Thursday, August 22, 2013

2 Stews and a Cockatoo, Gordon

Having grown up on the North Shore, I can quite confidently say that the area is not hip. It came as a surprise, then, that Gordon can now boast a wine bar, and its name, 2 Stews and a Cockatoo, had me intrigued.

Boy and I made our way up to the entrance, and soon after the door was thrown open for us by a staff member we met both the Stews (Tony and Nada Stewart), and came face to face with Mervin* the cockatoo, sitting on the bar. At 6:30pm on a cold Thursday night, the bar seating and inside tables were almost full, and while there was plenty of seating outside, I was glad to have booked the day before.
[*I have no idea what the cockatoo's name is, but I've always wanted to call something Mervin] 

Dishes at 2 Stews are meant for sharing. We ordered some tempura prawns to start, and 3 other main dishes, hoping that we'd have enough room for dessert. Along with our food, I was excited to have the opportunity to try some wines, as I'm still experimenting to find what reds I like. Boy and I settled on the Shiraz 'flight', and you can see it hovering in the background of our prawns, right.

The wine flights ($18) are a chance to try three wines of a particular variety, and they are placed on a card describing each wine and the location and year of origin. We both enjoyed our 'flight', and appreciated the opportunity to taste wines that we would never otherwise try, particularly as one of our two favourites, the Lavender Ridge Shiraz, is exclusive to 2 Stews.

The tempura prawns with wasabi mayo ($3 each), were a great start to our meal, despite the fact that the batter was far thicker than expected for a tempura batter. The mayo was a lovely accompaniment, and I appreciated the mild amount of wasabi in it.
Next to arrive were the wild mushroom arancini ($16). For both of us, these were the highlight of the foodie part of our night. Perfect crispy spheres encasing a moreish middle, equal parts mushroom and rice, paired with a herb mayonnaise. There was no way either of us was going to selflessly part with our share of the third ball - they were just too good!

The slow-cooked beef with Middle Eastern spices (top photo), and Moroccan lamb meatballs were not at the same level of fabulousness as the arancini. The beef had all the right components of a Middle Eastern dish, but didn't quite mesh as well as dishes we've had at Middle Eastern restaurants. However, I enjoyed the pop of freshness of the cucumber and pomegranate against the heavily-spiced beef, and once I incorporated the flatbread with my mouthful of the other components, I appreciated the dish much more.

For us, the desserts were a little disappointing. While the ice cream on each plate was delicious, the chocolate fondant missed the all-important ooze, and had a bitter flavour that wasn't to our taste. The apple tarte tatin was more enjoyable and tasty, but didn't reach the heights of the devastatingly good tarte tatin I had recently.

Overall, I like 2 Stews and a Cockatoo. The ambience is vibrant with just the right amount of eccentricity to appeal to a broad customer base. The food has its highs and lows, and I wouldn't mind trying other dishes to see what else is a 'high', but at the very least, its a great place to increase your wine knowledge while having a light meal.

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2 Stews and a Cockatoo
2 Stews and a Cockatoo on UrbanspoonGordon GPO Building
741 Pacific Hwy

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Hotly Spiced said...

I grew up on the North Shore too and yes, there was definitely nothing happening and we always had to drive for miles to find anything decent to eat. I'm seeing wine bars popping up everywhere and it's so good to hear the residents of Gordon aren't missing out xx

Mary K. said...

I love popping back up that way now because everytime I do, there's somewhere new to try!

tammydownunder said...

I know the North Shore is a black hole when it comes to exciting food and, while Two Stews makes an attempt, I don't think they've nailed it with their hodge-podge menu. Somethings are a hit and some are a miss. But, to me, where they really fail is in their pricing. I know it's tapas and meant to be small 2 entrees and 2 mains and 2 glasses of wine set us back nearly $90 and hubby had to have a sandwich when he got home as he was still hungry. For that price, I'd rather go to a place where I can get great food, atmosphere and value for money.