In the newly refurbished Gateway building in Circular Quay lies Popina, a collaboration between Salt Meats Cheese and Shuk. The meeting of Italian and Middle Eastern influences results in some exciting dishes.
We started off with the Stracciatella with figs, smoked almonds and apricot vinaigrette. Stracciatella is a soft, creamy cheese that's at the centre of burrata and is a perfect match for the slices of the sweet, ripe figs. The almonds added a crunchy texture and it was all tied together by the zingy apricot vinaigrette. This dish definitely put a smile on my face.
For a taste of South America, we had the Beef Empanadas which were served piping hot, straight from the oven. I enjoyed the crispy pastry and the juicy filling, but the sauce could have done with a little more oomph.
The next dish of Yellow fin tuna with Kibbeh nayyeh looked striking thanks to the wafer thin slices of watermelon. I wasn't sure about the flavour combination on paper but was convinced once I had a taste.
From the mains section, we opted for the Raviolidi ricotta with lamb backstrap and pistachio crumb. The ravioli with the creamy ricotta filling was delicious and the lamb was cooked perfectly to medium rare, but I did wish there was a bit more of it!
For dessert, I couldn't go past the Aljafor, a Dulce de leche mousse sandwiched between the buttery, crumbly shortbread and accompanied by a scoop of coconut ice cream. Both the mousse and ice cream were silky smooth and it was a great way to finish off the meal.
Popina brings together a great melting pot of flavours from around the globe and offers great service too. Definitely a great addition to the dining scene in Circular Quay!
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