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Review – Blakes Restaurant at the Westmead

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On Friday we had the pleasure of dining at Blakes, the new restaurant just launched at the Westmead Hotel in Hopwood. First things first, the service throughout was amazing – not too many check-backs, and a really polite and friendly face from everyone working there.

The dining part of the restaurant is all dark navy and soft grey, a more composed version of the bright (and decidedly Instagram-friendly) flower wall in the bar. We started with two duck eggs which had slowly exploding, golden yolks, perfectly seasoned, nestled on three al dente sprigs of fresh asparagus. Sometimes asparagus can be woody or tough, but this was great, grilled gently, and served with a swipe of acidic pea puree to contrast the salty yolks.

The other starter consisted of a hearty portion of juicy, whole chicken wings in a sweetly succulent barbecue sauce, with a fresh salsa with a good kick, and a mini bucket of homemade slaw. This was really good value as a starter and lovely that it came with salsa as that really cut through the stickiness of the wings.

After freshening with a finger bowl, we enjoyed the last of our cocktails – mine a french martini studded with a raspberry and coated with a fine, silky, froth, and a very punchy mojito – one of the best I’ve tried.

For the main, we selected a chicken burger – but this was no ordinary chicken burger. In the middle, buttermilk chicken thighs, in a coating that was creamily reminiscent of the name, gherkins – fresh with an audible snap – onions and tomatoes. On the outside, the brioche bun was a textural delight. The surface of the bun  buckled under fingertips but underneath had a bouncy, brioche tenacity.

While picky about pizza, this one was just right: delicate mozzarella, fresh jalapenos, discs of salty pepperoni and the best part and a unique selling point of Blakes – a dough base made in-house. When baked in the special-order, copper penny covered, wood fire oven, this base becomes a grainy, satiny wonder when folded to capture the rest of the sliding hot pizza.

Finally we managed to find room for a masterpiece of a dessert. Consisting of a warm, marbled slab of brownie, with pistachio ice cream and peanut brittle, it was artfully arranged but hearty in the generous, rich flavour of the brownie.

Blakes offerings for Sunday lunch look incredible and they are constantly coming out with new and exciting seasonal cocktails to get you in the mood – Poisoned Apple Pie for Halloween definitely sounds intriguing.

 Reviewed by Dhechen Lama

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