The original thinking behind recently opened Annata was that it would be a wine and cocktail bar that served a bit of food. But you could also look at it as a place with great food, that serves some good wine. With some heavily hatted experience behind the bar and in the kitchen – its a meeting of minds with skills gained from Rockpool, Bridge Room, and Café Paci – Annata lifts the bar on the lower north shore. The staff who looked after us that night were friendly, enthusiastic and knew their stuff – it seemed like they were really happy to be there.
The well thought out wine list is good fun, with sections like The Funky Bunch, The Big Boys, and CBA (Chardonnay Back Again). There are also some clever cocktails. I tried the Heather & Stone (Jasmine Jamieson, Pistachio, Suze, Lime, Whites) which had a delicious almost biscuit of pistachio in it (petit four in a cocktail, yeh!); and the Dipolmat (Havana 3, Apricot Jam, Orgeat, Cardamom, Bitters).
There are four of us and the staff recommend we share, kindly suggesting which dishes we double up on. We start with some superbly fresh Sydney Rock oysters served with pickled black fungus
We spot zucchini flowers on the menu – with broccolini, goats milk custard, black garlic and fennel salt – and know it’s a given they’ll be ordered. In our minds we’d pictured them in typical stuffed format, but it’s a ‘deconstructed’ version. The broccolini add texture and the custard is silky smooth.
Next is a dish almost too pretty to eat – plums with heirloom tomatoes, smoked avocado (oh so good, smoked with beechwood), basil and roquette oil. The girls love it, but I find the plums a too sweet; a bowl of that avocado with some bread instead please!
We all adore the scallops. The sliver of guanciale is delicious, and lurking underneath is like a hazelnut and mushroom paste (a hint of porcini methinks?) which we love.
Our next dish is also seafood. This time some prawns with a devine miso corn butter, tasty chargrilled corn and curry oil. We all agree though, that the prawns are just a little underdone.
The pork neck comes with a roasted apricot butter and pickled shitake. Its tender meat and here the fruit works well.
The side of greens is fresh and crisp and comes with a smooth butter sauce.
We finish with the flathead done wrapped in seaweed and kataifi pastry, served with peas, pomelo and oyster mayonnaise. I’ve had fish done like this before, but this one is not quite right and needs a little finessing.
Annata is the kind of place you’ll linger either a little or a lot, and overall I’d happily do the latter again.
Annata, 69 Willoughby Rd, Crows Nest, Ph (02) 9437 3700