Posted by & filed under Australian, Eat & Drink.

The Metro Aspire Hotel has an understated frontage on a quiet street in Ultimo. It is very conveniently located and easy to get to, but hidden from the passing traffic. And that’s a good thing – because once you’ve eaten at their newly refurbished Gumtree Restaurant you’ll want to keep the place a secret.

It’s only been open for a few months but already Gumtree has that genial feel of familiarity. The staff are professional yet friendly and relaxed. Manager, Liam, likes to walk around and say hello and make sure everything meets your expectation – in every likelihood it will surpass it.

Head Chef Sanju has combined his knowledge of several cuisines to create a menu of delightful variations on classic themes. Modern Australian with an exotic touch.

Here’s a sample of a dinner for two:

Start with a tray of house-marinated Australian olives. Presented in a trio of small bowls, this green and black mix of locally grown, tasty appetisers go well with a glass of crisp, citrusy, specially brewed Gumtree Lager.

For entree: Hawkesbury seared duck breast, spiced honey grilled fennel, sauteed cabbage and beetroot reduction: succulent portions of duck with toasted skin strip, alternating on the plate with sweet, aromatic fennel. A lovely balance of texture and flavours. And BBQ Yamba prawns with baby greens, mint and soy dressing: prawns grilled in their shell and retaining their natural, sea-imbued flavour, complemented with a more distinct mint and soy sauce on a bed of crisp greens.

For main: Chargrilled Chicken Breast Supreme – roast garlic mash, buttered spinach, mustard cream sauce & sweet potato crisps: a robust combination of flavours, with the chicken providing a solid bass note for the harmony of tastes and timbres around it. And Twice Cooked Murray Valley Pork Belly – apple calvados, confit potato & spiced marmalade glaze: one of the most popular dishes and understandably so. Cubes of juicy pork with a to-die-for glazed crackling, served with savoury potato discs.

Among the selection of premium wines is a lesser known regional label – Usher Tinkler. The shiraz-pinot was served with this meal and it is definitely worth a try. Full-bodied with a sharp finish, an excellent accompaniment.

For dessert: Lemon Meringue Tart with berry compote & citrus sorbet: presented with small edible flowers and a flourish of sauce, this is as artistic as it is tangy and mouth-watering. And Ricotta & Grand Marnier Cheesecake with orange jelly, orange segment & tuille: is it possible for something to taste even better than it sounds? Yes. The cheesecake is exquisite, enhanced by the citrus sweet orange jelly and crispy tuille.

The Gumtree Restaurant also serves a selection of pizzas (each named after a staff member) and has a bar and chill out area for pre-dinner drinks.

They are open for breakfast and dinner and can cater for large groups and private functions.

Ph:  (02) 9211 1499 or www.metrohotels.com.au

Reviewed by Rita Bratovich.