Wildair – 11 April 2019

Sometimes, I distinctly remember how I hear about a restaurant, and what possesses me to visit. Other times, I just forget! Wildair is one of those restaurants where I don’t remember exactly how I came to know the name. However, I do know why this place got my interest. It was contemporary, experimental, fun looking, and more importantly, walk-in friendly. I like keeping a list of interesting restaurants that don’t take reservations, or at a minimum, have the possibility of accommodating for walk ins, because I don’t like having strict plans when travelling, so I want to keep my food options open. The downside is that I have to decide within 30 minutes to an hour of the restaurants’ opening time, whether or not I’m going to go there.

Wildair is actually the baby sister of Contra, which is owned by the same people and is a more formal, degustation, bookings essential restaurant. I have a strong preference to restaurants that have the same calibre food in a more casual setting, so Wildair was my must go to non-reservation place.

And random shots because I can! So as we walked in, I actually got asked if I’d put my name in the book. Huh? That book that I spotted earlier when I scouted the place, actually had a purpose? I thought this place didn’t take reservations? Something about this was confusing! Maybe my research wasn’t as thorough as I thought! However, they did have a table available, but we’d have to vacate at about 8PM or so. See, this is why you always need to take the table at opening times! That was plenty of time and really the norm for a restaurant like this, so it was fine.

The decor is also pretty cool It’s a smaller place than I thought, and they have two particularly cool seating areas. The bar facing the kitchen, but more uniquely, on the very opposite side, a bench setup that faces a mirror. I’m not sure why you’d want to look at yourself when eating, but it makes for a great way to people watch the rest of the restaurant!

Look, another quirk! The tables actually had a shelf tucked away underneath where the cutlery was hidden! My friend and the waitstaff both mentioned (at separate times) that this felt almost school-like, how things were under the desk. That’s so cute! And a nifty way to increase the available space without taking up actual floor area!

Oysters

Oyster time! Always such a treat!

Top neck clams, XO, almond milk

It was the clams that were really impressive though! Clams are so hard to get in Australia, and the last set I ate were $12 each from Cumulus Inc! How eye wateringly expensive! With conversion rates, tax, and tipping though, I can’t actually be sure these were any cheaper, but hey, I was on holiday so it didn’t count towards my budget! That being said, I really wanted to order another plate of these, but that would just be a bit too far for my sensibilities (famous last words, *coughEMPcough*)!

Breakfast radishes, seaweed butter

This is actually one of Wildair’s more famous dishes. Radishes and butter. So simple, but I liked it! Mainly because I love radishes, and breakfast radishes also seem to be another rarity in Aus. These were not peppery so I could eat my fill! The seaweed butter was a bit of a challenge though, since it was still kind of hard so trying to scrape it off the plate with the radishes was a bit of a challenge!

Black maitake, stracciatella, chicken skin, tomatillo

A beautiful ugly thing. Maitake mushrooms! With straciatella, chicken skin, tomatillo. Now that’s an amazing combination! Mushrooms and chicken go really well together, and I loved the straciatella being in there, but it was the tomatillos that really made the whole thing taste amazing – that touch of lightness and acidity were so good! This is totally something I would re-order!

Pork milanese, gribiche, mustard greens

The pork milanese is what my friend ordered. I’m really not a fan of meat mains and other large dishes at the bottom of a menu (I even didn’t consider the lobster! Gasp!). And, again, I was proven oh so wrong! I didn’t know what a milanese actually was, so I imagined just a chunk of pork with vegetables and stuff.

Little did I know that what came out was the best pork schnitzel I’ve ever had! Wow, I really should start trying out meat mains again at this rate! This was a very thin piece of pork, very manageable and not at all heavy/filling, perfectly tender, and that batter. That fried crust was unimaginably perfect! There was no trace of excess grease, there was no crumbling or sogginess, it was light, uniform, and was almost like a skin in terms of how well, thinly and evenly it coated the pork while still maintaining its definition as a coating and not stuck onto the meat. Wow! Woaaah wow! My mind has just been blown! I am SO glad that I got to try this!!!

Okay, things got serious. I thought this was a great, cute, experimental restaurant. No one told me it was also consistently technically brilliant! What an incredible set of skills the chefs have! I say this because I ordered the passionfruit millefeuille thinking it’d be small and light, a perfect end to my night. My friend ordered the chocolate tart.

I had a little giggle because when they were served, the waitstaff had assumed that I’d ordered the chocolate dessert. Nope, I went for the “lighter” option! Or, the non-chocolate option. Whichever stereotype she’d used to try and guess who ordered what haha! I don’t really mind, I just like wondering how waitstaff read their customers at restaurants because it’s actually a skill that the best waitstaff have.

Passion fruit, caramel, mille feuille

Okay, so I got this millefueille. My first reaction was, it looks like the potato and butter dessert I had at Franklin! Similar format, two thin crisps that sandwiched a luscious, generous chunk of cream. Yeah. That’s the stuff of my dreams right there. I tasted the cream, and it was great! I never actually knew I loved the balance of tangy passionfruit/lemon against the richness of cream until I ate passionfruit truffles at Sue Lewis Chocolatier in Perth. I had an appreciation of the combo when I was loving Haigh’s lemon white chocolate truffles, but Sue Lewis showed me the light, and now this dessert has proved the combo is godly.

Then, the icing on the proverbial cake. The pastry. A pastry that cuts perfectly vertically with a spoon. IT CUTS VERTICALLY CLEANLY. Wow!!! It didn’t snap, it didn’t flake, it just… it was a perfect pastry. I couldn’t believe my eyes! This was way better than I thought I’d be, there was just so much enjoyment in the cutting and the eating!

The only downside was that I was getting really full because it was a larger dessert than I expected, but that’s hardly a fault! I actually attribute that to too many carbs in the morning from two croissants and a bundt cake, because I’d had a slight tummy ache in the afternoon as a result. I don’t really know what caused it, since I never get tummy aches, and it went away overnight. My friend also liked the passionfruit millefueille better, stating that the chocolate tart was a bit too heavy. I had an inkling that might be the case, which is why I avoid chocolate desserts, and having had a small taste, was pretty sure my suspicion was right. But, I didn’t have enough to determine if the technical proficiency I’d seen extended to the chocolate tart, but I really don’t have any doubts that their entire menu was curated to their strengths.

We finished our meal in plenty of time! Overall, I’m really glad I got to try this restaurant because their skills were way higher than I’d anticipated! I went in thinking “oh yeah I’m probably gonna experience some new flavour combos here” and walked out thinking “these chefs are insanely good at what they do and know exactly how to perfect their food!”

Yep. Go. Now. To. Wildair!

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