This is a shed, but the conversion into a restaurant has created a warm ambience. There is a long bar for diners, some smaller tables, and a row of tables with a long bench for sitting. I went for dinner on a cold night, but suspect that the feel would change dramatically in summer. There are tables outside and the restaurant does have a water frontage.
Dining to be good has to engage all the senses. Shed 5 scores scores highly: there are wood fired ovens in which the bread is baked (the olfactory sense engaged on entering which is a good beginning); presentation of food is of a high quality; the food is very nuanced in balancing flavours and textures.
The first three dishes were vegetarian. The flatbread and fava puree was a simple dish but demonstrated the chefs commitment to doing simple dishes with some flair. The chickpeas were fried before being pureed and were mixed with shallots and hazelnuts. The different textures of this dish and the balance of flavours created anticipation of what was to come.
I avoid Sauvignon Blanc because 95% of the ones produced in Australia/NZ lack any sense of finesse, but Bannockburn SB intrigued me sufficiently to give it a try. This is an interesting SB with a minerality to it which makes it stand out in comparison to the lolly water offerings of a lot of other winemakers. Bannockburn does not irrigate so the vines are fairly low yielding. It was a wine reminiscent of some of the top whites from Bordeau: fresh, complex and a long finish. It also went very well with the puree: the citrus overtones provided a beautiful balance to the creamy puree and the sweetness of the caramelised hazelnuts.
The second “starter” was a n’duja and mozzarella croquette with an oregano and rosemary aioli. Again, this was a dish with contrasting textures and flavours. The melted mozzarella provided the creaminess and sweetness while the n’duja gave the dish a spiciness; the aioli and the cheese created the softness while the frying of the croquette gave the croquettes a crunchiness. By now I was on a theme of dry grown grapes and opted for a Crawford River Young Vines Riesling 2011. This wine was a great match to the croquettes. It is a fresh, steely wine with a long finish that was able to cope with the spiciness but be a good balance to the sweet and creamy cheese and aioli.
The final “starter” was a saganaki. This dish was accompanied by caramelised onions, roasted peppers and barberry. Many Greek restaurants serve saganaki as a grilled cheese without much enhancement, but it was intriguing to see how a simple dish can be really lifted with just a little effort. By this stage I was content to stay with Crawford River Riesling: it worked well with the flavours and the saltiness of the cheese.
What was apparent with the food is that there is a strong commitment to freshness and quality of the ingredients. The actual cooking has a big focus on herbs: lots of fresh herbs which really get the senses of smell and taste excited. It’s probably the generous use of fresh herbs which provides a lot of the Mediterranean feel within the restaurant.
Main courses did not really cater for the vegetarian. This was surprising as Shed 5 claims to be the flavours of the Mediterranean. The restaurant draws a lot of its inspiration from Greece, Italy and Spain and these are countries which can excel at vegetarian dishes. However, the owner was keen to provide a roasted pumpkin in burnt butter and sage. There was also an offer of a pasta with globe artichokes. These are both simple dishes but if done well can be quite sublime. If you are thinking of having a big meal it might be a good idea to let them know you are vegetarian so a dish can be prepared for you. I passed on a main course and thought an assortment of the desserts would be a great way to finish.
I tried three desserts: spiced halva semifreddo with quince sorbet and salted caramel; a goats cheese crema with a walnut baklava, chocolate and coffee sorbet and a metaxa jelly; and finally a donut dusted with cinnamon. All the desserts were relatively light and flavour driven. Each dessert really focused on contrasting flavours and textures to round off a very satisfying dining experience.
I suspect the menu is seasonal so when summer arrives I’ll be keen to drop by and sample the summer fare.
About the Author
Michael is a food and wine connoisseur and has recently started writing for Nouveau Potato. He also makes a delicious chocolate cake.
37 Dukes Walk (37 South Wharf Promenade)
South Wharf 3006