Restaurant Revolution Sydney, Somewhere Nice | Review
Six years of watching Masterchef, of conducting our own critiques on our Whatsapp “Masterchef Chats” group, of wishing we could try the food that trained us for last night, for when we dined at Somewhere Nice. Somewhere Nice is the Sydney based restaurant that is part of Restaurant Revolution, Channel 7’s latest reality food show offering.
Unlike other food reality shows, Restaurant Revolution gives wider access for the general public to actually try the food that they would see on TV. So as soon as we found out that Somewhere Nice, in Centenary Square in Parramatta, was open we knew we had to go. The restaurant is open for dinner from 6pm on Wednesday to Sundays.
I arrived at 4.30pm anticipating there may be a line and wanting to give myself a good chance of getting in. I get there and…..there was not one person waiting! Oh well, at least I was first in line. As the sun began to set and it drew closer to 6pm a small crowd began to form.
At 5.40pm a security guard told us to form an orderly line, and out came the camera crew and a surprisingly loud drone began to fly above us.
My two reality cooking show enthusiast friends and I tried our hardest to play it natural and not stare in amazement at the drone or the cameras. Since I was super keen and the first in line we were chosen for a pre restaurant interview! The cameraman arranged us and who I assumed was one of the producers coached us how to speak (use full sentences instead of just directly answering the questions she will ask) and where to look (at her, not the camera). We then had a quick interview before they abruptly got distracted and left.
Dom, the Sydney chef, then opened the doors and welcomed us all in. For being built out of a bunch of shipping containers it was surprisingly well decorated and cosy inside. You can’t tell at all its just a temporary structure.
The menus were laid out already, a $65 set menu with three courses. Each course had about three options to pick from. For that price and the standard set by shows like Masterchef we thought the menu items sounded pretty average but we remained open minded and made our choices.
For the entrée, I ordered the mushroom done three ways served with a poached yolk. As soon as our entrees were served to us, a microphone began to hover over our tables and cameras were directed at us. This was super awkward! We ate in silence with the pressure to eat neatly. Thankfully the microphones didn’t hover for long and we could share our opinions. We thought that describing it as mushrooms three ways was a bit of an oversell- one of the “ways” was one slice of raw mushroom and all the "ways" tasted the same. That being said it was a well-seasoned dish and the runny yolk tied it all together and made it a dish rather than just a plate of mushrooms. I think the potato chip on the top added a nice visual touch but taste wise was nothing special.
Mid entrée we were reunited with the producer from outside and the camera crew. The producer asked us a few questions about how we found the food, our thoughts on the restaurant etc. After we answered a few questions they then left us to continue our meals.
For the main I ordered the lamb with three veg. You see what I mean here when I said the menu items sounded pretty boring. My lamb was served on a bed of pumpkin puree with a few beetroot cubes, broccoli and a red wine jus. I normally don’t like pumpkin but the pumpkin puree was the star of the dish for me and worked so beautifully with the red wine jus and lamb (they did not get me liking broccoli so after trying it I pushed them to the side). So despite the boring title the combination of the flavours made this dish a winner.
Overall the food was good but not amazing, with the mains being the culinary highlight. Another highlight was definitely the friendly staff and funny camera crew. Our waitress in particular was super friendly and enthusiastic about answering our millions questions, which ranged from what are the three ways these mushrooms are done (roasted, sautéed in butter and raw) to how did you get this job (saw an ad in the newspaper, came to try outs, waited in line from 10am and was the last person to seen at 5pm and got a call from Dom the next day offering her the job). She interestingly also told us that the restaurant crew don’t actually know who the judges are and when they come in and it was rumoured that the night we went would include a secret judge (of course I then joked how we were the secret judges!).
After we finished our dinner we were encouraged by our waitress to give our feedback in the feedback booth which we did, a funny and awkward experience in which we had 60 seconds to film ourselves.
So was the 1.5 hr wait (which was not needed) and $65 price worth it? I would say yes, despite the food not being mind blowing in its creativity or flavour it was still a good feed with generous portions and we also got the experience of seeing “the behind the scenes” of the filming of a show and even got to be a part of it which was a real treat for us. With that I wish Dom and the Sydney team loads of luck and look forward to seeing what the other teams have to offer (and to see if we made it onto TV!)