Nomad, Surry Hills

Towards the end of last year, Celia, Tania, Lorraine and I wanted to got together to celebrate making it through another year, the joy of the Christmas season with the exchanging of home-made gifts, and the treat of getting together over a meal.

The cakes were wrapped in clear cellophane.  You can keep them in the cellophane and this will keep them dust-free.

My home-made gifts – Christmas cakes

We decided to go to Nomad, a newly-opened restaurant in Surry Hills.

All the kitchen-action happens right in front of you.

All the kitchen-action happens right in front of you.

On the day we were meeting it was raining and it didn’t stop all day.  I drove into Surry Hills to meet the girls and ignorantly was sure I would be able to find a park.  Somewhere.  Anywhere.  I drove around and around for about 30 minutes while Celia and Lorraine patiently waited and sent texts asking me, ‘How are you going?’

Nomad is a really vast space

Nomad is a really vast space

I actually nearly gave up.  I felt like I’d been challenged to an impossible mission where at some point I was expected to raise the white flag and admit defeat.  Defeat being turning around with my three cellophane-wrapped Christmas cakes and a couple of jars of cherry chutney and driving back over the bridge sobbing all the way.

Pickling and Preserves

Pickling and Preserves

But then I saw it.  A gap between two cars almost big enough for my people-mover and it was just on the other side of the road but across four lanes of traffic.  With a median strip between me and that space.  I was desperate.  I turned my wheel into a solid hard lock, turned 180 degrees, crossed the median strip and squeezed into the space.

An office Christmas party?  Would stacks in the background.

An office Christmas party? Wood stacks in the background.

Stepping into the rain I got out to put a small fortune into the parking meter, picked up my bag and my umbrella and my three cakes and my bottles of cherry chutney and ran, in the rain, with no umbrella (I didn’t have a third arm to hold it above my head) all the way to the restaurant.

A lot of warehouse influence

A lot of warehouse influence

I was a little tense when I arrived and a tad damp.  Perhaps even soggy and stressed.

The charcuterie coolroom

The charcuterie coolroom

But stepping into Nomad is like stepping into an oasis.  A waiter quickly stepped towards me and helped me with my load and welcomed me enthusiastically into the restaurant.  It’s a very large restaurant that’s been established inside a historic old warehouse.  Much of the character of the warehouse has been retained with the bare brick walls, high ceilings and polished concrete floors.  It’s groovy and funky in an understated way and was bustling with a young, hip and sophisticated crowd who were smartly dressed and looking like they worked energetically at creative jobs.

Don't be fooled - seating fills up fast

Don’t be fooled – seating fills up fast

Nomad is co-owned by Al Yazbek and Rebecca Littlemore and is a cellar door where the best locally grown produce by farmers, grape growers and wine makers is showcased.  The menu is seasonally driven and represents innovative Australian cuisine with a Mediterranean influence.  As much as possible, the produce sourced is grown naturally, locally and with patience.

Head chef Nathan Sissi is inspired and driven to use techniques in his kitchen that include smoking, wood firing, cheese-making, bread-making, curing, pickling, fermenting and charcuterie.  It’s all done in-house.

Seating is up at the bar or at tables or on banquettes.  I was shown to a table and took a seat just as Tania arrived looking every bit as stressed and soggy as I did.  She too had struggled to find a park.  Celia and Lorraine were quite relaxed as they hadn’t had to drive but Tania and I needed to reach for the wine list.

Wine can be ordered by the glass or by the bottle.  I ordered a glass of Mac Forbes RS19 2011 Riesling for $13.00.  It went down well.

Feeling better we ordered a few snacks to share.  We started with the wood-fired sourdough with black salt butter.  I loved how both the bread and the butter were made in-house.

Sourdough with black salt $2.50/person

Sourdough with black salt butter:  $2.50/person

We then tried the house-made charcuterie.  The wooden platter showcased a selection of their cured meats and included ox heart, pork shoulder, pork and fennel salami, chorizo and mortadella.  I really loved this entire platter and could have easily eaten it all to myself.  It’s hard to pick a favourite but I think it would have to be the pork and fennel salami.

Charcuterie Plate

Charcuterie Plate

Then the foie gras and chicken liver parfait arrived with some pickled radish on the side.  The parfait was as smooth and silky as velvet and the crunch of the pickled radish was a lovely contrast to the creaminess of the parfait.  It was rich and a real treat which seemed fitting for the occasion and season.

Foie Gras and Chicken Liver Parfait $26.00

Foie Gras and Chicken Liver Parfait $26.00

We ordered a serve of smoked pork empanadas that came with a bottle of harissa sauce.  It’s hard to fault any of the food at Nomad but if I was being picky, I’d say the empanadas were a touch dry but that’s probably because there’s quite a bit of pastry in an empanada.



One of my most favourite dishes of the day was the beer braised short rib roll.  For the price this is a very generous serve and everything from the bread, cheese and pickles are made in-house.  It’s a very juicy burger and quite filling and at $13.00 represents the best value on the menu.

Beer Braised Short Rib Roll $13.00

Beer Braised Short Rib Roll $13.00

We also tried the pig’s ear schnitzel roll.  You probably will remember that my dogs just love pig’s ears.  For that reason I struggle with ‘mind over matter’ to think of pig’s ears as not being dog food.  While the presentation was certainly different, I have to say I didn’t like this burger.  The pig’s ear was very oily and under seasoned but the coleslaw was tangy and had good crunch.

Pigs Ear Schnitzel Roll $12.00

Pigs Ear Schnitzel Roll $12.00

Another firm favourite were the BBQ lamb ribs.  The meat on the ribs just fell from the bones with the gentlest nudge.  The meat was very tender and soft and we enjoyed it with a side of BBQ carrots that were very crunchy and a good contrast to the softness of the lamb.  However, at $32.00 for the lamb and $15.00 for the carrots, this was not a cheap dish.

BBQ Lamb Ribs $32.00

BBQ Lamb Ribs $32.00

BBQ Carrots $15.00

BBQ Carrots $15.00

Having eaten so much already, we decided to share just one dessert.  We had bunuelos that are popular in South America and are a fried ball of dough.  These were served with a rosewater and cardamon custard.  I felt the bunuelos were rather tasteless but with a pouring of the custard they took on great flavour and moisture.

Bunuelos with Rosewater and Cardamon Custard $14.00

Bunuelos with Rosewater and Cardamon Custard $14.00

As I sat and reflected on the meal that I’d enjoyed with great company in a groovy setting, I thought about what we’d eaten and whether it had been worth the parking fiasco and the prices.  Definitely.  While the items on the menu aren’t cheap neither are the methods the restaurant uses to bring those items to your table.  It’s an incredibly labour-intensive method they’re bringing to Sydney’s dining scene and I think their philosophy of quality-sourced produce and making everything in-house and using as much that’s available locally as possible, should be encouraged.

The open kitchen

The open kitchen

It was time to head back over the bridge for school pick-up.  After the glass of wine, the exciting and innovative cuisine and the good company, I was now quite relaxed.  And as I left Nomad, there was even a break in the rain.

If you’d like more information on Nomad, you can read Lorraine’s review.

Verdict:  Well worth a visit but definitely, arrive in a taxi.

Nomad:  16 Foster Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010

Ph:  02 9280 3395

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  1. Looks like a great restaurant and well worth the parking ordeal to be welcomed in there. I’ve been running behind on everything so am only just catching up on blogs. Nice to be back.

  2. I love it when you four get together. It’s always at someplace wonderful and you’re all sharing nifty things you’ve made. One day I’ll surprise you and show up at one of your afternoon extravaganzas. I think Nomad sounds very nice!

  3. Loved reading this review. I would agree with you, I don’t think I could eat pigs ears, and I would have been reaching for wine too after the stress of not finding a park! The meal sounded so delicious though!!

  4. G’day Charlie and I love hearing about your get togethers too!
    Wish I lived closer and look forward when I meet each and every one of you!
    Nomads seems to be my type of place and yum re the foods and photos!
    Glad your persistence with parking paid off….
    Cheers! Joanne

  5. It was a great afternoon Charlie, once you and T had dried off! It was hard to leave, wasn’t it? As you say, Nomad felt like an oasis, and the food really was very good. We must get together again soon! xx

  6. Hmm, that food looks good but is also a tad pricey. I am running with the black salt butter idea.

  7. I can’t believe you only had one dessert between the 4 of you! I’m sitting here waiting for dinner and I can honestly say my jaw dropped when I saw that beef rib roll. If only I could order one in….

  8. I adored the parfait! I still think about it which I know makes me sound quite crazed and sad but I do 😛 I felt so bad for you and Tania. I did actually drive in but I think because I got there a bit earlier before 1pm I was lucky because people come for lunch at 1. Surry Hills is such a dog eat dog place for parking 🙁

  9. that parfait looks amazing!

  10. The parking fiasco sounds awful but I’m so glad the food and the fun time with your friends made up for it!!

  11. Parking can be such a pain, and expensive too. I’m glad you did eventually find a spot to park because that restaurant looks and sounds lovely. The foie gras parfait sound TDF, I had one a few years ago as part of a tasting menu in Montreal and it was likely the most memorable dish I’ve ever tasted!

  12. There are so many things to like about this restaurant, it seems. The vibe, the staff, the setting and the food.

    It’s always fun for me to read about the different dishes you try, nearly all unfamiliar to me. Pigs’ ears would not be anything I could possibly put in my mouth.

  13. Gah – sorry bout your parking troubles – I would have had to have drown them in a double helping of that Bunuelos with Rosewater and Cardamon Custard – it looks incredible!

  14. Your meal looks delicious! The empanadas especially drew my attention. I haven’t had one of those in a while and they are so good! I like the warehouse setting too. Very cool space. I’m glad you found a parking spot. I can’t stand when that happens. Glad you didn’t give up though so we all got to share in your experience. 🙂

  15. MMMmmm, that sandwich looked really good. Not the pig’s ear one, short rib one! Although the slaw looked good on the pig’s ear one! Those carrots, too!! Tasty! I like the layout of the restaurant…very updated, stylish but laid back. A place I would fit in! xo

  16. Despite the harrowing arrival, it sounds like this restaurant was well worth the soaking and the stress! I’m sure your friends were happy to see you arrive bearing such lovely homemade gifts.

  17. Parfait with pickles stick a fork in me I’m done.

  18. A taxi sounds like a great idea especially if I had a glass or two of wine while chatting with such congenial company and nibbling on all those tasty treats.

  19. Wonderful that you can get together so often and have such a wonderful time. Would love to try the beer braised short rib roll and foie gras.

  20. Thank goodness the restaurant was up to scratch – the parking ordeal would have had me stressed to the limits too. Burger sounds great and those ribs.

  21. Looks like it was well worth the drama of getting there especially with those guys as company! X

  22. How wonderful to meet up with fellow bloggers regularly. You four sound as if you had a great time. GG

  23. Yay Charlie, I’m so glad you didn’t give up! I definitely think a glass or two of wine was in order 🙂 Most of those prices sound fine, but I was certainly suprised by the lamb ribs and carrots- wow, that seems pricey indeed. It sure sounds like you had a wonderful time catching up with the rest of that crazy bunch of ladies 🙂

  24. I LOooooooVE that you girls get together.
    Is Lorraine as nice and adorable in person?!
    She is one of the reasons I started blogging.
    The food above looks utterly delectable.
    I dig those BBQ Carrots.
    And the custard looks MAaaavalous!


  25. My trouble with parking spots is I am far too precious about what I “can” park in. I passed my test able to reverse park and parallel park but over the years, I have lost confidence and now avoid them at all costs! In your situation, I suspect I’d have admitted defeat and taken the crying route home. Thank goodness your parking skills are superior to mine and you could enjoy your lunch!

  26. Despite the very wet start, sounds like you had a very enjoyable lunch 😀
    And who doesn’t love getting together with friends!

    Choc Chip Uru

  27. So lovely that you always get together and despite being wet, the meal was well worth the hassle.
    Have a super day Charlie.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  28. It looks like a lovely place to go dine & wine & enjoy some goof foods with beloved friends!

    Thanks for the review! 🙂 Cool too! 🙂

  29. I think when you see groovy decor like Nomad’s, you know you’re in for a treat with the food as well! I’d be hanging out there a lot.. the dishes look wonderful! And the company.. first class:D Lucky you celebrating with those girls!! xx

  30. It was great that you all could get together…it sure sounds that you all had a lot of fun.
    Have a great week Charlie 😀

  31. This definitely sounds like an establishment I’d enjoy. I particularly welcomed the image of someone at the front of the house greeting you and helping you with packages. It had to be very obvious you’d gone to a great deal of trouble to arrive at all! The menu is really unique, too, it would seem. Or at least I don’t see burgers of this sort on our local menus. The entire experience seems to have been very lovely…in particular such wonderful company. How nice for all of you. ox

  32. It sounds like a ball!

  33. Hello, well a new place to me… oh dear, how long is it since I’ve been to Surry Hills?? One of the great treats of my life is to leave my car at Cammeray and jump in a taxi to go to the city: the joy! The expense!!

  34. That looks like a great meal!

  35. I’ve walked past this place a number of times and it looks really good. I didn’t know it was owned by possibly ex-Toko owner, Al Yazbek! I used to work for him many years ago!

  36. Inner city parking is a no go zone, isn’t it? Looks like a fabulous get together.

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