16 March 2012

THE BLOCKS: Pop up restaurant, wine bar and art, Walsh Bay, Sydney (15 Mar 2012)

Pier 2/3, 13 Hickson Road, Walsh Bay NSW 2000
16 March to 5 April, Wed-Fri 4 pm - 11 pm, Sat-Sun 1 - 11 pm

Multi-sensory discovery of wine

“Penfolds and renowned London-based designers Studio Toogood have collaborated to create an ambitious multi-sensory environment dedicated to wine and creativity called THE BLOCKS. Through art and design, THE BLOCKS encourages visitors to discover their palettes using sight, touch and smell before tasting some of the world's greatest wines all matched to distinctive foods.”

Thanks to Tom Hyde from The Royals for inviting me to the launch of THE BLOCKS which will run for 3 weeks in Sydney (16 March to 5 April). I've been told once open trained sommeliers will take visitors on a journey to discover their palate using sight, smell and touch before indulging in Penfolds Bin and Luxury wines, complemented by locally foraged and seasonal tastes designed by Executive Chef Jock Zonfrillo (Magill Estate Restaurant). The launch canapes were quite interesting and I liked how they were presented and served — all single handed eating so you could keep holding onto your glass of wine. The Crab canape was my favourite of the night although a bit more crab meat and a bit less sauce would have been nice. I thought having a bit of pickled cucumber salsa and fresh coriander on top to help cut through the heaviness of the sauce would have possibly made it even better for me. It will be interesting to see what the final seasonal dishes will end up being and how they will be plated and matched to the wines.

I tried the limited range of wines on offer for the launch and they were all quite nice but the lethal tasting Penfolds cocktail was the winner for me. Maybe it's because I'm a gin lover and simply love cocktails but it was also interesting to have a cocktail with wine in it besides sangria. The art was pretty cool but I probably didn't really understand it as much as I should because we didn't have the benefit of a guided tour around the space although I did find out you need to smell the huge wooden sculptures — they smelt good. I probably need revisit to fully appreciate the art and wine journey that's been created and hopefully learn a bit more about Penfolds wines and discover which ones I like the best. I do enjoy a pop up restaurant and bar but it's a shame it won't be on for long. Apparently it's best to make a booking as there's only around 120 seats for the dining experience but you can also try your luck and just turn up I believe as well.

PROS: Interesting art and space, Interesting canapes served at launch, Free entry to site (but you pay for wine and food), Sommeliers will guide visitors around the site when open
CONS: Preferable to make a reservation to guarantee a spot, Location is a little bit of a trek, I can't find a menu online to view
MUST TRY: Returning to check out the menu


Penfolds wines on offer to sample at launch

Penfolds cocktail

Wagyu beef canape

Crab canape

Vegetable canape

Mulloway canape

Steak tartare canape

Pumpkin canape

Greens canape

Dessert canape



Kylie Speer (middle), Airlie Walsh (right)

Friendly launch folk

Speech time: Penfolds' David Phillips (left), David Clark of Vogue Living (middle), Faye Toogood of Studio Toogood (right)

Art meets wine

Look for the crushed car for the entrance

View Larger Map


thang@noodlies said...

Hey Simon, great wine, great food, great company, great night!

Simon Leong said...

hi thang, a great opening!

Vivian - vxdollface said...

Mulloway not Kingfish :)

Simon Leong said...

hi vivian, thanks for the update.

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