Cinnabar Kitchen in the Blue Mountains village of Blackheath is on The Great Western Highway, just a stroll up the hill from our home. I’m not sure why it took my husband Rob and I so long to go, especially when we had great memories of Ashcrofts, the previous village restaurant run by partners Corinne Evatt (chef extraordinaire ) and Mary-Jane Craig.
The lighting is warm and gentle….thanks ladies. I fear it says a lot about me that I mention this first. We began with cocktails. A Cosmopolitan for me; how could any woman resist the description; ‘Shaken until frosty, suggesting sexy, seamless poise‘ ? It was great of course, but I soon forgot about poise and snaffled Rob’s Margarita. It was his own fault, because he keeps me salt deprived (supposedly for my health). That rock salt rim was irresistible, not to mention the Tequila and Cointreau.
We had downloaded the menu at home and made most of our selections in advance. It’s not a tapas restaurant, but the idea is to order several share dishes. There is a true international theme. Front of house host Mary Jane offers welcome advice on creating the optimum culinary experience. I was impressed when she suggested we probably didn’t need one dish we were contemplating (and we didn’t). No upselling here.
A number of the five star reviewers on-line had mentioned that the portions could have been larger. We didn’t find them particularly small, although $38 for 5 prawns is pretty steep. Pop another one in please. I just hope those reviewers never go to Bennelong in Sydney!
My favourite of the dishes we chose was the poached spinach and ricotta dumplings, in an aptly named ‘blue silk sauce’. Rob’s pick was the braised beef cheeks and yes, it was pretty damn good. A side dish of creamy layered potatoes at $14 was good value and the perfect accompaniment.
The desserts were definitely substantial. Date brioche pudding in maple sauce was enough to make me want to visit Quebec. Rob chose the special of Strawberries Romanoff with chewy meringue. Lovely he said, without actually raving about it. I didn’t try it, but it sounded like a grown-up version of Eton Mess. I don’t think my photo does justice to either Rob or the strawberries to be honest.
To finish? Home made fudge squares (delectable), French liqueur coffee for me and ice wine for Rob.
And was it expensive? Well, yes, $220 plus a well deserved tip, but a memorable evening. And we did go all out with our cocktails etc. With those desserts we could have managed without our third main course dish. I’m not a wine drinker, or the bill would have larger. Rob had a glass of French champagne.
Next time (oh yes,there will be one) I might forgo dessert and have three Magaritas instead. And I’ll try the Tunisian pork balls with saffron tomato broth and chorizo crumbs.
Some restaurants just manage to get things ‘right’. Nothing to do with price; it’s the genuine warmth of the host and serving staff (thanks Kenny) and the overall ambiance. Rob asks me to add that despite timber floors and a full house it was not noisy, which is one of his pet hates.
The Restaurant is open Wednesday to Saturday, from 5.30pm. Booking is essential.
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