out BUZO’s big guns.  Highlighting the best of winter produce, it’s available for $75 per person, and $60 on Tuesday nights.  The menu is made up of:

  • Pickled red cabbage crackers, parmesan custard
  • Scallop carpaccio, pickled baby corn, cured cucumber and dill
  • Cured wagyu tartare, roasted kale, sweet onion, radish and mustard
  • Confit kingfish, Jerusalem artichoke crispy cabbage and edamame
  • Grilled lamb rump, pumpkin, parmesan and roasted baby cos
  • Malt banana parfait, coconut yoghurt, white choc and blueberry
Confit Kingfish Edamame, Jerusalem artichoke and crispy cabbage

Confit Kingfish Edamame, Jerusalem artichoke and crispy cabbage

My favourite dish from BUZO would have to be the Duck ravioli, sweet corn, basil and wild mushroom broth, which sits on the restaurant’s ($32).  It’s definitely a great little winter warmer and offers enough delicacy to make you feel like you haven’t just smushed kilos of meat into you.  It’s presented beautifully and I’m pretty sure it will be on many diner’s most wanted list.

Duck ravioli, sweet corn, basil and wild mushroom broth

Duck ravioli, sweet corn, basil and wild mushroom broth

Other items on the winter menu include the Beetroot and goats curd salad, salted honeycomb and smoked almond ($19) and dessert of Malt banana parfait, coconut yoghurt, white chocolate and blueberry ($15).

Beetroot and goats curd salad, salted honeycomb and smoked almond

Beetroot and goats curd salad, salted honeycomb and smoked almond

BUZO-Woollahra-My-Local-World-img4

Malt banana parfait, coconut yoghurt, white chocolate and blueberry

For my return visit, I have my eyes set on these beauties:

  • Scallop carpaccio, pickled baby corn, cured cucumber and dill ($21)
  • Pork shoulder terrine, parfait, burnt apple, fennel and grilled sourdough ($20)
  • Cauliflower cheese, pickled mushroom , jobs tear risotto ($30)

It’s safe to say that BUZO is the kind of establishment you go for a well-heeled, modern European dining experience.  Chef Jason Dean, a man of international experience in his career (he’s worked in Michelin Star, two Rosette and three hat restaurants, and at Bentley in Sydney) is keen to show of BUZO’s revamped energy.  “I draw inspiration from food that is infused with imagination and love and the new menu at BUZO exemplifies this!”

Grazie mille, BUZO.

 

BUZO is located at 3 Jersey Road, Woollahra and is open for dinner Tuesday to Saturday from 5pm until midnight and lunch on Sunday from 12noon until 4.00pm. Lunch is also available seven days by appointment for groups.  Reservations can be made by calling 02 9328 1600 or reservations@buzo.com.au.

 

 

Special thanks to BUZO for having me as a guest. 

 

Leave a Comment:

*