Since I saw Jimmy and Claire at Universal restaurant last season of MasterChef, I've been looking for an opportunity to pay it a visit. I knew I would enjoy Christine Manfield's food style as I love spicy dishes.
Using the excuse of a free bottle of wine, thanks to Citibank's Dining deal, we headed down a few Friday's ago to the Darlinghurst restaurant. No wonder I hadn't heard of it before MasterChef as it's in a small courtyard near not very much else!
The whole experience was right up my alley! There was a "smart casual" feel to the restaurant with coloured lights and the buzz of light conversation, but with a fine dining presentation. What I loved about the food at Universal was that the spice complemented each dish in a different way. They also used great produce showcasing the fantastic flavour without the hype of foams and jellys of some of the more serious restaurants. This just made it a bit more relaxed and made us feel a bit more at home than when we're on our best behaviour on one off visits to "posh" restaurants!
The shared plates were perfect sized and fun for us, and perfect since there was no order envy and we got to taste quite a few things on the menu. We went for seared scallops green asparagus tempura with wasabi avocado, pork belly, steamed pink snapper wrapped in jamon with white asparagus, sichuan pepper mandarin duck, slow braised green chilli galangal wagyu beef shin.
Universal was a great success and will become a real favourite for us. Can't wait for the next excuse to dine there!