For my 22nd birthday I wanted adventure. I'm pretty sure I got it too; after a magnificent day in which I dragged Stephen all around Sydney (more on that later), I asked him to take me to Morena, a modern South American restaurant that I had heard served alpaca. I wanted to top off my day with gastronomic feats of bravery!
Well, unfortunately they didn't have alpaca on the menu that night, but there was still plenty to satisfy my adventurous leanings at this stylish little eatery in Surry Hills.
We were greeted with a beautiful display of lights in hanging glass spheres and a table setting for two, but we decided to eat in a little intimate corner further inside.
We were treated to a complimentary amuse bouche that featured a kind of Peruvian potato soup and a sprinkling of chilli powder. It was warm and spicy, perfect considering we'd just been out in the blustery wind.
Stephen's Andean Garden was a thing of beauty; soft and light potato & huacatay (black mint) gnocchi frolicked amongst potatoes cooked in a variety of ways, including poached royal blue potato and wafer-thin kestrel potato crisps. All of this rested on a smooth lima bean purée and was sprinkled with quinoa, broad beans and carrots
My time for heroics had come: before me was placed a plate of calf heart. But not any old calf heart; no, this gastronomic challenge had been cooked for 24 hours, and was served with crushed kipfler potatoes, chimichuri and whole kernels of Andean corn. The heart was delicious - once I psyched myself up enough to take a bite, that is. It was absolutely the most tender meat I'd ever sampled, and was given a wonderfully zingy flavour from the chimichuri.
This pretty plate featured perfectly pink, roasted duck breast that was placed on pilaf-style Peruvian rice. Bitter beer, coriander and kiss peppers gave the rice an interesting flavour.
I ordered a medium 300 gram, grass-fed charcoal beef striploin that was served with a bitter jus. It was served with baked Peruvian yellow potatoes that had a floury texture. The huancaina sauce was amazing in its simplicity - creamy, cheesy, and oh-so-slightly spicy.
Ok, so for a South American restaurant, the chips were pretty lackluster. I did enjoy the fact that they were stacked neatly, but they weren't crispy or crunchy in the least. That said, that amazing huancaina sauce made up for most of those shortcomings.
Stephen ordered this white chocolate cheesecake, a sweet, dense version that was served with crunchy toasted almonds and a smear of tart berry puree.
I'd heard a lot about this traditional Latin American sponge cake, soaked in evaporated milk, condensed milk, and cream. It was lightly fried on all sides, preventing it from having a soggy consistency, and was served with fresh pineapple and a roasted pineapple ice cream.
Morena is a beautiful restaurant, with an elegant decor that is reflected in the menu. Highly recommended!
15/425 Bourke St
Surry Hills, Australia 2010
Phone: 0405 902896